Rabbi Herschel Gluck (left) and Mohammed Kozbar from Finsbury Park Mosque in north London spoke to Socialist Worker about why hate crimes are on the rise 

Hate crimes are on the rise. According to new statistics, the increase came between October and November last year after Hamas’ attack on Israel, and Israel’s savage retaliation.

The statistics are, so far, incomplete and politically distorted. Charity Tell Mama recorded a 600 percent rise in Islamophobic hate since 7 October. But official figures don’t show such a sharp rise. Mohammed Kozbar is the chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque in north London. “We’ve seen a rise in Islamophobic attacks for quite a long time,” he told Socialist Worker.

“Home Office statistics in 2018 showed a 40 percent rise in hate crimes against Muslims. Now we see attacks particularly on Muslim women. “Some at our mosque say they can’t take their children to school safely, use public transportation or leave their houses alone at night.

“And it’s not just individuals. Institutions, mosques, community centres and schools have seen an increase in attacks physically and online. Many threatening hate letters and drawings have been sent, some saying Islam is a terrorist religion. Other letters have told people to go back to their country. It’s horrific.”

Mohammed thinks the main reason for the rise in hate is the media. “The negative coverage of Muslims in Britain is huge—that’s a big issue. It makes people more vulnerable to attacks,” he said. 

“And different parties inflame misinformation. Politicians like Boris Johnson and former home secretary Suella Braverman have also had a huge impact. They say things that are clearly hate crimes and get away with it. This also gives confidence to the far right, and the police aren’t doing enough to protect us.”

Mohammed says his mosque encourages people to report to the police. “But many have asked what’s the point, because they have before, and nothing has been done,” he said. “We want to give people confidence to report these crimes because it forces the police to take action. 

“Otherwise, racists will do it again and again and get away with it. Yet nothing really tangible is happening to prevent these things occurring. This is the reality for many Muslims, not just in London.”

Despite the hate, Mohammed says Muslims “won’t let racists change our way of life”. “We shouldn’t feel vulnerable,” he explained. “And we will keep campaigning for Palestine and an immediate ceasefire. It’s more important than ever that we keep pressing this government.

“We have a considerable British Palestinian community in north London, with some having lost 40 or 50 members of their family. We’re encouraging people to contribute to the protests, in a legal and safe way—no one is doing anything wrong by doing that.”

We all must unite against the racists, says rabbi     

Herschel Gluck, a rabbi in Stoke Newington in east London, also blames the government and media for the rise in both antisemitism and Islamophobia.

“The government makes a lot of noise about caring for the Jewish community, but when it comes down to it it’s nowhere to be seen,” he told Socialist Worker.

“It’s using antisemitism as a battering ram to attack others, but is blind to its own lack of action. “This is the case for all parties—it’s across the whole political spectrum. The media also tries, but is mostly unsuccessful, to pit Muslim and Jewish people against each other.”

Rabbi Gluck explained that the hate comes from those “who feel bigger when they push others down”. “Those who take up this division and racism see both of these groups of people as vulnerable,” he said.

“I am the president of the community group Shomrim, and we’re very aware of the rise in hate crimes.  Most of the time it comes from white men. We’ve also recorded incidents of bus drivers who haven’t stopped for Jewish people or not allowed Jewish people onboard.

“There have been abusive remarks and a lot of violent attacks just for the hell of it.  This is deeply disturbing.”

Rabbi Gluck added that the latest statistics can be used as “political football”. “The priority should be committing resources to make sure people are safe and those who commit racist crimes are dealt with appropriately,” he said.

“Currently that’s not happening. Since the end of Covid we’ve seen a sharp rise in racial attacks. The situation in the Middle East is being used by people as an excuse and as a green light to attack Jewish people and Muslims.

“It’s very important that when people see racist attacks against any group in society, they show solidarity. Anti-racists must continue to be the voice of those with no voice”.

Oppose all the forms of racism

Islamophobia is on the rise because it’s encouraged from the top. Government ministers claim it’s hateful and wrong to wave Palestinian flags or chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. 

That merges with previous attacks on Muslims as terrorists to seed more anti-Muslim assaults. Increased antisemitic cases are clearly linked to the slaughter in Gaza. Huge numbers of people are rightly horrified and angry against Israel.

Most understand that the enemy is Zionism and imperialism—not Jews.  And that is reinforced by the involvement of some Jews in the pro-Palestine protests.

That breaks down the claim that Jews are a single reactionary block of people. But a very small minority of those who back Palestinian rights wrongly target all Jews as to blame for the murders in Gaza. 

That has to be combated. Israel makes such antisemitism more likely. In July 2018 the Israeli government passed a law defining Israel as the “nation-state” of the Jewish people and added that “fulfilling the right to national self-determination in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”

It therefore boosted the identification of Israel with Jewishness—and made some people think Israel’s crimes flow from all Jews. Because of that, Israel, which claims to be a safe haven for Jews, in fact encourages anti-Jewish feeling.

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