Decision not to light up Wembley arch for Israel slammed by antisemitism adviser

By Isaac M October 13, 2023

The Football Association (FA)’s decision not to light up the Wembley arch to pay respects to Israel has been branded “mind-blowing” by the Government’s independent adviser on antisemitism.

Bodies across the UK have been urged by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to pay tribute at sporting events to victims of violence in Israel after attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas on the country.

Ahead of Friday’s friendly between the English and Australian football teams at Wembley Stadium, the FA said players will wear black armbands and a period of silence will be observed to remember victims of the conflict.

However, the arch will not be lit and flags, replica kits and other representations of nationality beyond those related to England or Australia will not be allowed inside the venue.

Lord John Mann, the Government’s antisemitism adviser, told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “I made it easy for them (the FA). I said, ‘Why don’t you put up the Jewish prayer colours which have been there for thousands of years?’

“The Wembley arch is seen by the Jewish community in north London more than any other icon, and the fact they couldn’t do that for an hour or two last night just to give that message of hope and comfort, I find depressing.

“I find it quite mind-blowing.

“Instead they’re having a minute’s silence on a Friday evening when not a single Jewish person will be present.”

The FA has been criticised by the Government and Jewish organisations for its decision.

Last year, it lit the arch in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukraine flag after the country was invaded by Russia.

After Hamas’s attack at the weekend, the Israeli military retaliated by firing missiles at the Gaza Strip, with a ground offensive also being prepared.

The conflict is thought to have already left close to 3,000 people dead.

Lord Mann said he is “kept awake at night” by the danger posed to Jews in Britain.

The peer added: “When schools are too scared to open, when families are scared to go out, it is scary, very scary.”

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