'Beware of Jews' Sign Sparks Outrage in UK Hasidic Community

On Tuesday afternoon, a sign interpreted as saying "Beware of Jews" was seen in Stamford Hill, a northern district of London and home to the largest concentration of Haredi Jews in Europe. Shomrim UK, a Jewish community safety patrol, reported the sign to local authorities. But the artist responsible apologized for offense, and explained the real intentions behind the sign.

"These minor things sadly lead into more serious things, as history has taught us," Rabbi Herschel Gluck, president of Shomrim, told the BBC's Jonathan Savage. Gluck argued that the Holocaust "began with similarly minor things but then gravitated to something much more serious."

Gluck added that anti-Semitic attacks are "low level" but "quite frequent," and that London is "generally a safe place" for Jews, "but not safe enough."

"The people of Stamford Hill are very sadly used to instances of antisemitic hate crime, but most of those times it will be verbal abuse or even assault," Barry Bard, Shomrim's operational supervisor in the area, told Britain's The Guardian. "A lot of the time it will be more of a person-to-person kind of thing, or graffiti, which is more unprofessional."

Shomrim had reported that the sign caused "alarm and distress to local people." Stamford Hill is at the center of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish and mainly Hasidic community with an estimated population of about 30,000.

Franck Allais, the freelance photographer who took the blame for the sign, apologized for causing offense. "It was a project about crossing the road ... how everyone is different, everyone has an identity," Allais told The Guardian. "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 offence caused."