UK community tightens security after Paris attacks


Security was ramped up at synagogues over Shabbat following the terror attacks in Paris which killed at least 132 people.

A Community Security Trust spokesperson said that while there was “growing social media chatter in Arabic and English calling for, and threatening, further violence,” there was no specific intelligence concerning potential attacks in Britain.

The organisation said it had “increased its guarding levels at synagogues this Shabbat and we will continue to review our security in the coming days.”

It also assured the public that it was in “close contact with the police and government to discuss the implications of the attack for UK Jewish security.” It called on communal venues to “ensure existing security procedures are rigorously enforced”.

The Zionist Youth Council (ZYC), a body representing Jewish youth movements across the religious spectrum, will hold a vigil for the victims of the Paris attacks on Monday night at the JW3 community centre in north London.

Amos Schonfield, head of Masorti group Noam and co-chair of the ZYC, said: “All our members are horrified by the actions that we have seen not only in Paris, but also across the world.

“We believe that this moment transcends our ideological differences as movements as we mourn the loss of life and stand together with the people of Paris.”

LISTEN: Should we be afraid in the wake of the Paris attacks?

Israeli footballers Tomer Hemed and Beram Kayal, who play for Brighton and Hove Albion, were in Paris with their wives during the killings.

They were confined to their hotel and the building was in lockdown in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

At the time, Mr Hemed said: “We came to Paris for a holiday and everything has gone crazy here.

“We are not allowed to leave the hotel and the entire city is in shock and fear. We didn't hear the explosions. Everybody here is very confused and nobody knows what is really happening.”

The two players and their partners are now safely back in Britain.

Speaking at a Board of Deputies plenary on Sunday, president Jonathan Arkush urged the EU to concentrate on fighting terrorism instead of issuing guidelines on the labelling of products from Israeli settlements.

“Europe needs to wake up to the threat, and dare I say it, concentrate on the real threat, instead of focusing on ways of making life more difficult for Israel in ridiculous forms like the EU labelling plan.”

During an impassioned speech which opened the meeting, the president said that it was "not easy to find the words to express our horror and anxiety, our utter disgust and condemnation at the slaughter Paris endured on Friday night."

But he pledged that "no act of terror will alter our way of life and determination to maintain the liberal, fair, free enjoyment of life that we hold dear in this country.

"We will remain resolute in our determination to oppose all extremism. We will not let ourselves fall victim to emotive reactions such as blaming every Muslim. We will also stand by Israel, the only country of democracy and equal rights in a region of turbulence."

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, senior rabbi for Movement for Reform Judaism, said that when she visited Paris after the attacks in January on Charlie Hebdo and the kosher Hyper Cache supermarket, further attacks on a larger scale would have been “unthinkable. Tragically that prospect has now become reality.”

She warned the community that “these attacks must not result in increased discrimination against our Muslim brothers and sisters and already vulnerable refugees, Muslim or otherwise, who have come to Europe in search of safer shores.

“As British Jews, we above all stand in solidarity with the people of France at this time, and send prayers of healing and consolation.”

United Synagogue president Stephen Pack has sent a letter to the French ambassador saying that his community was “proud to stand together in brotherhood with all of the people of France.”

Mr Pack added that “as a people, our history is filled with all too many memories of the suffering and anguish that such terrorism brings.”

Masorti Judaism’s senior rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg said that the communal response to terror should be “a profound affirmation of the value and sanctity of life as affirmed throughout Judaism, in every true expression of faith, and in the hearts of all who genuinely trust in God.”

Jewish Leadership Council chairman Sir Mick Davis said Islamic extremists threaten “the fabric of our world” and called on the community to “stand firm”.

Sir Mick added: “I am sure that I echo the thoughts of every member of our community in condemning the shocking acts of savagery perpetrated in Paris last Friday.

“We mourn the deaths of the innocent and offer comfort and solidarity with the injured and the bereaved. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Paris, who have shown great courage and fortitude in recent days.”

Liberal Judaism senior rabbi Danny Rich said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris. Leaders of all faiths and none need to declare unequivocally: ‘Not in our name!’”

Esmond Rosen, chair of the Barnet Multi Faith Forum, announced that the group will hold an event on Saturday called “Welcome The Stranger” to strengthen interfaith ties.

She said: “There is no justification for murder, and all British faith communities agree that those who commit acts of violence cannot do so in the name of any faith. Any such claim is illegitimate.

“British Muslim communities are equally appalled by the violence, and angered by those who commit abhorrent acts in the name of religion. The perpetrators do not represent us; their views are perverse and self-serving.”

Nisa-Nashim, the government-funded Jewish and Muslim women’s group, said: “we are outraged and deeply saddened by the attacks in Paris yesterday.

“These attacks, maliciously and erroneously carried out in the name of Islam, are roundly condemned by all decent people.”

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive