Inside the increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the U.K.

Posted August 9

A U.K. charity monitoring anti-Semitism has found an 11 percent increase in hate incidents directed at Jews in the first six months of 2016 when compared with the same time period last year.

The Community Security Trust, an organization that has tracked anti-Semitic incidents since 1984, found there were a total of 557 such incidents in the U.K. from January through June, compared with 500 incidents during the same period in 2015.

Of the 557 reported incidents, 41 were violent assaults, 32 involved the damage or desecration of Jewish property and 431 involved verbal abuse, graffiti, hate mail and email or social media harassment, with the latter elements collectively summarized by CST as "incidents of abusive behavior."

The total recorded number of anti-Semitic incidents during the first half of the year is second only to the 629 recorded from January through June 2009. That record number was apparently a result of reactions to the military conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians that year.

It was in December 2008 and January 2009 that Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza — a reported response to rocket attacks from Hamas.

In the following years, the numbers of anti-Semitic incidents briefly lowered, though there has been an increase in recent years. CST found there were 312 incidents from January to June in 2012; 223 in 2013; 310 in 2014; 500 in 2015; and 557 in 2016.

There are some important numbers to explore when fully delving into the U.K. trends, though, as the 125 reported incidents in May 2016, alone, account for the third highest month on record, according to CST.

June, too, saw a large number of anti-Semitic incidents, with the 112 that were recorded that month constituting the sixth-highest month on record. The average number of incidents is now almost double what it was from 2011 to 2013, offering up yet another potentially disturbing indicator.

"The long-term trend shows that the number of anti-Semitic incidents has remained at a relatively high level since the summer of 2014, when the UK saw a large spike in anti-Semitic incidents in relation to the conflict in Israel and Gaza that year," reads a statement from CST. "Since then, average monthly anti-Semitic incident totals have ranged between 80 and 100 anti-Semitic incidents per month, whereas in the two years before that summer they ranged between 40 and 60 incidents per month."

What is curious about the 2016 numbers is that there is not a key event unfolding that clearly accounts for or contributes to the increase, the organization said; the numbers have simply remained high.

CST also investigated an extra 364 incidents, but, upon further investigation, the watchdog concluded they did not seem to be rooted in anti-Semitism.

The organization collects anti-Semitic incidents through its website, social media, in person or via phone or email; reports can come from victims, witnesses or someone who reaches out to CST on another person's behalf. Read the entire report here.

The U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League also looks more broadly at anti-Jewish sentiment, publishing a list of events that have unfolded across the globe, among other resources.

In June, the organization released data showing that there was a 3 percent increase in the number of anti-Semitic incidents that unfolded in 2015 in the U.S. when compared with the previous year. There were 941 such incidents in 2015, up from 912 in 2014, with some troubling details embedded deeper in the data.

"Fifty-six incidents were assaults, the most violent anti-Semitic category – representing a more than 50 percent rise from the 36 assaults reported in 2014," read a press release announcing the data.

The statement continued, noting the increased problems being observed on college campuses as well: "A total of 90 incidents were reported on 60 college campuses in 2015, compared with 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014."

The states with the highest number of anti-Semitic incidents were New York (198); California (175); New Jersey (137); Florida (91); and Massachusetts (50).

Muslims, too, are claiming to see increased assaults as a result of their faith. The Huffington Post claims to have tracked 233 "Islamophobia incidents" in the U.S. since January.

A U.K. group also reported this summer that there has been a 326 percent increase in anti-Muslim attacks compared with the previous year in the U.K.

Worldwide Christian persecution, too, has been a topic of discussion of late, particularly after Rev. Jacques Hamel was killed by extremists last week at a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, France.

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