UK - CST Antisemitic discourse report 2020

Today, CST released the Antisemitic Discourse Report 2020. Antisemitism continued to play a role in the national discourse in Britain during 2020.

One of the major events last year concerning antisemitic discourse was the findings of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s investigation into antisemitism within the Labour Party and the response of both former leader Jeremy Corbyn and current leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Allegations of antisemitism in the Brighton and Hove branch of the Labour Party demonstrated that, despite improvements under the new Labour Party leader, the party still has work to do to rid the party of antisemitism. There were also examples of antisemitism in the Conservative Party, Liberal Democrat Party and Scottish National Party.

Antisemitism at British universities is a growing problem, as a CST report released in 2020 showed. In 2019/20, CST recorded the highest number of antisemitic incidents on campus in a single academic year, despite the year being cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There were several developments during 2020 concerning the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. This included interventions by government ministers calling for more universities to adopt the IHRA definition and a debate by Members of Parliament about the IHRA definition at university campuses.

Global events during 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the murder of George Floyd in the United States, provided ample opportunities for conspiracy theorists to blame Jews. The pandemic, in particular, led to a surge in online antisemitic conspiracy theories.

In February 2020, CST and Hope not Hate launched a joint report exposing the Keep Talking group of conspiracy theorists, antisemites and Holocaust deniers who met regularly in London. It showed how individuals with very different ideologies could coalesce over their common hatred of Jews. Some of the people involved in the Keep Talking group became prominent figures in the COVID-19 related conspiracist movement.

Other sections in the report include descriptions of the Football Association disciplining Port Vale footballer Tom Pope for sharing online the antisemitic conspiracy theory regarding the Rothschild family; the grime artist Wiley launching a series of online antisemitic rants and the response by social media companies; the resignation of a number of board members of the charity Islamic Relief Worldwide after old antisemitic posts on their social media pages were exposed; and two announcements by Facebook concerning online antisemitism, which CST and others were consulted on.

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