Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain hit record high for second consecutive year

(JTA) – The number of anti-Semitic attacks recorded in the United Kingdom rose slightly in 2017, marking a new record for the second straight year, but saw a significant gain in violent assaults.

The 1,382 cases recorded in the annual report of the Community Security Trust, or CST, which is British Jewry’s largest watchdog on anti-Semitism, represented a three per cent increase in 2017 over the previous year.

In the report published Thursday, CST showed a 34 per cent increase in the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults, to 145 in 2017 from 108 the previous year.

The most common single type of incident recorded in 2017 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public, accounting for a quarter of the annual tally, or 356 incidents.

CST has recorded anti-Semitic incidents since 1984. In 2013, the charity recorded only 535 incidents. That figure more than doubled in 2014, when Israel launched a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza. The 2015 tally comprised 960 incidents, followed by an increase to 1,346 cases in 2016.

In 420 cases recorded last year, witnesses gave descriptions of the alleged perpetrators. In those cases, 57 per cent were described as Europeans and 25 per cent as Arab or black.

There have been some improvements in the reporting of anti-Semitic incidents, which may have contributed to the continued increase in incident numbers, CST said. The increase in reporting may have owed in part to how allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which were widespread in 2016, continued into 2017.

“Therefore, antisemitism has attracted public debate and been reported on extensively in the national media,” CST noted in its report.

Much of the 2017 increase in incidents owed to their growing prevalence in Manchester, home to the kingdom’s second-largest Jewish community.

In the Greater Manchester area, CST recorded 261 incidents in 2017 compared to 206 in 2016, an increase of 27 percent; incidents in London dropped by seven per cent in 2017 to a total of 773.

One incident included in the report occurred in July in Hertfordshire, north of London. A group of visibly Jewish boys were followed by a group of boys and girls who shouted repeatedly, “I’m Hitler. I’m gonna gas you.”

In another, a group of young Jewish schoolchildren were physically and verbally attacked on a bus coming home from school in January 2017. They sat on the top deck of the bus when they were confronted by a group of teenagers, who persistently asked the victims if they were Jewish, if they attended a Jewish school and why they were not wearing “those silly hats,” according to the CST report.

The attackers then hit, kicked and punched the Jewish schoolchildren who tried to get the attention of the bus driver but were ignored and remained trapped on the bus as the violence continued.

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