Swastikas displayed at an anti-Israel demonstration on Friday have been condemned as ‘repugnant antisemitism’, though organisers insist they weren’t comparing the Jewish state to the Nazis.
The offensive symbol appeared on a video shot at a protest against Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, held in central London on Friday night.
Appearing on a black sign, the swastikas were held up during speeches alongside Palestinian flags and other placards.
Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, said: “It’s utterly disgusting to see swastikas flying at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Stop the War (STW) organised demonstration. Comparing Israel to the Nazis, a regime responsible for the extermination of six million Jews, is repugnant antisemitism. Those who allowed Nazi imagery to be waved right next to the podium for almost an hour and those who spoke whilst it was displayed should be ashamed of themselves.”
In a joint statement, the PSC and STW condemned the incident, but rejected the claim that the signs were trying to compare Israel to the Nazis.
They said: “Videos and photographic evidence show that there was a placard held at the rally with a slogan that formed an image of a swastika. PSC and StWC staff were not aware of the placard during the rally. We do not believe it is ever appropriate to trivialise the swastika and to use the symbol to make political statements.
“The claim that the placard in question was comparing Israel to the Nazis is not backed up by an examination of the photographic evidence. The slogan in fact had the words ‘stop Trump’ with the T’s forming the sign of the swastika.”
The message of whoever was holding the swastika was clearly an attempt to identify Trump as representing racist and far-right views. Whilst PSC and StWC deplore the overt racism and support for far-right groups that President Trump has undoubtedly displayed, we do not endorse the use of the swastika given all of its historic resonance to make such points.”
You can see the swastikas on the right hand side of the video below:
At the Friday demonstration, organised by groups including the PSC, Socialist Workers Party, Friends of Al Aqsa and the STW among others, a sick chant calling for the murder of Jews was also heard.
Participants were filmed shouting “Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud” – which translates as “Jews, remember Khaybar the army of Muhammad is returning”, referencing an infamous massacre of Jews in 628CE.
In a joint statement, organisers claim that “after the main demonstration had disbanded some of those who had been present remained and chanted slogans which demonstrated hatred and advocated violence.”
” We deplore such behaviours, which are not, shared or endorsed by our organisations or by the vast majority of those who attended the demonstration”, adding that they “stand against racism and discrimination of all forms including antisemitism.”
The Board of Deputies of British Jews, Community Security Trust and Jewish Leadership Council issued joint a response to the incident in a sign of communal unity, condemning the anti-Semitic chanting.
“The ‘Khybar, Khybar’ chant heard and documented at Friday’s protest outside the US Embassy in London can only be interpreted as a call to incite violence against Jewish people. It is outrageous that these protesters thought that such a chant would be acceptable on the streets of London in 2017.”
“We welcome the condemnation by the protest organisers of this notorious Jihadi chant – which was clearly audible at the height of the demonstration – but urge them to take action to ensure that such acts do not go unchallenged at their events in the future.”
The police told Jewish News that the alleged anti-Semitic incident had not yet been reported, but that one person was arrested for a Public Order offence, unrelated to anti-Semitic chanting. In a statement, they said: “A 36-year-old man was arrested after a flare was thrown during a protest outside the US Embassy in Grosvenor Square on Friday, 8 December. The man was later issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice.No complaints have been received by the Metropolitan Police Service in relation to any other alleged offences during the protest.”
The protest, which was attended by up to 3,000 people according to organisers, saw marchers also shouting slogans including “Down down USA” and “Hands off Jerusalem” , while the Campaign Against Antisemitism reported that on Sunday, “victory to the Intifada” was heard at a smaller protest at the same location.