‘Levels of Hatred Not Seen in Decades’: Israel-Hamas Conflict Sparked Record Rise in Antisemitism, Says UK Nonprofit
The May clashes between Israel and the Hamas terror organization fueled the highest number of antisemitic hate incidents in Britain since at least 1984, according to a charity that helps secure British Jewish groups.
The Community Security Trust (CST) reported a 49% increase of anti-Jewish hate incidents in the first six months of this year compared with the same period last year, recording 1,308 such cases. The nonprofit — which monitors antisemitism and provides security services to Jewish organizations, schools and synagogues — attributed the record total to the spike in reports in response to the escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza in May.
“This year British Jews have suffered levels of hatred that were worse than anything seen in recent decades. Some of the abuse and harassment targeting young people in particular was disgraceful,” said CST Chief Executive Mark Gardner. “Looking ahead, CST will keep doing everything that we can to protect our Jewish communities, and to give them the security and comfort that they need.”
During May, the month of the Gaza conflict, CST recorded a monthly record of 639 antisemitic incidents, which accounted for 49% of the total incidents during the first half of 2021, which was itself a record six-month tally for every year prior to 2017.
A sharp rise in incidents was registered at schools, involving students and teachers, with 130 cases — the most in the first half of any year and an increase of 491% from the 22 such incidents recorded during the same period in 2020.
Additionally, the number of campus-related antisemitic incidents in the first six months of 2021 tripled to 84 versus the same period last year, out of which 57 were reported in May.
The CST report found that the most common type of language or imagery used in antisemitic incidents was connected to the conflict in the Middle East, expressing an anti-Zionist political motivation. Forty-three incidents directly compared Israel with Nazi Germany, while the terms “Zionism” or “Zionist” were employed in 68 incidents — often as euphemisms for “Jewishness” and “Jew.” In 277 incidents, offenders used far-right or Nazi-related discourse, of which 59 incidents evidenced a far-right political motivation.
Violent antisemitic incidents constituted 89 of the cases in the January to June period, the highest ever recorded in any first six months of a year.
Mark Hamilton, the National Police Deputy Chief Constable and Council lead for hate crime described the “huge rise in antisemitic hate crime in the UK at a time of conflict in the Middle East” as “shocking, but sadly not surprising,” noting that a similar response was recorded in 2014 amid another period of Mideast hostilities.
“It should not be necessary for UK Jewish citizens to demand that their security and peace is protected — it is our collective responsibility,” Hamilton added. “We share a determination to reduce the incidence of antisemitism but, where it does fuel criminal acts, we need victims to have the confidence to report the crimes, in order that we can ensure they get the support they deserve and that we bring offenders to justice.”
Meanwhile, online antisemitic incidents fell slightly, from 364 in the first six months of 2020 to 355 in 2021.
“This is the second year in a row where online incidents have fallen during the Jan-June period but is still the second-highest total that CST has recorded during this time. These totals understate the scale of online antisemitism: CST only records incidents if they have been reported by the victim or a witness; if there’s evidence of antisemitic language, motivation or targeting; and if the offender is based in the UK or has targeted a UK-based victim,” CST said.
“Targeted campaigns directed at victims often involve dozens of accounts sending hundreds or even thousands of tweets, images or posts within a concentrated timespan, or hundreds of tweets from a single offender, but each campaign will only be recorded by CST as a single incident,” the charity added.