A rabbi who was on a bus that was spat at by a group of men in central London has described it as a “bigoted antisemitic attack”, while a passenger said Jewish teenagers were left feeling “scared, shaking and angry”.
Shneor Glitsenstein, director of the Chabad Israeli Centre Golders Green, was on the Chanukah party bus with around 40 young Jewish people on Monday when the men swore, made obscene gestures and threw a shopping basket at them in Oxford Street.
A video of the incident has since been seen millions of times and condemned by politicians including Prime Minister Boris Johnson and London mayor Sadiq Khan.
The Metropolitan Police is aware of what happened with Chief Superintendent Owain Richards, borough commander for Westminster, tweeting that his hate crime officers are investigating in order to “bring the offenders to justice”.
Video has emerged of a group of men spitting at a bus full of Jewish teenagers in Oxford Street where the group were celebrating the first night of Chanukah. pic.twitter.com/orOrA9kJEu
— The Jewish Chronicle (@JewishChron) December 1, 2021
A woman who was on the open-top bus and filmed the incident said the passengers had stopped at Oxford Street to get off and dance when the men started abusing them.
Joanne Orezi, from Golders Green, told the PA news agency: “They were just starting to swear, pointing fingers, taking off their shoes and spitting, kind of vandalising the bus as well.
“They ripped off a window of the bus. It was right outside a shop, so they took a shopping basket, they threw it on to somebody in the bus. Obviously the roof was open so it hit somebody.”
Ms Orezi said the attack lasted around 30 minutes, but she only started filming halfway through as she was “a bit in shock”.
There were five or six men, but only three were actively harassing them, she said.
Ms Orezi, 31, added: “My legs was shaking with anger, truthfully, because we weren’t disturbing anyone, just literally dancing.
“And you know, I’m not as young as the other people. I mean, they were all teenagers, they were more scared.
“Some of them were angry. Some of them were in shock, scared, shaking.
“The younger ones, they weren’t even talking, they just went to the top of the bus.”
Rabbi Glitsenstein said those on the bus were attacked “for being Jewish”. He added some started yelling ‘Free Palestine’.
He added: “The young men who surrounded us were not engaged in political protest; this was a bigoted antisemitic attack in the heart of London, seen by dozens of others, who stood by silently.”
The tour was organised by the religious organisation Chabad, which arranges public menorah lightings and gives out food to mark the eight day Jewish Festival of Lights, Chanukah.
The attack has been reported to the Community Security Trust (CST), a charity which monitors antisemitic incidents and is working with the police to support the victims, along with the Metropolitan Police.
There have been no arrests in connection with this incident at this time; however police have released images of three men they would like to speak to in connection with the incident.
Police would like to speak to these three men in connection with an anti-Semitic incident in Oxford Street in central London. Credit: Met Police
Anyone who can name the males pictured or who has information or footage relating to the incident can call police on 101 or Tweet @MetCC quoting 6184/29Nov.
Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.