A counter-protest to oppose a demonstration “intended to incite hatred against the Jewish people” will take place next month, it has been announced.
Grassroots groups Sussex Friends of Israel, Zionist Federation and the Israel Advocacy Movement have organised the rally, entitled “It’s Time To Stop The Hate: Stand With Israel,” on July 3 to stand against the annual Al-Quds Day demonstration.
It will be held in central London, but not at the same location as the Al-Quds Day event.
Fiona Sharpe, co-founder of SFI, said that the language used at previous Al-Quds Day marches had been “hateful”.
"While we fully accept legitimate criticism of government policies, we will not tolerate calls for the dismantling of the state of Israel or verbal attacks on the Jewish people on the streets of our capital city,” she added.
“The laws on freedom of speech do not supersede the laws which govern racial and religious hatred and the intent to incite that hatred.”
The annual Al-Quds Day march, organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, has taken place in London for at least 10 years.
Posters at previous marches have displayed signs calling for the destruction of Israel and marchers have carried flags of Hizbollah, whose military wing is defined by the UK government as a terrorist organisation.
On its official website, the IHRC uses a picture of a previous year’s march on its event page for this year’s demonstration. The image includes a poster reading “Stop Ethnic Cleansing: Boycott Israel”.
Joseph Cohen, of the Israel Advocacy Movement, called on members of the community to join the counter-protest.
He said: "Britain cannot risk allowing Hizbollah extremists and sympathisers who call for the extermination of Israel to march through our capital."
Paul Charney, chairman of the Zionist Federation, described the Al-Quds Day march as "a cynical carnival of hatred" which had "been allowed to go unchallenged" for too long.
"The time has come to publicly draw a line in the sand, and unapologetically oppose the contemptible actions of this day,” he said.
A spokesman for the Board of Deputies responded to news of the counter-protest, saying: “Al Quds Day is an Iranian-backed day of hate against Israel. We have long raised concerns about it and welcome new initiatives which challenge it.”
Massoud Shadjareh, chair of IHRC, said: "The Al-Quds Day demonstration is all-inclusive and attended by people from different backgrounds, religious groups and non-religious groups (including members of the Jewish community)."
The march was, he said, "against the Zionist hatred of Palestinians".
On the issue of displaying Hizbollah flags, he said: "IHRC does not orchestrate all banners or flags and it is up to participants which flag/banner they wish to carry - as long as it is within the law and does not have abusive content or language."
Two protesters were arrested last year for flying Hizbollah flags at a rally in London.