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UK police probe antisemitic Hanukkah attack; suspect wanted ‘to kill my first Jew’

Victim called police before being assaulted by the man, but was told the case did not sound urgent

The suspect in an attack on a Jewish man in London is seen in security camera footage (Courtesy)
The suspect in an attack on a Jewish man in London is seen in security camera footage (Courtesy)

Police in London said Friday they were searching for a man accused of injuring a Jewish man in an antisemitic attack during the Hanukkah holiday earlier this month.

The man was accused of approaching the victim in West Hampstead and making antisemitic comments at him, including that he wanted “to kill my first Jew,” according to Antisemitism.org. He also shouted aggressively at a young woman who fled the scene, and tore down a public menorah.

The suspect also shouted several things in Arabic.

The suspect chased the victim into a store. He “reached the victim, allegedly squaring up to him aggressively with barely a meter between them. Within seconds, the man allegedly pushed the victim as hard as he could with both hands on the victim’s chest, forcing the victim to take a step backwards, all the while repeating: ‘You are Jewish. I am going to kill you,'” according to the website.

He continued to accost the victim and threw punches at him while promising to kill him. At one point he appeared to pull out a knife and made a throat-slitting gesture at the victim, before leaving the shop.

The report said that before the attack escalated the victim had called police to report the man’s threats, but they told him the matter did not seem urgent.

The victim suffered light injuries as a result of the attack.

Stephen Silverman, Director of Investigations and Enforcement at the Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “The delayed response of the police, despite the close proximity of a police station just up the road, is deeply concerning, and the result is that a man who apparently wants to kill Jews is now at liberty… The sad truth is that our nation’s capital is not nearly as safe as it should be for Jewish people who wish to celebrate a festival or, in this case, simply go about their daily lives.

“Unless the police and the justice system step up and ensure that antisemitic criminals face the full consequences of their despicable actions, this will not change.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted that the attack was “seriously disturbing.” She said she was in close contact with police to follow the investigation.

Any witnesses to the assault were urged to contact the police.

Another antisemitic incident was reported in London during Hanukkah, when a group of men was seen in a video spitting at a bus full of Jewish people celebrating the holiday.

The Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors antisemitic incidents, said the open-top bus was full of people celebrating the first night of Hanukkah on Oxford Street, one of the British capital’s busiest shopping streets. It said the party was “interrupted by an extremely hostile, threatening and abusive group of men.”

Video taken from the bus appeared to show the men shouting and making obscene hand gestures and Nazi salutes at the people on the privately hired bus.

Chabad Rabbi Shneor Glitsenstein, who was on the bus, told the Jewish Chronicle that the men also yelled “Free Palestine” at them.

The Metropolitan Police said the incident was being treated as a hate crime.

In the first half of 2021, Community Security Trust recorded the highest-ever number of antisemitic incidents in any six-month period since it began monitoring the issue in the 1980s. The tally for January-June in 2021 was 1,308 incidents, compared to 875 in the corresponding period the previous year. The total for 2020 was 1,668 incidents.

The spike in incidents was partially connected to the military conflict between Israel and Gaza-based terror groups in May, the group said. More than 600 of the 1,308 incidents recorded in the first half of 2021 occurred in May.

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