Annti-Semitism stalks the streets of Britain. Does Labour bear responsibility?

Published date17 May 2021
Publication titleIsrael National News (Israel)
This is how the sequence of events unfolded. On Saturday, a large demonstration against Israel took place in Kensington High Street. The organisers boasted that 150,000 took part — far too many to gather safely in such a confined space; they could have stayed in Hyde Park but their target was the Israeli Embassy. Some of the protesters were evidently intent on violence and nine officers were injured, mostly by missiles thrown at them. Some climbed up scaffolding on nearby buildings, ignoring police warnings. But for the large police presence, an assault on the Embassy might well have taken place. The atmosphere was menacing rather than peaceful. A video of protesters shouting anti-Semitic abuse was described by Michael Gove as "deeply concerning".

Similar pro-Palestinian rallies took place across the UK and Ireland. The one in London was addressed by the former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and former Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott. Both were calling for Israel to stop bombing Gaza; neither said anything about the reason for those airstrikes: nearly 3,000 rockets fired by Hamas at Israeli cities. But these tribunes of the Left did not stop at calling for a ceasefire — they demanded an end to "the occupation" and "the settlements". These words are ambiguous: many advocates of "Palestine" see the whole of Israel as an "illegal" settlement that has occupied "their" land since 1948. They certainly don't accept the jurisdiction of Israeli courts over Palestinians. The adjudication of a long-running private landowner dispute in East Jerusalem, which has been appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, was the pretext for the violent protest on Temple Mount that led to police entering the al-Aqsa mosque. That in turn led to violence in mixed Jewish and Arab communities elsewhere in Israel and gave Hamas a casus belli. Among the organisers of the rally in London are the "Friends of al-Aqsa".

Inconveniently for them, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, so the speakers condemned the "siege" rather than "occupation" of Gaza. But they know that no Israeli government will withdraw from Jerusalem or the Golan, which were annexed decades ago. Their demand amounts to a call for endless conflict. None of these Left-wing anti-Zionists acknowledged the legitimacy of the Jewish State, because they do not accept its existence. Like Hamas, they see a return to the 1967 borders as merely the first step to the destruction of what they see as a "colonial settler state"...

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