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Jewish leader voices concern over anti-Semitism in the UK

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THE president of the Island’s Jewish congregation has spoken of his concern over the rising level of violence against people of his faith in the UK and ongoing allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Stephen Regal, president of the Jersey Jewish Congregation

In January it was reported that anti-Semitic hate crime had reached record levels in the UK. The Community Security Trust, a charity that monitors anti-Semitism, said that the Jewish community in the UK had been targeted at a rate of nearly four times a day last year.

According to the CST, there were 1,382 cases of anti-Semitism in 2017 – the most since it began documenting such instances in 1984 – including a 34 per cent rise in violent assaults.

‘As a Jewish man, it’s extremely worrying,’ said Stephen Regal, who has been the president of the Jersey Jewish Congregation for 19 years.

‘It is a resurgence of the sort of violence that our parents and grandparents faced in middle Europe from 1933 to 1945, and that our ancestors faced in eastern Europe.’

Last month the Jewish Labour Movement accused the Labour Party of failing to deal with a ‘vast backlog’ of anti-Semitism complaints. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has denied his party has an anti-Semitism problem.

‘The Labour Party have done nothing to dispel claims of anti-Semitism among members,’ Mr Regal said. ‘The Labour Party, generally, was supported by most Jews. The disappointment is amplified because the social comment the Labour Party makes fits snugly with the Jewish heart – love for others, charity and so on.

‘They state that they are not anti-Semitic, but the euphemism for anti-Semitism has become anti-Zionism. It’s very easy to say, “Some of my best friends are Jews, but I hate Zionists”.’

Mr Regal, who was born in London and moved to Jersey when he was three months old, added: ‘People said [in the 1930s] ‘‘Why don’t you [Jewish people] go to Palestine?’’ Then when Jews went to Palestine, they said ‘‘Go back home’’. People have said in the past that Jewish people should be transported to Uganda; people have said we should be transported to camps in the East.

‘I love living in Jersey and feel safe here, but in mainland Britain you can walk through the street as a Jewish person and be attacked. Israel is possibly the last resort that I could have as a Jewish person. While there’s a Jewish state in the world I feel safe.’

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