Naz Shah, UK Labour Party Member Suspended for Anti-Semitic Posts is Reinstated


The Britain that was a reliably gray media backwater for half a century is no more. It has been replaced by a Britain in which news that normally would have made the front page for weeks—for example, the resignation of a prime minister—is replaced within minutes by other a cascade of other pressing updates, such as the resignation of almost the entire opposition. 

 

So it was this week, when news that Naz Shah, a parliamentarian who was suspended by the Labour party two months ago when her Facebook posts jokingly proposing the eradication of the State of Israel surfaced, was reinstated into the party—and welcomed by the British Jewish community. 

 

But the day of Shah’s political rehabilitation was almost immediately eclipsed by the publication of the Chilcot Report, a 7-year investigation into the British role in the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

 

It was a scathing condemnation of former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to join the US invasion, concluding that “the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”

 

Blair, the report asserts, deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein as he made the case for military action to the British parliament and public. Blair disregarded warnings about the potential consequences of military action, and relied too heavily on his own beliefs, rather than the more nuanced judgments of the intelligence services, the report states. “The judgments about Iraq’s capabilities … were presented with a certainty that was not justified,” Sir John Chilcot determined.

 

Fourteen years later, a regretful but defiant Blair, his voice feathery, described his decision as “the hardest, most momentous, most agonizing decision I took in 10 years as British prime minister.” 

 

In an exhausting press conference lasting over two hours, Blair said he felt “deeply and sincerely… the grief and suffering of those who lost ones they loved in Iraq…There will not be a day when I relive and rethink what happened.”

 

But he maintained his belief that “we made the right decision and the world is better and safer.” 

 

Behind the dramatic scenes, Shah was re-admitted into the party, one of at least 20 Labour party figures who were suspended or ejected from the party in recent months, in a swirl of anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic slurs, statements and posts that have blanketed the Labour party since the 2015 election of its leader, the longtime activist Jeremy Corbyn. 

 

Last April, Shah admitted writing a Facebook post supporting the notion Israel’s population being transferred to the United States. It showed an image of Israel superimposed onto the mid-west, and Shah’s comment: “Problem solved and save you bank charges for the £3 billion you transfer yearly,” a reference to United States aid to Israel. 

 

Shah added that she’d propose the scheme to President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron as it would “save them some pocket money.” 

 

Days later, a second post emerged, comparing Israel to Nazis. Hashtag IsraelApartheid, she posted alongside the quote “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” Shah, one of nine Muslims in the British parliament, was suspended the same day. 

 

“Of all those suspended by the Labour Party for anti-Semitic actions, Naz Shah stands out as someone who has been prepared to apologize to the Jewish community at a local and national level, and make efforts to learn from her mistakes,” the Board of Deputies of British Jews wrote in a statement reacting to her return. “In that regard, her reinstatement today seems appropriate and we would hope for no repeat of past errors.”

 

While visiting a Leeds synagogue in May, Shah said she hoped to make a “real apology” rather than a “politician’s apology.” 

 

“I looked at myself and asked whether I had prejudice against Jewish people. But I realized I was ignorant and I want to learn about the Jewish faith and culture. I do not have hatred for Jewish people,” she confessed.

 

Shah’s mea culpa was not universally lauded. On Twitter, a self-identified Socialist named Marcus Storm wrote that she “sold herself, her soul and her religion to the Zionists for personal gain.” 

 

“Well, that is what an anti-Semite looks like, Gary Spedding, a pro-Palestinian activist who has been fighting anti-Semitism in the political left said to The Media Line, adding that he’d been attacked online for hours after opposing such remarks. 

 

“It is important to say that I do not believe Naz Shah is in any way anti-Semitic. Having known her since before she was elected as a Member of Parliament I have always found her to be sincere and engaged in various ways when it comes to community relations,” Spedding added. 

 

Corbyn, who was elected to his post with no previous executive experience and who has referred to the Islamist militias Hamas and Hizbullah as “friends” and recently appeared to compare Israel with the Islamic State terrorist group, said earlier this week that he regretted his 2009 endorsement of Hamas.

 

During a session of the Home Affairs Committee on anti-Semitism last week, Corbyn initially denied that Hamas is anti-Semitic only to be forced to concede the point after a lawmaker read him lines from Hamas’ charter calling for killing Jews.

 

Corbyn rejected the contention that he is fostering an atmosphere of anti-Semitism within the party. 

