HOPE not hate

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Antisemitism on the rise

posted by: Jemma Levene | on: Thursday, 2 February 2017, 12:20


Photo via CST, credit, James Lillywhite/Twitter

Photo via CST, credit, James Lillywhite/Twitter

Today the Community Security Trust, the Jewish charity monitoring antisemitism and protecting the Jewish community, released its Antisemitic Incidents Report 2016, which reveals a record number of antisemitic hate crime incidents recorded by them. The report lays out that 21% of British Jews had suffered antisemitic harassment in the past 12 months. Other antisemitic incidents include violent assault, damage and desecration of property abusive behaviour, threats, and mass-produced antisemitic literature.

The report states: ‘It is likely that there is significant under-reporting of antisemitic incidents to both CST and the Police. And that the number of antisemitic incidents that took place is significantly higher than the number recorded in this report’. This underreporting is reflected in the Crime Survey of England and Wales, which suggests under 20% of incidents are reported to the police.

I recently had a conversation with a close friend, let’s call her Sarah. Sarah is a professional, and has worked within the Jewish community for many years. Her three children go to Jewish schools, and travel by bus to school. She recounted a recent Friday night dinner where her eldest son laughingly told the family that while he was standing at the bus stop with a bunch of friends, all in their school uniform, which includes a kippah (skull cap), a man driving a lorry slowed right down and made obscene gestures at the boys. They were the only people at the bus stop, and they were all visibly Jewish.

Sarah was a bit taken aback by this. She told me she had not really thought about her children having to confront street antisemitism up until that point. But the next part of the conversation really shocked her. Her 12-year-old joined the conversation:

“You think that’s bad? You should have heard what happened to me last week!”

He recounted that he and friends his age had been playing football in the backyard of a synagogue when a group of much older boys came up to the fence and shouted to them, telling them that Harry Potter was better than the Jews because he survived the Chambers. Shocked, Sarah asked her son what happened next, had they told an adult, maybe involved the CST guard on the front gate of the synagogue? He shrugged, and said they just ignored them and carried on playing.

The wakeup call for Sarah was that her children have had Streetwise training from the CST, and know about antisemitism. When she asked them, they were able to verbalise what they should have done, and even understood that it would be important for the CST and police to know about the incident at the synagogue. Whether it just wasn’t ‘cool’ to be seen to react, or whether this kind of verbal abuse is the norm for Jewish children, they chose not to report it or even to tell anyone about it.

The other reason that antisemitic sentiment in Britain can never be accurately measured is that the vast majority of Jewish people are not visible targets. There are small parts of the Jewish community who choose to follow a very visible dress code, such as the Charedi communities in north and northwest London and north Manchester. In addition, boys attending Jewish schools may choose to continue wearing their kippot outside of school grounds.

Other than that, the vast majority of Jews are not visible targets for street antisemitism and therefore we can never know whether racist opportunists would commit more verbal and physical abuse to Jews if they were only able to identify them!

The CST report is a timely reminder that unfortunately antisemitism is growing, and like all forms of hate, must be acknowledged and challenged.

The full report can be found here.



 Posted: 2 Feb 2017 | There are 0 comments


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