Antisemitic chanting by West Ham United supporters

February 23rd, 2015 by CST

CST welcomes today’s statement by Lord Ouseley, Chair of football’s anti-discriminiation campaign Kick It Out, in which he condemns antisemitic chanting by some West Ham United supporters on their way to yesterday’s match against Tottenham Hotspur. Lord Ouseley linked this to the wider problem of antisemitism in society and called for antisemitism to be fully integrated into football’s anti-discrimination work, saying:

Antisemitism must be tackled with the same vigour as all other forms of discrimination. There is a heightened level of concern within the Jewish community about antisemitism with some feeling unable to live their everyday lives without fear of harassment, abuse and violence.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, said last month that the UK ‘must redouble its efforts to wipe out antisemitism’. Antisemitism which occurs within football should not be treated differently to any other discriminatory incidents. This type of behaviour is all interlinked and it must be stopped.

Football across the board, and that includes everyone involved in the game, especially at the highest levels, need to take responsibility and start asserting themselves by condemning this behaviour and acting upon it when it occurs.

All too often there is silence or half-hearted statements made by those with power and influence when it comes to countering discrimination within the game. This must change now if we are to make a difference. We cannot go on any longer operating with a silo mentality in which everyone looks to someone else to take responsibility but never does so themselves.

This follows the emergence of a video that appears to show antisemitic chanting by West Ham fans on their way to yesterday’s match. The video can be watched below (warning: offensive language) and we understand it is being investigated by British Transport Police.

Antisemitism of this kind should be treated with the same repugnance as the racist chanting and actions of those Chelsea fans who racially abused a black man in Paris last week. In 2014, CST recorded 42 antisemitic incidents of a football-related nature, a 45% increase compared to 29 incidents in 2013. These incidents included antisemitic chanting or comments by fans inside and outside professional football grounds, antisemitic abuse by players in amateur and youth football and football-related antisemitism on social media.

We applaud the progress shown by the FA in combating recent examples of antisemitic language or gestures in football. We also welcome the move towards ‘strict liability‘, whereby clubs are fully responsible for the actions of their fans. However, this weekend’s events show that there is still much work to be done.

 

Being Jewish is not “an act of provocation”

February 20th, 2015 by Dave Rich

On Monday I warned, in an article on Left Foot Forward, that the idea we should appease jihadist terrorists by desisting from doing the things that might ‘provoke’ them had troubling implications for Jews:

For by this logic, continuing to be Jewish in Europe, to visit synagogues or kosher shops, is also ‘provocative’. When faced with jihadist murderers bent on killing Jews, everyday Jewish life becomes ‘provocative’.

I originally titled that article “Being Jewish is not a provocation”, but then changed the title because, I naively thought, who could imagine that it is a provocation?

Channel 4 News, apparently.

Last night’s edition of Channel 4 News featured a frankly appalling interview with Zvika Klein, an Israeli Jewish journalist who spent 10 hours walking round Paris while wearing a yarmulke (a Jewish skullcap). Klein secretly filmed the reactions of some passers-by, which included spitting and abusive comments. You can watch the video here.

Channel 4’s interview with Klein is below. The presenter asks Klein (at 2:50) “As you say you are a Zionist, you have a particular standpoint. Do you accept what some critics would say, that the video, the way it was done, was an act of provocation?

It feels ridiculous to have to state this, but it has become necessary to do so: being Jewish is not “an act of provocation”. Walking in public wearing a yarmulke is not “an act of provocation”. Highlighting antisemitic abuse directed at a visibly Jewish man in public is not “an act of provocation”. It should be possible for a Jew to walk in safety along any street in Europe. Anything less should be unacceptable to everybody who opposes antisemitism and racism.

The fact that Klein says he is a Zionist is irrelevant.

