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Since Hamas terrorists launched an unprecedented surprise attack on Israel on the seventh of October, I have found myself attending the pro-Palestine protests every weekend in central London – not in support, but in opposition to the troubling antisemitic imagery that has marred these gatherings. 

Recent pro-Palestine protests have drawn attention not just for their cause, but also for the unsettling presence of antisemitic symbols wielded by a small minority within the larger movement. The impact of these images goes beyond the immediate visual offence; it highlights a systemic issue that should concern every participant and observer at these protests: the failure of the majority to condemn and challenge the expressions of hatred within their own ranks.

Antisemitism, like any form of discrimination, thrives in an environment of apathy and indifference. When a minority of protestors brandishes symbols and rhetoric rooted in hatred, the responsibility to confront and disavow such actions falls upon the shoulders of the majority. However, what I have witnessed instead is a disconcerting silence that echoes louder than any chant or slogan.

The danger lies not just in the antisemitic imagery itself, but in the tacit endorsement that silence can imply. By failing to actively denounce and distance themselves from such displays, the majority inadvertently becomes complicit in normalising bigotry. This not only weakens the moral high ground of the movement, but also undermines the very principles of peace and justice that the majority claims to champion.

For weeks on end, I have been confronted at these protests with tropes that equate Jews with owing allegiance to international Jewry, corrupting culture and attempting world domination. For weeks on end, I have tried to engage with protestors at these marches. I have asked difficult questions, challenged their assumptions and urged them to reconsider the impact of their words and banners.  Last weekend, I engaged a masked protestor holding a sign which likened the Prime Minister of Israel to a Nazi. Ahistoric and inaccurate signs appropriating the Holocaust and using it against Israel are a disturbing mainstay of these protests. 

Often, I am asked why I do this. My paternal grandfather was Jewish and came to England from Germany shortly after Kristallnacht. I never met my grandfather and, sadly, I know little about our family history – beyond the fact that 30 of my relatives died in the Holocaust and my grandfather was once held at knifepoint by Hitler Youth thugs. 

I believe it is this silent legacy, marked by the weight of unspoken stories, which has become the driving force behind my unwavering commitment to stand up against antisemitism and prejudice of all forms. It is not merely a cause or a political stance; it is a personal journey rooted in the bloodlines that course through my veins. It is why week after week I make the same pilgrimage to central London to confront those who are perpetuating the oldest hatred.

This weekend, after attending another pro-Palestine protest on Saturday, I spent the following day at a march against antisemitism. The stark contrast with what I experienced at the two gatherings was nothing short of profound.

At the march against antisemitism, I was met with an atmosphere of unity and understanding. The crowd was diverse, representing people from various backgrounds, ages, religions and walks of life. Signs and banners proclaimed messages of love, tolerance and solidarity. The air buzzed with positive energy, as individuals joined together in a shared commitment to eradicating antisemitic hatred and all forms of bigotry and prejudice. 

The speakers at the event focused on fostering understanding and building bridges between communities. Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis told the crowd at Parliament Square: “We call for a strengthening of community cohesion and we will forever be proud to champion the finest of British values.” It was not about pointing fingers or assigning blame; rather, it was a celebration of diversity and a collective stand against discrimination. 

It was heartening to see politicians across the political divide attend. Security Minister Tom Tugenhadt, Universities Minister Robert Halfon, Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick and Labour’s Shadow Science Secretary Peter Kyle were among the political figures participating in the march.

Organisers estimate that over 100,000 people took part, making it the largest gathering of its kind since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 when British Union of Fascists supporters were prevented from marching through East London. After spending the day marching alongside friends and my one-year-old spaniel, Hector, I could not help but be moved to tears by the joyous and uplifting spirit of the protest.

The lessons embedded in my family’s history are clear: the consequences of silence in the face of prejudice and bigotry can be devastating and far reaching. I am compelled to be a voice for those who were silenced and to stand against the very forces that tore through my family tree.

In confronting antisemitism, I am not only challenging the external forces that perpetuate hatred, but also unravelling the tendrils of prejudice within myself. It is a commitment to creating a world where my children and future generations will not have to bear the weight of their heritage in the face of discrimination.


Isabella Wallersteiner is an Associate Fellow at Bright Blue.

Views expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Bright Blue.