Jews are being targeted on social media amid a surge in anti-Semitic hate crimes, according to a new study.
There has been an 11% rise in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK in the first six months of 2016, according to the Community Security Trust (CST). The charity said it recorded 577 incidents targeting Jews between January and June this year, an increase on the 473 incidents in the same period in 2015.
It said that there has been an increase in anti-Semitic abuse on social media, with the 133 incidents a steep increase on the 89 incidents recorded during the same period last year. Much of the abuse used content "generated centrally on neo-Nazi websites."
Among the incident reported to it were 41 violent anti-Semitic assaults, and 431 incidents of abusive behaviour, including verbal abuse and anti-Semitic graffiti, hate mail and online abuse.
The most common form of abuse was verbal, with 195 cases recorded of Jews abused "while going about their daily business in public places." In most cases the victims wore "religious or traditional clothing, school uniform or jewellery bearing Jewish symbols."
The charity, which has logged anti-Semitic hate crime since 1984, also recorded 32 incidents of damage and desecration of Jewish property, 43 direct threats, and 10 cases of mass-mailed leaflets or emails.
CST Chief Executive David Delew said: "This rise in reported antisemitism comes at a time when division, intolerance and prejudice appear to be deepening within our society. Reversing this worrying trend requires real leadership from all political parties, and for the social media companies to take their share of the responsibility."
The report notes "there is no obvious single cause for the increase in recorded anti-Semitic incidents," with most incidents recorded in May and June, "a period when anti-Semitism, racism and extremism were reported and discussed prominently in the national media and in public debate."
There was a spike in hate crimes in June following the EU referendum, with a 57% increase recorded by the National Police Chief's Council. A recent inquiry following comments by former London mayor Ken Livingston, found that though the party was not overrun by anti-Semitism, there was an "occasionally toxic atmosphere."
London and Manchester hit particularly hard
"The long term trend shows that the number of anti-Semitic incidents has remained at a relatively high level since the summer of 2014, when the UK saw a large spike in anti-Semitic incidents in relation to the conflict in Israel and Gaza that year," said the report.
Whereas in the two years before the conflict, 40 to 60 incidents were logged per month, the average has risen to 80-100 incidents. More than three quarters of the incidents were recorded in Greater London and Greater Manchester, home of the two largest Jewish communities in the UK.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd recently launched an initiative to combat the increase in hate crimes in Britain, with millions made available to ensure the security of places of worship including synagogues. Police forces in England and Wales are also to review the way the offences are reported and investigated.
In a statement, Rudd said: "I condemn the deplorable rise in anti-Semitic hate incidents in the first half of this year and will continue to work with law enforcement partners and with the Jewish community to ensure their safety and security. It is vital that every community which contributes to making us Great Britain has the protection it needs."