A banner comparing plight of the Palestinians with that of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was openly held aloft at an anti-Israel demonstration in central London.
A middle-aged male held up the poster as he listened to speakers from a stage, including from Labour shadow frontbenchers John McDonnell and Richard Burgon, launch rabid one-sided attacks on Israel following the conflict with the Palestinians.
With wording that clearly evoked the 2,000 year-old antisemitic slur of the Jews as Christ killers, the banner read: “DO NOT LET THEM DO THE SAME THING TODAY AGAIN”.
Saturday’s demo was organised by the Palestinian Solidaity Campaign, the Muslim Association of Britain and the Friends of Al Aqsa groups.
Former Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell also spoke from the stage saying: “Yes, a ceasefire has been negotiated and we welcome a ceasefire. But let’s be clear, there will be no ceasefire in our campaign to boycott, disinvest and sanction the Israeli apartheid state.”
It also saw a speech delivered by Labour’s shadow minister for employment rights Imran Hussain, the MP for Bradford East, which failed to mention his party’s two-state solution for the Middle East policy pledge.
After a similar demo last weekend was blighted with further examples of antisemitism, organisers had asked those attending this weekend’s protest not to bring signs that equated Israel and Zionism with the Nazis.
But in a speech from the stage, the veteran left-winger Tariq Ali, a friend of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, openly made reference to the Nazi slaughter of six million Jews.
Attacking Israeli right-wingers he said:”They have learnt nothing from what happened in to them in Europe. Nothing ”
Ali added:”They talk a lot about saying all those marching for Palestine are antisemities. This of course isn’t true. But I will tell you something, they don’t like hearing. Every time they bomb Gaza, every time they attack Jerusalem – that is what creates antisemitism. Stop the occupation, stop the bombing and casual antisemitism will soon disappear.”
At one stage scuffles broke out as hardcore Islamist activists began to speak from the crowd through megaphones, ignoring the main speakers.
One pleaded with the crowds to march to the Israeli embassy and attempted to suggest the Palestinian cause was instead a Muslim cause for the “ummah” (all Muslim people).
Stewards told the activists to stop their speeches and moved they away from the crowds. One told them: “Keep quiet – this is a human rights cause, not an Islamic one.”
In an earlier speech Kate Hudson, general secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, had drawn cheers from the crowd as she claimed Palestinians had secured a “victory” over Israel in the recent conflict.
Hudson said:”We celebrate the resistance of the Palestinian people… the miliary machine of the Israeli state has been stopped. And make no mistake about it, this has been a victory for the Palestinian people.”
The male speaker before Hudson also called for “every single Palestinian faction – including the resistance – to re-enter the political fold”.
In his speech Burgon suggested Palestinian children were put on trial by Israel using “a language they do not understand” – although he did call for peace for Israel and the Palestinians.
Also speaking at the demo was Kevin Courtney, of the National Education Union, who one-sided stance on the issue has led to the departure of dozens of Jewish teachers and school staff from the union.
The Muslim Association of Britain’s speaker called for the return of the “all” of Palestine.
Earlier an estimated 80,000 pro-Palestine supporters had marched down Whitehall from Victoria Embankment towards Hyde Park carrying banners, many made by the Socialist Workers Party and Stop The War movement.
Former Labour Party leader and friend of Hamas Jeremy Corbyn spoke at a demonstration outside the Israeli embassy in London last Saturday.
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