UNITED KINGDOM 2005
number of antisemitic incidents recorded in 2005 fell but violent assaults and
incidents of abusive behavior remained at nearly the same levels as in 2004.
The growing awareness by government of the detrimental effects to society of
the spillover of tension from the Middle East and the promotion of extremism
and antisemitism by Islamist groups resulted in tentative moves to combat them
and to strengthen civil institutions. The far right British National
Party increased its vote in the May 2005 general election.
THE JEWISH Community
The Jewish community of the United Kingdom numbers about 350,000, out of a total population of 58 million. Two-thirds
of the community is concentrated in Greater London. Other major Jewish centers
are Manchester (30,000), Leeds (10,000) and Glasgow (6,500). Although the
Jewish population has experienced a decline in recent years, mainly due to a
low birth rate, intermarriage and emigration, the question on religion in the
2001 census indicated that there were more Jews than was previously thought.
The central organization of British Jewry is the Board of Deputies of
British Jews (BoD). Security and defense activity is organized through the
Community Security Trust (CST). Welfare and education are given high communal
priority through organizations such as the United Jewish Israel Appeal and
Jewish Care. A network of Jewish day schools operates in London and in other
major cities. There are also a number of tertiary centers for Jewish studies,
including the London School of Jewish Studies (formerly Jews College) and Leo
Baeck College, as well as the Jewish Studies departments at University College
London, Southampton University and the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish
Studies at Yarnton, all leading institutions in Europe in this field. The main
community papers are the 160-year-old Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish
Telegraph published simultaneously in northern cities, and The Jewish
News. Two Jewish websites are based in the UK: www.totallyjewish.com
and www.somethingjewish.co.uk, carrying national and international news.
The Jewish Leadership Council formed in 2003 brings together heads of
major national Jewish organizations and key communal leaders to enhance the
long-term effectiveness of communal representation and to ensure greater
consultation by communal organizations and leaders.
POLITICAL PARTIES AND EXTRA-PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS
Despite the prosecution
of senior members, including its leader, Nick Griffin, during the year, the British
National Party (BNP) proved itself again to be the most dynamic far right
party in 2005. It continued its move away from rural affairs and its anti-EU campaign
in order to concentrate on inner city issues, particularly its activity against
Muslims and the entry of migrant workers from east European countries.
As a consequence of the trial of its student leader Mark Collett, the BNP
appointed Joseph Finnon to replace him in September. At the end of the year it
also announced the formation of Solidarity – the Trade Union for British
Workers, led by former unionists expelled from their trade organizations (see below).
In July John Tyndall, the founder and former chairman of BNP was found
dead at his home in Hove. He had been a leading figure on the far right since
the 1960s, having led the National Front and the BNP until he was ousted by
current leader Nick Griffin in 1999. Tyndall had been due to attend Leeds Crown
Court two days after his death on charges of incitement to racial hatred.
In the May 2005 general election, the BNP stood 119 candidates in England, Scotland and Wales and received 192,746 votes (4.18 percent of the vote). This compares to
47,195 votes that 33 BNP candidates received in the 2001 general election (3.92
percent). It increased its vote in a number of constituencies and performed
better than any far right party had done in previous elections but did not win
any parliamentary seats. It also failed to win any seats in the county council
elections held at the same time.
The National Front (NF), led by Terry Blackham, Norman Tomkinson
and Bernard Franklin, continued to decline in membership and activity, though
it stood 13 candidates in England in the general election, and received 8,079
votes (1.6 percent).
The NF held anti-Muslim demonstrations in July outside the Finsbury Park and Central London Mosques, following the suicide bomb attacks, and
demonstrations against asylum seekers in August in Chatham, Kent.
Antisemitism and Holocaust denial are reflected in the speeches of BNP
and NF leaders and members and in the literature sold through their book clubs,
although less publicly than before and sometimes under the rubric of
The Freedom Party (FP) promotes an anti-European, white
nationalist ideology and is composed mainly of former BNP members. Sharon
Edwards of the Midlands-based FP retained her South Staffordshire district
council seat won in the May 2003 local elections. Party chairman Adrian Davies
failed in his election bid in a June parliamentary by-election for the South Staffordshire parliamentary seat, winning only 1.7 percent of the vote.
The newly-formed anti-Zionist Respect, the Unity Coalition, headed
by George Galloway MP, stood 26 candidates in the general election and received
a total of 68,100 votes (6.84 percent). Its best result came in the Bethnal
Green and Bow constituency in east London, where Galloway beat the Jewish
sitting Labour MP, Oona King, who faced antisemitic abuse during the campaign. The
founders of Respect, former leaders of the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Party
and members of the Muslim Association of Britain, led public campaigns in
support of Saddam Hussayn and against the Iraq war.
