Anti-Semitic incidents double in two years in Thames Valley

More anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the Thames Valley last year, charity figures show.

The Community Security Trust said record levels of anti-Jewish sentiment nationally shows how difficult last year was for Jewish people in Britain.

In the Thames Valley, 31 anti-Semitic incidents towards Jewish people, organisations or property were reported to the CST in 2021.

This was up from 17 the year before, and more than the 15 recorded in 2019.

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Last year, there were 27 incidents of abusive behaviour and one assault.

There was also one verbal or written threat and two reports of damage or desecration to Jewish property.

The charity defines an incident as any malicious act which has anti-Semitic motivation or content, or the targeting of a victim because they are – or are believed to be – Jewish.

The CST said a record 2,255 such incidents occurred across the UK in 2021 – up 34% from 1,684 the previous year.

Reports peaked during a time of heightened conflict between Israel and Palestine, with 661 in May alone – a record monthly total.

There were 502 incidents that used far right or Nazi themes, including 90 where the Holocaust was celebrated.

Meanwhile, 182 hate incidents happened at schools or involved school pupils or staff last year – up from 54 in 2020, and the most ever.

Mark Gardner, CST chief executive, said: “Record levels of anti-Jewish racism, reported by our Jewish community to CST and police, show how difficult last year was for Jews across Britain.”

He said such hatred can grow over time, with perpetrators of these attacks taking any excuse to abuse Jews publicly.

Mr Gardner added: “This is exactly what happened during and after the Israel-Gaza war of May 2021, from schools and universities, through to the carloads of people who repeatedly drove to Jewish areas and yelled vile abuse at anyone who looked Jewish.”

The CST recorded 176 violent anti-Semitic incidents last year, including three classed as extreme because they involved grievous bodily harm or a threat to life, and 82 instances of damage or desecration of Jewish property.

A further 1,844 incidents involved abusive behaviour carried out verbally or via social media, through anti-Semitic graffiti, or one-off hate mail.

The CST also received 16 reports of so-called Zoom-bombing, where video calls are hijacked with anti-Semitic material, although the total number of online incidents fell by 13% in 2021.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “It is truly appalling that incidents of anti-Jewish hate have now reached record levels – and for this to be increasing shows just how far we have to go to remove the stain of anti-Semitism from our society.

“We need urgent action to tackle these vile incidents wherever they arise, be it in schools, on our streets or online.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said she will ensure police have the resources to tackle these “despicable” attacks so that perpetrators can then be punished with the full force of the law.

She added: “These statistics are shocking and a stark reminder that the racism of anti-Semitism has not been eradicated.

“Our Jewish community has been subject to appalling hatred and it is through the strength and determination of the CST that we continue in our work together to stop such terrible attacks.”

Slough Observer | News