Religious Jew attacked in London, police say no evidence of hate crime

After taking his cellphone, the thug punches his victim several times when he tries to get back his property.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

London police are investigating an attack on an ultra-Orthodox Jew in London Friday. The victim was beaten up and his cellphone was taken.

In video footage publicized by the local Jewish neighborhood watch group Shomrim, a black man can be seen confronting the Jew in a hallway of an apartment block in Stamford Hill, a neighborhood known as a hub of the Orthodox community.

After a short exchange of words, the man whips the Jew’s cellphone out of his hand and starts walking out the door. The victim tries to grab back his property and hangs on to the arm of the would-be thief, who starts pummeling him to get away.

The fight spills out to the landing outside, where the thief breaks free but continues to punch the victim’s stomach and face several times before shoving the Jewish man back through the door, where he falls down. At this point, the perpetrator turns around and strides away,  and the victim gives up.

The attack took place in broad daylight, around 1:45 p.m. Police say there is no evidence as yet to suggest that it was religiously or racially motivated.

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There have been several attacks on religious Jews in London over the last two months. At the end of January, two men were violently assaulted, also in Stamford Hill, by an 18-year-old who was subsequently arrested and charged with a hate crime. Coming on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called it a “terrible reminder” that antisemitism “remains a very real problem in society” that must be “stamped out.”

During the Chanukah holiday in December, a man yelling alternately in English and Arabic attacked a Jewish man who saw him tearing down a menorah in a public square. After punching him repeatedly in the head, the thug showed him a knife and said repeatedly, “I am going to kill you,” before the victim managed to escape.

The most notorious incident on Chanukah occurred when a group of men hit and spit at a bus full of Jewish boys that had come to a stop on a London street, showing them the Nazi salute and yelling at them. The BBC was excoriated by the British umbrella organization of Jewish groups, the Board of Jewish Deputies, for blaming the victims, saying that a Moslem slur could be heard coming from the bus.

Even when in was proven that there was no such slur, the BBC refused to apologize and its internal review cleared the reporter of any wrongdoing.

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The Jewish Community Security Trusts released a report last week stating that 2021 was the worst year in terms of antisemitic attacks since the watchdog began keeping records.

MK Betzalel Smotrich, who visited pro-Israel groups in the UK last week , said that the  British Jewish community must confront the problem by strengthening Israel and their connection to the Jewish state instead of “repeat[ing] the awful strategy of German Jewry ahead of World War II, who thought if there is antisemitism, let’s be more like the non-Jews and they will forgive and accept us. The opposite is true.”

The Board of Deputies had told Smotrich to “go home” on Thursday, saying his “racism” and “homophobic” views were unwanted there. The right-wing parliamentarian, who heads the Religious Zionist party, wrote in a long rebuttal on Facebook that the group only represents a “minority” of British Jews who are “leftists and Reform Jews.”

Smotrichsaid he was inundated with speaking invitations from members of the traditional and religious sectors, which he said are the majority of Jews in England.