A charity that monitors antisemitism and provides security for British Jewish groups has recorded a “horrific surge” in racist attacks in the past month which campaigners said “surpassed anything we have seen before”.
The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 351 antisemitic incidents between 8 and 31 May, more than for any single month since records began in 1986.
The CST said the rise was fuelled by antisemitic reactions to the escalation of violence in Israel and Gaza. It called the situation “utterly predictable and completely disgraceful”.
The previous highest number of antisemitic incidents, 314, was recorded in July 2014, which also coincided with an escalation in violence in the Middle East.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism cited physical beatings and vandalism, chants and placards at rallies, social media abuse and threats to Jewish children at schools and universities as examples of the hostility faced by British Jews.
“None of these should be features of life in Britain in 2021, but they are for Jewish people,” a spokesperson said. “Ultimately, the blame lies with the racist perpetrators of these cowardly incidents. But some politicians, the media, social media companies and others have done their part in tolerating or even stoking the hate. It is vital that the police investigate incidents as they arise and bring offenders to justice.
“In a year defined by solidarity against racism worldwide, it is extraordinary how little support there is out there for Britain’s Jews. Racism against Jews just doesn’t seem to count.”
In one case, police were called after a man stopped Jewish secondary school students and threatened to punch them if they did not say they supported Palestine. He then said: “Tell your fucking mum and dad they are murderers and killing babies.” In another case, a rabbi was attacked near his synagogue in north London.
Four men were arrested and bailed after passengers in a convoy of cars with Palestinian flags used offensive language and made threats against Jewish people in the St John’s Wood area of London. The prime minister was among many politicians to denounce the video on social media.
“There is no place for antisemitism in our society,” Boris Johnson tweeted. “Ahead of Shavuot, I stand with Britain’s Jews who should not have to endure the type of shameful racism we have seen today.”
Last month the communities secretary, Robert Jenrick, condemned a “deeply disturbing upsurge in antisemitism” in recent years and said the government would name and shame local authorities that had failed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of the problem.
He said the government was doing its “utmost to keep the Jewish community safe through the £65m protective security grant to protect Jewish schools, synagogues and community buildings, and working closely with the Community Security Trust to ensure victims come forward and report attacks”.