'Explosion in hatred' against Jews in UK as more than 4,000 antisemitic incidents recorded

15 February 2024, 01:25 | Updated: 15 February 2024, 05:29

More than 4,000 antisemitic incidents were recorded in the UK by a Jewish charity in 2023
More than 4,000 antisemitic incidents were recorded in the UK by a Jewish charity in 2023. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

There has been an "explosion in hatred" against Jews in the UK, with more than 4,000 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2023.

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The all-time high has been put down to the "sheer volume" which took place following the Hamas attacks on October 7, the Community Security Trust (CST) said.

The charity, which monitors antisemitism and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain, said the week following the attacks saw 416 antisemitic incidents reported - higher than for any subsequent week.

There were a total of 4,103 antisemitic incidents in the UK in 2023, up from the previous annual record of 2,261 incidents which had been reported two years previously.

"This record total is due to the sheer volume of antisemitism perpetrated across the UK following Hamas' attack on Israel on 7 October 2023," a report published on Thursday said.

"Of the 4,103 instances of anti-Jewish hate reported, 2,699 (66%) occurred on or after 7 October.

"This figure alone exceeds any previous annual antisemitic incident total recorded by CST, and marks a rise of 589% from the 392 instances of antisemitism reported to CST over the same time period in 2022."

Read more: Judge who let women who 'celebrated' October 7 attack with paraglider images walk free 'liked' anti-Israel post

Read more: 'It wasn't bullying': Protester defends demo at Tobias Ellwood's home as he says 'Hamas is not in question'

Ripped posters showing kidnapped Israeli victims of the 7th October 2023 attack by Hamas
Ripped posters showing kidnapped Israeli victims of the 7th October 2023 attack by Hamas. Picture: Alamy

The report added: "The speed at which antisemites mobilised in the UK on and immediately after 7 October suggests that, initially at least, this increase in anti-Jewish hate was a celebration of the Hamas attack on Israel, rather than anger at Israel's military response in Gaza."

CST said the first such incident reported to them took place on October 7, "when a vehicle drove past a synagogue in Hertfordshire with a Palestinian flag attached, windows wound down and an occupant shaking their fist in the air towards the synagogue".

Other incidents included "Free Palestine" graffiti being sprayed on a bridge in Golders Green, which is home to one of London's largest Jewish communities; the defacing with swastikas of a poster in London of a baby kidnapped by Hamas; and a visibly Jewish man being verbally abused and threatened by people who were attending a pro-Palestinian demonstration.

"Free Palestine" graffiti sprayed on a bridge in Golders Green
"Free Palestine" graffiti sprayed on a bridge in Golders Green. Picture: Alamy

The charity said that it had recorded at least one antisemitic incident in every single police region in the UK across 2023 for the first time ever.

There were 3,328 incidents of abusive behaviour, 266 of assault, 305 of threats and 182 of damage and desecration.

Among the findings, there was a "worrying proportion of children perpetrating antisemitism".

In almost a fifth of the 2,086 incidents recorded where the offender or offenders' approximate age was provided to CST, the perpetrators were thought to be under 18.

The CST said a further 2,185 reports of potential incidents were received by CST in 2023 but were not deemed to be antisemitic - instead involving anti-Israel activity rather than anti-Jewish language, motivation or targeting - so were not included in the 2023 total.

Shelagh Fogarty reacts to the rise in anti-Semitism in the UK

CST chief executive Mark Gardner said: "British Jews are strong and resilient, but the explosion in hatred against our community is an absolute disgrace.

"It occurs in schools, universities, workplaces, on the streets and all over social media."

He thanked the government and police for their support but added: "We condemn the stony silence from those sections of society that eagerly call out racism in every other case, except when it comes to Jew hate."

The government's independent adviser on antisemitism, Lord Mann said the report's figures were a "reminder to British civil society of the serious nature of antisemitism and the impact that it has on the Jewish community".

He continued: "This country will not tolerate the abuse or intimidation of any of its citizens and I will continue to make sure that it remains a safe place for our Jewish community."

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