The leader of a charity dedicated to eliminating antisemitism in Britain has spoken of it coming “out of the woodwork” in the wake of the latest upsurge of violence in the Middle East and being directed against Jewish Londoners, including at recent pro-Palestine demonstrations in the capital.
Speaking on the BBC’s Politics London programme yesterday, Mark Gardner (pictured), chief executive of the Community Security Trust (CST), described as “just awful” the “human impact” of recent manifestations of racism against Jews in the capital and elsewhere.
“People’s neighbours are turning on them, people’s work colleagues are turning on them,” he said. “In our office we’re receiving calls all day long from parents who are too afraid to have their children go to school and from children who have suffered antisemitism in their playgrounds and also on social media,” he added. This included from other children they had believed were their friends turning on them “because of a conflict in the Middle East that these children have no responsibility for.”
There have been sharp increases in antisemitic incidents recorded by CST and reports of placards expressing anti-Jewish hate, references to Nazis and displays of swastikas at Saturday’s march from Victoria Embankment and rally at Hyde Park organised by the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.
Four men have been arrested on suspicion of racially-aggravated public order offences after video footage appeared the previous weekend showing violent antisemitic language being shouted from a group of cars driving through parts of north London where many Jewish Londoners live.
Gardner praised support Jews have received from politicians, including Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Labour leader Keir Starmer, but criticised politicians on the left who, he said, “call themselves anti-racist, who support Black Lives Matter and all manner of other causes” but “are literally stood on stages making speeches, looking out at swastikas”.
Among those who spoke at Saturday’s event were former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell.
Politics London also heard from Golders Green senior rabbi Harvey Belovski, who said, “people are genuinely distressed that these kinds of things have happened in what is a safe, pleasant area, where co-existence of people of all faiths and none is just the norm.”
He told the programme Jews are “not cowed by this type of horrible behaviour and we carry on our business as usual, although of course we have to be much more watchful.” He added that “on the right and on the left of the political spectrum antisemitism has reared its head and in fact is growing.”
Dave Hill: Community leader describes ‘awful human impact’ on London’s Jews of rise in antisemitism