Belfast Removes Plaque Honoring Israeli Pres. Over Anti-Semitism
A plaque marking the 1918 birthplace of former Israeli President Chaim Herzog in Belfast was removed earlier this week, out of fears of further anti-Semitic violence in the Northern Ireland city.
The blue plaque honoring Herzog, who was President of Israel from 1983 to 1993, was first erected on a property at Cliftonpark Avenue in 1998.
The 16-year landmark was torn down, however, due to concern for Jews living in the area. Democratic Unionist Party Councillor Brian Kingston explained the decision to the Belfast Telegraph.
"Attacks have included the scrawling of anti-Israeli graffiti on the building and items being thrown at the plaque and the house," Kingston said. "Recently some youths were stopped in the process of trying to remove the plaque with a crowbar."
"Out of concern for staff and for residents living in neighboring houses, the community group and the Ulster History Circle have decided that it was best to remove the plaque for the foreseeable future, and it was removed at the end of last week."
"This should serve as a wake-up call for the public to the dangerous level of intolerance and the anti-Israel mentality which some are encouraging," Kingston stated. "I will be maintaining a close interest in this matter and I hope that at the earliest opportunity it will be possible to restore this plaque to its rightful place."
Ulster Unionist Party west Belfast spokesman Bill Manwaring stated to the Irish Times that the forced removal of the plaque was a “damning indictment of the intolerance within some elements of our society”.
“Given the attack on the synagogue (in Belfast) last month and now this, it shows that some people’s hearts and minds remain full of hatred,” he said.
Anti-Israel media coverage of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza recently boiled over in Belfast, where a synagogue's windows were smashed twice in 24 hours.
Rabbi David Singer told BBC shortly after the incident that the Jewish community had been "left shocked" by the attack.
"I think across the community, first of all, it's very sad that it happened," Rabbi Singer said. "I would imagine that there's a certain amount of anger that it could happen, but angry in the sense of frustration, not angry in the sense that they'd want to do anything about it."
"Certainly, it's very sad and very disturbing that Belfast would show its face like this," he added.
Anti-Semitism has risen 383% worldwide since 2013, according to a World Zionist Organization (WZO) study released Monday - including a 436% hate crime hike in Europe.