British journalists react to the crisis in Gaza

I see that my trade union, the National Union of Journalists, is supporting the TUC call to attend the demonstration planned for this Saturday outside the Israeli embassy in London.

Some years ago, following an Israeli military action off the Gaza coast, a demonstration was held at the Israeli embassy in London. There I witnessed a small group of Jewish people chased and some beaten by a mob. I am not talking about a tiny band of nutters embedded within an otherwise respectable static protest. The mass was overcome with incandescent rage.

Policing of that demonstration was virtually non-existent. I assume that the Metropolitan Police will not make the same mistake again, as the chances of the demo turning violent are fairly high.

Experience of previous anti-Israel demonstrations in London, and also that of recent activities in Paris, should give us pause for thought. In Berlin this week, there were mass chants of “Jude Jude, feiges Schwein, komm heraus und kämpf allein!”, with the leaders calling for a raid on the Jewish district, “equipped with hammers, fire extinguishers and batons”.

Violent antisemitism is not something peculiar to foreign climes. Jew-bashing has a long tradition within these British Isles, and the current political and religious temperature is such that it could very easily kick off again.

If any of my colleagues do attend the London demonstration this weekend, I plead with them to position themselves so as to make a rapid exit should events turn nasty.

The concern of journalists should be full, truthful, critical and impartial reporting on the situation in Gaza and Israel, and solidarity with Palestinian colleagues.