Last month this blog published some research looking at the antisemitic rhetoric and anti-Jewish targeting of the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which carried out the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008. The post included examples of threats to Jews and Hindus by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the head of LeT’s parent group, Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).
Saeed and other officials at JuD say that they do not have any connection to LeT, but few people seem convinced by their denials. The Pakistani government thinks they are part of the same movement, as does the United Nations: after the Mumbai attacks, the UN added JuD to its list of entities connected to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, which was established to help enforce the sanctions against the Taliban imposed under UN Security Council Resolution 1267. It essentially means that the UN considers JuD to be a terrorist-supporting entity (at the very least). It may be significant that JuD is listed as an alternative name for LeT, rather than a separate organisation, and Saeed is named as the leader of LeT. The Pakistani government also banned JuD once they had been proscribed by the UN, although JuD have challenged this in the Pakistani courts, with some success, and in other ways have simply ignored the ban.
One way in which JuD has re-emerged since the crackdown on their activities after Mumbai is on the internet, and more specifically on Facebook. This has been reported in the Indian newspaper The Hindu, and you can see a screenshot here:
Although UNSCR 1267 concerns economic sanctions rather than propaganda, it seems incongruous that an organisation proscribed by the United Nations as a terrorist-supporting entity should have a page on Facebook.
Interestingly Moazzam Begg of Cageprisoners is listed as one of JuD’s 430 Facebook “friends”:
Begg insists that he does not support the Taliban and has condemned terrorism, so this is presumably not friendship in the usual sense.
Two weeks ago, we wrote on this blog about some politicians using problematic language about Jewish lobbies and their supposed political or financial influence, and promised to highlight any further examples of this happening. We note, therefore, this article in today’s Jewish Chronicle, about comments made by Madeleine Kirk, Liberal Democrat candidate for York Outer:
A Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in Yorkshire told a hustings meeting that “the power of the Jewish lobbies in Washington and Britain” are the reason a full arms embargo has not been imposed on Israel.
Madeleine Kirk, standing for the party in the new seat of York Outer, was speaking at the York University event on Wednesday afternoon.
A question was asked about whether the candidates believed arms sales to Israel should be banned.
Ms Kirk, a long-standing local city councillor, replied that an embargo should be in place, but was not, “because of the Jewish lobby”.
She then went on to back disgraced Lib Dem peer Jenny Tonge’s call for an inquiry to disprove allegations that Israeli army medical teams in Haiti “harvested” organs of earthquake victims.
Baroness Tonge was stripped of her role as the party’s health spokeswoman in the Lords following her comments in February.
When contacted by the JC, Ms Kirk said: “I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused by my remarks.
“I recognise that the allegations against the IDF’s humanitarian operation in Haiti are completely unfounded and utterly reprehensible. I was not aware of the allegations when asked about them at the hustings and responded without considering their full implications.”
Ms Kirk has been a regular critic of Israel. In January last year she spoke at a rally against the Gaza conflict organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
She told the crowd: “I wholeheartedly condemn the attack on Gaza by the Israeli forces.
“The vicious attack is completely out of all proportion to the threat posed by Hamas in the region and will only serve the militants in both the Gaza strip and Israel.”
Parts one and two of this series of blogs can be read here and here.
By the end of the 1980s the increasingly strange direction of the NF’s leadership was having a damaging impact on the party’s membership, which had dwindled from a few thousand in the early 1980s to just a few hundred. The NF was now following a mish-mash of political ideas and influences which was far removed from the traditions of the British far right. Some branches refused to take copies of National Front News if they included too much content about working with black separatists. The edition which featured Osiris Akkebala on the front cover included an editorial which rejected Nazism and Strasserism in vehement terms, arguing instead for the decentralising of democracy under Distributism.
