The Jews of London are preparing to face a Nazi provocation of extraordinary proportions on the first Sabbath of next month.
But at least some British Members of Parliament are issuing a call to action to protect them in the face of the upcoming neo-Nazi rally set for July 4.
Inexplicably, despite numerous requests from Jewish residents, the British government is allowing the neo-Nazis to march on that date through the prominent northwest London Jewish neighborhood of Golders Green.
MPs led by Hampstead and Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq have signed an early day motion praising a campaign to ban the rally, The Jewish Chronicle reported Wednesday (June 24.) The motion was cosponsored by fellow Labour Mps Sadiq Khan, Wes Streeting and Ruth Smeeth, as well as Conservative MP Peter Bottomley. The group also called on Home Secretary Theresa May to take action to stop the rally.
“That this house notes with concern the planned neo-Nazi demonstration in Golders Green on 4th July; highlights that this rally is due to take place on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, in an area in which 40 percent of the population is Jewish; praises the public activism in opposition to the rally – and particularly the Change.org petition to ban it, and the work of Hope Not Hate and the London Jewish Forum, under the umbrella of the Golders Green Together campaign, to promote solidarity and celebrate diversity in the local area; believes that every measure should be taken to protect Golders Green’s vibrant community from provocation and abuse, and calls on the Home Secretary to consider what further actions the government could take to isolate the politics of hate and division on our streets.”
Self-described fascist Joshua Bonehill, who is leading the group, has announced the event will feature “Jewish book burning and Jewish flag destruction” to protest “Jewish privilege.”
Golders Green is home to a diverse population of thousands of Jews from across the spectrum: Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and hareidi. All live together in a neighborhood where they can access the cultural trappings of Jewish life and which are now entirely unavailable anywhere else in London. Kosher food, for instance, can no longer be found at all outside of Jewish enclaves; nor can one find Jewish book shops, synagogues or mikvahs elsewhere.
A recent foray by JewishPress.com into eight different food shops — including the iconic Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s — revealed that not even a simple yogurt bearing kosher supervision can be found anywhere in London, outside of a Jewish neighborhood. In seven of the eight shops, however, Halal meat was easily available. (In M & S, a store clerk replied to a query, “None of those ‘specialty food items, like kosher or halal things, are sold in Marks & Spencer.” When asked why, the clerk had no idea and said, “You’ll have to take that up with ‘upper management.”)
British Prime Minister David Cameron maintained in remarks to Parliament earlier this month that neo-Nazis, as others, have a “right to free expression” even while condemning the rally. Cameron added that any “harassment or threatening behavior” should face the “full force of the law” – but did not offer a definition of harassment, or threatening behavior.
Bonehill announced his group would burn Israeli flags and a Talmud at the Golders Green rally. Since the burning will take place on a Sabbath, Jews cannot even put out the flames. Do either of those acts constitute harassment, or threatening behavior?
Slightly over a week ago, the Community Security Trust (CST) told a meeting attended by British police, members of the Shomrim volunteer neighborhood watch group and delegates of more than 40 local synagogues that they were not intimidated by the prospect of facing neo-Nazis, although they were “concerned and repelled.”
Hana Levi Julian