Jonathan Hunter
Jonathan Hunter

Racism and Naivety: Just another day out in London…

‘Standing against Zionism is to take a stand against racism!’ ‘We’re here because apartheid must go!’ ‘No country in the world can get away with killing as many children as Israel does!’

Ask a simple question on the conflict to one member of the public on the London Underground, and you’re instantly swamped by a dozen other people. Anything relating to the State of Israel provokes passionate debate – everyone knows that.  But sometimes even the most sensible of people are unwilling to admit that this debate crosses the line at certain points.

Walking to Parliament Square last Saturday was a frightening experience. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign claims to be a group composed of all backgrounds – of all beliefs and none. ‘Jews, Christians and Muslims walking together in solidarity with the Palestinian people.’

I am hesitant to buy into this line when I see hundreds of young people chanting the Takbir. When a rally of a political character apparently morphs into an expression of faith, one cannot deny its somewhat sectarian bent.

Sectarianism is certainly clear when you talk to one of the many troublemakers parading the banner of Hezbollah – or the flag of their Iranian overlords. Speaking to one man dressed up as a ‘resistance fighter,’ I was subjected to a dressing down.

I asked him a simple question. ‘Aren’t Hezbollah massacring thousands of innocents in Syria?’

‘Hezbollah lead the Shia resistance’ I was told, before the man stormed off.

Seeing this, another gentlemen, somewhat older than the ‘playhouse militant,’ tried to explain to me something else.

‘‘Hassan Nasrallah is a most reasonable man. I support him. If I was a young man, I would give my life to the resistance. I wish I could send my sons to Lebanon – just as Sheikh Nasrallah sacrificed his own boys. They say the man is a Shia, but he is the only one to have defeated Israel.’’

His views were appalling. The word ‘reasonable’ doesn’t belong in the same sentence with Hezbollah. Yet this man was incredible polite. He shook my hand. He addressed me as ‘sir.’ He was somebody’s father and grandfather. How could such a nice guy – how could such a seemingly normal person – believe such warped nonsense?

When playing pretend isn't funny: Dressed in black, complete with camouflage make-up, this man is imitating Hezbollah.
When playing pretend isn’t funny: Dressed in black, complete with camouflage make-up, this man is dressed up as a Hezbollah militant.

Hardcore Islamists are trailed by their allies in the Socialist Worker’s Party. They claim to be principled anti-racists. But when they are surrounded by anti-Semitic cartoons, when they see banners advertising the Middle East’s own brand of fascism, their anti-racist credentials aren’t put into practice.

A passer-by with a Socialist Workers T-shirt happily took a photo of me with some anti-Semitic cartoons. No questions asked. No objections raised. I wanted to see if he would refuse. Apparently not? Only Zionists can be racist…

One of the cartoons in question depicts a Star of David devouring a Palestinian flag – behind it are flags of the UK and the US, with the caption ‘yes master.’ It’s a standard illustration of ‘Jewish control’ conspiracy theories. I showed this to a woman named Riva, who claimed to be the Secretary of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. Her response? ‘You’re being too emotional about it. That’s an anti-imperialist cartoon; it doesn’t contain anything remotely anti-Semitic.’ Jews for Justice for Anti-Semites perhaps?

This isn't anti-Semitic! It's an illustration of anti-Imperialism...
This isn’t anti-Semitic! It’s an illustration of anti-Imperialism…
Iran and Hezbollah: Those well-known lovers of freedom.
Iran and Hezbollah: Those well-known lovers of freedom.

On the subject of ‘anti-imperialism,’ there is a perverse double standard concerning human freedom.  When left-wing firebrand Jeremy Corbyn took the stage, the crowd cheered his sycophantic tribute to the government of Ecuador. ‘Let us applaud the nation of Ecuador, who sent the Israeli ambassador packing!’ When he subsequently mentioned the United States, the crowd erupted with fits of booing. These demonstrators would rather applaud a corrupt South American kleptocracy than the world’s foremost democratic nation. When they chant ‘free Palestine,’ they clearly don’t understand the meaning of freedom.

That episode was bizarre – but some encounters left me with a sense of disgust. Walking down Whitehall, I saw war memorials exploited for the protesters’ flawed message. These ‘anti-war’ zealots will even violate the memory of our dead for their petty political ends.

On which planet is this deemed appropriate?
On which planet is this deemed appropriate?

But what left me thinking was seeing a man carrying a placard encouraging others to read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – with virtually no concern from the other demonstrators. ‘I want to spread awareness in the twenty first century,’ he told me.

I agree with this bigot on one point. It is indeed the twenty first century – and it’s about time we spread awareness of this sheer hatred.  


About the Author
Jonathan Hunter is a dual British-Israeli national studying history at Brasenose College, Oxford. He serves as the UK Campus Director of StandWithUs, an international nonprofit organisation advocating for Israel in 16 chapters around the world. Jonathan was recently elected to the Union of Jewish Students' National Council.