‘Shouted at while going to synagogue’: Golders Green residents complain of rise in anti-Semitism
07:00 14 August 2014
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Rabbis, imams and community leaders have united in response to anti-Semitism “spewing forth” across the UK and particularly north London.
Prominent members of the Jewish community have been shocked by incidents of verbal abuse, anti-Jewish graffiti and racist posters in recent weeks.
It comes as figures reveal that July saw the second highest number of reported anti-Jewish incidents across the UK since records began in 1984, as reaction to the conflict between Hamas and Israel spread across the UK.
The Community Security Trust (CST), the UK’s main organisation for monitoring anti-Semitism, recorded more than 200 incidents last month – four times this year’s monthly average.
Incidents reported originate in the main from areas of north London like Golders Green and Hampstead Garden Suburb, as well as Greater Manchester.
It took the Ham&High just minutes speaking to passers-by in Golders Green to find a number of residents who had been targeted.
One Jewish charity worker from Golders Green said: “I’ve definitely seen a rise here over the past few weeks. Last Friday as my family and I were coming home from Synagogue some people driving past rolled down their windows and shouted abuse at us.”
Another resident added: “People have verbally insulted me but I refuse to let it get to me. My son went out for dinner just the other week and he also received a barrage of insults.”
Police chiefs said investigations had opened into three cases of racist graffiti and posters, close to Jewish premises in Camden and Barnet. One arrest was made in Golders Green and additional security arrangements have been introduced.
Mark Gardner, director of communications at CST, said: “British Jews are asking, are we forever held hostage to a seemingly intractable conflict in the Middle East?”
Rabbis from the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood, the Belsize Square Synagogue and the New North London Synagogue in Finchley said communities were feeling “sensitive” and “afraid”.
Speaking to the Ham&High from an Israeli hospital treating injured Palestinians and Israelis, NNLS Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg said: “What’s happening in the Middle East is frightening. But it’s no excuse for antisemitism.
“London communities have strong relationships with each other. We need to keep that.”
Khalifa Ezzat, chief imam of Regent’s Park Mosque, echoed the call for community cohesion, saying: “We see anti-Semitism is the same vein as Islamophobia – as something that needs to stamped out.
“We meet regularly with representatives of other faiths. Just last week we had rabbis visiting the mosque to speak about this issue.
“There’s a lot of dogma out there. Just as in the Middle East, we need to learn to live together in peace.”