After weeks of demonstrating outside the Manchester city center Kedem store, pro-Palestinian protesters have literally been given their marching orders by local police.
For the last five weeks the King Street premises of the Israeli cosmetics store in the most fashionable part of the city has been effectively blockaded by the demonstrators, who have often stopped or deterred would-be shoppers from gaining access to the store.
Several would-be shoppers complained of harassment and intimidation, but the police took little action to restrict or stop those involved.
As news spread of the problems outside the store, appeals went out to members of Manchester’s 35,000 plus Jewish community to counterdemonstrate, and by last week on most days – but especially at weekends – the King Street pavement was often blocked by the two competing groups of protesters and counterdemonstrators.
Those who responded to the calls to oppose the pro-Palestinian demonstrations were frequently subjected not only to the more usual shouted charges of Israelis being “murderers” and taunts about the Israelis killed in Gaza, but also to a barrage of blatantly anti-Semitic abuse, ranging from those involved claiming that they “loved Hitler” to others giving Nazi salutes and even claims that Jews had “killed Jesus.”
Pro-Israel counterdemonstrators were also subjected to chants of “Death to Jews.”
Police did what they could to keep the two opposing sides apart, but after repeated complaints from Manchester Jewish communal leaders and local Jewish MP Ivan Lewis to the police and to the Manchester City Council, the police decided to impose strict conditions on any future demonstrations, which were implemented on Monday.