Great Britain
Great BritainiStock

Antisemitic incidents in the UK reached historic levels in 2021, according to a new report from the organization tasked with providing security resources for the British Jewish community.

The study from the Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 2,255 antisemitic hate incidents nationwide in 2021, the highest total ever recorded by the organization since it began keep track of reports in 1984. The figure represents a 34 percent increase from the 1,684 incidents reported in 2020, and is the first time over 2,000 incidents occurred in one year. The previous record was 1,813 incidents in 2019.

CST noted that in five of the last six years, record numbers of incidents have occurred.

“The driving factor behind 2021’s record total of antisemitic incidents is the spike in anti-Jewish hate that was reported during and after the escalation of violence in the Middle East,” the report said. “In May, when violence in Israel and Gaza intensified, CST recorded 661 antisemitic incidents. This record monthly total is unmatched, eclipsing the second- and third-highest monthly totals combined, when 317 and 289 incidents were reported in July 2014 and January 2009 respectively: periods when the war in the region reached a similar degree of severity.”

CST added that over a third of the incidents in 2021 “alluded or were related to Israel and the Middle East, evidenced anti-Zionist motivation alongside anti-Jewish language, targeting or motivation, or combined a mixture of these elements.”

“These statistics highlight the many and varied discourses employed in antisemitic incidents by those who use conflict involving Israel as an excuse to act out their prejudice towards Jews, and those who get worked up about Israel and take out their anger on British Jews as a local proxy target,” CST said. “If there was a single type of incident that became emblematic of how this hatred was communicated, it included people driving through Jewish neighbourhoods in towns and cities across the UK, in vehicles draped with Palestinian flags or waving them out of the windows, while shouting ‘Free Palestine’ and anti-Jewish abuse at random Jewish pedestrians who were singled out for being Jewish.”

There were 502 Nazi-related incidents recorded, including 90 cases of “Holocaust celebration,” in which “perpetrators celebrated the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people or expressed a wish for it to happen again.”

A record number of antisemitic incidents involving schools took place (182), more than triple the 54 incidents in 2020.

Violent incidents were at a level not seen before, with 176 recorded in 2021, an increase of 76 percent from the 100 violent incidents in 2020.

Antisemitic incidents in Greater London also soared in 2021, with 1,254 instances of anti-Jewish hate – an increase of 33 percent over the previous year, and the highest number ever recorded. Similar record numbers were also seen in other major British cities, including Manchester.

“The CST’s report incontrovertibly shows that 2021’s surge of antisemitism was linked to reactions to the escalation of violence between Gaza and Israel in May 2021,” the president of the Board of Deputies Marie van der Zyl said in a statement.

“Those who traffic in incendiary rhetoric, conspiracism and demonization campaigns against the world’s only Jewish-majority state need to reflect on how they give succour to antisemites and create and foster a hostile environment for British Jews.”