Attacks on British Jews Soar; Mideast Tension Seen As Cause

Attacks on British Jews increased 50 percent in 2000, according to a report issued this week. The Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitic incidents in Britain, recorded 405 such incidents against the community in 2000, up from 270 in 1999.

A group spokesman said the ongoing violence between Israel and the Palestinians had spilled over into the United Kingdom.

The trust’s spokesman, Michael Whine, said 147 anti-Semitic incidents, 36 percent of the year’s total, occurred in October and November — after the Palestinians began the so-called Al-Aksa Intifada at the end of September.

“The October figure of 105 incidents is over 400 percent up on October 1999, and underlines the spillover to Diaspora communities of the conflict between Israel and its neighbors,” Whine said.

He described the increase as “clearly worrying” and said it “serves as a continuing warning to the Jewish community to treat communal security seriously and to take appropriate measures.”

Whine also said the figures should be seen in the context of an increase in purportedly racist activity across Britain.

Nearly half of the incidents in 2000 were “acts of abusive behavior,” but the statistics also include two life-threatening attacks on British Jews.

Both took place in London in October, and Whine said one was “a direct consequence of the situation in Israel.”

That was the stabbing of Orthodox Jew Mayer David Meyers by an Algerian man, who is now awaiting trial for attempted murder.

Meyers, who was stabbed more than 20 times, is still recovering.

The attack on Meyers was the worst of the 51 physical attacks on Jews in 2000, up from 33 the year before.

The trust recorded an increase in damage to communal property, with 73 incidents last year as opposed to 25 in 1999.

One area of decline was the distribution of anti-Semitic literature. There were 44 reported incidents in 2000, down from 54 in 1999.

The trust noted that a disproportionate number of assaults took place in Manchester. Roughly 30 percent of the incidents took place in the city, though only 11 percent of British Jews live there.

Bella Ansell of the Manchester Jewish Representative Council said part of the reason for the disproportionate numbers could be that Manchester’s fervently Orthodox community lives in close proximity to a working-class neighborhood.

“Some of them have nothing better to do than assault people who live differently or are garbed differently,” she said.

But she said the Manchester Jewish community — Britain’s second largest, after London — did not feel threatened.

“These are, thank God, minor incidents,” she said.

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