Golders Green Together
2015 saw a new incarnation of an old scourge in the UK. The toxic anti-Semitism underlying Nazi ideology led to two Nazi rallies in Jewish areas this year, protesting against supposed ‘Jewification’.
In February, Joshua Bonehill Paine announced a rally in Stamford Hill, home to Britain’s largest Charedi (or ultra-Orthodox) Jewish community. Working with Hackney Unites, HOPE not hate created a community based response, using the hashtag ‘We Choose Hope’. The Nazis expected that their protest would divide the community, and provoke a large counter protest, with all the accompanying upheaval and potential for violence. In fact, the Charedi community chose to ignore the Nazi rally on the day itself, and the outcome was an increase in unity.
A second rally was announced in Golders Green for Saturday 10 July. Disappointed at the poor publicity they received in Hackney, the Nazis issued sensationalist press releases, and instantly various organisations and individuals called for counter demonstrations. HOPE not hate was asked to form a response with the London Jewish Forum and Board of Deputies, together with the CST, which would both be respectful of the Jewish Sabbath, and would undermine what the Nazis were trying to achieve.
Calling the campaign Golders Green Together, very quickly we were able to redirect the media agenda, using a Twitter account, Facebook page, and launching a thunderclap which ultimately reached over 300,000 people. A launch photoshoot was attended by over 50 local leaders from many faith groups and a range of political parties. We distributed a leaflet for people and shops to display, as well as speaking at local schools. The focus was on building a strong, visible, localised response. While other actions included a petition to move the rally, and a counter demonstration, our efforts were on uniting the local community against this external threat.
Days before the planned demonstration, Bonehill posted such inflammatory material that he was arrested (and is now serving a jail sentence), and the police judged that the combination of the Nazi rally and a large counter protest was likely to cause significant disorder, and moved the rally to a non-residential area in central London. The Golders Green Together team chose to go ahead with the planned decorating of Golders Green in gold and green ribbons, now as a celebration of local unity and pride.
The final touch to the campaign was a community newspaper which was carried as a supplement to the Jewish Chronicle, in which faith groups and local charities were able to celebrate their commitment to this vibrant, diverse but unified area.
You can downlaod a copy of the community newspaper we produced click here