Belfast reel­ing af­ter spate of hate at­tacks

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY MAR­CUS DYSCH

BELFAST’S JEWISH com­mu­nity is com­ing to terms with a se­ries of an­ti­semitic in­ci­dents that have fol­lowed de­mon­stra­tions over Gaza.

The city’s main Ortho­dox sy­n­a­gogue was at­tacked and had win­dows smashed on two con­sec­u­tive nights at the height of the con­flict last month.

Its rabbi, David Singer, said he had re­ceived abu­sive phone calls. The com­mu­nity was main­tain­ing a low key re­sponse. Steven Jaffe, of North­ern Ire­land Friends of Is­rael (Nifi), said Belfast’s Jews were “not think­ing about leav­ing, but they are con­cerned. The com­mu­nity is largely older, with re­tired peo­ple, and they are shocked by what’s hap­pened.”

In one of the most widely pub­li­cised in­ci­dents, of­fi­cials re­moved a plaque mark­ing the birth­place of the late Is­raeli pres­i­dent Chaim Her­zog fol­low­ing a se­ries of at­tacks and graf­fiti daub­ings.

The me­mo­rial was at the cen­tre of an area where clashes between the Protes­tant and Catholic com­mu­ni­ties are fre­quent. At­tacks on the plaque had led po­lice to fear for the safety of res­i­dents liv­ing in the build­ing where Her­zog was born.

Mr Jaffe said: “Nifi has writ­ten to the Lord Mayor to ask for the plaque to be dis­played safely, at the city hall if nec­es­sary, un­til it can be re­turned to the orig­i­nal prop­erty.” The let­ter has been backed by more than 500 peo­ple.

Other in­ci­dents have in­cluded at­tacks on Is­raeli prod­ucts in shops in west Belfast and a Gaelic foot­baller’s plea on Twit­ter for peo­ple to punch their Jewish col­leagues. He later apol­o­gised.

Sup­port­ers of Is­rael called for the res­ig­na­tion of Sinn Fein mayor of Newry Dáire Hughes af­ter he wrote to shops urg­ing them to boy­cott Is­raeli goods.

An ap­pear­ance by Re­spect MP Ge­orge Gal­loway at Belfast’s Ul­ster Hall is due to go ahead af­ter an at­tempt by Is­rael­sup­port­ing Union­ist politi­cians to have him barred failed.

Now play­ing: a scene from In­cu­ba­tor’s hip hop opera, The City

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