'Worrying' rise in anti-Semitic incidents, charity says

Vandalised headstone Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Headstones at a Jewish cemetery in Manchester were destroyed in May

The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK rose by 11% in the first six months of this year, charity figures have suggested.

The Community Security Trust said 557 incidents targeting Jews were reported to the charity from January to June, up from 500 in the same period last year.

The charity's chief executive, David Delew, said it was a "worrying trend".

Home Secretary Amber Rudd condemned the "deplorable rise" of incidents, which included 41 violent assaults.

The CST, which has compiled data on anti-Semitic hate incidents in the UK since 1984, said there was no "obvious single cause" for the high number.

Social media abuse

It said that just under a quarter of all the incidents recorded - 133 - involved the use of social media.

Its report said social media had become an "essential tool" for those who wish to harass, abuse and threaten Jewish public figures.

A total of 431 incidents were in the abusive behaviour category and this included verbal abuse, anti-Semitic graffiti, abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail.

The charity also recorded 32 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property, 43 direct threats, and 10 cases of mass-mailed leaflets or emails.

Mr Delew said: "This rise in reported anti-Semitism comes at a time when division, intolerance and prejudice appear to be deepening within our society.

"Reversing this worrying trend requires real leadership from all political parties, and for the social media companies to take their share of the responsibility."

Image copyright PSNI
Image caption Graffiti was sprayed on a house and two cars in Armagh in June in an incident treated by police as a hate crime

More than three-quarters of the incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester.

However, the 62 that took place in Greater Manchester represented a 54% drop compared with the first half of last year.

The report said that April, May and June "did see sustained public debate about anti-Semitism, particularly in relation to the Labour Party, and about racism and extremism more generally".

Labour's inquiry into anti-Semitism followed the suspension of MP Naz Shah and ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone amid anti-Semitism claims in April.

It found that the Labour Party was not overrun by anti-Semitism or other forms of racism, but there was an "occasionally toxic atmosphere".

Last year, the CST said there were 473 anti-Semitic incidents from January to June 2015. The number was updated to 500 in its most recent set of figures following new information.

'Hate crime rise'

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said: "I condemn the deplorable rise in anti-Semitic hate incidents in the first half of this year and will continue to work with law enforcement partners and with the Jewish community to ensure their safety and security."

She announced a review of police handling of hate crime in July, after a sharp rise in incidents following the EU referendum.

Shadow home secretary Andy Burnham said: "There are worrying increases in incidents of anti-Semitic behaviour as many forms of hate crime rise across the country too."

Labour MP John Mann, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism, said: "This is a worrying rise in incidents set against a backdrop of increasing hate crime across the country."

More on this story