Worrying surge in anti-Semitism: Hate crimes up in UK post Hamas attacks

New Delhi: Scotland Yard has said that there has been a huge leap in hate crimes – predominantly anti-Semitic incidents – since the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

Between October 1-18, there were 218 anti-Semitic incidents across London — up from 15 across the same period last year, reports the BBC.

The number of Islamophobic incidents had risen to 101, from 42 last year.

The statistics were released on the eve of a major pro-Palestinian demonstration in London.

Police chiefs have banned any protesters from assembling outside the Israeli embassy.

The Metropolitan Police said that it was receiving reports of hate crimes occurring both in person and online and so far these had been a mixture of racially and religiously motivated incidents.

So far, 21 people have been arrested and officers had been sifting through 1,400 reports of potentially illegal content online, the BBC reported.

In France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish community, police recorded more than 320 physical acts of antisemitism, and made more than 180 arrests, in the first 10 days of the war, The Guardian reported.

Antisemitic acts under investigation include people gathering in front of synagogues shouting threats, incidents of verbal abuse, threatening letters, graffiti such as the words “killing Jews is a duty” sprayed outside a stadium in Carcassonne in the south-west, the education minister’s reports of a Nazi swastika chalked on a blackboard in a school, and a Jewish high-school student whose clothes were ripped and antisemitic comments made to him as he came out of the school toilets, the report said.

Protection of Jewish sites has been increased in towns and cities across Europe, from synagogues to schools and community centres.

But Jewish communities in France, Germany and Italy said they still felt cautious.

In Sarcelles, even orders for home deliveries of food were down as people said they were hesitant to have someone they didn’t know come to the door, The Guardian reported.

CNN reported that in Dearborn, Michigan – a city whose population is estimated to be about 42 per cent Arab, according to the US Census Bureau – police arrested a man after he made online threats of violence against Palestinian American residents.

“Palestinian Americans and Muslim Americans feel like they are experiencing the level of hate and Islamophobia that existed after 9/11 and during the Iraq war – some say it’s even worse,” Aber Kawas, a member of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told CNN.

Abed Ayoub, director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said the perspectives of Palestinian and Muslim communities in places like the US have been largely absent from the coverage of the Israel-Hamas conflict and that has allowed a growing atmosphere of bigotry and Islamophobia to go unchecked.

“There is no recognition of our existence. That’s what is allowing this to bubble,” he said.

“And that’s what allowed a 6-year-old Palestinian boy to get stabbed to death in his own home.”

Ayoub said Arab and Palestinian communities are diverse and nuanced.

But, he said, giving platforms to narratives that insinuate anyone who supports Palestine also supports Hamas and the violent attacks on Israel is problematic, CNN reported.

“Labeling everyone as Hamas just to justify the attacks is dangerous and we’re seeing that play out,” he said of the bombings in Gaza.

Last weekend, as Israel continued to bombard Gaza in response to the October 7 Hamas attack, activists staged pro-Palestine rallies in New York City’s Times Square and in cities across the country.

Many Muslim or Arab leaders say they feel compelled to speak out against the climate of Islamophobia to stem further violence.

“The CAIR NJ office has not received this many calls for help since the Muslim ban in 2017,” Selaedin Maksut, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations of New Jersey, said at a news conference Monday. “Anxiety and fear are high”, CNN reported.

IANS

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