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Why we’ll be on the streets on July 4

November 24, 2016 23:06

Just how accepting are we supposed to be of neo-Nazis? Should we repeatedly allow them to walk past the homes and families of Holocaust survivors? Should we indulge them as they desecrate the calm of Shabbat? Must we explain to our children that "never again" comes with a special waiver for "small" demonstrations?

On April 18, the community ignored a small neo-Nazi demonstration in Stamford Hill, and Campaign Against Antisemitism did not disagree with that decision.

The neo-Nazis go from community to community looking for attention, and the conventional wisdom is that the worst thing to do is to give it to them. Their demonstration in Stamford Hill was a damp squib; they wanted to demonstrate against Jews but to avoid arrest they had to settle for protesting against the livery painted on a Shomrim car. They demonstrated in small numbers, then went to a local pub.

The neo-Nazis saw it as a great success. They had met with little resistance and cocked a snook at the "all-powerful" Jews on their home turf. They announced their next demonstration would be in Golders Green on July 4, and proposed to go to Hendon next, then other neighbourhoods.

The Guardian, LBC and then others started to give the neo-Nazis' plans high-profile attention.

Ignoring the neo-Nazis has failed, so we must try a different approach. We can legally cripple their proposed demonstration. There are all sorts of measures that the Metropolitan Police and the council can use. This includes moving the demonstration out of Golders Green, to a day that is not Shabbat, and banning loudspeakers.

If the demonstration goes ahead in its present form it will be because the Met has failed to exercise powers intended for use in precisely this situation. Home Secretary Theresa May has written to the Met Commissioner in support of the conditions we have called for.

CAA are also in direct discussions with the police, although they have told us that they must deal impartially with the Jewish community and the neo-Nazis. This is a staggering position to take.

If we can cripple their demonstration by ensuring that the law is enforced as firmly as is permitted, it will make the neo-Nazi provocateurs pause before trying to demonstrate in other areas.

We must, however, plan for the worst. In response to demand from many in our community we will be facilitating a show of dignified defiance on July 4, showing unity and pride in the face of this provocation.

This is not the battle of Cable Street - it is the Jewish community standing together with friends from across society to show that we are not intimidated, that the neo-Nazis are a tiny group, that society despises them and that they have united us.

Our presence will be less of a counter-demonstration and more of an affirmation of solidarity as we stand as one, Orthodox rabbis alongside secular Jews, alongside non-Jews.

We will show that they are few and we are many. And by our dignity we will highlight the vile nature of their beliefs and the overwhelming civility of ours.

November 24, 2016 23:06

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