Eviction of Irish travellers echoes ‘anti-Semitism’
Jewish leaders have thrown their support behind the Dale Farm illegal campsite, claiming that the planned eviction has echoes of anti-Semitism.
As the authorities prepare to remove Irish travellers from the Essex site after a High Court ruling, members of the Jewish community joined Catholics and Anglican clergy opposed to the eviction.
Their protest comes after the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination called on the Government to suspend the planned eviction, saying it would “disproportionately affect … women, children and older people”.
Alongside Jews, gipsies were widely persecuted by Hitler during the Second World War. Rabbi Janet Burden, who has visited Dale Farm, said that as members of an ethnic minority gipsies deserved protection under human rights law.
“Travellers are vilified just as Jews were in this country in the early part of the 20th century,” she said.
“The language used clearly echoes the rhetoric of anti-Semitism. I believe that the obligation to protect this ethnic minority’s way of life is a human rights issue that, in this particular and unusual case, may need to 'trump’ the planning law designed to protect the Green Belt.”
Dan Glass, a Jewish supporter of the travellers, said that despite the council’s argument that it was a planning issue in reality it was “ethnic cleansing”. Last week the local Church of England and Roman Catholic bishops visited the six-acre site.
In a statement they urged council chiefs to postpone the eviction until an alternative permanent home could be found. Opposition to the eviction of residents has now been articulated by the UN, the EU and the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission.
Supporters have devised an alternative plan, which they say could save taxpayers the £18?million eviction cost and stop 100 children from leaving their school.
It is understood that up to 100 political activists have entered the site to give training in non-violent action to deter the bailiffs. The move comes days after the travellers’ appeal to stay on the site was rejected by the High Court.
The former scrapyard was bought by the community three decades ago.
Half of the site does not have planning permission. Residents accept that they will have to leave but many will be homeless unless alternative sites are found first, they claim.