London – “Al Quds Day” rally in central London saw numerous signs and chants that called for Israel’s destruction, as well as several comparisons to Nazis.
The “Al Quds Day” rallies are an Iranian-backed global event, but they have faced controversy over expressions of antisemitism and calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. In previous years, for example, Berlin banned the parade from taking place, while footage of the protests this year in numerous German cities appeared to show participants shouting phrases like “Scheiße Jude!” (“S***ty Jew!”), “Drecksjude” (“dirty Jew”), and “Strike, oh Qassam, don’t let the Zionists sleep.”
Volunteers from Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Demonstration and Event Monitoring Unit were present at the protest to gather evidence.
One sign read: “Where did all the Nazis go after WW2? Israel!!!”
Another placard displayed a swastika alongside the Israeli flag alongside the words “Same mindset! Different era!”
A person was also spotted wearing a top bearing the words: “The world stopped Nazism. The world stopped apartheid. The world must stop Zionism.”
Our Monitoring Unit also captured evidence of a sign which implied that Pakistan should deploy nuclear weapons on “Nazi Israel”.
According to the International Definition of Antisemitism, “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is an example of antisemitism.
The chant of “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” was present and led by Nazim Ali, the march’s inflammatory leader who made antisemitic statements during the 2017 march. In addition, multiple signs, viewable here and here, bore the words of the chant.
“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” only makes sense as a call for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state, and its replacement with a State of Palestine, and is thus an attempt to deny Jews, uniquely, the right to self-determination, which is a breach of the Definition.
Last year, the Court of Appeal refused Mr Ali’s request for permission to appeal the High Court’s ruling quashing a decision by the General Pharmaceutical Council’s Fitness to Practice Committee. The High Court ruling came after an appeal by the Professional Standards Authority against the original ruling by the Committee at the request of Campaign Against Antisemitism.
Speakers at this year’s rally included the disgraced Reverand Dr Stephen Sizer, who in January was handed a twelve-year ban by the Church of England after having been found to have “engaged in antisemitic activity” by a tribunal of the Church of England, and the former Labour Party MP Chris Williamson, who was suspended from Labour and then readmitted, only to be resuspended following a public outcry after claiming that Labour has been “too apologetic” over antisemitism. Mr Williamson has previously tweeted that “Zionist teachers around the country are violating children’s rights” and that Zionism is “a racist ideology.”
Mr Williamson’s speech at the rally included repeatedly talking about Israel killing “innocent children” and Zionism being inherently racist.
The inflammatory rapper Lowkey, whose real name is Kareem Dennis, also spoke at the rally. Lowkey’s songs include lyrics such as “nothing is more antisemitic than Zionism”. He is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). A month-long investigation by Campaign Against Antisemitism in 2017 exposed extensive antisemitic bigotry amongst PSC supporters on social media. Lowkey has previously described Israel as a “racist endeavour” in direct and deliberate contravention of the Definition, described Zionism as “antisemitic”, and spoken of the “Zionist lobby” in the context of global capitalism.
An array of literature was available to attendants of the rally, including articles and books from Tony Greenstein, an expelled member of the Labour Party and founder of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who last year surrendered what remained of his claim against Campaign Against Antisemitism for calling him a “notorious antisemite”.
One of Mr Greenstein’s available works present at the rally was entitled: “Zionism During The Holocaust. The Weaponisation of Memory in the Service of State of Nation.”
Also on display were images in support of high-ranking Iranian figures, such as the antisemitic Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps terrorist mastermind, Qasem Soleimani, and Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has said that the West is a mafia-like organisation under the control of “prominent Zionist merchants”.
The event also saw the burning of the Israeli flag, indicating support for the destruction of Israel.
Numerous flags were waved, including that of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella organisation of mostly Shiite militia groups, as well as a large red flag, which in Shiite tradition symbolises blood spilled unjustly and calls for vengeance, and is traditionally associated with the legend of Imam Hussein. The appearance of the flag at an “Al Quds Day” rally, where accusations of murder by Israel of innocents are repeatedly hurled, is reasonably understood as an indication of violent intent toward the Jewish state.