Britain: Rise in anti-Semitic attacks since war

The Times British newspaper reported on Saturday that there has been a rise in attacks against Jews in Britain since the start of Israel’s war against Hizbullah in Lebanon. Swastikas have been drawn on synagogues and Jewish leaders have received hate emails, while some Jews were attacked on the streets. A parliamentary inquiry is set to confirm on Thursday that anti-Semitic violence is “endemic in Britain,” the newspaper reported.

Citing attacks in university campuses and city streets, the inquiry will recommend fast government action to reverse the trend. Mark Gardner, of the Community Security Trust, told the Times: “In July, when the conflict in Lebanon began, we received reports of 92 incidents, which was the third-worst month since records began in 1984.” In 2000, the monthly average was between 10 to 30 attacks. “These figures confirm the evidence given to us that anti-Semitic attacks are a very real problem,” said Denis McShane, a former minister who headed the inquiry.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews told the inquiry that anti-Semitism in Britain has reached an all-time worst. The July incidents “were more dispersed than usual”, Gardner said. “It is usually a small number responsible for a large number of attacks, but these were very widespread across the country and included graffiti attacks on synagogues in Edinburgh and Glasgow.”

Gardner added that when identified, the attackers represent all communities in Britain. “When it’s verbal abuse, it’s just ordinary people in the street, from middle-class women to working-class men. All colours and backgrounds. We hardly ever see incidents involving the classic neo-Nazi skinhead. Muslims are over-represented.”

In some hate emails, Jewish leaders have been blamed for the killing of innocent civilians in Lebanon. “There are also references to the Holocaust, saying that Hitler should have wiped out the Jews.”

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