Concern over new attempts to incite racial hatred: Anti-Semitic letters sent to thousands of homes

Click to follow
The Independent Online
(First Edition)

A NEW WAVE of subtle anti-Semitic literature aimed at implanting race hatred in otherwise rational middle-class non-Jews is worrying MPs, Scotland Yard and leaders of the British Jewish community.

The letters, sent to hundreds, possibly thousands, of homes in areas with a large Jewish population are not immediately detectable as hoaxes, or anti-Semitic in intention.

Greville Janner, the Labour MP and honorary secretary of the Inter-parliamentary Council against Anti-Semitism, raised the latest letter in the Commons yesterday. He said the pamphlet was 'circulating by the thousand' throughout London.

Scotland Yard said it had received dozens of copies of the letters and was investigating.

They are sent out in buff envelopes, printed out on a personal computer, and the individual names and addresses written in a different typeface. They include sufficient correct doctrine and quotations to appear genuine, mixed with selected wrong or out-of-context quotes to incite hatred.

The latest is headed 'Lubavitch Bobov Chassidic Congregation', which is a fictitious name, above the genuine Shomrei Hadath Synagogue with its address in Finchley Road, north London, and its correct telephone number. It has arrived over the past week in the Golders Green and Hampstead area. It has apparently been sent to the homes of hundreds

of people with non-Jewish names. The synagogue's answering machine was inundated with complaining calls until its normal message about service times was changed to one pointing out that hoax leaflets were circulating.

Jonathan Weingarten, president of the synagogue, said that he had received letters and telephone calls from non-Jewish recipients, protesting 'more in sorrow than in anger' at the tone of the literature.

Purporting to be part of a membership drive, the latest fake letter begins: 'Your name has been referred to me as one who, although being Jewish, is no longer practising Judaism, nor may not be associated with any synagogue,' and invites them to join or attend a service. 'In either event you will be assured of a warm welcome to the celebration of our collective Jewish life.'

It speaks of a threat to the Jewish race posed by increasing numbers marrying non-Jews. 'We call on all Jews to follow the word of our Holy teachers by avoiding all but the most necessary contacts with the evil and ungodly gentile world within which we have to live.'

It says: 'Inter-marriage means that property and money, gained through years of toil by the Jewish community, will be meekly handed over to those who have not earned it ... we should shun those mixed marriage traitors who are aiding and abetting the destruction of the Jewish race. They need to be treated as evil outcasts who may never again be permitted to call themselves Jewish.'

It gives eight quotations it claims are from the Jewish holy book, the Talmud, which pre-dates Christianity. Some are plausible and temperate: 'A nation that loses its racial identity must surely perish.' Others are made up, and designed to be offensive: 'Jesus fornicated with his jackass.'

Two other fake letters sent to homes in Hertfordshire earlier this year claimed to be from a fictitious body, the Anglo-Catholic Fellowship, and from the chairman of a parish council. They spoke of a plan to build a 'Jewish ghetto' of 900 homes in the village of Shenley.

Mike Whine, defence director of the British Board of Jewish Deputies, said he had received more than 20 letters from recipients of the latest literature, as well as telephone calls. All had believed it was genuine. The purpose of the letters was the same as anti-Semitic slogans daubed on walls, to incite racial hatred, he said. He believed the authors had probably been active in the National Front and other British nationalist movements in the early Seventies, and were now middle-aged and otherwise respectable.