Antisemitism should be treated with same abhorrence as other racism – Dowden

There should be the “same abhorrence” shown towards antisemitism as there is for other forms of racism, the Deputy Prime Minister has said.

Oliver Dowden said he was “disappointed” that the “moral indignation” shown during the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests following the death of George Floyd in the United States in 2020 had not been seen in the aftermath of Hamas’s attack on Israel.

The Palestinian militant group that rules the Gaza Strip killed 1,400 people during bloody raids on October 7 and took about 240 hostages.

There have been vigils held in Britain for the victims and captives.

But subsequent pro-Palestinian protests at Tel Aviv’s retaliation on Hamas, which the Gazan Health Ministry says has killed more than 9,000 people, has seen thousands of people turn out on British streets in support of a ceasefire.

Arrests have been made during the demonstrations for inciting racial hatred.

In a video shared on social media, what appeared to be pro-Palestinian supporters on the Tube in London on Saturday could be heard chanting: “Smash the Zionist settler state.”

A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated offence after footage was posted on social media which appeared to show a man praising Hamas, the Metropolitan Police said.

Hamas is proscribed as a terror organisation in the UK and support for it is banned.

Mr Dowden, speaking to Sky News’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme, said British Jews were “fearful” in the current climate and that it was a “matter for all of British society” to confront.

But the senior Conservative said BLM-style protests in support of the community to show that “Jewish lives matter” had not materialised after the atrocities inflicted on Israel almost a month ago.

Mr Floyd’s death at the hands of police in the US, during which he was filmed by a bystander telling officers “I can’t breathe”, sparked pro-equality demonstrations across the globe, including in Britain.

Black Lives Matter protests
George Floyd’s death in the US sparked worldwide Black Lives Matter protests (Yui Mok/PA)

Before Premier League and other football matches, players regularly took a knee in protest at discrimination as part of the BLM movement.

The Deputy Prime Minister said: “I have to say that I am a bit disappointed that if you look at the moral indignation and the clarity that we saw after the murder of George Floyd in the United States with the Black Lives Matter movement, we haven’t seen, across civic society, the same kind of moral clarity showing that Jewish lives matter.

“I think that is a cause of hurt to the Jewish community and it is something that disappoints me as well.”

He added: “People need to understand that antisemitism is racism, full stop.

“And the same abhorrence that we show to other forms of racism, we should show towards antisemitism.

“It is not an acceptable state of affairs where Jewish people don’t feel safe on the streets of this country because of intimidation.”

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told a policing meeting at the London Assembly last week that anti-Jewish hate crime was up 14-fold and anti-Muslim hate crime up threefold on last year.

Mr Dowden praised the police for working “exceptionally hard” to tackle rising antisemitism since Hamas’s attack and the action since taken by the Israel Defence Forces and called for a “redoubling of efforts” to keep the Jewish community safe.