From outraged to outrageous: protest spills over into hatred

By Marcus Dysch, August 14, 2014

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched through central London as the backlash against Israel's military action in Gaza continued to be felt on the streets of Britain this week.

Protesters from groups including the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War marched from BBC's New Broadcasting House to Hyde Park. Speakers included MPs Jeremy Corbyn, David Ward and Shabana Mahmood.

A silent vigil for Palestinians killed in the conflict was cancelled after organisers in Cambridge suggested holding it outside the city's Orthodox synagogue. The Cambridge Palestine Forum protest, due to go ahead last Friday evening, was scrapped after a furious reaction.

The Israeli embassy in London attacked an Amnesty UK report on damage to medical facilities in Gaza. Amnesty had said it could not confirm that Hamas had used ambulances and hospitals for "military activities". An embassy spokesman called the position, "outrageous".

A 66-year-old man was arrested in connection with a series of antisemitic stickers displayed in Golders Green, north-west London. The abusive messages appeared last month and included stickers calling Israel a "pious disease". The man was bailed until October.

Antisemitic graffiti was reported in various cities. In Kensington, west London, graffiti declaring "Jews kill babies in Palestine" was daubed on pavements. In Bristol, offensive posters referring to the Holocaust, genocide and showing Stars of David turned into swastikas, were displayed in private homes.

Posters were placed on phone boxes in Hampstead, north London, stating: "Gaza = Auschwitz" and "cancel Israel".

A plaque marking the birthplace in Belfast of the late Israeli president Chaim Herzog was removed following a series of graffiti daubings. Officials in the city said there were concerns for residents after a gang of youths was seen trying to remove the memorial with a crowbar.

The Christian Friends of Israel organisation said it was "shocked and saddened" after organisers of an event for young Christians cancelled an exhibition space CFI had planned. Representatives were due to attend the Momentum festival run by Christian group Soul Survivor next week, but their invitation was withdrawn after organisers said they did not want to "stir up any controversy".

In a statement, CFI said it was "concerned that Momentum's decision sends a negative message to our friends and colleagues in Israel".

A petition calling for the expulsion of Israeli ambassador Daniel Taub on the government's e-petitioning website received more than 8,300 signatures.

The BBC denied that its complaints system plays into the increasingly partisan nature of the debate in the UK over the Gaza conflict. Its automated system features two different responses depending on whether the complaint is pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian. A spokeswoman said the system was set up to "address queries and concerns effectively."

Communities Minister Stephen Williams, after a meeting with the Community Security Trust on Wednesday, said: "Any hostility or harassment directed towards the Jewish community in this country is completely unacceptable and the government will do everything in its power to prevent the fears and distress such deplorable actions cause."

Last updated: 3:22pm, August 14 2014