When a friend shared a video of drama on Oxford Street on Monday night, I knew it would go viral. The clip showed a gang of men harassing a group of Jews on a bus, spitting, cursing, making obscene gestures, and even appearing to perform a Nazi salute.
This was a group of Jewish teenagers being taken by their rabbi to see the Chanukah lights at Trafalgar Square. They had stopped on Oxford Street and, in their exuberance, left the vehicle to do a Jewish dance on the pavement. That was when it happened.
Let’s start with the good news. I knew this story would attract attention because such naked demonstrations of hate are, thankfully, widely pilloried in modern Britain. We saw it when the Israeli ambassador was hounded at the LSE; we saw it when a lone aggressor walked around Stamford Hill hitting random Jews; we saw it when convoys of men abused London Jews during the Gaza conflict. On each occasion, the vast majority was appalled.
But it’s bad news from here on in. The reality that Jewish people live with every day will come as a surprise to many. Every synagogue in the country has long been patrolled by security officers, and the prominent ones are watched by police.
Every Jewish school is equipped with advanced security systems and guards, and there are at least two charities specifically dedicated to keeping the community safe.