Tom Watson has issued a strong reminder of the need to root out anti-Semitism in society after a rise in the level of hate crime against Jews.
Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, said he doesn’t “want to live in a country where any member of the Jewish community feels unsafe, afraid or discriminated against”, adding that “it is shocking that the number of anti-Semitic incidents is on the rise in the UK.”
The number of anti-Semitic incidents leapt by 36 per cent in 2016, its highest level in 30 years, according to a report from the Community Security Trust (CST) which identified 1,309 such crimes.
The review attributed the increase to the rise in hate crime in the aftermath of the EU referendum and “high profile allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party”.
The majority of the incidents – 77 per cent – were categorised as “abusive behaviour” meaning verbal abuse, graffiti, online abuse and hate mail. There were 107 physical assaults, 100 direct threats, 81 incidences of damage and desecration and 15 instances of mass mailings of anti-Semitic material. Over three-quarters of the reported incidents happened in Greater London or Greater Manchester, home to most of Britain’s Jewish people.
The trust, which provides security for the country’s Jewish community, has a stringent approach to including incidents and some 791 reports were excluded for not meeting its criteria. Instances of organised abuse, for example a flurry of abusive tweets or messages on social media, are counted as one incident.
Watson said: “It’s vital that we continue to highlight the abuse Jewish people are experiencing and as deputy leader of the Labour Party I have made a commitment to do exactly that. We must root out anti-Semitism whenever it takes place and wherever it exists, as a party and as a country.”