By Elle Rigby
Government plans to adopt an international definition of anti-Semitism to tackle hate crimes have been welcomed in West Yorkshire, following a rise in crimes towards the Jewish population.
Leeds, home to the third largest population of the Jewish community after Greater London and Manchester, has seen a serious rise in anti-Semitic crimes.
According to an FOI on West Yorkshire Police website, recorded anti-Semitic crime rates in Leeds went up 62% from 2014 to 2015, with 26 reported crimes over the course of 2015.
Laurence Saffer, president of the Leeds Jewish Representative Council, spoke of his support for the new definition and said: “It is necessary to clarify what is not acceptable. The increase in reported anti-Semitic incidents is concerning.
“The community works very closely with the police and all partners in peace in the region to reduce anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of racism emanating from a tiny proportion of extremists in the wider community.”
Leeds University Union executive have published an open letter affirming their support for Jewish students and their commitment to “tackling anti-Semitism, both in Leeds and wherever it manifests itself.”
The Union plans to launch a campaign against hate crimes and focussed in their report on the NUS and the Labour Party as two rather influential sources of the rise in anti-Semitism.
Zac Gordon-Boyd, 23, member of the Jewish Society at Leeds University spoke of the “tight knit and bubbly” Jewish community in Leeds and said: “It’s really welcoming and there’s loads of stuff going on from traditional Friday night dinners to different Jewish organisations always present on campus.”
He added: “Anti-Semitic incidents have been rising on campus over the last few years and Jewish students have done a really good job in fighting it.
“However, some unions haven’t been very helpful and the new NUS president has been really bad for anti-Semitism because of her comments.”
This rise in hate crime is also seen in the findings of The Community Security Trust charity, in which they state that anti-Semitic hate crimes have risen by 11% from 2015-2016, with 557 incidents targeting Jews up from 500 the previous year.
Theresa May will vow to tackle hatred towards Jews in a London speech with the introduction of an official definition of anti-Semitism.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s agreed the definition of anti-Semitism earlier in the year and hopes it will become adopted globally.
It calls anti-Semitism: “A certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
Police, councils, universities and other public bodies will adopt the wording to tackle anti-Jewish attacks.