Tens of thousands gather for rally against antisemitism amid Gaza truce
Tens of thousands have attended a march against antisemitism in London, as the crowd heard that the Jewish community will “not be intimidated”.
Former prime minister Boris Johnson was among the high-profile figures joining the demonstration, a day after crowds also gathered in the capital to demand a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict.
Those who addressed the marchers included Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis and immigration minister Robert Jenrick, as organisers claimed the pro-Palestinian rallies in recent weeks had made the capital a “no-go zone for Jews”.
The start of Sunday’s march saw English Defence League founder Tommy Robinson, real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, arrested by police after he tried to join marchers.
Organisers called the rally the largest gathering against antisemitism London had seen since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when hundreds of thousands of people blocked a planned march by Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists through an area populated by many Jewish families.
It was organised by the charity Campaign Against Antisemitism amid fears about rising antisemitic incidents sparked by the crisis in the Middle East.
Sir Ephraim told the crowd: “Since October 7 we have witnessed here in the UK an alarming rise of antisemitism, but we will not be intimidated.
“We call for a strengthening of community cohesion and we will forever be proud to champion the finest of British values.
“So with regard to the poisonous spread of antisemitism, what should the response of the British people be?
“Number one, call it out when you see it. Number two, call it by what it really is – Jew hatred.
“Number three, be vigilant and report every incident. Number four, we must arrest every single perpetrator and bring every single one of them to justice.”
Gideon Falter, chief executive of Campaign Against Antisemitism, told marchers that since the deadly incursion by Hamas into southern Israel, antisemitic crime “has surged in this country by over 1,000%”.
“Demonstrations marched through our cities, marched through our capital, where people glorify terrorism, where people incite racism against Jews.
“And indeed, as we saw yesterday, yet again, carrying placards showing a Star of David thrown in the bin with a caption that says ‘please keep the world clean’, messaging that would not have been out of place in 1930s Germany, it is appalling.”
Tens of thousands of people gathered on Saturday for the latest demonstration, demanding a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, with some demonstrators accusing Israel of committing genocide and others chanting “from the river to the sea”.
There were 18 arrests over the course of the day for a range of alleged offences, including suspicion of inciting racial hatred and suspicion of supporting a proscribed organisation.
Organisers Stop the War coalition said those at the now-regular marches have “clear anti-racist foundations” and oppose both antisemitism and Islamophobia.
It had asked anyone attending Saturday’s rally to “respect these clear anti-racist principles, including in any signs or placards they choose to bring to the march”.
Mr Johnson compared antisemitism with “an old spore of a virus”.
“Whatever the rights and wrongs of what Israel has done, or is doing, I think that the antisemitism that we’ve seen in some of these marches around western Europe and further afield has really confirmed for me the absolute necessity, the human necessity, for Israel to exist,” he told GB News.
Mr Jenrick, who said he was at the march to represent the Government, spoke from the stage to warn that “enough is enough”.
He said antisemitism was a “stain on our country, it is moral decay”.
Security minister Tom Tugendhat was among celebrities including Tracy-Ann Oberman, Rachel Riley and Robert Rinder at the march.
People waved Israeli and Union flags and placards reading “Never Again Is Now” and “Zero Tolerance for Antisemites”.
There had been fears that Mr Robinson, former leader of the English Defence League, could disrupt the protest, with organisers making clear that he would not be welcome.
Police said a 40-year-old man had been arrested close to the Royal Courts of Justice, from where the demonstration began on Sunday.
Mr Robinson had previously been seen among the crowds of counter-protesters who clashed with police during ceasefire protests held on Armistice Day.
In a statement, the Met said the organisers had “been clear about their concerns that the man’s attendance, and that of those who were likely to accompany him, would cause fear for other participants.
“The same view has been voiced by others.
“As a result he was spoken to and warned on more than one occasion that his continued presence in the area was likely to cause harassment, alarm and distress to others.
“He was directed to leave the area but refused to do so.”
It comes as the Israeli military said that 14 Israelis and three foreign nationals have been released from captivity in Gaza, on the third day of a four-day truce.
Among those reunited with their family on Saturday was nine-year-old Irish-Israeli girl Emily Hand, who was among those abducted by the Palestinian militant group during the deadly Hamas attack on October 7.
Hamas is to release at least 50 Israeli hostages, and Israel 150 Palestinian prisoners.
All are women and minors.
Published: by Radio NewsHub