Thousands turn out for London rally against antisemitism

Thousands of people turned out for a rally against the rise in antisemitism in central
London on Sunday.

More than 4,500 protesters filled the street outside the Royal Courts of Justice to hear speakers including the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.

The crowd cheered Rabbi Mirvis, and passing taxis displayed Israeli flags in support as he took to the podium.

Marking the last day of his first year in office, he told the gathering: “"I would never have believed a year ago I would be standing here expressing my deep concern about the rise of antisemtism in the UK.

"“We are right to be concerned. We see it, we hear it, and we feel it. It is there.

“"Last week I went to Israel and I stood at the graves of the three teenagers who were brutally murdered.

“"Little did we realise when they were killed the great suffering, turmoil and pain that would follow.

“"Little did we realise then that antisemitism would reach high levels around the world.”"

He warned: “"We know from our history that antisemitism can be translated into tragic consequences, not just for Jewish people but for all of society.".

He also called for an end to Islamophobia, and persecution of all minorities.

And he assured the audience that British Jews were among friends in the fight against antisemitism.

He said: "“A threat to Jews is a threat to our society.

"“I have received letters of support from national leaders and ordinary men and women in the street. We are not alone.”"

The demonstration was organised by grassroots group Campaign Against Antisemitism, in response to the rise in attacks against Jews across Europe and the UK, in the wake of the Gaza conflict.

CAA spokesperson Jonathan Sacerdoti said: "This is the largest rally against antisemitism this country has seen for decades.

"We are united with our dissatisfaction that Jews are not being protected sufficiently from antisemitic attacks.

"Be it attacks on individuals, to the very real and genuine terror attacks on our Jewish organisations, synagogues and schools.

"It is time that we say enough."

Also speaking was Maajid Nawaz, chairman of the anti-extremist organisation, the Quilliam foundation.

He told protesters: "Do not let them make you feel you have to hide your Jewish identity.

"Do not hide your ethnicity, your religion or your culture and if I have anything to do with it, in this country you will be safe."

He said: "We must find cross-cultural and cross-religious ties in the fight against antisemitism."

Other speakers included writer and journalist Douglas Murray who said British Jews must call for communal leaders to "do more".

Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman and senior vice president Laura Marks were booed as they took to the stage to deliver their speeches.

Some of the crowd could be heard calling out, "you need to do more" and "resign".

CAA spokesman Mr Sacerdoti said: "It is great that the communal organisations who have been criticised for not doing enough have come on board and have supported us in organising an important day."

Last updated: 3:09pm, September 1 2014