Anti-Semitic attacks grow

Bricks thrown at synagogues and a rabbi assaulted as criticism of Gaza battle increases.

Supporters of Israel yesterday wave flags and shout slogans as they demonstrate in Marseille, France. Photo / AP
Supporters of Israel yesterday wave flags and shout slogans as they demonstrate in Marseille, France. Photo / AP

Anti-Semitic attacks are on the rise in Europe amid a growing chorus of criticism at Israel's assault on Gaza.

There have been bomb threats, bricks have been thrown at synagogues, a rabbi attacked and a #HitlerDidNothingWrong hashtag circulated on Twitter.

According to the Sunday Times, more than 100 incidents have been recorded by community organisations and police in Britain this month, well above what is normally experienced.

Protesters in France have attacked synagogues, smashed the windows of Jewish-owned businesses and set others on fire. The marchers have chanted "Jews to the gas chambers", and Jewish people have been attacked in Berlin.

An 18-year-old Jewish man claimed on Saturday that he had been punched in the face while wearing a skull cap in the centre of Berlin, in the second such incident within days. Police had to step in to protect an Israeli tourist couple from protesters who charged at them shouting "Jew! We'll get you".

In Britain, four teenagers have been charged with racially aggravated common assault after a rabbi was reportedly attacked near a Jewish boarding school in Gateshead on July 19, while in Belfast, on the same day, bricks were hurled through a synagogue window.

On July 13, after a pro-Palestinian rally, a group of men piled into four or five cars and drove through a Jewish area of Greater Manchester crying "Heil Hitler" while also pelting pedestrians with eggs and drinks cans. It is unknown whether these attacks are definitively linked to the ongoing crisis in Israel and Gaza, but a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, an organisation that helps to protect Jewish properties and institutions, told the Sunday Times that the incidents are "well over double what we could normally expect to see and most of [them] are linked to what's going on". Mark Gardner, director of communications at the trust, also told the Independent that the number of attacks has been increasing, though "what's particularly important for us is that we've not seen the kind of high-profile violence that has been occurring in France".

Clashes broke out at a banned pro-Gaza demonstration in Paris on Sunday, with tear gas deployed by riot police after protesters threw stones and other missiles. France has Western Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish populations. An authorised rally last week with 15,000 people was peaceful.

Fighters for Israel queried

A senior Muslim leader has called on the Government to ban Australians from fighting for Israel.

Samir Dandan, president of the Lebanese Muslim Association, says just as the Australians who have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight as enemy combatants could face prosecution when they return, those who fight for Israel in the "occupied" territories should as well. "Australia should prohibit Australians from serving as foreign fighters for Israel in the occupied territories just as Australians are prohibited from fighting with insurgent terrorist groups," he said. The Government has expressed concern about the threat posed by jihadists returning from Iraq and Syria.

Dandan also hit out at the Abbott Government's decision to refer to East Jerusalem as "disputed" rather than "occupied". Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described the shift as a "terminological clarification".

- Independent, Telegraph Group Ltd, AAP

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