U.K. Antisemitism Rose to Record Levels During Israel-Gaza Fighting, Watchdog Says

Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol
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Two ultra-Orthodox men arrive at an event to encourage vaccination among the U.K.'s Jewish community, in London, February. The subjects of this photo have no connection with the content of this article.
Ultra-Orthodox men arrive at an event to encourage vaccination among the U.K.'s Jewish community, in London, February. The subjects of this photo have no connection with the content of this article.Credit: AP Photo/Frank Augstein
Samuel Sokol is a freelance journalist based in Jerusalem. He was previously a correspondent at the Jerusalem Post and has reported for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Israel Broadcasting Authority and the Times of Israel. He is the author of Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews.
Sam Sokol

British Jews experienced an “unprecedented number of antisemitic incidents” during and after this summer’s fighting between Israel and Hamas, the Jewish community’s watchdog organization announced on Thursday.

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In a report, the Community Security Trust stated that 628 antisemitic incidents were recorded during the one-period between May 8 and June 7, a rise of 365 percent over April and “the highest number CST has ever recorded in any month-long period.”

“This was the most intense period of anti-Jewish hatred seen in the U.K. in recent years,” the group stated. “It saw record levels of antisemitic hate incidents, anti-Jewish chants and placards on public demonstrations, incitement from radical Islamist extremists in the U.K. and calls from jihadist terrorist groups for Jews to be killed.” The organization added that “the level of anger and hate that is directed at Israel always spills over into antisemitism at times of conflict,” with British Jews being “held responsible for events thousands of miles away, over which they have no control, simply because they are Jewish.”

According to the CST, 83 percent of incidents constituted abusive behavior, 7.5 percent of incidents involved threats and 5 percent involved assaults. Many involved Jewish people being singled out on the streets or in schools with screams and chants about the Palestinians.

In one case, a man stopped Jewish high school students in London and threatened to punch them if they did not say they supported the Palestinians. He then said: “Tell your fucking mum and dad they are murderers and killing babies.”

In another, a speaker at a Manchester demonstration accused Jews of controlling the media, declaring that “the main 13 executives that approve the content released by the BBC are actually in fact Jewish. So this means the information released by the mainstream media will be biased.”

On May 21, police arrested a man whom witnesses said broke into the car of an Orthodox Jew and began hitting the driver unprovoked. The incident happened outside the Kosher Kingdom store on Golders Green Road before noon. One witness told the Jewish News of London that the car had been targeted because it displayed an Israeli flag.

Antisemitic incidents increased across Europe and the United States during the 11-day exchange of fire that began on May 9.

In Germany, the local Jewish community called on Berlin to step up protection of Jewish institutions throughout the country after Israeli flags were burned in front of two synagogues, while in Austria, a non-Jewish woman was assaulted for reading a Jewish history book on the subway.

According to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, antisemitic incidents in the U.S. “more than doubled during the May 2021 military conflict” before eventually returning to normal levels.

According to an analysis of LAPD figures published by data journalism website Crosstown on Monday, the first six months of 2021 saw hate crimes against Jews in Los Angeles increase by 59.2 percent compared to the same period the previous year.

During the conflict, a group of men waving Palestinian flags attacked diners at a sushi restaurant in the Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles. They threw bottles and other objects and punched some of the diners, including a group of Jewish men.

In a separate incident in the city, which was recorded by a security camera, an Orthodox Jewish man was chased by cars waving Palestinian flags. He escaped unharmed.

In late May, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo directed the New York State Police to reinforce security at Jewish institutions in the New York City area in the wake of a spate of violent incidents targeting Jewish residents.

Following one incident, in which three men screaming “free Palestine, kill all the Jews” attempted to enter a Brooklyn synagogue, one Orthodox state assemblyman told the New York Post that people were “literally afraid to walk the streets.”

Last Wednesday, the NYPD Hate Crimes Unit announced that it had arrested Mohammed Othman, a 24-year-old resident of Staten Island, over in a May 20 attack in which he allegedly threw fireworks at a Jewish woman in midtown Manhattan, causing burns. The unit said in a tweet that he is being charged “for three separate anti-Semitic Hate Crime Assaults.”

JTA contributed to this report.

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