Police reroute anti-Israel march away from Shabbat service

Community leaders herald ‘game-changing new precedent’ which will allow shul to host normal sabbath activities


An anti-Israel march in central London has been rerouted after concerned Jewish groups spoke to the Met Police about a nearby Shabbat service (Photo: Getty Images)

A mass anti-Israel rally this weekend has been rerouted to accommodate a London synagogue’s Shabbat service.

Concerns had been raised by the Community Security Trust that the anti-Israel demonstration on Saturday was going to start near a London synagogue, which had planned its regular Shabbat service and a special kiddush.

Figures from the Jewish Leadership Council, CST, Board of Deputies, London Jewish Forum, Shomrim and the Jewish Police Association met with the Metropolitan Police last Friday to discuss their concerns.

The community was reassured that the Shabbat service should go ahead as planned.

Police offered march organisers, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the option of a later start or rerouting their planned demonstration. They opted for the latter, meaning that the march will start from Mortimer Street, 0.3 miles away from the synagogue.

Andrew Gilbert, co-chair of the JLC and newly elected vice-president of the BoD, said: "This is a welcome change and we thank the police for their effort and consideration for our sabbath activities. Particular thanks to Commander Colin Wingrove, who worked to keep all communities, including our own, happy."

He added: "This sets an important game-changing precedent. The law may allow them to demonstrate every time, but it does not allow them to disrupt our prayer services and Shabbat activities."

A spokesperson for the CST said: “Along with other organisations, we are in regular communications with the police about avoiding any clashes with weekly synagogue services in order to ensure that these marches/protests are not disruptive to the community in any way; and we are grateful to the Metropolitan Police for their continued support.”

In a statement, the Met said: “We have seen several months of protest in London, and recognise the cumulative impact of this, including on London’s Jewish communities. Our goal has been to protect the lawful right to protest whilst minimising the impact of these events. We do not have the power to ban protest unless there is a risk of serious disorder.

“This week, we have maintained regular dialogue with Jewish and Muslim communities across London, including meeting with rabbis from across London to listen and understand the concerns of their communities.

“As a result of this dialogue, we have engaged with the PSC, who have agreed to move the starting point of the march. We have used our powers to place conditions on the protest to ensure we minimise the serious disruption to the community and balance the rights of all.”

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