Page last updated at 23:56 GMT, Friday, 9 January 2009

Hoax e-mail angers Jewish leaders

Pro-Palestinian protesters outside Israeli embassy in London (04/01/09)
The planned rally follows a series of anti-Israel protests in London

Jewish officials have reacted angrily after a hoax e-mail claimed a rally for Middle East peace planned to take place in London on Sunday had been cancelled.

The event at Trafalgar Square is expected to draw thousands of people a week after a huge rally against Israel's war in Gaza was held there.

The e-mail purported to come from the UK's Jewish communal leadership, the Board of Deputies (BoD).

The BoD denounced the "hurtful" hoax, and vowed that the rally will go ahead.

"The damage is done," BoD spokesperson Samantha Cohen told the BBC News website.

Ms Cohen said it was particularly problematic because the e-mail, which went to private Jewish e-mails and communal groups, was sent just before the Jewish sabbath, during which religious Jews do not use electrical appliances.

The e-mail, which appeared authentic, said the rally was cancelled because it "might be perceived as the community taking one side in the tragic war in Gaza and Israel, and might be seen as supporting Israel's military campaign".

Ms Cohen said: "It's an attempt to silence the Jewish community's support for peace for the people of Israel and Gaza, but I think it will backfire and make people even more determined to turn out when they hear it was a hoax".

The event will be the first major rally organised by the Jewish community in the UK after a series of global protests over Israel's offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

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