Middle East disputes ‘leading to soaring levels of anti-Semitism’

The conflict in Gaza and Israel led to a record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK

THE number of anti-Semitic hate incidents rose sharply in parts of Yorkshire last year and soared to record levels nationwide, figures released by a charity have shown.

Hate incidents doubled to exceed 1,000 in a single year for the first time, and anti-Semitic reactions to the dispute in Gaza and Israel are said to be the single biggest contributing factor.

The Community Security Trust (CST) - a charity that monitors anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain - recorded 1,168 anti-Semitic incidents across the country in 2014, more than double the 535 incidents recorded in 2013 and the highest annual total CST has ever noted.

One of these incidents was classified by the charity as “extreme violence”, meaning it involved potential grievous bodily harm or threat to life. The victim was called a “Jewish c***” and then hit with a glass and a baseball bat in the incident in London.

In West Yorkshire, the number of anti-Semitic hate incidents rose from 17 in 2013 to 41 in 2014. There were 27 in Leeds last year, compared to 16 in 2013, and in Bradford the number rose from one to nine.

The CST’s report, published today, cites examples from Leeds during 2014. During one, in February, a Jewish student wearing a yarmulke was walking through Leeds University campus when three women said “Jew” and “kike” towards him.

In November, a leaflet was put through the doors of Jewish and non-Jewish homes in an area with a large Jewish community, according to the report.

The leaflet contained several negative references to Jews, such as “Why not tell Cameron enough is enough and stop his complicity in Jew War crimes.” The leaflet also contained offensive references to other minorities.

The charity has logged anti-Semitic incidents in the UK since 1984, and the previous highest annual total came in 2009 when 931 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded.

Home Secretary Theresa May described the latest figures as “deeply concerning”, adding: “Britain without its Jews would not be Britain.”

Reactions to the conflict in Israel and Gaza which took place in July and August were the single biggest factor in the 2014 record high, the charity said.

It recorded the highest-ever monthly total of 314 anti-Semitic incidents in July, and the third-highest ever monthly total of 228 incidents in August.

For comparison, there were 59 incidents recorded in July 2013 and 48 in August 2013. Of the 542 anti-Semitic incidents recorded by CST in July and August 2014, 258 (48 per cent) made reference to events in Israel and Gaza.

This pattern, whereby conflicts in the Middle East act as “trigger events” that cause temporary spikes in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK, was also the reason for the previous record annual total, in January 2009, and for the record high before that, which came in 2006.

David Delew, CST chief executive, said: “The Jewish community should not be defined by anti-Semitism but last year’s large increase in recorded incidents shows just how easily anti-Semitic attitudes can erupt into race hate abuse, threats and attacks.

“Thankfully most of the incidents were not violent but they were still shocking and upsetting for those who suffered them, and for the wider Jewish community.

Last month, Mark Gardner, a spokesman at CST, said the number of calls they were receiving from Jewish people fearing a Paris-style terrorist attack in the UK had been “unprecedented”.

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