Thursday, July 31, 2008

Antisemitism in UK rises 

British Jewish watchdog: Anti-Semitic incidents in U.K. up 9% in 2008

By Haaretz Service
Thu., July 31, 2008 Tamuz 28, 5768

The first six months of 2008 have seen a 9 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom compared to the same period last year, according to a U.K. organization for the defense of British Jewry.

The Community Security Trust (CST) stated in a press release that it recorded 266 anti-Semitic incidents during the first half of 2008. It recorded 244 such cases in the corresponding period in 2007.

According to the organization, the rise was based in smaller Jewish communities beyond the main centers of London and Manchester, and as such may reflect improved reporting from those areas.

CST spokesperson Mark Gardner said: "These figures reflect the fact that
Anti-Semitism can affect British Jews in the smallest communities as well as the largest."

There was also a significant increase in the number of reported incidents involving students, both on and off campus, the organization stated.

However, the CST did note that the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults has fallen by 24 per cent compared to the first six months of 2007, from 54 to 42 incidents.

Gardner added that, "The rise in anti-Semitic incidents affecting Jewish students is of particular concern and we will work with the Union of Jewish Students, university authorities and the government to tackle what is clearly a growing problem."


Jewish trust: Anti-Semitic attacks in U.K. soared during Lebanon war

By Assaf Uni, Haaretz Correspondent

LONDON - The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Great Britain has risen sharply since the start of the Lebanon war, according to an organization dedicated to the safety of Britain's Jewish community.

According to Mark Gardner, spokesman of the Community Security Trust, there were over 90 incidents of anti-Semitism in Britain during July, including attacks on Jewish-owned stores, hate mail sent to representatives of the Jewish community and verbal and physical attacks on Jews in public. Over the past few years, the monthly average has been 10 to 30 such attacks.

The British report is merely the latest in a series of reports documenting an increase in anti-Semitic incidents throughout Europe in the past two months.

On Thursday, an all-party parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism in Britain will publish a report that is expected to declare anti-Semitism a serious problem and call on the government to fight it. Committee Chair Denis MacShane MP said in Saturday's London Times that the CST's figures "confirm the evidence given to us that anti-Semitic attacks are a very real problem."

Gardner told The Times that the July incidents "were more dispersed than usual," noting that "it is usually a small number [of people] responsible for a large number of attacks, but these were very widespread across the country and included graffiti attacks on synagogues in Edinburgh and Glasgow."

Hate mail sent to senior Jewish figures blamed them for the deaths of Lebanese children in Beirut, Gardner told The Times.

The public debate in Britain over the Israel Defense Forces' operations in Lebanon during the war was heated. It included mass antiwar demonstrations, political denunciations of Israel's "disproportionate use of force" and attempts to prevent the transfer of American weapons to Israel via Scottish airports.

Last week, Lord Janner was attacked in the House of Lords by fellow peer Lord Bramall during an argument over Israeli actions in Lebanon. "The number of anti-Semitic attacks reflects the mood music around Jews and Israel," Gardner told The Times.

The past two months have brought a steep increase in reported incidents of anti-Semitism around the world. The Australian Jewish Council reported a fivefold increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the country. Synagogues in Italy and Norway have been defaced and vandalized in recent weeks, and a monitoring organization in the Netherlands reported a "steep rise" in the number of anti-Semitic incidents there.

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