That was Simon Johnson the CEO of the Jewish Leadership Council speaking this afternoon at the demonstration in support of Israel organised to counter the annual Al Quds march. Every year for the last few years the Al Quds march has been countered by individuals and small groups, but this year the Israel Advocacy Movement, Sussex Friends of Israel and the Zionist Federation rallied under the umbrella of Stop the Hate, Stand with Israel . And I think they found it a bit of a shock.
Speakers were Hillel Neuer of UN Watch, Matthew Offord MP for Hendon, Jonathan Arkush President Board of Deputies) Simon Johnson (CEO the Jewish Leadership Council) Paul Charney (President Zionist Federation). I missed the earliest speakers but I gather that Matthew Offord spoke particularly well on the subject of human rights. There was a minutes silence for young Hallel Yaffa Ariel the Jewish teenager murdered in her bed by a terrorist last week, and Elie Wiesel the writer who died recently. Followed by the theme from Exodus on solo saxophone.
Security was very tight. There were events in Grosvenor Square as part of the Cultural Summer festival so the police were there in high numbers. The Stand with Israel group also had their own security posted around their section of North Audley Street. Anybody who has ever met EL AL airline security will be familiar with friendly capable gentlemen with a hint of steel.
We split up to better cover the events as they unfolded. I stayed with the Stand with Israel group to listen to the rest of the speeches, while my daughter went into Grosvenor Square as near to the embassy as she was allowed to observe the arrival of the Al Quds march. Further tribute was paid to Elie Wiesel.
Waiting to greet the Al Quds.
Israel is a very diverse country and supporters of Israel are a diverse group.
After the speeches while we waited for Al Quds who were fashionably late as usual (having watched them muster for several years it isn't incompetence, it is sheer arrogance) we had music and singing both live and recorded. There was folk songs and modern Israeli pop (I think I recognised Ofra Haza and Oi Va Voi; the rest was new to me) the national anthems of both countries, the sound of the shofar and, of course, Hava Nagila.
If Islam had the joy of music I think the violent verses of the Koran would have been tempered 1400 years ago.
Then as the Al Quds came into view we shouted 'We want peace - they want war!" and when the yellow and green flags of Hizbullah were sighted "Terrorist flags off our streets".
The Hizbullah flag is a bone of contention every year. It is an incitement to violence; other countries will not allow it on their streets. But every year the Metropolitan police do nothing. They claim they have no instructions to do anything. One of the speakers told us that if we saw a flag to photograph it, and that this year the police had been told not to permit them. But when they were pointed out by one friend of mine he got the same answer I have heard in previous years. But as the climate is changing maybe they will watch the CCTV in the next few days and certain people will receive a visit.
Some of the young men took their Israeli flags and managed to get into the road in front of the march. They then opened the flags and formed a barrier to stop their progress. A friend of mine got amongst them and took some video. This is a still from his footage.
They taunted the march - "Where's your Corbyn Now?" However the police made them move and they were returned to the Stand with Israel area.
The march moved off again and was escorted into their area outside the US Embassy the other side of Grosvenor Square at the junction of South Audley Street - well away from both us and the children's table tennis and croquet activites on the lawn.
These pictures show the usual hate; many banners come out year after year. And the green and yellow and the green went unchallenged.
We concluded with the national anthem again and dispersed. I met up with my daughter and went to look at the Al Quds speeches.
This was interesting. I came round their rally by the statue of President Regan and spotted the Hizbullah flag.
I think the stewards saw me as at that point they spoke to the boy carrying it and he folded it up.
I went behind the hedge and spotted this woman folding up the flag she had been wearing across her shoulders.
And then the boy's flag (or it's identical twin brother) was up and flying across the rally again.
The Berlin State Senate has agreed to ban Hezbollah flags, with their image of an upraised assault weapon, from an anti-Israel Al Quds march, likening the symbol to a call for genocide.Berlin state interior minister Frank Henkel, on the advice of the Berlin police, said that the flags would be added to the propaganda material that is not permitted to be displayed publicly.
A spokesperson for the Berlin police, Thomas Neuendorf, told JTA that not only are Hezbollah flags banned, but Hezbollah symbols themselves may not been shown at all – whether on flags or posters or clothing or any other manner.
This is due to the fact that “the display of these flags and symbols can be tantamount to incitement to hate, in that they prompt people to chant hate slogans against a part of the population, namely Jewish fellow citizens,” he wrote in a statement.
I call upon the Metropolitan Police, and the Home Office that issue orders to take note. It is time to stop the circular arguement whereby the Home Office say it is up to the senior officer on the ground to use his/her judgment. And the senior officer says he has instructions from on high to do nothing.
The atmosphere in the Stand with israel group was lovely; it was wonderful to see Al Quds countered by a good sized crowd again. It will happen again in 2017 and for as many years as it takes.
Photographs E Weatherwax , S Sto Helit and a friend London July 2016
Shame on our Politicians that we allow this message of hate and Hezbollah on our streets....
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