Jewish charity’s concern over impact of rising antisemitism

London’s victims commissioner tells City Hall about ‘profound impact’ on Jewish communities of rising antisemitism in the capital, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Claire Waxman (credit GLA)
Claire Waxman (credit GLA)

Jewish women suffering from domestic abuse have become less willing to come forward for help because of the capital’s recent rise in antisemitic incidents, City Hall has been told.

London’s victims commissioner Claire Waxman said Jewish women are “choosing to stay with their abusers” because they are afraid of encountering antisemitism if they leave their homes.

The conflict in Israel and Gaza has fueled an increase in both antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crimes. The Met Police received 657 reports of antisemitic incidents from 1st October to 1st November this year, compared with 49 incidents in the same period last year.

Speaking at a Wednesday (8th) meeting of the London Assembly’s police and crime committee, Waxman said that the charity Jewish Women’s Aid has “been profoundly impacted” by events in the Middle East, “and of course the rise in antisemitism that they’re feeling here in London”.

She said tensions in the capital are “impacting their workers, because it’s a by and for specialist service, so there are Jewish volunteers working in the service and they are really struggling at the moment to provide the service”.

But Waxman added: “What’s more concerning to me is that Jewish victims of domestic abuse are not engaging in the safety plans. They are choosing to stay with their abusers as opposed to leaving high-risk, abusive relationships, because of this overriding fear at the moment of antisemitism.”

The victims commissioner said she had taken the issue up with Debbie Weekes-Bernard, London’s deputy mayor for communities and social justice. Discussions were ongoing, she said, as to how to provide “solidarity and support” to Jewish Women’s Aid while ensuring that Jewish victims of domestic abuse feel able to leave abusive relationships.

Louisa Rolfe, the Met’s assistant commissioner for frontline policing, told the committee: “I’m very alive to the issues that Claire’s discussed around victims of domestic abuse”.

She said the Met was committed to providing both “reassurance in communities” and an “appropriate, sensitive approach to domestic abuse”.

The Jewish Chronicle has reported that referrals to Jewish Women’s Aid are down 72%, compared with last year, following the start of the conflict on 7th October.

A spokesperson for the charity told the newspaper that the drop in numbers was “a direct result of how impacted the Jewish community in the UK is by what has happened in Israel. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by the attacks.

“We have a lot of Israeli clients and a lot of clients with family in Israel. People are worried about their relatives and don’t have the head-space or inner strength to prioritise their own safety.”

They added that the rise in antisemitism was also making women afraid to move to an unknown place.

They said: “Women who are already feeling vulnerable are now feeling even more vulnerable.

“They are afraid of being alone and afraid of potentially leaving their synagogue community.”

The drop in referrals has reportedly been seen in both numbers calling the charity’s helpline and those reaching out via its web chat.

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