Organizer of London Al-Quds Day Counter-Demonstration Says Pro-Israel Community Will No Longer Be Silent Amid Growing Anti-Zionism
A planned counter-demonstration against an upcoming “Al-Quds Day” march in London will convey the clear message that the country’s pro-Israel community won’t be silenced, an organizer of the rally told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
Fiona Sharpe — co-chair of Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI), a British pro-Israel grassroots organization — said the annual Al-Quds Day event — which will take place on Sunday — “has displayed increasing levels of incitement and hate directed towards Israel which has become — most certainly in recent years — antisemitic.”
Over the last 10 years, Sharpe said the march has faced “no visible opposition to the lies and hatred” its supporters spew. SFI — along with its co-sponsors the Israel Advocacy Movement and the Zionist Federation — “felt it was time to voice our opposition and show that Israel has many friends in the UK and Europe.”
The Al-Quds Day rally is organized by the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) and ends in front of the US Embassy at Grosvenor Square. One of the more offensive activities by rally participants each year is the waving of the Hamas, Hezbollah and ISIS flags, which IHRC has failed to condemn. In the UK, Hamas and ISIS are designated terrorist organizations, while only Hezbollah’s “military wing” is classified as such.
According to Sharpe, it is “simply wrong” that protesters are allowed to wave the flags of terrorist organizations. “These groups have carried out numerous deadly attacks against Israel and around the world and their flags should not be allowed to be flown on the streets of London,” she told The Algemeiner. “Their terror campaigns are often fueled by a deeply antisemitic ideology — which has been widely documented — and aim to destroy the Jewish state.”
While freedom of speech and the right to assemble are rights protected by British law, SFI believes many attendees of the Al-Quds Day march and even the march itself are in violation of The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, which makes provisions about offenses involving stirring up hatred against people based on racial or religious grounds.
“The tone and the rhetoric used at the march is solely intended to incite hatred against the Jewish people. This year, along with other opponents of hate and friends of Israel, we will ensure that this incitement is not allowed to go unchallenged on the streets of London,” Sharpe said.
Politically, there has also “never really been any backlash to the march or any opposition,” Sharpe said. In 2012, the march received support from now Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn — who is currently engulfed in an antisemitism scandal — when he spoke at the rally. “SFI felt that now, more than ever, it was time that there was some opposition and that this hate-fest could no longer go unopposed,” Sharpe said.
The Al-Quds Day march comes at a sensitive time in the UK as Jews face a growing wave of antisemitic and anti-Zionist violent actions and hatred from many sectors of society.
“Anti-Zionism in the UK has spawned a whole new form of antisemitism. It is now imperative that people understand that when a march, such as the Al-Quds Day march, calls for the destruction of Israel, they are in essence calling for the destruction of the Jewish people,” Sharpe told The Algemeiner. “Incidents of antisemitism are growing at an alarming rate in the UK and are often fueled by anti-Israel lies and propaganda.”
The counter-demonstration, titled “It’s Time To Stop The Hate: Stand With Israel,” will feature Matthew Offord, the Member of Parliament for Hendon, and Hillel Neuer, executive director of human rights NGO UN Watch. According to Sharpe, up to 1,000 people “from across all communities and walks of life” are expected to join.