 

“That is unfair,” he complained. “I want a party that is open for all. A long time ago there were sometimes anti-Semitic remarks made, when I first joined the party and later on. In recent years, no, and in my constituency not at all.”

 

Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications at the British NGO Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, said “Corbyn’s evidence given to the Parliamentary inquiry was totally inadequate. It will only further worry British Jews.”

 

Hugo Rifkind, a columnist for The Times of London, told The Media Line he hoped the moment marked a de-escalation of “that scary Israel obsession which marks out the loony Corbynite left.” 

British Jewish groups condemn hate crimes in wake of Brexit vote


Jewish groups in Britain condemned the uptick in racist harassment and other hate crimes in the wake of the country’s vote to leave the European Union.

There has been a 57 percent rise in reported hate crimes and racial incidents since the June 23 referendum, according to reports.

The Community Security Trust, the security arm of the Jewish community in the United Kingdom, told JTA on Tuesday that it has not observed any increase in expressions of anti-Semitism in the wake of the vote.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews in a statement issued earlier this week called on the government, civil society and businesses to make it “absolutely clear that EU nationals and other minorities resident in the United Kingdom are protected and valued.”

“It is important during these times of political uncertainty in our country to ensure that nobody feels vulnerable and threatened,” said the statement from the board’s chief executive, Gillian Merron.

Merron added: “The Jewish community knows all too well these feelings of vulnerability and will not remain silent in the face of a reported rise in racially motivated harassment.”

The head of the London-based Jewish Leadership Council, an umbrella body of more than 30 Jewish communal organizations, said in a statement issued Tuesday that it “join(s) with fellow communal leaders and politicians in condemning the incidents of hate crime and intolerance following last week’s Referendum. As Jews, we have long had experience of hatred and discrimination and trust that all leaders will ensure that the outcome of the Referendum does not undermine the tolerance, diversity and inclusiveness of the society we live in.”

The council’s chief executive, Simon Johnson, also said his group is following the reaction of the economic markets to the Brexit vote.

“Any long-term impact on the economy risks challenging the generous philanthropic environment in which Jewish charities operate. Jewish charities will continue to offer the highest quality and widest support to those who need it,” he said. “They have done so through previous challenging economic circumstances. We will work closely with our members to ensure that we fully understand any developments and are able to respond accordingly.”

Anti-Semitic incidents double in Britain since start of Gaza op


Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain have risen since the start of Israel’s operation in Gaza.

The Community Security Trust told the Jewish Chronicle that 70 anti-Semitic incidents had been reported in the period between the start of the operation on July 8 and Friday.

The Daily Mail reported Sunday that more than 100 hate crimes have been recorded by police and community groups so far in July, more than double the usual number.

Among the reported incidents were the physical assault last week of a rabbi in Gateshead, attacks on synagogues and an attack by an Arab woman wearing a niqab on a Jewish boy riding his bicycle in northern London.

“We are sending out emails to schools, shuls and Jewish organizations reminding them of safety protocols. We are determined to do all we can to allow Jewish life to continue as normal,” Mark Gardner, director of communications at the Community Security Trust told the Jewish Chronicle.

The Muslim Council for Britain said in a statement that the Gaza conflict should not disrupt interfaith relations in the UK. In a statement posted on its website, Shuja Shafi, Muslim Council for Britain secretary-general, urged Jews and Muslims to “remember the importance of civility and courtesy between each other.”

Anti-Semitic incidents rise by 5 percent in Britain


Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain rose 5 percent over the previous year, making 2012 the third highest number of incidents on record.

The Community Service Trust, British Jewry's security unit, reported Thursday that there were 640 reported anti-Semitic incidents, compared to 608 in 2011.

Some 100 of the incidents were reported as part of a new joint program with the Metropolitan Police Service, the police force of the Greater London area. Under the new program, there was a reported 55 percent rise in anti-Semitic incidents in London. Without the police incidents, the report would have shown an 11 percent decrease in total incidents.

Sixty of the incidents were classified as “violent anti-Semitic assaults.” The majority of the incidents, however, included verbal attacks and graffiti. Social media also was  a source of many of the incidents.

“While these statistics show more is being done to share information, they are a stark reminder of the presence of anti-Semitism in our society,” said British lawmaker Eric Pickles, secretary of state for Communities and Local Government. “Every one of these incidents is an affront to decency, and we must continue to remain vigilant to these sort of attacks.

