It was creepy. In early January I returned from Israel, where I had come face to face with the after-effects of Hamas’s rampage on October 7th, a military invasion by terrorists who indulged in some of the most sadistic war crimes ever committed. And yet, as I walked through Heathrow, I saw signs asking for witnesses to war crimes in Gaza to come forward and report them to the Metropolitan Police.
I had to look twice. But no: there it was, the Met police, the very same organisation that has been caught tearing down posters of Israeli hostages in the name of diffusing “community tensions”, was at it again. It was hard to process which bit of this campaign was more surreally evil. Was it the yen to incriminate Israelis, and Israelis alone? Or was it the fact that Scotland Yard is proactively getting involved, more and more, in what amounts to a political campaign against Israel?
Both are disturbing, but it’s the second that is most surreal – and shocking. But as the months since October 7th make all too clear the Met Police indeed seems to have been captured by the anti-Israel activist Left.
The Met’s call for witness testimonies against Israel fits a pattern, but is also particularly troubling in an immediate sense. Last week, Scotland Yard’s War Crimes unit met a pro-Palestine group called the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP). The group, whose aim is to raise money “to expand our efforts to forensically document war crimes by Israeli forces during the ongoing crisis”, has a posh board of advisors, including Sir Alan Duncan, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran and human rights adviser Maria Mohammedi.
The ICJP provided the Met with “hard drives and evidence dossier” against Israel, opening the way for Scotland Yard to get the Crown Prosecution Service to press charges. The International Criminal Court could then also hear evidence against the Jewish state.
This is an astonishingly inappropriate – and bizarre – development, though it fits the Met’s ghoulish direction of travel. Week after week, pro-Palestine rallies have included pro-Hamas, terror-celebrating speech, turning “peaceful” events into an open-sewer of anti-Semitism. Banners like “Stop doing what Hitler did to you” and “Nuremberg trials for Netanyahu”, anti-Semitic comparisons between Israel’s war in Gaza and the Holocaust, or pictures of Netanyahu as a devil, are recurrent. Other placards have shown the Star of David in a rubbish bin along with words about cleansing the world. You’d think the Met would go on a frenzy of law enforcement, arresting hundreds. Instead, they were sluggish to intervene even in the clearest cases, preferring to hand coffee to protesters, and posing with a child whose face, bar the eyes, was entirely wrapped in a red and white keffiyeh holding a poster of the Palestinian flag with “save our children” written on it.
It is, of course, unimaginable that Met officers would pose with a child wielding an trans-critical, or anti-immigration placard. But, now ideologically captured, Scotland Yard seems to admire anyone involved in activist left or pro-Muslim causes. We saw this political favourite-picking during Covid lockdowns when, despite public gatherings, let alone mass gatherings, being verboten for most people, the Black Lives Matter rallies simply went ahead, some officers somberly taking the knee in support.
David Baddiel was right: Jews Don’t Count. Or rather, they count, but as the one group to ignore or blame. When I faced criminal anti-Semitic intimidation following pro-Israel columns, I had five Met police officers in my living room, but they said there was nothing they could do unless things kept escalating. The ratio of manpower to law-and-order-keeping was staggeringly poor.
And yet if the force can spare five officers in one go to tell a Jewish woman there’s nothing they can do about the anti-Semitic threats she is facing, why can’t they turn up for shoplifting and burglary, instead of allowing Londoners to feel like they live in a lawless land?
In this new world in which our police can appear more interested in helping pro-Palestinian activists criminalise Israel than in chasing actual criminals, there are few surprises. Even so, some of us cocked an eyebrow to learn last week that a Central Line tube driver has been allowed to return to work, evidently required only to apologise, after using his tannoy in October to lead what would have struck many Jews and Israelis as uncomfortably close to incitement to violence against them. Seemingly miffed that he hadn’t been able to attend the massive anti-Israel rally that day because he was working, he decided instead to lead the train in a mob-like chant of “Free Palestine” and “no justice, no peace”, phrases widely linked to calls for terror against Israelis and Jews.
Again: would a Tube driver who hollered white supremacist or anti-black racist chants down the tannoy – who, for instance, led carriages packed with football hooligans in a chant of Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood speech – be let off with an apology? Would the Aslef union’s view be that the involvement of the police at all was “a ridiculous overreaction”? The answer is: of course not.
A police force that picks favourites based on ideology is one of the hallmarks of a fallen society. And at a time when Britain should be preparing to lead the world – the US will soon be embroiled in a Trump presidency – it’s the last thing we need.