Who would want to be a Jewish citizen of this country, as anti-Semitic attacks rise, and protesters demand the extinction of Israel?
Even more to the point, who would relish being a young Briton of Jewish ancestry at school or university while such hatred is being openly expressed?
This slogan has been reasonably interpreted as calling for the destruction of Israel — whose territory lies between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea — and is therefore regarded as offensive and threatening by many Jews.
Two women on the march were seen brazenly sporting pictures of paragliders on the backs of their jackets. It was by paraglider that some Hamas terrorists floated into southern Israel nine days ago to unleash their murderous onslaught.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of marchers demonstrated in London. Most were well-behaved, but some chanted: ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’, writes STEPHEN GLOVER
The right to protest peacefully is central to our way of life and democracy. But some of the behaviour over the weekend crossed the line. It was not merely offensive and threatening. It was intended to spread fear among Jewish people
There were numerous placards bearing the slogan: ‘Free Palestine. Exist. Resist. Return!’ This is also widely seen as questioning the existence of Israel.
In Glasgow — one of several other British cities where there were demonstrations on Saturday — one woman draped in a Palestinian flag shouted: ‘Free Palestine. Don’t forget where the Jews were in 1940.’
The right to protest peacefully is central to our way of life and democracy. But some of the behaviour over the weekend crossed the line. It was not merely offensive and threatening. It was intended to spread fear among Jewish people.
Incidentally, BBC1 ignored the marches on its main news bulletin on Saturday evening. Yesterday morning, Radio 4 bulletins merely referred to the fact a small number of policemen had received minor injuries. Why the silence? Whom was Auntie trying to protect?
It is not only on our streets that protesters are able to issue anti-Jewish threats without much fear of action by the police. The Mail today reveals a disturbing trend of demonstrations sympathetic to Hamas at a number of universities.
At Imperial College in London, the communist society has leafleted students to proselytise talks on how to ‘provide a clear path to victory for the Palestinian workers’ while extolling ‘intifada to victory’.
At City University in London, the Socialist Workers Student Society has hung posters urging students to attend a meeting on how Palestine ‘can be free’. Societies at Oxford, Lancaster and Leeds universities have been allowed to hold pro-Palestine demonstrations or vigils.
Being ‘pro-Palestine’ doesn’t automatically make protesters pro-Hamas but, in view of the timing and militancy of these demonstrations, most of them probably are.
In many cases, university authorities appear indulgent of the protests, though Imperial College London is understood to have told its communist society to stop distributing the material that has been handed out to students on campus.
Universities are usually anxious to provide ‘safe spaces’ for students feeling threatened by speakers such as Germaine Greer and Kathleen Stock, who insist on the biological distinction between men and women.
But they seem less concerned to protect Jewish students from abuse or intimidation that is infinitely more inflammatory than the moderate and balanced arguments of the likes of Greer and Stock.
The stridency of these activists shouldn’t be underestimated. Dana Abuqamar, a student at Manchester University, said on TV last week that she was ‘full of pride and joy’ at the Hamas terrorist attacks.
A professor at Manchester University says Dana Abuqamar is ‘being supported at this difficult time’, while the authorities are reportedly considering her remarks. Since her outburst, she has claimed 15 of her relatives have been killed in an Israeli attack on Gaza.
Being ‘pro-Palestine’ doesn’t automatically make protesters pro-Hamas but, in view of the timing and militancy of these demonstrations, most of them probably are
Another shocking case concerns a Palestinian woman, who drew applause from demonstrators in Brighton a day after Hamas’s outrage.
She said: ‘Yesterday was a victory. For freedom fighters to break out of a 15-year blockade so successfully under the inhuman genocide of Israel was so beautiful and inspiring to see.’
The woman has been arrested, but I wonder whether anything much will happen to her, notwithstanding Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s pledge yesterday to take a hard line on anti-Semitism.
Meanwhile, three Jewish schools in London closed last week because of the risk of violence to pupils. Others may follow suit this week. Isn’t it unconscionable that this should be happening in Britain?
So I repeat my question. Who would want to be a Jew in this country, especially a young one, at a time when demonstrators make threats and spread fear with little likelihood of official censure, let alone punishment?
The demonstrators are spreading lies, too — so effectively I’m sure millions of decent people, who may know little about the history of Israel, will believe them. Have the protesters been offered a balanced view of history at university?
That the Palestinians have well-founded historic grievances there can be no doubt. Many were deprived of their land, before and after the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, sometimes by force.
It remains the case that about 20 per cent of the population of Israel (I am not talking about the West Bank or Gaza) are Palestinian Arabs. They enjoy full legal rights, including the right to vote, though they are exempt from having to serve in the Israeli Defence Force. Nonetheless, a small minority does.
Gaza in particular is the subject of much misinformation. You would infer from what the demonstrators say — and from what the BBC sometimes implies — that Hamas are the blameless victims of Israeli aggression. The opposite is much closer to the truth.
At the end of the Arab-Israeli war in 1949, the tiny strip of land that is Gaza came under the sway of Egypt. After its victory in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel occupied it.
But in 2005 it withdrew from Gaza, much to the fury of some Right-wing Israelis. Twenty-one Israeli settlements were dismantled, with some settlers literally being dragged from their houses by their own soldiers and police.
Then, in 2006, there were elections in Gaza. Hamas narrowly won over the more moderate Fatah, which it then eliminated. Hamas didn’t — and doesn’t — recognise the right of Israel to exist, and soon was firing rockets in its direction.
Palestinian demonstrators sprayed red paint on BBC’s Broadcasting House in central London during protests on Saturday
Since then there has been constant friction between Israel and Hamas, erupting sometimes into open conflict, which culminated in the unprecedentedly barbaric and wholly unprovoked attack nine days ago.
Given that Israel unilaterally pulled out of Gaza, and has subsequently been under regular attack from Hamas, it’s impossible to grasp the logic of demonstrators who portray Hamas as victims.
The behaviour of Hamas in Gaza has inevitably made the prospect of an eventual peace settlement more unlikely. Why should Israel hand back land in the West Bank if there is a danger that it would be immediately attacked by the new Palestinian rulers?
But then Hamas doesn’t want peace or a two-state solution. It yearns for the total extirpation of Israel, and is eager to continue the fight, and happy to sacrifice its own people, until that is achieved.
I wonder how many of the demonstrators in London and other British cities realise this. Many, possibly most. I suspect, though, that there are ‘useful idiots’ who haven’t bothered to confront the terrible truth about Hamas.
We have seen in recent days some of the evil of Hamas seep on to British streets, and into British universities. One doesn’t have to be Jewish to be afraid.
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