By Tamara Zieve
A warning sign featuring a Jew that appeared in Stamford Hill, a London area that’s home to a large Orthodox Jewish community, has been branded as “disgusting” and “despicable” by local lawmakers.
Jewish neighborhood-watch group Shomrim said the red triangular warning sign, featuring a silhouetted image of a man in Orthodox Jewish clothing and hat, was attached to a lamppost near a synagogue. Shomrim reported the sign, dubbed by British media as a “Beware of Jews” sign, to the Metropolitan Police Service and the local council and said an investigation had subsequently been opened.
“Disgusting. Unacceptable,” British Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott wrote on Twitter.
“Despicable, nasty behavior that has absolutely no place in our community,” tweeted David Lammy, another Labor lawmaker from a nearby London area.
Municipal authority Hackney Council said it had not found the sign, which was one of a number of fake warnings in the area, and believed it had already been removed.
After the sign had gained significant attention by the media and public officials, the Guardian reported that photographer and artist Franck Allais had claimed responsibility and apologized for the offense he had caused.
He said the sign was part of an artistic project, which also included a sign depicting a woman pulling a shopping trolley and another of a man pushing his wheelchair and a cat.
“It was a project about crossing the road . . . how everyone is different, everyone has an identity. There is not only one sign in the street. I put more signs up in the street, but only this one got noticed. I am sorry for any offense caused,” the Guardian quoted Allais as saying.
“I’m glad to hear that offense wasn’t intended, though it was still an ill-conceived piece of art,” a Shomrim representative told the Jerusalem Post in response to the Guardian report.
Stamford Hill is home to Europe’s largest chareidi community of strictly Orthodox Jews, with an estimated 30,000 living in the area. It has been targeted by far-right supporters in the past, and police figures show an increase of more than 60 percent in anti-Semitic incidents in London last year.
Last month, the Community Security Trust, which advises Britain’s estimated 260,000 Jews on security matters, said it had recorded a record 1,309 incidents across the country in 2016, the highest number since it began collecting figures 33 years ago.
According to the Guardian, freelance photographer and artist Franck Allais was behind the signs and apologized after they caused a backlash, saying he had not meant to cause any offense. (JPost.com with contributions from Reuters)