Anti-Semitic incidents in the UK slightly down

CST report: Violent assaults against Jews have, however, rise to the highest-ever number.

swastikas  298.88 (photo credit: Channel 1)
swastikas 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 1)
Anti-Semitic hate incidents have fallen slightly in the UK in the last year but remain at an unacceptable high level, according to a report published by a Jewish community organization on Thursday. Violent assaults have, however, risen to the highest-ever number, according to the report published by the Community Security Trust (CST), a community charity that provides security, training and advice for the protection of British Jews and represents British Jewry to police, government and media on anti-Semitism and security issues. The number of violent anti-Semitic assaults rose slightly to 114 incidents - up two percent from 112 in 2006 - one of which was categorized as 'extreme violence,' meaning that the victim's life was endangered. This is the highest number recorded since CST began keeping track of anti-Semitic incidents in 1984. CST recorded 547 anti-Semitic hate incidents throughout the UK in 2007, the second highest total on record and about an 8% fall from the previous year's record high of 594 attacks. The decline is largely a result of the lack of "trigger events" from the Middle East or elsewhere during 2007, which would normally lead to spikes in the number of anti-Semitic incidents. The Second Lebanon War in 2006 led to the highest ever recorded number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK. The decrease from 2006 does not alter the long-term trend of rising anti-Semitic incident levels in the UK since the late 1990s, according to CST. "The fall in the number of anti-Semitic incidents is very welcome, but is less than we had hoped for," said CST's communications director, Mark Gardner. "2007 was still the second worst year on record and the worst ever for violent assaults. Over the past decade there has been a significant rise in the basic level of anti-Semitic incidents in our society, and it is affecting the lives of far too many British Jews." The 547 incidents included assaults, hate mail, anti-Semitic graffiti and verbal abuse. According to CST, the victims were largely Jewish individuals and community organizations, especially synagogues. Also included in the 547 reported incidents were 62 acts of "damage and desecration" of Jewish property, down 11% from 2006; 24 "threats," down 11% from 2006; 328 incidents of "abusive behavior," down 10% from 2006; and 19 mass produced anti-Semitic literature cases, down 5% from 2006. The Union of Jewish Students (UJS) has expressed concern over the rise of anti-Semitic incidents involving Jewish students in the UK reflected in the report. UJS said it would call on the government, the National Union of Students and Universities UK, a committee of university vice-chancellors and principals, to engage with them and the wider Jewish community on constructive and creative ways to address the problem. "This confirms our fears that anti-Semitism on British campuses is a major problem," UJS campaigns organizer Yair Zivan said. "We are demanding that stronger action [be taken] now to challenge the anti-Semitism that is all too prevalent on campus. UJS has been instrumental in passing progressive policy for fighting anti-Semitism, with the continued support of NUS." "The high number of incidents shows the scale of the problem facing Jewish students and academics, both on and off campus," Gardner added. "This has been a matter of significant concern to the Jewish community in recent years, leading UJS and CST to work together throughout 2007 to improve the reporting of incidents and this has also clearly impacted upon the total reported figure. There will, however, be yet more incidents that go unreported, and we will continue to work together to tackle this problem with the goal of improving the safety and confidence of Jewish students and the wider community."