Sunday, 28 Feb 2021 - 16 of Adar, 5781

New report shows a fall of recorded antisemitic incidents in 2020 in the U.K.

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Despite the fall, last year’s figure is still the third-highest number of incidents CST has ever recorded in a calendar year. There were 1,690 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2018, 1,420 in June 2017 and 1,275 antisemitic incidents in 2016.

 

In its latest report, the Community Security Trust (CST), the British charity responsible for the security of the British Jewish community, has recorded last year 1,668 antisemitic incidents across the country, a  8% fall from the 1,813 incidents recorded in 2019.

Despite the fall, last year’s figure is still the third-highest number of incidents CST has ever recorded in a calendar year. There were 1,690 antisemitic incidents recorded in 2018, 1,420 in June 2017 and 1,275 antisemitic incidents in 2016.

A further 402 reports of potential incidents were received by CST in 2020 but were not deemed to be antisemitic and are not included in this total of 1,668 antisemitic incidents. Many of these 402 potential incidents involved suspicious activity or possible hostile reconnaissance at Jewish locations, criminal activity affecting Jewish people and buildings and anti-Israel activity that did not include antisemitic language, motivation or targeting.

The 1,668 antisemitic incidents CST recorded last year were clearly influenced by the pandemic. There were 41 incidents that referenced the pandemic alongside antisemitic language, and 19 cases of Jewish religious, educational or social events being ‘zoombombed’ by antisemites who accessed the events to express antisemitic abuse.

There was a reduction in the number of incidents affecting Jewish schools, teachers and school students, but an increase in the number of incidents at people’s homes.

The highest monthly totals came in January, February and June, when the pandemic either had not yet fully struck or when restrictions had been eased. In contrast, the lowest monthly incident totals came in March, April and December, when lockdown measures were at their strictest.

Nevertheless, CST still recorded over 100 incidents in all but one month in 2020, which continues the pattern of historically high antisemitic incident figures in recent years: December 2020 was the first month for three years in which CST recorded fewer than 100 antisemitic incidents.

Forty-one incidents in 2020 involved references to the pandemic alongside antisemitic rhetoric. This ranged from conspiracy theories alleging Jewish involvement in creating and spreading Covid-19 (or creating the so-called ‘myth’ of Covid-19), to simply wishing that Jewish people catch the virus and die from it. Overall, 332 incidents, or almost one in five of all antisemitic incidents reported to CST in 2020, involved the expression of antisemitic conspiracy theories (compared to 370 incidents in 2019).

100 violent antisemitic incidents in 2020

CST recorded 100 violent antisemitic incidents in 2020, a 39% fall from 158 incidents involving violence in 2019. Ninety-seven of these violent incidents were in the category of Assault while three were classified by CST as ‘Extreme Violence’, meaning they involved potential grievous bodily harm (GBH) or a threat to life, compared to just one in 2019. CST is not able to share details of these three incidents for legal reasons. There were 72 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property in 2020; 1,399 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, including verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti, antisemitic abuse via social media and one-off hate mail; 85 direct antisemitic threats; and 12 cases of mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails. All these totals are lower than the comparable figures in the same categories in 2019.

Two-thirds of the 1,668 antisemitic incidents in 2020 were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.

In a comment over the CST report, British Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “It is shameful that in the 21st century, the Jewish community still faces racist abuse and the desecration of their synagogues and other religious and community sites. As Home Secretary, I will continue my work across government and with the police to tackle hate crime and ensure perpetrators are rightly punished.”

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