A banner portraying incumbent British Prime Minister Theresa May sporting Star of David earrings, put up by supporters of the Labour Party in the southwestern British city of Bristol, has angered locals and prompted accusations of anti-Semitism.
The banner, placed in a key location in the city and later removed, depicted May and rival Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour party facing each other, with slogans like “Balfour,” “causing ISIS,” “sanctions kill,” and “NHS cuts” on May’s side and “youth vote,” “skilled jobs” and “no student debt” on Corbyn’s side.
The massive poster was put up on Tuesday morning, just two days before the elections on June 8. It was voluntarily removed by organizers by evening time.
A Jewish resident told the Jewish Chronicle Tuesday that he was “incredibly sad and angry that the place both me and my partner, who is also Jewish, live is rife with such disgusting views.”
“It’s even more worrying that the Bristol city council have given these views credence by allowing them to be shown in such public space such as The Bearpit, which is driven past by thousands of motorists a day.”
“The Magen David [Star of David] earrings are clearly implying that the Jews/Israel have hegemony over our government, which is a century old anti-Semitic trope,” he added.
“I think it’s anti-Semitic,” another Jewish resident told the Bristol Post on Tuesday.
“I’m stunned that we, as a society, have gone back to this. I can’t believe stuff I haven’t heard of or seen since I was a child is now happening again,” she said, adding that she knows it’s a political banner, “but why include the Star of David?”
The resident, who did not want to be named, said the poster made her “sick.”
“I’m shocked. I just think it isn’t healthy in the current climate where terrorists are promoting hatred,” she added, just days after a major terror attack in London claimed the lives of seven people.
An organizer who put up the banner rejected the anti-Semitism charge, saying: “It’s not meant to be that at all. It’s a tiny element of the whole banner.”
“What we are doing with that symbol – it’s an earring – is a reference to Theresa May’s government’s relationship with Israel,” Nima Masterson told the Bristol Post.
“It is a critique of her foreign policy, rather than against religion.”
“I’m definitely not an anti-Semite. I have Jewish friends, and my half brother and sister are Jewish,” he added.
In April, May’s government rejected a Palestinian demand to apologize for the publication in 1917 of the Balfour Declaration, which legitimized the creation of a future Jewish state, saying instead that it was proud of the role Britain played in establishing Israel.
Signed on November 2, 1917 by the UK’s then foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour, the declaration announced his government’s intention to establish “a national home for the Jewish people” in the Land of Israel.
It was seen as giving the Zionist movement official recognition and backing on the part of a major power, on the eve of the British conquest of the then-Ottoman territory of Palestine.
This November will mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration.
In a greeting ahead of the Jewish New Year in September last year, May hailed the Balfour Declaration as an expression of the “UK’s support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.”