London: A Tale of Two Cities

Finchley Church End councillor Eva Greenspan challenges the Mayor of London and the Metropolitan Police on their approach on protest marches and antisemitism

Sadiq Khan (credit GLA)
Sadiq Khan (credit GLA)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, 

it was an age of reason and unreason, 

of light and darkness, 

of hope and despair. 

In the great city of London, 

where every corner held a story, 

where every street echoed with the footsteps of the past, 

there dwelled a community torn asunder by the fervour of opposing beliefs.

Amidst the clamour of bustling streets and 

the shadows cast by towering structures, 

the Jewish inhabitants of London found themselves 

enveloped in a maelstrom of fear and uncertainty. 

The air crackled with tension, 

thick with the echoes of pro-Hamas protests 

that roared through the city like a relentless storm.

For the Jews, the streets of London had become a perilous 

labyrinth where danger lurked in every shadow. 

Each step taken was fraught with the risk of confrontation, 

of facing the wrath of those who rallied against their very existence.

For months many of us have stated that the weekend protest marches in London these past months have been thinly veiled hate marches against Jews in our city and our country. 

For months we have explained that there is an evident usage of the words ‘Israeli’ and ‘Zionists’ in lieu of ‘Jews’ and ‘Jewish people’. We have continually stated that actions in our city since October 7th, when people took to the streets of London to celebrate the horrific attacks, to now where calls for ceasefire by those on the marches are rarely coupled with a call for the release of the hostages held by Hamas.

And repeated calls for a ceasefire without the call for the release of hostages are fuel for those antisemites in these marches who try to put the blame of the conflict. A point that has been made by numerous members of the Jewish community to politicians across the country. 

So it was completely bizarre when the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, inferred in an interview with Mehdi Hasan, that Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis (a Freeman of Barnet) was Islamophobic in quite rightly telling the Mayor that calling for a ceasefire was irresponsible not least because it hardened the sense of fear members of London’s Jewish community felt and that the Chief Rabbi only made those comments because the mayor was Muslim.

It’s good to see that the mayor has now apologised but serious questions arise as to how seriously he takes the concerns of the Jewish community in relation to the constant marches taking place in London most weekends.

Many of us have consistently said that these marchers and the chants uttered by the protesters make us uneasy walking through central London.  

Many times, institutions tell us that these are peaceful protests, and we are wrong. A line that has been uttered repeatedly by the Met weekend after weekend. Those of us who have unapologetically raised this issue again and again have been made to feel that we are mistaken or deluded, so it was a bittersweet moment when a sergeant in the Metropolitan Police finally admitted that these protests are dangerous for Jewish people. 

In an exchange between Gideon Falter, CEO of Campaign Against Antisemitism and an officer of the Metropolitan Police, the officer, rather unfortunately for him, let slip what many of us have known to be true over the past months, that, central London is no longer safe for those of us that are ‘openly Jewish’. 

In fact, during the exchange between the police officer and Falter, those on the supposed peaceful march non-antisemitic march repeated the most disgusting tropes levelled at Jewish people throughout history. Chants saying Falter should be ashamed (as if he has anything to do with the Hamas-Israel conflict) accompanied with shouts of ‘baby killers’, that age old blood libel frantic antisemites use to justify their irrational and delusional hatred of Jewish people.

We then saw, in response to the fury of the exchange, the Met sending out an incredibly insensitive statement and then having to backtrack when they realised they were wrong. With all of this and the mayor’s soft words, in which he did not condemn the Met for how things were handled, is it surprising that so many of us are sceptical whenever he puts out a nicely shot video telling the Jewish community how much of an ‘ally’ he is. 

Actions speak louder than words and the mayor’s actions over the last seven days have been wholly lacking.

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