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UK report cites Labour row as contributing to rise in anti-Semitic incidents

LONDON (Reuters) - The number of anti-Semitic incidents in Britain rose in the first half of the year, according to a charity on Thursday that cited alleged anti-Semitism in the opposition Labour party as a contributing factor.

The Community Security Trust (CST) said in a report it had recorded 892 incidents, 10% up on the year-ago period and a record for the January to June period.

A 46% rise in the number of online incidents was the most obvious single factor explaining the overall increase, it added.

The CST, which has been logging anti-Semitic incidents in Britain since 1984 and provides security for the Jewish community in Britain, said the highest monthly totals of such incidents came in February and March.

“They occurred when issues relating to Jews and anti-Semitism were prominent in news and politics due to the continuing controversy over anti-Semitism in the Labour Party,” it added in a statement.

February saw nine lawmakers leave the Labour Party, some of whom cited anti-Semitism as a prominent reason for their decision, it noted.

The CST said it had recorded 25 incidents in February and 30 in March that were examples of, or related to, arguments over alleged anti-Semitism within Labour.

Britain’s equality watchdog said in May it was launching a formal investigation to determine whether Labour had discriminated against, harassed or victimized people because they were Jewish.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said anti-Semitism must be confronted and driven out of the party.

“Labour is not an anti-Semitic party. But one anti-Semite is always one too many,” he said in July.

The CST report recorded a 37% increase in the number of violent anti-Semitic assaults, from 62 in the first six months of 2018 to 85 in the first half of 2019.

None of these violent incidents was classified by CST as “extreme violence” which would mean they involved potential grievous bodily harm (GBH) or a threat to life.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for hate crime, said evidence suggested more victims of such offences were now willing to come forward.

“We will be working with analysts ... to establish whether these increases reflect a greater incidence of hate crime or further improvements in reporting levels,” he added in a statement.

Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by Andrew MacAskill