A rise in antisemitism in 2017 – a wake-up call to all antiracists

Antisemitic graffiti on the grounds of a synagogue in Leeds

The Community Security Trust’s 2017 Antisemitic Incidents Report

The Community Security Trust’s 2017 Antisemitic Incidents Report, was published today. It reveals a disturbing increase in antisemitic incidents nationwide in 2017, the highest total CST has ever recorded for a calendar year. The 1,382 incidents recorded were up 3% on the previous year, itself a record high. The report can be downloaded here.

The most disturbing aspect of the figures is the rise in physical assaults – up 34%. Most of these have taken place in Greater London and Manchester. In London there was a slight decrease but that was more than made up for by the rise of such assaults in Manchester and a number of other locations. In a significant number of the cases the targets were wearing clothing that marked them out as visibly Jewish. So what we are talking about here is something similar to the common attacks on Muslim women wearing hijabs. In many cases the assaults were accompanied by unmistakable verbal expressions of hatred of Jews.

The report states that, unlike the previous highs in 2009 and 2014 where there were spikes around events in Gaza, there were no sudden trigger events. The context is one of an increase in all forms of recorded hate crime and publicity in particular regarding alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party. This, the Report summary suggests, “may have caused higher levels of incident offending as well as encouraging more reporting of antisemitic incidents from victims and witnesses in the Jewish community”.

The Report is not definitive and clearly leaves many questions open to further investigation. But it should be a wake-up call to all antiracists. As David Rosenberg has suggested in a post on the JVL members’ Facebook page: “I think we need an open, calm and reflective discussion of what this means and what we should do about it, strategically and practically… [We must] deal with what the data suggests about antisemitism in Britain in its own right. It certainly suggests to me how wide of the mark are any claims about the threat to Jews coming from the left. When you look at t the actual report and especially the images it uses – these carry all the hallmarks of the far right acting in its own right and influencing others.”

We in JVL are committed to confronting and opposing antisemitism, wherever it comes from, along with all other forms of racism. We will use whatever insights this report provides to continue opposing the alarming growth of hate crime.


Comments (4)

  • Neil Cameron says:

    Thanks for this! Valued information from a reliable and trustworthy source.

    This demonstrates the danger of so many false and inappropriate allegations arising from Palestine/Israel and anti-Corbyn smears being made …… the ‘Cry-Wolf Syndrome’ … that genuine racist attacks on Jews are no longer believed at face value.

    I have to confess to an almost automatic skepticism whenever I hear or read the word ‘antisemitism’ being used.
    I think this article highlights the need for evidence to substantiate any allegations of antisemitism and for the implementation of the Chakrabarti report by the NEC.

  • John says:

    I would take any claims from CST with a very large dose of salt.
    It is in their interests to exaggerate the incidence of such reports.
    If it were otherwise, they would be undermining their own existence.
    As it is, I believe they act on behalf of the zionist lobby.
    They create a climate of fear, making Jews unnecessarily anxious.
    This is designed to encourage them to undertake aliyah permanently.
    Likud and other zionist forces in Palestine 48 welcome all migrants.
    That is, provided they can prove they have Jewish antecedents.
    CST also contributes to young Jews volunteering for the IDF.
    What would make more sense would be to analyse police reports of racism.
    None of us can afford to ignore expressions of racial hatred.
    The conviction of Darren Osborne for attacking Moslems shows that.
    Also, the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox by another neo-nazi fanatic.
    As with false claims of antisemitism, CST too just muddy the waters.

  • The CST have a cosy relationship with the Police/authorities and benefit inordinately from government grants. They do not represent the Jewish community in any formal sense. They are a private, unelected body. One of their leading lights, Dave Rich, seems to specialise in anti-Left politicking. Soon after they took over from their 1980s predecessor – the CSO – they strongly pushed the line that the threat to Jews comes from the Left and Islamists rather than the Far Right.

    But… anyone who holds these Jewish establishment orthodoxies won’t find any comfort or supporting evidence in this latest report which identifies incidents much more with the far right. The Labour party is mentioned just a couple of times, in passing, when it speculates that reporting might have been higher in 2017 because of a higher media profile of antisemitism following charges directed against Labour.

    The report locates the rise in antisemitic indents within the rise in hate crime against other targeted communities. We should acknowledge that over the last few years the CST’s reports have got more sophisticated and careful: they use a narrower definition of antisemitic incident than the criminal justice system does. They excluded 872 incidents reported to them where they could not verify an antisemitic motive.

    The most common incidents that have recorded have been “abusive behaviour” especially verbal abuse and threats directed at Jews in public places. Assaults were up 34%. No assaults in 2017 or 2016 were classed as GBH/life threatening (there were some recorded in previous years), but the 2017 cases included fireworks, stones, glass bottles, and eggs thrown at visibly Jewish people.

    Of the 221 incidents of anti-Jewish abuse the report considered had an additional ideological element, in 140 of them they identified that as far right ideology , in 67 anti-Israel and 14 Islamist. We might question the “anti-Israel” ones, though they offer some specific examples that combine legitimate anti-Israel sentiments with clearly antisemitic statements.

    Damage and desecrations of synagogues etc were up and there were more incidents of congregants being targeted in 2017. Holocaust denial literature was distributed at five universities and many abusive incidents recorded in the report used language referencing Hitler and the Holocaust.

    Where perpetrators of the incidents have been identified, 57% were white/European; 43% were from non-white/non-European minorities.

    I believe there are three political issues for JVL arising the report.
    1. JVL should challenge the emphasis by the Jewish establishment/Zionist bodies on antisemitism and the Left, given the lack of evidence in this report.
    2. JVL should consider how to respond to the evidence that, where a perpetrator was identified, 43% of the incidents were by people who themselves are likely to encounter racism (ie other minorities. What might be our educational role? Which organisations from minority groups could we partner with in addressing this (and addressing racism within the Jewish community)?
    3. JVL should offer its assessment of the importance of antisemitism in current Far Right ideology and activity. The evidence here suggests it is still playing a big role. If so, how can we challenge this – and with which allies?

  • Stephen Bellamy says:

    Oh FFS. A rise in incidents that CST claim to have been reported to it is light years from a rise in antisemitism. CST are the brand leaders in the antisemitism industry. They are making mega bucks out of it

    All these assaults over several years and not a single prosecution.Give me a break.

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