Another night in London and another modestly-attended protest in support of Britain’s beleaguered Jews and of Israel. Wednesday night’s event was organised outside New Scotland Yard by Campaign Against Antisemitism. The object? To protest at the Metropolitan Police’s submission to the genocidal chanting and exhortations to “jihad” of a large proportion of those marching in support of Palestinians. These events have taken place at successive weekends and another is expected in London on Saturday October 28th.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley, following a meeting with ministers, explained to Sky News on Monday this week that his force was “absolutely ruthless” in enforcing the law. His officers, however, could do nothing if the law was inadequate. If someone steps over the line, they are quick to arrest. “But,” Sir Mark went on to reflect, “maybe some of the lines aren’t quite in the right place.” He went on to blame U.K. legislation for its laxity in allowing “extremist groups to steer round those laws.”
Rowley has a valid point when he says that Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Germany but most British Jews watching him will have been sickened at his disavowal of the Met’s responsibility. The fact is, extremist groups have not had to worry about steering around the law at all – the Met has simply retreated abjectly to save them the trouble. It has redefined what constitutes a crime in order to excuse itself from the difficulty of having to confront a large mob.
Consider the Metropolitan’s social media announcement on Friday October 20th, ahead of Saturday’s March.
Of the plainly genocidal ‘river to the sea’ chant, the Met said:
While we can envisage scenarios where chanting these words could be unlawful, such as outside a synagogue or Jewish school, or directly at a Jewish person or group intended to intimidate, it is likely that its use in a wider protest setting, such as we anticipate this weekend, would not be an offence and would not result in arrests.
Following the weekend’s protests, after “jihad” was widely chanted, the Met said that “the word jihad has a number of meanings”.
While arguably beyond parody, this was neatly sent up by the Daily Telegraph sketch writer Tim Stanley:
And what are we to make of those activists shouting for jihad whom the Met declined to arrest because, according to its finest theologians, jihad has “a number of meanings”? For me it suggests the name of a balmy port in Oman, of nights of perfume and satin, caressed by Arabian breezes. For others it means “kill all Jews” – and the inability to infer the bleeding obvious exposes a moral blindness in British society.
Rather than enforcing an inadequate set of laws as Rowley suggests, the Met is falling over itself to deny that any laws, such as Section 12 of the Public Order Act, are being broken. You can see the cognitive dissonance in Rowley’s face as he describes his force as ruthless. In reality, the Met has had to acknowledge that it is powerless in the face of marches on the scale of those taking place in London on successive weekends. Rather than say this aloud, it has had to rationalise non-arrests for chants exhorting genocide and armed aggression.
As the protest outside New Scotland Yard heard, the Met has also closed down protests in support of Jews and Israel – such as Campaign for Antisemitism’s Israeli hostage poster vans and marches organised by Christian Action Against Antisemitism – under the pretext of protecting Jewish protestors from antagonists.
British Jews are not facing anything on the scale of what Israelis have experienced since October 7th. Nevertheless, the craven failure of the Metropolitan Police has normalised behaviour that should unequivocally result in arrests. The boundaries have been redrawn in favour of intimidation and naked antisemitism. Some potential jihadists will be heartened by the lack of consequences for their behaviour to date. There has already been one terrorist attack attributed to events in Gaza – swiftly hushed up and unreported. One can only imagine where this is heading if we do not see a reversal of the Met’s approach. Given the level of self-deception on display from Sir Mark Rowley, is he the man to do it?
Ian Price is a Business Psychologist. Find him on X (Twitter).