Police are investigating antisemitic graffiti depicting the Star of David and the words "9/11" that were daubed across Hampstead and Belsize Park overnight, including on a synagogue.
James Sorene, the chief executive of BICOM, tweeted about the "horrifying" graffiti on Sunday morning, which he saw on the site of a former Israeli-style restaurant in Hampstead.
This is horrifying, graffiti on a former Israeli style restaurant in Hampstead this morning: pic.twitter.com/74jvC8RyMw— James Sorene (@Jsorene) December 29, 2019
"9/11" is a reference to the antisemitic belief that Jewish people were responsible for the September 11 terror attacks which killed nearly 3,000 people.
Just to add to this: the 9/11 refers to an antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jewish people were somehow responsible for the twin towers attacks in New York.— James Sorene (@Jsorene) December 29, 2019
It quickly became apparent there were graffiti across the area.
Photos of pieces of graffiti circulated on social media on Sunday morning and it later emerged South Hampstead Synagogue had also been targeted.
UK: anti-Semitic graffiti on walls all over Hampstead and Belsize Park this morning pic.twitter.com/UAbUNtou3W— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) December 29, 2019
Antisemitism watchdog the Community Security Trust tweeted that it was aware and urged anyone with information to get in touch or contact police.
CST is aware of several examples of antisemitic graffiti in Belsize Park / Hampstead last night. If you have any information please contact Police on 101 & CST on 0800 032 3263 pic.twitter.com/JaeEnqTxZk— CST (@CST_UK) December 29, 2019
In a joint statement, Camden Council leader Georgia Gould and local MPs Keir Starmer and Tulip Siddiq condemned the graffiti, saying they were "horrified".
They said: "Camden is and always will be no place for hate. We stand together with all of our Jewish residents and our whole community in saying these cowardly pedlars of hate do not represent Camden and our values.
"We are proud to have a strong, vibrant Jewish community as part of our beautiful borough.
“Camden’s street cleaning teams have spent this morning removing the offensive graffiti. This is largely complete, though the operation will continue into Monday on sites where the removal operation is more complex, including South Hampstead Synagogue.
"Camden Council are in close contact with the synagogue to ensure this removal takes places as quickly and sensitively as possible."
Oliver Cooper, the leader of Camden Conservatives, posted a photo of the graffiti on South Hampstead Synagogue.
"This is a place of peace and prayer," he wrote, "desecrated by the world's oldest hatred."
I am walking around Hampstead documenting all the anti-Semitic graffiti that mars our community this morning, and just got to South Hampstead Synagogue. This is a place of peace and prayer, desecrated by the world’s oldest hatred. pic.twitter.com/zJgxBxiZRU— Oliver Cooper (@OliverCooper) December 29, 2019
The Metropolitan Police's Inspector Kev Hailes said: "This is clearly a concerning incident and one we are taking seriously.
"We have liaised with our partners in order to remove the graffiti and various enquiries are underway to find who is responsible.
"Officers will be on patrol throughout the area in order to provide some reassurance to local communities. Please approach us if you have any questions or concerns.
"I ask anyone who might have seen anything suspicious last night to call us and aid the investigation.
“The Met remains committed to tackling hate crimes in all its forms, and we will continue to work with our partners and the public to do so."
South Hampstead synagogue sent a message to congregants, saying it was working with the council to have the graffiti removed and thanking people for supportive messages.
"As a community, we regret the rise of hate speech in society," the message said.
"Social media is polluted with xenophobia, islamophobia, homophobia, misogyny, racism and antisemitism. Sadly, these things are connected.
"This is a time for people of all backgrounds – of all faiths and of none - to stand united and show our determination that we do not tolerate prejudice, hate and division – on our streets or online.
"Over the next year, South Hampstead Synagogue is determined to continue to work closely with Camden council, and to partner with local faith communities and neighbours, on initiatives to strengthen community cohesion in our great borough and across London."
Anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting CAD 7282/28Dec or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.