January 30, 2005

The trouble with anti-semitism

There is a report in The Observer. online today that says that "anti-Jewish attacks [in the UK are] at a record level". The report draws on statistics gathered by the Community Security Trust (CST), a subsidiary of the so-called Board of Deputies of British Jews. On the basis of the same statistics the Jewish Chronicle. headed its article simply "UK anti-Semitic incidents rise". Nothing about records being broken or anything like that. Also, the JC, unlike The Observer, draws attention to a report published in Israel which reports more assaults on Jews in the UK but less incidents overall. The CST has refused to confirm any figures for 2004 as, "before releasing the figures for any year, the CST has to carry out rigorous checks on the data".

I have yet to see any detailed breakdown of the Israeli figures or for any CST figures for 2004. The CST uses nine categories of incident:

1.Extreme violence
3.Damage and Desecration
5.Abusive behaviour
7.Info Collection
9.Suspicious behaviour

Unfortunately the CST doesn't offer any definition of its categories. For example, surely there must be scope for double counting when the first five categories are all criminal of themselves and yet there is a separate category called "Criminal". And what is "Info Collection"? And as for "Suspicious behaviour", how does someone behave suspiciously anti-semitically without behaving actually anti-semitically?

The problem here is that the CST is part of the Zionist movement and, therefore, we have to view everything they say with, at best, scepticism. The fact that they are being so coy with the 2004 figures merely compounds the suspicion that they are not being cautious with their data, but cautious with their spin. They want to stop criticism of Israel, but if they link reports on Israel to an increase in anti-semitism they undermine Zionism's first justification: that it is a bulwark against anti-semitism. If they say that it has nothing to do with Israel then people will happily continue to berate the last of the colonial settler states. So let's just see what they come up with.

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