Anti-Semitism should have no place in the pro-Palestinian movement

It’s up to all pro-Palestinian campaigners to stamp out any anti-Semitic sentiments when they see them.

It’s up to all pro-Palestinian campaigners to stamp out any anti-Semitic sentiments when they see them

70 attacks have been reported on Jews in the UK since the Israeli war on Gaza began on July 8, two thirds of which are directly related to the conflict.

It goes without saying that this is an incredibly worrying trend. And as the Palestinian death toll mounts past a thousand, it appears to be spreading.

I was on the Stop the War demonstration in London on Saturday. It was huge (between 50,000-100,000), and it was peaceful. It was also incredibly diverse, with Jews for Justice for Palestinians marching alongside Muslims, students and peace campaigners.

But there were some disturbing sentiments expressed on banners and placards. I saw the flag of Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese Islamist party classified as a terrorist organisation in many countries. Other marchers reported seeing placards saying ‘Research: The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’, the famous anti-Semitic conspiracy document, with a Star of David dripping in blood.

When confronted, the Jewish pro-Palestinian was hurled with abuse such as ‘Jews are the problem. If you’re a Jew, you’re racist, you’re what we’re demonstrating against’. There were also pretty horrifying Nazi allusions, including signs saying ‘Hitler you were right’. And chants from ‘No justice, no peace’ seemed to try to legitimise anti-Israel violence, at a time when an immediate end to hostilities needs to be the priority.

Daniel Randall writes:

“While outward displays of “classical” anti-Semitism are rare, subtler themes are more common. Placards and banners comparing the Israeli state to Nazism, and its occupation of Palestine to the Holocaust, and images melding or replacing the Star of David with swastikas, are, while far from universal, relatively commonplace. The politics of this imagery, too, has an anti-Semitic logic.”

The Muslim Council of Britain has rightly condemned all such imagery, as well as the incidents which have doubled in recent weeks.

The Community Security Trust also reports violence against Jews and Jewish buildings not at the march, including a brick thrown at the window of a synagogue in Belfast. Much of the non-violent incidents have occurred on Twitter, including the #HitlerWasRight hashtag which gained some following. Such actions represent the politics of the far-right – similar to the surge in anti-Muslim hate crime following the killing of Lee Rigby – and have no place in a progressive movement.

Now the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism are to launch a report into the spread of these hate attacks. But it’s up to all pro-Palestinian campaigners to stamp out any anti-Semitic sentiments when they see them – we must be vigilant in confronting it at all times.

Jews and Muslims must be able to demonstrate arm in arm against the war on Gaza – the movement for peace and human rights is nothing if it is not tolerant. It is especially nothing if it is not peaceful or respectful of human rights.

Follow Josiah Mortimer on Twitter

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.