Anti-Semitism hits 'unparalleled' level in UK amid Israel-Gaza war

Jewish charity says post-October 7 hate incidents exceeded the whole of any previous year

Rising cases of anti-Jewish hatred coincided with unrest on Britain's streets linked to the war in Gaza. Reuters
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Anti-Semitic hatred in Britain surged to record levels after the eruption of the Israel-Gaza war, according to new figures.

A Jewish charity said there were more hate incidents in the three months after Hamas's October 7 attack than in the whole of any previous year.

The 2,699 such incidents after October 7 included threatening letters, offensive graffiti on Jewish property and abusive language such as glorifying the Holocaust.

Flashpoints were reported at schools, universities and on social media and amounted to an “unparalleled volume of anti-Semitism”, said the Community Support Trust.

Some police forces have also reported a rise in anti-Muslim hatred after the outbreak of war in the Middle East.

The Jewish charity said a sharp increase in hatred in the days immediately after October 7 suggested it was motivated by “celebration of Hamas's attack, rather than anger towards Israel’s military response in Gaza”.

“Our community is being harassed, intimidated, threatened and attacked by extremists who also oppose society as whole,” said the trust's chief executive, Mark Gardner.

“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.”

UK Home Secretary James Cleverly called the figures “utterly deplorable” as he vowed to do everything in his power to make Jewish people feel safe.

“We know the Jewish community need to continue to see that tackling anti-Semitism is a priority for us,” he said.

The trust's report said more than half of anti-Semitic incidents after October 7 were linked to the Israel-Gaza conflict in some way.

Counted among the figures were cases of “free Palestine” being shouted at Jewish people where it is deemed they were singled out.

While the phrase is not anti-Semitic in itself, it has “become a formalised, almost anthemic slogan of anti-Jewish abuse, which offenders know will offend or intimidate their target”, the charity said.

“In other cases, it is shouted as a knee-jerk reaction to the presence of Jewish people among those who cannot contain their hatred of Israel.”

The most serious incidents among the 4,103 recorded during 2023 included Jewish people being spat on, kicked or having objects thrown at them.

There were more than 2,000 other cases of suspicious activity, such as possible reconnaissance at Jewish buildings, that were not ultimately deemed anti-Semitic hatred.

More than half the incidents took place in London, home to the UK's biggest Jewish communities.

The Metropolitan Police revealed in December it had heard of 218 anti-Semitic incidents in London between October 1 and 18, compared to 15 the previous year.

It said there were 101 anti-Muslim offences in the same period, up from 42 in 2022.

Updated: February 15, 2024, 11:29 AM