Updated: Friday, 24th November 2017 @ 8:08am

More anti-Semitic attacks recorded in Manchester than London, despite capital having seven times the Jewish population

More anti-Semitic attacks recorded in Manchester than London, despite capital having seven times the Jewish population

By Stephen Sumner

Anti-Semitic attacks were higher in Greater Manchester than London last year, despite the capital being home to almost seven times as many Jews, a charity said today.

There were 586 street attacks, threats, vandalism and desecration of Jewish property in Britain, a disproportionate 244 of which were in Manchester.

Last year saw the fourth highest annual figure since records began in 1984, said the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity which represents the Jewish community.

Manchester's Jewish population is the UK’s second highest at 21,700, compared to London's 149,800, were there were 201 attacks, the researchers said. That puts the incident rate at one in 90 for Manchester Jews, compared to one in 750 for London.

Among the incidents in Manchester, there were 45 assaults, including one instance of extreme violence, 21 incidents of vandalism, 161 reports of abuse and 15 direct threats.

CST spokesman Mark Gardner said: "Anti-Semitism is not the most important feature in British Jewish life, but it remains a serious problem in some parts of society, and retains the potential to worsen significantly in reaction to external events.

“CST will continue to work closely with the police and our partners inside and outside government, to support those whose lives are blighted by bigotry and hatred.”

The charity said this was the result of improved reporting of incidents by Manchester's Jewish community to CST and to Greater Manchester Police (GMP). It was also influenced by the increasing visibility of the Jewish communities in Bury and Salford.

In Manchester there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of attacks since 2003.

CST’s Deputy Director of Communications Dave Rich said: “The Jewish communities in Manchester and London are very different. In London it is very spread out, whereas in Manchester the Jewish community is very closely knit.

“The relatively high number of attacks in Manchester does not imply that it is a more dangerous place for Jews to live.”

In one incident in Salford, three Jewish school pupils were walking home from school when two white men drove past. The driver of the car shouted, “Dirty Jew” and the passenger threw a lit firework at the group.

A spokesperson for the Whitefield Hebrew Congregation in Manchester said: “It is a very sad reflection of people’s behaviour that they could treat someone like this, no matter what religion they are.”

An important factor in the number of incidents which occur is the prevalence of Israel or Jews in global news.

 “Anti-Semites use whatever is in the news as an excuse for their hate crimes. It is the same as when there is a terrorist attack and Muslims get blamed,” said Mr Rich.

There was a record high of 929 anti-Semitic incidents in 2009 in reaction to the conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas.

The report says that there are also increases in the number of attacks when Jewish people are more visible, for example in September during the Jewish New Year festival of Rosh Hashanah.

 “Hate crimes are generally under-reported, but we have been working with Greater Manchester Police to ensure that any incidents do get followed up,” said Mr Rich.

Chief Superintendent Jon Rush, divisional commander for Bury, said: "We do not want people to suffer in silence and think they should not speak out when they are subjected to any form of abuse - we want them to tell us so we can bring the offenders to justice.”