February 10, 2005
Violent attacks on British Jews hit record high
LONDON - Violent anti-Semitic attacks in Britain have reached "alarming" record levels, according to a report released on Thursday, prompting calls by Jewish leaders for more to be done to protect their community.
The Community Safety Trust, which represents Britain's 290,000-strong Jewish community on security matters, said there had been 532 "anti-Semitic incidents" - defined as malicious acts toward Jews - in 2004, including a record 83 assaults.
The total, which included abuse and threats, was a rise of 42 percent from the CST's 2003 figure, and well above the previous record high of 405 in 2000.
"This increase is extremely alarming. The transfer of tensions in the Middle East to the streets of Britain has resulted in an unprecedented level of anti-Semitic incidents," said Michael Whine, director of communications for the CST.
The Trust said 100 incidents were reported in March 2004 alone. In the worst incident, a Jewish teenager had his jaw shattered in the English south coast city of Southampton.
Last month London police said they were hunting a group of black and Asian men said to be behind a string of racist attacks on orthodox Jewish men in the capital.
A few days earlier, vandals daubed swastikas and other Nazi symbols on 10 gravestones in a Jewish cemetery in Aldershot, southern England, the second time it had been targeted.
Britain's chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, said the figures were a cause for concern. "The single most important thing is for our community to enlist others to join in the protest against the attacks," he said in a statement.
"Jews must not be left to fight anti-Semitism alone."
The government described the rise as "totally unacceptable" and said action was being taken. "We have strengthened the law against racism, including raising the maximum penalty for incitement to racial hatred," leader of the House of Commons Peter Hain told parliament.
The leaders of Britain's Anglican and Catholic Christian communities said the findings were disturbing and condemned anti-Semitism.
Rob Beckley, the Association of Chief Police Officers' spokesman on faith matters, said that "...any anti-Semitic incidents are a matter of great concern to the police service ... All hate crime is insidious and destructive and we are committed to taking positive action against those perpetrating such offences."