Following a violent assault against two Jewish men in Stamford Hill on the 26th January, an 18-year-old was charged under suspicion of actual bodily harm (ABH). The incident forms part of a wider paradigm in which North London is seeing an acute increase in anti-semitic crime.
Speaking to the Hackney Gazette about the issue of rising anti-semitism in London, Rabbi Herschel Gluck OBE, president of Shomrim in Stamford Hill and associate of the Next Century Foundation, stated: “We are certainly very deeply shocked and troubled by the events that we have seen over the past year.”
According to the London Data store, the Metropolitan Police recorded a 17.56 percent increase in the number of anti-semitic hate crimes across the London borough of Hackney between December 2020 and 2021 compared with the previous year.
Rabbi Gluck’s statement reflects the severity of these figures. Nonetheless, the situation in North London may be worsening: “Incidents are occurring everyday, a trend that has been happening over the past ten months. The metropolitan police are underfunded and face further cuts under [the conservative] administration. These cuts show that there is no political willpower and investment to tackle the crime and discrimination which is increasingly being faced by minorities”.
Austerity measures in the Stamford area are not only affecting the police’s ability to tackle antisimetic crime, the cuts are a grievance which further fuels the issue: “The people who commit these offences have very often themselves suffered issues and sadly they feel frustrated and instead of doing something positive, they do something negative.”
But the causes of these instances may be even more troubling and deeply rooted. They are occurring within the larger context of London’s gentrification and societal polarisation, which are also aggravating these shifts. As Rabbi Gluck observes: “A hostile environment with regards to the othering of minorities is driving this. It comes down to dehumanising anti-immigrant rhetoric and as the classic minority, the Jews, are bearing the brunt of this. A civilised society must do better.”
From Rabbi Gluck’s assessments, the source of the issues surrounding antisemitism are exacerbated by the messages coming from the top of the British government. The discord created by such rhetoric stokes the othering of ethnic minorities, leading to sharp increases in violence against them.