Shock rise in antisemitic attacks with victims punched, sworn and spat at on London's streets

Image shows man armed with a stick chasing Jewish families on the way to a Synagogue in north London. Tap to watch full video report.

By Sam Holder, ITV News London reporter

A grandfather punched so hard he didn’t realise he’d been hit. Two friends viciously beaten in an unprovoked attack. And a group of teenagers spat at, sworn at and faced with Nazi salutes.

Antisemitism is on the rise. Last year saw the highest number of incidents in London and across the UK ever recorded, according to new figures from the Community Security Trust.

A handful of the most violent, most shocking attacks make the headlines, but many more pass by without much notice.

Jewish students in London described the antisemitism they had faced with one saying she was told to "go back to the gas chamber"

Source: Community Security Trust

Did you hear about the primary school children who had stones thrown at them?

Or the pregnant woman threatened with having her bones broken while attending a maternity appointment at the Whittington hospital?

Or the many incidents of strangers shouting vile abuse at Jewish Londoners?

Antisemitism in Britain is not a new phenomenon and the situation for Jewish people is better in Britain than many countries around the world, but it is getting worse.

Brick thrown through the window of a property in north Lodon Credit: Twitter/Shomrim

What is behind the rise?

  • 423 antisemitic incidents occurred in Barnet, the local authority which is home to the largest Jewish population in the UK

  • In May 2021, there was an outbreak of violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

"We have seen in previous years that when Israel is at war, the amount of antisemitism, the abuse, the threats, the attacks directed at British Jews because they are Jewish always goes up,” said Dave Rich of the Community Security Trust (CST), who record instances of antisemitism.

This targeting in itself is antisemitic. Jewish people in Britain are not responsible for what happens in a different country 3,000 miles away, even if the state religion is Judaism.

Dave Rich from CST makes clear that support for the Palestinian cause is fine but shouldn’t target the Jewish community

During the month of May, there were 661 recorded incidents across the UK, the most ever in a single month.

Even though the situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories has calmed since the end of May, rates of antisemitism are still high.

Some victims and community leaders in parts of London, especially in Hackney, home to areas with large strictly Orthodox communities such as Stamford Hill, have raised concerns that the police response to hate crimes is too slow and that there aren't enough prosecutions.

The Metropolitan Police said it had seen a rise in hate crimes in recent months, especially antisemitic, transphobic and disability hate crimes.

"We have refreshed our overall approach to tackling hate crime in order to provide better support to victims, to enable a stronger response towards offenders of hate crime and to improve accessibility of our service to Londoners across all communities," the force said in a statement to ITV News London.

Both the CST and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis stress that the relationship between the Jewish community and the police is positive.

"In the first instance, let's acknowledge that in the broadest of senses life for the Jewish community of Britain is good," Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis told ITV News.

"But we need to recognise the threat of growing antisemitism," he added.

The Chief Rabbi also urged people to stand up against hatred

He said better education was needed about antisemitism within the UK, especially about the Holocaust, which helps highlight the dangers of hatred and discrimination.

The Chief Rabbi has also urged everybody to take responsibility for tackling hate when they see it.

"Once you keep quiet, you’re part of the problem," he warned.