Yesterday the CST released their yearly report on antisemitic incidents in the UK. The results are worrying. 1,309 cases were recorded, the highest ever total, and a 36% increase from last year. The CST cites widely reported disputes over antisemitism in the Labour Party and the climate of increased racism and xenophobia following the EU referendum as possible factors in this sharp rise. 107 violent assaults were logged last year, and it is likely that underreporting masks the true total. Although these only account for a small proportion of total incidents, it’s concerning that campus related cases involving students and academics have doubled since last year.
The report is characteristically measured. There has been much discussion of antisemitism within the UK’s Muslim communities and the CST is very careful to caution against reading too much into the raw statistics about perpetrator identity (where available).
These figures partly reflect the fact that Britain’s Jewish communities tend to live in relatively diverse urban areas, and that street crime offenders (where the most common type of antisemitic incident takes place) make up a younger, and more diverse, demographic profile than the population as a whole (p. 24)
The CST is also extremely careful not to conflate criticism of Israel with antisemitism, while acknowledging the obvious potential for intersection. Their rationale for including (or rejecting) anti-Israel discourse in their incident report is very clearly laid out on pp.27-8. This section demonstrates the nuanced and cautious approach adopted by the CST.
Similarly, anti-Israel material that is sent unsolicited to a synagogue at random may be recorded as an antisemitic incident (because the synagogue was targeted simply because it is Jewish and the offender has failed to distinguish between a place of worship and a political organisation), when the same material sent unsolicited to specifically pro-Israel organisations would not be. On the other hand, if a particular synagogue has been involved in public pro-Israel advocacy and subsequently is sent anti-Israel material, it may not be classified as antisemitic unless the content of the material dictates otherwise.
Below you can read Jenny Tonge’s nasty response to the CST’s report – indeed her proud promotion of her initial response.
Where to start? No concern is expressed over the rise in antisemitic violence. Instead she insists that Jews need to distance themselves from Netanyahu in order to avoid attacks. If she thinks the CST demonstrates a ‘perpetual victim mentality’ what kind of campaigning community group against antisemitism would she countenance? Although sometimes Israel is the apparent driver for antisemitism, the CST’s report also contains evidence of Holocaust denial and conspiracism. And it’s deeply unfair to imply that the CST is not concerned about ‘ALL racism’ – it has worked closely with Tell MAMA to support their project countering anti-Muslim bigotry.
In her recent response to a much criticised interview on J-TV Tonge opined
My own fault I guess for being decent and wanting to connect with Israel’s supporters.
This rings very hollow in the light of her failure to connect with the victims of hate crimes – something which should be easily possible whether or not one is a supporter of Israel.