Jerusalem Day march through city's Muslim Quarter attracts criticism

Delegation of British Jews has no plans to take part


Almost 300 people have signed an open letter to Lord Sacks questioning his participation in an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the unification of Jerusalem.

The former chief rabbi is due to fly to Israel next week.

The trip, billed as “A Mega-Mission of a Lifetime”, is organised by Mizrachi Olami, the parent organisation of the Bnei Akiva, youth movement.

Lord Sacks will be accompanied by current Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and South Africa’s Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, as well as many other rabbis, dignitaries and young supporters.

The letter, which was instigated by a group of British Jews living in Israel, claims the march in the Old City, which sees thousands of young Jews parade through the streets to the Kotel, is not simply “peaceful or celebratory”.

The signatories write: “It provocatively passes through the Muslim quarter of the Old City and has become an opportunity for hate speech, violence towards any Palestinians seen on the streets and vandalism of Palestinian property. On the day of the march areas of East Jerusalem are cleared of their Palestinian residents, and Palestinian businesses receive closure orders.”

They expressed “amazement” that Lords Sack, as an advocate of co-existence, was taking part and urged him to reconsider.

The letter also criticised a planned trip to Hebron, on the West Bank, as “provocative and insensitive”.

However a spokesman for Mizrachi UK said neither Lord Sacks nor the group were taking part in the march through the Muslim Quarter.

Rabbi Andrew Shaw said: “The Mizrachi mission never had any intention of going through the Muslim Quarter. Any members of the mission who wish to access the Kotel at this auspicious time will go through the Jewish quarter at their leisure..

The delegation was not visiting Hebron either, he said.

Rob Abrams, a postgraduate student of international law at Hebrew University who co-wrote the letter, said he had previously acted as a legal observer at the march.

Mr Abrams, who is originally from London, claimed: “The issue is that every year to facilitate the march the border police have to shut down the businesses and put thousands of Palestinians on curfew. Every year the march is full of hate speech and vandalism".

This article has been amended


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