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The Jewish Report Editorial

Our choreography for dealing with adversity

  • JNF - Tu B'shvat
Some of the recent news about anti-Semitism from the United Kingdom is not easy to digest. Figures released last Friday by London’s Metropolitan Police show that anti-Semitic crimes rose last year by 138 per cent, from 208 incidents in 2013 to 495 in 2014
by VANESSA VALKIN | Jul 08, 2015

Then last week graffiti was found on the gates of the Simon Marks Primary School in the east London borough of Hackney which read: “F*ck the Jews”.

A month ago, the London community got wind of a planned “neo-Nazi” rally to be held in the heavily Jewish area of Golders Green on Shabbat of July 4, to protest against its “Jewification”. This followed a demonstration by a handful of protesters in the Stamford Hill area in April also fighting against the “Jewification of Britain” which was orchestrated by neo-Nazi blogger Joshua Bonehill-Pane.

But British Jewry did not stand idly by and they should be commended for how they dealt with last Saturday’s march.

Finchley and Golders Green Member of Parliament Mike Freer, unsuccessfully tried to convince the Home Office (the government department for immigration, crime, and policing) to ban the protest as “a deliberate attempt to provoke tension and anti-Semitism”. The Metro Police said they did not have the right to ban a demonstration and were obligated to protect free speech.

As a result, a coalition of key organisations, including the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the London Jewish Forum, and the pluralistic, anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate banded together as a group called Golders Green Together. They passed out leaflets, lobbied British members of parliament and the police, and asked local shops to display gold and green banners and ribbons as a symbol of defiance.

Through their efforts, the rally was moved to central London. Many believed that if the rally had taken place in Golders Green, thousands of counter-protesters would have converged and chaos would have erupted. Bonehill-Pane, who had a hand in touting the Golders Green rally, was also charged with inciting racial hatred.

The result was a tiny gathering of 20 alleged neo-Nazis escorted by a lot more police officers and an estimated 200 counter-protesters. The counter-protesters who were not only Jewish, yelled slogans such as “Nazis off our streets” and “We are black, white, Asian and we’re Jews, and there’s many more of us than you”.

The protesters waved Palestinian and Confederate flags, as well as White Pride banners. At the end of the protest, the 20 or so “neo-Nazis” were escorted to Westminster Tube Station by police officers; no violence broke out and it was a non-event.

London’s Jewish community should be proud. They gathered the high level support they needed to minimise any negative impact and they stood up to the protesters in much greater numbers. It was “very British” and very dignified.

Anti-Semitic marches in South Africa have taken on a different hue. We have not had to deal with a neo-Nazi rally in our city centre but we have also faced the red and green of the Palestinian flag at various Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions rallies and at Israel Apartheid Weeks where phrases such as “Shoot the Jew” were heard.

Luckily our community organisations would make us proud too. The quality of our community structures and the cordial relationships our leadership maintains with government has already proven that we too can cope with anti-Semitism when it arises.

There is a lot within our wonderful and troubled South Africa that works in our favour. Our exceptional constitution which can be called upon when necessary, our visceral commitment to the protection of human rights, the humane way the Jewish community has interacted with other groups, particularly when they are under threat, are all part of the much needed fabric that protect us.

2 Comments

  1. 2 Gary Selikow 09 Jul
    Hope not Hate is not a 'pluralistic, anti-fascist group ' it is a far left orgnization that is anti-Israel and supports muyslim extremists and is linked to George Galloway's RESPECT PARTY.
    The board of Deputies and Hope not Hate removed and destroyed Israeli flags at the Jewish anti-Nazi ralley so that muslims would not be offended.
    It supports muslim child grooming gangs
    It is worth noting half of the Neo-Nazi protestors were Poles and not English
  2. 1 nat cheiman 12 Jul
    BDS and Palestinians in the form of Hamas are worse than Nazis. Remember to NEVER FORGET the Holocaust.
    Hamas , Hezbollah , Isis etc etc want to perfect what the Nazis failed to do.
    Europe , including Britain, will feel what its like to be marginalized in years to come, by the very people they are letting in. The migrants.

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