LONDON - Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday condemned the record-breaking rise in anti-Semitic incidents last year, urging Britons to be alert to the threat of anti-Jewish hate.
Brown said the spike in anti-Semitic street attacks, arson, and graffiti - most recorded during or in the months after the Gaza conflict - were “deeply troubling.’’
“Anti-Semitism is one of the most ancient of hatreds - and yet it constantly adapts to modern times, requiring ever greater vigilance from all of us who are determined to stand up for tolerance and for the truth,’’ Brown said in a statement released through the Community Security Trust, which tracks anti-Semitic incidents in the United Kingdom.
Although many were nonviolent, the trust recorded three potentially life-threatening attacks, including an attempt to burn down the home of a rabbi while it was occupied and an attempt to hit a Jewish man with a car as he left a synagogue.
The trust said in a report released yesterday that it had identified 924 anti-Jewish incidents in 2009, the highest number since it began tracking them in 1984.
While the trust had warned that 2009 was its worst year on record, yesterday’s total shows by just how much. The figure is more than 50 percent higher than the previous record, set in 2006, when Israel invaded Lebanon. The trust attributed the unprecedented increase in anti-Jewish incidents to extreme reactions to the conflict in Gaza.
In Britain, nearly 500 incidents were recorded in the first three months of 2009, many of which referenced to the conflict in the Middle East.