By Rabbi Josh Levy and Rabbi Charley Baginsky
We recognise the diversity of voices on the pro-Palestinian protests and demonstrations – which are taking place in London and around the UK – and that the right to protest is an essential part of living in a democratic society.
At the same time, there are limits to what is acceptable in demonstration. Those who protest have a responsibility to do so with thought for the impact on others. We ask all those protesting and especially those organising these events to think carefully about the real meaning of their words and about the impact of their actions on those encountering them.
We are especially concerned about the impact on Jewish students and children who are already feeling vulnerable.
There should be no tolerance for those who are chanting antisemitic slogans, celebrating violence, or calling for uprising against Israel and against Jews. They should not be welcome on the demonstrations and should be dealt with by the full force of the law.
We are deeply concerned about community relations in this country and that asks that we consider how we speak with one another.
We also share the concerns of many, including the police, about the march planned for Armistice Day. Remembrance Weekend is a particularly sensitive time for the Jewish community and one which also marks the sacrifice of people of all faiths and backgrounds who have served in and alongside the British Army.
We were proud to be involved in the creation of the statement of Jewish values and core principles in response to the conflict between Israel and Hamas at www.ourjewishvalues.org.uk.
As that statement says: “This moment requires those of us in the UK not to speak in simple slogans, but to admit complexity… We must reject both antisemitism and Islamophobia. We must widen our gaze and expand our conversations, entering into dialogue wherever possible.”
We ask those who care about the situation in Israel-Gaza and about community cohesion in the UK to share this approach.
- Rabbis Josh Levy and Charley Baginsky are the CEOs of the UK’s two Progressive Judaism movements.