“It is encouraging that the Jewish community are now more confident in speaking out and reporting anti-Semitic incidents to the police and the Community Security Trust, as improved reporting of hate crime makes it easier to assess the scale of the problem and determine what further measures are needed.”

Firsthand accounts bring WWII London ‘Blitz’ to life


There is no shortage of books, historical and fictional, on the bombing of London during World War II. Peter Stansky’s new book, “The First Day of the Blitz,” combines history, political commentary and firsthand testimony in a compelling account.

The “Blitz,” misnamed for its expected quick knockout blow to Britain, officially started at 5 p.m. on Sept. 7, 1940. The bombing was extensive and lasted for 56 of the next 57 days. Over the course of the war, 40 percent of London’s housing stock was made uninhabitable.

Stansky’s book focuses on the first day, when the complacency of the Phony War (a preceding time of relative calm and frequently ignored air raid sirens) was replaced by shock, then terror, then resolve.

One of the first accounts details a recurring theme, the importance of afternoon tea:

“It must have been about 4 o’clock, because my mother had made afternoon tea … in the little silver-edged tray, complete with cups and saucers, a small matching china jug with milk and a teapot under its cosy.”

When the bombing started, they took refuge in a cupboard under the stairs.

“The air of the parlour condensed and became opaque as if turned instantaneously to a red-brown fog, the floor heaved unbelievably, the [wall] leaned and rocked as though it had become flexible and … the slates from the roof came pouring down, crashing through the roof of the glass conservatory with huge clatter, smashing all the glass and piling brokenly into the room….

“[As the bombing subsided], everything was covered with a heavy brown dust, which lay so thickly on the floor that it concealed the carpet. The little china milk jug was lying on its side, and the spilt milk lay in a rivulet dripping over the edge of the table to a white pool in that thick layer of dust below.

“My mother made an instinctive movement to pick up the jug and staunch the flow of milk, but realised how useless it was. What normally would have been a serious accident spoiling the carpet, was tiny in this new scale of destruction.”

At the Anti-Defamation League, we have many programs designed to teach about the Holocaust, and we know how well personal testimony and artifacts — a survivor’s story, an excerpted diary, a single shoe — attest to the human condition and bring history lessons to life. For me, Stansky’s book was especially close to home, as my mother and father lived through the Blitz, and their stories were part of the fabric of my childhood.

Reading Stansky’s book brought back memories of my mother’s experiences, both sad and funny — seeing a postman blown into the air; spending an air raid crouched under the heavy dining room table, where her older relatives sat telling jokes and playing cards, and just getting on with everyday life. I pored through the stories of this book as I would read my mother’s own diary. I was so eager to get to the next firsthand account, I often had to stop and re-read Stansky’s historic conclusions.

Stansky gives conflicting evidence of Britain’s preparedness, noting on one hand, the remarkable volunteer efforts of the air raid wardens, and on the other, the misplaced micromanagement of the British government (distributing postcards so people could write relatives of their safety and free up telephone lines, yet withholding blankets so people would not be “tempted to stay too long” in the shelters).

Stansky addresses the “myth of the Blitz” — that the British people behaved calmly, the country was unified by patriotism, and the experience led to a vast expansion of social services from “cradle to grave” in post-war times. There was truth to the myth, but it was an oversimplification.

The British resolved not to dwell on the situation (those who did were called “bomb bores”), but there was a nationalist strain to their patriotism. “[T]hey had little interest in including all who might claim to be British. This was most notable, ironically, in the case of Jews, some of whom were as badly blitzed as anyone.”

Stansky makes note of the presence of anti-Semitism, quoting rumors that Jews were hoarding prime space in the shelters, and including a report that anti-Semitism arose “not so much on account of a marked difference between Jews and Cockneys, but because the latter, seeking a scapegoat as an outlet for emotional disturbances, pick on the traditional and nearest one.”

Finally, Stansky draws parallels to modern terrorism, equating the qualities of Londoners in the days following Sept. 7, 1940, to those of New Yorkers in the days following Sept. 11, 2001. “Both days, 61 years apart, were marked by death and destruction, but they also provided evidence of our ability to survive as human beings.”

Not everyone will have the personal draw to the material that I did, but any student of history will enjoy “The First Day of the Blitz” as much for its social and political commentary as its compilation of great stories. I recommend it with a cup of afternoon tea.

Amanda Susskind is regional director of the Pacific Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League.


Record anti-Semitism weighs heavily on British Jews


With anti-Semitism in Britain at record levels, life is changing in subtle and not-so-subtle ways for the country’s Jews.

