Updated: Thursday, 23rd November 2017 @ 10:19am

It's scary being a Jew in Manchester, says journo who filmed anti-Semitism in city

It's scary being a Jew in Manchester, says journo who filmed anti-Semitism in city

| By Alex Watt

A journalist who filmed the 'sickening' anti-Semitic abuse he was subjected to within minutes of arriving in Manchester says his video shows how 'scary' it is to be Jewish in the city. 

Jewish journalist Jonathan Kalmus wore a traditional Jewish head covering called a 'kippah' to test the reactions of people in Manchester and Bradford.

Walking down one busy street in Manchester, Mr Kalmus had anti-Semitic abuse hurled at him and was even spat at.

Mr Kalmus took inspiration from other viral videos, including Israeli journalist Zvika Klein, who filmed himself being threatened in Paris, and Muslim Hamdy Mahisen, who filmed himself being subjected to a torrent of abuse in Milan.

He told MM: "From a personal experience, as a Jewish person who walks around on the streets trying to be like anybody else, people don’t understand that it is part and parcel of Jewish existence, for Jewish people to get insults and things thrown at them and to be concerned about their safety. That’s what it means to live as a Jew in the United Kingdom.

“It’s standard to have security guards outside your school or your kids’ school; that’s how we’ve all grown up. So I think people don’t really realise what it’s like for any Jew living around the world, and certainly in the UK.

“That was the impetus to do it and that was the key thing; to make people aware of the unfortunate situation and that, in 2015, it’s not really acceptable and we all need to be pulling together for us and for any other minority groups and do something about it.”


SHOCKING: The abuse that Mr Kalmus received in Manchester was within minutes of arriving in the city

Mr Kalmus walked through the city centre of Manchester, as well as Oxford Road and areas like Rusholme and Longsight, because he ‘wanted to make sure it was fair and square and that we walked through completely diverse areas’.

In 25 minutes walking a single busy street in Longsight, Mr Kalmus was spat at by one man and called 'a Jew' multiple times by passers-by, including a young boy walking with his father.

On Manchester's curry mile, a hub of mixed cultures, a young boy on a bike rode up to Kalmus and shouted, ‘You’re a Jew’ in his face.

Mr Kalmus says he was shocked and disgusted that anti-Semitism could be so blatant in the city.

He added: “Within both areas of Manchester, within one minute and two minutes in the two areas of us parking the car, abuse was hurled at me. The damning thing was the speed. I’d done nothing, I was just there and had literally just stepped out of the car and abuse and spitting and all kinds of vile stuff was thrown at me.

“It took other journalists in other cities much longer, like Zvika Klein in Paris, it took him 10 hours to find eight incidents for his video. It took me just over an hour between two cities to get over ten incidents. That should scare people and I think that’s my key message.

“This is on the street and people had no issue brazenly shouting. I wasn’t walking down some back-end street on my own, I was in busy areas where these people were shouting these things at me. And the other thing is, on any of those occasions, nobody stopped me to ask how I was and nobody said anything to the people who perpetrated the abuse, even when it was in full view and earshot of everybody. And that’s also scary, people turning a blind eye.

“The reality is, this level of hatred is there and it can lead to people who are extreme and can do these things. I think that’s why it should scare people and why people in authority should step up and do something about it.”

Shocking statistics released in January revealed that in 2014, the UK recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic attacks in three decades.

YouGov opinion polls also revealed 45 percent of the population agreed with statements deemed ‘anti-Jewish’, forcing members of the Jewish community to feel ‘fearful’ of staying in Britain.

The Community Security Trust (CST) is the body responsible for monitoring anti-Jewish hate crime in the UK, as well as assisting with securing buildings and places of worship.

Dave Rich, deputy director of communications at the CST, told MM in January: “Things are not the same in Britain as they are in France - there is not the same level of hostility or day-to-day anti-Semitism. But there is an element of fear that it could happen here and we must do our utmost to unite and stand against it."

Mr Kalmus however, believes that although anti-Semitic attacks in France are ‘of a more violent nature’, the problem is more widespread in the UK and he feels more needs to be done to tackle the issue.

Mr Kalmus added: “There is scary stuff going on and people need to recognise the way, unfortunately, Jewish people are treated in the UK in 2015. Hopefully the key is to raise awareness of that and push people to do more.

“As we’ve seen, Councilman Bernard Priest, he made some comments today that it’s unacceptable but there weren’t any plans to do anything in particular about it. This is something which needs to be looked at in the UK and in Manchester where any minority can step out of their vehicle and be abused, in very different and diverse locations in Manchester.

“It’s a question we have to ask ourselves; is that the kind of city we want? Hopefully this will encourage more people to step in and bring more resources, not only for the Jewish community but for all communities. We want to hear that there’s a commitment to stamping this out. I think that would make people feel a lot better.”

Image courtesy of Amanjeev, with thanks.

Inset courtesy of Jonathan Kalmus and article image courtesy of Daily Mail via YouTube, with thanks.