Hampstead antisemitism ‘an affront to all of Camden’ say interfaith chairs as community rallies against hate
- Credit: Ian Cohen
The co-chairs of the Camden Interfaith Forum have joined the condemnation of antisemitic graffiti found in eight NW3 locations on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Warning: Offensive images
After shops and a even South Hampstead synagogue were vandalised in the racially-aggravated crime, Cllr Abdul Hai and Phil Rosenberg, who lead the local interfaith forum, said: "The antisemitic daubings in Hampstead and Belsize Park during the Jewish festival of Hanukkah are an affront to all in Camden.
"We are a borough that cherishes its diversity as one of its greatest strengths."
Cllr Hai and Mr Rosenberg also called on the police to "do everything possible", to find the culprits.
They added: "We are grateful to council staff for their quick work in removing the hateful graffiti and to police for providing enhanced protection. We would call on the police to do everything possible to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.
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"It is essential that we show zero tolerance to hate of any kind."
Yesterday, United Synagogues - of which South Hampstead Synagogue, which was one of the victims of the hateful graffiti is a part - released a statement saying: "This is a time for people of all backgrounds - of all faiths and of none - to stand united and show our determination that we do not tolerate prejudice, hate and division - on our streets or online.
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It added: "Over the next year, South Hampstead Synagogue is determined to continue to work closely with Camden council, and to partner with local faith communities and neighbours, on initiatives to strengthen community cohesion in our great borough and across London."
Local MPs Tulip Siddiq and Keir Starmer, along with council leader Cllr Georgia Gould, expressed their disgust at the graffitti.
They said: "We stand together with all of our Jewish residents and our whole community in saying these cowardly pedlars of hate do not represent Camden and our values. We are proud to have a strong, vibrant Jewish community as part of our beautiful borough."
Meanwhile, Hampstead Town councillor Cllr Oliver Cooper, who spoke of walking around the area looking for examples of the vandalism on Sunday morning added: "This level of hatred is unprecedented. I never thought I'd wake up to see Hampstead like this.
"I've spent two hours walking the streets to find and report all the locations, and I've been close to tears just witnessing and documenting it. One Jewish neighbour has even compared these events to the horrors of Kristallnacht."
Yesterday neighbouring Jewish communities such as the Belsize Square independent synagogue expressed support towards those at South Hampstead.
A Belsize Square representative said: "Belsize Square Synagogue is shocked and saddened by the anti Semitic graffiti in our neighbourhood today. Sending strength and support to everyone affected including our friends and neighbours at [South Hampstead Synagogue]."
Ward councillor and MEP Luisa Porritt, (Lib Dem) also shared her distress at the incidents. She said: "The antisemitic graffiti discovered in various locations around Belsize Park and Hampstead on 29 December is both deeply saddening and shameful.
"Antisemitic hate crimes have been rising in recent years, and it is not the first time an attack of this nature has taken place in this part of London.
"This was targeted hatred, during a period when observant Jews should be celebrating Hanukkah, at the end of a difficult year for the Jewish community."
The police are investigating the vandalism, and Insp Kevin Hailes said: "Officers will be on patrol throughout the area in order to provide some reassurance to local communities. Please approach us if you have any questions or concerns.
"I ask anyone who might have seen anything suspicious last night to call us and aid the investigation."
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting CAD 7282/28Dec or the independent charity Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.