Terrifying reality of the toxic brand of anti-Semitism infecting Britain’s university campuses: GUY ADAMS on how a rabbi was forced into hiding by an avalanche of hate calls and social media trolling including ‘us Muslims are coming for you’

The death threats came thick and fast at the modest home near Leeds University where Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch lives with his wife Nava and their two small children.

‘Tell that Jewish son of a b*tch we’re coming for him,’ went one of the more sinister calls, picked up by Nava at about midnight. ‘We’re coming to his house and we’re going to kill him in his house and you as well you f**king racist b*tch, sl*g.’

Another said: ‘We are going to get you, we’re going to get your husband and we are going to get you as well, love. It’s as simple as. How dare you come to Leeds and expect the Muslims not to do ‘owt, when all you lot have been doing is killing innocent children?’

A third correspondent, who like both previous callers was male and spoke with a Yorkshire accent, promised: ‘Us Muslims are coming for you, you dirty Zionist mother****ers.’

Then there were hostile texts, popping up through last Thursday evening, which variously threatened to raid their home, murder various members of the family, rape Nava and carry out a selection of other unspeakable acts.

Rabbi Zecharia and wife Nava Deutsch, pictured, and their two young children were moved to a safe location on police advice amid a shocking hate campaign

Rabbi Zecharia and wife Nava Deutsch, pictured, and their two young children were moved to a safe location on police advice amid a shocking hate campaign

‘Oi, you ugly c**t,’ said one directed to Zecharia at 1.30am. ‘Gonna be waiting for you, you daft c**t. Gonna bend your wife over.’

By the time Friday came around, the couple had received a total of roughly 300 calls and messages. Almost all came from men, with thick Yorkshire accents, who exuded a combination of virulent anti-Semitism and calculated menace.

On the advice of police, Rabbi Deutsch, who is Leeds University’s Jewish Chaplain, promptly left his home and moved his family into hiding. They have remained there ever since.

Their harrowing experience, revealed by the Daily Mail last Saturday, offers a sobering insight into the toxic brand of anti-Semitism that has infected Britain’s University campuses following the Hamas terror attacks of October 7.

It also lays bare the ugly reality of the hostility Jews in the UK have suffered during Israel’s subsequent military action in Gaza. This ‘explosion in hatred’ has seen racist attacks against them increase by 149 per cent, according to figures released this week.

One such attack occurred not far from the Deutsch family home, last Thursday. It saw vandals attack the local Hillel House, a residential block where Jewish students live, in the early hours of the morning. They daubed the words ‘IDF off campus’ and ‘Free Palestine’ on its walls in red paint, in an incident police are investigating as a hate crime.

So what triggered the death threats, recordings of which are published by MailOnline this morning? Why did graffiti artists attack the home of innocent young minority students? And how did an armed conflict some 3,000 miles away spark an outpouring of racist abuse that left this 20-something chaplain, and his family, in fear of their lives?

The answer, I am afraid, is deeply unsettling. For ugly events at Leeds University turn out to have been the end result of a highly aggressive social media campaign, organised by a rackety collection of Free Palestine campaigners, podcasters and Left-wing journalists, including a local Guardian columnist, working alongside the Muslim Council Of Britain.

It all culminated in the release of a revolting online video that branded the Jewish chaplain ‘this creep,’ calling him a ‘kind of animal,’ an ‘absolute low-life,’ ‘absolutely disgusting’ and ‘shameful,’ and falsely claiming that he had, in recent weeks, deliberately attempted to ‘kill women and children’ in Gaza.

This grotesque piece of material — which like all the ugliest propaganda is both factually inaccurate and dehumanising — was, I can disclose, made by a high-profile Leeds YouTuber named Mothin Ali.

Last Thursday, Palestinian protestors launched a social campaign to try to get Rabbi Zecharia fired. Pictured: The Tiktok video made by a high-profile Leeds YouTuber named Mothin Ali

Last Thursday, Palestinian protestors launched a social campaign to try to get Rabbi Zecharia fired. Pictured: The Tiktok video made by a high-profile Leeds YouTuber named Mothin Ali

Mr Ali is a man with connections. For, I can further reveal, he’s a well-known Green Party activist who is (for now, at least) due to stand as one of its approved candidates in May’s local government elections.

Perhaps astonishingly, the Greens last night refused to condemn or even censure Ali’s video targeting Rabbi Deutsch — which sparked an outpouring of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial on TikTok — on the grounds that the party ‘believes in free speech’.

To understand how things have come to this, we must wind the clock back to October 7, when Hamas terrorists attacked Israel from Gaza, slaughtering more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, including 360 revellers at a music festival, carrying out mass rape and taking more than a hundred people hostage, including several babies.

Mothin Ali responded to that awful day by posting a two-and-a-half minute video to TikTok suggesting that the atrocities were justified because ‘Palestinians have the right to resist occupying forces’. He urged viewers to ‘support the right of indigenous people to fight back’.

