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Jewish residents ‘isolated and scared’ after ‘antisemitic’ graffiti spotted in Dersingham

Jewish residents have been left feeling isolated and scared after the appearance of “antisemitic” graffiti in a West Norfolk village.

The spray-painted words, reading ‘FREE PAL RIVER TO SEA’, were scrawled across fencing in Dersingham, close to the Central Co-op Food store on Lynn Road.

Norfolk Police has confirmed that it is aware of the “religiously aggravated criminal damage”, and is urging anyone with information about the incident to come forward.

Police are investigating the graffiti in Dersingham, which appeared earlier this week. Picture: Nathan Mitchell
Police are investigating the graffiti in Dersingham, which appeared earlier this week. Picture: Nathan Mitchell

The phrase “from the river to the sea” is a controversial one. It refers to the land known as Palestine between the Jordan River, which borders eastern Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea to the west.

Some argue the words call for the genocide of Jewish people, with terrorist organisation Hamas claiming the slogan.

However, others say the phrase is simply calling for Palestinians to be allowed to live as free citizens, under no control from others.

The appearance of the graffiti in Dersingham, however, has shocked many residents.

Nathan Mitchell, 26, who lives in the village, spotted the message while driving to work early on Wednesday morning. He alerted staff inside the Central Co-op store.

“I sort of had a double take at first. I couldn’t quite believe what I saw,” he told the Lynn News.

“I see it as an antisemitic comment. I think a lot of people don’t understand what it means.

“I take it to mean the eradication of Jews in Israel. Everyone I have spoken to was in absolute shock.”

Mr Mitchell said to see the message in West Norfolk, rather than a large city like London, came as a surprise.

His comments were echoed by a member of the Jewish community who lives in Dersingham, who spoke to the Lynn News but wished to remain anonymous.

She described the graffiti as “antisemitic hate”, and said: “I think personally it is extremely shocking because it is making people from Jewish backgrounds scared to go through certain places.”

The woman said she believes the message calls for the “extermination of all Jews”, and that it has been “extremely isolating and scary” since she found out about it.

“Norfolk is like a safe haven, and now I can’t drive my children through certain areas because they will see that certain people want them exterminated,” she added.

West Norfolk Council confirmed that the graffiti was removed after its street clean-up team received permission from the owner of the fence.

A Norfolk Police spokesperson said the incident is believed to have occurred between 9pm on Tuesday and 7am on Wednesday. Officers’ enquiries are ongoing.

“Police are aware of an incident of religiously aggravated criminal damage in Dersingham where graffiti has been sprayed onto fencing on Lynn Road,” they said.

“Officers would like to hear from anyone who may have witnessed the incident.”

Anyone with any information has been asked to get in contact quoting crime reference 36/10425/24:

They can phone 101, visit https://www.norfolk.police.uk/tell-us or email SNTDersinghamandGayton@norfolk.police.uk

People can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

It has emerged this week that reports of antisemitic incidents in the UK reached a record high last year, according to figures from The Community Security Trust.

It said it recorded 4,103 anti-Jewish hate incidents in 2023. This was an increase from 1,662 in 2022 and nearly double the previous record of 2,255 in 2021.

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