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HomeNewsHamas' terror has opened door to outpouring of anti-Semitism on UK streets

Hamas' terror has opened door to outpouring of anti-Semitism on UK streets

The Jewish community is experiencing the worst level of anti-Semitism ever in the UK after the terror attack on Israel by Hamas and the country’s retaliatory bombardment of Gaza, a senior Rabbi warned.

The “pogrom” carried out by the militant group which controls the Palestinian territory has “emboldened” hate-filled people and “opened the door to a pouring out of all kinds of anti-Semitic behaviours,” said London-based Jonathan Wittenberg.

His remarks come as a Sunday Express poll found 39 per cent believe not enough was being done to protect the UK’s Jewish population from hate crimes and 42 per cent thought extremists have hijacked the pro-­Palestinian rallies.

Mr Wittenberg, senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism UK and Rabbi of the New North London Synagogue, said the Jewish community was “anxious” and “frightened” that “there is a real ugly wave of anti-Semitism across this country”. He added: “But really disturbing is how deep this goes for many people in our society.

“It’s a real concern, not just for Jews, but for Muslims and everyone about the future shared cohesiveness, vision and togetherness of our society across Britain.”

He said the tens of thousands of pro-­Palestine protesters were “ignorant” of the true nature of Hamas and Hezbollah, who both want to destroy the state of Israel.

Rabbi Wittenberg agreed with others who believe that extremists have “hijacked” the past two weekend’s marches as “there has been some sort of triumphalism at the pain inflicted upon the Jewish people in Israel, and that is just wrong and ugly”.

Past Arab-Israeli conflicts have led to spikes in anti-Semitism but he added: “There always has been a quite significant, unfortunately, outpouring of hate. It’s much worse this time.

“The events that happened are much more disturbing and the responses are much more disturbing. It’s a different order and scale.

“It would appear people are more emboldened. Hamas’s act of terror and slaughter, really a pogrom, has opened the door to a pouring out of all kinds of anti-Semitic behaviours.”

This ranges from “verbal abuse to potential wider threats as well” and while “communities are in close touch with the police, one would not want this to be”.

Schools have also taken “careful measures” in recent weeks and advice from the charity Community Security Trust that ­protects British Jews from anti-Semitism was to “carry on living your Jewish life but be sensible, take care”. Rabbi Wittenberg said: “The community is very anxious but it is very hurtful to feel a kind of hatred has riven our society in the way it has.”

He described how a Jewish woman burst into tears when she saw him wearing his skullcap in public as she was “afraid”, while a colleague was too scared to use London’s public transport to go to a meeting after his family had been abused in the past.

The Rabbi said he speaks to friends and colleagues in Israel daily and added: “We are all full of foreboding of what will come next. All of us feel very deeply for Israel but are also aware of the helpless people who are, in a different way, hostage to Hamas –the people of Gaza.”

Of the Free Palestine marches, he said: “It can be understood why people really don’t like some of the policies of Israel but to side with Hamas or Hezbollah is incredible.

“Most Jews in this country long for some two-state solution that gives Palestinian people autonomy and dignity. So this is
just ghastly.”

Rabbi Wittenberg, who is also president of the Council of Christians and Jews and a member of the Elijah Interfaith Institute Board of World Religious Leaders, said he appreciated messages of support.

These included contact from Ibrahim Mogra, the Imam of Leicester, which deplored all forms of anti-Semitism.

Mr Wittenberg said: “It was a courageous act and it was hopeful.

“The question is how deeply that reaches into the street and that reach is important. These kinds of voices must come from many places. It’s a time when rather than batten down the hatches in prejudice, we need to reach out to one another.”

The WeThink poll commissioned by the Sunday Express surveyed more than 1,000 adults.



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