Armed guards escort Orthodox Jews in Manchester walking to synagogue. Vendors sell Arabic-language editions of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” outside train stations. Academic and labor unions routinely issue calls to boycott the Jewish state.

Jews in Britain say they feel a growing sense of unease and insecurity.

“Jews today, compared with three or four years ago, are feeling increasingly worried about anti-Semitism,” said Mark Gardner, a spokesman for the Community Security Trust (CST), the organization charged with providing security for the country’s Jews.

Apparently they have good reason to worry. A recent CST report showed that all forms of anti-Semitism in Britain increased in 2006.

Last year saw the highest number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in Britain since recordkeeping began in 1984 — a 33 percent increase over the previous year. Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain have doubled in the last decade.

Jews are violently assaulted and subjected to threats. Schoolchildren face abuse. Communal property and synagogues are damaged and desecrated. And Britain is home to a growing cottage industry of mass-produced, anti-Semitic literature.

The sharp rise in anti-Semitism has not gone unnoticed in Parliament, which in 2005 formed an investigative committee to address the Jewish community’s concerns.

In its first report in September 2006, the All Party Inquiry into Anti-Semitism recommended investigating the reason for the low number of prosecutions of anti-Semitic crimes and developing strategies to combat rising anti-Semitism. The report found that only a minority of police forces in the country were even equipped to record hate crimes as anti-Semitic incidents.

“Anti-Semitism has not been taken as seriously as other forms of hatred in some parts of our society,” Iain Wright, the parliamentary undersecretary of state for communities and local government, acknowledged this summer.

Wright pledged to significantly increase funding for monitoring and classifying anti-Semitism as a hate crime.

But are any of these responses to the problem making Jews feel safer?

In some communities, residents are volunteering to help provide security for Jews.

“Community leaders are trying to find ways to harness the fact that people want to help,” Gardner said.

For secular Jews in Britain, who may not be subject to the same street dangers that visibly Orthodox Jews face, the country’s increasingly populist anti-Israeli campaigns have been unsettling.

“When people start talking about how terrible Israel is behaving, I feel sensitive about it and how it might possibly be linked to anti-Semitism, even if it wasn’t meant that way,” said Lauren Tobias, who works in London. “Then I find myself acting very defensive.”

Gardner said the boycott Israel movement “has an anti-Semitic impact psychologically on the Jewish community. Boycotts remind us of the Nazi boycott of Jews.”

One British journalist, Richard Littlejohn, said bashing Israel has become so trendy that it is “this year’s AIDS ribbon.”

As in other places in Europe, anti-Semitism in Britain isn’t limited to the extreme right. On the far left, in unions and other forums where liberal-leaning Jews once felt politically at home, activists now leading the charge against Israel are driving Jews away.

Josephine Bacon, director of a Hebrew and Yiddish translation company, said she feels under attack at her volunteer office job in the Labor Party.

“I get incredible hostility at work at the Camden Labor Party,” said Bacon, who holds dual British and Israeli citizenship. “The only reason it’s not the same as the anti-Semitism of the ’30s is that Israel exists now.”

Bacon says many Jews are “voting with their feet” and cutting ties with the Labor Party, Bacon said, or “if they stay in the party, they don’t talk about their past.”

Anti-Israel activists by and large reject accusations that their campaigns are anti-Semitic. Ian McDonald, a senior lecturer from Brighton who supports the University College Union’s proposed academic boycott of Israel, said in debates about the boycott, “We have to challenge the notion that to be anti-Zionist is to be anti-Semitic.”

At a recent debate on the All-Party Inquiry into Anti-Semitism, Wright called the boycott proposal “anti-Jewish in principle.” But that pronouncement hasn’t changed matters much on the streets.

Last year the CST launched a program to safeguard Jewish schools and community centers, pledging more than $6 million over a three-year period to install bomb-proof windows in some 600 community buildings.

Despite those efforts to help religious communities across the country beef up security, for some it hasn’t been enough.

British Jews are choosing to move to Israel in record numbers. British aliyah last year set a new record with 738 new immigrants, a two-thirds increase over the year before, according to the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Nevertheless, agency spokesman Michael Jankelowitz said he doesn’t believe the aliyah is the result of British Jews fleeing anti-Semitism at home.

“By and large the reasons for aliyah are positive ones,” he said.

Bacon said that despite the hostility she faces in Britain, she has no plans to move.

“I’m determined to tough it out,” she said. “I think that the current wave of anti-Semitism will eventually die out. But I can’t say how soon.”

The report is available at

Briefs: Condi tries to strike Mideast balance, Chelsea Clinton gets Shabbat-experienced


Rice: U.S. Will Keep Mideast Strategic Balance

The United States intends to help preserve the strategic balance between Israel and the Arabs, Condoleezza Rice said. Washington’s decision to boost defense aid to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia by $60 billon over the next decade will not blunt Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region, the U.S. secretary of state made clear Tuesday.

“There isn’t anything new in the United States working with its allies for security cooperation,” Rice told reporters accompanying her on a visit to the Middle East. “We are also determined to maintain the balances — the military and strategic balances — within the region that we have been committed to as well.”

The Bush administration wants to bolster allied Gulf Arab states against an ascendant Iran. Israel, which has been rebuilding its own armed forces since last year’s Lebanon war, had voiced concern over the planned multibillion-dollar arms sale to Saudi Arabia, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert indicated Sunday that Israel was satisfied by Washington’s intentions.

France Urged to Move on Holocaust Archives

Members of Congress urged France’s foreign minister to ratify amendments necessary to open Holocaust archives. Led by Reps. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.) and Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), 34 members of Congress sent a letter to Bernard Kouchner on July 30 urging France to ratify the necessary amendments to the Bonn Accords, which in turn would speed the process of opening the Bad Arolsen Holocaust archives. The International Commission of the International Tracing Service agreed on May 15 to begin transfer of Holocaust-related documents to institutions such as Yad Vashem and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. Before that can happen, the 11 countries involved in the 1955 Bonn Agreement must all ratify an amendment allowing the transfer.

Thus far, eight of the 11 countries have passed the proper legislation; France, Greece and Italy have not. Legislation related to the amendment has been drafted and is awaiting approval by the Council of Ministers before it can be sent to the French Chamber of Parliament for ratification.

New P.A. Plank Omits ‘Armed Struggle’

For the first time a political platform proposed by the Palestinian Authority does not call for “armed struggle.” The plank presented last Friday by P.A. Prime Minister Salaam Fayad instead cited “national opposition to the occupation.” It includes language regarding the “attainment of an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement consisting of pre-1967 borders, Jerusalem as the capital of both states, the honoring of past agreements between the two” and a resolution to the refugee problem based on U.N. resolutions, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon said Israel should try to work with P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, head of the more moderate Fatah party, as Israel has a partner for peace for “the first time in seven years.” Israel has yet to issue an official reply — officials have not received the new platform in writing, nor has it been voted on by the Palestinian Parliament.

The platform also declares the P.A.’s intention to exert its rule over the Gaza Strip, which was taken over last month by Hamas. Abbas vowed that an internal 200-page report detailing the failures of officials in handling the Hamas takeover would be implemented immediately. Hamas has vowed to continue its armed resistance against Israel. Abbas told reporters that he hoped to broker peace within a year and has the support of President Bush and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Brazilian Jewish Crash Victim Mourned

Brazilian Jews are mourning a Jewish victim of this month’s deadly plane crash in the country. Rebeca Haddad, 14, apparently was the only Jew among the more than 200 people killed July 17 when a TAM Airlines plane crashed and exploded after skidding off the runway at Brazil’s busiest airport in Sao Paulo. Haddad had been on her way to enjoy a school vacation. Before boarding, she told her father, “I love you so much. Thank you for giving me this trip.”

Like many Brazilians, Haddad was a fervent soccer fan. Her luggage included five shirts of her favorite team, Gremio. A major team in the Brazilian league, Gremio honored Haddad’s memory with a minute of silence during a recent match.

An official from Brazil’s B’nai B’rith took part in an ecumenical ceremony in memory of the victims held near the accident site several days after the crash. Haddad hailed from Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul, which has some 12,000 Jews.

U.K. to Deem Anti-Semitism a Hate Crime

British police will begin recording anti-Semitic crimes as racist attacks starting next year. The government also pledged additional funds to monitor anti-Semitic incidents in the country.

“Anti-Semitism has not been taken as seriously as other forms of hatred in some parts of our society,” Iain Wright, the parliamentary under secretary of state for communities and local government, said during a July 19 discussion of Britain’s All Party Inquiry into Anti-Semitism.

