Article published in The Daily Express, 16 November 2023. © Richard Kemp
The protesters who contemptuously stamped their boots all over the Royal Artillery memorial in London on Wednesday night would no doubt be the first to be outraged if anyone treated with such disrespect the objects and places they hold sacred.
Similarly, at Armistice Day events in London last Saturday, anti-Israel protesters climbed, and hung Palestinian flags on, at least two other war memorials.
This is no coincidence. Their vile behaviour is neither ignorant nor accidental.
It is a deliberate insult to the British values represented by these statues.
These are not just public works of art, they are sacred memorials to honour the best in our society, the men and women who fought and died to preserve our way of life.
People who gave everything they had and everything they would ever have so that others might live in safety and freedom.
They fought against the same fascist ideology that is represented by the pro-Hamas supporters that brandish their flags and chant ‘jihad’ and ‘from the river to the sea’, calling for holy war on our streets and the annihilation of Israel, one of Britain’s democratic allies.
The Home Secretary is talking about changing the law to protect war memorials from such defilement.
We have not needed such laws in the past.
The fact that we seem to need them today is a terrible indictment of the divisions in our society between those who respect British values and those who hold them in such utter contempt.
Clambering over these memorials is only one of the symptoms of these divisions that have been amplified in the weeks following Hamas’s massacre of innocent Israelis on October 7.
Week after week we have seen hundreds of thousands protesting against Israel’s defence of its people from murderous terrorist gangs.
Among their number, there have been supporters of terrorism as well as those who wish to intimidate members of the Jewish community, many of whom are now living in fear.
The Government needs to pay attention to these deeply troubling signs which will require much more far-reaching measures than changing the law on war memorials.