Far Right Extra-parliamentary Groups
Volunteer Force (RVF), a splinter from the increasingly moribund Combat 18,
led by Mark Atkinson and Jonathan Hill, was effectively broken up by large-scale
police action during the early part of 2005, which resulted in the prosecution
of its leadership (see below).
The British People’s Party (BPP) is the product of a split within
England First, formerly the White Nationalist Party, (see below), which the
Electoral Commission refused to register as a legitimate party on the grounds
that its very title was racist and offensive. England First, the rump
group formed by those loyal to the late John Tyndall after his final expulsion
from the BNP, is led by Mark Cotterill, Martin Kerr and Peter Rushmore.
Cotterill is the former BNP representative in the US. Little activity has taken
place beyond the publication of its journal Heritage and Destiny.
Several tiny national revolutionary groups, such as the National
Revolutionary Faction, led by Troy Southgate, and the International
Third Position, led by Derek Holland, Collin Todd, and the Italian
Roberto Fiore, are active on the Internet only.
Blood and Honour reduced its activity further during 2005 but
continued to organize the occasional musical event and promote racist violence
and antisemitism via its website.
Several small groups which promote ethnocentric and occasionally
antisemitic views exist to the right of the mainstream Conservative Party. They
include Right Now, founded by former Irish neo-Nazi activist Derek
Turner, which publishes a quarterly journal of the same name; the Conservative
Democratic Alliance founded by Michael Smith, which includes some former
BNP members and hosts a web based discussion group; the Monday Club,
which promotes the anti-immigration policies on which it was founded in 1961;
the Swinton Circle, which campaigns against immigration; and the Bloomsbury
Forum, led by Adrian Davis and Jonathan Bowden and including former BNP
and Other Muslim Groups
Mohammed, former leader of al-Muhajiroun (AM −The Emigrants) and Hizb
ut Tahrir (HUT – Islamic Liberation Party), fled to Lebanon in August, allegedly on a family visit. His departure came the day after the government
announced its intention to ban both groups under proposed anti-terrorism
legislation. The home secretary forbade his return to the UK.
In November AM leader Anjem Choudary announced the formation of a new
Islamic group to be called Ahl al Sunnah Wal Jamaa (ASWJ − The
Messenger and His Companions), with the aim of uniting the AM successor groups
Al-Ghurabbaa and the Saviour Sect. He stated that ASWJ would be guided by Omar
Bakri Mohammed but in a subsequent visit to meet Mohammed in Lebanon, Choudary and three others were expelled and deported back to Britain. Both HUT and ASWJ promote
Supporters of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC), a
web-based antisemitic Islamist group, campaigned in a number of constituencies
during the general election against sitting MPs whom they believed were pro-Zionist.
In Rochdale they were forced to apologize in the local press after a leaflet
distributed in their name falsely alleged that Labour MP Lorna Fitzsimmons was
“a Jewish member of the Labour Friends of Israel and an ardent Zionist and
member of the most powerful anti-Muslim lobby in the world, the Israel Lobby.”
A Channel 4 television documentary broadcast shortly after the election
showed that members of the Liberal Democrat Party had worked together with MPAC
during the campaign.
In December a “great debate about Zionism” organized by MPAC was
cancelled by Westminster University because the group is banned by the National
Union of Students (NUS), although the meeting went ahead on the same day at the
Quaker-owned Friends House in central London. The event was arranged to mark
the publication of a book by former BBC journalist Alan Hart, entitled Zionism:
The Real Enemy of the Jews.
The Iran-oriented Islamic Human Rights Commisson (IHRC), established
in 1997 and led by Massoud Shadjareh, campaigns for Muslim human rights, demonizes
Zionism and promotes antisemitism. The group organizes the annual al-Quds Day
march at the end of Ramadan.
Leading Members of the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) are
expatriate members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) who promote Islamist ideology
within the Muslim community. The MAB was founded in the UK by Kamal Tawfik el Helbawy, the MB representative in Britain; activists include Azam Tamimi, a
former MB activist in Jordan, and Muhammad Sawalha, aka Abu Abada, a former
Hamas military commander.
The MAB denies Israel’s right to exist and promotes antisemitism. Toward the
end of 2004, MAB members took over the Finsbury Park Mosque, which previously
had been a base for recruitment of jihadi terrorists under its previous imam Shaykh
Abu Hamsa al-Masri, who was convicted for incitement to murder and antisemitism
in early 2006.
