A letter to those who celebrate murder
The mood was celebratory. Flares were lit, flags flown, slogans chanted. People danced. Thousands descended on the Israeli embassy before hundreds made their way to central London last night, blocking roads and filling the streets as they partied. This was an expression of joy, not an explosion of rage.
But what were they celebrating? Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy had the answer. “Rape. Murder. The tyranny of shooting down young people coming out of a rave.” Saturday was the highest Jewish death toll on any day since the Holocaust. Whether they know it or not, whether they meant it or not: that is what they were celebrating.
Whenever Israel is at war we see huge demonstrations in British towns and cities. No other foreign conflict generates a response on this scale, with this emotional intensity. It’s disturbingly unique. But at least, usually, this can be explained as an angry response to Israeli military attacks on sites in Gaza and pictures of dead and injured Palestinians.
Not this time. Yesterday’s protest at the Israeli Embassy was organised on Saturday, well before Israel’s response in Gaza had built up any kind of steam. It was organised at a time when Israel could not even count the bodies because terrorists were still holding people hostage in their homes, when the news was full of stories and pictures of murdered and kidnapped Israelis. Saturday was Israel’s 9/11, Bataclan and Bucha rolled into one. And you went out to celebrate.
“Manchester Supports the Palestinian Resistance” and “Glory to the Freedom Fighters” were the banners in Manchester. “It was so beautiful and inspiring to see”, said one speaker at a rally in Brighton. “We are supporting all sorts of resistance”, said a speaker at the Birmingham protest. Palestine Solidarity Campaign branches and student Palestine Societies are posting their solidarity with this “resistance”. Dozens of self-declared “leading members of the British Muslim community” announced their support for “armed struggle” and called for Israel to be “dismantled”. “We reject the use of the word “terrorism” to describe Palestinian acts of resistance”, they say.
Now we see you. Now we see who and what you really are, with clear eyes. For years we have been told that this is just about supporting human rights, opposing occupation, protesting war crimes. That Hamas was moderating. That antisemitism is not tolerated in your movement. That all you want is one state with equal rights for all. But now we see you. You don’t stand for human rights or against war crimes, not where we are concerned. Right now, it looks for all the world like you are standing for the murder of Jews.
When we see Jews being hunted in their homes and in forests and fields, captured at gunpoint and taken against their will, men, women and children, young and old, babies executed in unspeakable ways, these are not new memories for Jews. There is a history that we all carry with us, a history of the pogromists who murdered our great grandparents and the collaborators who helped the Nazis slaughter our grandparents.
And where do you stand, in this history? You stand in the place of their neighbours who stood to the side cheering while the killing went on. That’s where you find yourself today.
Hamas’ founding charter does not hide their intentions, and – despite what their apologists claim – it has never been amended or renounced. “Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious”, it begins. This is but part of the fight against “world Zionism”.
It goes on: “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” On Saturday Hamas fighters hunted young festivalgoers in the forest, shooting them dead as they hid, yes, behind stones and trees. This is Hamas. This is who enjoys your support and solidarity.
Many Jews would like to support the sentiment of “Free Palestine.” Many Jews want to share their sympathies around. But when some of you paint those words in huge letters atop Golders Green Road, the heart of Jewish London, and when others amongst your number drive through Jewish communities shouting “Free Palestine” at any Jews you see, instead of making it a cause that all can join you turn it into a weapon of fear.
Those of you who call yourself leftists bring shame on the left. You think you are anti-racists but you walk in the path of the oldest hatred of all. As for those of you who declare yourselves Muslim leaders and then abuse that position to support this terror, while denying it is terror at all: I take consolation in the many other Muslim leaders around the world who reject this extremism, and the Muslim and Palestinian friends who have joined me in common humanity this week.
I don’t know whether, deep down, you understand what this means. Perhaps you think the old slogans still apply. There is no obligation on any of us to condemn terrorism abroad. But choosing to excuse the slaughter of hundreds at a music festival? Solidarity with people who rape young women and take them hostage? Who kill babies in their own homes? This is a struggle of values and you are choosing to place yourselves on the wrong side of it. You have done so much damage to your own cause, if only you cared.
There is nothing welcome in this, no silver lining to cling to. Some will sneer at those Jews who took these supposed human rights champions at their word. It was naïve to ever believe them, they will say. Their one-state fantasy is truly shattered now. But there is nothing for us to celebrate in this either.
Make no mistake, the pro-Palestinian movement in Britain – and in other countries too – has become an antisemitic movement. I wish it were not the case, because it is so needless. I’d like to think that some of you – perhaps many of you – are objecting silently. But I can’t hear it.
This is a movement that seeks to eliminate the world’s only Jewish state, and now we know that it has few qualms about how this will be done. “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free”, you chant. Free of Jews, that is. Hamas has shown, beyond any doubt, that this is their goal, and they will descend to the furthest depths of evil to achieve it. If you choose to support them, you descend with them. Own it.