Not long after a Jewish journalist was cursed and spat on as he walked the streets of Paris wearing a kippah, another Jewish reporter faced similar antisemitic abuse in Britain while donning the religious skullcap, the UK’s Daily Mail reported on Friday.
“It took me just one minute. One minute of walking one single, busy major street in Manchester before abuse was flung at me,” said British journalist Jonathan Kalmus, who secretly filmed himself walking in both Manchester and Bradford while wearing the kippah.
During the 25 minutes that he walked on a single street in Longsight, Kalmus said he was spat at by one man and called “a Jew” repeatedly by those passing by, even by a young boy walking with his father. A youngster on a bike later rode up to him and shouted in his face, “You’re a Jew,” according to the Daily Mail.
The situation in the streets of Bradford was “more shameful,” he said.
“It took 13 minutes, during which I was stalked by a man who repeatedly took pictures of me. He followed me on foot for five minutes and 30 seconds according to my footage,” he said. “There was a shout of ‘you Jew’ at me as I crossed the road to Bradford City Park. Minutes later a man turned his head and yelled ‘fight the Jewish scum’ just behind my back.”
While in Bradford, three youths repeatedly yelled at Kalmus from across the street, “You’re a Jew, not a Muslim…Jew, Jew, Jew run!”
Kalmus was shocked by the anti-Jewish harassment he received while wearing a kippah. He said he expected to walk for hours without being bothered but instead “I was left speechless that antisemitism is so obvious.”
“No one could accuse me of targeting Muslim neighborhoods to provoke a reaction. This was the center of an ordinary English city and I was minding my own business,” he added. “No one could accuse me of wearing something provocative or political. A Jewish person or any peaceful person walking in a British street anywhere, let alone a city center, should be welcome.”
As he faced the antisemitic hate while merely walking in the street, Kalmus said many people were content to ignore it. They heard the discriminatory remarks being hurled at Kalmus and were caught on camera turning their backs to the abuse taking place in front of them. Kalmus noted, “When someone spat on my back no one stopped to intervene.”
One uplifting instance that stood out to Kalmus was his encounter with a Muslim man at Bradford City Park’s branch of Starbucks. Kalmus said as soon as he walked into the shop, the man, who was “sporting traditional Islamic dress and a heavy black beard, raised his eyes from his drink, looked at me with wide eyes, stood up, raised his hand and said ‘Shalom, Shalom.’”
“Whatever was the reason for this man’s gesture and insistence that I shake his hand, it was warm and hopeful,” Kalmus said.
The British journalist said he chose the streets of Bradford as the location for his experiment because during the height of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge last summer, 5,000 people, most of whom were young Muslim men, gathered for a mass rally in Bradford City Park. At the rally, the city’s MP, George Galloway, declared the city “an Israel-free zone” while flanked by two muscular men wearing T-shirts saying “Palestine’s army you are not alone.”
Kalmus pointed out that Galloway “has repeated on many, many occasions that his message and political struggle is with Israel and Israelis, not Jews.” Nevertheless, he pointed out that “statistics show that bringing the Middle East’s struggles onto the streets of Britain has a direct effect on how people treat Jews.”
Kalmus’ journey through the streets of Britain was inspired by a similar exercise in February undertaken by Jewish journalist Zvika Klein throughout Paris. Klein, who also wore a religious skullcap and filmed the public’s reaction to it using a hidden camera, was cursed at by locals, called a “dog” and threatened as he walked silently in the French capital for 10 hours. Afterwards he said, “I am asked if I was scared. The truth is I was.”
Kalmus, who calculated the number of antisemitic hate incidents he faced in the two British cities, said he suffered “two more than those in Zvika Klein’s video and achieved in one-tenth of the time here in Britain. What a horrible reality.”
“It is completely understandable that anyone who does not feel the threat would not realize the extent of antisemitism, how common it is and how it effects Jews in our country every day. But antisemitic attacks and verbal abuse are everyday concerns for British Jews,” he said. “Many thoughts raced through my mind as I continued to walk and film, but one thought screamed out silently. If you see racism on our streets, stand up against it. And even if you do not see it, stand up against it.”
In response to the video, UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday told the Daily Mail “there are no excuses for the shocking antisemitism” filmed in Manchester and Bradford. He explained: “The idea that Jewish people feel unsafe again in Europe strikes at the heart of everything we stand for. We must fight antisemitism with everything we have got and make sure Britain remains a country that our Jewish communities are proud to call home.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband said any antisemitism in Britain “brings shame on those who demonstrate hatred and intolerance towards each other.” A spokesman for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said those who can be visibly identified as Jewish suffer similar abuse and antisemitism to that which Kalmus faced. The Community Security Trust (CST) admitted that it was shocked by the number of antisemitic remarks Kalmus received in such a short amount of time.
“The fact incidents like this take place of that nature still takes place does not surprise us. The frequency with which they took place – he experienced 10 in an hour’s walking – that is worrying,” the spokesman for CST said. “It suggest lots of these types of incidents maybe going unreported.”
The Daily Mail also published videos of men walking with kippahs taken in other European capitals including Copenhagen, Stockholm, Berlin and Rome. While the journalists faced some antisemitism in Copenhagen and Rome, the footage filmed in Berlin and Stockholm was mostly uneventful.
Source: The Algemeiner