Report shows 31% increase in anti-Semitic incidents in UK

Number of attacks on Jewish individuals, organizations the highest since tracking began in 1984.

LONDON - Anti-Semitic incidents are at record levels in Britain, according to a report published on Thursday by a Jewish community organization. The Community Security Trust (CST), a registered charity that advises and represents the Jewish community on matters of anti-Semitism, terrorism, policing and security, recorded 594 incidents throughout the country in 2006. According to the report, this represented a 31 percent from the 455 recorded in 2005, as well as the highest number of attacks since records began in 1984. The attacks targeted both Jewish individuals and Jewish community organizations - especially synagogues - with 50 incidents involving congregants on their way to or from prayer. The report, which used figures of incidents recorded via Jewish organizations and members of the public reporting to CST offices and representatives throughout the UK, recorded 112 "violent assaults" (up 37% from 82 in 2005); 70 "damage and desecration" incidents of Jewish communal property (up 46% from 48 in 2005); 365 "abusive behavior" incidents (up 34% from 273 in 2005) and 27 "threats" (up 8% from 25 in 2005). Mass-produced anti-Semitic literature was down, however, by 26% to 20 recorded incidents in 2006 as opposed to 27 in 2005. Figures also show an escalation of incidents during last summer's Lebanon war. Between July and August, 134 anti-Semitic incidents took place. In 2006, 54 incidents that included specific reference to the fighting in Lebanon were reported. The report states that it was difficult to classify perpetrators' identities. A physical description of the perpetrator was provided in 205 of the 594 incidents recorded - 96 were white; four were eastern European; 28 black; 60 Asian and 16 of Arab appearance. One interesting detail was that the percentage of perpetrators of anti-Semitic incidents who were identified as "Asian" stood at 22% in 2004, 18% in 2005 and 29% in 2006. CST says that this may reflect the fact that the trigger events for anti-Semitism in 2004 and 2006 were mostly related to the situation in the Middle East, whereas in 2005 there were fewer trigger events from that part of the world. Last year's Parliamentary report on anti-Semitism, published in September, will form the basis of government and police response to these attacks. The government's response to the report is due in the next few weeks, and the Jewish community has been assured there will be a strong response. A total of 13 people were convicted of anti-Semitic offences between 2005 and 2006. Other cases from 2006 are awaiting trial. Mark Gardner, communications director at CST, told The Jerusalem Post: "As ever, times of global uncertainty are impacting as anti-Semitism. The immediate cause is the grossly anti-Semitic reaction to events in the Middle East, especially those involving Israel. There is no doubt, however, that one of the most important aspects in all of this is Israel's continued failure to properly engage diplomatically in Europe." "Hasbara (advocacy) efforts have certainly improved in recent months, but still remain well short of the requisite standards," Gardner said.