Anti-Semitic attacks reach record UK high, Israel’s Gaza offensive blamed – study
Britain’s Jewish community suffered its highest number of anti-Semitic incidents on record last year primarily due to the conflict in Gaza, a Jewish charity has said.
Community Security Trust (CST), a Jewish organization which collects data on anti-Semitism, recorded 1,168 incidents last year, more than twice that of 2013.
Incidents included a case where a man shouted at a group of Jewish schoolchildren who had boarded a bus in London, “Get the Jews off the bus” and “I’m going to burn the bus.”
CST say the biggest increase in anti-Semitic incidents took place during July and August, the time of conflicts in Israel and Gaza, however even without this sharp rise 2014 would still have recorded an overall rise in incidents.
The figures, which Home Secretary Theresa May described as “deeply concerning,” follow the publication of a survey last month which found 45 percent of Britons hold anti-Semitic views.
CST, which has recorded anti-Semitic incidents in the UK since 1984, said there were 314 incidents in July and 228 incidents in August last year. Combined, these two months alone surpass the 535 incidents recorded in 2013.
The group says this spike in anti-Semitism was caused by reactions to the conflict in Gaza, which claimed the lives of 2,131 Palestinians and 71 Israelis, according to the UN.
Of the 1,168 total recorded incidents, 81 were violent assaults, one of which was classified as “extreme violence,” meaning it involved potential grievous bodily harm.
According to CST’s logs, in Birmingham last November four South Asian males tried to gain entry to a Masonic hall that was formerly a synagogue. With one of the men possibly carrying a knife, they shouted, “Kill the infidels, you are Satan worshippers, are there any f*****g Jews in there.”
In the same a month, a rabbi driving through London heard a man shout “slaughter the Jews” in Arabic at him, while running his finger across his throat in a cutting motion.
In the most extreme incident of anti-Semitism last year, the victim was called a “Jewish c**t” before being hit with a glass and a baseball bat.
British cases of anti-Semitism in January drew widespread national attention following the attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last month.
Vandals spraying the word “Liars” on Holocaust Memorial Day posters in Newport, London, while in Liverpool, two crudely drawn swastikas were etched into the door of a Jewish prayer hall.
CST Chief Executive David Delew said, “The Jewish community should not be defined by anti-Semitism, but last year’s large increase in recorded incidents shows just how easily anti-Semitic attitudes can erupt into race hate abuse, threats and attacks.”
Home Secretary Theresa May offered support, saying, “No one should live in fear because of their beliefs or who they are.”
CST’s analysis follows the widely reported publication of a survey by Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) last month, which found 45 percent of Britons hold anti-Semitic views.
CAA asked 3,411 adults in the UK a variety of questions to gauge their attitudes toward British Jews.
They found one in four Britons believe Jews “chase money more than others,” while one in six feel Jews think they are superior to other people.
However the findings were criticized by some, including Israeli-British journalist Anshel Pfeffer.
In an article for the Haaretz newspaper, Pfeffer accused CAA of creating its own definition of anti-Semitism, adding, “While there certainly has to be vigilance against forms of Jew-hatred, the CAA seems to be over-diagnosing the illness.”
David Cesarani, a professor of Jewish history at Royal Holloway, also expressed doubt about the “rise of anti-Semitism.”
Writing in the Huffington Post last month, Cesarani said: “There is no 'wave' of anti-Semitism.”
“There is a real threat to life and limb, however, from a tiny number of jihadists and extreme Islamists,” he added.
“But they are a threat to every liberal democratic society … Hence Jews are not isolated, as they were in the 1930s and 1940s, but find themselves enjoying unprecedented solidarity.”