France, Britain struggling to curb rise in anti-Semitism
A "new form of anti-Semitism" marked by violence is plaguing France, Prime Minister Édouard Philippe says • Britain's Community Security Trust group says a record number of anti-Semitic incidents were documented in the U.K last year.
France is facing a "new form of anti-Semitism" marked by violence, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said Wednesday, deploring an assault this week in a Paris suburb on an 8-year-old boy wearing a kippah.
President Emmanuel Macron has denounced the attack Monday in Sarcelles, a northern suburb with a large Jewish population, as "heinous."
French media have described the attackers as teenagers who ran away after tripping and kicking the boy to the ground. Police were investigating but there have been no arrests.
Speaking before lawmakers, Philippe noted the emergence of a new kind of anti-Semitism in France, which has the largest Jewish population in western Europe.
To fight something, one must have "the courage to put a name on it … to acknowledge that, yes, there is a new form of anti-Semitism, violent and brutal, emerging more and more openly in our land," Philippe said.
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb and Jewish leaders say the number of anti-Semitic acts in France has risen this month after a drop in previous years.
An annual national count of racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and anti-Christian acts – mainly threats – dipped in 2017 compared to the year before.
However, the count, released Wednesday by the Interior Ministry, shows that violent racist acts in France increased overall, and notably anti-Semitic acts went up 20%, from 77 in 2016 to 97 last year.
Collomb told Jewish leaders last week that such acts are "an attack on the principles that unify our nation."
Macron tweeted: "Each time a citizen is attacked because of his age, appearance or religion, it is the whole nation that is attacked."
Anti-Jewish sentiment is also generally becoming more prevalent in Britain, a charity that provides security advice to the country's Jewish communities said Thursday.
The Community Security Trust said better recording and publicity around alleged anti-Jewish sentiment in the U.K.'s Labour Party was partly to blame for a record number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain last year but also warned it reflected a general rise in anti-Semitism.
"Hatred is rising and Jewish people are suffering as a result," said David Delew, chief executive of the CST, which helps protect Britain's estimated 270,000 Jews.
"It appears that the factors that led to a general, sustained high level of antisemitic incidents in 2016 have continued throughout much of 2017."
There were 1,382 anti-Semitic incidents nationwide in 2017, a 3% increase from the year before which had been the previous highest annual number recorded by the CST since it began its monitoring programme in 1984.
There was a 34% rise in the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults to 145 but most incidents related to verbal abuse of Jews in public who were identifiable from their religious clothing, school uniform or jewelry.
The CST said a fall in the number of incidents involving social media might have reflected a better response by tech firms to tackle online hate speech, along with action by police to deal with prolific offenders.
While it said victims were more aware of the need to record incidents, it added it was likely there was still significant underreporting and that the real level of anti-Semitism was much higher.
"We have the support of government and police but prosecutions need to be more visible and frequent; while too many others act in ways that encourage anti-Semites and isolate Jews," Delew said.
Previous spikes in anti-Semitism have been blamed on incidents and conflicts involving Israel. However, the CST said there was nothing to explain the rise seen in the last two years, indicating anti-Jewish sentiment was generally becoming more commonplace.
The charity said an increase in hate crimes following the 2016 referendum to leave the European Union and controversies surrounding Labour might have emboldened offenders.
Labour has often been accused of having a problem with anti-Semitism within its ranks, particularly since socialist Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015, and Britain's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said the party had failed to show it was sufficiently serious about tackling the problem.
"The findings of this report are extremely concerning, and emphasize just how important it is that we all make a conscious effort to call out and confront anti-Semitism," said Andrew Gwynne, Labour's shadow secretary for communities and local government.