Four men arrested over video ‘showing shameful anti-Semitic abuse’
Police have arrested four men in connection with a video which appeared to show anti-Semitic abuse being shouted from a car in north London.
The incident received cross-party criticism, with the Prime Minister condemning the acts as “shameful racism” that have “no place” in society.
Footage on social media showed a convoy of cars covered with Palestinian flags passing down Finchley Road, in north London, with passengers heard to shout offensive language and threats against Jews.
Scotland Yard said that following an investigation into the incident, four arrests have been made after one of the cars was stopped at around 6.30pm on Sunday.
A statement said: “Police received reports of people shouting anti-Semitic abuse from a car travelling within a convoy of vehicles through the St John’s Wood area on the afternoon of Sunday May 16.
“Enquiries were carried out and officers traced a car to the A40 in Hillingdon. The police helicopter was deployed and officers stopped the car at approximately 18.30hrs.
“Four men were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated public order offences. They were taken into custody at a west London police station where they remain.”
The incident comes after thousands of people marched through London on Saturday to the gates of the Israeli embassy, while protests took place in other cities across the UK and Ireland in solidarity with the people of Palestine.
Thousands of Palestinians have been forced to flee their homes after a week of sustained conflict.
Since Monday night, Palestinian militant group Hamas has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, whose military responded by barraging the Gaza Strip with tank fire and air strikes.
Superintendent Jo Edwards, in charge of investigation into the video, said: “This behaviour was utterly shocking and will not be tolerated.
“I understand that this would have caused considerable concern within the community and we have arranged extra patrols in the St John’s Wood and Golders Green areas this evening.”
Boris Johnson said: “There is no place for anti-Semitism in our society.
“Ahead of Shavuot, I stand with Britain’s Jews who should not have to endure the type of shameful racism we have seen today.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer described the incident as “utterly disgusting”.
“Anti-Semitism, misogyny and hate have no place on our streets or in our society,” he said.
“There must be consequences.”
Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said: “The scenes I’ve witnessed in my constituency today have left me sick to my stomach.
“The blatant and open anti-Semitism on display today, deliberately targeting areas with large Jewish populations is nothing short of incitement and I have urgently raised the matter with the Home Secretary, Commissioner and Mayor.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel also described the scenes as “disgusting anti-Semitism”.
“There is no place for this hatred in the UK,” she tweeted.
“I expect @metpoliceuk to be taking this seriously.”
Whatever your view of the conflict in Israel and Gaza, there is no justification for inciting anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim hatred
Referring to the video of the convoy, Housing and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “This, on the streets of London, is deeply disturbing.
“Vile, criminal hatred like this must not be tolerated.”
In a statement Mr Jenrick continued: “Whatever your view of the conflict in Israel and Gaza, there is no justification for inciting anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim hatred.
“The incidents of anti-Semitism we have seen in recent days have been shameful.
“Some of the language used on marches this weekend and in posts on social media is intimidating, criminal and racist.
“We must not tolerate this vile, shameful hate in our country. These actions must stop.”
Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said: “Today’s convoy and demonstration were utterly predictable and preventable.
“These anti-Semitic thugs must face the full force of the law.
“We are deeply concerned for the safety of British Jews. We are grateful for the allyship of those who have spoken up for us but alarmed by the incitement that drowns it out.”
The Met added that officers also engaged with protesters at a planned demonstration in Whitehall during the afternoon.
It said the event occurred peacefully and concluded without any arrests.