For Deutsch and his family, there was a more pressing concern. The Rabbi happens to be an Israeli citizen (he came to Leeds in 2021 to work for University Jewish Chaplaincy, a charity which provides rabbis at seats of learning). That in turn means he must serve as a military reservist until the age of 40.

In the immediate aftermath of the Hamas attacks, Deutsch was therefore, like many thousands of his countrymen, instructed to return to Israel to temporarily join his unit in the IDF, the country’s armed forces.

And shortly after arriving in the Middle East in mid-October, he posted a video message on WhatsApp seeking to explain the objectives of the ensuing military operation in Gaza

‘Israel is dealing with this war with the utmost morality and good ethics,’ he said. ‘There’s so much confusion going on and it’s so clear that there is evil and there is good, and what Israel is trying to do is destroy the evil, which is the most moral thing possible, with also trying to deal with the civilians in Gaza in the best way possible.’

The message, in which Deutsch was wearing military uniform, was circulated to 130-odd Jewish students at Leeds.

However in early November, a copy appears to have leaked. It ended up in the hands of Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, a poet, anti-racism activist and occasional Guardian columnist who is from Leeds.

She then posted a copy of the video to X, formerly Twitter, on November 11. At which point all hell broke loose.

‘Chaplaincy services are meant to be for all students wellbeing [sic],’ wrote Khan, in a provocative accompanying message. ‘Would ANY student feel safe that someone in the reserve army of a state blatantly violating international human rights law and enjoying it, be their go-to for help when struggling? Astonishing!!’

She then added: ‘How can Leeds University uphold its responsibility for the wellbeing of students if a participant in Palestinian genocide is allowed back on campus?’

Her post sparked virulent rage from sympathetic commentators along with a smattering of Left-wing lobby groups. One, The Network Of Sisters In Academia, accusing Deutsch of having ‘joined the IDF war machine in its genocide of Gaza while publicly posting misinformation and propaganda about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians’.

Meanwhile the Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign launched a campaign for him to be sacked.

Within 48 hours, the hosts of Perspective Point, a Muslim podcast hosted by two Leeds University alumni, had started a petition on the website to ‘demand the dismissal’ of Deutsch by Leeds University.

Comments from some of the almost 12,000 signatories offer a sobering insight into the minds of the rabbi’s critics.

‘F*** this guy. Baby killer,’ wrote one. ‘Throw him out, he’s garbage!’ said another. ‘Such monsters need to be eradicated,’ said a third, while a fourth stated: ‘This Kelb [Arabic for dog] needs to go.’ In an apparent reference to Jews, another user declared: ‘They are of their father Satan 666.’

The remarks were deeply upsetting for Rabbi Deutsch and his wife, who is also employed by University Jewish Chaplaincy. ‘It’s hard enough being sent to war, in circumstances you have no control over, without also having to cope with anti-Semitic online attacks,’ says a source close to the couple. ‘Furthermore, the university and its chaplaincy started getting a lot of hostile correspondence.’

Fortunately, for the couple at least, the end of term came along shortly afterwards. And with that, the campaign petered out. Deutsch was discharged by the IDF in early January and promptly returned to the UK, where he attempted to resume chaplaincy duties.

Initially, life appeared to return to something approaching normal — indeed, for much of January, students were tied up with exams. But last Thursday morning, the Rabbi’s military service suddenly became the subject of frenzied online debate again.

For this, we can thank the Muslim Council Of Britain. Shortly after 8am, it retweeted the long-forgotten video that had previously leaked, cc-ing Leeds University in an apparent effort to spark a social media ‘pile-on’.

‘Why have you allowed Zechariah Deutsch to return to the university as a chaplain after serving in the IDF?’ read the council’s tweet, which was viewed 293,000 times. You have a duty of care towards your students to ensure their safety at all times. How can your students feel safe with a war criminal complicit in genocide roaming your campus?’

Predictably, the message sparked an outpouring of anti-Semitic vitriol. Responses included: ‘Zecharia Deutsch should f*** off back to Deutchland [sic] and build his ethno supremacist state there where he belongs #Zionistsareevil.’

Then, at 2pm, a social media personality named Dilly Hussain waded into bat. A commentator and deputy editor of the Muslim news outlet 5Pillars, who is often found on rolling TV news channels, Hussain last made headlines back in October, when he responded to news that a mob of angry protestors were picketing an Israeli passenger plane that had landed in the Caucasus republic of Dagestan by tweeting: ‘This is the kind of welcome ALL Israelis should be receiving at the airports of Muslim-majority countries.’

This time, he was on similarly provocative form, posting the university’s email address and phone number in an apparent effort to persuade followers to complain about Rabbi Deutsch. ‘This is someone who has potentially killed civilians, including women and children,’ he said, in a message viewed 364,000 times.

