Record number of UK antisemitic incidents in 2021

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Record number of UK antisemitic incidents in 2021

2,255 anti-Jewish hate incidents nationwide during the past year, as Home Secretary Priti Patel says it is a 'shocking and a stark reminder' hate hasn't been eradicated

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Photo issued by the Community Security Trust (CST) of graffiti on a wall, as antisemitic abuse hit a record high in 2021, rising by a third from the previous year, a charity has said.
Photo issued by the Community Security Trust (CST) of graffiti on a wall, as antisemitic abuse hit a record high in 2021, rising by a third from the previous year, a charity has said.

Anti-Jewish hatred in the UK – often driven by the most recent conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East – reached record levels during the past year, a new Community Security Trust report has confirmed.

The CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2021 showed the charity had recorded an astonishing 2,255 anti-Jewish hate incidents nationwide during the past year.

This is the highest annual total CST has ever recorded and is a 34% increase from the 1,684 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2020.

The total is also 24% higher than the previous record annual total of 1,813 incidents in 2019.

Home Secretary Priti Patel reacted to the report, published on Thursday, saying:“These statistics are shocking and a stark reminder that the racism of antisemitism has not been eradicated.

“Our Jewish community has been subject to appalling hatred and it is through the strength and determination of the Community Security Trust that we continue in our work together to stop such terrible attacks.

“In addition to supporting the work of CST, I continue to support the police to ensure they have the resources to tackle these despicable incidents so that perpetrators can then be punished with the full force of the law.”

The report confirms the record total of 2,255 antisemitic incidents was driven by the huge rise in anti-Jewish hate and extremism during and following the escalation in violence in Israel and Palestine last year.

In May 2021, the month when the conflict in the Middle East intensified, CST recorded a record 661 antisemitic incidents, and June saw the fifth-highest ever monthly total of 210 incidents.

Taken together, May and June made up 39% of the year’s total.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said:“It is truly appalling that incidents of anti-Jewish hate have now reached record levels – and for this to be increasing shows just how far we have to go to remove the stain of antisemitism from our society.

“We need urgent action to tackle these vile incidents wherever they arise, be it in schools, on our streets or online. Hatred is unacceptable in all its forms, and it is our responsibility to stamp it out once and for all.”

CST’s Chief Executive Mark Gardner added:“These record levels of anti-Jewish racism, reported by our Jewish community to CST and police, show how difficult last year was for Jews across Britain.

“These hatreds boil away, taking any excuse to publicly burst out against Jews. This is exactly what happened during and after the Israel-Gaza war of May 2021, from schools and universities, through to the carloads of people who repeatedly drove to Jewish areas and yelled vile abuse at anyone who looked Jewish.”

Mark Gardener

The report said the type of incident that became emblematic of antisemitism during this period involved people driving through Jewish neighbourhoods in towns and cities across the UK, in vehicles draped with Palestinian flags or waving them out of the windows while shouting “Free Palestine” and anti-Jewish abuse at random Jewish pedestrians who were singled out for being Jewish.

Manchester and London alone saw 155 antisemitic incidents involving people shouting abuse from passing vehicles, over half of which happened in May and June.

Throughout the year CST recorded an overall 1,254 antisemitic incidents in Greater London, an increase of 33% from the 941 incidents recorded in London in 2020 and the highest number ever recorded in the capital.

In Greater Manchester CST recorded 284 antisemitic incidents in 2021, an increase of 86% from the 153 incidents recorded there in 2020.

In total, 39% of all antisemitic incidents in the UK in 2021 occurred in the six London and Manchester boroughs of Barnet, Hackney, Camden, Salford, Manchester and Bury.

Elsewhere in the UK, CST recorded 59 antisemitic incidents in Leeds, 43 in Gateshead, 28 in Liverpool, 28 in Birmingham, 25 in Borehamwood & Elstree and 18 in Glasgow.

Over a third of all antisemitic incidents in 2021 – 826 out of the 2,255 total– involved language, imagery or behaviour that referenced the conflict in the Middle East or demonstrated anti-Zionist motivation alongside antisemitism.

