Jewish university chaplain forced into hiding after receiving hundreds of death threats against him and his family over his role as IDF reservist
- Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch was forced to flee his Leeds home with his children
A chaplain at Leeds University was forced into hiding with his young family yesterday after receiving death threats over his role as an IDF reservist.
Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch, wife Nava and their two children were moved to safety on police advice amid a shocking hate campaign.
Pro-Palestinian campaigners accused Rabbi Deutsch of ‘genocide’ after he returned to Israel following Hamas’s October 7 terror attacks to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces.
He resumed his chaplaincy duties last month, leading to an escalation in anti-Semitic threats on campus.
On Thursday evening, the hate campaign intensified with ‘hundreds’ of malicious calls to the family, including threats to kill Rabbi Deutsch, to rape and kill Mrs Deutsch and to kill their children.
Rabbi Zecharia Deutsch with his wife Nava. The pair were forced to flee their Leeds home with their children after the threats
Rabbi Deutsch was accused of ‘genocide’ after he returned to Israel after Hamas’s October 7 terror attacks to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (stock photo)
A Jewish building at the University of Leeds (stock photo) was also vandalized with ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘IDF off campus’ slogans
In a recording of one phone call to Mrs Deutsch – heard by the Mail – the caller said: ‘Tell that Jewish bitch we’re coming for him.
“We’re coming to his house, we’re going to kill him, and you too you fucking racist bitch.”
Another caller said: ‘We Muslims are coming for you, you dirty Zionist mp*********.’
Another said: ‘We’re going to get you. How dare you come back to Leeds and expect the Muslims not to ‘owt when all you’ve done a lot is kill innocent children?’
The Deutsch family decided to leave their Leeds home after taking police advice, sources said.
It comes amid rising levels of anti-Semitism on UK university campuses and across Europe.
The University Jewish Chaplaincy (UJC) said: ‘We are deeply shocked and appalled by the despicable barrage of appalling anti-Semitic hatred and threats of violence directed at Rabbi Deutsch and his family.
“We are in constant communication with Rabbi Deutsch, and our primary concern is to ensure his and his family’s ongoing safety and the safety of Jewish students at Leeds University.
‘To find ourselves in this situation in the UK in 2024 is a dark day for British Jews.’
Jewish students have alleged abuse on campus amid an ‘unacceptable’ rise in anti-Semitism at UK universities. Photo shows a poster with a swastika in place of the Star of David on the flag of Israel at Royal Holloway, University of London
Activists from Glasgow University are demanding this month that investments linked to the arming of the Israeli Defense Force be halted
Claudia Mendoza of the Jewish Leadership Council said: ‘What we have seen is truly shocking.
‘Campus is a cesspool of anti-Semitism with unprecedented abuse directed at students and the Jewish chaplain in Leeds. If we ignore it because it is “only” the Jews, we will regret what this country has become.’
A Jewish building at the University of Leeds was also vandalized with ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘IDF off campus’ slogans. Separately, a demonstration calling for the rabbi’s removal was held in the city yesterday, organized by the Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Leeds Socialist Worker Student Society.
Leeds University said of the vandalism: ‘We are deeply saddened that our Jewish community appears to have been targeted by this criminal act. The university takes incidents of this nature extremely seriously and the safety and welfare of our students and staff is our number 1 priority.
‘We recognize that students and staff across our community have been deeply affected by the ongoing conflict in Israel and Gaza, and will continue to offer support.
‘We are working with the police and the property owners as they investigate this incident, and have supported the UJC in quickly cleaning and painting the property.
West Yorkshire Police said: ‘Police in Leeds are investigating following a report of threats against a man. Officers spoke to the victim and protective measures were put in place.’