CST Blog

Al Quds Day demonstration

8 June 2018

This opinion piece, by CST Director of Communications Mark Gardner, originally appeared in the 7 June 2018 edition of the Jewish Weekly.

This Sunday, CST’s security teams will work with the Metropolitan Police on one of the trickiest events in our annual calendar, the Quds Day demonstration. It is not a Jewish event. In fact, it is just about the exact opposite of a Jewish event.

CST’s role will be to help secure those attending the Zionist Federation’s counter-protest against the Quds Day demonstration. This is a fundamental part of our mission to ensure that our Jewish community can lead the life of its choice. In this case, it means helping to ensure that our community is able to lawfully protest against those who wish it harm, because Quds Day is a demonstration that calls for the destruction of Israel, and hatefully rants and raves against Zionism.

For example, at last year’s demonstration, the lead agitator told the crowd that Zionists were responsible for the appalling Grenfell Tower fire tragedy. He said:

“Some of the biggest corporations who were supporting the Conservative Party are Zionists. They are responsible for the murder of the people in Grenfell, in those towers in Grenfell, the Zionist supporters of the Tory Party.”

Not content with such rabid anti-Zionism, he then went even further, saying:

“It is the Zionists who give money to the Tory party, to kill people in high rise blocks.... Careful, careful, careful of those rabbis who belong to the Board of Deputies, who have got blood on their hands.”

Such hatred is shocking to read and even more shocking to witness, but should it really surprise us when so many of the Quds Day demonstrators will be proudly flying bright yellow Hizbollah flags, which show a fist in the centre, clutching an assault gun?

This is the same Hizbollah that openly wants to destroy Israel and that targets Jews around the world for terrorism. It is the same Hizbollah that helped murder 84 Jews in the 1994 truck bombing of the Jewish Community Centre in Buenos Aires. If you can imagine the dreadful impact that this had on Argentinian Jewry, on their sense of safety and future, then you will understand why CST takes its mission so seriously.

CST is one of many British Jewish organisations that have repeatedly appealed to the Government to ban Hizbollah here, including the flying of HIzbollah flags. Unfortunately, the Government insists on making a distinction between Hizbollah’s military and political wings, banning the military, but not the political. Bizarrely, this happens even though Hizbollah itself insists that there is no such distinction and no such wings. We will continue to press for a full ban on all of Hizbollah, as will many other Jewish groups.   

Why does our own Government, which normally stands strongly against terrorism and its extremist drivers, make the false distinction? The answer is that the Foreign Office points at the reality of Hizbollah’s importance in the Lebanese Parliament and then says that they cannot be barred from speaking with the group. The outcome of this is that you can fly the Hizbollah flag in London, so long as you make some kind of ridiculous excuse about supporting the group’s basically non-existent political wing.

Quds Day occurs each year at the end of the Muslim festival of Ramadan. It was started by Ayatollah Khomeini after the Iranian Revolution and remains an event that is only really attended by pro-Iranian regime elements from the Muslim community, in London and in other cities around the world. It is an extreme that itself attracts other extremes, so for example the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign will have representation, but the separate less extreme Palestine Solidarity Campaign will not. As usual, the Neturei Karta sect and a handful of far left Jews will also show up, allowing the organisers to claim that they only hate all Zionists, not all Jews.

The demonstration may also attract another counter-protest from anti-Muslim far right style groups, such as the Football Lads Alliance, which shows how today’s street politics and bullying are moving on from the days of Jew obsessed neo-Nazis such as the National Front and British National Party.

CST, the Zionist Federation and other Jewish groups have strongly requested that the Police ensure our Jewish counter-protest is kept strictly separate from any others who turn up with their own agendas. It is not an easy job for the Police, who must also be keenly aware that Darren Osborne tried to attack last year’s Quds Day demonstration, before he gave up and later that night instead used his rental van to commit a deadly terrorist attack against Muslim worshippers leaving Finsbury Park mosque.

So, the CST and the Police will help secure our communal counter-protest, whilst the Police must also protect the Quds Day demonstrators from potential attack. Then, add to the mix, the potential for the Football Lads Alliance to turn up, seeking to make their own brand of trouble that we want nothing to do with.

At times like these, our community must stand by its own clear principles. These are neatly summarised by the statement released by the Zionist Federation, with support from the Board of Deputies, Jewish leadership Council and others. It states:

“Let us be clear; the ZF, as well as our partners do not support, encourage or condone any far-right or Neo-Nazi groups or messages, either from outside our community or inside it.

…We stand against antisemitism, the desire to annihilate Israel, Homophobia, Islamaphobia, and all other forms of racism and hatred. We must stand strong and not allow extremists on either side to damage or silence our message where we demand that hatred and intolerance have no place on the streets of London.”

CST recently published a Research Briefing on Hizbollah ‘The Case Against Hizbollah: one party, one flag, one ideology

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