In 120 incidents, explicitly anti-Jewish remarks were made alongside calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.

There were 502 incidents in which offenders used far right or Nazi- related discourse, including 90 instances of ‘Holocaust celebration’ in which perpetrators celebrated the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people or expressed a wish for it to happen again.

Forty-nine incidents recorded by CST in 2021 contained discourse relating to Islam and Muslims (25 of which occurred in May), significantly more than the eight reported in 2020.

Priti Patel speaking at a CST event (Credit: Priti Patel on Twitter)

There were 182 anti-Jewish hate incidents involving schools, school students and teachers in 2021, the most reported in any year and more than triple the 54 incidents in this sector in 2020.

Of these, 99 incidents involved Jewish schoolchildren or staff at non-faith schools, rising considerably from the 14 incidents of this type reported in 2020.

The study said it is unusual for such a high proportion (54%) of school-related incidents to take place at non-faith schools and CST supported many schoolchildren and teachers who felt isolated and fearful about returning to their place of education and work.

Schools were not the only educational facilities where a spike in antisemitism occurred in relation to events in Israel and Gaza.

There were 128 antisemitic incidents reported to CST in 2021 in which the victims or offenders were students or academics, or involved student unions or other student bodies, compared to 44 incidents of this type in 2020.

Photo issued by the Community Security Trust (CST) of graffiti on a lorry, as antisemitic abuse hit a record high in 2021, rising by a third from the previous year, a charity has said.

This is the highest number of university-related incidents that CST has ever recorded in a calendar year.

Sixty-five of these 128 incidents occurred in May 2021, again reflecting the impact of antisemitic reactions to the conflict; 75 of them took place online.

CST recorded 176 violent antisemitic incidents in 2021, the most ever recorded in any year and an increase of 78% from the 97 violent incidents in 2020.

They form 8% of the overall figure, in line with the proportion of incidents that involved physical attacks pre-pandemic.

Three of the 176 violent incidents were serious enough to be classified as ‘Extreme Violence’, meaning they involved potential grievous bodily harm (GBH) or a threat to life, while the other 173 incidents were in the category of Assault.

There were 82 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property in 2021; 1,844 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, including verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti, abuse via social media and one-off hate mail; 143 direct antisemitic threats; and 10 cases of mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails.

The figure for Abusive Behaviour alone eclipses the all-category incident total for every year prior to 2021.

A further 752 reports of potential incidents were received by CST in 2021 but were not deemed to be antisemitic and are not included in this total of 2,255 antisemitic incidents.

Photo issued by the Community Security Trust (CST) of graffiti in north London, as antisemitic abuse hit a record high in 2021, rising by a third from the previous year, a charity has said.

Many of these 752 potential incidents involved suspicious activity or possible hostile reconnaissance at Jewish locations; criminal activity affecting Jewish people and buildings; and anti-Israel activity that did not include anti-Jewish language, motivation or targeting.

Online antisemitic incidents fell by 13%, from 638 online incidents in 2020 to 552 in 2021.

This is the second year in a row in which online incidents have fallen.

These totals understate the scale of online antisemitism, CST said.

CST only records antisemitic incidents if they have been reported by either the victim or a witness; if the content shows evidence of antisemitic language, motivation or targeting; and if the offender is based in the United Kingdom or has directly targeted a UK-based victim.

The Government’s Independent Adviser on Antisemitism, Lord Mann, praised the work of CST in protecting the community saying:“CST is a major and critical asset to the Jewish community.

“The understanding it has provided through these statistics, which are very serious indeed, underlines a requirement for us to reconsider our efforts to tackle antisemitism. ”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “The CST’s report incontrovertibly shows that 2021’s surge of antisemitism was linked to reactions to the escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel in May 2021.

“Those who traffic in incendiary rhetoric, conspiracism and demonisation campaigns against the world’s only Jewish-majority state need to reflect on how they give succour to antisemites and create and foster a hostile environment for British Jews.”

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