Britain / 02-02-2017
2016 Antisemitism report
CST's Antisemitic Incidents Report 2016, shows that there was a record number of antisemitic hate incidents recorded by CST in the UK in 2016.
CST recorded 1,309 antisemitic incidents nationwide during 2016, a 36 per cent increase from the 960 incidents recorded by CST in 2015. Previously, the highest annual total of antisemitic incidents recorded by CST had been 1,182 incidents recorded in 2014. CST has recorded antisemitic incidents since 1984.
A further 791 reports were received by CST in 2016, but were not deemed to be antisemitic and are not included in this total.
There is no obvious single cause for the record total of antisemitic incidents in 2016. Previously, record high incident totals have been caused by antisemitic reactions to sudden, specific ‘trigger events’ leading to temporary ‘spikes’ in incidents. In contrast, there was no single, sudden trigger event in 2016, and the high number of incidents was spread uniformly through most of the year. Every month from May to December saw a monthly incident total above 100 incidents, an unprecedented run of consistently high totals over an eight month period. For comparison, in the decade prior to 2016 monthly totals above 100 incidents had only happened six times.
Looking at a longer time frame, CST recorded an average of 105 antisemitic incidents per month from July 2014 to December 2016, compared to an average of 50 incidents per month over the same period up to July 2014 (i.e. from January 2012 to June 2014). This means that CST currently records, on average, more than double the number of antisemitic incidents per month than was the case four years ago. It appears that antisemitic incident totals may have been sustained at this high level by the cumulative effect of a series of events and factors that, taken together, have created an atmosphere in which more antisemitic incidents are occurring, and are also more likely to be reported to CST and the Police.
These factors included the conflict in Gaza and Israel in summer 2014; terrorist attacks on Jewish communities in France and Denmark in 2015, and other terrorism in Europe; and in 2016, high profile allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party; a perceived increase in racism and xenophobia following the EU referendum, including an increase in recorded racial and religious hate crime; and regular, high-profile discussion of antisemitism, racism and hate crime in mainstream media, politics and on social media during the year.
The most common single type of incident recorded by CST in 2016 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In 385 incidents (29 per cent of the overall total), the victims were Jewish people, male or female, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 186 of these incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewellery bearing Jewish symbols.
Social media has become an essential tool for coordinated campaigns of antisemitic harassment, abuse and threats directed at Jewish politicians, student activists and other individuals, perpetrated by transnational networks of online antisemitic activists, some of whom are involved in extremist politics. CST recorded 287 antisemitic incidents that involved social media in 2016, comprising 22 per cent of the overall total of 1,309 incidents. This was an increase on the 185 incidents involving social media that CST recorded in 2015 (19 per cent of the total for that year). These totals are only indicative and in some ways understate the scale of the problem: targeted campaigns directed at individual victims often involve dozens of social media accounts sending hundreds or even thousands of tweets, images or posts within a concentrated timespan.
Incidents involving the use of social media are only recorded by CST if they have been reported by a member of the public who is a victim or witness; if the comment shows evidence of antisemitic content, motivation or targeting; and if the offender is based in the United Kingdom or has directly targeted a UK-based victim.
The 1,309 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2016 included 107 violent antisemitic assaults, an increase of 29 per cent from the 87 violent incidents recorded in 2015. None of these violent incidents were classified by CST as ‘Extreme Violence’, which would mean they involved potential grievous bodily harm (GBH) or threat to life.
There were 65 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property in 2016; 1,006 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, including verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti, antisemitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail; 100 direct antisemitic threats; and 15 cases of mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails. The totals for Abusive Behaviour and Threats are the highest CST has ever recorded in those categories.
Over three-quarters of the 1,309 antisemitic incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the UK. CST recorded 813 antisemitic incidents in Greater London, a rise of 65 per cent from the 494 incidents recorded in London in 2015. In Greater Manchester CST recorded 205 antisemitic incidents, a fall of 9 per cent from the 226 incidents recorded there in 2015. Beyond these two centres, CST recorded 291 antisemitic incidents in 96 locations around the UK, including 35 in Hertfordshire, 21 in Leeds, 16 in Gateshead and 13 in Liverpool.