Despite the collapse in membership and repeated purges, the Political Soldiers ploughed on as true believers. In July 1989 the pro-Khomeini newspaper Crescent International printed a letter from David Kerr, signed on behalf of Ulster National Front, “to convey to you our deepest sympathy on the death of Iran’s great spiritual and revolutionary leader – Imam Khomeini…Imam Khomeini has stood as a beacon of truth and justice for all the oppressed peoples of the world. We salute his memory on behalf of all the freedom loving people of Ulster.”
Later that year Derek Holland and Nick Griffin left the NF and announced the formation of a new group, the International Third Position (ITP). Behind them they left a mere husk of what had been, a decade earlier, the largest movement in the history of the British far right. Harrington and Williamson renamed the remaining part of the NF as the Third Way, but it was the ITP which continued the Political Soldier ethos. In November 1990, in the period between Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait and the ejection of his forces by an American-led coalition, Derek Holland and Colin Todd (from a local Isleworth sub-group of the ITP, called ‘Liberation’) visited Iraq as guests of Saddam’s government. After an eight-day tour, during which they met the Speaker of the Parliament and various government ministers, Todd returned home convinced that Kuwait belonged to Iraq and lauding the “religious freedom” of minorities under Saddam’s rule. All news stories to the contrary, he told his local paper in West London, were “black propaganda written by a bunch of Zionists incorporating vicious lies.” Todd refused to say whether the Iraqi government had paid for their trip.
In 1990 Griffin and Holland left the UK for a farmhouse in northern France, to hone their strategy for a devolved network of local activist groups, freed from the centralised control that had been typical of the NF. To explain their reasons for leaving the NF and their strategy for the ITP, the pair produced a two and a half hour video, most of which involves one or the other of them sat in what looks like the dimly-lit bedroom of a teenage fascist, talking into a video camera. In this brief clip, Griffin explains the importance of spiritual struggle and values to their work, names Gaddafi as a Third Positionist thinker and describes himself as, in religious terms, an “eco-pagan”:
As the decade wore on, the ITP and other Third Positionist groups became an increasingly irrelevant ideological oddity on the British far right, especially as the BNP and Combat 18 rose in size and significance. Still, they always found room for anti-Israel campaigning, as this “Boycott Israeli Goods” sticker from the ITP shows:
In 1996, The Crusader, published by the English Nationalist Movement (a smaller Third Positionist group which had split from the ITP), featured an obituary for the Hamas bomb-maker Yehiya Ayyash, who had been assassinated by the Israeli army. Ayyash, it claimed, was “an important symbol of Palestinian defiance and deserves to be remembered for the sacrifice he made on behalf of his Race and Nation”. Alongside it stood an advert for the pro-Hamas monthly newspaper Palestine Times, and a lengthy article featuring more familiar allegations about “The power of World Jewry”, “Khazar Jews”, “the invasion of America by the Zionist conspirators” and how “Jewish power” was behind the French and Russian revolutions. It may be a surprise to more recent observers of extremist politics to find that at the end of the 20th century, it was parts of the British far right, not the far left, that promoted Hamas and Iran as fellow resistors against Zionism.
Nick Griffin has changed his stated views considerably since his time in the NF or the ITP – I doubt he would describe himself as a Political Soldier or an eco-pagan today – and the BNP does not bear much resemblance to either group under his leadership. But this story of one of the odder turns of the British far right shows that Edith Crowther is not alone in seeing radical Islamists as comparable to the BNP; and if she is ever called to account for her views, she can hope to find some understanding, if not agreement, from her party leader.
On a more serious note, this story sheds some light on the nature, and limits, of extremist politics. Anyone who is familiar with the writings of Sayyid Qutb on the decadence of Western civilisation, or the more extreme parts of the anti-Zionist left, will have noticed many similarities in the Third Positionist outlook. Their adoption of the Falangist slogan “Long Live Death” is unavoidably reminiscent of the jihadist mantra, “You love life and we love death“. It is something of a cliche that the further you go to one extreme or another the more they come to resemble each other, but despite the similar rhetoric this is a bit too simplistic. The more the NF and the Political Soldiers moved onto political territory normally associated with the far left or Islamist revolutionaries, the more of their traditional support they lost until they eventually disappeared into irrelevance. At the same time, they discovered that adopting an overt anti-Zionist message was not enough to persuade pro-Palestinian activists to work with them.
