WJC, The CST, a charity that has monitored anti-Semitism and provided security for the UK Jewish community since 1984, said that 1,309 anti-Jewish incidents were recorded nationwide during 2016, up 36 percent from the 960 incidents recorded the previous year. A further 791 reports were received by CST in 2016, but were not deemed to be anti-Semitic by the watchdog and therefore not included in this total.
In its report, the CST noted that unlike in previous years that saw a spike of anti-Semitism, there had been no specific “trigger event” in 2016 that could explain the high incident totals. The high number of incidents was spread uniformly through most of the year. Every month from May to December saw a monthly incident total above 100 incidents, an unprecedented run of consistently high totals over an eight month period. For comparison, in the decade prior to 2016 monthly totals above 100 incidents had only happened six times.
The most common single type of incident recorded by CST in 2016 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In 385 incidents (29 percent of the overall total), the victims were Jews, male or female, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 186 of these incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewellery bearing Jewish symbols.
Social media has become an essential tool for coordinated campaigns of anti-Semitic harassment, abuse and threats directed at Jewish politicians, student activists and other individuals, perpetrated by transnational networks of online anti-Semitic activists, some of whom are involved in extremist politics.
The CST recorded 287 anti-Semitic incidents that involved social media in 2016, comprising 22 per cent of the overall total.
The 1,309 incidents recorded in 2016 included 107 violent anti-Semitic assaults, an increase of 29 per cent from the 87 cases recorded in 2015.
There were 65 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property, 1,006 incidents of Abusive Behavior, including verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti and abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail, 100 direct anti-Semitic threats, and 15 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails.
The totals for Abusive Behaviour and Threats are the highest CST has ever recorded in those categories. Over three-quarters of the 1,309 incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.
Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, said about the findings of the report: “The 36-percent rise of anti-Semitic acts recorded by the Community Security Trust in 2016 is alarming and truly shocking. Such levels of anti-Semitism are unacceptable. It is clear that the problem lies increasingly with some elements of civil society.
“We welcome the commitment made by the British government to do more to fight hatred against Jews and to upgrade safety measures for Jewish institution across the country, including the attribution of more resources, and we know that ministers are aware of the problem. A particular effort needs to be made to combat verbal abuse and anti-Semitic incitement on the internet.
“As we have seen in France, where anti-Semitism fell last year, it is possible to achieve positive results in this field if the problem is tackled with the necessary political determination,” declared Lauder.
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: “Anti-Semitism is a deplorable form of hatred that has absolutely no place in a tolerant, open and diverse Britain that works for everyone. It is vital we ensure the safety and security of our Jewish community, and this Government will continue to do all we can to stamp out these vile attacks and encourage those who experience them to come forward.
Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the opposition Labour Party, declared: “The findings of this report are extremely distressing. I don't want to live in a country where any member of the Jewish community feels unsafe, afraid or discriminated against and it is shocking that the number of anti-Semitic incidents is on the rise in the UK. It's vital that we continue to highlight the abuse Jewish people are experiencing and as deputy leader of the Labour Party I have made a commitment to do exactly that. We must root out anti-Semitism whenever it takes place and wherever it exists, as a party and as a country.”
World Jewish Congress Vice-President Jonathan Arkush, who is president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the umbrella body of UK Jewry, responded to the report with the following statement: “While the UK remains a very good place for the Jewish community, these highest-ever figures are deeply worrying, particularly in light of the fact that there was no single trigger event in 2016.
“It is clear that combating anti-Semitism will take a concerted effort by the country’s political leadership, government and civil society. In these uncertain times, we should strive to make the UK a beacon of a society that abhors racism and champions respect between all its citizens.”