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European Jews brace for antisemitic attacks

UK's Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (right) is seen leaving a synagogue in Golders Green, North London. Thousands of people are due to take to the streets of central London later to protest against Israel's planned ground assault on Gaza, Oct. 14, 2023. (Photo: Ben Cawthra/Sipa USA)

The reverberations of the horrifying Hamas attack on Israeli civilians and Israel’s response are already being felt by Jews around the world, especially in Europe, which has large minorities of Islamists and anti-Israeli activists that sympathize with the Hamas terror organization.

There have already been demonstrations in London, Berlin, Sweden, Madrid and France demonstrating support for Hamas’ heinous attack and putting on display a deep hatred of Jews. Crowds have been cheering “Free Palestine,” calling the massacres on Saturday “heroic,” while handing out candy in the streets to celebrate the ruthless killings of innocent Israelis.

As a result, police in most Western European countries have reportedly reinforced security around Jewish institutions, such as synagogues and schools. Eastern European countries are not experiencing the same level of threats, allegedly because fewer Islamists or Islamist sympathizers live in the region due to stricter immigration policies.

In Germany, Ilan Kiesling, spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Berlin, lamented that the community has always been impacted by negative developments in the Middle East.

“An escalation of the situation in Israel unfortunately always has an impact on our community,” Kiesling said, adding that the fighting triggered “great uncertainty” for local German Jews concerned for their security.

In Britain, Jews are seeing antisemitic incidents rise exponentially. The Community Security Trust (CST), which is dealing with security for British Jews, reported an increase in antisemitic abuse and threats since the Hamas attack on Saturday.

“The number of incidents that have come in since Saturday is running at roughly triple what we would normally expect for this period,” said Dave Rich, head of policy at the CST. He expects the number to rise but said the Jewish community has dealt with such scenarios in the past.

“We are not starting from scratch,” Rich said. “We’ve been around this course several times before. We have built up plans over many years.”

In France, in addition to 20 reported antisemitic incidents since the war began, a section of the political left has spoken out in support of Hamas.

One party, the Indigenous Party, posted on X, “May the Palestinian Resistance, which carries out its actions with determination and confidence in heroic conditions, receive our militant fraternity in these terrible hours. Palestine will triumph, and its Victory will be ours.”

Some Orthodox Jews have expressed concern that reinforced security around Jewish institutions would still leave them vulnerable in the streets.

“With my kippah, I can be seen from afar,” said Rabbi Yves Marciano of the Les Tournelles Synagogue in Paris. “I am identified and identifiable. And, Mr. Darmanin can’t do anything about that. So, we are very worried about the near future.”

In Spain, the main synagogue in Madrid was already smeared with the words “Free Palestine” next to a crossed-out Star of David, just one day after the Hamas invasion and attack.

The president of the Jewish Federation in Madrid, Isaac Benzaquén Pinto, said his community stands unconditionally with Israel.

“Our community has always been known for being tightly knit whenever it is targeted, and this is an attack on Israel and all of Jewry as a whole. We stand unconditionally with the victims, all of them, the State of Israel and its army whose mission is to defend its people,” said Pinto.

Madrid Mayor José Luis Martínez-Almeida said that the Hamas attack was “unjustifiable” but that he was concerned that the far-left and green parties were hesitating to condemn Hamas.

On Monday night, the far-left Podemos party in Madrid headed a demonstration of hundreds of people to “convey all our solidarity to the Palestinian people.” Demonstrators shouted slogans such as “Zionist State, Terrorist State” and “It is not a war, it is a genocide.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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