With violence erupting between Israel and Palestinian militant groups over the weekend, there are already reports of attacks on Jews and Jewish communities prompted by the latest chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Several incidents have so far been recorded in Britain, where the authorities have stepped up protective measures, but early reports suggest possible instances of hate in Paris and New York as well.
The attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants—which began on Saturday and coincided not only with the Sabbath but the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah—have already led to an estimated 1,100 confirmed deaths in Israel and Gaza and thousands of wounded, including many civilians. Nine American citizens are among the dead, according to the State Department.
After Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, ordered a “complete siege” of the Gaza Strip, the death toll is expected to rise significantly.
While many world leaders were quick to condemn the attacks by Hamas militants, some activists have viewed the killings as a justified response to the Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
Despite holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of the state of Israel being an example of antisemitism cited by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of Jew-hate, there are early suggestions that some are already doing just that.
On Monday, the British newspaper Jewish News reported that a Kosher restaurant in a predominantly Jewish part of London had been vandalized, with a door smashed in. Nearby bridges had been graffitied with the words “Free Palestine.”
The Community Security Trust, a U.K.-based charity that provides security to Jewish institutions, said it was “already seeing incidents of racist antisemitism against Jewish people and property in response to the awful terror attack in Israel.”
On Sunday, CST Chief Executive Mark Gardner said he had spoken with the British Home Secretary Suella Braverman and security minister Tom Tugendhat, who has Jewish ancestry, about measures that were needed to protect Jews.
“CST was already on a high security alert and deployment,” he said. “That’s because of the general situation of antisemitism right now here in the U.K. Those security deployments will continue for as long as necessary.”
According to The Times, the CST has already received reports of verbal abuse mentioning the situation in the Middle East being hurled at Jewish people or synagogues. The Metropolitan Police has stepped up patrols in response to incidents shared on social media.
“We are aware that this conflict has a far-reaching impact on communities around the world, and we extend our full support to those affected in London,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Andy Valentine said in a statement.
“We are aware that a number of demonstrations and protests are planned. We have spoken to the organizers and we expect these will pass off peacefully,” he added. “However, we will take a zero-tolerance approach to any activity which crosses the lines into criminality.”
Braverman wrote in an X, formerly Twitter, post on Sunday: “There must be zero tolerance for antisemitism or glorification of terrorism on the streets of Britain. I expect the police to use the full force of the law against displays of support for Hamas, other proscribed terrorist groups or attempts to intimidate British Jews.”
Elsewhere, video footage online appears to show a man being detained by police outside the gates of Beth Hanna Jewish school in Paris’s 19th arrondissement. The person who posted the clip alleged the man had been impersonating a Jew and had been found to have “several knives” on him.
Though Newsweek was able to verify the location of the footage, it could not immediately confirm the full nature of the incident. The Parisian police were contacted via email for comment on Monday.
Meanwhile, images of demonstrators at a pro-Palestinian rally in New York City’s Times Square on Sunday show one protester holding up an image of a Nazi swastika on his phone during the event. Displaying a swastika in New York is considered a hate crime and a criminal offense.
Before the march had taken place, New York Governor Kathy Hochul criticized it as “morally repugnant.”