Just because people say similar things, it does not mean that they have reached that way of thinking via the same route, or that they are heading for the same destination. Nor does it mean that they will actively cooperate, although far left and Islamist activists have found much to cooperate on in recent years. What can be said is that there are points at which the ideas and language of political extremes intersect, and that discourse about Jews and Zionism is one of the busier intersections.
The National Front’s public admiration for the Iranian Revolution and their financial connection with Libya were not universally popular amongst NF members. Even within the leadership group there were some who were unhappy about these Middle Eastern links, and about the strong influence exerted in the running of the NF by Roberto Fiore and the other Italian exiles in London. This led to a purge in 1986: Ian Anderson, Martin Wingfield, Andrew Brons and others were pushed out of the party, leaving it in the hands of Nick Griffin, Patrick Harrington, Derek Holland and Graham Williamson, all of whom were fully committed to the Political Soldier model.
After this second purge, the NF started to shed the last vestiges of an old-style, British nationalist approach and adopted an increasingly hardline revolutionary, Third Positionist mindset. This led them to all manner of activities that people did not expect from the NF. In May 1986, print workers manning the picket lines outside the News International plant in Wapping were shocked to find NF members standing alongside them. “We have gone down on the picket line to support the workers”, Holland told the East London Advertiser, “because we think they have a just case against a capitalist like Rupert Murdoch.” The NF’s politics became increasingly dominated by talk of community action, self-reliance, racial segregation, national self-determination and a deep hatred of capitalist elites, which were often seen as synonymous with Zionism.
In September 1987, the NF took a symbolic step which, perhaps more than any other, showed that they were serious about their new direction: they removed the Union Jack from the masthead of National Front News. They explained the decision in a statement titled “Nationalism not Imperialism”:
The National Front accepts that many people in Britain are deeply stirred by the history and traditions associated with the Union Jack. We too are proud of many of the deeds of daring and heroism done by our forebears under that flag, but we also believe that its connections with City of London imperialism and the suppression of true nationalism from Cymru to Egypt, and from Eire to Australia, make it totally unsuitable as the banner of the National Revolutionary Movement.
It has therefore been replaced on our front page by the far older flags of the nations to which, if we go back to our roots as nationalists must, our peoples owe their allegiance. We do not believe that there is such a thing as ‘the British nation’. Britain is a Family of Nations. Accordingly, we display with pride the banners of England, Scotland, Cymru and the future flag of Ulster.
Spearhead, the magazine of John Tyndall’s rival British National Party, described this as “just one more stage in the transition of the National Front from a full-blooded British nationalist movement, as it was in its heyday of the 1970s, to a party that shares much more in common with the radical left than it does with nationalism in this country.” The article was titled “The Reddening of the National Front”.
Spearhead had it wrong: the NF’s new direction was more green than red. Colonel Gaddafi’s writings about democracy in the Green Book were much more influential than any left wing thought, which remained anathema to the NF. Inside National Front News at that time, articles titled “Zionism = Nazism” and features “examining the role of capitalist and Zionist media bosses” sat alongside adverts for the Green Book, Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islam and Revolution and David Irving’s Churchill’s War. The writings of Gaddafi and Khomeini became set texts for NF political training seminars. In March 1988, the front page of National Front News proclaimed “The New Alliance”, incorporating “White and Black racial separatists” and “Third Way nations such as Libya and Iran”: “It may be years before really close, practical, relationships are established between us, but Third Way principles are spreading everywhere”.
This alliance was most apparent in the convergence of political rhetoric. In January and February 1987, National Front News featured an article in several parts which described the “New Man” who would stand at the heart of the “Spiritual Revolution” they were trying to create. Religion and spiritual rebirth were a crucial feature of their programme:
The importance of the New Man, of spiritual struggle, cannot be overestimated. The New Man is the builder of our New World – if he does not come into being where is our Revolution? And this New Man is you, the reader, for such men and women have to be moulded from the materials at hand, no matter how imperfect.
