Police are investigating after a Jewish family was subjected to an antisemitic attack while on a day out in St Albans.
A video taken by one of the victims shows a stranger launch the unprovoked attack, calling the family “dirty Jews” and kicking an advertising board towards them.
Michael, the man who filmed the alleged hate crime and did not wish to give his surname, said the incident unfolded while he, his in-laws and their baby were sitting outside a coffee shop on St Peter’s Street in St Albans on Sunday.
The man walked past and “shoved the pram rather aggressively with the infant in it”.
When the shocked family demanded why, the man simply said it was because they were “dirty Jews”.
“At that point I took out my phone and started filming and asked him to repeat it, which he did,” Michael said.
The man, who appears to be in his 20s and is wearing an orange T-shirt and orange trousers, then repeats the slur and tries to knock Michael’s phone out of his hand.
While one of Michael’s relatives can be heard telling their young child not to “listen to this nasty man” the stranger then kicks an advertising hoarding on the street towards them before walking away.
“It was a bit of a shock [and] completely unprovoked,” Michael said. “It was very upsetting and very distressing.
“Obviously this comes at a time of rising antisemitism in the UK. It’s very uncomfortable.”
The family are “clearly identifiable” as Jewish because Michael wears the kippah skull cap, he explained, as do his brother-in-law and his father-in-law.
The Londoner said he was worried during the brief altercation the man might be carrying a weapon or try to attack one of the children.
Even after he had walked away Michael said he felt uneasy. “I was on the lookout because we were sitting ducks, trying to be aware of our surroundings.”
He has reported the attack to Hertfordshire Constabulary. A spokeswoman for the force confirmed officers were investigating a “racially aggravated assault”.
Michael said he was keen to identify the man in orange and asked anyone who recognised him to come forward.
“Officers are investigating and any witnesses, or anyone with information, should contact Hertfordshire Constabulary on the non-emergency number 101, quoting crime reference 41/70651/19,” the police spokeswoman added.
“Victims of hate crime can be reassured that they will be taken seriously and treated with sensitivity.”
Although the Sunday afternoon incident was the worst example of antisemitism Michael has experienced, he said it was not the first.
“This is definitely not the first time but I’ve never had it quite like this. It is not uncommon for people to drive past and shout abuse out the window of a car. It is rarer on the street.”
He said he was convinced the recent spike in hate crimes towards Jews could be connected to the antisemitism crisis enfolding Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
“We all know that there is antisemitism in one of the largest political parties in the UK and when antisemitism is accepted by a leading political figure and not tackled properly it means that people on the street sometimes think they can get away with it.”
This echoes the conclusion of a report in February by the Community Security Trust, a charity which monitors anti-semitism.
They tallied a record high of 1,652 incidents in 2018 and said antisemitism clearly surged during controversies within Labour over how to handle hatred of Jews within the party.