Swastikas in London stoke fears of rise in anti-Semitism

Swastikas found in a children’s playground in London are the latest sign of anti-Semitism on the rise in Europe.

The hand-drawn swastikas appeared on four consecutive days, June 14-17, in a park in the Stamford Hill neighborhood, The Guardian newspaper reported Monday (June 20). A home for British Jewish veterans is nearby.

“I think sadly this is the rise of rightwing extremism,” Rabbi Herschel Gluck, a British rabbi involved in interfaith work, told the London-based daily. “There are elderly people who served in the British army and fought in the second world war living nearby and I think that is particularly poignant. I think it’s an attempt to intimidate and instill fear.”

Anti-Semitism has experienced a resurgence across Britain and throughout Europe. According to the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University, anti-Semitic violence grew by 40 percent globally in 2014, the last year for which figures are available.

In the U.S., the number of anti-Semitic incidents grew by 21 percent in 2014, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The most recent incidents include reports of anti-Semitism at Donald Trump rallies, and some Jewish reporters covering the candidate have reported anti-Semitic harassment from his supporters.

Jonathan Weisman, a Washington bureau chief for The New York Times, recently announced his retreat from Twitter after an avalanche of anti-Semitic tweets stemming from his coverage of the presidential campaign.

England has seen its own rise in anti-Semitism, with two members of its Labour Party suspended for making anti-Semitic remarks.

“Anti-Semitism is effectively racism and we should call it out and fight it whenever we see it,” British Prime Minister David Cameron said in Parliament after one of the incidents.

London police are investigating the park swastikas but say they have no suspects.