The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom increased by more than a third in 2016 to reach record high levels, according to data released Thursday by a leading Jewish charity. The man who leads the policing of Jewish communities has linked the increase to a range of both local and global factors, including both Brexit and the recent election of Donald Trump as president of the United States.
The Community Security Trust (CST), which monitors antisemitism and provides support to the Jewish community on security, published figures showing there were 1,309 incidents in 2016, a rise of 36 percent from a year earlier. The number also comfortably surpassed the previous high of 1,182 in 2014. The CST said it currently records double the number of anti-Semitic incidents per month than it did four years ago.
“While Jewish life in this country remains overwhelmingly positive, this heightened level of antisemitism is deeply worrying and appears to be getting worse,” CST’s chief executive David Delew, said. “Worst of all is that, for various reasons, some people clearly feel more confident to express their antisemitism publicly than they did in the past.”
Of the incidents, more than three-quarters occurred in Greater London and Greater Manchester, homes of the two largest Jewish populations in the U.K. There was an increase of 29 percent in violent anti-Semitic assaults, up to 107 for the year. The most common type of incidents involved verbal abuse randomly directed at Jewish people in public, while social media was also a frequent venue for antisemitism.
Following the release of the data, Home Secretary Amber Rudd pledged to provide 13.4 million ($16.8 million) to protect Jewish sites.
A host of reasons were given for the recent spike including the divisive referendum campaign over Britain’s vote to leave the European Union as well as well as the Israel-Gaza conflict of 2014 and terrorist attacks against Jews in France and Denmark. Also raised were the allegations of antisemitism within the opposition Labour Party.
And Greater Manchester Police Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, who leads nationally on the policing of Jewish communities, also claimed that the rise of Trump across the Atlantic had a role to play.
“There’s no doubt about it that I think the nasty Brexit campaign raised problems in relation to antisemitism,” he told BBC radio. “I think focus on concerns around the Labour Party and I just think global events such as the election of Donald Trump in America. All these things have contributed to an increase in hate crimes, not just against Jewish people but across the board.”
As well as adopting positions on the far right, Trump has appointed several former employees of right-wing news site Breitbart. They include Stephen Bannon, Trump's chief strategist who in his time as publisher of Breitbart described it as “the platform for the alt-right.” The alt-right is an umbrella term used to describe an extreme form of conservatism linked to white nationalism and racism.