What happened on 4 July
7 July 2015
The threatened 4 July neo-Nazi demonstration against Jews in Golders Green was relocated upon Police instruction to Richmond Terrace, Whitehall.
20-25 neo-Nazis (including five Poles) turned up and were loudly opposed by 150-200 anti-fascists of various political and religious affiliations, including Jews and Christians. The neo-Nazis flew a Palestinian flag in a sad attempt at provocation, heard a few speeches, and were escorted by the Police down Whitehall and into Westminster tube station. They ended up on the South Bank and later dispersed.
In Golders Green, Jews and non-Jews alike enjoyed a trouble free day. 220 CST volunteers and staff helped secure our Golders Green Jewish community from the evening of Friday 3 July (ie erev Shabbat) through to Sunday 5 July. They were sincerely thanked by many members of our community, and CST has received many phone calls and emails of gratitude.
CST’s heightened security operation had been planned for many weeks in advance, in conjunction with our local community, Barnet Police, Barnet Council and the Shomrim neighbourhood patrol group that the neo-Nazis claimed to be targeting.
CST welcomed the Police decision to relocate the demonstration, but did not scale back our security operation, because we were keenly aware that all of the publicity surrounding the demonstration could still lead to antisemitic provocations (either by the demonstrators or any others).
There has been some discussion regarding how and why the Police relocated the demonstration. The formal Police explanation was posted last week on CST Blog here, it includes:
After carefully considering all the facts surrounding this protest and counter protest activity, including the impact on the Jewish and wider community of Golders Green, it is the assessment of the MPS that the presence of these groups in the same area at the same time is likely to result in serious disorder, serious disruption to the life of the community and intimidation of others. As a result, conditions have been imposed on the anti-Shomrim protest group under Section 14 Public Order Act 1986.
CST worked for many weeks with numerous communal organisations and politicians, expressing the same concerns as cited by Police above. (For more detail, see previous CST Blog here.) We have not claimed sole credit for the cancellation, because we know how many others were also involved in voicing concerns. This was a team effort, with a focused message delivered by many people in many places.
With the demonstration taking place on Shabbat, religious considerations meant that many Jewish communal groups were not able to organise a formal protest. This fuelled our support for and organisation of (along with Hope not Hate, the Board of Deputies and London Jewish Forum) the Golders Green Together initiative that drew upon the experience and ethos of Hope not Hate: an anti-extremism organisation that does not give extremists the counter-protest publicity they seek, but instead organises physical and symbolic displays of cross- communal unity in the face of attempts at division.
As is always the case with demonstrations by extremists, there were those who wished to ignore the provocation and others who wished to protest against it. CST’s role is not to organise protests, but is to facilitate our community’s right to do so, by helping with Police liaison in the planning and operational stages, including securing the counter-protest. The mainstream Jewish counter-protest was organised by Campaign Against Antisemitism and this was to be secured by CST, but was cancelled upon the demonstration being relocated.
CST had stressed that whatever personal decisions Jewish people made regarding protesting or not on 4 July should be respected, especially with it being a Shabbat. We did, however, ask that the decision be taken out of pride, not out of fear.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, and with the neo-Nazis having mustered as few demonstrators as they managed last time around in Stamford Hill, we are hearing that none of this was worth all of the attention paid to them.
The question of how much attention or outrage a small group of neo-Nazis ought to generate, is a philosophical, moral and political matter for each individual to decide, but it must be made very clear that the actual demonstration in Westminster featured vile antisemitic filth that should leave no room for complacency or misplaced smug self-satisfaction: and it only adds to the already significant increase in neo-Nazi antisemitism that we have witnessed in recent months.
Worst of all was the speech by Jeremy Bedford Turner (organiser of London Forum), which occurred after a one minute silence for “all the victims of Zionist terrorists”. This speech shattered any remaining pretension about the antisemitic purpose of the demonstration and was essentially a compendium of just about every possible antisemitic accusation. It even included mention of “Saint William of Norwich” and “Little Saint Hugh”: two cases of blood libel from 1144 and 1255, in which Jews were accused of murdering children in order to use their blood for ritualistic purpose.
Due to its hateful content, CST has referred the speech to the Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office and the Department of Communities and Local Government.