Terror in Tottenham and bedlam in Birmingham

By Jessica Elgot, August 11, 2011
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London’s burning: a car in flames as mobs throw missiles at police

London’s burning: a car in flames as mobs throw missiles at police

Jewish business owners and residents in London, Manchester and Birmingham have described the "devastation" of the local areas, following this week's violent riots.

Groups of youths smashed shops and homes and looted high streets in cities across the country, beginning in Tottenham on Saturday night.

Following pictures of Charedi youths watching the looting in Tottenham on their way home from synagogue, the BNP's leader Nick Griffin commented on Twitter: "Riot footage shows it's a joint black/Jewish affair. Now that is strange. Wonders of multiculturalism!" His remarks drew wide condemnation.

The managing director of a Jewish-owned DIY shop in Tottenham, Derek Lewis, was woken just before 4am on Sunday morning because the alarm in H Glickman Ltd was going off.

‘First time I’ve heard challah called a deadly weapon’

‘First time I’ve heard challah called a deadly weapon’

He returned to find the place ransacked. Looters had stolen tools from the store, including sledgehammers - "things they could use in other places", said Mr Lewis.

The shop was opened by Gerald Glickman's parents in 1932. "It's disgusting. I just can't get my head around it and what I think about it isn't printable. They are tearing up their own community," Mr Lewis said.

A YouTube video showed some young, strictly Orthodox men watching the rioting and handing out challah to passing residents from a cardboard box.

Ari Levy, who works at a car dealership opposite Tottenham Hale, said: "Thank God, they didn't attack the shop, but we were sitting here watching the looting, people were just filling up their cars. They know us round here, and they didn't want to cause us any trouble."

Rabbi Yossi Jacobs of Birmingham Hebrew Congregation, said that he and his family had considered fleeing their city centre flat as the riots spread on Monday night.

"We had around 20 people in our house for Tishah b'Av services, and the elderly people were terrified to go outside."

He described seeing young men run past carrying bags and bags of clothes, with shoes round their necks. Some were carrying computers and TVs and some parked their cars close to the house and bundled goods into the boots.

"They had clothes from Harvey Nichols, Hugo Boss and Armani; our street is littered with hangers. We heard that people had time to try on shoes and jeans before running away. It's so poignant because of Tishah b'Av, reading about the destruction of cities. It's unreal."

Strictly Orthodox security service Shomrim tailed three small groups of looters bound for Dalston and Hackney via Stamford Hill on Monday night.

Shomrim's chair Nochum Pearlberger said: "From around four o'clock on Monday our lines were jammed with calls.

"During the night, we were tailing three small groups moving through the area. Around 30 members of the public, including the Jewish community, were protecting shops in Stamford Hill from a gang of around 10 thugs. We held down the main culprit of a small gang trying to break shop windows until police came."

A warning to stay away from the riots was sent out to the Stamford Hill community from Rabbi Ephraim Padwa. CST also sent out security notices, warning people to take care walking to synagogue on Tishah B'Av.

Police were called to arrest a gang of around 20 armed with metal poles, who were throwing bricks and bottles outside Brent Cross Shopping Centre in the early hours of Monday morning. Car windows were smashed but a spokesman for the shopping centre said no damage was done.

A Barnet police spokesman reported some disorder in Hendon and High Barnet. Eleven people involved have so far been charged by Barnet police.

    Last updated: 12:03pm, August 11 2011