LONDON — More than 2,500 people demonstrated last week in Manchester, England, in a display of Jewish unity against increasing anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom and the problem of anti-Semitism in the British Labour Party.
Some 32 Jewish groups ranging from Orthodox to Progressive Reform came together to sponsor the Sept. 16 rally during a rainstorm in Britain’s second-largest Jewish community.
“Enough is enough,” said Raphi Bloom of North West Friends of Israel in opening the event in the Manchester city center, the Manchester Evening News reported.
“We will not be scared, cowed or intimidated by these racists and we demand immediate action against the perpetrators of this anti-Semitism.”
Among the speakers were British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis; Marie van der Zyl, the president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Jonathan Goldstein, chairman of the Jewish Leadership Council; and several area lawmakers.
Margaret Hodge, a member of Parliament who recently called Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn “an anti-Semite and a racist,” spurring online anti-Semitic attacks, called for an “end to the vile racism against Jews,” according to the newspaper.
“I never, ever dreamt that my identity as a Jew and my work as public servant in the Labour Party would lead me to a rally protesting against anti-Semitism in my party, in our politics and in our communities,” she said.
“We’re standing together, we’re shouting to everybody, were making everybody hear that we mean what we say when we say enough is enough.”
A recent poll that found nearly 40% of British Jews would leave the country if Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn came to power, a possibility that “sickens me,” British Prime Minister Theresa May said the following day.
“I do not underestimate the threat posed by those who promote anti-Semitism, or hatred in any form. Nor the pernicious nature of what those people say and what they stand for,” May said Sept. 17 at a United Jewish Israel Appeal dinner in central London.
“But I do not believe those voices speak for the vast, overwhelming majority of people in our country . . . And most importantly, I do not believe that those voices will ever win. We will not let them win,” she told the audience of 800.
The poll appeared this month.
Meanwhile, this week Jeremy Corbyn, the head of Britain’s Labour Party, said that he would immediately recognize a Palestinian state if elected to lead the United Kingdom.
In his keynote speech to the fourth day of the party’s annual conference on Wednesday, Sept. 26, in Liverpool, Corbyn criticized Israel’s “ongoing denial of justice and rights to the Palestinian people” and what he called its “discriminatory nation-state law” before affirming that he is for a two-state solution to the conflict.
“And in order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognize a Palestinian state as soon as we take office,” Corbyn said to loud applause, according to the Times of Israel.
Earlier in the conference, the party passed a motion criticizing Israel and backing a freeze on British arms sales to Israel.
The party criticized Israel’s use of force against Palestinian protesters on the border with Gaza and called for more British government funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.
Before and during the votes on the motion, some delegates waved Palestinian flags and chanted “Free Palestine.”