‘Children should know they’re going to be safe’: Huge spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes in Greater Manchester

A report detailing a drastic increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes in Greater Manchester has ‘shocked but sadly not surprised’ the Jewish community.

The annual report, which was released today by the Community Security Trust (CST), has shown that 284 incidents were reported in Greater Manchester in 2021.

That’s a huge 86 per cent increase from the previous year – when 153 incidents were recorded.

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Arnie Saunders is a Rabbi and councilor for Kersal and Broughton Park – which has one of the highest Jewish populations in the UK.

“I’d like to say I’m shocked but I have experienced it,” he told the Manchester Evening News.

In total, 16 per cent of the reported incidents in Greater Manchester fell under categories of assault and extreme violence – double the national average.

“There have been attacks in my own community, where people have been punched and so on,” Coun Saunders said.

Of Greater Manchester’s 284 anti-Semitic incidents recorded in 2021, 130 happened in Salford, 51 in the City of Manchester, 46 in Bury, 17 in Stockport and 12 in Trafford.

Coun Saunders says he became aware of a rise in incidents during the conflict in the Middle East in May and June.

He said that convoys came into his ward and were ‘screaming’ at people who were recognisably Jewish.

“They were waving Free Palestine flags on the face of Jewish people, it’s clearly a hate crime,” he said.

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“To the man and the woman, and the children on the street, they just want to know they’re going to be safe.”

In May, following a spate of similar incidents in Salford, Greater Manchester Police launched Operation Wildflower, aimed at putting more PCs on the street and gathering information on any anti-Semitic offenders.

Last year was the first time the CST recorded over 2,000 anti-Semitic incidents – a rise which it has attributed to the violence in Israel and Gaza.

Dave Rich, the Director of Policy at the trust, said: “This record total was driven by the huge rise in anti-Jewish hate and extremism during the escalation in violence in Israel and Gaza last year.

“May 2021 saw a record monthly total of 661 anti-Semitic incidents in a single month; June was the fifth-highest monthly total we’ve ever recorded.

“Taken together, May and June account for 39 per cent of the entire year’s total, but the impact of these anti-Semitic reactions to the conflict continued throughout the rest of the year: over a third of all anti-Semitic incidents in 2021 referenced the conflict in Israel and Palestine, alongside anti-Jewish language or behaviour.”

The release of the CST report coincides with Hate Crime Awareness Week.

Eddie Edwards, who lives in Prestwich, said: “Jewish people should be able to walk the streets in a safe way and be proud to be Jewish.”

Eddie’s grandfather was murdered in the Holocaust and his father came to the UK from Vienna as a refugee and had ‘always felt safe’ in the UK.

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But he fears for what to future will bring if this rise in anti-Semitism isn’t ‘stamped out’.

“Hatred must not be allowed to flourish. When it starts to get out of control and synagogues and schools are attacked,” he said.

Eddie said that it’s a ‘real shame’ to see the rise in cases – but he hopes that in 12 months time – the numbers will have reversed.

Nathan Boroda, a councilor for Unsworth on Bury Council, said that the rise in cases was ‘shocking but not surprising’.

The increase reminds him why there was a need for security at the Jewish school he went to growing up.

“I had a real shock when I realized not all schools had gates and security,” he said.

He praised the ‘brilliant’ work the CST does but admits ‘we all wish they didn’t exist but they have to’.

“It’s important to say that British Jewish life is thriving and it will continue to,” he added.

Marc Levy is the chief executive for the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region.

He said that the ‘Jewish community across Greater Manchester is shocked but not surprised’ by the increase in incidents.

“The fact that it’s almost doubled will come as a shock to most Jewish people,” he told the MEN

As the Jewish community in Manchester is well connected, he says that whenever somebody is ‘attacked on the street’ that it sends ‘shock waves’.

Mr Levy also reflected on the spike in incidents during the conflict in Israel and Palestine.

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Mr Levy said he was ‘shocked but not surprised’

“As a representative body, we have spoken at length about the effect conflict in the Middle East has on the Greater Manchester Jewish Community,” he explained.

“In May and June, there was a huge surge in hate crime targeting Jewish people, locations and property at an intensity never previously experienced.

“It is mostly troublesome that even without the conflict in the Middle East, the community will still have endured significant levels of hate crime.”

The report is a shocking read for Jews in Manchester – but Mr Levy says that the community is ‘fortunate to be able to rely upon’ the CST and Greater Manchester Police.

“We are committed to working tirelessly alongside internal and external partners to help eradicate all manifestations of racism targeting the Jewish Community,” he said.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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