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UK police probe video of men spitting at Hanukkah party bus, accosting passengers

Clip shows group appearing to make Nazi salutes, shouting at Jews celebrating Hanukkah in London; incident being treated as antisemitic hate crime

A man (R) appears to make a Nazi salute, in a video showing a group of people accosting Jews on a Chabad bus as they celebrated Hanukkah in London, November 28, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)
A man (R) appears to make a Nazi salute, in a video showing a group of people accosting Jews on a Chabad bus as they celebrated Hanukkah in London, November 28, 2021. (Screen capture: Twitter)

LONDON — British police said Wednesday they are investigating a video which appeared to show a group of men spitting at a bus full of Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah in central London.

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.

The Metropolitan Police said Monday’s incident is being treated as a hate crime. No arrests have yet been made.

Those on the bus were from the Hasidic group Chabad, which does religious outreach such as arranging for candelabras to be put up around the British capital to mark the Jewish holiday, said Dave Rich, the Community Security Trust’s director of policy.

They “were quite frightened that the group who were threatening them were going to physically assault them, they were spitting at them,” Rich said. “They definitely felt it was because they were Jewish that they’d been targeted, there was absolutely no doubt about that.”

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

“Antisemitism has no place whatsoever in society and I utterly condemn these disgusting acts,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted.

The president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Marie van der Zyl, condemned the incident, describing it in a statement as the targeting “by antisemites” of Jewish youths.

“We are appalled by the horrifying footage of Jewish people targeted on Oxford Street,” van der Zyl said in a statement. “We note that besides attempts to spit at them, at least one of the perpetrators appears to be performing a Nazi salute. We hope the police will swiftly identify and arrest those involved in this disgusting incident.”

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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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