Anti-Palestinianism, suspect communities and racist backlash (24 – 7 November 2023)

Anti-Palestinianism, suspect communities and racist backlash (24 – 7 November 2023)


Written by: IRR News Team


25 October: The South Wales Islamic Centre issues a statement accusing the leader of the Labour party of using social media to ‘gravely’ misrepresent a meeting with Muslim leaders in Wales where the situation in Palestine was discussed; they apologise for the ‘hurt and confusion’ caused by hosting Starmer. (Guardian, 25 October 2023) 

30 October: Speaking after a Cobra meeting to consider if Iran or other groups could be stepping up activities in the UK, home secretary Suella Braverman describes demonstrators marching in support of a ceasefire in Gaza as involved in ‘hate marches’. She considers the chant ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ a call for the erasure of Israel and urges the police to take action – something the police and human rights lawyers say needs a change in the law. (Guardian, 30 October 2023) 

Protesters at a Palestine solidarity March, 2023. Credit: Alisdare Hickson, Flickr

30 October: Andy Mcdonald MP is suspended from the Labour party after he said at a rally ‘We won’t rest until we have justice, until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea can live in peaceful liberty’. (Independent, 30 October 2023)  

2 November: German vice-chancellor Robert Habeck, announcing a new draft law allowing for deportation for antisemitic offences, says there will be ‘severe consequences’ for ‘Israel haters’. While criticising left and right for antisemitism he further attacks Muslims and Muslim associations for not ‘clearly distanc[ing] themselves from antisemitism so as not to undermine their own right to tolerance’. (Deutsche Welle, 2 November 2023) 

4 November: Amidst media claims that the prime minister wants a large pro-Palestinian march on Armistice Day banned, Rishi Sunak says that such a march would be ‘provocative’ and ‘disrespectful’ and warns of the risk of the Cenotaph and other war memorials being desecrated, which ‘would be an affront to British values’. (Daily Express, 4 November 2023) 

The Cenotaph, London. Credit: Mark Breezier, Flickr

6 November: The Black Protest Legal Support Group launches a petition to defend the right to protest (Free Palestine Protests), as Stop the War issues a statement criticising the Metropolitan police for its public statement asking for the march to be postponed because of the ‘sensitivity of the weekend’. BPLSG says the characterisation of Free Palestine demonstrations as ‘hate marches’ is appalling, and criticises TfL for planning a significantly reduced service on the London Underground on the day of the demo. (Stop the War Coalition, 6 November 2023, Black Protest Legal Support Group, 6 November 2023) 

Image: Sit in for Palestine at Liverpool Station, London. Credit: @sistersuncut, Instagram


30 October: The Metropolitan police commissioner says police will be ‘ruthless’ in enforcing laws at pro-Palestine protests and that it supports a review of the legal definition of extremism, as the lack of a ‘body of law that deals with extremism’ is ‘creating a gap’. (Standard, 30 October 2023) 

2 November: The Met police commissioner says the police will use ‘sharper interventions to make arrests in big crowds’ and ‘use analysis of social media and retrospective facial recognition to identify and detain extremists committing hate crimes or supporting banned terror organisations such as Hamas’. Up to 80 suspects have been arrested in London for such hate crimes, most directed at Jewish people, and a ‘chunk’ at Muslims, he says. (Standard, 2 November 2023) 

2 November: The Black-Jewish alliance says the Met and British Transport police manhandled those leading a prayer service at St Pancras rail station in support of Palestine. (Twitter, 2 November 2023) 

5 November: The Met issues a statement saying it has cut ties with Attiq Malik, who sits on one of its official advisory bodies and is chair of the London Muslim Communities Forum. After he led the chant ‘from the river to the sea’, the Met said his ‘past language and views … appear antisemitic and contrary with our values’. (Standard, 6 November 2023)  

