Minister Slams 'Horrific' Rise In Anti-Semitism In UK Since Israel-Hamas War Began

A protest called by the National Jewish Assembly, The Campaign Against Antisemitism and the UK Lawyers for Israel
A protest called by the National Jewish Assembly, The Campaign Against Antisemitism and the UK Lawyers for Israel

A protest called by the National Jewish Assembly, The Campaign Against Antisemitism and the UK Lawyers for Israel

Robert Halfon has called out the “horrific” and “scary” increase in anti-semitism in the UK since the Israel-Hamas war in the Middle East began.

The conflict, now in its fourth week, has galvanised support for both Palestinians and Israelis around the world.

But, it has brought opposition to both groups to the surface as well. A Russian airport was stormed by a mob looking for Jewish people after a flight landed in Tel Aviv over the weekend.

The education minister told Times Radio how the Jewish community in the UK has been impacted by the war, too.

He said: “It’s horrific. It’s scary. It’s frightening for Jewish people in England at the moment.”

He touched on some of the chants heard across the marches such as “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, and chants of “jihad”, both of which have been criticised for being anti-semitic.

The minister continued: “It is frightening when you hear those chants, when you hear about armies going to war, when you hear cries of jihad every week in central London.”

Halfon added: “I get messages from the Jewish Chaplaincy Service in higher education that Jewish students are having Palestinian flags draped over their cars or doors knocked on of the Jewish chaplain with people knocking on doors saying, ‘We know where you live’.”

He claimed that “anti-semitism has gone up enormously”, as the the Jewish organisation, Community Security Trust (CST) has found attacks have increased by more than 400% since October 7.

CST also claimed there were at least 805 incidents between October 7 and 25 – the highest ever recorded in a three-week period.

Tell Mama, which collates reports of Islamophobia in the UK, also claimed that there were 291 anti-Muslim incidents recorded between October 7 and 19.

“It is not a great time for those of the Jewish faith,” Halfon continued. “I’m glad that the government is doing everything possible to support the Jewish community.”

He noted: “What happened on October 7th was the worst ever attack against Jews since the Holocaust.

“We always say never again, and yet it’s happened again. And so Israel has to do everything possible to ensure that Hamas is obliterated not just for Israel, but for the well-being and of the Palestinian people as well.”

In a subsequent interview on LBC, host Nick Ferrari asked if Halfon would advise people not to wear kippahs or Stars of David in public.

Halfon hesitated and said, if he had children, he would.

He added, “I would be very worried”, as Jewish children are being attacked on the way to school.

He continued: “In 21st Century Britain, Jews are worried about wearing a kippah or a Star of David, and worried about being spat at on their way to work or way to school, or their restaurants smashed, or being attacked on campus in one way or another.”

Halfon explained that while he has no opposition to peaceful protests but they do not have the right to shout “slogans of war like jihad”.

It should be noted that “jihad” has different interpretations. According to racial justice organisation Learning for Justice, it means “striving or doing one’s utmost”.

However, home secretary Suella Braverman claimed it is anti-semitic, and previously called on the Metropolitan Police to punish people who chant it during marches.