A significant surge in antisemitic hate crimes has been reported in London, with a staggering 1,350% increase during the Middle East crisis. The Metropolitan Police disclosed that between October 1st and October 18th this year, 218 antisemitic incidents were recorded, compared to 15 in the same period last year.
This rise in hate crimes coincided with the conflict between Hamas and Israel, with Hamas initiating an attack on October 7th, followed by Israel’s response in Gaza.
Of the reported antisemitic hate crimes, the Metropolitan Police revealed that arrests were made in just 7% of cases, with investigations ongoing for the others. Additionally, Islamophobic offenses in London also saw a notable increase, rising by 140% over the same period compared to last year.
Concerns from Jewish and Muslim Communities
Both Jewish and Muslim communities have expressed concerns about feeling underprotected from hate crimes. This issue is particularly alarming as communities continue to be affected during times of conflict in the Middle East.
National Hate Crime Increase
The surge in hate crimes extends beyond London. Nationally, since the Hamas attack, the UK has experienced a 651% increase in hate incidents, including 19 physical assaults, compared to the same period last year. In this spike, 31 hate incidents were attacks on Jewish property. Moreover, the majority of these incidents were online, involving threats. There were 35 incidents in schools and 45 in universities.
The Impact on Jewish Students
The Union of Jewish Students has reported that some young people have stopped wearing items that may identify them as Jewish due to safety concerns. Others have received death threats and virulent antisemitic abuse.
Chant Controversy at Protests
As protests surrounding the Israel-Hamas war continue, a controversial chant has sparked debates. The chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” has been a point of contention. Some argue it calls for the destruction of Israel and is inherently antisemitic, while others view it as advocating Palestinian self-determination.
Legal Status of the Chant
Ade Adelekan, the deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, noted that the chant would typically be considered lawful at protests. However, its context and proximity to Jewish establishments, like synagogues and cultural centers, would be taken into account. Discussions have occurred between police commanders and prosecutors to clarify when the chant might constitute an offense.
Home Secretary’s Letter
The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, wrote to police heads, encouraging them to evaluate whether the chant expresses a violent desire to erase Israel from the world and whether its use in specific contexts could be a racially aggravated section 5 public order offense.
The surge in antisemitic hate crimes is a concerning issue in London and the UK, warranting attention and action to ensure the safety and well-being of affected communities.