7 November: Met chief Mark Rowley defies calls to ban a planned pro-Palestine march on Armistice Day, saying the police are independent of government and that there is insufficient evidence that serious disorder is likely. (Guardian, 7 November 2023)


25 October: A man previously sentenced as a juvenile for membership of ‘Islamic State’ is arrested in Germany on suspicion of planning an ‘Islamist-motivated attack on a pro-Israel demonstration’. (Deutsche Welle, 25 October 2023) 

27 October: Schools and public buildings across Germany are subjected to anonymous bomb threats, mostly making references to the war in Gaza, though some also mention Ukraine. The interior ministry says the source of the threats is unclear. (Deutsche Welle, 27 October 2023) 

27 October: France’s transport minister says a total of 70 threats have been made against regional airports, linked to the war in Gaza. (Deutsche Welle, 27 October 2023) 

2 November: The Met police commissioner reveals that counter-terrorism officers are examining around 250 possible terrorist offices in relation to the ‘war in Israel and Gaza’, with ‘really toxic material’ posted online having the potential to ‘provoke’ a terrorist attack. (Standard, 2 November 2023) 

2 November: The German interior minister bans the pro-Palestinian Samidoun group, claiming that it spreads anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda under the guise of supporting Palestinian prisoners, and outlaws any activities linked to Hamas, which is already banned. (Deutsche Welle, 2 November 2023) 

4 November: After home secretary Suella Braverman calls for a review of terrorism and extremism laws, the government’s independent reviewer of counter-terrorism laws says there could be a new offence of backing terrorism ‘by implication’ such as waving certain flags or chanting certain words. (Daily Express, 4 November 2023) 


29 October: The Met writes to headteachers in the London boroughs of Wandsworth, Richmond and Kingston and Merton advising them that, in the context of the Israel-Hamas war, the police are increasing ‘visible patrols’ at schools and ‘seeking to engage with school staff’ about ‘community tensions’ in order to improve ‘intelligence and information-gathering’. (Guardian, 29 October 2023) 

30 October: In Poland, the Medical University of Warsaw suspends a Norwegian student for holding a placard featuring an Israeli flag being thrown into a bin alongside the words ‘Keep the world clean’. The Israeli ambassador denounces the banner as ‘blatant antisemitism’, while the student says it was aimed at the Israeli government and not Jews. Four other students are under investigation for comments made on social media. (Notes from Poland, 30 October 2023) 

31 October: Following criticism from science secretary Michelle Donelan for ‘unacceptable’ and ‘extremist’ social media posts related to the Israel-Hamas ‘conflict, UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) suspends operations of the Research England Equality Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Group. A letter signed by 2,500 academics says the minister’s intervention ‘marks an attempt to create a climate of fear to deter academics from expressing opposition to grave human rights violations by Israel’. (THE, 31 October 2023) 

1 November: The British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (Academic Freedom Committee) defends Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Palestinian Israeli visiting chair in Global Law at Queen Mary, University of London, after her employer, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem denounces her for signing a petition, supported by 1,000 childhood researchers, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. HUJ says the petition’s claim that Israel is committing ‘genocide’ in Gaza, is not far from the crimes of ‘incitement’ and ‘rabble rousing’ and its claim that the occupation of Palestine began 75 years ago is a denial of Israel’s right to exist. (Mondoweiss, 1 November 2023)

2 November: Amnesty International’s latest report warns against Prevent-linked restrictions and monitoring of Palestinian activism at universities and by other public bodies as examples of violations of international human rights obligations. (Amnesty International, 2 November 2023) 

3 November: Leeds University’s Student Union is investigating allegations of antisemitism made by the university’s Jewish society, Hapoel Hyde Park, over the postponement of a football match with the university’s Arab Society FC due to the ArabSoc team’s discomfort at playing during the Israel-Hamas conflict. (Guardian, 3 November 2023) 

5 November: The Observer reports that only 27 schools in England currently teach a module on the Middle East, as fears of bias claims mean students are prevented from learning about the history of Palestine. In 2020, fewer than 2 percent of GCSE history students in England studied a module on the Middle East. (Observer, 5 November 2023) 


