UK Police Investigating Antisemitic Hate Crime in London

LONDON -

British police said Wednesday they are investigating a video which appeared to show a group of men spitting at a bus full of young British Jews and Israelis celebrating Chanukah in central London.

The Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors antisemitic incidents, said the open-top bus was full of people celebrating the first night of Chanukah on Oxford Street, one of the British capital’s busiest shopping streets, with singing and dancing.

It said the party was “interrupted by an extremely hostile, threatening and abusive group of men.”

According to the Jewish Chronicle, the men first approached them and began to dance mockingly and playing their own music. The men did not approach or harass any other people on the street, but singled out the Jewish group. When they were ignored, they became more aggressive.

Rabbi Shneor Glitsenstein of the Chabad Israeli Centre Golders Green told the JC that the men began shouting “Free Palestine!”

To avoid the scene from escalating, Rabbi Glitsenstein gathered the group to get back onto their privately hired bus.

Video taken from the bus appeared to show the men shouting and making obscene hand gestures and Nazi salutes at the people on the bus while the frightened passengers urged the driver to get away.

Rabbi Glitsenstein said the scene was “not something you expect to see in the middle of London. You want to feel free and secure in London.” He said it reminded him of a shocking incident that occurred in London during the 11-day round of fighting between Hamas and Israel in May, when a convoy of cars drove through Jewish neighborhoods shouting slurs and threatening violence.

The Metropolitan Police said Monday’s incident is being treated as a hate crime. No arrests have yet been made.

Those on the bus were from Chabad, which had arranged for the menorah to be put up, said Dave Rich, the Community Security Trust’s director of policy.

They “were quite frightened that the group who were threatening them were going to physically assault them, they were spitting at them,” Rich said. “They definitely felt it was because they were Jewish that they’d been targeted, there was absolutely no doubt about that.”

“Antisemitism has no place whatsoever in society and I utterly condemn these disgusting acts,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted.

With reporting by the Associated Press.