For the JC May 2021
An assault on two Jewish men after Sunday’s community rally has been referred to the Metropolitan Police Hate Crimes Unit — though the attackers disappeared and are likely to be difficult to identify.
Joseph Cohen and Alexander Menashe, who describe themselves as “looking visibly Jewish”, with full beards, kippot and tzitzit, had attended the Jewish community rally on Sunday afternoon and after a coffee with friends had gone to Reubens, the kosher restaurant in Baker Street. Mr Cohen is the founder of the Israel Advocacy Movement and specialises in “street videos” in which he challenges opponents of Zionism — often young Muslims — and tries to change minds about Israel.
“We noticed we were getting a lot of unwelcome attention from cars driving down Baker Street”, Mr Cohen said. As the pair turned into a side street near Reubens to retrieve their car, they became aware that they were being followed.
Two men, one around 18 and the other in his early 20s, both masked and hooded, followed Mr Cohen and Mr Menashe and began to hit them. A woman in a nearby cafe shouted at the assailants: “This isn’t what Islam teaches” — only to receive the reply “They’re effing Zionists”.
The woman, who identified herself as Muslim, brought Mr Cohen and Mr Menashe into her cafe while the assailants ran off down Baker Street. Neither man was badly hurt; when police arrived, spectators in the flats above the cafe came down to give witness statements about the assault.
Mr Cohen said: “There is a very tense and intimidating environment at the moment, a real climate of fear”. He said it was unclear whether the attackers had been at the community rally as part of a small but noisy group of counter-protesters.