‘Not in Britain’ – Sunak condemns antisemitism in the UK
JTA – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that his government’s support for Israel was “unequivocal” in an address at a synagogue on Monday, 9 October, as Britain’s Jewish community counted its dead and missing from Hamas’ attacks on Israel and protesters clashed at a pro-Palestinian rally in London.
British leaders from across the political spectrum issued an almost unanimous declaration of support for Israel on Monday, capped by Sunak’s attendance at a service at the Finchley United Synagogue in North London.
“I’m unequivocal,” Sunak told a packed audience. “There aren’t two sides to these events. There’s no question of balance. I stand with Israel. We stand with Israel. The United Kingdom stands with Israel.”
There are believed to be more than 10 British Jews dead or missing from the Hamas raids on towns near the Gaza Strip, including 20-year-old Nathanel Young, who was killed while serving with the Israeli military on Saturday.
There are thought to be between 50 000 to 60 000 Britons and dual nationals living in Israel and Gaza.
Sunak had earlier told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that London was prepared to provide Israel with “diplomatic, intelligence, or security support” to meet the challenge posted by Hamas.
Also among those thought to have been killed are photographer Danny Darlington, who went into hiding in a bunker in Nir Oz, a kibbutz near the frontier with Gaza.
Another British-Jewish man, Jack Marlowe, had been providing security at the music festival near Kibbutz Re’im that came under attack from Hamas. He hasn’t been heard from since.
The Palace of Westminster, home to the British parliament, was lit up in Israeli colours on Monday night, along with the building that houses the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Number 10 Downing Street had had an Israeli flag beamed onto its walls on Sunday evening.
Thousands gathered for demonstrations in London starting on Monday afternoon. About 5 000 people attended a vigil near 10 Downing Street in memory of those killed in the attacks. Thousands of Israelis and British Jews were joined by senior politicians from Britain’s three main political parties.
United Kingdom Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis told the gathering that the “message of the Jews of the diaspora” was that “your fate is our fate, your destiny is our destiny”.
Mirvis was followed by senior Conservative politicians including Tom Tugendhat, Robert Jenrick, and Iain Duncan Smith, as well as the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, and Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy of the Labour Party.
Lammy said there could be “no mincing of words with terror” and invoked Moses as he demanded that Hamas release British and Israeli hostages.
In West London, outside the Israeli embassy, thousands attended a demonstration condemning Israel. Protesters blocked the main road that runs alongside Hyde Park as demonstrators let off fireworks and flares amid a thicket of placards and Palestinian flags.
Some protesters clashed with pro-Israel counter-demonstraters at the entrance to the nearby High Street Kensington underground station before they were separated by police.
Addressing concerns from within the Jewish community about antisemitism and violence towards the community, Sunak told those gathered in North London, “We have already seen vile words on our streets and efforts to stir up tensions. I say, ‘Not here. Not in Britain.’”