The Belfast Jewish Community has come under attack with vicious anti-Semitic threats sent to the leadership via the community’s Facebook page, and calls made to the synagogue’s rabbi late this past week.
The tiny Jewish community, only about five generations old, announced via its Facebook page it was removing any information about upcoming events due to the anti-Semitic online abuse, according to an announcement posted online by the community.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has launched an investigation into the abuse.
In the meantime the group is reviewing its security measures and said frankly it is feeling too fearful to be comfortable with posting notices of upcoming events in the community.
On the group’s Facebook page, however, members wrote they would continue to post news on the events after they took place.
Rabbi David Singer confirmed to Belfast Live that police are treating the matter as a hate crime.
In addition to the threats received via social media, the rabbi also received abusive calls, according to ITV.
Community Security Trust in Britain was also contacted, as the organization monitors anti-Semitism across the United Kingdom, according to Michael Black, chairman of the Jewish community in Belfast.
“We have to take security very seriously because of events that have been happening across Europe,” Black told The Guardian newspaper in Britain. “I find it very sad that there are people out there who feel that they have to express their antisemitism or racial prejudices in such a way.”Last August, 13 graves in the city’s Jewish cemetery were desecrated as well, Black said. The cemetery dates back to 1871, and no arrests have been made on the vandalism. There are only about 80 Jews in the small Belfast community but they “won’t be deterred from practicing their faith,” ITV reported.
On the Belfast Jewish Community Facebook page, meanwhile, there has been a stormy response to the attacks, and a few sad, surprising revelations by ex-pats.
One member wrote on Friday (Feb. 17), “I am currently going through hell with new neighbours who have called me Jewish @#%$, Yiddo and nailed bacon to the Mazzuzah (sic) on my door. It’s horrific, and you have my every sympathy and support.
In reply, when Belfast Jewish Community asked whether authorities were taking action, the writer replied that although statement were being taken, the family “have really been bullied non-stop by these vile anti-Semites for over a year.”
There were many, many responses of shock and support, with quite a bit of advice as well – and one writer who expressed sadness to find that in the 21st century there are “still knuckle dragging troglodytes about.”
Robert Foster, north Belfast assembly candidate for the Ulster Unionist party condemned those behind this latest anti-Semitic incident.
“Any such threats must be taken seriously bearing in mind the terror attacks which have taken place in Europe, often targeting the Jewish community. This is a community which has a long and proud history in Northern Ireland and especially in the city of Belfast. It has been prominent in the cultural, political and business life of the city, providing Lord Mayors and leading industrialists. Indeed one president of Israel – Chaim Herzog – was born in Belfast in 1918,” he pointed out.
“I believe we must recognize the very positive role the Jewish community has played and still plays in Northern Ireland and provide support at times like this.”
Heartening indeed to see so many people, so many non-Jews, willing to put their names and faith on the line with expressions of support for those targeted by vicious anti-Semites.Hana Levi Julian