Activists need to show 'Jewish lives matter' like BLM, deputy PM says

The deputy prime minister has said he fears there has not been the "moral clarity" that "Jewish lives matter" after the Hamas attack on Israel.

Oliver Dowden warned the Jewish community in the UK was "fearful" after a number of pro-Palestinian marches.

Rishi Sunak's deputy drew comparisons with the Black Lives Matter protests after the murder of George Floyd in the US.

Mr Dowden said that while there was "moral indignation" after the killing of Mr Floyd, the same "clarity" about the importance of Jewish lives had not been expressed since the incursion of Hamas into Israel on 7 October, when 1,400 people were killed and more than 200 taken hostage.

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Speaking on Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips, Mr Dowden said: "I have to say to you 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.

"I see it, whether it is on our campuses or elsewhere, we need to send a very clear signal that Jewish people are safe in this country, not just for the sake of Jewish people but for the sake of British society."

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."

Mr Dowden made the comments while being asked by Sir Trevor about the pro-Palestinian marches that took place across the weekend.

Another is due to be held on Armistice Day next Sunday, which Mr Dowden said he had "grave concerns" about.

"I think that at a time that is meant to be a solemn remembrance of the sacrifice of previous generations and upholding our British values, I think the police need to think very carefully about the safety of that demonstration, namely whether it could spill over into violent protest and the signal it sends particularly to the Jewish community," he said.

"Now, I understand that the Met Commissioner continues to keep it under review and I think that is appropriate."

Asked whether he was sending a signal to the police that the march planned for 11 November should be banned, Mr Dowden said the police are "operationally independent".

However, he added: "But I do have very grave concerns about that march, both in terms of how it sits with acts of solemn remembrance and the kind of intimidation that is being sent out by the chants and everything else that goes on at those marches.

"I think it is right that it is the law of the land that the police are operationally independent. But I think it is important that they consider those factors, yes."

Four police officers were injured and 29 people were arrested after thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in Trafalgar Square i n central London demanding a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.

They were arrested for inciting racial hatred, other racially motivated crimes, violence and assaulting a police officer, the Metropolitan Police said.

While the majority of protesters have behaved peacefully, some have been seen with offensive banners while others have been heard chanting "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free", which some Jews believe refers to the destruction of Israel.

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However, pro-Palestinian protesters have contested this definition.

Suella Braverman, the home secretary, has been criticism for previously describing street demonstrations in support of Palestinians as "hate marches".

In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Ms Braverman said any pro-Palestinian protesters who vandalise the Cenotaph should be "put into a jail cell faster than their feet can touch the ground".

The tens of thousands of demonstrators who are planning to take to the streets next weekend have demanded an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, where the Hamas-run health ministry says nearly 10,000 have been killed, including 4,800 children, in retaliatory Israeli strikes since 7 October.

Demonstration organisers in London have pledged to avoid the Whitehall area where the Cenotaph war memorial - the focus of national remembrance events - is located.