Police launch investigation into anti-Semitic Facebook group

Exclusive by Chloe Markowicz - Thursday 4th February 2010


The Loxford School of Science and Technology

Police have launched an urgent investigation into a horrific Facebook group that gave graphic details of anti-Semitic incidents perpetrated by its members against Ilford's Jewish community.

The group, created by a student at Loxford School of Science and Technology, attracted more than 500 members in two weeks following its launch last month and featured teenagers boasting about engaging in anti-Semitic behaviour.

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It featured messages from youths using language rife with spelling errors,
profanities and teenage colloquialisms.

One girl wrote: "Jews are the ones that killed prophets in the past. Dirty filthy scum-bags. No wonder they have the curse of Allah upon them. Burn Jew burn."

Another stated: "OMG! ii Saw a Jew Todaii ii Swearr downn Weariingg Dahh Hatt He Lookedd At Me Liike Man Knowsz Me [sic]."

She went on to describe screaming obscenities at the man and rudely telling him to go away.

In a further disturbing post, a girl bragged about aggressively confronting
a Jewish woman in Argos after she was "looking at me". She wrote: "Looool i Had a Fight Wif 1 Urgh in Argos [sic]."

The Jewish News was informed about the group, created by a student at
Loxford School, by a private investigator in Australia. It has since been
removed from the popular social networking site.

The group was described by a Community Security Trust (CST) official as "one of the most shocking things I have ever seen".

A spokeswoman from Redbridge Council, speaking on behalf of Loxford School, said the school was contacted about the group and then immediately reported it to Facebook and the police.

The spokeswoman said: "The student concerned has been dealt with and the school has taken disciplinary action. There is an ongoing police investigation so we are unable to comment further."

Ilford police confirmed it had "received an allegation regarding anti-Semitic material being published on a social networking website".

A spokeswoman told the Jewish News that the police are investigating and inquiries continue.

Several comments on the vile Facebook site include misguided references to Islam and the Koran as justification for targeting Jews.

One female youth wrote: "We hate Jews for the sake of Allah as he has told us to do in the Koran."

The group page included offensive jokes invoking pejorative stereotypes about Jews and money as well as an anti-Semitic cartoon. There was also a link to a YouTube video entitled "Kill All Christians and Jews".

In addition several members expressed anti-Israeli sentiment. There was a photograph of graffiti saying "Jihad 4 Israel" and a link to another YouTube
video of "a brave Palestinian girl standing up to Israeli soldiers".

Mike Gardner, director of communications at the CST, said he was left
"utterly chilled" by the casual way that the youths displayed their
anti-Semitism.

He said: "It shows how new media is now facilitating the most shocking
anti-Semitism among groups of youngsters, as if hatred and violence and
gross ignorance were all just a part of their normal lives.

"Anybody who wants to understand how anti-Semitism can be transmitted today should study this online group closely, but they will need a strong stomach
to do so."

The CST, which is due to release its latest findings on anti-Semitism in the
UK this week, has previously reported 609 incidents in the first six months
of 2009, more than in any other entire year. A report released by the
Jewish Agency last month revealed that there were more anti-Semitic
incidents in Europe in 2009 than in any year since the Holocaust.

Mike Gapes, the local MP for Ilford South, urged the authorities to take
"very strong action". Gapes told the Jewish News: "I am deeply concerned.
Incitement to hatred is a crime and we must stand very firm and take action
against anyone who incited racial or religious hatred. Anti-Semitism has to
be opposed."

Lee Scott MP for Ilford North also denounced the site, saying: "It is
shocking and I condemn it."

A Facebook spokeswoman said that the group was removed because it breached the company's policies. She said: "We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others." She added that users should report groups that they feel violate Facebook's rules.

Spencer Lewis, the headteacher of local Jewish high school King Solomon
said: "We have had no problems at all with Loxford that I am aware of and we have a very good relationship with the school."

Have you encountered anti-Semitism online? Tell us about it by emailing newsdesk@thejngroup.com

Read the latest copy of The Jewish News Online by clicking here.

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