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.