Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

'Rise in attacks' on British Jews

Anti-Semitic graffiti in north London
Anti-Semitic attacks have centred on north London

The number of attacks on Jews in Britain has risen sharply since Israeli attacks began on Gaza last December, a charity has said.

The Community Security Trust, a charity working to protect Jews in the UK, says more than 250 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded in four weeks.

They include property vandalism, verbal threats and some physical attacks, most of which centred on north London.

The same period last year saw just 27 incidents, according to the trust.

Synagogue fire

Communities Minister Sadiq Khan said: "The Government strongly condemns the increase in anti-Semitic incidents. British Jews, like all communities, must be able to live their lives free from fear of verbal or physical attack.

"In recent weeks a steady, worrying and deplorable rise in the type and the number of incidents has demonstrated how events overseas can impact here and further underlines the importance of work to tackle anti-Semitism."

Michael Bookatz believes he was attacked because of the Gaza conflict

Among the crimes recorded by the trust were violent street assaults, hate e-mails and graffiti threatening British Jews.

There was one report of an arson attack on a synagogue in Brondesbury, north-west London, and other cases of racist graffiti and young groups chanting anti-Semitic slogans. The trust says schoolchildren have also been singled out for verbal abuse and bullying.

The incidents took place in predominately Jewish areas, including Golders Green and Stamford Hill in north London, as well as parts of Salford and Bury in Greater Manchester.

Mark Gardner, from the trust, said the "outburst of anti-Semitic rage during the Gaza conflict showed the shocking impact upon British Jews of widespread anti-Israel hysteria".

Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary Chris Huhne called for the home secretary and the police to stamp on anti-Semitic crime "quickly and firmly".

It is totally unacceptable that any minority should find their lives disrupted because of events in another part of the world, for which they cannot be held responsible
Chris Huhne, Lib Dem shadow home secretary

"It is totally unacceptable that any minority should find their lives disrupted because of events in another part of the world, for which they cannot be held responsible," he said.

Last month, prominent British Muslim scholars and progressive thinkers denounced the attacks, saying British Jews "should not be held responsible" for Israel's actions in Gaza.

An international summit to be held in London next week will try to come up with ways to tackle the problem around the world.

The Community Security Trust said the overall number of anti-Semitic attacks in 2008 was slightly lower than the previous year, falling from 561 to 541.

No comparable figures are collected for Islamophobic incidents.

Since 2000, there has been an upward trend in racially or religiously aggravated assault, peaking around 2006 and falling slightly since then.

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