Parents of nursery and primary pupils are being targeted by a group of right-wing, anti-semitic fanatics in a sophisticated dirty-tricks campaign.
Schools were warned this week that parents may receive forged letters in the schools' names containing scaremongering anti-Jewish propaganda. The group of former National Front members are spreading an updated version of the ancient "blood slander" claim (that Orthodox Jews abduct and murder gentile children).
A leaflet circulating in schools in London, Manchester and other towns with sizeable Jewish communities is headed: "Avoid Orthodox Jews - Child Ritual Murder Outbreak Feared". It warns parents that they are in a "danger zone" if they live near a synagogue. Police have alerted education departments, describing the leaflet as "a particularly nasty document".
Michael Whine, a Jewish Board of Deputies expert on anti-semitic activities, says that the group, which has in the past tried to circulate other racist literature in schools, has been developing increasingly sophisticated techniques including forging letter-heads. Neighbours of one Jewish school in north London received a forged letter purporting to come from the headteacher which alleged that he had suspended one of his staff for molesting pupils.
"If primary parents start getting what look like warnings from their schools that their children are at risk it is bound to cause a lot of distress and panic, however bizarre the allegation," says Mr Whine. "It is particularly important that schools make sure that parents' names and addresses don't get into the wrong hands."