The interview is troubling for another reason. It begins with a question about whether a Muslim woman wearing a hijab would suffer similar abuse, and the comparison of antisemitism to anti-Muslim hatred is a theme of the interview. CST has spoken out repeatedly against anti-Muslim hatred and we support the work of Tell MAMA in monitoring that kind of hate crime. There is value in tackling all forms of hate crime in a collaborative way.

However, it is also important not to use that kind of comparative approach as an excuse to avoid discussing antisemitism. Antisemitism is a problem in itself. There is no need to assess whether it is a bigger or smaller problem than other forms of bigotry before deciding whether to do something about it. At the best of times, this attitude seems churlish; when Jews are being murdered in Europe, it is worryingly complacent.

There is clearly a pattern of antisemitic attitudes in some sections of European societies. The evidence suggests that a disproportionate amount of antisemitic hate crime, in Britain as in France, is perpetrated by Muslims. There is an active jihadist threat to Jewish lives, as seen in Paris and Copenhagen. All of these are problems that need to be addressed. To open an interview about antisemitism by asking about anti-Muslim hatred seems like an effort to change the subject.

Dan Uzan – a Walking Mezuzah

February 19th, 2015 by CST

 

 

Many moving tributes have been paid to the late Dan Uzan Z”L, the Danish Jewish community security volunteer who was murdered by an antisemitic terrorist at 0040hrs on 15 February 2015 / 26 Shvat 5775, whilst protecting 80 people at a Bat Mitzvah in Copenhagen’s main synagogue. Below, is one such tribute, from Rabbi Yitzchok Loewenthal, the Director of Chabad Denmark. (Chabad was itself cruelly targeted by terrorists, in Mumbai, India.)

Dan was laid to rest in the Jewish Cemetery on 18 February / 29 Shvat, in front of a monument to the Theresienstadt Ghetto. A memorial page in his memory is at http://danuzan.com/.   

This afternoon the Jewish community of Copenhagen, the people of Denmark, and the Jewish people as a whole buried one of its sons: Dan Uzan.

Like the mezuzah, Dan stood tall and proud at the door of Jewish institutions and welcomed people with a firm but friendly demeanor.

He always had a pleasant smile, a good word, and a warm handshake. He was tall and big and loved sports. Enjoyed a good laugh and a hearty joke. His size and demeanor meant that when you saw him at the door you were reassured. You knew that this was a person who was serious about protecting.

That was where he was on the last night of his young life.

The atmosphere in the street that night was tense, and as I was heading out from the bat mitzvah he’d been protecting, I said to him, “Dan, why are you here on the street? Come inside.” His response: “We have to be proactive to make sure the police are here and check the cars etc.”. A quick handshake and I left. A short while later he fell in the line of duty, protecting his people.

The Jewish community in Denmark and Jewish communities all around the world have many such mezuzahs. Younger or older, men and women, who stand in the heat and in the cold, in the rain and in the sleet. Just like the mezuzah, they stand at the door to the Jewish home or institution, keeping it welcoming and safe inside.

They volunteer knowing that it gives a sense of security to the community, hoping that the time and warm toes sacrificed will be enough. But with Dan it was not to be.

It is told that the Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, of righteous memory, once spoke of the young people who operated in Europe to clandestinely spirit Jews into Mandate Palestine. The aliyah bet people. Selflessly and without consideration for themselves. Truth be told many of them were not that religious. She called them “tzadikim without tefillin.”

Tzadikim, righteous people, because of their amazing work and dedication. Without tefillin, because they may have not worn tefillin regularly. But still tzadikim!

The young men and women of the security group of Denmark and around the world are truly tzadikim whether with or without tefillin.

Dan Uzan is a genuine hero who died protecting the Jewish community.

An inspiration for us all and a symbol of the appreciation that we should have for all those standing out in that position

As for the rest of us, we can still do something for Dan and for our brethren all over. We can put on tefillin, light Shabbat candles and do other mitzvahs in their merit.

Those tzadikim.

