Friday, January 15, 2010

UK community feels 'under constant attack', says peer

Further to our (rather lively) discussion about quality of Jewish life in Britain, comes this report in the Indy yesterday:

The Jewish community in the UK feels under "constant attack", a Labour peer warned today.

Lord Mitchell praised the multi-cultural nature of London but pointed to rising incidents of anti-Semitism. Stickers such as "death to Jews" had been displayed at some of the UK's leading university campuses and had been "slow to be removed", he said.

He told peers in a debate on tolerance in British society that universities had a "duty of care to all students and in many cases they are slow to uphold this duty", citing free speech as the reason for not interfering.

Lord Mitchell said: "It may well come as a shock that the Jewish community in this country feels under constant attack. "I don't want to overstate the case but many Jewish friends have said to me that they felt more frightened, more threatened, than at any time in their lives.

"Incidents of anti-Semitic attacks are up, some are physical, some are verbal. The trend is rising."

Attacks go up when there are conflicts in the Middle East because Jews are held by some to be supporters of the "more extreme elements in Israel", he said.

All synagogues have constant security patrols and most Jewish social events have trained security personnel "prominently watching and checking", he said...

Lord Davies of Oldham, for the Government, said: "There is a minority fascist element in our society that present threats to all minority groups."

That's where the government has it wrong. I don't think this community would feel under so much pressure were it truly just an issue of one minority in society, unsupported by anyone else. What has some elements in the community feeling scared is the feeling that their concerns, safety, interests etc are not taken seriously - by the majority. This is about an overall atmosphere which Jews perceive as negative, not about a problem with one fringe group.

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