And what are the failings and weaknesses that this New Man is meant to replace?
This New Man is qualitatively different from the type of man generated by the present System. The System is materialist, thus it produces ‘materialist man': the man who doesn’t concern himself with the interests of others; the man whose whole life is dominated by consumer goods; the man whose selfishness, greed and pettiness kills the virtues of Honour, Honesty and the Common Good. Such a man cannot save a nation from decadence, for he is the product of decadence. The air may choke with poisonous fumes, the unborn child may be aborted, the country may stand betrayed – the degenerate cannot fight back, he can only pull others down with him.
It may be coincidence, but an editorial published a year later in the English-language Iranian pro-regime newspaper Kayhan International, titled “The Birth of a ‘New Man'”, used remarkably similar language to describe the central achievement of the Iranian Revolution:
…the greatest achievement of the revolution yet, is giving birth to a ‘new man’. A new man who has disrupted the present balance of the contemporary world and has become a model for all the oppressed and deprived people of the world in their struggle against any element of oppression and tyranny.
The new man experiences a third way which is free living in the shadow of a revolutionary religion, with trust and reliance on Allah. He shares this delightful experience with other oppressed and deprived nations. The new man does not believe the equations of tyranny and oppression, and is not intimidated by the sophisticated technology, nuclear weapons, or the massive propaganda of the imperialist mass media.
The Political Soldiers counted themselves amongst the “oppressed and deprived people of the world”, struggling against the “oppression and tyranny” of Capitalism and Marxism; behind both of which stood, in their conspiratorial mindset, global Zionism.
In addition to their new political language, the NF did try to build “close, practical, relationships” with black, Arab and Muslim groups, with varying degrees of success. In April 1988, leaflets for a new group, the Campaign for Palestinian Rights (CPR), appeared as an insert in Nationalism Today. Called “Terror Tours”, their immediate target was the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) which was due to hold its annual conference in Jerusalem that year. NF members picketed travel agents in London, Nottingham, Blackpool, Shrewsbury, Preston, Burnley and Leeds. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the PLO office in London, horrified at the thought of far right infiltration of their campaigns, both issued public statements identifying CPR as an NF front and warning Palestinians and their supporters not to have anything to do with it.
In May, an NF group including Harrington and Williamson went on the annual pro-Iranian Quds Day march in London, where they handed out their “Terror Tours” leaflets and chatted to the organisers. In Leeds, as Searchlight magazine reported, “anti-fascists were shocked to see a local young black man selling a pro-Khomeini paper alongside the NF street sellers and exchanging publications with them.”
Their efforts to build links with black separatists focused on groups which had little presence in the UK. In February 1988, National Front News featured an interview with an American black separatist called Osiris Akkebala, of the Pan-African Inter-National Movement (PAIN). “Top Blacks Back NF Plan” ran the front page headline, above a photograph of Akkebala and an NF member reading a copy of the newspaper. “White Nationalists and Black Separatists should co-operate in our common struggle against multi-racist tyranny”, read the article underneath. Nick Griffin’s relationship with Akkebala proved to be an enduring one. Ten years later, when Griffin stood trial on race hate charges for the racist magazine The Rune, Akkebala flew in from America to testify in his defence. Griffin cited Akkebala’s 1988 interview as ‘proof’ that his views were not racist, but it did not stop the jury from convicting Griffin of inciting racial hatred.
In what has become one of the more well-known episodes in Nick Griffin’s political career, in September 1988 Griffin, Holland and Harrington visited Libya to try to get funding for the National Front. As this short clip from a 1999 BBC documentary explains, all they got were more copies of the Green Book:
Phil Andrews, an NF activist in Isleworth, donated a copy of the Green Book to his local library, but library records later showed that it was never checked out by any readers. Inside and outside the NF, there was little support for their increasingly bizarre political ideas.
