London mayor helps Israel lobby fake anti-Semitic attack

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan stands at a podium next to a sign reading "Jewish Labour Movement"

London mayor Sadiq Khan has for years been a supporter of the Israel lobby.

Joel Goodman ZUMA Press

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan sounded the alarm. British Jews were being attacked in their own communities.

“There’s been evidence of criminal actions against Jewish businesses,” he told Times Radio on Monday, claiming there had been “a Jewish business with a window smashed.”

Khan was referring to an apparently Israeli restaurant in North London named Pita.

A few hours earlier, Khan had posted similar claims to Twitter, retweeting a post from anti-Palestinian publication the Jewish News.

The post included a photo of a restaurant whose glass front door had been smashed, alongside a second photo of a railway bridge with the words “Free Palestine” sprayed on it. It was unclear from the photos whether or not they were of the same location.

“There is no tolerance for hate in our city,” posted Khan. “Whoever did this will face the full force of the law.”

Straight away there was a problem with the narrative.

Was the elected mayor of London – a man from Labour, the political party which claims to represent the working classes – saying that the phrase “Free Palestine” is anti-Semitic bigotry?

It seemed so. And British media outlets quickly followed suit, claiming that a “kosher restaurant in Golders Green” had been vandalized. Golders Green is a suburb of North London with a relatively large Jewish population.

False claims

But the story soon fell apart.

As reported by the BBC’s Daniel Sandford, London’s Metropolitan Police clarified that the damage to the restaurant had been caused by a burglary, not by anti-Semitic vandalism.

“It was reported that a cash register had been stolen,” the police statement read. “Officers have attended the scene and examined CCTV … At this stage, the incident is not being treated as a hate crime.”

The false claim of an anti-Semitic attack on a kosher restaurant seems to have been first posted by Jake Wallis Simons, the right-wing editor of anti-Palestinian newspaper The Jewish Chronicle.

“It has started,” Simons breathlessly claimed, one hour earlier than the mayor’s post. “Hamas violence comes to the UK. Stand with us against Israelophobia and hate!”

Alongside this dubious claim he posted very similar photos to those that the mayor would later retweet.

His post strongly implied that the same people who had sprayed “Free Palestine” had also “vandalized” the restaurant, despite the unclear circumstances of the latter incident – which turned out to be a simple case of burglary.

Soon after BBC journalist Sandford had undermined his false claims, Simons grudgingly admitted on Twitter that “the vandalism may have been a burglary.” But he refused to correct himself or withdraw his false post.

According to Simons, there had also been an attempt to steal a cash register from a second “non-kosher” shop in the area.

But there was a second, hateful, tweet Simons made a day earlier which he did end up deleting, after it received wide condemnation.

“We need to face reality,” he spat, “Much of Muslim culture is in the grip of a death cult.”

Screenshot of Tweet reading "We need to face reality: Much of Muslim culture is in the grip of a death cult..."
Simons’ bizarre neologism “Israelophobia” is a reference to the title of of his latest book.

In a withering review, left-wing group Jewish Voice for Labour recently noted that Simons admits in the book to have worked on it “with the myopia of a madman.” The review slams Simons for what it says is the demonization of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, even to the extent of falsifying events, as well as the weaponization of anti-Semitism.

Simons also seems to be a big fan of Vladimir “Zeev” Jabotinsky, a leader of an armed fascist gang which led terrorist attacks on Palestinians and British soldiers for decades. The Zionist group, named Irgun, played a leading role in the massacres of civilians which took place during the expulsions of 800,000 Palestinians that enabled the 1948 foundation of Israel.

Simons’ book seems to be dedicated to denying the fact – now established in the mainstream – that Israel is an apartheid state. His is the latest in a long and ignoble series of anti-Palestinian publications written by the Israel lobby in the West claiming that the problem is not anti-Semitism – hatred of or prejudice against Jews – but opposition to Israel and its crimes – for decades smeared by Israel as “new anti-Semitism.”


Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).