Westminster Council gives support amid ‘insidious rise’ of antisemitism

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Westminster Council gives support amid ‘insidious rise’ of antisemitism

Local authority's leader hits out against 'repugnant' social media footage of the Palestine convoy in May, at meeting attended by local synagogue and communal leaders

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

This convoy of cars was filmed on the Finchley Road in mid May
This convoy of cars was filmed on the Finchley Road in mid May

Jewish Londoners have the full backing of Westminster City Council in the fight against the “insidious rise” of antisemitism, its leader has said.

Speaking at a special meeting called by the London Jewish Forum to discuss the spike in antisemitic incidents in recent weeks Cllr Rachael Robathan branded as “repugnant” social media footage which showing a car convoy driving through north London while broadcasting threatening remarks.

The Westminster City Council leader told an online meeting organised by the London Jewish Forum: “It deeply saddens me that we are at a point where some Jewish Londoners no longer consider the capital a safe place to live.

“Jewish people have been part of Westminster’s story for centuries. Yet once again we see the insidious rise of antisemitism manifesting itself in everything from actual assaults to toxic social media.

“The recent conflict in the Middle East has unquestionably driven an upsurge, but I also fear that some on the political fringes are simply using those tensions to peddle anti-Jewish prejudice.

“The whole country was shocked by the repugnant sight of cars with loudhailers driving through Jewish parts of London – including Westminster – to menace local people.

“Westminster is made up of people from many traditions, and our Jewish friends and neighbours are an integral part of that. We stand by them, and will not tolerate those who use politics as a cover to whip up crude antisemitism.”

The meeting was attended by leaders of all major synagogues in Westminster, including the St John’s Wood United Synagogue, Westminster, and Western Marble Arch Synagogues, alongside the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Community Security Trust, the charity which looks after security at synagogues and Jewish sites.

The meeting was prompted by a significant number of antisemitic incidents in the borough, most linked to pro-Palestinian demonstrations during and following the upsurge of violence in Israel and Gaza.

According to the CST, Westminster saw the same number of antisemitic incidents expected in a time period of 8 months in just 4 weeks in May and June.

At the meeting, Jewish leaders called on the council to do all they can to reassure local synagogues, whose congregants have had to walk past pro-Palestinian protestors to attend synagogue for recent Shabbat services.

Daniel Kosky, Director of the London Jewish Forum, said: “We were pleased to bring together today’s roundtable of Westminster’s Jewish community leaders to meet with Leader of Westminster City Council Cllr Rachael Robathan.

“The last few weeks have been challenging for Jewish communities across London, but particularly for those in Westminster who have faced hostile demonstrations and numerous antisemitic incidents.

“We are grateful to have the support of Westminster City Council and we look forward to working with the City Council to tackle antisemitism and ensure the borough continues to be a welcoming home for the Jewish community.”

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