On Wednesday 2nd June, we witnessed the conjunction of the English Defence League (EDL) and the Zionist federation (ZF) who united for a rally in support of Israel’s brutal raid on the Freedom Flotilla. Despite both the BBC and The Guardian covering the rise of the EDL of late, both failed to cover the story of this troublesome matching.
The EDL are crudely referred to as a “far-right organisation”. They were formed in Luton following Muslims challenging British soldiers returning from their conquests in Afghanistan with placards with messages like “murderers”. In response a group of “concerned citizens” attacked the demonstrators and rampaged around Luton. When national outrage was felt due to this “attack on the pride of British heroes”, the campaign became national and in their wisdom they called it the English Defence League, excluding Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales from their name, while planning marches in all UK major cities.
What the EDL have mobilised to support are the values of English/British society which are “under attack” from the ever elusive “Sharia”. While some may wish to label them akin to the BNP, their genealogy is not so simple; I trace their rhetoric to Blair more than Mosley. In the simplest possible terms, they have domesticated the foreign policy of the West. What Blair attacked Afghanistan for are the same reasons the EDL are planning to attack Bradford and Tower Hamlets. Their reasoning is “humanitarian”: Islam in its political form “Islamism” subjugates women, enshrines patriarchy, encourages violence, is homophobic and is diametrically opposed to liberalism and representative democracy – it therefore must be eradicated from within Britain.
The EDL believe themselves to be bastions of toleration; defence structures guarding the moral nucleus that so typifies European thought. They not only grossly misunderstand the notion of toleration, immortalised with Voltaire’s “I may not like what you say, but I shall fight to the death for your right to say it” (which, unfortunately for them, includes political Islam) – they also strongly misunderstand the basis of the faith they oppose; swallowing hook, line and sinker the propaganda that justified a war of political strategy fought under the guise of “moral values”. The source of the EDL’s political venom derives solely from the post 9/11 world where “Muslim” and “terrorist” became synonyms. It is only with this point of clarification in mind that the EDL’s affinity Zionism can be understood. Israel are the “civilising force” in the Middle-East and need support in their “humanitarian” moral conquest to turn those misguided “Islamists” into liberals. At the heart of both movements thinking is the white man’s burden of bringing “civilisation” to the world through uncivilised means. Both the EDL and the Zionists accept and endorse violence to subjugate and sedate the communities they fear.
To label the EDL and ZF “racist” is too crude. They are imperialists committed to the perpetuation of Orientalism and European hegemony. The saddest thing about both movements however is how divorced they are from reality. They are products of deceit; a lie that argues that the social alignments of liberalism are conceived on the basis of moral values and not the dogma of the market. They valorise liberal democracy missing its oligarchic nature. Their moral universality knows no bounds, unless of course you are Muslim/Arab/”Paki”. Principles of exclusion are embedded within both outlooks – there is an enemy within and without that needs to be expunged – only then can a moral foreign policy and domestic society come into fruition.
Their fear of the other derives from a fictious existential threat, paranoia being their greatest recruitment technique. Both movements are the outcome of a nationalistic lie that was told to justify the appropriation of an other’s resources. For the Zionists, the Arabs became the evil villains who have a natural propensity to replicate Hitler. For the EDL the Taliban are the voicebox of all Muslims, those who accept Liberal values only do so to assimilate. When the Caliphate is re-established the essentialism to the Arab/South Asian skin colour will spark a shift in mind state that will turn great British citizens into jihadi Islamists. Both movements can be traced to an ideology that propagates fear in order to justify aggression.
One may want to make this argument about the lack of political acumen in the Zionist movement, if they believe they can align with the far-right and not accept the anti-Semitism that they are killing Palestinians to eradicate. However, this is too reliant upon a conception of the right that is divorced from the ideology of our times and completely misses the essence of Zionism; colonialism. This alliance is the logical outcome of a project of imperialism and has been defended as “left wing” by the likes of Nick Cohen and Tony Blair. The right we now face talk a completely different discourse; a post-modern, euphemistic language of libertarianism and morality. “Scratch the EDL find the BNP” may be true to some of the divisions, like Stoke, but to assume homogeneity nationally is problematic and lazy. Given the complete lack of engagement of the traditional left with this topic, and the imminent threat of a repeat of the riots of 2001 in Bradford and Tower Hamlets – we have to ask – can we really afford for this laziness to continue?