The number of incidents of antisemitic abuse in Wales has risen significantly, according to a new report.
The Community Security Trust’s annual report shows that antisemitism across the UK is at a record high.
The number of incidents in Wales was eight times higher than the previous year, with the majority concentrated in South Wales. Although Wales is still far behind places with significant Jewish populations like London and Salford, abuse on social media has driven a rise across the UK.
The figures themselves may not tell the full story. A source close to the CST told CJS News that their figures suggest up to 74% of cases go unreported.
The report documents only the most serious forms of anti-Semitism. But Euan Philipps, of Labour against Anti-Semitism says: ‘A huge amount of anti-Semitism is basically a suspicion that Jewish people are lying about antisemitism for some kind of underhand reason, and that kind of mindset needs to be tackled.’
Labour Assembly Member for Cardiff Central Jenny Rathbone was briefly suspended by the Labour Party in 2018 after suggesting that ‘siege mentality’ caused synagogues to exaggerate their security concerns.
She told CJS News that ‘being aware of the language we all use and making sure it isn’t offensive is really important’.
The AM has since sought to increase education on issues of antisemitism.
‘Obviously it’s a wake-up call for all of us [in Wales]. The fear of the unknown is a well-known issue and that is something we need to combat.’
Both were keen to emphasise the responsibility of social media companies in the spread of hate speech.
‘We need to be very robust in the demand that we make on these social media companies, most of whom are fabulously wealthy organisations’ says the AM. ‘They need to take responsibility for what they’re doing’.
The report found that the motive for almost 45% of all cases was related to the Labour Party, which Euan Philipps says this was inevitable: ‘Within the Labour Party they left it far too late to sort themselves out.’
But the AM says the party are working to solve the problem: ‘We need to flush it out wherever it exists, however small a minority it is’. She added that whoever the new leader of the Labour Party is, she fully expects them to sign up to both the IHRA definition of antisemitism, and the recommendations of the Board of Deputies.
Although the CST Report refers to South Wales as a whole, Cardiff Council responded to the figures: ‘the authority abhors discrimination of any sort…The Council has strong links with both Cardiff Synagogues, and members of the local Jewish community are represented on the local Community Cohesion Group’.
Cardiff Council formally adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism last year.