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World News

Leeds University rabbi forced into hiding following death threats

by Premier Journalist

Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch, a chaplain at Leeds University, has been forced into hiding after receiving death threats over his time serving as a reservist in the Israel Defence Force.

According to Religion Media Centre, he resumed his chaplaincy duties last month, but was subjected to a hate campaign with hundreds of malicious calls, including threats to kill him, to rape and kill his wife and to murder their two young children.

The Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis issued a statement saying the antisemitic abuse and violent threats were “motivated by a hatred which might appear to be targeted at Jews, but which are ultimately a threat to all of our society. I call on the University of Leeds to be unequivocal in the face of such brazen intimidation and hateful extremism”.

The minister for higher education, Robert Halfon, held a meeting with the Rabbi, his wife and the University Jewish Chaplaincy, offering his support and saying the government was doing everything it could to combat antsemitism on campus. In a separate incident in Leeds, a Jewish student centre was sprayed with graffiti “Free Palestine” in protest at a planned appearance at the university of an Israeli rapper. 

The university said it is working with West Yorkshire Police investigating the incident.

In a recording of one phone call to Mrs Deutsch – heard by the Daily Mail – the caller said: 'Tell that Jewish son of a bitch we are coming for him.

Another said: 'We are going to get you. How dare you come back to Leeds and expect the Muslims not to do 'owt, when all you lot have been doing is killing innocent children.'

The University Jewish Chaplaincy (UJC) said: "We are deeply shocked and appalled by the despicable torrent of horrific anti-Semitic hate and threats of violence being directed at Rabbi Deutsch and his family.

"We are in constant communication with Rabbi Deutsch, and our primary concern is to ensure his and his family's ongoing safety, and the safety of Jewish students at Leeds University.

Claudia Mendoza of the Jewish Leadership Council said: 'What we have witnessed is truly shocking.

'Campus is a cesspit of anti-Semitism with unprecedented abuse being directed at students and the Jewish chaplain in Leeds. If we ignore this because it is "only" the Jews, we will regret what this country becomes.'

A Jewish building at the University of Leeds was also vandalised with 'Free Palestine' and 'IDF off campus' slogans. 

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