Independent (England), Feb. 21, 2003
By Marie Woolf, Chief Political Correspondent
Violent attacks on Jews and the desecration of synagogues and Jewish sites have increased rapidly in the past year, evidence revealed yesterday.
Anti-Semitic incidents rose to 350 in 2002, the second- highest number recorded, provoking fears that the rising tide of hatred has been fuelled by tensions in the Middle East.
Forty-seven violent assaults against Jewish people, an increase of 15 per cent since 2001, included seven in which victims needed hospital treatment. There was also a marked increase in synagogue and cemetery desecration including the wrecking of a synagogue in Finsbury Park, north London, and attacks on seven Jewish cemeteries where graves were daubed with swastikas.
Since 2000 there has been a 400 per cent increase in attacks on British synagogues, including the attempted petrol bombing of one in Edinburgh.
Jewish groups blamed anti-Israel feelings and a rise in radical Islamic groups for the increase yesterday.
In one incident, a Middle Eastern man on a London Underground train pointed at a Jewish passenger, shouted “Yahud” (Arabic for Jew) and pretended to blow himself up like a suicide bomber.
One religious Jew was viciously beaten in London and left for dead on the street before being taken to hospital.
Two Jewish people were beaten by attackers from anti-Israel demonstrations and a woman was called a “filthy Zionist Jew Bitch” by someone on an anti-Israeli goods boycott demonstration outside a Marks & Spencer store in London.
Mike Whine of the Community Security Trust, which protects the Jewish community from abuse, said: “There was a worrying increase in violent assaults on Jewish people some of which were life- threatening. The majority of these were unprovoked and involved the use of anti-Semitic words or behaviour.
“More than any other trend this reflects the cumulative effect of the promotion of hatred against the Jews that come from the Middle East and from radical Islamist groups.”
Of the 350 incidents recorded 100 involved references to Israel or the Middle East, while 48 were linked to right-wing or fascist groups or sentiments.