In the third and final part of this series, read how Third Positionists ended up visiting Baghdad and praising Hamas.
Edmund Standing wrote a while ago about a BNP member, Edith Crowther, who had posted a blog comment claiming that:
I realised long ago that the BNP is the British equivalent of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whom I admire and respect and who have great courage. That is why I joined.
There was some bemusement at the idea that a BNP activist could make this claim. However, these ideas are not new on the British far right: in the 1980s Crowther’s own party leader, Nick Griffin, was at the heart of an effort to use the Iranian revolution as a model for British nationalism. It is a story about the similarities between different political extremes, and the strange politics that can result from them.
The British far right has always opposed Zionism and Israel as a direct consequence of a basic antisemitism, viewing both as manifestations of organised Jewish power and cruelty. However, this anti-Zionism took an unusual turn at the end of 1983 when a group of young National Front activists unseated the then NF leader Martin Webster and took over the party. This group included Griffin and Andrew Brons (both now MEPs), Derek Holland, Ian Anderson and Patrick Harrington, and was grouped around an NF publication called Nationalism Today and a magazine called Rising. They were strongly influenced by Roberto Fiore (himself now an Italian MEP) and other London-based exiles of the Italian far right group Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (NAR – Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari).
Describing themselves not as British Nationalists – far less neo-Nazis – but as National Revolutionaries, their ideology was a mixture of Strasserism, the rural fascism of Julius Evola and a dose of Lefebvrist Catholic fundamentalism, all of which contributed to what came to be known as a ‘Third Position’ or ‘Third Way’, beyond capitalism and communism. This view celebrated a mythical past of racially and culturally pure, agrarian, spiritual societies: the antithesis of the modern Western world, with its materialist decadence and racial and cultural mixing. A vivid strand of antisemitism, which blaimed Jews for usury and undermining national sovereignty, was never far from the surface.
Derek Holland, who was the main ideologue within the group, wrote an article for Nationalism Today in January 1984 setting out the “radical roots” of the NF’s “radical Nationalist ideology”. Citing William Cobbett, John Ruskin, Hilaire Belloc and G.K Chesterton, Holland identified Distributism, which promotes small-scale businesses and land ownership by families and small communities, as the foundation of the NF’s social and cultural programme. It did not escape Holland’s notice that most of his chosen heroes displayed a strong anti-Jewish animus. He described Cobbett as “a patriot and a racialist who deplored the power which was vested in Jewish bankers and money-lenders” – this was intended as a compliment – and highlighted Belloc’s support for the Boers against “International Finance…which was predominantly Jewish.” In another article marking the fiftieth anniversary of Gregor Strasser’s murder on the Night of the Long Knives, Holland combined Holocaust denial with the claim that Hitler was backed by rich Jews to argue that Hitler had betrayed National Socialism “in favour of Capitalists, Jews and reactionary militarists”.
The Political Soldiers’ doctrine was set out in a short booklet by Holland in 1984, called The Political Soldier, which described a world of “disintegration and decay…the forces of Evil [are] swamping the entire globe in an ocean of Filth, Corruption and Treason”. Holland defined the Political Soldiers as men who were inspired by “a spiritual and religious ideal that totally dominated their lives. Nothing came between them and the Ideal. They were willing to sacrifice anything and everything for the victory of their Ideal. If, for some reason, their Cause had been denied to them their lives would have ceased to have meaning, to have any importance whatever. They were fine warriors because a flame burned within, a fire that could only be extinguished when they drew their final, mortal breath.” After citing the Spartans, Roman centurions, Christian Crusaders and, more recently, the Romanian Iron Guard as examples of Political Soldiers, Holland wrote:
But Europe does not have a monopoly on Political Soldiers and all peoples and cultures have the potential to produce this type of man, each fitted to his peculiar circumstances. Take for example the Islamic Revolutionary Guards in the Iran of the Mullahs. It is not necessary to agree with any or all of their aims to appreciate and respect their courage. Their belief in their Cause is so strong that they will run through minefields unarmed to attack enemy positions; their ideals are so all consuming that they will drive truck bombs into enemy camps knowing full well that death is inevitable. Whether they are right or wrong is not at issue, but it is clear that this power, this contempt for death, is the stuff of which victories are made. This power drove the Yankee war machine out of the Lebanon – whilst U.S. troops were fighting for job security, a wage packet and a pension, their opponents in the Revolutionary Guards were fighting for an Ideal, an independent Iranian Iran. We must learn that the power of Idealism is beyond calculation.
