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Location: St. Pauls, Bristol, England
|Posted: Sun Dec 29, 2019 10:41 pm Post subject: Israel + 911 graffiti pops up in Hampstead and Belsize Park
|London synagogue and shops targeted with antisemitic graffiti
Reference to conspiracy theory spray-painted on premises in Hampstead and
Belsize Park Owen Bowcott @owenbowcott
Sun 29 Dec 2019 16.36 GMT
Antisemitic graffiti sprayed across a synagogue and shops in north London during the Jewish festival of Hanukah has been condemned as “disgusting” and “senseless”.
The Jewish holy symbol and the numbers 911 were spray-painted in red and purple on premises in the Hampstead and Belsize Park area, including South Hampstead Synagogue. The numbers may refer to an antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews were responsible for the 9/11 terror attack; others fear it is a reference to Kristallnacht, the violent pogrom against Jews on 9 November 1938 in Nazi Germany.
Police are investigating the incident as a suspected racially motivated hate crime. The defacement coincided with a knife attack in New York at a rabbi’s home, which injured five people.
The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who faced criticism during the election campaign over his party’s record in confronting antisemitism, tweeted: “How terrible that Chanukah started with a message of hope and on this last day we face antisemitic graffiti in London and horrific stabbings at a party in New York. We stand with all our communities facing hate. We send love and solidarity to Jewish communities around the world.”
In a statement released on Sunday evening, South Hampstead Synagogue confirmed it had been the subject of an antisemitic attack.
“As a community, we regret the rise of hate speech in society,” it said. “Social media is polluted with xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, racism and antisemitism. Sadly, these things are connected.
“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.”
Oliver Cooper, a Conservative councillor for Hampstead, said he had spent Sunday morning patrolling the neighbourhood after “appalled” residents alerted the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity that works to protect the Jewish community.
“My first reaction was shock and horror,” Cooper said. “I’ve had to report antisemitic graffiti in Hampstead a number of times before, including by a banned neo-Nazi group, but I have never seen anything approaching this extent.”
He said he had come across the graffiti in nine places, and others had posted photos of the markings on Twitter.
The Metropolitan police said no arrests had yet been made. Insp Kev Hailes said: “This is clearly a concerning incident and one we are taking seriously. We have liaised with our partners in order to remove the graffiti and various inquiries are under way to find who is responsible.
“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.”
Police have asked for anyone who saw anything suspicious on Saturday night to call them on 101.
On Saturday night in New York, five people were stabbed at a rabbi’s home during a Hanukah celebration. It appeared to be the latest in a string of attacks targeting Jews in the region, including a massacre at a kosher grocery store in New Jersey this month.
Responding to the graffiti in London, the Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote on Twitter: “This is a reminder that antisemitism is still with us. Thanks @CST_UK for reporting to @MPSCamden. We hope action is taken to find & punish the perpetrators. Let’s all work to defeat antisemitism in 2020!”
The north London Labour MPs Sir Keir Starmer and Tulip Siddiq condemned the graffiti. Starmer tweeted: “This graffiti is disgusting and we must stand with the Jewish community against antisemitism.”
Siddiq posted: “Unbelievable, senseless, disgusting antisemitism at the heart of our community … we must all stay vigilant in order to continue the fight against this hatred.”
The comedian David Baddiel tweeted: “How depressingly similar to what my grandparents would’ve seen in their neighbourhood, the one they had to flee from in 1939.”
Dr Jonathan Romain, the rabbi at Maidenhead Synagogue, said he was aware 9/11 conspiracy theories involving Jews had been circulating for many years but he did not believe they had suddenly become more prevalent.
He said: “The attack on Jews in New York is a warning to us all in the run-up to Brexit about parallel dangers we face: that the social tensions it unleashed need to be channelled into a positive and inclusive celebration of British identity, and not allowed to degenerate into communal discord and division.”
It was difficult to know whether the New York and London incidents could be related, he said. “Often these events are totally unconnected, but they can spark one another through copycat [attacks]. There had been a collective sigh of relief after the election: people didn’t want Jeremy Corbyn.”
Hanukah commemorates the rededication in the 2nd century BC of the second temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean revolt.
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung