Ambassador Hotovely
Ambassador HotovelyStuart Mitchell

Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of people, nearly half a million according to some reports, turned out for a massive anti-Israel demonstration in London, one of many public displays of opposition to the Jewish State in Britain since the Hamas massacre of October 7.

Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom Tzipi Hotovely spoke to Arutz Sheva - Israel National News about the responses to the massacre and war in Great Britain.

Hotovely began by noting that there are four million Muslims and sixty million non-Muslims in Britain, so the hundreds of thousands who gathered to demonstrate against Israel do not represent the entire population of Britain or even the entire Muslim population. She also cited a survey conducted by Sky News, which found that fifty percent of the British public opposed the anti-Israel march due to its being held on the eve of Britain's Remembrance Day.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also spoke out against the marches when he stated that they do not respect Remembrance Day since it is a day of remembrance for those who fell in defense of the values of freedom, which are not the values of Hamas and its supporters.

According to Hotovely, this showed that the opposition to these anti-Israel marches is not a marginal viewpoint in Britain, but is shared by the Prime Minister, who does not want to see calls for Jihad on the streets of his capital.

"After the 7th of October, there was a shift in which the British came out in the forefront of support for Israel," Hotovely said.

"Beyond the solidarity visits, where the Prime Minister was one of the first leaders to arrive [in Israel], they rallied to deliver military aid to us from the first week. They saw the war as a just war that must be ended with Hamas defeated and they will support Israel even if this takes time. They sent the ships of the Royal Navy and the planes of the Royal Air Force to gather intelligence and to demonstrate their presence. It is indeed of a different order of magnitude than the Americans, but they are gearing up to help Israel," said Hotovely, recounting a meeting on intelligence issues with the British Minister of Defense who expressed himself decisively in the British media when he stated that Israel cannot be blamed for harming innocents and that Britain cannot forget that it took part in the indiscriminate bombing of Dresden during the Second World War, while Israel makes tremendous efforts not to harm civilians in Gaza.

"There is an understanding here of the magnitude of the horror and terrorism" which were committed on October 7, Hotovely said, noting that she herself screened the uncensored 43-minute video prepared by the IDF documenting the atrocities of that day for British journalists. "No person remains the same" after seeing the footage, she said, adding that she had watched much of it, but has not seen the entire video.

On the media's coverage of the massacre and the war, she said: "The story is to present the ideology of Hamas, an ideology of genocide that is no different from the Nazis' ideology. We present them with these facts and want them to remember well why we are in Gaza. And indeed, the British Prime Minister supports Israel in this context and says that there is no place for a ceasefire. So too, the British Minister of Defense also showed himself to be an ally of Israel and is on the frontline in providing international support to Israel. There is no criticism from British officials of Israel's moves, but quite the opposite."

Hotovely rejected assertions that the British street holds different opinions on the Israel-Hamas war than the government, noting that London alone has a population of about nine million, dwarfing the hundreds of thousands who demonstrated against the Jewish State. "The majority of the members of the Conservative Party support Israel and want Israel to win and finish the job. That is why you should not get the impression that Britain or the British street is pro-Palestinian. There is very broad support for Israel and it is reflected in the Conservative leadership and also in the Labour leadership, whose chairman said that this is the necessary action of a country that seeks to defend itself and opposed a ceasefire for that reason. So the support for Israel is broad and deep."

Despite the widespread support for Israel in the UK, there has been a significant rise in antisemitic incidents in the country since the massacre, driven by the large Muslim immigrant population. "The Jewish community is very anxious" about this, Hotovely admitted. "The community has a very successful security organization and it has stepped up security at the Jewish schools and synagogues so that people are not afraid to send their children to school. There are special restrictions on us as diplomats. Diplomats and their families are forbidden to go to synagogue now. It is not easy for us. There are demonstrations outside my house from people who support the pro-Palestinian marches. We haven't had a quiet Shabbat since the beginning of the war."

"On a personal level, I am secure, but Jewish people in the community are very afraid. I trust those who are in charge of our security and I have a lot of restrictions on where I can go, but there is a huge community of 300,000 people here who are afraid and are starting to talk about immigrating to Israel," she said, noting that Israel must be prepared for a large-scale aliyah from the UK even after the current wave of antisemitism subsides.

"There was this one day when there were chants from the pro-Palestinian demonstrations on public transportation and Jews felt uncomfortable as a result. Main roads were blocked on Shabbat and Jews did not approach them. So things are complicated. There is a very supportive government that helps in every military, intelligence, and political aspect, as well as the UN institutions and the Security Council. On the other hand, we are dealing with a rising tide of antisemitism. I believe that at the end of the day, this is the Jihad we have seen all over Europe and not just in London. We've even seen it in the US."

When asked about the growing number of Muslims who call for Jihad throughout Western Europe. Hotovely said that "even when they say that this is the situation, it does not mean that we should not face and fight this phenomenon. Just as Israel is in a direct war against Hamas, we can through legislation act against expressions of hate."

According to Hotovely, the Jews of Britain must be active in the battle "against a population that preaches values that oppose our values, that oppose the values of freedom, democracy, and pluralism. This is a fight for the future of Britain, irrespective of the Jewish issue which is only a part of it. It greatly helps me when I can tell them that now it has been made clear that this is not a fight over land. They want a Palestinian state from the river to the sea in place of the State of Israel, which would no longer exist. We tell them that they are also coming to you in London and prove to them that the fight is not about land, territory, or occupation. They have also heard from Hamas that they want to repeatedly carry out attacks like on October 7 because that is their ideology. They also say explicitly that the 'occupation' means all of Israel. When the British are presented with this picture, they understand what we are dealing with," she concluded.