LONDON (JTA) — Israel’s Gaza operation last winter spurred a record number of anti-Semitic attacks in Britain during the past year.
The organization recording anti-Semitic incidents, the Community Security Trust, reported an increase in incidents of 55 percent from the previous year. The 924 incidents were the most since records have been kept, according to reports.
The main rise in attacks was recorded in January and February, during and after Israel’s military action in the Gaza Strip. According to the CST annual report, the 628 incidents in the first six months of 2009 were more than in any entire previous year. There were 296 incidents from July to December.
“These record figures show that anti-Semitism is an increasingly significant problem for British Jews," CST spokesman Mark Gardner said. "The trend must be reversed, and we call upon decent people to speak out against anti-Semitism in all its forms.”
Prime Minister Gordon Brown did, saying that “Anti-Semitism is one of the most ancient of hatreds — and yet it constantly adapts to modern times, requiring ever greater vigilance from all of us who are determined to stand up for tolerance and for the truth. Whether online, on campus or on the streets, there is absolutely no place for racism or discrimination of any sort, and the Community Security Trust has my wholehearted support in its work with the police and the Jewish community."
Twenty-three percent of the incidents in 2009, or 212, included some form of reference to the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. In January, 158 of the 288 incidents made reference to Gaza.
Some 124 violent assaults occurred last year, 41 percent more than the 88 from 2008. However, violent assaults fell to 13 percent of the total, from a high of 21 percent in 2007.
Michael Gove, the Conservative Party spokesman and a member of the shadow cabinet, said that "Britain’s Jewish citizens face a real and growing danger. The dramatic increase in anti-Semitic incidents over the last year proves that the oldest of prejudices has been given a new lease of life. Everyone in public life — politicians, media figures, academics and community leaders — has to recognize that this growth in anti-Semitism is a stain on our society."