Before people gathered for the march against antisemitism, a large area around Westminster had been cordoned off to traffic with large numbers of police officers from around the country lining the route in central London.
Ahead of the largest demonstration held by British Jews since the Israel-Hamas war began, organisers from the Campaign Against Antisemitism said the large pro-Palestinian marches that have been held in the capital have made London a “no-go zone for Jews”.
As the crowds gathered, Boris Johnson spent a short time meeting marchers to show his support, while several celebrities helped lead the demonstration.
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Presenter Rachel Riley told Sky News: “I’m out here today because Jews in this country feel scared, they feel under attack, some people are scared to send their children to school.
“I’ve been looking over my shoulder like I never have before.”
But in a nearby cafe, controversial far-right activist Tommy Robinson was live streaming to his online followers.
Organisers of the march had warned he would not be welcome, after he signalled his intention to attend.
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Police warned him if he left the cafe to join the march they would move him on. As he came out, officers surrounded him.
He told them he was there in his capacity as a journalist, but police led him away and he was later arrested.
March organiser Stephen Silverman told Sky News he didn’t want Mr Robinson aligning himself with their cause.
“This march is about tolerance, it’s about inclusion, it’s about kindness,” he said.
“Anyone who wants to use it in order to exploit hate, or sew division is not welcome.”
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Many on the march spoke to their own experiences of antisemitism. But they accepted that the suffering of Palestinians had brought hundreds of thousands of British people out onto the streets in recent weeks.
“We obviously, obviously sympathise with innocent people of any description caught up in any conflict anywhere in the world,” one man said.
“We really mean that but it’s not OK to therefore equate and then attack British Jews for a conflict happening halfway across the world.”
Another woman condemned some of the chanting during the pro-Palestinian marches.
“People are allowed to have free speech but I think when you have ‘from the river to the sea’ – in the Jewish community that means one thing and that’s what we’re quite fearful about,” she said.
The march was peaceful, with chants of “bring them home” as people held up posters of Israeli hostages still being held by Hamas.
Actor Eddie Marsan – who isn’t Jewish but has previously spoken of antisemitism abuse he has received for playing a Jewish character – was among the crowd.
“There’s going to be moderate people on pro-Palestinian marches and there’s going to be moderate people here and what I’m here to do is to encourage moderate people to stand up and have a voice and to take on the extremists at any side,” he said.
“That’s what we need – we need more moderate people standing up.”
Organisers estimated 60,000 took part in the first march against antisemitism held in London since the Israel-Hamas war began. The march finished just after 6pm.
A total of two arrests have taken place as of 6.10pm, including Mr Robinson. The Metropolitan Police said: “As the crowds left along Whitehall, a man was heard to make antisemitic comments.
“He was arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence.”
Addressing those marching during his speech, Chief Rabbi Sir Ephraim Mirvis told the crowd at Parliament Square British Jews “will not be intimidated” by antisemitism.
He said: “We call for a strengthening of community cohesion and we will forever be proud to champion the finest of British values.”
Other celebrities spotted in the crowd included Vanessa Feltz and Robert Rinder, as well as actors Tracy-Ann Oberman, Elliot Levey and Maureen Lipman.
Antisemitic and Islamophobic hate crimes motivated by racism have increased dramatically since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict.
In the first 18 days of October, there was a 1,353% increase in antisemitic offences and a 140% rise in Islamophobic offences, the Met Police said at the time.
The Community Security Trust, which collects reports of antisemitism in the UK, recorded at least 805 antisemitic incidents between 7 and 27 October; the highest ever recorded in a 21-day period.
Tell Mama, which counts Islamophobic incidents, recorded 291 incidents of anti-Muslim hate between 7 and 19 October, a sixfold increase on the same period last year.