Bomb Attacks: Jews fear they will suffer for peace agreement: Despite an outward calm, Marianne Macdonald finds a siege mentality in London's Jewish communities

Click to follow
The Independent Online
APPEARANCES were deceptive yesterday as the Jewish community of Golders Green, north London, went placidly about its business in hot afternoon sunshine.

Shoppers and business people believe they could pay the price of the long-awaited Middle East peace settlement with the loss of lives at home. Jewish residents predicted that further, perhaps fatal, attacks would follow the bombings of the Israeli embassy in Kensington and the Joint Israel Appeal in Finchley.

Their unease was such that some shopkeepers refused to give their name or allow the name of their shop to be printed in the paper. 'You don't know these days. You have to be careful,' said the owner of a bakery selling bagels and rye bread.

In Solly's Restaurant on the High Street, the owner was taking no chances. 'I think security could be much improved in London,' said Linda Sade, 34. 'I will be going around every hour to check that no suspicious packets have been left and watching out for strangers walking around.'

At Jerusalem the Golden, which sells books and religious items and displays The Holocaust for Beginners in the window, there was also a siege mentality.

'I'm very, very concerned,' said Mark Pearl, 72, an assistant. 'Two-and-a-half years ago we were sent a letter bomb which I opened - fortunately it did not go off. And years ago we had stones through the window.'

Michael Barak, 59, an author, was not surprised by the bombings and said he was expecting more. 'The Board of Deputies of British Jews is going to have to toughen up its act. The police must also offer stronger protection while we have this problem.'

Others compared the situation with Israel, saying Jews felt safer there. 'In Israel you have protection given by the military and the police. They're very much more aware in terms of security,' said David Lazarus, 32, at a kosher grocery. 'Even on the streets the police have no presence.'

Joan Joseph, 58, a shop assistant, said: 'None of the Jewish people are surprised about the attacks at all. What we are angry about is security. Nobody should have been allowed to park a car outside the embassy.'

Her daughter, Susan Murray, warned that Jewish people could be vulnerable during the next obvious moment for attack. 'What worries me is that the Jewish New Year is coming up. It's a big holiday where every Jewish person goes to synagogue,' she said.

Senior British Muslims yesterday condemned the bomb attacks, warning that the Muslim community was 'being found guilty before the trial', writes Glenda Cooper.

Dr Zaki Badawi, principal of the Muslim College and chairman of the Imams and Mosques Council, said: 'Britain should not be used as a field of battle. We want obedience to the law by everyone - not acts of terrorism which Islamic law says you must not incite or participate in.'

Dr Hisam el-Essawy, chairman of the Islamic Society for the Promotion of Religious Tolerance, said: 'If your ordinary British person would disapprove of this with a score of 7 on a scale of 1 to 10, then your average Muslim would score 10.'

Fuad Nahdi, of Q News, a weekly community newspaper for British Muslims, condemned the attacks. He added: 'But the Muslim community was the first casualty. A woman has already been beaten up in the East End by thugs calling her a terrorist.'

(Photograph omitted)