By that afternoon, the Leeds branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign was circulating leaflets publicising a public protest against Deutsch. The documents carried pictures of missiles and were headlined ‘No war criminals on campus’ and carried the slogan ‘Zecharia, you can’t hide / we charge you with genocide’.

Tellingly, the activists chose not to stage the demonstration on the steps of the university, where student protests are traditionally held, but instead at the Marjorie and Arnold Ziff Building, a large administrative block which just happens to have been named after two Jewish philanthropists who donated millions of pounds to the institution.

A few hours later, it was Mothin Ali’s turn to stoke resentment. A 42-year-old father of three from Roundhay, Leeds, who describes himself as ‘an accountant by day and an Islamic teacher at night,’ he runs a horticultural YouTube channel with nearly 53,000 subscribers called My Family Garden. Ironically, given recent events, he’s also the founder of DigItOut, a campaign to end racism in gardening.

On the political front, Ali is a former Labour supporter, once photographed with Jeremy Corbyn (‘a great guy,’ Ali’s TikTok followers were recently told). But since the arrival of Keir Starmer and the expulsion of the Labour leader’s former ‘friend’ Corbyn for anti-Semitism, Ali has migrated to the Greens. In May, he will be the party’s candidate in the Gipton And Harehills ward in the Leeds Council elections.

This is the background of the man who, at about 7pm last Thursday, posted a two-minute video to various social media feeds claiming that Rabbi Deutsch’s ‘contract should be terminated with immediate effect’ and saying he should be ‘prosecuted for war crimes’.

Leeds University Parkinson Building

Leeds University Parkinson Building

The post is notable for its heated tone and the dehumanising way in which it describes the Jewish chaplain. ‘This creep, that’s the only way I can describe him, is someone who went from Leeds to Israel to kill children and women and everyone else over there,’ it begins, neatly ignoring the fact that Deutsch went to Israel because he was legally required to.

Ali continues his message by branding the chaplain an ‘animal’ (a rhetorical trick once commonly used by Nazi propagandists), saying ‘We [Muslims] are treated as second-class citizens and Leeds University is violating safeguarding standards. You should be protecting people. You should be protecting students from this kind of animal, because if he’s willing to kill people over there, how do you know he’s not going to kill your students over here?’

In an increasingly frenzied tirade, the video adds that Deutsch is ‘someone who’s been sending videos while he’s been out massacring people’ (there is no evidence that Deutsch killed anyone) before concluding that the ‘far right radical’ is ‘radicalising students,’ meaning that ‘Leeds University should dismiss him urgently. He’s absolutely disgusting. He’s shameful.’

Of course, viewers swiftly took the bait. On TikTok there were 340 comments about the video, some of them virulently anti-Semitic. ‘He’s a terrorist, psychopath and paedo,’ reads one. ‘Zio lunatics pathetic savages beastly f***s always ugly deranged f***s they need to be put in nutters asylum or concentration camps,’ goes another. ‘I am beginning to believe the Holocaust is a myth, we seeing the lies and propaganda,’ said a third commentator.

A poster at the University

A poster at the University

A fourth, propagating the so-called ‘blood libel’ that Jews use the blood of the children of Gentiles in religious rituals, declared: ‘The body snatchers are at it again.’

It was a couple of hours after the video appeared that death threats began to be made to Rabbi Deutsch and his wife, whose phone numbers were listed on the website of the university’s chaplaincy.

Does Mr Ali care? Apparently not. He did nothing to discourage or delete the anti-Semitic remarks from the comments section of his social media site.

And when the Mail reached him yesterday, he claimed instead to be a victim, saying: ‘I have received hundreds of death threats from those on the far right and supporters of what the Israeli government is doing, many of which have been reported to the police. I understand very well the emotional turmoil threats of violence can have and would not wish that on others… the video in question has absolutely nothing to do with violence.’

Jewish groups disagree. A spokesman for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: ‘This sort of rhetoric and the reaction that it elicited shows how dangerous social media can become. Mothin Ali’s baseless and inflammatory accusations and the anti-semitic vitriol in the comments to his video have surely contributed to the climate that forced the Rabbi and his family into hiding.’

The Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitic hate crime, tells me: ‘The language is clearly divisive, inflammatory and hateful. It isn’t something any political candidate should be saying.’

As for the Green Party, they have issued a remarkably tin-eared statement which neglected to offer even the slightest regret for the nature of their candidate’s online video.

‘The Green Party believes in free speech and peaceful protests, and would never support actions that result in violence against individuals or their families,’ it read.

‘We recognise that the International Court Of Justice is investigating allegations of genocide against Israel for its action in Gaza. The UK Government has made itself complicit in the killing of almost 28,000 people to date, 12,000 of whom are children. We believe that an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages and increased humanitarian aid are essential.’

Sympathy for Rabbi Deutsch and his wife, who were the subject of such appalling death threats, came there none.

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