The Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7 and the subsequent upsurge in anti-Semitism has had an “absolutely profound” effect on Britain’s Jewish community, MPs have been told.
Dave Rich, the director of policy at the Community Security Trust (CST), told the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee the “absolutely horrific” attacks by Hamas, that killed 1,200 people had, “sent shockwaves through the Jewish community” in Britain and around the world.
Mr. Rich described British Jews at the time as a, “completely traumatised and grief-stricken community,” and he said they were shocked to see “pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel demonstrations starting in towns and cities around the country ... while that terrorist attack was still going on.”
He went on to say: “The first demonstration in London was called to be held outside the Israeli Embassy on Monday (Oct. 9), and these protests were organised in language that seemed to welcome and endorse what Hamas had done. Speeches were given that celebrated it.”
Mr. Rich said a demonstration in the centre of Manchester on Oct. 8 had, “big banners saying glory to the freedom fighters.”
He said the scale of the protests rapidly grew to the point where, “there were more people marching than there are Jewish people in the whole of Great Britain.”
‘I Feel Very Unsafe Living in My Country’Quoting from them, he said: “It was statements like ‘I feel very unsafe living in my country,’ ‘I’ve been afraid to go into London every Saturday,’ ‘I’ve avoided making plans,’ ‘I feel afraid on the Tube.”
He said people changed the times and dates of hospital visits to avoid being in the vicinity of the protests, and synagogues in central London changed their service times so that congregants did not clash with protesters as they left the services.
Mr. Rich said the impact on the Jewish community of the protests alone had been “absolutely profound” and he added: “Of course this has happened at a time when there is an unprecedented spike in anti-Jewish hate crime happening across the country, and also very much in London that is still ongoing.”
He said the organisers of the pro-Palestinian protests had not sought a “dialogue” with the Jewish community and he added: “I’ve not seen any public calls by the organisers for people not to bring anti-Semitic placards, not to chant certain chants. I’ve not seen any calls, for example, for supporters of Hamas, a proscribed terrorist group, not to come on those demonstrations. That kind of thing would be welcomed, but I’ve not seen it or heard it.”
9 out of 10 Jews Avoid City Centres During MarchesHe said: “Sixty nine percent of British Jews say that they are less likely now to show visible signs of their Judaism. A staggering 90 percent of British Jews say that they would avoid travelling to a city centre if one of these major marches or demonstrations were taking place.”
Mr. Falter said, “Only 16 percent of British Jews believe that police treat anti-Semitic hate crime the same way as other forms of hate crime.”
Earlier, Chris Nineham, vice-chair of the Stop the War Coalition, was asked by the same committee how many people on the marches had been carrying offensive placards or making offensive chants and he said, “Extremely small numbers.”