Israel-Hamas war: 'We need to de-escalate' - rabbi calls for harmony among London communities

Rabbi Herschel Gluck, chairman of the Arab-Jewish Forum and the Muslim-Jewish Forum, said: "We’re dealing with two deeply traumatised groups."
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A rabbi in Stamford Hill has asked Londoners to hold space for both Israeli and Palestinian victims as the conflict continues to rage.

On Saturday Hamas launched thousands of rockets into Israel, while terrorists entered the country, with civilians killed and taken hostage. Israel has since sealed the border with Gaza and carried out airstrikes.

In London, the Met Police has stepped up patrols in Jewish areas of London after videos circulated of some people appearing to celebrate the Hamas attack.

Traumatised groups

Rabbi Herschel Gluck, chairman of the Arab-Jewish Forum, and chairman and founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum said there has been no change in communal relations between the Jewish and Muslim community.

“We’re dealing with two deeply traumatised groups of people and we need to be aware of that,” Rabbi Gluck told LondonWorld.

“We need to deal with the situation bearing that in mind, we need to feel, we need to care, we need to see through that prism.

“We need to act in a way that will de-escalate the situation.

“It’s been extremely traumatic, extremely painful to see the mass slaughter of Jewish people but the violence and the cycle of violence is deeply worrying.

“We need to find a way forward to stop the bloodshed, to stop the violence, to step by step create a better future. At times like this it’s very difficult to achieve.”

Rabbi Herschel Gluck, chairman of the Arab-Jewish Forum, and chairman and founder of the Muslim-Jewish ForumRabbi Herschel Gluck, chairman of the Arab-Jewish Forum, and chairman and founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum
Rabbi Herschel Gluck, chairman of the Arab-Jewish Forum, and chairman and founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum

Protests

On Monday evening, three people were arrested at a pro-Palestinian protest outside the boarded-up Israeli embassy in Kensington.

In Westminster, around 2,000 people attended a vigil for Israel organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council as prime minister Rishi Sunak attended a prayer service at Finchley United Synagogue in north London.

Earlier in the day a kosher restaurant had its windows smashed overnight and the cash register stolen just metres away from a bridge which was branded in pro-Palestinian graffiti. The Met Police said the attack on the Pita restaurant is not "at this stage" being treated as a hate crime and that it is thought to have been a burglary.

A school in north London has also told students worried about safety that they need not wear their blazer.

In a letter seen by the Times, Kenton-based Jewish Free School (JFS), wrote there will be no after-school detentions, to ensure everyone is able to access the school buses, and that “should students wish to not wear a blazer then I would understand that decision”.

'Live in peace and harmony'

Rabbi Gluck, who is president of the neighbourhood watch group Shomrim (the Hebrew word means “guardians”), says the police should be stepping up to ensure people are protected but that everyone should be able to continue as normal.

“I think the vast majority of both communities just want to get on with their lives and live in peace and harmony,” he said.

“We need to pray for people and consider each other.”