Judith Flacks: Remembering the 80th Anniversary of Cable Street

JLC Head of Campaigns Judith Flacks writes on remembering the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street.

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On October 4th 1936, Jews alongside other minority and left-wing demonstrators took to the streets of London’s East End to stop Oswald Mosely and the British Union of Fascists (BUF) from marching through the heavily Jewish and immigrant area.

It is estimated that nearly 100,000 anti-fascist demonstrators turned out to protest and block the BUF from marching. These demonstrators used anything they could lay their hands on to build barricades at every possible turn. They refused to back down from the threat of the march and the threat it posed to their communities. The demonstrators were met by a strong police presence who tried to clear the way for the BUF members to pass through the area, but were eventually forced to stop the BUF instead due to the risk to public safety.

Luckily today, we now have many mechanisms in place to ensure public safety and significantly more police understanding around safe protest and public order. Thankfully, we also now have a communal institution dedicated to the safety of the Jewish community in the UK. The Community Security Trust (CST) put the safety of our community first, day in, day out, at every Jewish event, communal gathering and building. They ensure our safety, and advise and protect against threat.

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The legacy we take from the protestors at Cable Street is more than just a reminder of a responsibility to protect our community.

For many British Jews, the Battle of Cable Street symbolises part of a proud and longstanding history of fighting racism and fascism.

The anniversary serves as a reminder to be unwavering in our resolve to stand up to racism, fascism, antisemitism and islamophobia wherever it is found, and that the commonalities that we share with other communities will withstand any attempts to fracture us and cause disunity.

We mark the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street in hope that future generations will carry on the same resolve to fight racism and fascism.

London Jewish Forum held an event to mark the anniversary on Sunday 9th October 2016 with a reception followed by a series of remarks from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner, Rushanara Ali MP, General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, and Ruth Smeeth MP.

This event encouraged attendees and others to stand up against racism and fascism, and stand side by side with other communities in the face of persecution and bigotry, as they once did with ours.

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The Jewish Leadership Council and the London Jewish Forum have worked closely with various educational groups to develop classroom resources on Cable Street and devise a programme that can be run by various youth movements and students. We have coordinated closely with Jewish community centres to work on engaging, meaningful programmes which will inform our communities of the legacy of Cable Street. JW3 have also put on an exciting range of activities from walking tours to film screenings and mural paintings and UJS have been ensuring that students are prepared to mark the anniversary back on campus.

For more information and resources to mark the anniversary, please visit: http://www.londonjewishforum.org.uk/campaigns/cablest