Tower Hamlets, EDL, Jews and Israel.
6 September 2011
This weekend, Tower Hamlets in London's East End saw the latest attempt by the English Defence League to intimidate Britain's Muslim communities. Jews and Israel were dragged into the affair, by both the EDL and anti-Israel boycotters.
Jewish representative groups had called for the EDL's proposed march through the area to be banned on grounds of public order. The march was banned, but a static demonstration was held instead.
EDL leader, Stephen Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson), is prohibited by bail conditions from attending demonstrations. Nevertheless, he addressed the demonstration, having arrrived in a rather pathetic "rabbi" disguise that he discarded after mounting the speaking platform. (He was subsequently arrested and now faces charges.) This is him here:
CST and other Jewish groups have repeatedly warned Jews against getting mixed up in the EDL's anti-Muslim provocations. Lennon and his EDL followers probably thought it was just a joke that he should dress up as a rabbi ("Rabbi Benjamin Kid'Em On" to be precise), but the joke reveals a vital political lesson:
The EDL is only interested in Jews (and Israel) as devices with which to try and provoke Muslims. No good will come of this for either Jews or Muslims. It is racist politics and anyone who sincerely cares about anti-racism, Jews, or Israel, should condemn it.
These trashy attempts by EDL to drag Jews and Israel into their provocations should be rejected out of hand by any sincere anti-racist. Nevertheless, reactions to the Norwegian mass murderer, Anders Breivik, have already shown that there are those in the anti-Israel brigade who appear unable to stop placing Zionism and Israel at the centre of their world-view.
A similar phenomenon occurred in Tower Hamlets, with a few "Boycott Israeli Goods" activists using the anti-EDL demonstration as a handy vehicle upon which to hitch their wagon. Their number included Carole Swords, a senior Respect activist in Tower Hamlets, whom CST Blog recently noted as having told pro-Israel activists to "go back to bloody Russia!".
"Go back to bloody Russia!" is the kind of "Send 'Em Back!" sentiment that the EDL can likely identify with; but Swords was most certainly not on the EDL's side this (or any other) weekend. The boycott Israel activists, including Swords, can be seen in the below video. Its title, "Tower Hamlets kick out the EDL & their Israeli Propogandist [sic] allies", dangerously alleges that there was some kind of meaningful and independent pro-Israel participation in the EDL's anti-Muslim provocation. (Swords comes in at about 2.18, amongst those attempting to muster up "Free Palestine" chants from the anti-EDL demonstrators.)
The potential and actual linkage between antisemitic incidents and anti-lsrael sentiment (e.g, see this hateful graffiti from Manchester last week) is blatant; and linking pro-Israelis with the EDL risks serious antisemitic escalations wherever EDL intensifies its actions.
For example, the risks that lie within Stephen Lennon's speech in Tower Hamlets (view it on Youtube by clicking here), which threatens EDL retribution throughout the country should any Muslim in future perpetrate a terrorist attack here in Britain.
The threats occur from approximately 9 minutes 15 seconds into the speech. He tells "every single Muslim watching this video on youtube"
On 7/7 you got away with killing and maiming British citizens...
...We will not tolerate it. The Islamic community will feel the full force of the EDL if we see any of our citizens killed, maimed or hurt on British soil ever again.
There are decent ways of opposing the physical and political threat posed by Islamist groups and activists; but this is the polar opposite of any such approach, with indiscriminate threats being issued against anyone who is a Muslim (or who is assumed by EDL to one).
This is the same racist idiocy as holding all Jews as responsible for the actions of any single Jew; and by which Jews throughout the world come under physical attack every time that Israel is in the headlines. It should be opposed without sectarian distractions about overseas conflicts.