“The Jewish Question”. Masha Slonim – on the reaction of British politicians to the terrorist attack in Israel

The Hamas attack on Israel and the conflict that erupted with renewed vigor as a result of the terrorists' massacre in London was marked in London by mourning rallies of solidarity with Israel on the one hand and aggressive ones by those who came out in support of Palestine.

Masha Slonim
Masha Slonim

Not only Israelis and British Jews gathered outside the Palace of Westminster, but also leading politicians from all major UK parties. They expressed solidarity with Israel and harshly condemned the terrorist attack by Hamas terrorists. The Prime Minister expressed support for Israel and condolences to the British Jewish community as he arrived at a mourning gathering in north London. King Charles III also sharply condemned the Palestinian actions, calling the attack a “barbaric terrorist attack.” On Thursday, October 12, he hosted Britain’s Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis at Buckingham Palace to discuss the events of recent days.

But by no means everyone in Britain supported Israel. In front of the Israeli embassy in London, thousands of those who not only condemned Israel, but clearly cheered the bloody attack by Hamas terrorists also gathered. The protesters set off firecrackers, waved Palestinian flags and placards reading “Israel is a terrorist state” and the favorite slogan of terrorists demanding Israel be wiped off the map, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” In the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack, it is said that in some places in London, joyful tunes could be heard coming from passing cars.

Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the UK (and here supporting demands for the destruction of Israel as a state is considered anti-Semitism) are, alas, not uncommon. Cases of anti-Semitic antics are precisely related to the conflicts between Israel and Palestine. For example, according to CST (Jewish Community Security Organization), an organization that records such cases, there has been a threefold increase in the number of cases since the May 2021 conflict, compared to the previous year. That year, the organization recorded 2,255 incidents, including verbal abuse, as well as 173 assaults involving brute physical force. So far, the exact statistics of such incidents already after the October 7 Hamas attack are unknown, but the CST, which keeps statistics and ensures the safety of Britain’s Jewish population, said it noticed new outbreaks of domestic anti-Semitism and attacks on members of the Jewish community and Jewish-owned property immediately after the October bloody events in Israel.

London police are promising to increase patrols in “key areas of London” and Rishi Sunak told a meeting with concerned members of the Jewish community: “Yes, we have already noticed the appearance of disgusting signs on our streets, and attempts to provoke conflicts and clashes. But what I want to say is this: “We will not allow it, there is no place for it in Britain. We will not tolerate anti-Semitism in our country, and I will do everything I can to keep you safe!”

But in the same days that the Prime Minister was delivering those words, and then the Labor Party leader was harshly condemning terrorists and expressing words of support for Israel, very close to where the convention was being held, Palestinian supporters were holding anti-Israel rallies, waving Palestinian flags and shouting curses at Israel.

The British left shy away from the word “anti-Semitism”. They insist that they have nothing against Jews, but simply defend the rights of Palestinians and oppose the “apartheid” organized by Israel. This is what the many friends of Palestine in university circles – and there are many of them, not only among students, but also among professors – say.This is how former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who paid the price for his anti-Semitism and who was eventually forced to resign after Labour suffered a crushing defeat in the last parliamentary elections, always explained his position. Many attribute Labor’s failure in the elections to the party’s stance on the “Jewish question”.

Jeremy Corbyn continues to insist that he is merely defending Palestine, but when asked by reporters whether he condemns the Hamas massacre on the border with Israel, he refused to answer. Meanwhile, it is the defense of Palestinian “rights” that very often results in attacks on Jewish stores, synagogues and schools, while the defenders of Palestine fail to condemn such manifestations of domestic anti-Semitism.

Jeremy Corbyn, like some current members of the “left” wing of the Labor Party, continues to be a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. While there are no proven links between the organization and Hamas, one of Corbyn’s associates, Hugh Lanning, a major trade unionist who headed the organization in the past, is known to have had close ties to Hezbollah, for which he was once denied entry to Israel. And Corbyn himself, justifying the fact that he had invited “friends,” as he put it, from Hezbollah and Hamas to one of the rallies in defense of Palestine, said that the British government, in calling Hamas a terrorist organization, was “making a huge historical mistake.”

About who made the “historical mistake” we saw once again the other day.

Home Secretary Suela Braverman said after London rallies and speeches in support of the Hamas terrorist attack that the use of Palestinian flags and symbols on the streets of British cities could be considered illegal in certain cases. The ban, she explained, can be enforced when flags and symbols are used to incite racial and ethnic strife.

Banning the symbols of terrorist organizations and Israel’s understandable intention to destroy Hamas will not, alas, eradicate the slumbering anti-Semitism that has existed in the world for centuries.

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: