Who takes to the streets to attack a march calling for an end to war crimes, specifically the aerial bombardment of civilian areas leading to the mass killing of children? Well, when the victims are predominantly Muslims, the answer is, of course, the English Defence League. On Saturday (9th August) a demonstration in central Portsmouth calling for an end to the Israeli assault on Gaza and for a free Palestine attracted around 200 people. Starting from the Guildhall Square it went through the shopping precinct and back to the square for a rally with speeches. The turnout was broad, with a sizeable contingent from BME communities and the left.
As Anti-Fascists suspected 15-20 racists just could not stop themselves from turning up to show the public once again what an utter bunch of mindless morons they are. The usual idiot gang from Portsmouth plus a small travelling contingent of racists from Southampton. It may seem strange at first that some local Nazi’s, one of whom has a tattoo of the SS Death Head, might rally to Israel’s cause but that’s until you realise that the EDL’s fragments plus associated fascists from the NF, are happy to support anyone who murders brown-skinned people.
Like Nick Griffin and Marine Le Pen they attempt to hide their anti-Semitism to ride the Islamophobic wave promoted by mainstream politicians. While some Fascists hatred for Jews means they are the false friends of the Palestinians, criticizing Israel purely on the basis of their own anti-Semitism, lots of the far-right have rallied to the Israel’s cause in the aftermath of the anti-Muslim racism of the years of the ‘war on Terror’.
After following the demo round with insults and provocations including waving both EDL and Israeli flags, with one obviously goyish goon wearing a skullcap, they roughed up two women demonstrators who were telling them where to go. Later when the march got back to rally, the EDL gathered near the war memorial to shout further insults but they looked a pathetic sight as the younger contingent of the pro-Palestinian march moved opposite them and easily shouted them down.
Outnumbered and basically told to get out of the area for their own safety by large group of demonstrators, a few of these EDL losers, presumably trying to puff themselves up after being told where to go by scores of Asian, black and white people in unison, hassled three women walking home from march, ripping their trade union flag. So there you have it: racist hooliganism, chanting in support of war crimes, following and harassing women. It’s like a checklist for being a scumbag.
The police played their usual role of basically protecting the fascists. Not doing anything serious about their attack on marchers, facilitating their abuse of a multi-ethnic event and then attempting to arrest those resisting the fascists, once again confirmation that those of us who want racist-free communities can’t trust the old bill.
There is also a wider element to the far-rights embrace of the Israel worth noting, Israel is one of the last examples of old school territorial colonialism, a settler state like the United States and Australia before they broke the resistance of the indigenous peoples, it’s rulers consider their states long-term survival only possible upon the dispossession and ethnic cleansing of the descendents of Palestinian inhabitants driven from their villages in 1948, further annexed from 1968, forced to live in refugee camps and under siege.
It is also a state where citizenship rights are attributed on the basis of ethnicity, an apartheid state, in many ways similar to South Africa before majority rule, that is based on a racist conception of humanity where races or religions form a homogeneous block either righteous or to be collectively punished. Although it is not a fascist state, many Israeli politicians have been pushing it down that road for some time now by openly calling for genocide of the Palestinians. Mob violence against African immigrants and Arabs goes widely unpunished by the Police and State. The Israeli government has more recently tried to portray itself as the last outpost of civilisation, reminiscent of the most racist colonial propaganda.
Fascism and imperialism has always gone hand in hand, from Hitler and Mussolini’s savage invasions to the founders of the French Front National murdering for the state in Algeria. They are okay with minority communities being terrorised in Britain so it isn’t surprising that they believe in slaughter and exploitation abroad. Anti-Fascists understand that the ideology of empire plants the seeds of fascist violence.
It’s a terrible irony of history that the holocaust has been used as apologia for Israel crimes against humanity but some of the loudest cheers on the day were for speeches that rejected both Israeli colonisation and anti-Semitism. Portsmouth Anti-Fascists are committed to opposing, in deed and word, any instances of racism in the town, including anti-Semitism. When the fascists go unchallenged they can grow, we will continue to not let that happen.