Jack the Rip­per’s ob­ses­sion with Jews

The Jewish Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - BY BEN WEICH

JACK THE Rip­per, rather than sim­ply be­ing a ma­niac, was ac­tu­ally an an­ti­semite who com­mit­ted his mur­ders to stir up ten­sions be­tween Jewish im­mi­grants in the East End and work­ing class Lon­don­ers, be­fore flee­ing to Australia.

That is the con­tention of Aus­tralian jour­nal­ist Stephen Senise, whose self­pub­lished book Jew­baiter: Jack the Rip­per is out this week af­ter al­most two years of painstak­ing re­search into the in­fa­mous Whitechapel mur­derer.

Mr Senise, who is not Jewish, ar­gues the killer was Ge­orge Hutchin­son, a lo­cal labourer, and that his mo­tive was to mis­lead the pub­lic by fram­ing the mur­ders as “Jewish rit­ual killings”.

Hutchin­son was ini­tially ques­tioned by po­lice as a wit­ness to one of the mur­ders, but many his­to­ri­ans have con­cluded he mis­led of­fi­cers, with some be­liev­ing he could have been the killer.

Mr Senise, 49, said: “This book takes a look at the so­cio-his­tor­i­cal con­text of what was go­ing on at the time. There were a high num­ber of re­cent Jewish im­mi­grants and poor East End Lon­don­ers were com­pet­ing with them for scarce food and work. Which­ever way you look at it this is a tragic story. Both sets of peo­ple were ex­ploited.

“What I pro­pose is that some­body was try­ing to use the ar­chi­tec­ture of a racist lie, in other words, the mi­rage of Jewish rit­ual mur­der, to frame the Jewish com­mu­nity at a most sen­si­tive po­lit­i­cal junc­ture.

“The lo­ca­tion of many of the mur­der sites, the an­ti­semitic graf­fito left in Goul­ston Street, and the re-in­vig­o­ra­tion of the Jewish-sus­pect an­gle with the emer­gence of Ge­orge Hutchin­son as a wit­ness, helped steer me to the con­clu­sion that some­one was try­ing to in­ten­tion­ally point blame at Whitechapel’s Jews.”

Mr Senise, who is a free­lance horserac­ing jour­nal­ist by trade, de­scribes how the de­mo­graphic shift in the East End in the 1880s re­sulted in a “turf war” which was li­able to de­scend into con­flict.

While he is not claim­ing there was a con­spir­acy to cover up Hutchin­son’s guilt, he says: “There is per­haps a his­tor­i­cal for­get­ful­ness around what ar­eas of Whitechapel and the East End were like more than 100 years ago. There were real ten­sions be­tween dif­fer­ent groups.”

The mys­tery of Jack the Rip­per’s iden­tity has never been of­fi­cially solved but in­ter­est per­sists, and the case has spawned count­less books, doc­u­men­taries and TV pro­grammes.

The killer tar­geted pros­ti­tutes in Lon­don’s East End and in 2015 the con­tro­ver­sial Jack the Rip­per mu­seum opened to a se­ries of protests against the glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of vi­o­lence to­wards women.

“This book does not fea­ture the gra­tu­itous pho­tos of mur­dered women you see in other books,” says Mr Senise. “There is a temp­ta­tion to dive right in to the gory el­e­ments.”

Mary Ann Ni­chols, An­nie Chap­man,

El­iz­a­beth Stride, Cather­ine Ed­dowes and Mary Jane Kelly, all mur­dered be­tween Au­gust and Novem­ber 1888, are con­sid­ered Jack the Rip­per’s only five vic­tims.

The com­monly-held be­lief is that the spree ended with the killer’s death, im­pris­on­ment, in­sti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion or em­i­gra­tion.

Mr Senise, who lives on Australia’s Gold Coast, claims Hutchin­son’s de­par­ture for the An­tipodes on a ship of union-bust­ing sailors co­in­cided with the end of the killings, which points to his guilt.

He gath­ered much of his ev­i­dence from New South Wales state archives and doc­u­men­ta­tion of Hutchin­son’s move­ments.

His book also boasts two never-be­for­e­seen pho­to­graphs of Hutchin­son.

The JC is cited a num­ber of times in Jew­baiter to high­light the con­cern at the time of vi­o­lent acts of re­tal­i­a­tion to­wards the Jewish com­mu­nity.

Mr Senise said: “El­e­ments of Lon­don’s Jewish lead­er­ship at the time, Rabbi Her­mann Adler, Sa­muel Mon­tagu, the MP for Whitechapel, and the JC news­pa­per, thought that some­body may have been try­ing to in­crim­i­nate the com­mu­nity.

“I be­lieve such sus­pi­cions were cor­rect, and that Adler, Mon­tagu and the JC stand vin­di­cated.”

Jew­baiter: Jack the Rip­per, pub­lished by Acorn In­de­pen­dent Press, is avail­able in the UK from this week

A news­pa­per il­lus­tra­tion show­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing Jack the Rip­per’s East End mur­ders in the 19th cen­tury

Ge­orge Hutchin­son

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