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Welby is shocked by a rise in anti-Semitism

13 February 2015

Photos: the Jewish museum

Celebrated: images (above, and slideshow) by the prolific Whitechapel wedding photographers, L. & J. Suss and Boris Bennett, from an exhibition of wedding dresses, photographs, and memorabilia reflecting the British Jewish community from the late-19th to the early-20th centuries. At the Jewish Museum, London, until 31 May. www.jewishmuseum.org.uk

Celebrated: images (above, and slideshow) by the prolific Whitechapel wedding photographers, L. & J. Suss and Boris Bennett, from an exhibition ...

"A PECULIAR and remarkable obscenity" - that is the verdict of the Archbishop of Canterbury on the need for increased police patrols in Jewish neighbourhoods during the commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz, after the Paris terrorist attacks.

Speaking at the launch of a parliamentary report on anti-Semitism at Lambeth Palace on Monday, Archbishop Welby said that the report was both shocking and timely, as it lifted the lid on the reality of rising anti-Semitism".

The MPs and peers from the All Party Parliamentary Group into Antisemitism could have had no idea that their report would be so "appropriate in the midst of such a difficult time", Archbishop Welby said. "It goes to the heart of the belief that all humanity has been made in the image of God. The blasphemy of anti-Semitism is it seeks to . . . destroy that divine gift."

The report found that there was a 221-per-cent increase in hate crimes directed at Jews during the war between Israel and Gaza last summer, when compared with the same period in 2013.

The Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitic abuse and attacks, recorded 314 incidents in July 2014, which was their highest ever monthly total and more than the preceding six months put together. A quarter of these incidents took place on social media, and one third used Holocaust-related language or imagery.

A poll commissioned for the report found that Britons believe anti-Semitism to be largely unchanged from ten years ago. On a scale of one to ten, the average strength of anti-Semitism was 4.66, scarcely above 4.52, which was the result of a similar survey in 2005.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) of those polled said, however, they believed that British Jews have divided loyalties between Israel and the UK, and 11 per cent agreed with the statement "Jews have too much power in the UK media and politics." More people agreed than disagreed (32 per cent against 31 per cent, respectively) with the suggestion that British Jews always support Israel, regardless of whether its actions are right or wrong.

Among the main recommendations of the report was the establishment of an independent council of non-Jewish figures to highlight trends in anti-Semitism, and make suggestions to the police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

It also suggested that the Government fund more research into anti-Semitism, report back to Parliament at least once a session about its work to combat hate crime, and work with the CPS, police, and social-media companies to make online anti-Semitic abuse easier to report and stop.

It recommended that the CPS look into issuing prevention orders that could ban from social media those who launch online attacks.

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