Anti-Israel activists are plotting simultaneous sit-ins at ten of London’s biggest railway stations to bring the capital to a standstill, the JC can reveal.
One of the ringleaders is Yaz Ashmawi, who covered Sir Keir Starmer in glitter at the Labour Party conference in October. He is joined by radicals from Extinction Rebellion and Just Stop Oil.
The plan for November 18 was set out at a meeting on Tuesday by the organisers of last weekend’s protest at Charing Cross, which featured swastika signs and forced bosses to close the station.
Yaz Ashmawi after he poured glitter over Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at the Labour Party conference in Liverpool (Photo: Getty Images)
It raises fears of a chaotic crossover between eco-warriors and anti-Israel demonstrators. On Wednesday, Just Stop Oil activists blocked an ambulance on Waterloo Bridge and more than 40 were arrested.
Fears are mounting that breakaway anti-Israel crowds, heard at previous rallies calling for an “intifada from London to Gaza”, could obstruct Armistice Day ceremonies at the Cenot.
The JC can also disclose that the organisers of the May 2021 convoy through north London — which saw some activists driving through Jewish neighbourhoods with megaphones shouting about how they wished to rape Jewish women — are planning further convoys alongside Saturday’s “Million March”.
This increases pressure on the police to ask the Home Secretary to use her power to ban what she has termed “hate marches”.
“It is chilling to think that the infamous antisemitic car convoy could be repeated on Remembrance weekend,” said Lord Pickles, Lords chair of Conservative Friends of Israel.
“The prospect adds to an already volatile situation, and it risks further escalating anti-Jewish racism and tarnishing what is a sacred weekend for many millions of Brits. It is high time the Metropolitan Police stepped up to the situation and closed down these harmful protests.”
Steve McCabe MP, the chair of Labour Friends of Israel, the Community Security Trust (CCST) and Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, all agreed the timing was potentially disastrous and called for a ban on the march.
However, on Tuesday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said he did not think a ban would be justified, saying the use of this power must be “incredibly rare”.
Such a request would have to be “based on intelligence which suggests there will be a real threat of serious disorder and no other way for police to manage the event”, Rowley said.
Ashmawi, who covered Sir Keir Starmer in glitter as he began his keynote address at last month’s Labour Party conference, and other activists intends to occupy three stations — Charing Cross, Victoria and Waterloo — this Saturday.
If they are closed as a result, this would effectively cut London off from most of its rail links with the south, causing enormous disruption to people seeking to attend Armistice Day events.
An anti-Israel rally in Trafalgar Square (Photo: Getty Images)
The online Zoom meeting at which Ashmawi discussed his group’s plans was publicised in a private group on social media platform Telegram which has about 400 members.
It was introduced by an activist who gave only his first name, Harley. He said closing Charing Cross had been “amazing”, and that it was part of a global “train stations for Palestine movement”.
The “basic gist” of the plan was “to hold sit-ins in train stations asking that the British government demand a ceasefire,” Harley said.
“Last week, it was a single station, but this week it will be three stations, Charing Cross, Victoria and Waterloo. The plan for the week after that is to do ten stations, the ten biggest stations in London will have people sit down in them peacefully demanding the government calls for a ceasefire.”
Yaz Ashmawi is dragged away after his Labour Party conference stunt (Photo: Getty Images)
Ashmawi, 28, a graduate in physics from St Andrews, spoke next. He began by saying that he had helped the climate change direct action protest group Extinction Rebellion plan its strategy. Others at the meeting said they had been involved in its offshoot, Just Stop Oil, which has caused chaos by occupying city centres and motorways.
Ashmawi said he had joined the Charing Cross sit-in where “we filled the station with our chants of ‘free Palestine’ and looked forward to the time when all the land from the river to the sea must be equal and free and free from apartheid rule. We were there to play our part in the struggle”.
He also insisted “we believe in non-violence” and claimed he felt “compassion for Jewish brothers and sisters”.
Isolated: Poppy sellers surrounded by protesters at Charing Cross station last weekend (Photo: Getty Images)
Earlier in the week the JC revealed that the organiser of the May 2021 pro-Palestinian convoy, Razaq Hussain, was organising another “Convoy 4 Palestine” that will travel to London from Bradford this coming weekend.
In the 2021 incident, groups of cars sporting Palestinian flags were driven through north London’s Jewish areas while their occupants shouted abuse at bystanders. There were calls to “f*** the Jews, f*** all of them, f*** their mothers, rape their daughters and show your support for Palestine”. There is no suggestion that Hussain had any involvement in those events.
In a speech at a rally in Bradford last weekend, Hussain, in referring to Israel, talked about “Zionist pigs” and urged his audience to “stick the middle finger up to the politicians” who stood by Israel. Another speaker asked the crowd if they condemned the Hamas. In reply, they shouted “no!”.
Hussain told the JC that he did not hate Jews and “fully condemned” the 2021 incident saying he was “putting in extra security” to ensure there was no repetition and had “always made it clear I don’t approve of violence”.
The calls to cancel or ban this weekend’s Million March have come from both Jewish community organisations and senior politicians from both main parties.
A Community Security Trust spokesperson told the JC: “We back the call for this weekend’s demonstrations to be called off.
“Each Saturday for the past month has seen central London taken over by huge protests, including examples of antisemitic and extremist behaviour that have caused immense alarm and distress for many Jewish Londoners.”
Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said: “There is a clear basis for anticipating that public disorder may occur. We should be able to remember those lost in past wars on a day free from potentially hostile marches.”
Steve McCabe MP, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, added: “Armistice Day is a time for quiet reflection to remember those who gave their lives in the service of our country.
"It is not a time for the streets to be echoing with the sound of antisemitic chants and the glorification of terror.”
Even if the march were not banned, McCabe said, “the organisers should urgently think again about the appropriateness of this event".