26 October: Meta is accused of censorship after locking the @eye.on.palestine account, one of the leading Instagram accounts sharing the plight of Palestinians under Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, citing ‘security reasons’. The 7amleh Arab Center for Social Media Advancement documents 238 cases of censorship of Palestinian voices in recent weeks. (Guardian, 26 October 2023) 

26 October: Eventbrite issues a deplatforming notice to the International State Crime Initiative and the School of Politics and International Relations, QMUL, who were hosting a discussion led by Omar Barghouti, the co-founder of the Palestinian-led BDS movement for Palestinian rights and co-recipient of the 2917 Gandhi Peace Award. (Communication from Eventbrite Trust & Safety, 26 October 2023) 

Image: Eventbrite deplatforming notice. Credit: Courtesy of Professor Penny Green, Queen Mary University of London, School of Law.

31 October: Chelsea football club offers to redesign and pay for a temporary banner for their Israeli supporters’ group as the current banner features elements of the Israeli flag, defying Premier League guidance which the supporters group claims is antisemitic as it stops the use of the Star of David on banners, while Jewish supporters’ groups like Arsenal’s Jewish Gooners continue to display banners containing the Star of David without a threat of removal. (Daily Mail, 31 October 2023)  

31 October: Clubs across the Premier League enforce the Premier League ban on displaying Israeli and Palestinian flags, with Liverpool FC stewards escorting a fan out of Anfield for wearing a Free Palestine hoodie, while Manchester United bans a supporter for one game for displaying a Palestinian flag. (First Post, 31 October 2023, Independent, 19 October 2023)  

1 November: Following an investigation into footballer Hamza Choudhury’s social media posts expressing support for Palestine, the English Football Association declares that it will not sanction the player but will provide clubs with guidelines stating that players cannot use the phrase ‘from the river to the sea’. (Daily Mail, 1 November 2023) 

1 November: Jadaliyya publishes a letter of complaint by a BBC correspondent based in Beirut, Rami Ruhayem, to the BBC director-general that its coverage fails to reflect the serious discussion among experts as to whether Israel is guilty of genocide, the liberal use of words such as ‘massacre’, ‘slaughter’ and ‘atrocity’ about Hamas actions but hardly ever about Israel’s, and failure to reflect terms used by experts reflecting the context of apartheid, ethnic cleansing and settler colonialism. (Jewish Voice for Labour, 7 November 2023) 

2 November: Tunisian tennis player Ons Jabeur announces that she will donate a portion of her prize money from the ongoing Women’s Tennis Association Finals to help Palestinians in Gaza. (Al Jazeera, 2 November 2023) 

2 November: Celtic Football Club issues a statement asking fans not to show support for Palestine at a fixture with Atleico Madrid, by displaying ‘banners, flags and symbols’ related to the conflict. The club suspends the Green Brigade, a prominent supporters’ group drawing members of the Irish Catholic diaspora, for defying a ban on displaying the Palestinian flag imposed by the club, which incurred UEFA fines after Green Brigade supporters displayed an anti-fascist banner in matches against Rotterdam and Lazio. (Independent, 2 November 2023, Al Jazeera, 2 November 2023) 

3 November: The German football club Mainz 05 terminates the contract of Dutch player Anwar El Ghazi due to social media posts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. El Ghazi tweets, ‘Stand for what is right, even if it means standing alone’. (Al Jazeera, 3 November 2023)  

3 November: In Germany St Pauli, a club known for its left-wing supporter base, displays a banner reading ‘From Gaza to Glasgow, fight anti-semitism! Free Palestine from Hamas’ in response to Celtic fans’ displays of solidarity with the people of Palestine. (Morning Star, 3 November 2023) 


