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4 Sep, 2014 13:40

Anti-Semitic attacks in Britain quadrupled over Gaza

Anti-Semitic attacks in Britain quadrupled over Gaza

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK hit an all-time high in July, in the wake of the Gaza conflict. A total of 302 incidents were reported to the Community Security Trust, the highest monthly total since records began in 1984.

That means that the number of attacks rose more than 400 percent from the 59 reported in July 2013.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said the numbers reflect “the pressures felt by so many British Jews this summer, with its combination of anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred,” Gardner added.

“The high proportion of offenders who appear to come from sections of the Muslim community is of significant concern, raising fears that the kind of violent anti-Semitism suffered by French Jews in recent years may yet be repeated here in the UK.”

CST described the cases as "reactions to this summer's conflict between Israel and Hamas" in Gaza.

A third of July's incidents involved "language or imagery relating to the Holocaust," CST added. The incidents ranged from abusive letters sent to British synagogues to threats, graffiti and damage to property. Some of them concerned entries on social media, where the CST said some abusers used the hashtag #HitlerWasRight.

The majority of the incidents, 179, happened in Greater London, and 52 were recorded in Greater Manchester.

In an unprecedented joint statement, the Jewish Board of Deputies and Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) condemned Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

They called on both communities to “redouble efforts to work together and get to know one another,” adding “We condemn any expression of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or any form of racism.”

"The targeting of civilians is completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions,” it said.

"In spite of the situation in the Middle East, we must continue to work hard for good community relations in the UK," the statement said.

Jewish groups protest outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London on August 31, 2014.(AFP Photo / Justin Tallis)

The statement continued that despite disagreement on causes and solutions to the current crisis in the Middle East, there are also vital points of agreement.

“The death of every civilian is a tragedy, and every effort should be taken to minimize such losses," they said.

The call for peace last week came after Israel and Hamas agreed to an indefinite ceasefire following 50 days of fighting, which has claimed the lives of more than 2,000 mostly civilian Palestinians and 70 Israelis, 64 of whom were soldiers.

On Sunday, thousands of protesters met in central London to demand "zero tolerance for anti-Semitism."

The rally was organized by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a grassroots group formed in response to the rise in attacks against Jews in Britain and throughout Europe following the start of the Gaza conflict.

A recent study also revealed that up to 80 percent of British Jews say non-Jews blame them for the Israeli government’s actions. According to the study by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research on anti-Semitism in the UK, almost 70 percent of respondents also said they believe anti-Semitism had become more acute in Britain in the five years leading up to 2012.

In August, British MP George Galloway, 60, was brutally beaten in Notting Hill, London, allegedly for his views on the conflict in Gaza. The MP for Bradford West, in the north of England, is one of the UK’s most outspoken lawmakers, but is also known for his harsh stance against Israel. Galloway does not recognize the state of Israel and he does not debate with Israelis. In early August, Galloway went as far as to declare his constituency an “Israel-free zone.”

That same month, a central London branch of major UK supermarket, Sainsbury’s, emptied its kosher food shelf as its manager feared anti-Israeli protesters outside would attack the store, after demonstrators called on the food store to boycott Israeli goods.

Also last month, UK Foreign Office Minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi resigned from government, saying the government’s policy on Gaza is "morally indefensible.”