3rd July 2016. It’s ‘Al Quds’ day. An annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan. Yet another of the ever increasing number of days where an excuse is found to march against Israel. This particular day was introduced by the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979. With Hezbollah symbolism ever present in these ‘Al Quds’ marches, that flavour is never far from sight.
I arrived with my family at Oxford Circus Station. Holding their Israeli flags, they continued on their way towards the counter demonstration to be held near the US embassy. Unlike previous years, grassroots groups such as Sussex Friends of Israel and the Israel Advocacy Movement, had vowed the Zionists would not leave the streets to the extremists.
I was envious. However, I had other things planned for myself. I reached the corner of BBC Broadcasting House in Portland Place, placed a scarf with Palestinian colours around my neck, pulled the hood of the jacket over my head as a disguise and entered the opposition camp.
Upon arriving I was handed a flag calling for the boycott of Israel, and slowly the crowd swelled. A coach arrived, then another. The antizionist Neturei Karta were placed at the front of the demonstration. They were kept that way. A line of protecting stewards were placed behind them and if anyone else tried to nudge to the front during the march, they were pulled away. Jews had to be on the front line, however unrepresentative they may be.
Hezbollah T-shirts, Nasrallah T-shirts, Khomeini T-shirts. These people marched proudly through the streets of London. Someone had a placard that read ‘ We are all Hezbollah’. And I marched with them. Support for radical Islamic extremists. Maybe 350 people in total, maybe slightly more. The demographic was clearly one sided. Over 80% of them looked Middle Eastern themselves. Arabic was the language most spoken.
I was not in this alone. There were two others, acting out as reporters from an international news agency. One of them was swiftly identified and removed from the crowd. The other tried to mingle, eventually talking to someone wearing a Nasrallah T-Shirt who began to glorify terrorists.
The march of the Hezbollah in London
And we walked amidst this hatred. The drum beat ever present. The mob’s conductor leading the way with the usual chants. Right through Oxford Circus, Regent Street, Bond Street, the heart of London’s main shopping district. Hezbollah flags were waving all the way. I saw a boy, maybe 13 or 14, holding the terrorist flag. At some point I was handed a large Israel hating placard to hold aloft. I soon disposed of it, my co-operation would only carry so far.
Such extremism. Such hatred. There will be no peace, there will be no progress, until this venom is extracted from the conflict. The irony that on this day in North London, left wing Zionists had gathered at a Haaretz conference to discuss the issue of peace was not lost on me. With all the will in the world, theirs is a bubble that at the moment, simply does not exist.
You cannot negotiate with this. Nor will peace move forward whilst this mob is allowed to spread its poison. This is blind hatred. Self- chosen ignorance, bias, and yes, not a little antisemitism. Those few in the crowd that were not Islamic radicals fell into two distinct groups. Those on the very far left, and those on the very far right. An absurd political marriage enabled only by a mutual hatred of Jews.
They even began to talk about ‘true Jews’. Radical Islamic extremists actually defining my religion for me. They stood and declared I was not a ‘real Jew’. Over and over again on the loud speaker, in the heart of London. A speaker at a radical Islamic march declared to all those listening that over 90% of UK Jews are not ‘real Jews’. This isn’t antisemitism? This isn’t incitement? How is this not hate speech? On the way back from the march, activist and blogger Richard Millett witnessed and intervened during an antisemitic attack against a Jewish boy on the train. This is what accommodating such hatred provokes.
Back on the march, the counter demonstration had clearly unsettled the organisers. There were constant reminders that we were approaching the Zionists. Every 100 meters, another reminder. Warnings that people should not be ‘provoked’. That although the Zionists support a ‘racist terrorist state’, the crowd should stay calm. You could feel the rising anger. For these people Israel represents all they hate about the west. And these people hate the west. More chanting. Another hundred meters. Another reminder.
We were accompanied along the way by a handful of Israeli flag carrying ‘lions’. Those that walked not inside the demonstration, but alongside it. Their faces well known to us, and to the marching crowd. Joseph, Andrew, I saw a few. And as I did, I heard comments thrown at them about ‘Al-Yahud’. I don’t know exactly what antisemitic slur was hurled in Arabic, but nobody seemed to care. Least of all the government and the police, those who carry the duty of protecting the Jews of the United Kingdom.
Sighting the Zionists
Shortly before the end, they began collecting the children and moving them towards the front of the demonstration. As with the antizionist Jews, this was another PR stunt in the making. Finally, after nearly 90 minutes of chanting, we arrived. I could see the Israeli flags. The marching stopped and scores of police divided the two groups. I waited some more, trying to talk to demonstrators. Nobody was interested. The Zionists were there; the devil himself was in sight. They had other things on their mind.