31 October: The Guardian reports on the fact that amongst those taken hostage by Hamas are Thai migrant workers, thousands of whom, driven by poverty, prop up the agricultural sector of Israel – another 32 have been killed and 19 injured. (Guardian, 31 October 2023) 


28 October: A petrol can with the words IDF RULE [Israeli Defence Force], is thrown through the gates of the Central Oxford Mosque. The mosque, which praises Thames Valley Police for its quick response, attributes the attack to its support for the Palestinian people and its display of the Palestinian flag. (Twitter, 28 October 2023, Oxford Student, 29 October 2023)  

28 October: A man pleads guilty to a racially aggravated public order offence in Stamford Hill, north London after shouting at a bus driver, swearing at him, and calling him ‘terrorist’ and ‘Hamas’. (My London, 31 October 2023; Standard 31 October 2023)  

28 October: In Stamford Hill, north London, a man threatens to stab an Orthodox Jew with a broken bottle. (Yahoo, 1 November 2023) 

29 October: Devon and Cornwall police appeal for witnesses after antisemitic graffiti and swastikas are found in several areas around Torquay. (Devon Live, 3 November 2023)  

30 October: The director of the EU’s agency for fundamental rights warns against a rise in antisemitism which he says is ‘deeply ingrained’ in Europe and can be triggered by ‘dramatic moments’. (Guardian, 30 October 2023) 

31 October: Racially aggravated harassment features in some of the 70 arrests made in relation to the Israel-Hamas conflict, says the Met, pointing to both antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents. (Enfield Independent, 31 October 2023)  

31 October: A statement from the Palestinian Mission in the UK drawing attention to death threats and acts of violence against missions of Palestine in several world capitals singles out the UK government for its failure to step up diplomatic protection. Police and the Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office are made aware of death threats against the Palestinian ambassador and Mission staff as well as acts of vandalism. (Twitter, 31 October 2023) 

31 October: The French interior minister reports 819 antisemitic acts and 414 arrests since Hamas’ attacks on Israel. More antisemitic incidents occurred in three weeks than the whole of last year. Dozens of buildings in the 14th arrondissement of Paris are defaced with around 60 Star of David symbols. (Le Monde, 31 October 2023, Brussels Times, 31 October 2023, France 24, 31 October 2023, Le Parisien, 30 October 2023) 

1 November: Red paint is thrown at the window of the Islamic Human Rights Commission offices in London, where pro-Palestinian posters are displayed. (Twitter, 1 November 2023) 

2 November: An investigation is launched after antisemitic graffiti including a Nazi swastika and the words ‘kill Jews’ are found in the toilets of the Channing School for Girls in Highgate, north London. (This is local London, 3 November 2023)  

2 November: In France, two Moldovans are deported after confessing to daubing buildings in the 10th arrondissement of Paris with Stars of David, saying they were directed to do so by an ‘unidentified individual’ in Russia. (Politico, 2 November 2023) 

2 November: In Germany, Report Antisemitism finds a 240% year-on-year increase in antisemitic incidents in the period from 7 October, when Hamas launched its attack on Israel, to 15 October. (Deutsche Welle, 2 November 2023) 

3 November: Muslim and Jewish charities and religious associations including the United Synagogue, the Central Oxford Mosque Society and Wiener Holocaust Library report an increase in attacks since 7 October. The Community Security Trust records 893 antisemitic incidents and Tell Mama records 515 anti-Muslim incidents. (Civil Society, 3 November 2023)  

4 November: French prosecutors urge ‘caution’ to those linking a highly-mediatised incident in which a young Jewish woman was stabbed in her home in Lyon which was daubed with a swastika to the Israel-Hamas war, suggesting that while there ‘could be an antisemitic motive’, the victim’s ‘personal entourage’ were being investigated. (Le Monde, 4 November 2023) 

Feature image: Pixellated image of protestors holding up a sign saying ‘From the river to the sea Palestine will be free’ in Melbourne May 2021. Credit: Matt Hrkac, Flickr

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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