UK Zionist Community Security Trust group equates opposition to Israel’s genocide with antisemitism

Every year the Community Security Trust (CST) releases a report declaring the latest “huge rise” in antisemitism in Britain.

Accompanying this year’s report covering 2023, the Daily Mail’s banner front-page headline screamed, “British Jews suffer an ‘explosion in hatred’ amid hundreds of violent assaults in worst ever year”. This was echoed across the political spectrum from the Telegraph to the Guardian.

The CST’s “Antisemitic Incidents Report 2023” was targeted at the movement against Israel’s genocide, at Muslims and left-wing opponents, as the main source of antisemitism. This reinforces the campaign by the Conservative government, backed by the Labour opposition, to criminalise opposition to the genocidal actions of the Israeli state by equating antizionism with antisemitism.

Screenshot of cover of CST 2023 "Antisemetic Incidents" report [Photo: Community Security Trust]

The report opens with a summary claiming, “CST recorded 4,103 antisemitic incidents in the UK in 2023, the highest total ever reported to CST in a single calendar year. This is an increase of 147% from the 1,662 anti-Jewish hate incidents recorded by CST in 2022, and is 81% higher than the previous annual record of 2,261 incidents, reported in 2021.”

To reinforce its charge of antisemitic motive, the CST asserts, “This record total is due to the sheer volume of antisemitism perpetrated across the UK following Hamas’ attack on Israel on 7 October 2023…

“The week immediately following the Hamas attack on 7 October saw 416 antisemitic incidents reported to CST, higher than any subsequent week: again indicating that it was the Hamas terror attack, rather than Israel’s military response in Gaza, that sparked most of the antisemitism in this country”.

It is a matter of record that Israel began relentlessly bombing Gaza from October 8, hours after the Hamas-led attack. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) killed over 400 Palestinians in the first strikes. By October 9, such was the ferocity of the collective punishment and war crimes carried out by the IDF that 123,538 Palestinians in Gaza had already been displaced, according to the UN humanitarian relief agency. These atrocities were widely reported and spread across social media, fuelling outrage and opposition.

Even the words “Free Palestine”, shouted on demonstrations for decades, are deemed antisemitic. The report claims, “Historic, simplistic prejudices have been manipulated and deployed by such a vast array of social, religious, cultural and political forces over such a long period of time, that a complex and layered landscape of antisemitic language, imagery and references has emerged… for example, a person who shouts ‘Heil Hitler’ at a Jewish passer-by might align themselves with far-right extremist ideology, or they might simply know that this phrase will cause upset and offence to Jewish people. Similarly, someone who shouts ‘Free Palestine’ at people walking to synagogue may be a staunch campaigner for Palestinian liberation, or perhaps they just consider it another weapon in their rhetorical arsenal to deploy against Jews.”

The ninth national protest against genocide in Gaza sets off from Park Lane in London, February 17, 2024

The CST stresses, “A total of 1,299 antisemitic incidents exhibited anti-Zionist motivation (compared to 149 in 2022) alongside antisemitic language or targeting while the terms ‘Zionism’ or ‘Zionist’ were used on 260 occasions, often as euphemisms for ‘Judaism’ and ‘Jew’, or alongside other antisemitic language… In at least 427 instances, the phrase ‘Free Palestine’ was employed in speech or writing in an antisemitic way.”

The Jewish Chronicle, which played a major role in the antisemitism campaign against former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, notes key areas of society where a clampdown is needed to fight alleged antisemitism. “Online platforms continued to be ‘fertile ground’ for expressing antisemitism, with the CST fearing that X/Twitter in particular might be becoming ‘a more appealing place for the congregation… of antisemites’.

It adds, “The number of incidents involving schools (325) and campuses (182) were both triple the previous highs for each. A ‘worrying proportion’ of the perpetrators were children, the CST reported.”

On February 16, the day after the report was issued, the Daily Telegraph announced that a “University anti-Semitism tsar” would “be appointed as Jewish students face death threats. The Government will create a post of Expert Adviser on anti-Semitism in Higher Education to tackle hatred on campus.”