DAN UZAN Z”L

2 June 1977 – 15 February 2015

dan uzan

CST statement on synagogue shooting in Copenhagen

February 15th, 2015 by CST

CST is deeply saddened by the news of a shooting at a synagogue in Copenhagen last night, following an attack on a free speech meeting in the same city earlier yesterday.

Our thoughts and sympathies are with the victims of these attacks and their families, and with the Danish Jewish community. We are in close contact with the Danish community and with the European Jewish communities’ joint crisis centre and will continue to give them whatever support we can.

The news that a security guard was killed in the shooting at the synagogue is especially distressing for all at CST and we express our solidarity with everyone who helps to protect Jewish communities all over the world.

The guard was killed protecting his community. Approximately 80 people were inside the synagogue at the time of the shooting, celebrating a Bat Mitzvah. We are grateful for all the expressions of support for CST and for our volunteers that we have received or have seen on social media today.

The courage and dedication of our security volunteers is at the heart of everything CST does. Their safety is of the highest priority for CST and is constantly reviewed to ensure that we give them the most appropriate protection for their work.

The shootings in Copenhagen confirm the ongoing terrorist threat to European Jewish communities that was seen in Paris last month, in Brussels last year and in Toulouse in 2012. It is the reason why the UK Police altered its risk assessment for the UK Jewish community following the attacks in Paris and we have been in contact with Police today as part of our ongoing assessment of the risk that our communities face.

We ask everybody who is attending a Jewish building or event to cooperate with the instructions of the security officers and Police at this difficult time.

CST op-ed in Jewish Chronicle

February 6th, 2015 by CST

Today’s Jewish Chronicle has the below article by CST’s Director of Communications, Mark Gardner, discussing CST’s latest annual report.

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The headline for CST’s annual Antisemitic Incidents Report for 2014 shows 1,168 antisemitic incidents, the first time we have recorded over 1,000 incidents. These are antisemitic hate crimes and hate incidents, reported to CST offices by victims, or reported by third parties, such as exchange programmes with Police forces.

The message appears simple, that antisemitism is increasing. More accurate is to say that 2014 confirmed the post 2000 pattern: the antisemitism problem that has driven CST’s work and security measures for many years.

Prior to 2014, the worst recorded year was 2009, with 931 incidents. Totals had generally fallen since then, reaching 535 in 2013, the lowest figure since 2004. Writing on this for the Jewish Chronicle, I welcomed the fall but warned it was due to the lack of “big triggers for antisemitic surges…wide-eyed anti-Israel passions continue, as do malign chatter against Jews and Zionists. The lid stayed on the antisemitic pressure cooker in 2013, but the heat is still on”.

I take no pleasure in having been correct. Last summer, July and August alone saw more incidents than in the whole of 2013. The summer war between Israel and Gaza lasted for approximately 50 days, which was significantly longer than the previous major conflicts in 2009 (22 days) and 2006 (34 days). That is reflected both in the cold statistics, and the unquantifiable pressures that many British Jews reported feeling at the time.

Now, last month’s dreadful terrorist attack in Paris has caused many people to feel similar pressures again. This is understandable, but despondency should doubly motivate us to contextualise this against the overall excellence of Jewish life; and all that we have built and achieved, especially since the year 2000. CST works to protect those achievements and we thank you for your continuing partnership in that effort.

Antisemitic Incidents Report shows record UK high in 2014

February 5th, 2015 by CST

Incidents Report 2014 - Cover

CST’s Antisemitic Incidents Report 2014, published today, shows a record number of antisemitic hate incidents were recorded in the UK last year.

CST recorded 1,168 antisemitic incidents across the country during 2014, more than double the 535 incidents recorded in 2013 and the highest annual total CST has ever recorded. A further 498 reports were received by CST, but were not deemed to be antisemitic and are not included in this total.

The full report can be downloaded from the CST website here and the Executive Summary can be read here.

