UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis, Other Jewish Leaders Describe British Terror Attack As Assault On Democracy

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UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mervis joined other European Jewish leaders Thursday in offering condolences following Wednesday’s terror attack outside the British Parliament.

A knife-wielding man, identified by police as Khalid Masood, murdered an American tourist and two others by plowing into them with a rented vehicle. Masood, a 52-year-old British-born man of Pakistani origins, whose previous convictions included assault and possession of offensive weapons, then fatally stabbed a police officer before being gunned down himself. Another victim died after being struck by a bus while running to safety.

“The prayers of the Jewish community are with the families of the victims and with our security services, who so often selflessly place themselves in harm’s way for our protection,” Mervis said in a statement.

Mervis said the attack “targeted the very heart of our democracy in Westminster,” and “will serve only to unite us against the scourge of violence and terrorism.”

The attack was condemned by other Jewish leaders and organizations, including the European Jewish Congress, which described it in a statement as “cowardly and barbaric.”

The Chief Rabbi’s sentiments were echoed by Dr. Moshe Kantor,  the president of the EJC, who, like Mervis, perceived the attack not merely as a random outburst of violence but as “a strike at the heart of democracy.”

Kantor noted that the attack, which coincided with the anniversary of the 2016 Brussels attacks which claimed the lives 32 people, “once again demonstrates that radical extremists continue to have the ability and motivation to commit mass murder in Europe.”

The Community Security Trust, the U.K.’s leading anti-Semitism watchdog, urged citizens to remain “calm, vigilant and to cooperate with security measures,” according to Times of Israel.

The news outlet noted that, following Wednesday’s terror attack, police patrols intensified in heavily populated Jewish areas such as London’s Stamford Hill, a neighborhood with a large Hasidic Jewish community.

In the United States, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt expressed solidarity with Britain and the U.K. following the incident.

“My thoughts are with #UK Parliament re: terror attack,” Greenblatt wrote. “Was just there discussing #extremist threats.”