The UK’s Jewish community has been profoundly affected by the recent surge in anti-Semitic incidents following the Hamas attacks on Israel, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee was informed.
Community leaders described the impact as “absolutely profound,” reflecting a deep sense of insecurity and fear among British Jews.
Testimonies of Trauma and Fear
Dave Rich, from the Community Security Trust (CST), shared with the committee the distressing impact the Hamas attacks, which killed 1,200 people, had on British Jews.
He recalled the community’s trauma and grief, exacerbated by the simultaneous pro-Palestinian demonstrations across the UK, some of which appeared to endorse Hamas’ actions.
Rich highlighted a demonstration in Manchester where banners praised “freedom fighters,” a term that concerned many in the Jewish community.
The Scale of Protests and Its Psychological Impact
The magnitude of these protests was particularly alarming, with participation numbers exceeding the entire Jewish population in Great Britain.
Rich also shared over 60 impact statements from British Jews, collected via community networks and WhatsApp groups.
These statements revealed deep-seated fears about safety, with some individuals avoiding travel to London, altering hospital visits, and synagogues changing service times to avoid protestors.
A Spike in Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes
The committee was informed of an unprecedented rise in anti-Jewish hate crimes across the UK, especially in London.
This spike has occurred in parallel with the protests, intensifying the community’s anxiety.
Lack of Dialogue and Concerns over Protest Organization
Karen Harradine and Gideon Falter, from the Campaign Against Antisemitism, highlighted the lack of dialogue between protest organizers and the Jewish community.
There were no public calls by organizers to prevent anti-Semitic behavior during the marches.
Falter shared startling survey results: 69% of British Jews are now hesitant to display their Jewish identity, and 90% would avoid city centers during such marches.
Only 16% believe the police treat anti-Semitic hate crime as seriously as other forms of hate crime.
Perspectives from Pro-Palestinian March Organizers
Chris Nineham, vice-chair of the Stop the War Coalition, acknowledged that only a few protestors carried offensive material.
He detailed their efforts to address such incidents effectively.
From the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Ben Jamal claimed the Metropolitan Police faced political pressure to restrict these marches, citing an example of impractical policing directives for a November 11 protest.
Jamal’s requests for dialogue with the police commissioner had gone unanswered.
This hearing sheds light on the deep-seated anxieties and distress within the UK’s Jewish community, stemming from a confluence of recent geopolitical events and local responses.
The committee’s findings underscore the urgent need for constructive dialogue and effective policing strategies to address these concerns and foster a safer, more inclusive society for all citizens.