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Antisemitic incidents in UK near record high in first half of 2020

04 Aug 2020

Antisemitic incidents in Britain rose to the third highest level for the January to June period, since the British antisemitism watchdog Community Security Trust (CST) started tracking the statistic. In five of the six months of the first half of 2020, over 100 antisemitic incidents were recorded – with 98 incidents being recorded in the sixth month.  

While the number of antisemitic incidents declined 13% as compared to 2019, the decrease of incidents was likely due to coronavirus social distance requirements rather than a decrease in antisemitic sentiment, the report found. The two months (March and April) where antisemitic incidents were the lowest, coincided with the period where coronavirus lockdown measures were most highly enforced. As regulations were relaxed in May, antisemitic incidents rose.  

"Any reduction in antisemitism is welcome, but it is worrying that even during a national lockdown, antisemitic incidents only fell by 13 percent and new antisemitic lies have emerged to add to old hatreds," CST chief executive David Delew said in a statement. 

Despite the drop in incidents, the CST report and previous reports shows a continued rise in antisemitic incidents long-term. The report also recorded examples of antisemitic incidents related to the coronavirus, including 26 episodes of coronavirus conspiracy myths accusing Jews spreading, creating, or inventing a coronavirus “hoax.” There were ten recorded interruptions of video conference calls, referred to as Zoombombings, at religious or educational events.  

While antisemitic incident reached an all-time high online (344), the CST warned that the figures likely, "understates the scale of the problem," since it only reflects incidents that are reported and counted groups of thousands of posts against individuals as singular incidents.  

In June, CST published a report highlighting thousands of violent antisemitic posts by far-right extremists on four relatively unregulated and lesser known social media platforms. CST said that it would not be publishing the full report online due to the, “violent imagery found and the quantity of explicit antisemitism.” 

CST reports recorded record high number of antisemitic incidents for 2018 and 2019. WJC President Ronald S. Lauder reacted to the 2018 report saying, “[t]he UK was the first country to formally adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, an encouraging and positive move for which we are most grateful. The next step must be to ensure that the definition is adopted systematically and across the board, to yield as an effective tool for law enforcement. Adopt; encode; and enforce. This will allow antisemitism to be confronted appropriately and comprehensively,” Lauder said.