British deputy prime minister: Activists haven’t communicated that ‘Jewish lives matter’


(JTA) — Liberal activists have not stated with “moral clarity” that “Jewish lives matter” in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, Britain’s deputy prime minister said during a television appearance on Sunday.

“I have to say to you that I am a bit disappointed, that if you look at the moral indignation and the clarity that we saw after the murder of George Floyd in the United States with the Black Lives Matter movement, we haven’t seen, across civic society, the same kind of moral clarity showing that Jewish lives matter,” Oliver Dowden said on a Sky News show.

“I think that is a cause of hurt to the Jewish community and it is something that disappoints me as well,” he added.

Dowden also represents the Hertsmere constituency outside of London in Parliament, a district with one of Britain’s largest Jewish populations. He told host Trevor Phillips that “that community are fearful right now,” especially in response to massive pro-Palestinian protests in London and other cities that he said have been intimidating to British Jews.

Phillips asked if Dowden was saying “Jews don’t count,” a phrase popularized by British-Jewish comedian David Baddiel.

“I think there is lot of hate in those marches. when you have people chanting ‘jihad, jihad’ or ‘from the river to the sea,’ that is intended to send intimidation,” Dowden said, referencing a term used by some pro-Palestinian activists that is widely interpreted as a call for the complete removal of Israel.

He added that many Jewish students do not feel safe on campus right now in the United Kingdom.

“Now that is not an acceptable state of affairs,” Dowden said.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of London in recent weeks to protest Israel’s bombing of Gaza in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. Six people were arrested at one on Saturday for disorderly conduct, including throwing  fireworks at police, and “racially motivated crimes,” according to the BBC.

Dowden expressed “grave concern” for an upcoming pro-Palestinian rally planned in London next weekend that will coincide with the commemoration of Armistice Day, a tribute to the end of World War I. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and others in his government have called the timing of the rally “disrespectful” but have stopped short of calling for its ban.

Dowden also discussed his government’s efforts to rescue British nationals trapped in Gaza. He said 100 Brits crossed into Egypt in recent days and more could follow. British nationals are also believed to be among the hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

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