Hackney Unites leads the march against anti-Semitism

Residents come together to oppose anti-Semitism. Pic: Hackney Unites

Residents come together to oppose anti-Semitism. Pic: Hackney Unites

Stamford Hill residents have shown their support to back a campaign led by Hackney Unites to tackle an upcoming rally that is set to target the area’s Jewish population.

The campaign ‘We Choose HOPE’ responds to a proposed anti-Semitic rally, which is set to take place on March 22 and is organised by Joshua Bonehill-Paine, 22, a far-right nationalist based in Somerset.

Bonehill-Paine has since been arrested and his bail conditions prevent him from coming to London, although it’s suspected many anti-Semites will still join the march.

John Page is leading the campaign to eradicate hate crimes from the borough. He said: “[Bonehill-Paine] expresses hatred for all ethnic minorities.”

“[We] launched a petition calling for the march to be banned and for the instigator to be investigated for potential criminal offences of incitement to racial hatred.”

Hackney Unites said “these often very violent individuals” plan to target the Jewish population of Stamford Hill and their strategy is to “provoke a fight and then claim that multiculturalism leads to conflict.”

Page said: “Bonehill-Paine’s objective is to create tension between communities. However, it is evident that he has absolutely no support whatsoever in Hackney.”

“After the demonstration was announced, there was a consensus that there needed to be a clear expression from our communities that we reject Bonehill-Paine’s hatred.”

Residents have begun taking pictures of themselves with friends or neighbours holding the slogan, “We choose HOPE” which they posted on social media.

“We know that Bonehill and his like want to create confrontation and division, and we felt we wanted to respond with a show of unity,” said Page.

Hackney Unites is a community coalition for social justice who work with communities across the borough that are creating positive change in their areas.

They are working alongside a number of borough wide initiatives, including projects in Hoxton, Stoke Newington and Dalston. Hackney Unites plan to tackle the increasing hate crimes in the borough.

Since January 2014, anti-Semitic, racist and religious hate crimes had risen by over 34 per cent, rising from 370 reported cases in 2014 to 499 cases as of January 2015.

Page said: “Stamford Hill is a unique community, but one that is facing a number of pressures; most pressing is the issue of affordable housing which affects every sector of the community.”

The Council recently announced a proposed Area Action Plan to address a series of planning concerns and Stamford Hill Rabbi Abraham Pinter said: “It is possible that this external threat has done more to bring the community together than anything else.”

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