On the other side Arieh from the Zionist Federation held sway with the microphone. ‘Hatikva’. ‘God Save the Queen’. ‘Peace not hate’. My type of thinking. I put away my fake pro-Palestinian identity and tried to cross over to the side of democracy, freedom, pluralism. There was no way through. Eventually a policeman told me to step back, because I was ‘provoking’ the pro-Israelis. I pointed out my wife, my mum, my kids and told him provoking them was my ‘full time job’. He smiled and let me cross. Even then I needed to enter the counter demonstration the long way round. The protecting barriers were up.
Allowing this type of march isn’t a strength of our freedoms, it is a weakness. Yesterday, we emboldened radical extremism. We let it stand proud. We created an opportunity for people to meet and bring Hezbollah to the heart of London. I am used to being amongst this type of hatred. I have attended scores of events and witnessed some truly vile statements. But I have to admit there was something about marching with them, something about seeing the Hezbollah flag on the streets of London, that I found deeply disturbing.
And as we came around the corner and I began to see that sea of Blue and White in front of me, it is difficult to describe the feeling. Not unlike the sight of land as you approach Ben Gurion on a flight to Israel. I could see my family and my friends. I was home.
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31 thoughts on “Walking with the Hezbollah in London”
Your pieces are a truly inspiring and positive sound, all though there is not to much positive towrite about concerning Jewish life here in Europe.
You manage to put even the dark parts into a rational and understandable context.
Thus making the fear and panic dissolve.
Excellent work !!
I hope you do not mind me using parts of your text (with source always) for my own little battle´s on the internet ?
With best regards,
Well done David – another great piece of writing. Sorry I couldn’t be with everyone yesterday.
A great counter demo – well done SFI, IA and ZF. And a big shout out to Simon C (he learned everything he knows from NWFOI)! PG I’ll be there next year – this is now a must do event. We cannot allow hatred to go unopposed.
What a fraud. Its clear the only ones to hate are the ones who went to Palestine ILLEGALLY, amassed weapons to dispossess the natives (ie NOT assimilate) and carry out genocide on the goyim for 68 yrs. Lets see you man enough to put this on your really lame blog.
Illegally? I like posters like you Blake, because you highlight just where anti-Israel activism sits on the political spectrum.
1st. The mandate was a legal instrument.
2nd. Most of the people who came were migrants and refugees escaping persecution and genocide.
So I have a question for you. If you walk up to a group of Syrian migrants/refugees in the UK, (who apparently, you think entered the country illegally) and you start massacring them (as some of the Arabs began to do to Jews in British Palestine). What does that make you? See which side you have you chosen. Simple isn’t it.
Something else, Blake. Most of the “Palestinians” were illegal immigrants, too. They poured in from Syria, Saudi and even Egypt as soon as the Jews started draining the swamps and making the land viable. You could try reading Joan Peters “From Time Immemorial” if you are really interested in history and not just hating Jews. You could try googling what Churchill said about Arab immigration to Palestine. Or you could stick your fingers in your ears and hum. I suppose you will do that–but at least now you can’t say you didn’t know.
A typical Zionist myth! You;d think there was nothing but desert there until the Zionists came to ‘drain the swamps’. If you’re recommending books, I assume you’ve read’ The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ by Ilan Pappe?
I have. Pappe is a conspiracy theorist who has admitted that his activism trumps the truth when it comes to his work. Pappe underplays the opposition the yishuv faced in the early months of the civil conflict and overstates the power of the zionist forces, exagerrates their abilities and creates an impossible conspiracy about what control and planning was possible. He even glosses over the infiltration of arab irregulars into british palestine, and minimises arab violence in december 47 and january 1948. It is a book that is interesting to someone with a firm grasp of the conflict, but for someone to use it as gospel (as BDS activists do) it is mightly foolish and misleading. It is simple and blatant propaganda. I have read some of his other work too. What is your point?
If you want to read a respected historian smashing Pappe. there is this https://newrepublic.com/article/85344/ilan-pappe-sloppy-dishonest-historian
Bake, Chant this…
From the River to the Sea
palestine Will Never Be!
Please remind me, how many Arabs live in Israel, what proportion of Israelis are Arabs?
Twenty percent of Israel’s population are Israeli Arabs. Since we are 8,million people you can work that out.
I know quite a lot, having worked on projects and because I am a sociable activist?More than that some of my doctors and my physiotherapist are Muslims,as are many switchboard(call service) operators who speak to us and help us everyday. Our supermarkets and medical services employ many arabs varying from christians to circassians,armenians,druse,and beduin(who serve in the army )and we visit arab villages and restaurants.I invite you to come and visit.