The Party for Islamic Renewal (PIR) operates mainly online. Its
founder and leader is Muhammad al-Masari, a Saudi expatriate who formerly led
the Saudi Islamic Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights and was a
founder of HUT in Saudi Arabia with Omar Bakri Mohammed. The PIR promotes the
global jihad ideology of al-Qa`ida and publishes antisemitic material.
The antisemitic US-based Nation of Islam continues activity
through two centers in London but with a very small membership.
Justice Act 1991 established a statutory requirement to publish statistics on
race and the criminal justice system, and the principal of ethnic monitoring is
now accepted. The Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 introduced the
concept of monitoring religiously aggravated offenses into the criminal justice
Progress on entering data however has been sluggish and there is no
statutory requirement to monitor antisemitic incidents, although this is now being
done by the Metropolitan Police Service, the Greater Manchester Police Service,
with whom the CST liaises closely, and a few smaller forces. There is therefore
no national data available on antisemitic incidents.
by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) suggested that 390 incidents
took place during 2005 within the force areas that record antisemitic
incidents, but the police use a looser definition of racist and antisemitic
crime, based on victims’ perceptions (and only the largest police forces
monitor antisemitic incidents), whereas the CST record only incidents where
there is a demonstrable antisemitic motive.
The CST recorded a total of 455 antisemitic incidents during 2005, a 14 percent fall from the previous year (532 incidents). There has been a steady rise in antisemitic
incidents since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in October
2000; this was the second highest annual total ever, and corresponds to the
long term trend of rising incident levels since 1997.
The difference between the 2004 and 2005 totals can largely be explained
by two clusters of incidents in 2004, each with a single perpetrator and which together
accounted for 60 incidents.
Violence, Vandalism, Threats and Insults
The number of violent
incidents recorded in 2005 was virtually the same as in 2004 (82 versus 83);
moreover, as in 2004, violent incidents against Jews outnumbered incidents
against property − 48 in 2005 versus 53 in 2004. For example, beginning in December 2004 there was a series of assaults with metal bars on
Orthodox Jews in Stamford Hill, London. Tariq al Daour, an Arab teenager, was charged
in connection with the attacks but his trial collapsed when a witness failed to
attend court. Al-Daour was subsequently charged in November with receiving
money or other property that he knew might be used for terrorist purposes,
after his arrest with others for terrorist offenses.
In January, Nazi symbols were daubed on twelve gravestones in the Jewish
section of Aldershot cemetery in Hampshire; in June, one hundred gravestones
were overturned and damaged in West Ham Jewish cemetery, swastikas and antisemitic
epithets daubed on four headstones and the door of the Rothschild family
mausoleum was smashed and painted with Nazi insignia; seventy graves were overturned
and damaged in Rainsough Jewish cemetery in Prestwich; antisemitic graffiti was
drawn on the walls of Rainham Jewish cemetery.
In the category of abusive behavior, which covers both verbal and written
insults, 273 incidents were reported to the CST in 2005 − almost
identical to the number reported in 2004 (272). This was the highest total
recorded in this category since the CST began recording antisemitic incidents,
and encompasses the full range of low level, often spontaneous abuse that is indicative
of antisemitism in society in general.
Antisemitic threats and the mass distribution of antisemitic literature
both declined in 2005. The category of threats includes only clear verbal or
written threats of which the CST recorded 25 in 2005, a decrease of 73 percent from the 2004 total of 93. In 2005 there were 27 reports of antisemitic literature,
a fall of 13 percent from the 2004 figure of 31. This category, however, gives
no indication of the extent of distribution, and mass mailings are counted as a
single incident. Examples of literature distribution in 2005 included the
handing out of Holocaust denial leaflets to the public in Hull city center and
far right literature sent to synagogues in Leeds and London.
Antisemitic incidents levels usually follow a base line that rises and
falls in response to trigger events, of which there were two in 2005: media
pictures in January of Prince Harry, third in succession to the throne, dressed
in Nazi uniform at a fancy dress party; and accusations by London Mayor Ken Livingston
that a Jewish journalist was acting like a concentration camp guard. The Prince
Harry case led to a spike of 60 incidents in January, the highest monthly
The decline in Israeli Palestinian violence led to a reduction in
incidents that made specific reference to Israel. In 2005, 39 incidents
involved anti-Zionist language or imagery in an antisemitic context (compared to
124 in 2004) while 57 incidents included direct reference to Israel or the
Middle East (compared to 114 in 2004). The fall in incidents apparently resulting
from this link might therefore constitute a ‘peace dividend’.
