It’s an annually dispiriting sight: a group of anti-Israeli protesters proudly marching through the streets of London, proudly flying the flag of Hezbollah and convening in front of the Saudi Embassy to call for an end to Israel as they marched through the streets.
My assumption is that they want individuals like themselves to fill the void left in that part of the Middle East should their fever-dream ever come to pass. I can’t possibly see why anyone would find this controversial.
The parade is to celebrate Quds Day, a holiday instituted by the mullahs in Iran after they took power in 1979. It’s held on the last Friday of Ramadan, and — as one might guess from the provenance of its genesis — it’s more or less a carnival of anti-Semitism.
While the BBC notes that the anti-Zionist ritual hasn’t really taken hold outside of Iran, the government still sponsors rallies in many cities, one of them being London.
However, this year’s protest — which took place Sunday — won’t be remembered so much for the “death to Israel” chants that it engendered or the Israeli flags burned to ashes on the streets of one of the main cities of the Western world.
Instead, the bravery of a lone man in a wheelchair may be the one thing that people end up taking away from this wretched farrago of anti-Semitism.
Emanuel Miller, formerly of the Jerusalem Post, documented the actions of Mark Lewis — a man with multiple sclerosis — and his partner Mandy Blumenthal in disrupting the parade route.
This is an extraordinary standoff.
Mark Lewis, in the wheelchair, with his partner Mandy Blumenthal, single-handedly held up the pro-Hezbollah #AlQudsDay march for close to an hour.
He was surrounded by police but refused to budge from the middle of the road. pic.twitter.com/ECQxQbxlfE
— (((Emanuel Miller))) (@emanumiller) June 10, 2018
“He’s a top lawyer and must know the legal situation,” Miller noted.
“The police moved Mark after almost an hour, but then a pro-Israel group blocked the road, singing ‘terrorist flags off our streets.'”
He's a top lawyer and must know the legal situation. The police moved Mark after almost an hour, but then a pro-Israel group blocked the road, singing "terrorist flags off our streets."#AlQudsDay #AlQudsDay2018
— (((Emanuel Miller))) (@emanumiller) June 10, 2018
Officials in London, despite being in a country which has of late shown itself perfectly willing to abrogate the right to free speech, nevertheless decided earlier in the month that they would not stop marchers from flying the flag of Hezbollah, a Lebanese based terror group funded by Iran. Apparently, only certain activists arouse the attention of the authorities in Merrie England.
The government, meanwhile, insists that it’s a loophole. According to the Times of Israel, Hezbollah’s political and military factions have the same flag, meaning that it allows them to display the banner during marches and claim they’re supporting the political wing.
Except that, of course, the political wing provides a certain amount of support, political and otherwise, to the military wing. Extremist groups are not exactly like corporations: It’s patently ridiculous to say that they’ve spun off the terrorism division and made it an entity on its own.
Matthew Offord, a member of Parliament for the Conservative Party, agrees that the ban should apply to the group as a whole.
“We shouldn’t have to be here on the streets of London protesting a terrorist flag,” Offord said from the march. “Hezbollah should be proscribed in its entirety under the Terrorism Act. There are not two wings — Hezbollah says so.”
They weren’t the only protesters against Quds Day, however, as Miller mentioned in his tweets. Here are the other counter-protesters:
While I appreciate the bravery of everyone who turned out, one notes the paltry size of this crowd, as well. Is it that Londoners are so inured to the specter of a group of individuals taking to their streets, proudly unfurling the flag of a terrorist group and openly wishing the death of the Jewish state?
That authorities in London didn’t stop this is a matter of some consternation. That the people of London didn’t stop this is telling.
Lewis, however, wasn’t so inured to this sort of dangerous rhetoric.
“It wasn’t just me. My other half Mandy Blumenthal stayed with me. I knew that I couldn’t stand up and be counted but I could sit down,” Lewis said.
“These people were supporting terrorists. We had to object and not give them a free pass. These are our streets. The Government were allowing them a free rein, we had to stop them. I thought I’d challenge the Police to see if they had a legal basis to stop me exercising my freedom to protest. They said they had an order blocking the street. I asked to see it. They looked flummoxed.”
One is reminded, in microcosm, of the lone man standing in front of the Chinese tanks Tiananmen Square or of Boris Yeltsin atop a Russian tank during the 1991 Soviet coup attempt, calling for a general strike in response to the hard-line putsch against Gorbachev. No, it may not have the immediate impact that any of those actions did.
Maybe, however, it will get the attention of individuals who have thus far taken a hands-off approach when it comes to extremist Islamism in their own neighborhoods.
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