March against antisemitism: never again is now!

Author Ekaterina Dudakova
Category Culture, People, Town
Date December 5 2023
Reading Time 2 min.

March against antisemitism: never again is now!

Tens of thousands of people marched through central London to protest against antisemitism recently. Organisers estimated that more than 100,000 people took part in the first march of its kind since the war between Israel and Hamas began, including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The rally took place against the backdrop of a sharp rise in hate crimes against the capital’s Jewish community.

©Anna Katz-Gluhovsky

Demonstrators marched from Temple through Strand, Trafalgar Square and Whitehall to Westminster. The posters read: “Zero tolerance for anti-Semites”, “Shoulder to shoulder with British Jews”, “Never again is now”. People chanted: “Bring them home!”

©Anna Katz-Gluhovsky

At the Parliament Square, Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvistold the crowd that British Jews “will not be intimidated.” “Antisemitic crimes have increased by 1,000%: 70% of Jews feel they need to hide their identity and 90% say they avoid the city when there are anti-Israel demonstrations. We stand here to demand respect for the rule of law. Take action against hatred before it’s too late! We, the United Kingdom, unite against antisemitism!” one of the activists said at the rally. In addition to speeches, traditional Jewish music was played during the action, and participants sang along. Many took children and even dogs with them.

©Anna Katz-Gluhovsky

The Campaign Against Antisemitism estimates the march will be the largest gathering of its kind since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when British Union of Fascists supporters were prevented from marching through east London, an area with a high Jewish population at the time.

Other recognisable faces at the rally included Robert Rinder, Countdown host Rachel Riley and actors Tracey-Ann Oberman and Maureen Lipman. Among the political figures, in addition to Boris Johnson, Security Minister Tom Tugenhadt and Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick were present.

©Ekaterina Dudakova

The march was met in Trafalgar Square by a small group of anti-Zionist Jews, with police standing around to ensure their safety. They held a Palestinian flag and shouted: “We condemn Israel and demand an end to the atrocities committed against the Palestinian people!” At this time, some demonstrators left the march, approached the group, the situation began to escalate… “Scum!”, “Shame on you!”, “You are not Jews!”, and rushed towards the protesters. Fortunately, no physical confrontations occurred. Further along Whitehall stood a group of Ukrainian protesters, whom many demonstrators greeted with applause.

One marcher told LC: “It is very important that we come and show solidarity with the Jewish people and Israel. It is very important for the community to unite because since October 7th the Jewish people in London have been living in fear. That’s why I stand in solidarity and am here. I’m not Jewish, but I support all these people.”

©Anna Katz-Gluhovsky

March volunteer Thomas also considers it important to attend the rally: “My family are Jewish refugees from National Socialism, and it is important for us to express our concern about the rise of antisemitism in the country. There are also a lot of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic attacks, which is obviously a cause for concern. The point is that this whole situation should be a warning sign for people.”

©Anna Katz-Gluhovsky

A demonstrator carrying a Pride flag with a Star of David cut out in the centre said the march would help “people to become aware on the fact that Israel is a country with good people and better understand what is happening there. I want to raise awareness.”

©Anna Katz-Gluhovsky

From October 1 to November 1, London police received 554 reports of antisemitic crimes, compared with 44 in the same period last year, reports the BBC.

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