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Leeds Jewish students feared for their lives after van driver ‘threatened to ram’ them

Two students were threatened and verbally abused while walking to prayer service at Hillel House


A police investigation has been launched after threats were made to Jewish students at the University of Leeds on February 10th.
Students walking to prayer services at the university’s Hillel House feared a van would ram them after they were verbally abused by the driver.
The University of Leeds has since assured students of “increasing visible foot and vehicle patrols” by campus security and police, The Telegraph reports.
Two Leeds students aged 20 and 21 were targeted by a “man in his 50s”, who wound down his van window and shouted at them, “you Jewish b——-, I’m gonna beat the s— out of you”.
The man then allegedly manoeuvred the van to face them in a “threatening position” after one student told him they would call the police. No arrests have been made, although West Yorkshire police said they are treating the threats as a hate crime.
Wishing to remain anonymous, the students described the incident and their reactions to the man’s behaviour: “As he was about to ram into us, we started running away.
“We ran around a few corners and hid behind a wall for five minutes until we thought the coast was clear.”
Hillel House was subject to vandalisation earlier this month in what has been considered a hate crime after a University of Leeds emeritus professor suggested to students that they should demonstrate there. The words “Free Palestine” were sprayed on the building’s wall in red graffiti. Police have been stationed outside the building during events since the event.
Neighbourhood Policing Inspector Richard Armstead, of West Yorkshire Police, said: “This kind of hate will not be tolerated and I would like to reassure the local community that we take reports of this nature seriously.
“Enquiries are being carried out to identify the person or persons responsible. Police are appealing for anyone who has witnessed any suspicious activity in the area or who has any information about who may be responsible to contact Leeds District CID.”
Dov Forman, a 20-year-old student at University College London, who campaigns against anti-Semitism, urged universities to increase security around their buildings, including Hillel House.
He said: “In the face of escalating anti-Semitism, evidenced by another harrowing experience of Jewish students at the University of Leeds, it’s imperative that universities bolster security around Jewish facilities like Hillel Houses. The climate of fear is so pervasive that the students who experienced the hate crimes in this story have preferred to remain anonymous in fear of their own safety.”
The Union of Jewish Students said: “This incident is sadly just one of many examples of Jewish students being targeted, abused and harassed in places that should be safe for them. UJS has been in touch with the students and provided continued support to them and all Jewish students impacted by the sharp rise in anti-Semitism since the October 7th attack.
“As the investigation continues, we hope anyone with information provides it to the police, to bring the perpetrator to justice.”
A spokesperson for the University of Leeds said: “We are deeply shocked at reports that a van driver abused and threatened two of our Jewish students. The university is providing welfare support to the students concerned and will assist West Yorkshire Police in their investigation of this hate crime.
“The university has detailed measures in place to safeguard our students and continues to adapt and increase our support for them. Our campus security team and West Yorkshire Police are increasing visible foot and vehicle patrols of the area, as we continue to strengthen our partnership with the Community Security Trust, as well as West Yorkshire Police, to ensure our community feels safe.”