It has felt like anti-Semitism has been in the news a lot this year. Whether it is the Labour Party’s problems, social media trolls or a general rise in racist attacks, the subject has been front page news on a regular basis.
This may be the reason why the Community Security Trust recorded an 11 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first six months of 2016, compared to the same period last year – from 500 to 557 incidents.
The total for the first half of 2016 was the second highest for the January to June period of any year.
Normally when anti-Semitic incidents rise it is because of a specific trigger event – a war in Israel, for example – or because of a surge in reporting from the community. This year, though, there is no obvious single explanation – but there are some possible causes we can point to.
Most of the increase came in April, May and June, when anti-Semitism was in the news a lot and it felt like there was a rise in xenophobia and racism across the board.
Neo-Nazis and anti-social trolls increasingly use social media to harass, abuse and threaten public figures, and when those public figures are Jewish, the abuse is usually anti-Semitic. And while the bitter divisions in the Labour Party are about much more than anti-Semitism and Israel, those subjects do play their part.
All this means that, whereas a few years ago CST recorded around 40 to 50 incidents per month, now it is more like 70 to 80. The problem is getting worse, and we need police, prosecutors, government and social media companies to work together to reverse this worrying trend.