Elderly rabbi hounded out by Gaza mob in Bury

Rabbi Arnold Saunders was campaigning at a mosque as the Conservative hopeful for Bury South


Rabbi Arnold Saunders outside Bilal Mosque in Prestwich. Credit: North West Friends of Israel, X/Twitter

A rabbi and Tory parliamentary candidate has been targeted with abuse “redolent of the blood libel” and called a “snake” during a visit to a mosque. 

Arnold Saunders, who is the Conservative hopeful for the heavily Jewish seat of Bury South, was visiting the Bilal Mosque in Prestwich when a worshipper started screaming at him.

Footage posted online shows the man aggressively shouting: “Don’t come to the house of Allah and try to engage with us when we know that when you’re in your own places you’re saying it is good that they kill the children.”

The Muslim man urged Saunders, a local councillor and the former rabbi of Higher Crumpsall and Higher Broughton Synagogue, to “condemn the IDF” and “the killing of women and children”, a reference to Israel’s ongoing war with terror group Hamas in Gaza.

The same person said: “We don’t want to engage with you people, we don’t want to engage with you justifiers of child killers.”

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said: “Voters have every right to make their views known – even passionately – to candidates for Parliament. But there is absolutely no excuse for the sort of abuse that was directed at Rabbi Saunders, which included accusations redolent of classic antisemitic tropes like the blood libel.”

The JC understands that the incident took place on June 21. The Bilal Mosque in Prestwich is a short walk away from the Manchester Maccabi Community and Sports Centre.

The Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester said in a statement: “Rabbi Saunders is a much respected communal figure and we unequivocally condemn his treatment in this video. It is unquestionably antisemitic and we expect action to be taken.

“The incident occurred following an invitation by the mosque to meet their congregants. As an organisation we were delighted to invite and welcome members from the mosque to our hustings. The fact he has been attacked emphasises how individuals are importing the tragic conflict taking place in Israel and Gaza onto the streets of the UK.

“This is manifesting itself in politicians campaigning in a general election being targeted, abused and unable to freely move around the constituencies they are seeking to represent. When politicians are unable to speak about their views in public, have meetings disrupted and their offices attacked, it constitutes a real risk to our democracy. We hope that there are no further scenes of this nature as we approach polling day.”

The Board of Deputies also condemned the incident and urged “all who care about the health of our democracy to call out this bigotry”.

CAA said: "The only silver lining is that some of the other people present appear to reject the rhetoric and intimidation. But these scenes should serve as wake-up call to politicians and civil society as to just how sectarian our politics are becoming."

Arnold Saunders and the Bilal Mosque have been contacted for comment.

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