CST has recorded antisemitic incidents in the UK since 1984. The previous highest annual total in that period came in 2009, when 931 antisemitic incidents were recorded by CST.

Antisemitic image distributed on UK social media, July 2014

Antisemitic image distributed on UK social media, July 2014

Antisemitic reactions to the conflict in Israel and Gaza that took place in July and August 2014 were the single biggest factor in the 2014 record high. CST recorded 314 antisemitic incidents in the UK in July 2014, the highest monthly total ever recorded, and 228 incidents in August, the third-highest monthly total CST has recorded.

However, CST had already recorded a 38 per cent increase in incidents in the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period in 2013, and it is likely that 2014 would still have shown an increase in recorded antisemitic incidents even without the impact of reactions to the conflict in Israel and Gaza.

Antisemitic leaflet sent to synagogues in Birmingham, Liverpool and London, August 2014

Antisemitic leaflet sent to synagogues in Birmingham, Liverpool and London, August 2014

The increase in antisemitic incidents in 2014 was recorded throughout the UK. Incidents increased by 137 per cent in Greater London and by 79 per cent in Greater Manchester. Beyond these two cities, CST received reports of antisemitic incidents from 89 different locations around the UK.

The 1,168 recorded antisemitic incidents included 81 violent antisemitic assaults, an increase of 17 per cent from the 69 antisemitic assaults recorded in 2013 and the highest number since 2011. One of these incidents was classified by CST as ‘Extreme Violence’, meaning it involved potential grievous bodily harm (GBH) or threat to life.

There were 81 incidents of Damage & Desecration of Jewish property in 2014; 884 incidents of Abusive Behaviour, including verbal abuse, antisemitic graffiti, antisemitic abuse via social media and one-off cases of hate mail; 92 direct antisemitic threats; and 30 cases of mass-mailed antisemitic leaflets or emails. All of these were increases on the 2013 totals.

Damaged gravestone at Blackley Cemetery, Manchester, June 2014

Damaged gravestone at Blackley Cemetery, Manchester, June 2014

The most common single type of incident in 2014 involved verbal abuse randomly directed at visibly Jewish people in public. In 397 incidents, the victims were ordinary Jewish people, male or female, attacked or abused while going about their daily business in public places. In at least 190 of these incidents, the victims were visibly Jewish, usually due to their religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewellery bearing Jewish symbols.

CST recorded 233 antisemitic incidents that involved the use of social media to transmit antisemitic threats or abuse, compared to 88 such incidents in 2013. Incidents involving the use of social media are only recorded by CST if they have been reported by a member of the public who fulfils the role of a victim or witness; if the comment shows evidence of antisemitic content, motivation or targeting; and if the offender is based in the United Kingdom or has directly targeted a UK-based victim. CST is committed to working with social media companies to find ways to reduce the impact of online hate.

Antisemitic image posted on Twitter by a far right account in Wales, December 2014

Antisemitic image posted on Twitter by a far right account in Wales, December 2014

CST Chief Executive David Delew said:

The Jewish community should not be defined by antisemitism but last year’s large increase in recorded incidents shows just how easily antisemitic attitudes can erupt into race hate abuse, threats and attacks. Thankfully most of the incidents were not violent but they were still shocking and upsetting for those who suffered them, and for the wider Jewish community. CST will keep working with our community, Police and politicians to find ways to reduce antisemitic hate crime, and to better prosecute and convict those who carry it out.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP said:

I am absolutely clear that everyone in this country, including members of Britain’s Jewish community, should be able to live their lives free from racial and religious hatred and harassment. No one should live in fear because of their beliefs or who they are. These figures are deeply concerning and I am committed to working with Jewish community leaders and law enforcement to tackle antisemitism. As I told the Board of Deputies recently, Britain without its Jews would not be Britain. Under-reporting of hate crime is a real issue, and I welcome the work of CST in recording and publishing antisemitic incident reports. We are in regular contact with CST, and will continue to work in close partnership. There is still some way to go, but we are listening, and we are taking robust action against antisemitism wherever we find it.

