Gaza invasion 'sparked UK anti-semitic attacks'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Israel's invasion of Gaza prompted a huge increase in anti-Semitic attacks and intimidation, Jewish groups said today.

The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 609 anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2009, more than the total for all of last year.

Much of the surge took place in January when there were more than nine incidents in the UK every day.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said: "British Jews are facing ever-higher levels of racist attack and intimidation that threaten the well-being of our otherwise happy and successful Jewish community.

"There is no excuse for anti-Semitism, racism and bias, and it is totally unacceptable that overseas conflicts should be impacting here in this way."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "Britain is setting a shameful new record in anti-Semitic incidents this year, which are running at double the annual rate of the previous record.

"It is completely abhorrent that anyone should be intimidated on the grounds of their race, colour, gender, sexuality or creed.

"We must stand firm against intolerance shown to any minority if we are to preserve a civilised society."

Foreign Office minister Ivan Lewis said: "I am deeply concerned by the rise in the number of anti-Semitic incidents as reported by the CST today.

"The British government is firmly committed to tackling and reducing all forms of racism including anti-Semitism.

"We simply cannot tolerate those who seek to use foreign conflicts to justify racism and criminal acts against any UK citizen.

"The UK's Jewish community is an integral part of the rich fabric that makes up modern Britain and must be able to live free from fear of verbal or physical attack.

"The Government was in regular contact with senior community figures and the CST during the Gaza conflict and remain alert to their concerns."

The Communities and Local Government minister responsible for cohesion, Shahid Malik, added: "This rise in anti-Semitism is not just concerning for the British Jewish communities but for all those who see themselves as decent human beings.

"The fight against anti-Semitism is a fight that should engage us all. This country will not tolerate those who seek to direct hatred towards any part of our community.

"Of course it may be legitimate for individuals to criticise or be angry at the actions of the Israeli Government but we must never allow this anger to be used to justify anti-Semitism."