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DAN HODGES: A mob is harassing Britain’s Jews and intimidating MPs. Hate is winning – and it has to stop


Outside the House of Commons, Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, could sense the fear of MPs. And he was revelling in it. ‘There is a reason why Labour today is twisting in the wind!’ he gleefully told his massed activists. ‘There is a reason for the chaos descending behind you. And that’s because MPs are feeling the pressure. They’re becoming worried.’

He was right.

I spoke to one of those MPs, a Tory Minister. ‘When I came in to the House this morning, I decided I’d have to abstain on the SNP‘s Gaza motion [calling for a ceasefire] rather than vote against. I was just too scared of the possible reaction if I was on the record opposing it,’ he admitted. ‘I’m not a rabble-rouser, and I thought that would keep me safe.

‘But I don’t think that now. I think of the MPs who have been attacked. They were nice, moderate people. And I was thinking that if someone was going to murder an MP, it would be a nice MP. It would generate greater impact.’

To be clear, none of those attending the pro-Palestine rally in Westminster promoted violence. Jamal claimed his comments related solely to a fear among MPs that those protesting would withhold their votes. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has asked its supporters not to protest outside MPs’ homes.

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, addressed activists at a pro-Palestine rally in Westminster

Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, addressed activists at a pro-Palestine rally in Westminster

But it still advocates ‘direct action’. Jamal praised those who, in his words, ‘are protesting in their hundreds of thousands, who are confronting MPs day-by-day outside their offices’.

Shortly after he finished speaking, a hologram with the anti-Semitic slogan ‘From The River To The Sea, Palestine Will Be Free’ was projected on to the side of Big Ben. The Met later conceded that while the phrase ‘could be unlawful depending on the specific location or context’, beaming it on to the Mother of Parliaments was fine.

For the past few months, as brutal war continues to be waged on the streets of Gaza, a different, but equally existential conflict, has been developing on the streets of Britain.

On one side are those who have sought to utilise the mob to harass the nation’s Jewish community, intimidate its politicians and cow the police into submission.

On the other are those who have tried to give a legitimate voice to the Palestinian cause, protect free speech, yet uphold basic democratic principles, and the right of our minority groups to go about their daily lives free from oppression or fear.

And the mob has won.

In the wake of Wednesday’s chaotic scenes in the Commons, the rumours were swirling. The Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, had been threatened with deselection into adopting Labour’s amendment. He had been bounced by an emotional browbeating from Sir Keir Starmer and his Machiavellian chief of staff Sue Gray.

None of them were true.

Activists calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire waved banners in Parliament Square in London

Activists calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire waved banners in Parliament Square in London

Yes, Starmer did implore Hoyle to accept the Labour amendment. ‘He told Lindsay, “We have people really under threat over this Gaza vote”,’ a Labour source told me. But the Speaker had already made up his mind to prioritise the Labour amendment. And that was because he was already aware of a specific danger to a dozen MPs of all parties.

‘Lindsay knows of more than ten credible threats to MPs,’ a Commons official told me. ‘Most are women. They are from across the House. Some threats are from Islamists and some from the far-Right. But they’re real and active, and Lindsay felt he couldn’t ignore them.’

In doing so, Hoyle made a serious error of judgment, one he has acknowledged.

But while some MPs were angry with the Speaker, others privately expressed their relief. ‘I actually thanked him,’ one Tory MP told me. ‘In the end, it helped get me out of a tricky position. I genuinely didn’t know how I was going to vote.’

But by bowing to the threats from extremists on all sides of the debate, a line has been crossed. In fact, it was a line that was crossed the day the first pro-Palestine marches were allowed, and the streets of the nation’s capital were handed over to those who sought to peddle racism, praise the Hamas rapists and murderers, and glorify in the slaughter of October 7.

Hate was allowed to parade with impunity. And we are now reaping the whirlwind. The extremists have been emboldened – first by our most senior politicians. On Friday, Rishi Sunak was on our screens peddling the old, tired mantra. ‘People need to be able to raise their views and debate things without the fear of being intimidated,’ he said.

But MPs are being intimidated. How they vote is literally being dictated by a fear of being physically attacked. I’ve spoken to one MP who now employs ex-SAS men to guard him at his regular constituency surgeries.

We’ve had the same vacuous guff from the Mayor of London.

‘Hate will never win. We must stand together: it’s what London does best,’ Sadiq Khan said in response to another Saturday of chaos in his capital.

But hate is winning. The streets of London are becoming no-go zones for members of the Jewish community. And the only response is saccharine platitudes.

Meanwhile, the police have openly surrendered. I saw with my own eyes Met officers ordering a small group of protesters outside Downing Street to cross to the other side of the road. When they refused, the officers just shrugged and left them to it.

The same farcical ritual is enacted time and time again. The Met give protesters instructions. The protesters ignore them. The Met capitulates. Senior officers are no longer even pretending to act as guardians of the law but have opted to become glorified stewards. So long as a protest is completed with minimal overt violence and disorder, it’s a win.

Privately, Ministers are frustrated with what they see are the failures of the police to use the powers they have.

Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at Parliament Square on the day MPs debated a motion in Parliament on calling a ceasefire in Gaza

Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at Parliament Square on the day MPs debated a motion in Parliament on calling a ceasefire in Gaza

Last week, Security Minister Tom Tugendhat wrote to police chiefs urging them to ensure adequate protection for MPs facing protests at home. But the response has been mixed. ‘Different forces take alternative approaches,’ one Minister explained. ‘They interpret the law differently. And we just can’t intervene on what they say are operational issues.’

But responsibility doesn’t solely rest with the police. Former Home Secretary Suella Braverman raged against ‘Islamists’ who she said were ‘bullying Britain into submission‘. And there is obviously a very real extremist Islamist threat, as there is also a very serious threat from the extreme Right. But that represents only part of the problem.

The real issue is the liberal hand-wringers on all sides of the political divide who have ceded democratic principles in a misguided attempt to safeguard liberty, and whose flawed pursuit of inclusivity has unleashed a wave of intolerance and hate.

How many more people need to march through London with Swastikas, while chanting for the eradication of the only Jewish state, before someone finally recognises this is not how the British take a stand against prejudice?

How many more MPs need to literally cower in fear in their offices before we realise this is not the way we protect our freedoms? How many more votes must be curtailed before we see this is not how a mature parliamentary democracy functions?

Enough of the hand-wringing.

Last week, a line was crossed, and it must be urgently redrawn.

It’s time to finally ban the anti-Semitic parades. And stop the protests outside MPs’ homes. And end the intimidation outside their offices.

Above all, it’s time to realise the mob can’t be placated, but can only be confronted. And that however appalling the death and destruction in Gaza, our priority must be our own streets and our own communities.

Never again? It’s happening again in front of our very eyes. And now it has to stop.



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