Communities unite amid hate rally fears


A multi-faith response to a planned antisemitic demonstration next month has received widespread support - amid fears that the organisers of the fascist rally are part of a new coalition specifically targeting Jews.

Although the size of the rally in Golders Green, north-west London, on July 4 is still unclear, observers of the far-right have suggested that a series of anti-Jewish events may follow, with further rallies in Hendon and other Jewish areas later in the summer. In April, there was a gathering in Stamford Hill which was widely derided as insignificant.

Matthew Collins, research director of anti-facist group Hope Not Hate, said antisemitic groups wanted to use July 4 to generate attention "to forge a wider coalition against the Jewish community - rather as the English Defence League built its actions against Muslims".

He added: "They want to start an avalanche of antisemitic hatred. They think because they got away with it in Stamford Hill they can do the same in Golders Green and the Jewish community will lay down and take it.

"They are testing the boundaries and people's resilience. The Jewish community has not been tested like this for years. This won't be the last test."

It is the first time a comparison has been made with the EDL, which became a notorious street movement through regular rallies in areas with large Muslim populations.

Mark Gardner, Community Security Trust director of communications, said: "These anti-Jewish demonstrations appeal to a section of the far-right that clings on to an old-style antisemitism that had faded away in recent years. Worryingly this includes a new, younger generation of neo-Nazis facilitated by social media and antisemitic websites."

But he played down fears of a possible long-term impact. "This kind of hardcore antisemitism has less appeal than the broader anti-Muslim sentiment that the EDL drew upon, so it has less potential to develop into a mass movement."

Golders Green Together, the multi-faith initiative set up this week by the London Jewish Forum and Hope Not Hate, will run a series of events and activities to demonstrate the diversity of the area ahead of the fascist rally. Monday's launch attracted around 50 supporters and leaders from different faith groups.

In Prime Minister's Questions in Parliament on Wednesday, David Cameron said activists at the Golders Green rally should face prosecution.

Responding to a question from Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer, Mr Cameron said the right to freedom of speech and of assembly did not extend to "harassment or threatening behaviour.

"Where any criminal offences are committed and where individuals have demonstrated antisemitic hostility, they should face the full force of the law," he said.

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