The World Jewish Congress has warned European leaders that anti-Semitism is increasing at an alarming rate.
President Ronald S. Lauder speaking at the Rome International Conference on anti-Semitism told delegates that ‘New Europe’ is looking an awful lot like the Europe of the 1930s.
“In country after country we are watching a growing wave of far-right, ultra-national and in some cases neo-Nazi parties gaining strength,” he said.
“As a Jew, I can think of nothing more dangerous.”
Noting governments might face difficulties in cracking down on elements of society, Lauder added: “Democracies have implicit constraints but its leaders must stand up and say – strongly – the hatred of Jews ends here and now.”
Lauder also pointed out that Euro leaders must stand up for other persecuted minorities, including in Africa and the Middle East.
“Jews understand the high price of silence,” he noted.
“The silence, the indifference of almost every world leader in the 1930s allowed Hitler to move closer and closer to Auschwitz.
Lauder added: “I can promise you this, any political leader that stands up against anti-Semitism or any form of bigotry will have the full support of the Jewish people.
“We must do this together, we must never ever be silent.”
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe convened the conference.
Days after Lauder’s statement, the Community Security Trust’s annual report noted that a record number of 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents had taken place in the UK in 2017.
The highest total in a calendar year since records began in 1984 eclipses the previous high of 1,182 three years ago.
“Anti-Semitism is a despicable form of abuse that seeks to undermine our values of diversity and openness and which has absolutely no place in British society,” said Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
“I welcome this reports findings that the rise in reported incidents partly reflects the improving response to these horrendous attacks and better information sharing between the CST and police forces around the UK. But even one incident is one too many and any rise in incidents is clearly concerning, which is why this Government will continue its work protecting the Jewish community and other groups from Anti-Semitism and hate crime.
“In addition to the £13.4m funding the Government provides to protect Jewish sites, this year we will be refreshing our 2016 Hate Crime Action Plan, which sets out our strategy for tackling this scourge.”
Last years’ high continues a pattern of incidents sustained by factors including an increase in recorded hate crime and publicity regarding alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
Worryingly, there were over 100 monthly anti-Semitic incidents from January to October, continuing a pattern of 19 consecutive months from April 2016.
As a comparison totals exceeding 100 incidents occurred on only six occasions in a decade preceding April 2016.
Monthly incidents however did decline in November and December, but remain double the level five years ago.
CST reported a 34 per cent increase in ‘violent’ antisemitic assaults up 108 to 145 in 2017.
There is no single explanation for the total but none were classified as ‘extreme’ violence, which would involve potential grievous bodily harm or threat to life.
Here, the most common type of incident involved ‘verbal’ abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public.
In 356 incidents, victims were attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. And in at least 283 cases, victims were visibly Jewish due to religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewellery bearing Jewish symbols.
CST recorded 247 antisemitic incidents that involved social media but the figure is skewed.
Although a 15 per cent fall on 2016, which may be a consequence of sustained efforts to tackle hate speech online combined with Police arrests and prosecutions restricting activities of prolific online anti-Semites, the report noted targeted campaigns directed at individual victims can involve dozens of social media accounts sending hundreds or thousands of tweets, images or posts within a concentrated timespan.
Social media is a growing concern and incidents were recorded if a victim or a witness reported them, if the comment shows evidence of antisemitic content, motivation or targeting, if the offender is based in the UK or has directly targeted a UK-based victim.
Other highlight numbers included 81 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property, 1,038 incidents of abusive behaviour, 95 direct anti-Semitic threats and 12 cases of mass-mailed anti-Semitic leaflets or emails.
Three-quarters of incidents occurred in Greater London (773) and Greater Manchester (261).
Beyond these Jewish conurbations there were 348 incidents in 80 locations around the UK.
“The findings are extremely concerning and emphasise how important it is that we all make a conscious effort to call out and confront anti-Semitism,” noted Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Andrew Gwynne.
“No one should feel unsafe or discriminated against while going about their daily business in public places,” added Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid. “We must root out anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it takes place.”
“These figures are troubling and show why we must keep on our toes when it comes to acting and speaking out against anti-Semitism,” said All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Anti-Semitism Chair John Mann.
“The partnership between Police and CST is central to our efforts to protect our Jewish communities from hate crime,” added National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Hate Crime, Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton.
“There is never any excuse for hate crime and Police forces are committed to protect the Jewish community from racism and abuse.
“I would encourage anybody who suffers hate crime to report it to the Police and to CST. We will do everything we can to support you and to bring offenders to justice.”
Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said: “These figures from the Community Security Trust are normally indicative of the official 2017 police statistics that are currently being compiled. Antisemitic crime has been rising dramatically since 2014 and that rise is not explained by an increase in reporting and we have seen no noticeable impact from Brexit.
“We believe that Jews are being singled out disproportionately and with increasing violence due to the spread of antisemitic 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; and because the Crown Prosecution Service declines to prosecute so often that antisemites no longer fear any consequences to their actions. We will continue to take the Crown Prosecution Service to court and prosecute antisemites ourselves, but until the criminal justice system and political parties stop paying lip service to Anti-Semitism and instead punish and excise it by implementing our simple recommendations, the threat to the security of British Jews will reach crisis point.”