UK antisemitism: current situation

14 Jul 2014 by CST

The correlation between Middle East conflict and antisemitism against Jewish Diaspora communities is well known. It is one of the primary reasons for the work of CST, and the partnerships that we have (out of necessity) with Jewish communities, Police, Government, politicians and good people of all faiths and none.

As of noon today, approximately 47 antisemitic incidents have been reported to CST in the two weeks since 1st July. This compares with 58 incidents for all of July 2013, which was the second worst month for incidents in all of last year. In very basic terms, this month’s antisemitic incident levels are almost double what would have been expected.

Some of the 47 incidents are yet to be fully analysed and the figures may yet show slight change, but around 30 of them appear to be directly attributable to the current conflict: because of the verbal or written component, or other indicators. Only three of the 47 incidents include actual violent assault. (Two of these are the can and egg throwing incidents shown below. The other may or may not be overseas-linked and is not currently in the 30 total.)

Of the 30 incidents apparently related to the conflict, the overwhelming majority involve verbal or written abuse and threats, either face to face, or in phone calls, graffiti, emails and online (usually via social media). The incidents have occurred throughout the country.

CST is especially concerned by incidents in which people attending pro-Palestinian demonstrations have turned antisemitic.

In Manchester on 12 July, after a pro-Palestinian rally that included a “Drive for Justice” to the BBC, a group of four of five cars with occupants of south Asian ethnic appearance passed through the Jewish neighbourhood of Broughton Park. Some of the cars flew Palestinian flags, and occupants shouted and swore at Jewish pedestrians (including “Heil Hitler”). Cans and eggs were thrown at Jewish pedestrians from at least two of the cars. Similarly, that same day in Glasgow on the fringes of a demonstration, a man of south Asian appearance was heard shouting “f**king kill the Jews”. CST has made police aware of all these incidents.

London witnessed the largest pro-Palestinian rally, on 11 July. Demonstrators included veteran far right activist James Thring, photographed below, determinedly making the Israel-Holocaust link.

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The Holocaust theme continued on Twitter, where the hash tag “#Hitlerwasright” was trending, perhaps partly due to people objecting to its use. CST has been informed by members of the public that the Hitler theme and imagery can also be currently seen in Facebook comment chains for forthcoming pro-Palestinian demonstrations, organised by groups such as Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Stop the War Coalition and Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

The above pales in comparison with the situation in France, where on Sunday 13 July over 100 Jews needed rescuing from inside a synagogue that was besieged by a violent pro-Palestinian mob. Also that day in Paris, a Jewish owned shop was reportedly ransacked by a 50 strong mob armed with iron bars; and a synagogue was fire bombed. On 8 July, a 17 year old Jewish girl was attacked with pepper spray in her face, whilst her assailant (an adult male of North African ethnic appearance) yelled antisemitic abuse at her.

These antisemitic impacts, very largely involving Muslim perpetrators, are why so many thousands of Jews have left France in recent years. The kidnap, torture and ultimately murder (by burning) of Ilan Halimi in Paris in 2006 was one particularly horrific act. In 2012, there was the appalling terrorist attack on the Jewish primary school in Toulouse. Two months ago, a French Jihadi killed people in the Jewish Museum in Brussels. None of this has satiated the antisemites in France: they want more.

Here in Britain, the situation is less severe, but remains highly volatile. It is understandable that Jews, Muslims and others have strong opinions about the conflict. Nevertheless, it is neither inevitable nor excusable for people to express their strong feelings by attacking Jews or by using antisemitic language. We call on all people, from all communities and authorities, to use their influence to put a stop to this growing escalation before it becomes even more threatening.


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“"The Guardian of Israel doesn't slumber or sleep". This feeling of safety and security that we search for and need is gratefully appreciated when it's given to us by the CST. It really is a pleasure to work with the CST and to be looked after and cared for by them. Where ever I go throughout Britain, in all our Synagogues from north to south the impact and help given by the CST is warmly valued.”

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Senior Rabbi, Reform Judaism