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Sky News: Massive increase in antisemitism in London since Israel-Hamas war, say police

This article was published by Sky News.

StandWithUs UK Executive Director Isaac Zarfati, interview on Sky News, October 13, 2023

13 October 2023

Rishi Sunak says people inciting hatred, or violence, or racist activity, intimidating or threatening behaviour will not be tolerated and will be "met with the full force of the law".

London has seen a "massive increase" in antisemitic incidents and offences since the start of the Israel-Gaza war, Scotland Yard has said.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the "disgusting" rise in cases would be met with "the full force of the law".

It comes as video appeared to show Palestinian supporters tearing down posters of missing Israeli children taken hostage by Hamas.

In the face of online threats, a "significant number" of Jewish pupils were not expected to attend classes on Friday, while some schools temporarily shut.

Students were also being warned by schools to disguise their uniform to deter retaliatory attacks.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor: "Last year in the period of 30 September to 13 October, we saw 14 antisemitic incidents and 12 antisemitic offences, this year in that same period, we've seen 105 antisemitic incidents and 75 antisemitic offences.

"That is a massive increase in antisemitic crime and incidents.

"In balance, we have seen an increase in Islamophobic incidents, but nothing like the scale of the increase in antisemitism."

He said offences in the past week had included intimidation outside synagogues and loud playing of German military music.

In response, the government has provided an extra £3m to bolster security at Jewish schools and synagogues.

Mr Sunak said he had chaired a meeting of police chiefs and the Community Security Trust to help make Jewish communities feel safe.

"There's been, quite frankly, a disgusting rise in antisemitic incidents over the past few days," said the prime minister.

"We have provided extra funding to the Community Security Trust to make sure that Jewish institutions - whether that's synagogue or schools - have all the protection they need and the police have all the support that they need to ensure that our streets are safe for people from all communities.

"Because we will absolutely not tolerate people inciting hatred, or violence, or racist activity, intimidating or threatening behaviour will not be tolerated.

"It will be met with the full force of the law."

Isaac Zarfati, executive director of StandWithUs UK, told Sky News: "The Jewish community today lives in fear - and we are not in 1923, we are in 2023 in London."

He added: "I spoke with people in the community in the last 24 hours - they are considering if they need to go to work today.

"This is not Europe of 2023 - this is London of 2023, and this is a very, very concerning situation."

Meanwhile, the Met are expecting more than 10,000 people to attend a pro-Palestine protest planned in central London on Saturday.

Asked if waving Palestinian flags or saying "free Palestine" in public could constitute a crime, Mr Sunak said: "There's very clear guidance for the police about the measures that they can take, but inciting violence, racial hatred, is illegal.

"People who are acting in an abusive or threatening manner, causing distress, are breaking the law.

"The police have the power and the tools that they need to ensure they can stop that from happening and you will see that in full force in the coming days to make sure anyone who breaks the law meets the full force of that law."

Sky's Becky Johnson, at Green Lane Mosque in Birmingham, said buckets were being passed around to raise money for victims of the Israeli counterattack on Gaza.

Hamas had called for an international "day of rage" on Friday, but Aamer Hassan, a member of the congregation, condemned any action against Jewish communities.

"As Muslims we believe that if you are to take one life it's as if you've taken the life of the whole of humanity, and any sort of day of rage or any sort of unjust damage to property or anything like that, it's not justified."

His views were echoed by people we on the street - the message from the community was a call for calm and an end to the violence.

About StandWithUs UK:

StandWithUs is an international, non-profit and non-partisan Israel education organisation that works to inspire and educate people of all ages about Israel, as well as challenge misinformation and fight against antisemitism. Founded in 2010, StandWithUs UK has become a recognised support system and leading resource for students on UK campuses. We empower and energise students and communities with leadership training and educational programmes on both school and university campuses. StandWithUs informs through social media, printed materials, digital platforms, film and newsletters. The StandWithUs flagship Emerson Fellowship programme seeks to raise students into future leaders, equipped to stand strong in the face of antisemitism and anti-Zionism. We believe in the right of the Jewish People to self-determination in their historic homeland of Israel. We educate the facts in an unbiased and holistic manner, with an open mind, reflecting on views from all sides of the political, social and humanitarian spectrum whilst promoting peace. StandWithUs UK believe the current discourse surrounding Israel on campus all too often crosses the line between legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies and the dangerous, mainstream, antisemitic rhetoric which stands contrary to the IHRA definition of antisemitism. We work to educate on that distinction, encourage civil discourse on legitimate criticism of Israel, and to fight antisemitism wherever it emerges.


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