(photo credit: REUTERS)
Antisemitism is on the rise in Northern Ireland as the Jewish community continues to suffer from repeated threats and acts of vandalism in Belfast, one local rabbi told the BBC Sunday.
Rabbi David Singer, head of the Belfast Jewish Community congregation, said that Jewish graves, synagogues and public spaces throughout Northern Ireland have been defaced with anti-Jewish graffiti over recent months.
“Yes, antisemitism is on the rise," Singer told BBC Radio Ulster's Sunday Sequence. "Let me tell you about four things - first of all...[the graffiti] in the process of being cleaned up right now. It is graffiti in town where what is written is the ‘F word’, a picture of a swastika and it says, ‘gas the kikes.’"
“On the synagogue walls," Singer continued, "there is graffiti. I am not going to read it out - it is really very unpleasant."
Singer also said he has received a number of "suspicious emails" over the same period of time.
“If we add these things together – the graffiti in town, the smashing of the gravestones, suspicious emails, and the graffiti on the synagogue wall – yes, I would say things are on the increase.”The rabbi noted
, however, that the bulk of Belfast residents have been "warm and welcoming" and have reached out to support the Jewish community.
“The vast majority of people are very friendly, warm, welcoming and whatever we see and experience as far as anti-Semitism is concerned, it tends to bring in a flood of letters, emails and telephone calls of support for the Jewish community and the Jewish people and an expression of abhorrence," said Singer.
“I am appalled that these things happen but I am humbled at the response,” he added.
The Jewish community is one of the oldest religious minorities in Belfast, descended from German textile merchants who migrated to Northern Ireland in the 1860's, according to Northern Ireland daily The News Letter.
The first synagogue in Belfast was built in 1871, while the community's founder, Daniel Joseph Jaffe, is commemorated on Great Victoria Street.
The sixth president of Israel, Chaim Herzog, was born in Belfast in 1918, and is the father of current Zionist Union leader MK Isaac Herzog.