In a letter to the World Socialist Web Site in 2019 at the height of the antisemitism witch-hunt in Britain, Mark Gardner, Deputy Chief Executive & Communications Director at the CST, wrote, Your characterisation of Community Security Trust as ‘Zionist’ is pathetic and typical of hard left attempts to smear mainstream Jewish communal organisations.”

Socialist Equality Party National Secretary Chris Marsden responded, “This is transparent nonsense, but you have been playing this ideological game for years—denouncing as anti-Semitic not only Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn but vast swathes of left-wing opposition to Israel’s brutal suppression of the Palestinians.

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the March for Palestine rally

“The CST is no more a representative of the Jewish community than are the political forces it represents—the Conservative government, the right-wing of the Labour Party and, one must add, the British and the Israeli state.”

The CST’s web site states that it “is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.” It lists its activities as providing “security advice and training for Jewish communal organisations, schools and synagogues. CST secures over 650 Jewish communal buildings and approximately 1,000 communal events every year.”

Its annual review for 2022 boasts of an increase in staffing. “CST has 2,000 dedicated volunteers and 100 staff members at offices in London, Manchester and Leeds.”

The CST is a registered “charity”, but what other charity receives millions of pounds a year from the government to fund its activities? In 2015—the year Corbyn took the Labour leadership, the government began donating millions of pounds to “The Jewish Community Protective Security Grant”. This is managed on behalf of the Home Office by the CST.

Speaking to the CST in March 2015, just prior to Corbyn becoming Labour leader, then Prime Minister David Cameron said he had already “committed over £7 million of new money to fund guards for all Jewish private schools and colleges… But that’s not enough on its own.

“CST, the Jewish Chronicle and the All-Party Parliamentary Group against anti-Semitism have all highlighted the risk to synagogues and other potentially vulnerable Jewish community buildings.” On this basis there would be “a further £3 million. That’s over £10 million of new money for security – this year—and every year—for as long as necessary.”

Cameron continued, “And we’re doing something else too. I want CST to have a state of the art Mission Control centre, with closed-circuit television command and control and the ability to respond rapidly to those who need their help right across our Jewish communities. And today I can announce an additional £1.5 million in capital to help you build it.”

By February 2019, in the space of just four years, Home Office largesse to the CST had reached £65.2 million. At the CST’s annual dinner, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced an increase in the annual grant for 2019 from £13.6 million to £14 million. For 2023/24 the grant rises again by £1 million to £15 million.

The CST’s 2022 annual review noted that in December of that year, “CST had the privilege of hosting His Majesty King Charles III at our North London headquarters.” Charles “was shown the work of CST’s 24/7 National Security Control Centre.”

Screenshot of pages from CST's 2022 annual review showing King Charles (bottom photo, second left) visiting CST headquarters [Photo: Community Service Trust]

The review notes, “During times of heightened alert or special operations, police officers may be posted to CST’s National Security Control Centre. This ensures immediate intelligence sharing and a close partnership approach to joint operations.”

For a privileged layer at the top of the CST, intimate involvement with the highest echelons of the state brings rich pickings. The Charity Commission website reveals that six employees take home £60-70k; five employees £70-80k; one employee £80-90k; two employees £90-100k; one employee £100-110k; and one £150-200k.

At the CST’s annual dinner in March 2023, the organisation boasted of 850 guests in attendance, “including donors, Members of Parliament, police officers, communal partners and other supporters of CST’s work.” This included Labour leader Sir Keir “I support Zionism without qualification” Starmer—a venal supporter of Israel’s genocidal destruction of Gaza.

After toasting, “His Majesty King Charles III”, Starmer told the attendees, “I want to take this opportunity humbly to say thank you for giving me the time and space to address antisemitism in my party… There is no complacency from me and we are ever vigilant. The fight against antisemitism is never over”.

Labour Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper endorsed this year’s CST report, thanking the organisation “for the remarkable and tireless work they do, alongside the police”.