Anti-Semitic incidents soar in UK, reflecting ‘overall rise in hate crime’

Protesters march against anti-Semitism in London in this file photo.(AFP)
Updated 28 July 2017
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Anti-Semitic incidents soar in UK, reflecting ‘overall rise in hate crime’

LONDON: The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the UK rose to an all-time high in the first half of the year, according to a charity that aims to protect British Jews. The Community Security Trust (CST) reported a 30 percent increase over the same period in 2016.
That increase in reported incidents reflects “a general overall rise in hate crime, and as hate crime increases so does anti-Semitism,” Simon Johnson, the chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, told Arab News.
He added that the yearly increases are no longer connected to escalating tensions between Israel and Palestine in the Middle East.
“We previously saw a pattern that when there was a major conflict in the Middle East involving Israel, then anti-Semitism would spike, and that happened in 2014. The problem is that those figures now are continuing to rise and the Israel-Palestine situation is doing nothing other than being as tense as normal, so it’s clear therefore that there are domestic factors influencing the rise in reported anti-Semitic incidents.”
There were 767 anti-Semitic incidents — mainly abusive behavior or assault — in the first six months of 2017, the CST reported.
Hate crime is also on the rise against Muslims in the UK. Figures released in early June by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan showed a fivefold increase of Islamophobic incidents in the days following the London Bridge terror attack, and a 40 percent increase in racist incidents, compared with the daily average in 2017.
Reported anti-Muslim-motivated hate crimes rose to 20 per day, up from an average of 4 per day, following the attack, and hate crime overall rose to 54 incidents per day, up from a daily average of 38 per day for 2017, according to Metropolitan Police figures for London.
Following the Manchester bombing, hate crimes in the city rose 500 percent on May 22, according to Tell MAMA, a group that monitors anti-Muslim attacks. The organization also reported a 326 percent rise in anti-Muslim abuse through 2015, with women being especially targeted by teenage perpetrators.
The increase in anti-Semitic hate crime in 2017 “may be down to improved reporting, but it is sadly clear that the overall situation has deteriorated,” CST Chief Executive David Delew was quoted as saying by Reuters. “Anti-Semitism is having an increasing impact on the lives of British Jews and the hatred and anger that lies behind it is spreading.”
Mark Gardner, head of communications for CST, said the charity struggled to pinpoint the trigger behind the increase, but said anti-Semitism could be an indicator of the state of society as a whole.
“It may be that it sits with a general rise in racism or just an increase in the division in society. There is an anger or frustration that seems to be the ambient mood out there,” Gardner said.
The Jewish Leadership Council’s Simon Johnson said that the “majority of the perpetrators are white European, which suggests a deep-ingrained hatred, and people are finding more visible ways to express that hatred. Many of those incidents are linked to a rise in xenophobia, but there’s a core of people who have anti-Semitic views who are expressing these views.”
Johnson added that the rise in reported cases could also be down to factors including more awareness and training within the police, ease of reporting online, and also because of “the government’s investment of about £40 million ($52 million) per year into professional guards at Jewish schools and institutions.”
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has launched a first-of-its-kind police unit to tackle online hate crime and improve support for victims across the capital, said in a statement: “Anti-Semitism and all hate crime is deplorable and has absolutely no place in our city. I urge anyone who is a victim of anti-Semitism to report it to the police immediately.”
The mayor’s office added that his administration is also working with the London and British Transport Police to tackle hate crime on the city’s transport network.
About 74 percent of anti-Semitic attacks so far in 2017 have occurred in the main Jewish areas of London and Manchester, according to Reuters. The CST recorded 56 direct threats against Jews in the first six months of 2017, 25 of them involving direct face-to-face verbal abuse, a 27 percent increase from the same period a year before.
Ten of those threats involved knives, bats or cars. The CST said abuse on social media made up 142 of the anti-Semitic incidents in 2017, up from 136 incidents in 2016.
“Social media has become an essential tool for those who wish to harass, abuse or threaten Jewish public figured and institutions,” the CST said. The CST also said 23 percent of the incidents were politically motivated, with far-right leanings connected to the majority of those incidents.


At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

Updated 17 June 2019
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At least 161 dead in northeast Congo in apparent ethnic clashes

  • A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation
  • Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo: At least 161 people have been killed in a northeastern province of Democratic Republic of Congo in the past week, local officials said on Monday, in an apparent resurgence of ethnic clashes between farming and herding communities.
A series of attacks in Ituri province has mostly targeted Hema herders, who have long been in conflict with Lendu farmers over grazing rights and political representation, although the exact identity of the assailants remains murky.
Open conflict between Hema and Lendu from 1999-2007 resulted in an estimated 50,000 deaths in one of the bloodiest chapters of a civil war in eastern Congo that left millions dead from conflict, hunger and disease.
Tit-for-tat attacks between the two groups in late 2017 and early 2018 killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands more to flee their homes, but a tenuous calm had taken hold until this month.
Pascal Kakoraki Baguma, a national lawmaker from Ituri, said the latest violence was sparked by the killing last Monday of four Lendu businesspeople.
“Members of the Lendu community believed that these assassinations were the work of the Hema,” Kakoraki said. “This is why they launched several attacks on Hema villages.”
“Sources affirm that 161 bodies have been found so far. But the death toll goes beyond the bodies recovered, as there were other massacres of civilians and police officers,” he said.
Jean Bosco Lalo, president of civil society organizations in Ituri, said 200 bodies had been found since last week in predominantly Hema villages, including the 161 mentioned by Kakoraki. Lalo said the toll would rise once his teams gained access to other villages where killings had been reported.
Ituri Governor Jean Bamanisa said provincial authorities were still working to establish the exact death toll and declined to say who was responsible.
He said the assailants’ tactics were to “empty out the villages, burn them and pursue those who had fled to the surrounding areas with bladed weapons.”
Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, who took office in January, is trying to restore stability to the country’s eastern borderlands, a tinderbox of conflict among armed groups over ethnicity, natural resources and political power.
Several rebel leaders have surrendered or been captured during his first months in office, but armed violence has persisted, particularly in North Kivu province, south of Ituri, which is the epicenter of a 10-month Ebola outbreak.