Updated: Monday, 13th July 2020 @ 9:36pm

'We are not anti-Semitic': Free Palestine demonstrators brand Sir Richard Leese's Nazi comment 'irresponsible'

'We are not anti-Semitic': Free Palestine demonstrators brand Sir Richard Leese's Nazi comment 'irresponsible'

| By Sam Penny – MM exclusive

Pro-Palestine demonstrators have described Sir Richard Leese as ‘irresponsible’, after he compared their Gaza protests on the streets of Manchester to Nazi Germany.

Scott Anderson, a member of the Boycott Kedem movement, along with dozens of others descended on a Jewish-run King Street shop in protest over the conflict last Saturday.

And Mr Anderson has addressed claims of anti-Semitism aimed at those on the pro-Israel side of the protests after Sir Leese made reference to language that “would not have been out of place in 1930s Germany”.

“It has happened on a few occasions,” Mr Anderson told MM.

“The one that has been discussed was an individual not watching his language, saying things that could be construed as anti-Semitic but I found Richard Leese’s comments quite irresponsible.

“He linked us publicly with anti-Semitism and it makes people think that we are a platform for those kinds of views – which we are not.

“The more serious incidents of such behaviour happened only after Richard Leeses’ comments. Those people were ejected from the protest and reported to the police.

“We don’t want anti-Semitism and we have a zero tolerance policy. All racism in our eyes is equally bad.”

PROTEST: Pro-Palestine supporters claim they are not anti-Semitic 

The leader of Manchester City Council’s comments came at the opening of a meeting at Manchester Town Hall earlier this week.

He said: “This council cannot support those who seek to bring this conflict into our city and drive wedges between communities whose home is not the Middle East but is here in Manchester.

“We cannot support the use of language that would not have been out of place in 1930’s Germany.

“The council cannot support Manchester businesses, their staff and their customers being subject to abuse and intimidation as they attempt to go about their ordinary, everyday lives.”

The Boycott group have reportedly suffered abuse from those in disagreement with the action that is being taken outside the store on King Street.

“We have encountered racist abuse by the supports of the other demonstration,” added Mr Anderson.

“One instance that has been captured on video shows a man shouting at a female on the pro-Palestine side, wearing a hijab, telling her to “go back to her own country.”

However, Mr Anderson stressed that the racism was not an organised part of the counter protest and arose from associated individuals much like any anti-Semitism.

CLOSED: Jewish store Kedem is still at the centre of the protests

“Most of the people that are in favour of Kedem are very polite and just want to get their opinion across – we may not agree with those opinions but we have had constructive discussions with them, even winning some of them over.”

Responding to the tweets that had been posted by shoppers intimidated by the gatherings, Mr Anderson added: “You might find similar tweets after a United or City match that has drawn large crowds into the city.

“If people are intimidated by the crowds there’s nothing we can do other than keep our protestors calm and not engage with the other side.

“It doesn’t help us if people are intimidated because it doesn’t communicate our message.”

The boycotts outside of Kedem Cosmetics are part of a growing movement to encourage the British public not to buy products that contribute towards the economy of Israel.

Aiming to communicate a message of discontent to the Israeli government, the Boycott group seeks to influence the world of politics through their practices.

Mr Anderson said: “How far should you sit back in the world and let this happen? International pressure isn’t enough. There needs to be a groundswell of public opinion.

“It’s not the British government that is going to change things but the British people. We hope to see a democracy in Irsael/Palestine that doesn’t worry about the ethnicity of the demographic and allows them to come together as people.”

Main image courtesy of Charles Veitch, via Youtube, with thanks

Article images courtesy of Boycott Kedem, via Twitter, with thanks