WH Smith, the
largest bookseller and Tesco, the largest supermarket chain in the UK, were both forced to halt sales of antisemitic books which had been offered for sale on
their websites. These included The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, The Jews and Their Lies, and The Hitler We Loved and Why. The sale, though
not deliberate policy, was a result of listing virtually all books published in
the UK. The companies took immediate action during November and December to
remove them from their lists when it was brought to their attention. At the
same time, however, Amazon UK declined to remove similar antisemitic books from
their stock unless they had been declared illegal.
Great Minds, a compilation of poems by school children published
by Forward Press in October, included one by a 12-year-old boy lauding the
murder of Jews and written from the perspective of Adolf Hitler. The book was
published in a short run of 450 copies and distributed only to the contributors
and the schools they attended but the publication aroused strong condemnation
from the Jewish community, members of parliament and the media. Despite
protestations by Forward Press that the book was not intended to promote hatred
of Jews, it was nevertheless pointed out in some press articles that the
publishers had previously put out an antisemitic poem called Beast of Zion
Public Opinion Polls
A poll of Muslim
community views conducted by Populus in December and published in The Times
and Jewish Chronicle newspapers in February 2006 showed that 37 per cent
of 500 Muslim adults surveyed viewed Anglo-Jewry as a “legitimate target as
part of the struggle for justice in the Middle East”; 53 per cent believed
British Jews exerted too much influence over foreign policy; 46 per cent thought
Jews were in league with the Freemasons to control politics and the media. Fifty-two
percent, however, backed Israel’s right to exist. Overall, the poll indicated
that the Muslim community is less extreme toward Israel than are its
representative groups and leaders.
attitudes toward the holocaust
Holocaust Commemoration and Education
Holocaust commemoration which takes place in February was held in the Palace of Westminster in the presence of the queen, the prime minister, leaders of the
parliamentary opposition and religious leaders, and was screened live on BBC
television. As in past years the event was boycotted by the leadership of the Muslim
Council of Britain though attended by other Muslim and religious leaders.
The government transferred responsibility for Holocaust commemoration to
the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust in May. This government-funded independent
charity was formally launched in September at an Imperial War Museum reception hosted by junior Home Office Minister Paul Goggins MP, and is chaired by
Stephen Smith, co-founder of the privately owned Beth Shalom Holocaust museum.
Members of parliament and senior police officers accompanied high school
students on a Holocaust Education Trust (HET) trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau in
November. For the past seven years HET has organized a three day ‘Lessons from
Auschwitz’ course for students and teachers, aimed at increasing knowledge and
understanding and which culminates in a trip to Poland.
In November, the Treasury announced £1.5 million funding to enable HET to
facilitate annual visits to Auschwitz by two students from every school in the UK. So far 4,000 students have benefited from the ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ course and the
grant will enable future generations to continue participating in the project.
in Britain is openly expressed within Islamist bodies, and local BNP, NF and other far right groups promote it at their meetings and through their book
David Irving lectured throughout the US during the course of the year and
in several European countries, notably Greece in October. His visit to Austria, however, was cut short when he was arrested in November in Styria on a warrant issued in
1989 following speeches he had made in Vienna and Leoben. He was subsequently
charged in December, with denying the existence of the Nazi death camps under
laws that forbid Holocaust denial and which criminalize active support for
RESPONSES TO RACISM AND ANTISEMITISM
In March, the
government published an Equality Bill which would have merged the Commission
for Racial Equality (CRE) into a newly formed body, the Commission for Equality
and Human Rights. However the proposed merger has now been postponed until
2009. The bill which is due to be finalized during 2006 makes discrimination on
the grounds of religion or belief unlawful in the provision of goods,
facilities and services, education, and the exercise of public functions. It
also requires that public authorities provide equality of opportunity between
men and women and prohibits sex discrimination in the exercise of public
The Racial and Religious Hatred Bill 2005-06 published in June for
discussion in parliament, incorporates provisions that were included in the
Serious Organized Crime and Police Bill 2004 –05, but dropped before the May
2005 general election in order to secure passage of that bill. It seeks to
extend existing incitement to racial hatred offenses (which provide protection
to the Jewish community) to include instigation of hatred against persons on
In August, Prime Minister Tony Blair outlined the government’s proposed
anti-terrorism legislation. Among the recommendations was a ban on HUT and the
successors of AM, deportation of foreign nationals who foster hatred or
advocate violence, the condoning or glorifying of terrorism, and the listing of
extremist websites, bookshops and other centers of concern where engagement
with them would be grounds for deportation. However, the proposals face stiff
parliamentary opposition on human rights grounds and agreement on them was
expected only in mid-2006.