Wright also reiterated the government’s opposition to an academic boycott of Israel, calling it “anti-Jewish in principle.” The All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism was established in November 2005 to investigate the nature and extent of anti-Semitism in Britain and to make recommendations to address the problem.

The report is available online at http://www.thepcaa.org.

Chelsea Clinton Learning About Judaism

Chelsea Clinton reportedly attended a Shabbat dinner in the hopes of learning more about Judaism. Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), is dating Marc Mezvinsky, the Jewish son of two former members of Congress.

According to a story in Tuesday’s New York Times, Clinton visited the parents of a Jewish friend in an effort to learn more about Mezvinsky’s faith. Clinton and Mezvinsky, a banker with the New York firm Goldman Sachs, have known each other since they were teenagers and are both graduates of Stanford.

Briefs courtesy of Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Blasts Bring Fear of Anti-Semitism Rise


Jewish leaders have vowed they will work to combat any rise in racial tensions following the London bombings, amid fears that the attacks may lead to increased anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

“Certainly when there have been attacks in the past, we’ve seen a spike in anti-Semitism and vandalism,” said Mike Whine of Community Security Trust, the body that monitors threats to British Jewry. “We’ve already seen some extremist Web sites blaming Jews for the bombing, and we would be foolish to ignore it.”

There are similar concerns over dangers to the United Kingdom’s Muslim community, with arson attacks at several mosques around the country over the weekend and Muslim organizations reporting quantities of hate mail. Imam Abduljalil Sajid, a prominent British interfaith activist, said he had seen Muslims being spat at in the street, hours after the bombings. Community leaders have advised Muslims “to keep a low-profile,” he added.

The seriousness with which the British government regards the threat of racial violence could be judged by its rapid reaction. The morning after the July 7 bombings, which claimed more than 50 the lives and injured approximately 700, Sir Jonathan Sacks, the Orthodox chief rabbi, was among religious leaders called to the Home Office, the government body responsible for domestic security policy. The Home Office emergency meeting was held to discuss a joint response.

On Monday, Sacks joined Sheikh Zaki Badawi and church representatives to pledge they would “strengthen those things we hold in common and to resist all that seeks to drive us apart.” (See opinion page 8.)

A spokesman for the Board of Deputies, the representative body of U.K. Jewry, said that it recognized the concerns and would take up the challenge to “develop tighter bonds and increase dialogue.”

Ironically, the terror attacks came only days after a new report released by Alif-Aleph, a Jewish-Muslim dialogue group, highlighted positive contacts between the two communities throughout the United Kingdom. The study, which was welcomed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, revealed that both religious groups increasingly understand the benefits of addressing Islamophobia and anti-Semitism together, with informal, grass-roots exchanges leading to significant and lasting relations, based on mutual trust.

Jewish leaders fear the London bombings may also spur a wider anti-Israel backlash that could affect British government policy.

In a BBC Radio interview Saturday, Blair announced that it was vital to address what he called the deep-seated causes of terrorism, pointing to the situation in the Middle East as the key to understanding the roots of the violence. Though Blair didn’t mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by name, many concluded that was his intended focus. His comments were welcomed by pro-Arab lobbyists.

“Once things calm down, there has to be a debate about how British policies relate to the rest of the world,” said Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, a London-based lobby. “I agree that resolving this conflict will help.”

Israeli officials, while expressing sympathy and solidarity, have been at pains to distance themselves diplomatically from the London attacks. That has been a wise decision, analysts say.

“It’s time for Israel to sit quietly,” said Yossi Mekelberg, an associate fellow in the Middle East program at the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, a think tank also known as Chatham House. “If Israel connects Palestinian terror to global terror, they fall into the argument that one of the ways to eradicate the root causes of terror is to solve the Israel-Palestine issue.”

That idea has already gained wide currency in Great Britain, mostly due to the efforts of campaigners against the Iraq War who adopted “Freedom for Palestine” as one of their rallying cries, deriding Blair as President Bush’s “poodle” in the war on terror.

The situation in the Middle East was soon being cited by newspaper pundits as the reason that terror hit London.

“The real solution lies in immediately ending the occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine,” claimed commentator Tariq Ali in the left-wing Guardian, insisting that “the principal cause of this violence is the violence being inflicted on the people of the Muslim world. And unless this is recognized, the horrors will continue.”

This phenomenon is something that the Jewish community, which has a long experience of anti-Israel sentiment blending into anti-Semitism, fears will impact it in coming months.

“People blame the Jews, whatever the circumstances,” Whine said.