Over 4,500 people thronged the streets of London outside the Royal Courts of Justice today to protest about the rise of anti-Semitism on the streets. The attendees carried banners reading “zero tolerance for antisemitism” and “prosecute hate before it’s too late” as they listened to speakers including Chief Rabbi Mirvis, Maajid Nawaz from the Quilliam Foundation, and Douglas Murray.
It was organised by the group Campaign Against Antisemitism UK, who describe themselves as “a network of activists committed to countering the rising tide of antisemitism spreading throughout the UK and Europe.”Advertising the event on their Facebook page, the campaigners explained the need for the rally:
“We have all been having dinner table conversations about “the situation”. We worry together about the rise in antisemitism and commiserate: “It’s terrifying, isn’t it?” People are even wondering aloud whether the UK, our country, where we are rooted, is a safe place for Jews to bring up children.
“Yes, there is a rising tide of antisemitism and yes, it is terrifying, but it will only get worse unless we stand up for ourselves. You must have asked yourself whether you are content to worry quietly, or whether you are willing to stand and do something – go to protests, write letters, report antisemites to the Police. One of your responses to that question was to ‘like’ our page. Now it’s time to ask the others around the dinner table.
“When people tweet “Hitler was right” or chant “We are all Hamas”, it is they who should be afraid of our laws, not us of their mob justice. Already we have gained the attention of some key politicians. We must speak with one voice and call for zero tolerance. A small demonstration just won’t cut it.
“We must stand together to turn the tide.”
Supporters took to Twitter and Facebook to report that an estimated 4,500 people were in attendance. Photos posted on the social networking sites show a good natured crowd peacefully waving British flags and ‘zero tolerance for antisemitism’ banners.
There appears to have been very little by way of counterprotest, although one photograph on Twitter shows a lone person holding an image of Israeli Prime Minister Netenyahu as the devil, with the caption “Child killer – hang him – murderer”.
Breitbart London contacted one of the organisers, Jonathan Sacerdoti, to ask how the rally had come about and why he thought it was necessary. He described the inception of the group Campaign Against Antisemitism as a grassroots campaign that sprung up one month ago in response to the cancellation of the Jewish Film Festival at the Tricycle Theatre.
“What today’s rally has shown is that we have reached a tipping point. No longer are Jewish people willing to keep their head down and stay quiet and hope that the rise in anti-Semitism will go away”, he said.
“In the past British Jews have been afraid to speak out for fear of what might happen – for fear of being attacked personally. But when you allow antisemitism to go unchallenged, these things build and build until that tipping point is reached.
“Jews are demanding the same rights of protection from attack as all British citizens have under the law, which is sufficient. We don’t need new laws. But when a person stands on a British street with a sign that reads ‘Hitler was right’, they shouldn’t be free to simply go home again afterwards.”
Speaking at the event, Douglas Murray, Associate Director at the Henry Jackson Society urged those present to get involved with politics in a number of ways to ensure that anti-Semitism didn’t become a “fringe issue”. He urged the crowd to write to their MP to highlight the problem, to get involved in political parties, and, slightly more controversially, to hold their community leaders to account for not doing more, saying:
“Antisemitism is not only a problem for Jews. It is a problem for Jews first, but it is always a problem for everybody.
“Please demand more from your communal leadership. If you’re going to have a communal leadership, expect more of them. Demand more of them. Don’t wait weeks and weeks for people to have to take the initiative for a day like this themselves.”
Continuing with his theme of positive steps that people can take, he stressed the most important in his opinion: something that everyone can do at all times, which was to: “help to stop the lies.”
“When it becomes acceptable discourse for people to say that Israel is committing a genocide instead of the most targeted military campaign against a terrorist group that history has ever seen; when you allow that to go on you are feeding the lies. When people say that Israel is an illegitimate state and you allow it to go by you are feeding the lies. When people say that Israel is committing war crimes and people remain silent you are helping to feed the lies. And when we hear people saying today in London including allegedly responsible political leaders and Members of Parliament that Israel is engaged in some kind of holocaust we know what they are doing. We know that their aim is not just to lie and to defame Israel, but to be as offensive and offending as they can be towards Jewish people everywhere.”
He finished by paying tribute to the organisers, saying “This is a campaign that should never have been necessary again.”