Jack Mendel
Jack Mendel
Online Editor at Jewish News

Spike in antisemitism shows the police are out of their depth

Met officers look on as an elderly Jewish man confronts the two Youtubers (Jewish News)
Met officers look on as an elderly Jewish man confronts the two Youtubers (Jewish News)

The spike in antisemitism over the past month has been entirely predictable, and it has been accompanied by a concerning lack of action from authorities.

Whenever there is war in Israel, there is unfortunately a well-oiled routine, of antisemitism rearing its ugly head in the diaspora.

This May, we have seen the highest number of antisemitic incidents on record for a single month.

This has not just been low-lives sitting behind a screen firing off abuse. There has been 325 incidents reported, including 116 online, and 209 on the streets.

Thanks to the internet and social media, many of them have been broadcast into people’s lives.

This has an undeniable impact on people’s fears. Jewish people are being told not to show their faith, not to wear kippot or stars of David.

Jewish people being told to hide their Judaism feels very much like society stopped protecting us, so we need to do it ourselves.

In truth, the community has faced the full range of hate in May – and some of it is due to a failure to stop it.

Jews are christ-killers, according to one protestor’s banner

On the streets, there has been antisemitic speeches at Palestine protests, including from Tariq Ali, who said: “Every time they bomb Gaza, every time they attack Jerusalem – that is what creates antisemitism.”

No Tariq. Antisemites create antisemitism.

If that isn’t incitement and justifying antisemitism, I don’t know what is, but needless to say nothing was done.

There were banners blaming Jews for the killing of Christ, Israeli flags being ripped and burned, and demonstrators chanting about wanting Zionist blood.

Police made a number of arrests, including a few for racially aggregated offences, but the vast majority were due to protestors clashing with them.

There was the infamous convoy driving through north London, yelling about raping Jewish women.

This was organised online.

There was a video announcing the details, with cars driving down from the north along a route.

And it wasn’t stopped.  Indeed, as it unfolded on the day, with videos being put on social media, it wasn’t stopped either.

It’s good that four were arrested over this, and that it was roundly condemned – but the fact they were able to do it in the first place, is the fundamental problem.

After the convoy, it was announced that a Chigwell rabbi was violently assaulted by two men, amid reports of mezuzahs being removed from Jewish homes and desecrated in Borehamwood.

Last week it was reported that after a pro-Israel rally, videos emerged of anti-Israel protestors walking through the streets of London, saying: “We’ll find some Jews. We want the Zionists. We want their blood”. Police can be seen walking alongside, and nothing was done.

They said an ‘internal enquiry’ is underway to find out what happened.

I’ll wait…

Another demonstrator had Israel flags on his shoes, and can clearly be heard saying it’s the “anti-Jewish edition” from Nike.

To top it all off, last Shabbat, two YouTubers turned up in Golders Green to ask random Jewish people on the street to condemn Israel, displaying a message on a van, saying: “Did we not learn from the Holocaust?”.

Police said “no offences were committed”, while the CST called it “deliberate incitement”.

I know who most Jewish – and indeed Muslim people who have responded to the story – agree with.

Ultimately, the community feels like it’s under attack from all corners.

This isn’t just Twitter arguments or someone posting something on Facebook.

It is physical attacks.  It’s Jewish people being confronted on the streets, in their place of work, when they’re doing their Shabbat shopping.

And we haven’t even scratched the surface on online hate, which is also, through the roof. Just ask Jewish students.

The reality is, traditional community policing doesn’t work when it comes to antisemitic anti-Zionism – because it is organised online. It’s certainly also not helped by police officers chanting ‘Free Palestine’ at a rally they are supposed to be keeping order at.

I have spoken to the police on many occasions over these series of stories, and they are always well meaning, but clearly out of their depth, when it comes to getting a grip on these incidents.

I have no doubt about their commitment to reassuring the community – and they work wonderfully with the CST to shield us as much as possible.

But unless people face the consequences for Jew-hatred masquerading as anti-Israel sentiment – this campaign of intimidation will happen again.

Making death threats, inciting violence, harassing Jewish people on the streets, is not acceptable, and if there is another unfortunate and costly spout of violence between Israel and the Palestinians – police need to be better prepared for hatred to spill from online onto the streets.

The police are not being given the tools to stop this form of antisemitism, where lines between racism and criticism of Israel seem blurred. Urgent clarity is needed.

About the Author
Jack Mendel is Online Editor at Jewish News UK
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