2016 was the worst year on record for anti-semitic hate crimes. According to figures, in just a year the number of reported incidents had increased by a staggering 36%
72 years on from the conclusion of the most horrific, calculated extermination of a race ever to happen in which 6 million Jews were killed by indescribable methods in the Holocaust, the targeting of Jewish people remains as prevalent as it was several decades ago.
The Community Security Trust (CST) is the charity responsible for the safety of Jewish people as well as tackling this continued anti-semitism.
Their recent report highlighted a record number of statistics, including the highest number of violent anti-semitic assaults reported since 2010, which stood at 107 and even more concerning damage to jewish property had increased by a quarter, to 81 reported incidents.
James Cowen, a 19-year-old Jew from London has experienced anti-semitism first hand and had to deal with disturbing abuse about his religion throughout his time at secondary school.
James explained, “When I was younger I would get on the bus home from school and the school opposite us would bully us by blocking the stairs on the bus, they wouldn’t let us go up.
“They made anti semitic jokes and would push us off our seats. It just continued until the end of secondary school.”
James, who now studies at the University of Sheffield reacted with worrying acceptance when he saw the dramatic rise in reported hate crimes against jewish people, believing that jews ‘seem to be an easy target’
He continued, “I thought as we moved on in society things would get better but im really not surprised, its been happening for years.”
However, despite these startling statistics which includes 287 anti-semitic social media episodes, James has not witnessed or been subject to any anti-semitic abuse during his time at university, a stark contrast from his younger years.
This intertwines with a noticeable decline in reported incidents in Greater Manchester, which have fallen by 9% with only 205 being reported in 2016.
In spite of this positivity, only last month a sickening attempt to alienate jewish people reached new heights in the predominantly Jewish town of Stamford Hill, North London.
Society does not tolerate prejudice or discrimination”
A road sign insinuating to ‘beware of the jews’ was erected onto a lamppost near a synagogue and has understandably caused fear and confusion amongst the strong jewish community there.
The CST are concerned about the rising number of anti-semitic incidents but are continuing to tackle and prevent further problems.
A representative from the CST explained, “We work closely with the Police and Government to tackle antisemitism in all areas of life, including online antisemitism.
“If the victim or witness does not feel comfortable going to the Police, they can report the incident through a third party reporting organisation (like CST).”
Despite an increased number of hate crimes reported in 2016, the CST believe that “life for the British Jewish community is very positive.”
“The rise of antisemitic incidents is concerning because there was no single trigger event in 2016, but rather the rise may be explained by a culmination of long term factors and a general climate of increased xenophobia in the UK where people feel more comfortable to express their prejudice.
“In addition, despite the increase in incidents, no incidents involved extreme violence resulting in loss of life or grievous bodily harm.
“The more hate crime that is reported, the more people will realise that society does not tolerate prejudice or discrimination.”
Rabbi Dov Birnbaum, from Seed Edgware, a jewish education organisation said, “I think that it is shocking and surprising that with all of the advances that we have made as a society.
“Sadly it still seems to be that there are some elements which I would say we are yet to overcome as a society and one of those things are hate crimes, it is a real stain on us as a society.
Rabbi Birnbaum believes that it is up to public figures to stamp out anti-semitism from society.
“We’ve been seeing various political figures who are getting involved saying comments which have been interpreted as being anti semitic and others actually condemning that.
“So the more we see that then I think the more hope there is that as a society we can move forward”