Holland’s admiration for Iran ran deep. In article in Nationalism Today in May 1984, he condemned both the “Western World’s Zionist-controlled media” and the “Marxist press” for their criticisms of Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime, observing that “not for the first time, we find the reactionary ideologies of Capitalism and Communism standing shoulder to shoulder. What is it”, Holland asked, “that has caused these ‘class enemies’ to unite?”
The answer is found permeating the Ayatollah’s speeches: “We will not allow the Superpowers to intervene in the destinies of our country, to intervene in our army, in our culture, or in our economy.” The Iranian administration’s philosophy is embodied in their slogan: ‘Neither East nor West’ – it is an affirmation that Iranian cultural identity and national independence will not be submissive to alien power blocs. It is a view of the world which rejects the crass materialism and despiritualization of Yankee imperialism on the one hand and the exploitative brutality and tyranny of Soviet Communism on the other. It is the Iranian National Revolution.
The Iranian Revolution is far from perfect, since Man is far from perfect. The authorities may have used methods of which we would not approve; there are clearly many areas of ideological historical, cultural and religious disagreement, but are they of such a magnitude that we ought to support armed intervention?
…British national interests overlap far more with Iranian ones than they do with either the USA, the USSR or the Common Market. This is not to minimize areas of fundamental disagreement, but to put them in perspective. Military intervention by reactionary western governments will … pave the way for the Superpower and Israeli imperialists to re-shackle Iran to the One World slave system…
We have mutual enemies, if somewhat divergent aims. Anti-imperialists and anti-Zionists must stand together. No to Washington! No to Moscow! No to the Warmongers! National Freedom for the enslaved nations of the world!
First in the list of Iranian achievements that Holland listed in his article was “the abolition by law of usury and the expulsion of all Zionist-Jews…The importance of eliminating the finance parasites will not be lost on Revolutionary Patriots.” He also pointed out that “The contents of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion have been widely disseminated.”
It was not just for ideological sustenance that the Rising group looked favourably on the Middle East. They appear to have been in receipt of funding from the Libyan embassy in London even prior to their 1983 coup; there were strong rumours that Libyan money paid for a four-page supplement to Nationalism Today, called Victory to Palestine!, which was written by Holland. It included articles on “Israel – The Hate State”, “Some Jewish Myths About Palestine” and “Why the N.F. Supports the Palestinians”. Quoting from anti-Zionist Jews including Alfred Lilienthal and Israel Shahak, Victory to Palestine! warned:
The war of aggression launched last year by Israel against the Lebanon has caused a major shift in attitude towards the Zionist State amongst many in Europe and the U.S.A. But this in no way reflects any change in the nature of Israel itself. The Zionist State has always been brutal, arrogant and paranoid, and the Palestinian people will never get the justice they deserve whilst the illegal Israeli regime survives.
But if this were true, wouldn’t the entire world know of Israel’s rabid history and regard Beirut 1982 not as an exception, but as the rule?
The guilty party, the party with the blood of innocents on its hands, is the media, infested as it is with fanatical Zionists or shabbez goyim, grovelling non-Jews, who prefer to propagate pro-Israeli lies for money and prestige, whilst Palestinians languish in indescribable squalor.
In order to hide the truth about Israel the Media Jews maintain an anti-Arab bias day in, day out, using subtle and not so subtle techniques.
