World

Anti-Semitic incidents in UK hit record high

Rising anti-Jewish sentiment after EU referendum

LONDON: Britain saw a record number of anti-Semitic incidents last year, fuelled by issues such as xenophobia following the EU referendum and allegations of anti-Jewish sentiment in the opposition Labour Party, an advisory body said yesterday.

The Community Security Trust (CST), which advises Britain's estimated 260,000 Jews on security matters, said it had recorded 1,309 incidents last year, the highest number since it began collecting figures 33 years ago.

That is a rise of 36 per cent from 2015 and 127 more than the previous high in 2014, with the real figure likely to be higher because of under-reporting.

"Whilst Jewish life in this country remains overwhelmingly positive, this heightened level of anti-Semitism is deeply worrying and it appears to be getting worse," Mr David Delew, the CST's chief executive, said in a statement.

"Worst of all is that, for various reasons, some people clearly feel more confident to express their anti-Semitism publicly than they did in the past."

In previous years, the CST said anti-Semitism appeared to be sparked by certain triggers such as conflicts involving Israel. However, it said incidents were now evenly spread out across the year indicating anti-Jewish sentiment was becoming more commonplace.

It said among the factors behind this was the surge in racially motivated hate crimes which followed last June's referendum on the European Union.

It also blamed terrorism attacks on European Jewish communities, regular discussions of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in the mainstream media and high-profile accusations of anti-Jewish attitudes in Labour's ranks.

The incidents included 107 assaults but most related to"abusive behaviour". More than a fifth involved social media.

In December, a far-right supporter was jailed for what prosecutors called a "highly offensive, hateful" online campaign against Jewish lawmaker Luciana Berger, who had previously reported receiving thousands of abusive messages, including threats to rape her. - REUTERS

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