MPs condemn desecration as attacks on Jews increase

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Indy Politics

Attacks on Jews in Britain this year are at record levels, raising fresh fears among MPs about an upsurge in anti-Semitism.

Attacks on Jews in Britain this year are at record levels, raising fresh fears among MPs about an upsurge in anti-Semitism.

MPs tabled a motion in Parliament yesterday condemning the "appalling desecration" of 87 graves at a cemetery in West Ham, east London.

Geoff Hoon, the Leader of the House, said he deplored the wrecking of the cemetery - and leaders of religious groups in London joined forces to express their disgust at the attack.

"The Government deplores all anti-Semitism," Mr Hoon said. "It is very important that we should not allow anti-Semitism to operate in this country."

On Sunday, people plan to hold an anti-racist vigil outside the graveyard where thugs vandalised the mausoleum of the Rothschild family, and scrawled anti-Semitic abuse and swastikas on graves.

Lyn Brown, MP for West Ham, called for a debate in the House of Commons about levels of anti-Semitism in the UK and paid tribute to the local Sikh, Hindu and Muslim leaders who had condemned the attacks. She said: "I have tabled an early-day motion today which condemns such an act in my constituency of West Ham at a Jewish cemetery," she told the Commons. "It also welcomes the solidarity of the multi-faith community of West Ham who have condemned such an act and have stood in solidarity with those who have suffered as a consequence of this barbarous action".

Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, vice-president of the all-party group on anti-Semitism, said it was "absolutely deplorable this cemetery has been desecrated."

"This is another worrying sign in an upsurge in anti-Semitic hatred in Britain," he said.

The desecration of the West Ham cemetery, revealed in The Independent yesterday, is the 117th since 1990 and is part of an upsurge in anti-Semitic incidents in the UK.

Last year, there were 532 anti-Semitic incidents - the highest on record. This year assaults and abuse on Jews shows no sign of abating in the UK, raising fears about a surge of anti-Semitic feeling in Britain.

"There is a consistently high level of anti-Semitic incidents. This is not just a British phenomenon but appears to be Europe-wide. This is of great concern," said a spokesman for the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism in the UK.

Already this year, police have been called to investigate dozens of attacks, including an assault on young boys who were punched after a visit to a cinema in London. They were attacked by a group of 15 to 20-year-olds who shouted "fucking Jews". They punched one boy in the face and another in the back of the head.

Last month in Manchester, three girls returning from school were the victims of an attack. They were called "dirty Jews" and spat at through a tram window. One girl was hit.

Yesterday, Jewish leaders said they were worried about the levels of anti-Semitic feeling among young people and were working hard to try to break down prejudice.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews is touring schools with a Jewish Way of Life exhibition to try to "dispel myths, break stereotypes and show Jews are like anyone and everyone."

Jewish leaders are reviewing security at cemeteries following the West Ham attack, and are looking at installing CCTV.