It’s Friday 13th. I’m in the middle of the anti-Trump rally in
Trafalgar Square. I’m here because the President of the United States
is a sexual predator. Because I believe his policies are divisive and
dangerous and racist. And because too many of his supporters are
hardcore Jew haters, or “very fine people” as he puts it.
But as a young Jewish woman I don’t feel safe at this protest.
The reason for this is that two dangerous looking men in black
balaclavas and steel toe-capped boots are stood behind me, shouting
“don’t believe in Jewish State lies.”
Looking around the square it soon becomes clear that for a very
sizeable minority this rally is not about Trump. It’s about the
world’s only Jewish state. Perhaps one in four people are wearing Free
Palestine stickers or holding a Palestine flag. Ken “Hitler was a
Zionist” Livingstone is wandering through the crowd shaking hands with
supporters. I later learn that the slick “Dump Trump” placards being
brandished by many of the protesters were paid for by an organisation
called Friends of al-Aqsa, whose leader has “saluted” the terror group
The men in balaclavas yelling about Jewish State lies make me
uncomfortable, so I walk up to a group of young people holding flags
and ask them why they’re here.
Nobody I speak to wants to talk about the President of the United
States. What they do want to talk about is Israel. No-one believes in
a two-state solution. No-one “has a problem with Jews” but no-one
thinks there should be a Jewish homeland.
I ask them how the most persecuted people in history can ensure their
safety without a state of their own. They tell me that the concept of
a Jewish state is racist and that Jews “should just live in
Palestine.” I wonder about telling them that I’m Jewish. But the men
in balaclavas are still within earshot so I think better of it.
For anyone involved in the Israel-Palestine debate this is not a
particularly unusual encounter. What’s disturbing is the way in which
the anti-Israel movement is so blatantly trying to exploit opposition
to the Trump presidency for its own strategic ends, to draw an
equivalence between white nationalism and Jewish self-determination.
I feel like there is no place for me at this protest. The anti-racist
liberals who make up the vast majority of the crowd should be the one
group we can rely on to understand how insecure an ethnic minority can
feel in this country. But for this crowd Jews are the “wrong” ethnic
minority. I’m left thinking do I have to choose between the feminism
that underpins my opposition to Trump and the Jewishness that that is
the root of my support of Israel?
I decide to walk away from Trafalgar Square. I look back at the
anti-fascists in combat boots warning the crowd about the
manipulations of the Jewish state. People are taking selfies of them
and chanting “Oh Jeremy Corbyn. – Anonymous