UK anti-Semitic incidents on the rise

Incidents of "abusive behavior," including verbal abuse, hate mail and anti-Semitic graffiti, rose by 21%, while assaults fell by 24%, CST reports.

anti-Semitism 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
anti-Semitism 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
There was an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in the first half of 2008, with a significant increase involving students of higher education, the Community Security Trust reported on Thursday. The CST, which provides security for British Jews and represents the community to police, government and media on anti-Semitism and security issues, recorded 266 anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of the year. That represents a 9 percent rise from the 244 incidents recorded in the same period last year. The increase was primarily found in smaller Jewish communities beyond the main centers of London and Manchester, and CST said it might reflect improved reporting of incidents in urban areas. CST is the only organization in the UK dedicated to collecting, analyzing, responding to and publishing statistics on anti-Semitism. "These figures reflect the fact that anti-Semitism can affect British Jews in the smallest communities as well as the largest," said Mark Gardner, CST's director of communications. Incidents of "abusive behavior" - which includes verbal abuse, hate mail and anti-Semitic graffiti on non-Jewish property - rose by 21%, from 137 to 166 incidents. However, the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults fell by 24% compared to the first six months of 2007, from 54 to 42 incidents. There was also a significant increase in reported incidents involving students, both on and off campus. There were 49 incidents reported to CST that involved Jewish students, student bodies or academics, almost double the 26 incidents of this type reported to CST in the same period last year. Of the 49, 31 were on campus and 18 were off campus. "The rise in anti-Semitic incidents affecting Jewish students is of particular concern and we will work with the Union of Jewish Students, university authorities and the government to tackle what is clearly a growing problem," Gardner said. "Every anti-Semitic attack is a blight on society," said Labor Party MP John Mann, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Anti-Semitism. "The 2008 Interim report figures show that reporting is better with students and smaller Jewish communities." The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said the figures showed that the recommendation of the 2006 All-Party Inquiry into anti-Semitism - to "set up reporting facilities that allow unchallengeable, evidenced examples of abusive behavior" - had been implemented, and that they would work "to find effective and creative methods to tackle the problem." "The work that CST and UJS have done together is excellent," Mann said. "By knowing the scale of the problem we can deploy strategies to combat anti-Semitism from our streets and our campuses. Jewish students have a strong voice through UJS and in parliament though our committee." "The most effective way of dealing with anti-Semitism is to empower Jewish students on campus," Union of Jewish Students chairman Adam Pike said. "This academic year is going to be hugely positive and exciting for Jewish students. By proudly expressing and celebrating our own identity on campus we will be giving one of the best possible responses to anyone who seeks to victimize us."