Anti-Semitism in the UK remains high in 2010

Swastikas on a home in Manchester Swastikas on a home in Manchester

A Jewish charity which monitors acts of anti-Semitism in the UK says it recorded 639 incidents of violence, threats and abuse last year.

The figure, from the Community Security Trust, is the second highest since it began its work in 1984.

The peak of 926 incidents came in 2009, and was attributed to a backlash against Israel's invasion of Gaza.

Most of last year's incidents happened near Jewish communities in London, Manchester, Hertfordshire and Leeds.

In its annual report, the charity said anti-Semitism had increased since the 1990s and, although said the total number of incidents for 2010 was almost a third less than the 926 recorded in 2009, that was still worse than 2008.

It said it recorded 114 acts of violence, but none of them could be classed as grievous bodily harm or life-threatening.

Some 59 of the incidents targeted synagogues and a further 52 were attacks on people coming or going from prayers.

Some 28 Jewish children suffered anti-Semitic incidents during their journey to or from school.

In one incident, a rabbi and his two sons were pelted with bottles. He was pushed over and needed eight stitches for a head wound.

Most incidents appeared to be random or opportunistic, said the charity, and a quarter referred to the Nazis or the Holocaust. Others related to the Middle East conflict.

In another incident, a builder who learned he was working on a Jewish family's home, told the householder: "Oh, I hate Jews, I'd like to kill the lot of you. If I had been in World War II, I would have gladly put you all in the gas ovens."

Among the acts of vandalism, homes or Jewish community property were daubed with swastikas. In Worcester, someone daubed the word "Jew" on a pavement, accompanied by an arrow pointing towards a drain.

The CST said that where it had established something of the perpetrator's identity, 47% were white, 29% were Asian, 10% were Arab, 7% were black and 6% were Eastern European.

Universities and websites

Mark Gardner, of the CST, said: "Anti-Semitism is not the most important thing in British Jewish life, but there is clearly a significant problem.

"The CST, police, politicians and Government will keep working in close partnership to tackle anti-Semitism and its wider causes of bigotry and extremism."

The charity said there had been two spikes during the year - the first coming following the controversial Israeli Navy raid of a Gaza aid flotilla. Nine activists who were on board the vessel died in the May 2010 operation.

The second "trigger" had been prominent Jewish festivals later in the year, said the charity.

Communities minister Andrew Stunell said the CST's figures were a "disappointing reminder" that anti-semitism remained "a considerable problem.

He said his department was developing new work to promote greater integration in communities and make sure that no groups were isolated or alienated.

Part of that work included tackling anti-semitism on university campuses and on the internet, he said, and a cross-government working group was looking at the reasons for the increasing numbers of attacks so preventative work could be better targeted.

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