A Jewish councillor from Woodley has spoken out about feeling afraid of rising tensions as violence rages in Israel and Gaza.

Councillor Laura Blumenthal, whose grandfather escaped Nazi Germany and moved to Reading in the 1930s, said she is deeply concerned about a ‘climate of silence’ in the days that has followed Hamas’s attack on an Israeli music festival.

The Conservative councillor, who represents the area of South Lake, said she wanted to reach out directly to Jewish people in the community to let them know they aren’t alone.

The councillor said: “After the appalling anti-Semitic and celebrations we saw on UK streets after Hamas murdered 1,400 Jews and took over 200 hostages, I want to reach out to the Jewish community and everyone who has been horrified at the hatred we have seen on our streets.

“When so many are silent and we wonder where the anti-racists have gone, I stand with you.”

Nearly 2,700 people have been killed in Gaza since the conflict was reignited on Saturday, October 7.

More than 10,000 people took to the streets in London on Saturday to show support for Palestine.

Community group Reading Muslim is holding a rally in Forbury Gardens ‘in solidarity with the people in Palestine’ from 2pm to 4.30pm on Saturday, October 21.

Reading Chronicle: People take part in a demonstration in support of Palestine in Birmingham. Picture date: Sunday October 15, 2023. Credit: Jacob King/PA Wire.People take part in a demonstration in support of Palestine in Birmingham. Picture date: Sunday October 15, 2023. Credit: Jacob King/PA Wire.

Following the Hamas attacks, Thames Valley Police says dedicated officers are working with synagogues and mosques in the region to ensure people feel safe and protected.

Cllr Blumenthal praised the force for their efforts.

Speaking of the rally, Cllr Blumenthal said: “Hopefully it goes off without anything happening.

“It does feel very fearful. If Wembley Stadium is fearful of the backlash enough to not project the blue and white colours of Israel following those massacres what about individuals?”

The colours of the Israeli flag were projected onto No 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the Prime Minister, the Walls of Kyiv in Ukraine and buildings across the world following the Hamas attacks.

Cllr Blumenthal has expressed disappointment for a lack of support for Jewish people, sharply critising activist group Black Lives Matter UK for ‘failing to condemn Hamas’.

Taking to Twitter, she described the organisation as “morally bankrupt”.

READ MORE: Reading rally 'in solidarity with people of Palestine'

A spokesperson for Black Lives Matter UK said they were “not on the side of Hamas”, saying: “We are for an end to the violence. Killing children is never justified and we haven’t suggested that it is.

“Hamas exist because of the failure to uphold the Oslo accords – we need solutions not moral indignation.”

Cllr Blumenthal responded saying: “Please condemn the actions of Hamas on the weekend then. I haven’t seen you do this.”

Explaining her need to speak up, the councillor said: “My grandfather and his family were German Jewish refugees from the Nazis, that’s why I feel the need to speak up.

“People don’t want to put their heads above the parapet, but I can’t let it go and say ‘that [what is being done] is alright’.”

Cllr Blumenthal represents the South Lake area of Woodley, and is the Conservative shadow member for equalities, anti-poverty and social housing on Wokingham Borough Council.

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