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Tuesday, 17 October, 2000, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
British Jews on high alert
Muslim protesters burn an Israeli flag
The Israeli flag has been burned outside its London embassy
Britain's Jewish community is on high alert following the escalation in tensions in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The threat against Britain's 280,000 Jews is the highest since the Gulf War of 1991 when demonstrators targeted nearly 50 synagogues and protesters in Manchester and Birmingham burned Israeli flags.

The Palestinian intifada of 1987 also sparked attacks against British Jews.

Tensions in the UK heightened last week after a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on Sunday during which some Islamic extremists called for Jews to be killed.

Nightly demonstrations

Members of the Palestine Support Council, a coalition of small Muslim groups which support the Palestinian cause, have staged nightly demonstrations and burned flags around the Israeli embassy in Kensington High Street.

In July 1994 the embassy was targeted by two car bombs on the day after Israel and Jordan signed a peace deal.

We are concerned. We have raised our security levels as a consequence of the Middle East situation

British Board of Deputies of British Jews

Jews have also looked nervously across the channel where two Molotov cocktails were thrown at a Jewish community centre in Paris and two people were caught trying to set fire to a synagogue in the south of France.

Jewish groups in Britain have set up an "emergency co-ordinating group" both to provide information, and to ensure there is balance in media coverage of events in Israel.

The Israeli embassy press attaché, D J Schneeweiss, accused the British media of an "astounding failure" to challenge what he called the "blatant lies" of Palestinian spokesmen.

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has urged restraint

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks urged restraint on the part of both Britain's Jews and its two million Muslims.

In his Yom Kippur address, he urged mediation "for the sake of our children and the future."

Mike Whine, spokesman for the Community Security Trust of the British Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: "We are concerned. We have raised our security levels as a consequence of the Middle East situation."

Police have increased foot and car patrols around key Jewish areas and senior community leaders were in touch with police chiefs by mobile phone to swap intelligence and warn of potential attacks, he said.

Mr Whine added: "We have a pro-active approach to security and I think that has pre-empted many potential attacks."

But he stressed that British Jews have suffered much less than those in other European countries.

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13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Mid-East on high alert
14 Aug 99 | Americas
Jewish groups issue security alert
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