Tuesday, September 19, 2017

19-Sep-17: The UK has more consumers of jihadi web content than anywhere else in Europe

Today's British report, online here
While thoughtful parts of Western society ponder the need to find the right balance between personal security and personal liberty, and how and whether governments should interfere with the flow of information and ideas on the Internet, reality keeps intruding.

Like for instance the attempted bombing of an underground train in London in the last few days ["Bucket Bomb’ Strikes London’s Vulnerable Underground", New York Times, September 15, 2017] and the sheer good luck that explains why it did not end up as a massacre of innocents.

Not so surprisingly, public opinion gets impacted by encounters with the lethal bigotry that forms a core part of such barbaric assaults.

So - a brief update here on one of the rootest of root causes of jihadist terror in Europe and especially the United Kingdom:
Online jihadist propaganda attracts more clicks in the UK than any other country in Europe, a report has found | Britain is the fifth-biggest audience in the world for extremist content after Turkey, the US, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Policy Exchange's study said. The think tank suggested the UK public would support new laws criminalising reading content that glorifies terror. The government has told internet companies like Facebook and Google to do more to to remove jihadist material. Former US military chief General David Petraeus, who wrote a foreword to the report, said efforts to combat online extremism were "inadequate". He said the bombing of a London Tube train last week "merely underscored once again the ever-present nature of this threat." "There is no doubting the urgency of this matter," he said. "The status quo clearly is unacceptable."
...Under section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000, it is currently an offence to possess information that could assist a would-be terrorist, but not material which glorifies terrorism... [BBC, September 19, 2017]
The Policy Exchange report itself [here], published today, is considerably more revealing than the BBC summary and worth delving into.

More than 130 pages long, it challenges the idea that the impact of ISIS as an online force is in decline. It notes that the "the death of key figures, loss of territory and ongoing fighting" have not prevented its production and dissemination from churning on and influencing the audiences it addresses:
The spate of terrorist attacks in the first half of 2017 confirmed that jihadist radicalisation is a real and present danger to the national security of the UK and its allies... ISIS is producing extremist content online at a consistent rate and this is spread across a vast information ecosystem: it is disseminated to core followers via Telegram, before being pumped out into the mainstream social media space (via Twitter, Facebook and other leading platforms). For this reason, we argue that more must be done to force jihadist content out of the mainstream. It is clear that the status quo is not working; it is time for a new approach... [W]e argue that society as a whole must act to overcome this serious threat to the security, vitality and prosperity of western societies. ["The New Netwar: Countering Extremism Online" (PDF), Policy Exchange, September 19, 2017
And this not exactly unrelated news snippet from a July 26, 2017 article in Independent UK:
A record number of anti-Semitic incidents have been recorded in the UK as monitors warn of “unprecedented” reports of attacks, abuse and harassment. The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded 80 violent assaults targeting Jews in the first six months of this year, as well as verbal abuse, graffiti, vandalism, hate mail and abuse via social media and the internet. A total of 767 incidents were reported between January and June – a rise of almost a third on the same period in 2016 and the highest since the CST’s records began in 1984... Gideon Falter, chairman of Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said the CST’s report corroborates its own research, indicating that 2017 was “likely to be the worst year on record for anti-Semitic crime” and the fourth record-breaking year in a row. “The reason for this rise appears to be a failure to enforce the law,” he argued. “Over the past several years, anti-Semitic crime has been rising dramatically whilst there have only been a paltry number of prosecutions. This emboldens anti-Semites who increasingly fear no consequences for their actions.”
["Anti-Semitic attacks hit record high in UK amid warnings over rise of 'hatred and anger'", Independent UK, July 26, 2017]
As for current British attitudes towards Jews, a new report on anti-Semitism in the UK
caps the ‘hardcore’ anti-Semite population at five percent [but] detects a further 25 per cent who feel negatively about Jews and hold one or two viewpoints that most Jews would consider anti-Semitic. These include traditional Judeophobic tropes of undue influence, divided loyalty, and ill-gotten wealth... The study, a joint enterprise by the Community Security Trust and the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, is an in-depth exploration of anti-Jewish attitudes, the role of animus towards Israel, and the prevalence of prejudice in 2017... It is a sober analysis and the researchers tend towards restraint – sometimes a little too much restraint – in drawing conclusions from their data. It is this very interpretive modesty that makes the findings all the more concerning. The far-right remains the most anti-Semitic demographic but the far-left, by the force of numbers and its new-found influence over British politics, is roughly on an even keel with reactionaries when it comes to hating Jews... ["Britain has an anti-Semitism problem. Here are the numbers that prove it", Stephen Daisley, The Spectator, September 13, 2017]
And finally two related sound-bytes about how Britain's Jews view the political landscape. One:
The vast majority (83%) of British Jews believe the Labour Party is too tolerant of anti-Semitism among its MPs, members and supporters, a poll suggests. This compared with 19% for the Conservatives and 36% for the Liberal Democrats, according to the YouGov survey for Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA). [Jewish News UK, August 20, 2017]
and two: how they are translating this into personal life-changing decisions:
Almost one in three British Jews has considered moving abroad in the past two years, a survey [of] nearly 4,000 members of the community during 2016 and 2017 [has found.] One in six British Jews (17%) reported feeling unwelcome in Britain and over a third (37%) said they had felt the need to conceal their Judaism in public... 31% of British Jews had considered moving abroad, a rise from 28% during their last survey two years ago. ["More British Jews considering move abroad as anti-Semitism fears grow - poll", SKY News, August 20, 2017]

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