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HomeNewsShocking details of antisemitic abuse in Hertfordshire, including Bushey and Elstree

Shocking details of antisemitic abuse in Hertfordshire, including Bushey and Elstree

Antisemites threatened to slit a Hertfordshire teacher’s throat – one incident among a catalogue of 4,103 reported to the Community Security Trust (CST) last year.

The charity logged 112 antisemitic incidents in Hertfordshire throughout 2023, according to its Antisemitic Incidents report, more than any other area in the UK outside of Greater London (2,410 incidents) and Greater Manchester (555).

A total 55 incidents were recorded in Borehamwood and Elstree – more than the number recorded in large cities including Birmingham (50 incidents) and Brighton and Hove (39).

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The number of incidents in 2023 was a 147 per cent increase on 2022.

“This record total is due to the sheer volume of antisemitism perpetuated across the UK following Hamas’ attack on Israel on October 7, 2023,” the report notes.

“Of the 4,103 instances of anti-Jewish hate reported, 2,699 occurred on or after October 7.”

It adds: “The first incident inspired by Hamas’ attack was reported to CST at 12.55pm on October 7 when a vehicle drove past a synagogue in Hertfordshire with a Palestinian flag attached, windows wound down and an occupant shaking their fist in the air towards the synagogue.”

The document sets out there is a distinction between antisemitic and anti-Israel activity.

Shouts at a shul are likely to be antisemitic if a “synagogue was targeted on the basis of it being Jewish and the offender has failed to distinguish between a place of worship and pro-Israel activity”, the report notes.

“The terms ‘Zionist’ and ‘Zionism’ will often be used in arguments about Israel and the Middle East.

“Sometimes they are used accurately and legitimately, and at other times they are deployed in an antisemitic way.”

It adds making a distinction is “one of the most difficult areas of CST’s work”.

The document includes a copy of a graphic letter to a Jewish school in Hertfordshire, which the CST has not named.

Its authors claimed to be “Jihadhi Muslims” who threatened to “slit” the victim’s throat. They called the member of staff a “f**ker” in reference to their senior role at the school.

They wrote: “You probably smoke and drink alcohol…

“We see you like music which is un Islamic [sic]…

“You are Jew lover [sic].”

Police forces across the country logged 1,177 of these incidents with the CST nationally. Victims told the charity about 1,154 incidents, while witnesses reported 925 cases. Hertsmere in Hertfordshire, including Borehamwood, Bushey and Potters Bar, is home to the UK’s largest Jewish community by percentage of the population.

Home Office figures published in 2023 show hate crimes reported to the police in England and Wales, except Devon and Cornwall Police, rocketed from 41,294 in 2012 to 145,214 in 2022/23.

Of the figures for 2022/23, 101,906 hate crimes were race-related with a further 8,241 recorded as having a religious discrimination element – with 44 per cent linked with anti-Muslim and 19 per cent linked with anti-Jewish sentiments.

Hertfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd has reacted to the CST figures. He said: “The incidents highlighted in this report are abhorrent and I am grateful for the work that CST undertake to highlight antisemitism.

“The Constabulary and I have remained committed to tackling all types of hate crime, including antisemitism, robustly.

“Our county is one of the safest in England and Wales and the message should be heard loud and clear that Hertfordshire Constabulary is there to uphold the law for everyone in our society.

“Those from communities who fear that their concerns may not listened to should be in no doubt that they will be listened to and appropriate action will be taken.

“With the support of my Police and Crime Plan, in recent years there has been a renewed emphasis to encourage people to report hate crime with the confidence that it will be acted upon, with additional support available for victims and witnesses.”

Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council Jeremy Newmark told BBC Three Counties Radio: “We certainly saw and experienced a huge uptick, together with other parts of the country, after the Hamas attacks on southern Israel – the massacre on October 7.

“This had a huge impact upon our Jewish community and more broadly a detrimental effect on local community relations.”

He described “pure, naked antisemitism” as “disturbing” but added his conversations with Hertfordshire Constabulary have suggested antisemitism cases are beginning to return to a level previously seen before October 2023.

“Having said that, there shouldn’t be a baseline for antisemitic incidents in a county like Hertfordshire – that baseline should be zero,” he said.

Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis said: “The latest figures on recorded acts of antisemitism in the UK make for sobering reading.

“They confirm what we have known for some time.

“Anti-Jewish hatred is once again poisoning our society and increasing at an alarming rate.

“Jewish life in the UK continues to flourish.

“We are proud of who we are and will not be intimidated by hate.”

Reporting tools for hate crimes

There are several reporting tools which people facing hate crime can use to report incidents.

True Vision is an online hate crime reporting tool owned by the National Police Chiefs’ Council at https://www.report-it.org.uk/

Hertfordshire Constabulary also has its own reporting tools by phone on 101 or online at https://www.herts.police.uk/

Several communities have developed reporting tools of their own, to track and monitor hate crime.

The Community Security Trust (CST) accepts reports of antisemitism by phone on 0800 032 3263 or online at https://cst.org.uk/

TellMAMA measures anti-Muslim attacks by phone on 0800 456 1226 or online at https://tellmamauk.org/

Galop runs a national helpline for members of the LGBTQ+ community affected by hate, available by phone on 0800 999 5428 or online at https://galop.org.uk/

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