Claims of ‘no-go zones for Jews’ in London ‘total and utter fiction’ says Shomrim president

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Claims of ‘no-go zones for Jews’ in London ‘total and utter fiction’ says Shomrim president

Rabbi Herschel Gluck has accused the Home Office’s independent advisor on extremism Robin Simcox of making claims about 'no-go comes for Jews' that have 'nothing to do with reality'

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Pro-Palestine demo in central London. No one in the image relates to this article.
Pro-Palestine demo in central London. No one in the image relates to this article.

Suggestions that there are no-go zones in London for Jews are “a total and utter fiction”, Shomrim president Rabbi Herschel Gluck has said.

Responding to claims made by Robin Simcox, the Home Office’s independent advisor on extremism, who suggested that London should “no longer be permitted to be turned into a no-go zone for Jews every weekend” as a result of the regular pro-Palestinian marches, Rabbi Gluck said he was “very disturbed” by the claim.

“It’s like saying the Earth is flat,” he said. “It has nothing to do with reality. To say there are no-go zones in London for Jews is a total and utter fiction.”

Rabbi Herschel Gluck

There was further criticism of Simcox’s intervention, made in a Daily Telegraph op-ed published on its front page from Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner.

She told The Times: “I don’t agree with [Simcox]. It is definitely intimidating for many Jews, although I do not think that that is the intention of most people who are on these marches because they really care about justice for Palestinians as opposed to dislike or hatred of Jews.”

Rabbi Laura called on the government, however, to enforce the law to stop “extreme statements and incitement to racial hatred”.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner lit up the Jewish Labour Movement’s Chanukah reception Photo: Ian Vogler

Rabbi Charley Baginsky, head of the Liberal Judaism movement, also said: “Without question there are many within our communities who feel unsafe coming into London during these protests. The timing of them, often coinciding with our Shabbat services starting or ending, is also very problematic.

“This combined with a record number of antisemitic attacks and hate incidents, and the virulent online abuse many are experiencing, means this is a difficult time to be a British Jew. However, it is equally important to recognise that Jewish life in the UK is thriving. Our synagogues are full and congregations vibrant. We appreciate the wider diverse communities we live in the midst of … alongside friends of all faiths and backgrounds.”

Meanwhile Dame Sara Khan, who is carrying out a review of the resilience of the UK’s democracy for Gove, said there had been a “disproportionate” focus on the policing of protests in recent months.

She added: “There is no doubt that some Jews believe parts of central London where protests are being held feels frightening and intimidatory. I recognise other Jews have argued against this view, with some attending the protests themselves. What I don’t think is helpful is using language such as ‘no-go’ areas.”

Rabbi Charley Baginsky lights the Menorah at the JLM party (pic Ian Vogler)

Khan added:”Equally there is a real sense of censorship and fear among some Palestinian communities here in the UK and those who support the rights of Palestinian people, There is a real fear of censorship on all sides which must be resisted.”

JW3 chief executive Raymond Simonson also wrote on social media:”My sense from the MANY conversations I have with Jews every day is that a majority feel beleaguered, bruised and very concerned about antisemitism right now.

“Avoiding areas where marches take place, due to a loud minority of vile antisemites? Yes. Leaving London? Hell no!”

In a statement the Board of Deputies said the marches “are viewed by many in the Jewish community as intimidatory, raising questions about the kind of society we want to foster.

“Surely all parts of London should be open to everyone, with no sense of ‘no-go’ zones based on political affiliations or expressions of support for specific causes. Jewish Londoners are proud of their city and will not be frightened away from the place they call home.”

Earlier Mark Gardner, the Community Security Trust’s chief executive had told Radio 4’s Today programme “I think as a headline it’s deeply troubling, but it also contains a huge element of truth.”

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