Blake . I suggest you Google ”Resolution 181 Of The Untied Nation ” and read . The Jews/Israeli did NOT occupied illegally. By the way read the Quran land of Israel was also granted to people of the book by Allah. Get your head out of your backside. Tell me Pakistan and Bangladesh were also carved out of India at the same time. So India must get those land back also. Read the Quran land of Israel existed even then , which Allah also granted to Jews /people of the book..
Blake. Do you know who the real Nazis were and are? See http://www.YouTube.com/watch?v=7mkbBudJu1w
You were not in the pro-Palestinian crowd (and never have been pro-Palestinian) – your timeline on fb is full of hate and claims Palestinians have used human shields in Gaza which is absolutely not backed up by any sources. The fact is there are over 12000 documented cases of your occupation force using Palestinian human shields. ALL you do is project your own ugly qualities on those you oppress. ‘israel’ was never capable of sane/rational policies and the 68 yrs of state terror can attest to that.
Go read about ‘cruel zionism’ & about false flags which killed Jews. I can go on for days but one cannot reason with someone who is indoctrinated to nothing. However dont LIE and claim you had a Palestinian flag. When you point fingers three point back at you. zionists are NOT the victims here.
Fascinating. Now for no reason at all you accuse me of lying. I was there, I was inside. I always am. It is what I do. How about putting aside the empty rhetoric and dealing with the simple question raised by your first post.
1st. The mandate was a legal instrument.
2nd. Most of the people who came were migrants and refugees escaping persecution and genocide.
So I have a question for you. If you walk up to a group of Syrian migrants/refugees in the UK, (who apparently, you think entered the country illegally) and you start massacring them (as some of the Arabs began to do to Jews in British Palestine). What does that make you?
Ignorant Bake, Jews were in the Land of Israel BEFORE moohammed and band of thieves invaded the Middle East. So too Christians have lived in the Middle East BEFORE Islam wsa invented.
The World sees “the religion of peace” in
– Londons 7/7/05 transport bombings
– beheading of British soldier Lee Rigby
– beheading of journalist Daniel Pearl and James Foley and others
– ISIS beheading captives and their proudly posting their cruel deed in the Internet
– attack on Charlie Hebdo
– attack on Bataclan
– attack on San Bernardino
– attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando
– interrupted sneaker and underwear bombers of inflight planes
– bombing of Pan Am 103
– bombing of MetroJet
– bombing of Egypt Air
– bombing of Boston Marathon
– bombing of Damascus where 200+ were murdered
Bake, You are a FASCIST and YOU and your death cult will be DEFEATED.
An excellent description of yesterdays events. One propogating hate, one promoting peaceful dialogue.
I am full of admiration for what you are doing. I was in the crowd listening to the strong support of Matthew Offord MP, and the ZF chief Charney eyc.
Thanks to police and cST for keeping us safe.
Looks like ‘blake’ does not like you. I often wonder what he and his ilk would have done if he had been around 70-80 years ago and the nazis had succeeded in invading the UK. An interesting question that tends to answer itself
The issue of Israel is a side show. The goal of Islam is global domination. So the removal of Israel and the murder of all Jews there is just a step on the path to their objective. This is the goal of both Iran and other Islamic states. They will then fight to the end for ultimate domination. Iran has made clear its objective many times. Why Israel seems to be just sitting there waiting to be attacked is something I cannot fathom.
That’s an interesting opinion, Marc. Because if anyone said, “The goal of Judaism is global domination” we’d presumably both agree that it was unacceptable hate speech. Similarly, if someone assumed that the actions of Israel were representative of global Jewry.
So why do you think Muslims are an acceptable target of hate speech? (And that the actions of Iran are representative of global Muslim communities.)
Marc is correct. Period.
The Quran itself is the most blatant manual of hate speech, so “presumably” you would agree to ban it.
And Marc’s is not unacceptable hate speech. Because the goals of Islam are both written and stated openly. In fact, the claim is that the directives in the Quran are “divine” imperatives. They are Repeated. Preached. Chanted. Loudly. Widely. Backed up with world wide attacks on innocents. Written, codified, prayed upon openly in a worldwide network of buildings dedicated to openly stated goals, whose members are kept in line by apostasy laws and honor killings, and who teach their children hate and bigotry at an early age. Trumpeted. To argue against the existence of the verses in the Quran, and the insistence they be followed as divine imperatives, when large numbers of Imans the world over preach fiery sermons specifically calling out validity off said verses, while watching the % muslim population approach 100% in country after country is the worst kind of self delusion, ignorance and obfuscation and denial.
