Anti-Semitism on the rise across the UK, but incidents remain scarce in Scotland

A record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents were reported in the UK last year, new figures have revealed
A record number of anti-Semitic hate incidents were reported in the UK last year, new figures have revealed

The number of anti-Semitic incidents recorded in the UK reached a record high in 2018 - but such instances remain rare in Scotland, a report by a leading Jewish charity has found.

A total of 1,652 incidents - a 16 per cent increase on 2017 - were logged by the Community Security Trust (CST) in its annual report, a record for a single calendar year.

Graphic: PA

Graphic: PA

Of that total, 21 were north of the Border, an increase of five year-on-year. A spokesman for the CST said that while the Scottish total was relatively small, anti-Semitism remained an issue.

The charity, working with police and other community groups, has monitored anti-Semitism across the UK for 35 years and provides security to the country’s Jewish communities.

The vast majority of incidents were logged in London and Manchester, the cities home to the country’s largest Jewish communities.

But in one incident in Edinburgh last August, a woman converting to Judaism was spat at in the face and called a “Jew” while travelling on bus through the Capital.

Another incident in Scotland saw a Jewish organisation receive an email in which the sender claimed: “I’m going to kill every single one of you ugly rat-faced kikes.”

The email was sent to the organisation in the aftermath of the prosecution of a man from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, who filmed and put on YouTube a video of his pet dog performing Nazi salutes in response to its owner calling out antisemitic slogans such as “Gas the Jews”.

Mark Meechan was found guilty of breaching the Communications Act by posting material that was “grossly offensive” and “anti-Semitic and racist in nature”, in an offence aggravated by religious prejudice, following a trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court last April.

The CST claimed the conviction was followed by a spate of anti-semitic incidents from members of the public who felt that Meechan should not have been prosecuted.

A spokesman for the charity told The Scotsman: “Anti-Semitism is not the day-to-day experience of the Jewish community in Scotland. Scotland is a welcoming country for Jews but we cannot be complacent.”

There were 5,887 Jews living in Scotland according to the 2011 census, with the majority living in East Renfrewshire and Greater Glasgow.

Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, told The Scotsman: “The CST report includes a number of examples of people in Scotland being verbally and physically abused, and there are concerns about the normalisation of anti-Semitism and hatred in general in public discourse, which Scottish Government figures show are out of proportion to the size of the community.

“However, we welcome statements from the First Minister and other Scottish political leaders that are outspoken in their condemnation of antisemitism, and we will continue to work with them, the CST, and Police Scotland to ensure that Scotland remains a safe place to be Jewish.”