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Hate crime campaign: Jewish community receive 'regular, even daily, abuse

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MEMBERS of the Jewish community receive ‘regular, even daily’ anti-Semitic abuse in Jersey, according to the president of the Jersey Jewish Congregation, who has called on Islanders from minority groups to stand up and report instances of hate.

Stephen Regal Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (24891874)

Stephen Regal said it was poignant, although inadvertent, that the States police would launch their first-ever hate crime campaign days after the anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The 72-year-old, who was speaking ahead of the launch of the States police's first hate crime campaign on Monday, said that if people ‘ignore history we are in danger of repeating it’.

He said people have been known to drive past the Synagogue in St Brelade and shout offensive phrases when the Jewish members gather outside.

Asked why it was important for him to get involved in the States police hate crime campaign, Mr Regal said: ‘First of all because of recent history we understand what hate crime can lead to and because we are a religious minority we know what hate crime does to us.

‘We receive abuse and hate that nobody, I would imagine, would ever dream of hurling towards people from the church. Hate is universal amongst all races, religions, sexualities, it’s not just Jews, and it can be quite hurtful.

‘We receive abuse regularly, even daily and for other reasons we have to pray behind locked doors and have security guards outside the synagogue and there has been graffiti daubed on the walls outside – these things are painful.’

He added: ‘I think it’s important and poignant [that the hate crime has been launched days after the D-Day anniversary] but without leaping into clichés, if we ignore history we are in danger of repeating history.’

The Jewish leader said that he was deeply concerned about accusations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He said that despite that, anti-Semitic abuse in Jersey had not spiked.

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Mr Regal paraphrased a quote from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice. ‘If you cut me I will bleed, if you prick us it will sting – it’s a way of saying we are all the same.’

Mr Regal said there was a clear line between hate and freedom of speech. French writer Voltaire once wrote: ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ Mr Regal said once someone started trying to ‘shame’ another and attack parts of them which they could not change ‘that is the line in the sand’.

‘I would urge anyone who is a victim of hate to report it to the police, get it out in the open. Tell the media too, because together there is strength. Individually we fail, individually it’s the path to the gas chambers, but together we can combat hate. I’m 72 and what I have learnt in life is that the vast majority of people are good – strength is with majority and not with mad minority.’

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
author

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