Record number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Greater Manchester

Video report by Ralph Blumson.

Anti-Semitic abuse hit a record high in 2021, rising by a third from the previous year, a charity has said.

The Community Security Trust, a charity that collects data on anti-Jewish abuse, recorded a total of 2,255 in 2021, up 34% from 1,684 the previous year. Anti-semitic incidents have now risen in five of the last six years.

There were 284 in Greater Manchester, an increase of 86% from the 153 recorded in 2020. 

The charity received 16 reports of so-called Zoom-bombing, where video calls are hijacked, involving antisemitic material.

In October last year, an online service held by a Manchester synagogue was interrupted by people displaying swastikas and 'awful racist images'.

Worshippers were left shaken after Manchester Reform Synagogue's service, which was being held over Zoom, was hijacked in October 2021. Credit: PA

Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen said the offenders shouted racist abuse and changed their picture to a swastika, so that it would pop up on everyone's screens.

The number of anti-Semitic incidents peaked in May, during a period where tensions between Israel and Palestine were heightened.

The CST said that, last year, Manchester and London saw 155 instances of people shouting abuse from cars, over half of which were in May and June.

Home Secretary, Priti Patel said: "Perpetrators can be punished with the full force of the law".

She said: "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.

Nationally, across the whole year:

The CST said: "It is unusual for such a high proportion 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."

There were 128 incidents where the victims or offenders were university students or academics, or involved student unions or other student bodies, up from 44 in 2020.

CST director Dave Rich, explained there was ''always a reason'' for rising numbers of anti-semitic incidents: ''Last year, there was a big spike around the confilct in Israel and Gaza in May.

''In previous years, it's been to do with things going on in politics in this country. Whatever the reason, it's people who don't like Jews finding an excuse and going out and abusing, threatening and attacking people just because they're Jewish and it's appalling.

He went on to say the Government and police could always do more to protect Jewish people from being targeted. But he added year-on-year rises in incidents showed there was a problem in wider society and that people needed to stand up to all form of racism - including anti-semitism.

The CST figures include 176 violent antisemitic incidents, including three classed as extreme because they involved GBH or a threat to life, and 82 instances of damage or desecration of Jewish property.

It recorded 1,844 incidents of abusive behaviour such as abuse verbally or via social media, antisemitic graffiti, and one-off hate mail. There were 10 incidents of mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails.

The CST said this does not reflect the scale of online incidents because one can involve hundreds or thousands of messages.

Manchester's first female Rabbi, Robyn Ashworth-Steen from the Manchester Reform Synagogue, tells how Jewish people in Greater Manchester are feeling increasingly unsafe.