Rioting in London is increasingly affecting heavily Jewish neighborhoods. Stores in the Jewish communities of Stamford Hill and Golders Green, in North London, were urged to close and secure their merchandise on Monday night as unrest that began Saturday night in the north London neighborhood of Tottenham spread throughout London. No synagogues have so far been reported damaged in the riots, though some Jewish-owned stores have been ransacked, according to the London newspaper ‘The Jewish Chronicle’.
The Community Security Trust, which tackles anti-Semitism and provides security for the Jewish community, said on Tuesday that there had been no reports of targeted attacks against the community or communal buildings. However it said as a precaution, security procedures should be enhanced. “The violence is, however, quite indiscriminate and could as easily affect our community as any other. The situation remains highly volatile, and there is no way of knowing at this time if it will further deteriorate,” the CST said.
The rioting began last week following the killing of an alleged drug dealer by police. The violence first spread in poorer neighborhoods such as Tottenham, in North London, but is now affecting more affluent areas, too.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews expressed shock over the rioting and called for unity. “The Jewish community, like all right minded people, will have been shocked and appalled at the wanton destruction and criminality witnessed on our streets over the last few days,” Jon Benjamin, chief executive of Jewish umbrella organization. “Attacks on businesses and property are also assaults on the lives and livelihoods of decent hardworking people, trying to get by in difficult times, and the perpetrators are beneath contempt,” he added.
Some observers believe that the riots are the result of a weak economy, widespread unemployment and deep budget cuts targeting the poorest communities. On Tuesday night, the situation in London was calmer, but the rioting spread to other English cities. In Birmingham, Britain’s second-largest city, three people were killed when a car drove at them while they were protecting homes and businesses from looters. Nearly 500 people were arrested by police, and 16,000 policemen were patrolling the streets of London.
Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his vacation in Italy, returning to London to convene an emergency Cabinet meeting to handle the crisis. The looting, riots and arson attacks occurred just miles from the new stadiums and athletes' villages being constructed for the 2012 Olympic Games.