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Security threat to Chanukah menorah lighting event means it will be held in private

Police said they had been made aware this morning of a “possible protest” and were “addressing the resources required”.

    Brighton's Middle Street Synagogue
    Brighton's Middle Street Synagogue

    Members of the public will be banned from a menorah lighting due to alleged threats from anti-Israel activists, it has been reported.

    Councillors will mark Chanukah by welcoming a local rabbi to light candles at tonight’s Brighton and Hove City Council meeting at Hove Town Hall.

    But the Brighton Argus reported that the meeting would now take place behind closed doors, due to planned protests by pro-Palestinian activists in the city.

    Rabbi Andreas Zanardo of Brighton’s Reform synagogue is expected to light the menorah following an invitation from the mayor.

    The local authority told the Argus that no members of the public would be admitted to the building until the lighting was completed.

    Police said they had been made aware this morning of a “possible protest” and were “addressing the resources required”.

    The paper said sources close to anti-Israel groups in the city had denied any plans to demonstrate.

    Marie van der Zyl, Board of Deputies vice-president, said: "The disgrace of Jews not being able publicly to celebrate Chanukah in Brighton - a festival which has no link with the current situation in the Middle East - is proof beyond any doubt that those who think that there is no link between anti-Israel sentiment and antisemitism are sadly deluding themselves."

    The anti-Israel group, Brighton BDS, denied it was behind any alleged threats.

    Writing on Twitter the group said: "We will make this 100% clear. We have never, and would never, protest any #Hannukah ceremony, for whatever reason. Someone is stooping to some very crude mischief making."

    It added: "We also know of no other planned protests by any other Palestine solidarity groups or individuals in Brighton. And if we had, they would be VERY forcefully dissuaded."

    During the Labour Party annual conference in Brighton in September, Warren Morgan, the Labour leader of Brighton Council, wrote to the party's general secretary warning that the authority might ban the party from holding future conferences in the city over concerns about antisemitism.

    Mr Morgan wrote: "I am very concerned at the antisemitism being aired publicly in fringe meetings and on the floor of conference.

    "We have a significant Jewish community in Brighton and Hove, and I met with them only last week to discuss the antisemitism already on our streets, causing them fear and alarm.”

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