Not the least of the weapons used by the Jews to ‘justify’ the liquidation of the Palestinian people is the “Holocaust” fairy story. This tale has been demolished by Jewish and non-Jewish scientific and historical researchers…The ‘Holocaust’ is as mythical as Menachim Begin’s claim to be humanitarian, but even if every detail of this saga was the Gospel truth, it could not justify the forceable eviction of the Palestinians from their lands, the killing off of its intelligensia and the inhuman persecution that those in the occupied territories have endured at the hands of the Jews. Two wrongs do not make a right and a mythical Jewish Holocaust does not justify a horribly real Arab Holocaust.
“Smash Zionism – Join the N.F.!” ran the strapline at the end of the supplement.
The Libyan connection ended abruptly in April 1984 with the closure of the Libyan embassy in London after the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, so the NF looked elsewhere. In August 1984 Searchlight reported that the NF had begun receiving large quantities of glossy literature from the Iranian embassy, including copies of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. According to Ray Hill’s account in The Other Face of Terror, a meeting with the Iranians to discuss future funding plans fell through after Joe Pearce, one of the key NF activists involved in the negotiations, was arrested on unrelated charges. The following year, Nationalism Today reproduced an article on ‘Islam v Zion’ from the Iranian government magazine Imam. Antisemitism – presented as anti-Zionism – was a lingua franca for the NF and their new friends. This new line in propaganda did not replace the standard far right themes of Holocaust denial and Jewish conspiracy theory; instead, it weaved these ideas into its explanation of the Middle East conflict and its condemnations of Israel and Zionism.
In part two, we look at how another split in the NF leads to even stranger alliances for the Political Soldiers.
As reported in this week’s Jewish Chronicle, CST is one of more than 50 organisations, from inside and outside the Jewish community, to sign the following statement regarding the current election campaign:
With the approach of the General Election we are all too aware of those political forces who would seek to divide our country by promoting ideologies of racism and prejudice. We are immensely proud of the fundamentally British characteristics of equality, respect and fairness and of British society’s uncompromising rejection of the demonisation of any group, whether religious, ethnic or otherwise.
We therefore urge every British citizen to use their vote to support any party of their choice which stands opposed to the destructive politics of hatred, to vote for freedom not fear, partnerships not prejudice, and hope not hate.
Lee Jasper has, for many years, been one of Britain’s highest profile anti-racist activists; and served as Director for Policing and Equalities to then London Mayor, Ken Livingstone (before leaving under something of a cloud). Throughout these times he has worked with many Jews and Jewish groups, including on occasion me and CST.
It has now emerged that Jasper told the pro-Khomenite group, Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC)
Israel seeks to do to others exactly that which was done to them by the Nazis and so on.
The speech occurred on 17 January 2010 when Jasper addressed the IHRC’s so-called “Genocide Memorial Day“, marking “the anniversary of the Gaza massacre and its fallen victims”. It may be read in full here on the pro-IHRC website, Inminds. The section on Israel comprises a very small part of Jasper’s speech and is as follows
We are one year on from Gaza, it seems to me almost unimaginable that a people such as the Jewish community who suffered so grievously under the yoke of Nazism and fascism should forget the fundamental lesson of that oppression, and the state of Israel as its currently engaged in its Zionism project around Palestine has simply abandoned any moral ground, any intellectual relationship with that experience when it seeks to do to others exactly that which was done to them by the Nazis.
Most of Jasper’s speech concentrated on the slave trade, colonialism and racism. It utilised very serious anti-racist theory to explain how slavery and colonialism have left racist impacts that endure for oppressed and oppressor alike to this very day. Nevertheless, he still found the crass rhetorical link between the Jewish state and the Jewish genocide simply irresistible.
The Holocaust, like the slave trade, is not something that can be glibly tossed about like rhetorical confetti. Choose to spit on the memory of the Holocaust and you choose to lose the trust of the overwhelming majority of Jews. It is quite simple and you don’t need to be a professional anti-racist to understand why.