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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 September 2006, 23:58 GMT 00:58 UK
'Targeted just for being Jewish'
As a report by MPs urges more action on tackling anti-Semitism, Rabbi Alex Chapper from Ilford in Essex tells of his experiences of anti-Jewish abuse.

I was walking home from synagogue after Friday evening prayers with three other men.

Jewish man
Alex Chapper has got used to abuse for being identifiably Jewish

We were taking our normal route home along a main street. It was quite busy because it was a warm summer's evening.

As we were walking we realised a group of Asian youths had started to shout anti-Semitic obscenities at us.

We carried on but then they started to throw stones and pieces of slate at us. We asked them to leave us alone as we didn't want any trouble and they backed off and went away for a while. But then they came back with reinforcements.

One of them threw a punch at one of our group and somebody else jumped in to defend him and got hit over the head with a plastic bottle. At that point I flagged down a car and asked them to call the police and at that the youths ran off.

As I am identifiably Jewish I am used to verbal abuse on a regular basis from people in passing cars or on the street but I hadn't seen that level of violence before.

'Easy target'

The police did manage to apprehend one of the gang and he was interviewed but I got a letter saying they weren't taking any action.

I don't believe the attack demonstrates an underlying ideological hatred for Judaism
Rabbi Alex Chapper

The police obviously had their reasons, but I think that sends out completely the wrong message, that people can do this sort of thing with impunity.

I don't believe the attack demonstrates an underlying ideological hatred for Judaism. These are clearly youngsters who have adopted the youth culture of this country and will pick on any easy target.

The Jewish community in the Ilford area is very small compared to the Muslim community. But we have very good relations in the main, we have a multi-faith forum where we discuss things and it's all done in a very good spirit.

The people who are aiming anti-Semitic abuse at us aren't religious Muslims, these are people who are disaffected in their own community and don't have respect for their own culture.

Although obviously there is an effect from the media and images they see of Israel and the Middle East and the equation they make between that and Jews in this country doesn't help.


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