Secretary of State for Communities Eric Pickles MP said:

Antisemitism and hate crimes of any kind are unacceptable and completely incompatible with traditional British values. The Jewish community is an important part of British life and these attacks are not only an attack on British Jews, but an attack on all of us and on our shared values of fairness, tolerance and respect. Over the past year, Britain has seen an increase in the number of antisemitic incidents including acts of intimidation, online abuse and physical violence. Cemeteries have been desecrated and the walls of Jewish homes daubed with vile and offensive graffiti. This is totally unacceptable. The government has introduced a range of measures to ensure Britain provides a safe environment for Jewish people and these figures are a depressing reminder that there is still much work to be done. We remain staunchly committed to tackling antisemitism wherever it occurs and will continue to take a zero-tolerance approach. Those who perpetrate hate crimes of any kind will be punished with the full force of the law.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper MP said:

This important report must serve as a warning to everyone to do more to stop antisemitism in Britain. This rise in antisemitism is appalling and completely unacceptable. The Community Security Trust does vital work to protect and provide security for the Jewish community. We must support them not only to raise the profile of this issue, but also to ensure continued close working with the police so that hate crimes can be investigated and prosecuted and communities can be kept safe. But more also needs to be done to stop prejudice and hatred in the first place – from promoting common values in schools and communities, to getting companies like Twitter to take stronger action against hate crimes on their platforms, and from challenging those who use foreign policy to spread discrimination and hostility, to renewed determination to tackle both Islamist and far right extremism.

John Mann MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism said:

Every decent person in Britain will be shocked and concerned to read these CST statistics. It is simply unacceptable that Jewish people are being abused in this way. Together with CST, we have been warning of this and it is now time for people to take the action that we’ve been recommending. Next week, together with other parliamentarians I will be setting out a detailed plan for how we will meet the challenge of rising antisemitism head on.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, National Police Lead for Jewish Communities, said:

The recent events in Paris are a reminder to all of us here in the UK that if we tolerate people being targeted because of their race, religion or even how they look the consequences are catastrophic. This increase in antisemitic incidents recorded by CST, correlates to increases in antisemitic crimes reported to police over recent weeks. Antisemitic hate crimes weaken our communities by causing division where we need unity and by spreading unease and fear.  It is crucial that anyone experiencing antisemitic abuse, threats or criminality must report them either to the police or through CST. At this difficult time the police in the UK are working hard to bring all communities together to keep us all safe, to achieve that we must stamp out and take action to stop hate crime to bring an end to antisemitism.

Neo-Nazi ‘demonstration’ announced for Stamford Hill, north London

February 2nd, 2015 by CST

A neo-Nazi activist called Joshua Bonehill-Paine has announced his intention to hold an antisemitic demonstration in Stamford Hill, north London, on 22nd March. This has distressed many people due to the presence of a large Jewish community in that part of London. CST has received several calls, emails and other messages of concern as a result.

Bonehill-Paine has a track record of using social media to spread racist and abusive hoax messages. He is essentially a provocateur and has not shown the capacity to mobilise large numbers of people to attend far right events. It is possible that his announcement is simply intended to inflame community tensions rather than indicating more concrete plans to actually demonstrate. Consequently it is important that anybody who wishes to oppose Bonehill-Paine’s demonstration does so responsibly and in a way that does not cause unnecessary anxiety in the Jewish community.

CST is in close contact with Police, the local Jewish community and social media providers over this matter. We have reported Bonehill-Paine’s antisemitic social media accounts to the relevant platforms and asked that they be removed (one YouTube video has already been removed at the time of writing). We have also reported some of its content to the Police and will be asking them to ban the planned demonstration due to its explicitly antisemitic purpose. We will continue to monitor the situation, working with the Police and the local community in the coming weeks.

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