As part of its counter-terrorism strategy the government also planned to
provide the police with powers to close houses of worship where it could be
shown that ministers of religion incite hatred against others. Although it
abandoned the plans in the face of opposition from many faith groups and the
police, it introduced a stipulation for all those seeking to enter the UK as religious workers: they will now be allowed to stay for up to two years only.
Imported ministers of religion will have to prove their ability to a higher
level than previously, but the government again abandoned plans to impose a
post-entry civic knowledge test.
right and Islamist activists were tried in 2005 for inciting to racial hatred. Six
members of the RVF were jailed in November for a series of antisemitic articles
published in their newsletter Stormer. Two of the six also pleaded
guilty to managing the RVF website with the intention of stirring up racial
In November, BNP leader Nick Griffin and leading activist Mark Collett
appeared at a preliminary hearing at Leeds Crown Court charged with incitement
to racial hatred. The case arose out of comments made on a BBC Secret Agent
television documentary screened in 2004.
In addition, Mark Peacock, a seventeen-year-old from Gateshead, was sentenced
to two years detention in September for a racially motivated attack against a
Jewish man and his daughter.
Official and Public Activities
At the end of
December 2004 the CRE held consultations with representatives of the Jewish
community as part of its ongoing Safer Communities Initiative. The outcome was
a report circulated within government ministries, and the publication of an
Antisemitism Fact Sheet as part of a pack of material on defeating organized
racial hatred, which was sent in early 2006 to all local authorities.
In February, London Mayor Ken Livingston likened a Jewish Evening
Standard journalist to a concentration camp guard when he was interviewed
leaving a late night party held for Chris Smith, the former minister for culture.
His behavior was referred to the Standards Board for England in September after
his refusal to apologize received widespread and continuing media coverage. The
board referred it to an Adjudication Panel.
In March the Citizens Advice Bureau launched its racial incidents
monitoring report at a reception at Church House. They noted the increasing
number of reports to their bureaus around the country by Jewish victims of
In April members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT) voted to
boycott Israel’s Bar Ilan and Haifa Universities, but the decisions were
subsequently reversed at an emergency meeting in May when the union voted to
give practical support to Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists and committed
itself to a full review of its international policy.
Three Jewish students who held official positions within the NUS resigned
their posts at the annual Blackpool conference in May after they claimed that
the union turned a blind eye to antisemitism on university campuses. Antisemitic
leaflets published by the General Union of Palestinian students, including one
which referred to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, were distributed
at the conference. A subsequent independent inquiry noted that although “there
were clearly occasions when matters could have been dealt with more quickly,
and more efficiently, they did not demonstrate apathy to antisemitism”. It did
however recommend that the NUS develop a clear code of practice to guide a
rapid response to antisemitism and racism.
Serious concern was expressed by the BoD, members of parliament and the
media at the inclusion of some members of Home Office taskforces appointed to
examine extremism among young Muslims in the wake of the London July bombings.
In particular the inclusion of Ahmad Thomson, a convert to Islam and Inayat
Banglawala, the media spokesman of the Muslim Council of Britain, were thought
to be inappropriate. In 1994 Thomson wrote a book called The New World Order
in which he claimed that Freemasons and Jews conspired to colonize the Middle
East and now controlled the governments of Europe and America. He also claimed that the international media and Hollywood were run by Jews and that the
murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust was “a big lie.” Bunglawala has
stated several times that Zionism is racism.
In March, the Metropolitan Police Service conducted a series of raids
across London under the Operation Athena initiative which targets hate crime,
and which led to 135 arrests. In July, they held a reception to publicize their
joint research project with the Institute for Jewish Policy Research on Hate
Crimes against London’s’ Jews. The project used police crime reports to analyze
the nature of antisemitic crime and the perpetrators, and was the first time
that external researchers had been allowed access to internal police reports. The
authors noted that the majority of attacks against London’s’ Jews and communal
property were spontaneous rather than mission-oriented in origin, that more
attacks took place on the Sabbath than at other times, and that nearly half the
perpetrators were not white youths but came from a mixture of backgrounds,
including Muslim. It also noted that reporting of antisemitic incidents and
crimes to both the police and the CST understated the true picture.
In September a report written by Professor Anthony Glees of the Brunel
University Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies charted the presence of
extremist groups operating on British university campuses, some of which pose a
threat to national security. The report listed more than 30 institutions where
AM, HUT and BNP members are active.
A dialogue on Jewish-Christian relations took place for the first time at
the annual Church of England General Synod, the body’s key decision-making
event, in November. The meeting was an outcome of the Synod’s rejection of a
divestment campaign against Israel and companies doing business in Israel, which had previously been agreed in June by the Anglican Consultative Council.