Antisemitism incidents hit record high with Barnet and Camden among worst areas 

A damaged Chanukiah in Primrose Hill

A damaged Chanukiah in Primrose Hill - Credit: @KneidlachJenner

Reported antisemitic incidents in the UK hit a record high in 2021, with Barnet, Hackney and Camden among the worst areas in the country. 

The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity protecting British Jews from antisemitism and threats, has published its annual incidents report, outlining the trends and stats from the previous 12 months. 

It recorded a total of 2,255 incidents in 2021, the highest ever reported to the CST in a single year. 

This is up 34% from the 1,684 in 2020, and 24% more than 2019’s total, in which 1,813 were reported. 

The regions where the highest number of incidents occurred were Greater London (1,254) and Greater Manchester (284). 

Both of these were up on the year before, with Greater London increasing by a third from 941, and Greater Manchester a whopping 86% from 153 in 2020. 

The CST recorded its highest number of reported antisemitic incidents in 2021, following a drop in 2020

The CST recorded its highest number of reported antisemitic incidents in 2021, following a drop in 2020 - Credit: CST

Antisemitism in London 

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All of London’s 33 police boroughs recorded at least one incident in 2021, with Barnet's 423 the highest number by a stretch. 

On Barnet's figures, council leader Daniel Thomas said: “Nobody should be made to feel unsafe in Barnet, and I will continue to make sure the council does all it can, alongside our partners in the police – and of course the community – to root antisemitism out from the borough."

Elsewhere in the capital, Hackney recorded 129 instances of antisemitism, Camden 109, Westminster 99 and Tower Hamlets 56. 

Given Barnet, Hackney and Camden are each home to large portions of London’s Jewish population, it is perhaps of little surprise that they are among the authorities with the most reported incidents, with each of them increasing on the previous year’s figures. 

One such instance towards the end of last year was the attack on a man and a Hannukah display in West Hampstead.

Following the incident, director of investigations and enforcement at Campaign Against Antisemitism Stephen Silverman said: "The sad truth is that our nation’s capital is not nearly as safe as it should be for Jewish people." 

The report points out that Westminster and Tower Hamlets do not have similarly high numbers of Jewish residents, and that instead specific local events may have driven the figures higher. 

For Westminster, it says the protests which took place regarding the Middle East likely resulted in further incidents, noting: “Antisemitic abuse was reported at both pro-Palestine and pro-Israel demonstrations, contributing to Westminster’s figure.” 

In regards to Tower Hamlets, the report states it received information on antisemitic, conspiracy theory-laden, anti-Zionist graffiti throughout the year, and that the CST worked with police to identify the offender.

Greater London recorded the highest number of reported antisemitic incidents, followed by Greater Manchester

Greater London recorded the highest number of reported antisemitic incidents, followed by Greater Manchester - Credit: CST

Reasons for the rise 

The CST report says the primary factor behind 2021’s record-high was the spike in violence following the escalation in the Middle East in May, a month in which it experienced its highest ever monthly figure of 661. 

The report adds that the loosening up of restrictions at this time further fuelled the rise in incidents. 

It says: “While strongly influenced by circumstances in Israel and Palestine, the surge of antisemitism in May and ensuing elevation of monthly incident averages also occurred within the context of lockdown measures relaxing.  

“It was in May that the UK began step 3 of its response to the pandemic: most businesses were allowed to open and restrictions on collective social gatherings were loosened.  

“The emotional reactions that conflict in the Middle East stimulates, coupled with the concurrent opportunity for lockdown-induced frustrations to be released, are likely to have exacerbated the volume and ferocity of antisemitic incidents subsequently reported in 2021.” 

The breakdown of the types of incidents reported to the CST in 2021

The breakdown of the types of incidents reported to the CST in 2021 - Credit: CST

CST chief executive Mark Gardner said: “These 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. 

"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.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “These statistics are shocking and a stark reminder that the racism of antisemitism has not been eradicated.  

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

“In addition to supporting the work of CST, I continue to support the police to ensure they have the resources to tackle these despicable incidents so that perpetrators can then be punished with the full force of the law.”