An Orthodox Jewish patrol group in north London has said the majority of incidents it responds to are on behalf of non-Jews, as it recorded a sharp fall in the number of antisemitic incidents there last year.
Shomrim, a community safety group in Stamford Hill staffed by Charedi volunteers, recorded 159 antisemitic incidents in 2019 compared to 282 in the same area in 2018. The figures represent a welcome 44 percent decrease.
Volunteers said they “facilitated and assisted” in the arrest of 11 suspects, some of whom are still awaiting trial, while claiming success in assisting the Metropolitan Police in prosecuting and convicting nine antisemitic offenders.
The organisation defines an antisemitic crime as “any crime where Jewish victims are targeted due to their faith,” and said several incidents in 2019 involved verbal or physical abuse, and/or harassment.
In one incident, a Jewish lady was approached by two youths in a park who asked: “Why are you wearing a wig? It looks stupid.” At this point the youths reportedly “lunged towards the victim trying to pull her wig off”.
In another incident, a group of Jewish families in the Lea Bridge Road area were allegedly subjected to “a prolonged campaign of racially motivated harassment” including bricks being thrown at their windows, said Chaim Hochhauser, chief executive of Shomrim Stamford Hill.
“Recently a bag of excrement was thrown at the front door of a Jewish home,” he said. “The bag split and the front door step was covered in filth. Some of these stories sound like tales from the Middle Ages. Victims are left traumatised and scared to leave their homes.”
Although the overall figure of antisemitic incidents almost halved in 2019, he said: “We have still seen a significant number of hate crimes, including physical assaults against Jewish children some as young as 10 years old.”
Shomrim volunteers responded to reports of crimes including burglary, vehicle damage, ATM skimming, online fraud and the theft of catalytic converters, and said 62 percent of responses were on behalf of non-Jews.
“Non-Jewish members of the community call us and we happily support them,” said Hochhauser. “We proactive patrol the streets and often come across crime on our patrols. We will assist anyone regardless of whether they are Jewish or not.”
He said the most significant increase he had seen in the past year was the theft of catalytic converters, saying: “Thieves often operate on Shabbos as they know the Jewish community do not carry phones so cannot call the police.”
@Shomrim 2019 annual statistics. Concerning is the spike in #HateCrime targeting the Orthodox Jewish community. @Shomrim work in close partnership with @MetPoliceUk, @CPSUK & @HMCTSgovuk courts, Serving the whole community without prejudice #CommunitySafety #partnership pic.twitter.com/4o0OUK7hHt
— Shomrim (Stamford Hill) (@Shomrim) February 11, 2020