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February 9, 2022 7:01 pm
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Fueled by ‘Free Palestine’ Demonstrations, Antisemitic Incidents Soar to New Heights in UK

avatar by Ben Cohen

Antisemitic graffiti on a wall in the East London borough of Tower Hamlets. The (((triple brackets))) are an online code to identify people as Jewish, originally used by far-right extremists. Photo: courtesy of CST

Antisemitic incidents in the United Kingdom soared dramatically in 2021, largely fueled by the militant anti-Zionist demonstrations that accompanied the war last May between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, a new report from the Jewish community’s security organization has disclosed.

The “Antisemitic Incidents Report 2021,” published by the Community Security Trust (CST), revealed that there were 2,255 antisemitic outrages in Britain last year — the highest total ever reported to the organization, which has been compiling annual reports on antisemitism faced by British Jews since 1984, representing a rise of 24 percent on 2020.

“This record figure is due to the volume of anti-Jewish reactions to the escalation of conflict in Israel and Palestine last year,” stated the report, which was released in the UK early on Thursday morning. “In May, the month when the conflict peaked, CST recorded its highest ever monthly total of 661 antisemitic incidents.”

Most of the antisemitism experienced by UK Jews is driven by animus towards the State of Israel, according to the report. “It is no exaggeration to say that the landscape of UK-based antisemitism in 2021 is largely defined by responses to conflict in Israel and Palestine, as indeed is the unprecedented annual figure,” the CST remarked.

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Alongside renewed tensions between Israel and the Palestinians, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic — which has witnessed the global phenomenon of vaccine refusal activists appropriating Holocaust imagery to press their case — was also responsible for the surge in antisemitism.

“It is possible that the relaxing of regulations, coinciding with a trigger event as emotive as renewed war between Israel and Hamas, provided the opportunity and impetus for a mass release of lockdown-induced frustrations,” the report argued. “These factors may have played a part in the extent of the rise in antisemitic incident reports during and in the aftermath of this period.”

Worryingly, the CST noted that many of the incidents had occurred in schools, aimed at both Jewish teachers and children. “When the conflict in Israel and Palestine flared up, Jewish schoolchildren and staff were especially targeted with antisemitism,” the report said. “There were 41 antisemitic incidents recorded at Jewish schools in 2021, compared to 19 in 2020. An additional 42 incidents involved Jewish schoolchildren away from school, often on their way to or from home, compared to 21 incidents of this type reported in 2020.”

A record number of incidents were also recorded on British university campuses — 128 in all, and “the highest number of campus-related incidents ever recorded across a calendar year, and a rise of 191 percent from the 44 incidents of this kind reported in 2020,” according to the CST.

Violent assaults against Jews also rose by 78 percent in 2021, “suggesting that physical attacks on Jewish people are approaching the proportion of the incident total that was typical pre-pandemic,” the report said.

The report emphasized that antisemites have a tendency to “latch onto whatever story is prevalent in the media and use it as an avenue for the expression of anti-Jewish hate.”

Noted the report: “For example, 33 of the 90 antisemitic incidents reported to CST in 2021 that contained comments glorifying the Holocaust took place in May and June, and were made in the context of responses to Israel’s alleged actions. Pro-Palestinian sentiment is often assumed to stem predominantly from those who would self-identify as left-wing, but these 33 cases championed the far-right values and actions of Nazi Germany.”

The clear majority of the incidents occurred in the Greater London and Greater Manchester areas, where the majority of the UK’s Jewish population lives. Of the 1,254 incidents recorded in the London area, 423 occurred in Barnet, the local authority that is home to the biggest Jewish population in the UK.

Commenting on the report, the president of the UK’s main Jewish organization, the Board of Deputies, concurred that the CST’s data had proved that tensions involving the Palestinians were behind the increase in antisemitism.

“Those who traffic in incendiary rhetoric, conspiracism and demonization campaigns against the world’s only Jewish-majority state need to reflect on how they give succor to antisemites and create and foster a hostile environment for British Jews,” Marie van der Zyl said in a statement.

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