Bigots use Gaza as an excuse
22 January 2009
The war in Gaza has proved to be incredibly controversial in the capital, with sharply divided opinions among our communities. But it is the domestic repercussions that are truly worrying. Over the past month, attacks on Jews and Jewish businesses have skyrocketed alarmingly. According to the Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-semitism in London, incidents are at a 25 year high with nearly 150 reported since the start of the Gaza offensive. Many of these have occurred in London.
Jews have been assaulted, a synagogue has been set on fire and there have been numerous incidents of racist daubing and graffiti. At some recent pro Palestinian rallies in the capital, people were marching with flags showing a Jewish Star of David overlaid by a swastika. This goes far beyond the bounds of civilized debate.
Quite simply, the events in Gaza have been used as a pretext for racism against Jews, with the attacks coming from far right and Islamist groups. This is both obscene and intolerable. Londoners, after all, would never hold the Russian community responsible for the plight of Chechnya, or the capital’s Chinese for the fate of Tibet. Indeed the mere suggestion of linkage would be greeted (quite rightly) with the strongest protestation. Every citizen of this diverse and tolerant city should feel equally secure, regardless of the foreign conflicts raging around the globe.
This point applies equally to Islamist extremists who wish to bring the UK to its knees. The MP Shahid Malik recently said that some British Muslims had a feeling of ‘helplessness, hopelessness and powerlessness’ over the Gaza crisis which was ‘profoundly unhealthy’. He may have implied that the conflict, with its terrible images of civilian casualties, was fuelling dangerous radicalization among younger Muslims.
Of course, the Muslim community is pained by the suffering of their co-religionists. But they must confine their anger to democratic and legitimate protest, rather than contemplate violence against their countrymen. Islamic radicalization, whether it occurs in London, Manchester or Glasgow, should be tackled vigorously and with the full force of the law. Muslim leaders need to channel the community’s anger into more constructive activities and, where necessary, alert the authorities.
Those who plan attacks on other Londoners are consumed by the vilest bigotry and prejudice, and use external issues as an excuse for their actions. They must not be allowed to upset the good community relations we enjoy in London.top