Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain fall slightly


LONDON (JTA) — Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain fell slightly during 2008, but this figure was overshadowed by the unprecedented rise in anti-Semitic incidents since the start of Israel’s military action in Gaza.

The Community Security Trust, the body which monitors anti-Semitism and provides security advice and training for the Jewish community in Britain, recorded 541 incidents during 2008, making it the third worst year for such incidents since records have been kept. The security body issued its annual report on Friday.

However, in the four weeks after the Gaza crisis began on Dec. 27, over 250
anti-Semitic incidents were reported to CST, by far the highest rate since security body began recording incidents in 1984.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said: "The Jewish community would have welcomed this decline in incident figures for a second year running. Sadly, the subsequent outburst of anti-Semitic rage during the Gaza conflict shows the shocking impact upon British Jews of widespread anti-Israel hysteria."

The 541 anti-Semitic incidents in 2008 included 88 violent assaults, a 25 percent drop from 2007. There were 74 incidents of damage and desecration to Jewish property; 28 direct anti-Semitic threats; 314 incidents of abusive behavior, which includes hate mail, verbal abuse and anti-Semitic graffiti on non-Jewish property; and 37 cases of mass-mailing of anti-Semitic literature in paper form or by e-mail.

In addition to the 541 anti-Semitic incidents, a further 347 potential incidents were investigated, but not recorded, since there was no clear proven anti-Semitic link.

Next week Britain will host a major international conference of legislators and experts on anti-Semitism. More than 100 lawmakers from more than 35 countries will gather for the conference, which aims to foster a collaborative response to the international problem of anti-Semitism. The lawmakers will share their experiences of anti-Semitic problems and offer possible solutions with a view to taking positive and effective action.

A forum of experts will also exchange views of their experience in the various countries, and consult on ways of collaborating in the future.

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