Attacks on Jewish people have hit record levels amid high-profile claims of anti-Semitism within Labour, a report said yesterday.
A charity said it followed ‘unprecedented publicity’ over incidents involving Jeremy Corbyn’s party.
Coverage of anti-Semitism within Labour was ‘likely’ to have emboldened offenders while making victims more aware of reporting incidents, it said.
The Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors anti-Semitic abuse, recorded 1,382 hate crimes in Britain last year – 3 per cent more than in 2016.
It was the highest figure since statistics were first kept 34 years ago. There was also a 34 per cent increase in violent anti-Semitic assaults – surging from 108 to 145 over the past 12 months.
A report by the charity said attacks also included verbal abuse in public, damage and desecration to Jewish property such as daubing swastikas on synagogues.
The CST said there was ‘no obvious single’ cause for the record total. But a sustained rise across 2017 was due to the cumulative effect of a series of factors that had created an ‘atmosphere of anti-Semitism’, said the report. These included high-profile allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, said the CST. It followed accusations that Mr Corbyn had failed to do enough to stamp out attacks on Jewish people.
The party has been engulfed in claims of anti-Semitism under his leadership following a spate of attacks on Jewish people and supporters, including Labour MPs.
Mr Corbyn has faced repeated questions about his links with figures from Hamas and Hezbollah. At last year’s party conference a fringe event speaker said they should be able to question whether the Holocaust took place.
Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone was suspended by the party in April after a string of inflammatory comments. The CST said publicity ‘may help to explain’ why 142 anti-Semitic incidents were reported the same month – the second highest monthly total in 2017.
The report said: ‘Allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which were widespread in 2016, have continued into 2017. Therefore, anti-Semitism has attracted public debate and been reported on extensively in the national media, while being a point of argument and contention amongst Labour Party supporters.’
David Delew of CST said: ‘Hatred is rising and Jewish people are suffering as a result.’ He said prosecutions need to be ‘more visible and more frequent’.
Stephen Silverman, of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said the rise was ‘due to the spread of anti-Semitic conspiracy myths originating from Islamists, the far-Left and the far-Right which society is failing to address, as evidenced by the ongoing disgraceful situation in the Labour Party’.
One incident occurred in July in Hertfordshire, north of London. A group of visibly Jewish boys were followed by a group of boys and girls who shouted repeatedly, “I’m Hitler. I’m gonna gas you.”
In another, a group of young Jewish schoolchildren were physically and verbally attacked on a bus coming home from school in January 2017. They sat on the top deck of the bus when they were confronted by a group of teenagers, who persistently asked the victims if they were Jewish, if they attended a Jewish school and why they were not wearing “those silly hats,” according to the CST report.
The attackers then hit, kicked and punched the Jewish schoolchildren who tried to get the attention of the bus driver but were ignored and remained trapped on the bus as the violence continued.
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