Anti-Israel protesters in London
Anti-Israel protesters in London Reuters

British Jewish and pro-Israel groups have called for greater measures to combat anti-Semitism on Thursday, after pro-Palestinians held a violently anti-Semitic rally against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit. 

"Open support for terror organisations which advocate for the genocide of Jews must not be tolerated in the UK or anywhere," Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, stated to Arutz Sheva. "It is distressing that anti-Israel groups so often seem to have within them a number of people who express such support, and also other aggressively anti-Semitic views." 

"The longer these people are allowed to shelter from the law by hiding in plain sight among anti-Israel activists, the greater their number will grow," he continued. "It should be a concern to everyone, whatever their views on Israel, that this is the case. Debate about Israel must not become a license to persecute and discriminate against Jewish people."

"The police and government must act with zero tolerance for anti-Semites in any and every context, as they have promised in the past," he urged. "What we saw on Wednesday in London simply isn't good enough."

Simon Cobbs, founder of Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI), also called on the authorities to intervene. 

"We were fully aware prior to yesterday’s rally that it would not be so much about Prime Minister Netanyahu, his politics or his policies but was more about Israel’s very right to exist but the sheer level of anti-Semitism on display was truly staggering," Cobbs said. "The level of hate directed at Jews took even the most hardened of us by surprise."

"To see this level of anti-Semitism alongside the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah, on the very doorstep of the British government, is something none of us were prepared for," he added. "It is unacceptable and we call on the authorities to take necessary steps to ensure those that broke the law are brought to justice."

Cobbs noted, however, that there was a significant pro-Israel counter-protest, and thanked those involved. 

"Despite the animosity, it was also hugely gratifying to see so many from across the community, Jew and non-Jew, come out on to the streets of Whitehall and show their support for Israel," he said. "We would like to thank the many hundreds who joined us. Despite what many would have you believe, the UK is and always will be a strong and loyal friend to Israel." 

Between 500-1,500 people attended the protests on Downing St. on Wednesday night, with pro-Palestinians calling for the UK to arrest Netanyahu as a "war criminal" upon his arrival. The group also bore Hezbollah flags and, in at least one case, a mock rocket. 

Several scuffles erupted between protestors and police during the event, and one man was arrested for more openly anti-Semitic remarks. One protestor, who apparently escaped unnoticed, called for a "second Holocaust."