Anti-Semitic and neo-Nazi groups have been using social media to promote a demonstration “against Jewish privilege” in London. In a deliberately provocative move, the rally is scheduled to take place at Golders Green, the heart of London’s biggest Jewish community, on the first Saturday in July.
Jewish community leaders from the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the London Jewish Forum have asked that Home Secretary Theresa May ban the event, but a Met police spokesman told Jewish News that they have no powers to ban a static demonstration, in fact they must safeguard the right to protest.
Speaking to The Guardian the recently re-elected Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, said he had also asked that the Home Office ban the event, noting: “The rally is not about free speech but a deliberate attempt to provoke tension and anti-Semitism”.
Simon Johnson, chief exec of the Jewish Leadership Council, told the Standard :
“It follows a smaller demo in Stamford Hill a few weeks ago that was quite pathetic and largely ignored – but the difficulty is this one has the potential to really intimidate the community. The one in Stamford Hill had about 30 people. It could be that this one has a similar, small, pathetic number – but it might not because they’re generating some publicity.”
The Community Security Trust (CST), a charity set up to protect British Jews from anti-Semitism and related threats, has urged the “community to stand firm and not be cowed or intimidated.” It continued:
“Neo-Nazism is reviled by all other sections of society. If they come to Golders Green, then it will be an opportunity for Jews and non-Jews alike to stress their united values and their utter rejection of racism and anti-Semitism.
“It is not CST’s role to organise counter-demonstrations, but we will gladly secure any that should occur, just as we have done on many previous occasions. Similarly, we will help to facilitate any counter-demonstration discussions that need to be held with Police, the local council and others. One such counter-demonstration has already been called by Campaign Against Antisemitism .”
Police have warned both sides against allowing a passionate response to become violent, saying that they would take appropriate action in the face of disorder, crime and incitement to hatred.