Anti-Semitic abuse soars to record levels in 2021 - up by a third from the previous year

10 February 2022, 08:21 | Updated: 10 February 2022, 09:06

The report comes just days after Holocaust Memorial Day
The report comes just days after Holocaust Memorial Day. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Anti-Semitism rose to a record high last year, rising by a third from 2020, a charity has found - with a "disturbing" rise occurring in schools.

A damning report laid bare the problem in the UK as the Community Security Trust [CST] logged 2,255 incidents throughout 2021, up 34% from 1,684 the year before.

Incidents included times when the Holocaust was celebrated and abuse involving teachers and pupils.

The CST found rises associated with times when conflict between Israel and Palestine broke out, notably including when passengers in a convoy of cars covered with the Palestinian flag were accused of making threats against Jews in North West London.

"Not a good year last year for British Jews, and I think most Jewish people will be shocked but not at all surprised by what we've found," Mark Gardner, the CST's chief executive, told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

"So it's the first time that we've had over 2,000 cases of anti Jewish race hatred reported by members of the public and police forces to CST.

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"It's a third up on the year before, and it's a quarter more than anything that we've seen in any previous worst year, so it was not good."

He added: "I think there is an impact of the lockdown. Now, we had two things coming together back in May and June which was a lifting of lockdown restrictions, and also a war in the Middle East.

"And basically when those two things came together, we saw by far the worst single month of anti-Semitism that we've ever had reported to CST. So there is very much something going on."

In Greater London, there were 1,254 incidents, and 284 in Greater Manchester, a rise of 86% from 153 in 2020.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "These statistics are shocking and a stark reminder that the racism of anti-Semitism has not been eradicated.

"Our Jewish community has been subject to appalling hatred and it is through the strength and determination of the Community Security Trust that we continue in our work together to stop such terrible attacks.

"In addition to supporting the work of CST, I continue to support the police to ensure they have the resources to tackle these despicable incidents so that perpetrators can then be punished with the full force of the law."

Among the acts of hate found by the CST, 502 included far-right or Nazi themes. A total of 90 involved the Holocaust being celebrated.

As Israel clashed with the Hamas militant group in Gaza in May last year, anti-Semitic incidents spiked.

The convoy, in which passengers were accused of using offensive language and making the threats, was one of 661 incidents seen in May alone, the highest of any month last year.

In schools, which saw a number of widely-reported incidents in 2021, 182 instances of anti-Semitism were reported – the most seen in any year and 54 more than 2020.

Of those, 99 involved pupils or staff at non-faith schools. In the year prior, just 14 of those were recorded.

The CST said it was "unusual unusual for such a high proportion of school-related incidents to take place at non-faith schools and CST supported many schoolchildren and teachers who felt isolated and fearful about returning to their place of education and work".

Mr Gardner told Nick: "That was especially upsetting for our staff to receive so many phone calls from school kids who they thought they were their friends suddenly turned on them, because there's a war going on thousands of miles away.

"Parents too scared to send their kids into school, and also Jewish teachers who are being verbally abused and physically abused by school kids in the classroom. This was a really really disturbing phenomenon all over the country."

University students, academics, student unions or student bodies were either the victim or offender in 128 incidents, up from 44 in 2020.

The CST said 1,844 instances of abuse such as verbal attacks, social media, graffiti or hate mail were made, and there were 10 incidents of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails.

Zoom-bombing, where video calls are hijacked to show users anti-Semitic material, happened 16 times.

Labour's Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: "It is truly appalling that incidents of anti-Jewish hate have now reached record levels - and for this to be increasing shows just how far we have to go to remove the stain of antisemitism from our society."

This article is being updated

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