Hatred in public
In the aftermath of the Manchester, London Bridge and now Finsbury Park terror attacks, almost every leading politician has spoken of the need to show zero tolerance of extremism. Theresa May, Amber Rudd, Sadiq Khan and Jeremy Corbyn have all, quite rightly, stressed the need for communities to pull together.
And yet on the very afternoon of the Finsbury attack, the so-called “Al Quds Day” marchers were left free to spout unambiguous Jew hatred.
One of the organisers blamed “Zionists” for the Grenfell Tower fire. “We are fed up with all their rabbis; we are fed up with all their synagogues; we are fed up with their supporters”, he went on. The crowd chanted, “We are all Hizbollah”. The police simply stood by and watched as a proscribed terrorist organisation was praised and Jews blamed for the Grenfell disaster.
And in some ways even worse, this race hate on the streets of central London received almost no coverage. There could hardly be a clearer example of extremism. It is deeply worrying that no one appears to care.
Journey to come
Earlier this week, the Board of Deputies hosted a reception to honour the work of Women in Jewish Leadership. It does important work and has made a difference for the better. But some perspective on the enormity of the change in attitude that is still required can be gleaned from an event that will take place in the Knesset on Monday.
Alice Shalvi, who left England in 1949, is due to be honoured. Ms Shalvi’s words are damning: “If I’d stayed in England I don’t know whether the Jewish community would have given me the opportunity of contributing the way I have here. Clearly not.”
She is surely right. We have a long, long way to go.