UK anti-Semitic incidents fall in 2011

Rate still the fourth-highest annual total since recording began in 1984.

Anti-Semitic graffiti in Britain 390 (photo credit: CST)
Anti-Semitic graffiti in Britain 390
(photo credit: CST)
LONDON – The UK saw a drop in the number of anti-Semitic incidents for a second year in 2011; however it is still the fourth-highest annual total since recording began in 1984.
According to a report published Thursday by the Community Security Trust, a Jewish charity which monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the British community, there was a 9 percent drop in incidents in 2011.
The charity recorded 586 anti- Semitic incidents across the country in 2011, compared to 645 incidents in 2010. A further 437 reports were received by CST, but were not deemed to be anti-Semitic, hence are not included in the total.
For the first time, there were more anti-Semitic incidents in Greater Manchester than in Greater London, according to the report. The charity said that this is mainly the result of improved reporting of incidents by Manchester’s Jewish community, the work of Greater Manchester Police and a close working relationship it has with CST.
In the report, the breakdown of the incident types shows that there were 92 violent anti-Semitic assaults during the year, including one classified as “extreme violence,” which CST deems as an attack potentially causing loss of life or grievous bodily harm. This represents a fall of 19% from the 114 assaults reported in 2010, and is the lowest number of violent assaults since 2008, when 88 were recorded.
The incident of extreme violence involved a Jewish family who were filling up their car at a petrol station in Manchester. As one of the family members went to pay, a car with two white women reversed sharply into her, knocking her to the ground. The occupants then got out of their car, shouted, “Dirty Jew” and spat on the injured woman on the ground, before getting back into their car and driving away.
One of the examples of assault highlighted in the report states that a visibly Jewish man was walking to his car when the driver of another vehicle spat at him and said “You Jew.” The perpetrator drove off but then turned around and came back, and shouted, “Free Palestine!” at the victim.
There were also 63 incidents of desecration of Jewish property, a fall of 24% from 83 incidents in 2010.
This includes gravestone desecration at a Jewish cemetery in the Midlands; a Jewish student living in student accommodation in Glasgow finding a picture of a hanukkia on her front door had been removed and replaced with a swastika; and “F*** all Jews” written on the gates of a synagogue in Belfast.
There were also 394 incidents of abusive behavior, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti and oneoff cases of hate mail.
An example of abusive behavior reported to CST included an incident in a London supermarket when a Jewish woman standing at the checkout overheard a man at the next till talking loudly about Israel and Gaza. She then heard the man say, “Hitler had the right idea. It’s a shame he didn’t gas them all.”
A fall of 9% of direct anti-Semitic threats – which includes direct threats, whether verbal or written – was also recorded, from 32 incidents reported to CST in 2010, to 29 incidents in 2011. Eight cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or e-mails were reported.
In 2011, a Jewish man received a leaflet through his door stating that 9/11 was carried out by Israel.
“The same forces behind Israel are the same forces that created 7/7 [2005 London terror attack], WWI, WWII, the Russian Revolution, the French Revolution, every conceivable act of terrorism and financial downfall in history, including this recession,” the leaflet claimed.
“This fall in incident numbers for a second year is welcome news, but it follows an especially worrying high in 2009,” said CST Spokesman Mark Gardner. “Anti-Semitism is not the most important feature in British Jewish life, but it remains a serious problem in some parts of society, and retains the potential to worsen significantly in reaction to external events.”
Gardner said that CST will continue to work closely with the police and its partners inside and outside government, “to support those whose lives are blighted by bigotry and hatred.”
The last six years have seen the six highest annual totals of incidents recorded by CST. In 2006, 598 incidents were recorded; 561 in 2007; 546 in 2008; and 929 in 2009. The 2009 peak reflected anti-Semitic reactions to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, illustrating the impact external events can have on British anti-Semitism.