If you are brave enough to call out, in the Muslim community, excision of the violent verses concerning jizya (tax on non-Muslims wherein rights are stripped, and the Quran calls to humiliate them and make them submit to this tax), and convert or die verses for polytheists, the sword verse, treatment of non-believers (dismemberment, beheading),
Imperatives of violent jihad for higher level of heaven, murder of LGBT, female circumcision, and if you admit that the verses concerning rape in war and sexual slavery and ransom for captives should be taken out of the teachings and practices of Islam, and an end to the teachings that jihad warriors receive the property of infidels in war, and endless sex from virgins in heaven as a reward for martyrdom, that would be a great start!!
The only problem is the Islam would be about 40% of its current self… and if you called for these actions to be taken, you would be under immediate death threat from hundreds and hundreds of millions of muslims, and thousands of Imans would issues fatwa for your death. I call for banning Islam from my country, and ANY country that is not considered Islamic should stop immigration and ban mosques.
You cannot fathom it, because the resultant retaliation will be unfathomable. ANY attack of a nature that is perceived to be of a nation / country obliterating one, will be reduced to sheets of glass. Neutron warfare will ensue, wiping out the attackers and all who were in the wings, waiting to become of age to partake in killings as well.
Neutron bombs wipe out living tissue and result in virtually none, if any radioactive fallout. The ‘sheets of glass’ reference is for effect and does not occur with neutron warfare.
Do not disbelieve that Israel will not deploy this!!!
The goal of Islam is global domination? Your hyperbole is actually dangerous and complete nonsense. In Indonesia there are 250m Muslims. Not more than 0.0001% believe that. In fact, I have never met an Indonesian who hates Jews (most don’t know who they are). Boko Harap, Hezbollah, ISiS etc do. Sunni and Shiite kills vs each other outnumber Jewish murders by 10000-1. Get your head out of your ass and realise your warped view is part of the problem. Notice I haven’t defended terrorists or hated on Israel but you’ll find a way to twist. You’re welcome for the education. Maybe Indonesia (apart from the Bali bombers and few isis recruits) didn’t get the message of world domination because I am certain they don’t give a fk. Hatred is related to education, situational and historical factors.
I enjoyed the article. What a messed up world.
“Do not argue with the loud-voiced, and heap fuel upon their fire.” – Ben Sira 8:3
That thought is a bit lame really, given the circumstances. It’s a wisdom that can be used some of the time, but it is self-harming if used when it shouldn’t be. Did you go to the Haaretz conf. I wanted to go, but couldn’t because of this. How was it?
That’s like saying don’t argue with Socialists like SHlTler. Their loud voices must always be refuted. NEVER abandon the stage to Fascists. Fight and Defeat Fascists (Socialists, Islamofascists).
Here from 1936 Oswald Mosley leads a march of British Union of Fascists in the East End of London https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cable_Street
American Nazis were active during the 1930’s as well
Marg Bar Fascist Iran!
Hang all ayatollahs of Fasicst Iran!
Hang their revolutionary gestapo!
LONG LIVE PERSIA!
Very good article. We must try not to hate the people who are indoctrinated very often by people not of their faith.
From a journalistic point of view I think the writer adequately captured the mood.
Sorry for my beloved London, but then I am old enough to remember Oswald Moseley marching too in 1938
Had I been free on Sunday afternoon, i would have been there. We need more pro-Israelis on the streets supporting this minute bundle of gutsy Jews that will walk in to these vile gatherings. Too may Jews feel intimidated by s scene that Dave encountered. Don’t be. It is because we are not big enough in numbers the likes of Hizbollah feel strong and powerful. Keep me posted and you have my 100% support on the ground.
P.S. I bet it was the Satmar Chasidim leading the march. Mumsers.
You so one sided that it makes your whole reporting superficial.
Everyone is one-sided Joseph. Even those that believe they are not. All reporting is done within the authors world vision. A reporter on fiscal issues for example does not straddle the entire spectrum of financial politics in the way he describes events. However, someone who supports democracy (as I do), freedom (as I do) and pluralism (as I do) does I believe not have to take the side of the Hizbullah (or Hamas, Al Qaeda…Boko Haram etc etc) to present a picture that is fair.
Fairness is not in agreeing, fairness is in understanding. Hizbullah are a movement you would (I hope), not want as a political force in your own country.
Finally, when it comes to discussions on a solution to the conflict, I believe I am far from one sided (I do have bias – accepted). There has to be a two way shift here for there to be progress. But we are not talking about that, nor is BDS anything to do with finding a workable, peaceful solution. Which makes BDS the enemy. BDS should be the enemy of anyone who wishes a better future for Israelis and Palestinians. See, there is nothing one sided in that.
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