Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Gaza Conflict Spills Into Europe, Jews Attacked

From the Associated Press:
PARIS (AP) - Signs are mounting that the conflict in Gaza is starting to spill over into violence in Europe’s towns and cities, with assaults against Jews and arson attacks on Jewish congregations in France, Sweden and Britain.

Assailants rammed a burning car into the gates of a synagogue in Toulouse, in southwest France, on Monday night. A Jewish congregation in Helsingborg, in southern Sweden, also was attacked Monday night by someone who “broke a window and threw in something that was burning,” said police spokesman Leif Nilsson. Neighbors alerted rescue services before the fire took hold.

Someone also started a blaze outside the premises last week. And on Sunday slogans including “murderers . . . You broke the cease-fire” and “don’t subject Palestine to ethnic cleansing” were daubed on Israel’s embassy in Stockholm.

In Denmark, a 27-year-old Dane born in Lebanon of Palestinian parents is alleged to have injured two young Israelis last week, opening fire with a handgun in a shooting that police suspect could be linked to the Gaza crisis.

France has Western Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities and a history of anti-Semitic violence flaring when tensions in the Middle East are high. In 2002, some 2,300 Jews left France for Israel because they felt unsafe.

In Britain, the Community Security Trust, a Jewish defense group, said it had seen a rise in anti-Semitic incidents since the start of Israel’s offensive against Gaza. The group said it had recorded 20-25 incidents across the country in the past week that it believed were connected with Gaza, including an arson attempt on a synagogue in north London on Sunday.

London police are investigating the attack, in which suspects splashed flammable liquid on the door and set it on fire.

The government in Belgium on Tuesday ordered police in Antwerp and Brussels to be on increased alert after recent pro-Palestinian protests ended in violence and dozens of arrests. Police said burning rags were shoved through the mailbox of a Jewish home in Antwerp last weekend. Damage was limited and no arrests were made.

In the Danish shooting, one Israeli man was shot in the arm and another in the leg as they were selling hair care products in a shopping mall. Eli Ruvio, who owns the company that operated the stands, said his employees have been harassed by Muslim youths since they set up three kiosks in the shopping center in August.

“They kept cursing and shouting at us,” Ruvio told The Associated Press. He added that the Muslim youths also threw mud and firecrackers at the employees and spat at them.

Ruvio recalled an episode Dec. 27 when some of the youths shouted “slaughter all the Jews.”

“I told my employees not to speak in Hebrew and lie about where they come from, they should say there were from Spain or somewhere else. If people ask you where you are from, never say you’re from Israel,” he said.

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