Javid condemns ‘despicable’ anti-Semitism as incidents hit new high

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has condemned all acts of anti-Semitism as ‘utterly despicable’ Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA

A record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents were reported in the UK last year, new figures have revealed.

Jewish people, organisations or property were targeted at a rate of more than four times a day in 2018, data compiled by a monitoring body indicates.

In total 1,652 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded by the Community Security Trust (CST), an increase of 16% compared with 2017.

The latest annual tally is the highest logged in a single calendar year by the CST, which has recorded the data since 1984.

For the first time in a January to December period, the charity recorded more than 100 anti-Semitic incidents in every month of 2018.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said all acts of anti-Semitism are “utterly despicable and have no place in society”.

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He added: “The Jewish community should not have to tolerate these attacks and we are doing all we can to rid society of these poisonous views.”

CST chief executive David Delew said: “Three years of rising antisemitic incidents shows the scale of the problem facing the Jewish community.

“This is happening across society and across the country and it reflects deepening divides in our country and our politics.”

The CST defines an antisemitic incident as any malicious act aimed at Jewish people, organisations or property, which shows evidence of anti-Semitic motivation, language or targeting.

It registered a record 1,300 incidents of abusive behaviour last year – a rise of more than a fifth (22%) on 2017.

Examples of cases in this category include verbal abuse, hate mail, anti-Semitic graffiti on non-Jewish property and antisemitic content on social media.

The most common single type of incident involved verbal abuse randomly directed at Jewish people in public, according to the report.

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It cited a number of cases across different categories, including: a man was walking to synagogue when food was thrown at him from a car; a woman was spat at in the face on a bus; a Jewish bakery was vandalised with anti-Semitic graffiti; and a brick was thrown at a glass door at the front of a synagogue.

The report also said:

-The number of violent incidents recorded fell 17% to 123 in 2018, while instances of damage and desecration to Jewish property also fell, by 16%;

-The charity recorded 384 anti-Semitic incidents involving social media last year – nearly a quarter (23%) of the overall total;

-The CST recorded 148 incidents in 2018 that were examples of, or related to arguments over, alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party;

-Almost three-quarters of all anti-Semitic incidents took place in Greater London and Greater Manchester – where the two largest Jewish communities in the UK are located.

The report noted that, whereas previous high incident totals in 2014 and 2009 were associated with reactions to conflicts involving Israel, there has been no single “trigger event” to cause the pattern seen in recent years.

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Shadow communities secretary Andrew Gwynne said: “These statistics make for hard reading, and show that much more needs to be done to heal the deepening divides within our society and to challenge the growing confidence of those who preach hate, holocaust denial and inversion, and anti-Semitism.

“There is no place in British society, and in British politics, left or right, for anti-Semitic views.”

Labour MP John Mann, who chairs the all party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, said: “Sadly, these figures are not surprising, indeed they are predictable. It is now time for everyone in Parliament to stand up, be counted and to stand alongside CST in the fight against anti-Semitism.”

Assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton, the national policing lead for hate crime, said: “It can never be acceptable to abuse someone because of their ethnicity or religion, but we see that there are still far too many people who act illegally, fuelled by global events, divisions in our society or historical bigotries.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “It is completely unacceptable to see the number of anti-Semitic incidents continue to rise again, particularly at such an alarming rate.”