British anti-Semitic incidents fall to eight-year low

LONDON Thu Feb 6, 2014 12:05am GMT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Anti-Semitic incidents recorded in Britain have fallen to the lowest annual level since 2005, a Jewish advisory body reported on Thursday, and said the decline may have been due to a recent lack of "trigger events" in the Middle East.

The 529 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in 2013 was down 18 percent from the previous year, according to a report by the Community Security Trust (CST) which advises Britain's estimated 260,000 Jews on safety issues.

The number of violent assaults remained the same as in 2012 at 69, the lowest level since 2003. The overall figure was far below the record number of incidents in 2009, when politicians said that British Jews faced a "real and growing danger".

The CST, which began monitoring anti-Semitic incidents in 1984, said hate crimes generally remained significantly unreported, and pointed out that the 2013 figures were still much higher than those recorded 15 years ago.

"Any fall in the number of anti-Semitic incidents that take place is to be welcomed, but we are always wary of reading too much into short-term trends as we know that the picture can change considerably from year to year," CST spokesman Mark Gardner said.

The CST could not say exactly why there had been a fall, but noted that in previous years there has been a link with high-profile stories involving Israel.

"The levels of reported anti-Semitic incidents in the UK often rise temporarily, or 'spike', in response to 'trigger events', often but not always related to Israel or the wider Middle East," the CST report said.

"The record high total of 931 incidents in 2009 was triggered by anti-Semitic reactions in the UK to the conflict in Gaza and southern Israel that year between Israel and Hamas."

While attacks on Jews show a decline, Muslim groups say anti-Islamic incidents are on the rise, partly fuelled by the murder of a British soldier by two Muslim converts in London last May.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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