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Antisemitic incidents rise to 350 in 2002

Last updated: 2003-02-21

During 2002 there was a 13 per cent increase in antisemitic incidents in the United Kingdom compared with 2001.

The Community Security Trust (CST) has published its Antisemitic Incidents Report which is based on all antisemitic incidents reported to the CST in 2002.

This increase is mostly attributable to the over spill of violence in the Middle East with a spike in incidents in April and May during the Israeli forces temporary reoccupation of parts of the West Bank. There were 17 assaults on Jews and Finsbury Park Synagogue was extensively desecrated in these two months.

The Community Security Trust recorded the following:

2002 - 350 incidents (including 94 incidents in April and May)

2001 - 310 incidents

2000 - 405 incidents (including 105 incidents in October)

1999 - 270 incidents

1998 - 236 incidents

There were 47 violent assaults on Jewish people in 2002, representing a rise of 15 per cent from 2001. There were 66 incidents involving synagogues including their damage and desecration and the receipt of abusive hate mail and threatening behaviour.

Michael Whine, the Community Security Trust Director of Communications said: 

"In April and May 2002, immediately during and after the Israeli forces temporary reoccupation of the West Bank, there were 94 incidents. These were a direct consequence of tensions in the Middle East. There was a worrying increase in violent assaults on Jewish people some of which were life threatening.  The majority of these were unprovoked and involved the use of antisemitic words or behaviour."

"There were 216 incidents of abusive behaviour in 2002 reflecting the increased boldness of antisemites, coming as it does from face-to-face encounters and spontaneous acts. More than any other trend this reflects the cumulative effect of the promotion of hatred against the Jews that comes from the Middle East and from radical Islamist groups. There were also 55 incidents of damage and desecration including the desecration of synagogues in London and Swansea and seven Jewish cemeteries."

There was a decrease in the distribution of antisemitic literature from 20 in 2001 to 14 in 2002. The CST believes that this arises from a new determination on the part of prosecuting authorities to clamp down on Islamist incitement, such as the conviction of Iftikhar Ali, an al-Muhajiroun activist, and distributor of leaflets that called on Muslims to kill Jews.