The English Defence League and the Gaza Flotilla
But the narrative of indignation that seems to be unconditionally accepted across both the mainstream media and certainly by most people I know, misses several of the crucial facts.
I tend to see it like Flesh:
The Israeli military took the bait dangled by the Mavi Marmara, which refused to port at Ashdod and so provoked the Israeli action its activists probably hoped for, which resulted in 9 deaths and many injuries. Unsurprisingly (Iran arming Hamas and Hesbollah) Israel is very defensive at the moment. A very right wing government is in power, with solid popular support. Hamas and Hesbollah need to take responsibility for Israeli popular support for their right-wing government. And every death and injury on the Mavi Marmara must be investigated.
Nobody serious says that Gazans are hungry – but they are entirely dependent and unable to leave. Like Israelis, they voted in their bad leaders. Hamas, which is jointly responsible for the blockade, has diverted much of the construction aid to Gaza into its own fortifications, rendering the rebuild impossible. Hamas is even more content than the Israelis to squeeze Gazans, and has refused to accept the aid the Mavi Marmara activists died to bring directly to them.For a fuller picture than you will get from mainstream or left/liberal sources, go to these posts and also follow their links: Kellie, Francis (1, 2, 3), Terry, Martin (1, 2, 3), TNC, TULIP, Engage, Eamonn (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and Gene.
Meanwhile, some friends Israel could do without. A tiny number of English Defence League members turned up at a pro-Israel demonstration, some possibly from the semi-fictitious "Jewish Division" of the EDL (it also has a "LGBT Division" and of course prominent Sikh members).
This has been grist for the mill for the hardcore anti-Zionists including Tony Greenstein*, whose post on the topic was somewhat dishonest (tempered slightly in a subsequent edit, but only slightly) and Andy Newman. Newman initially accepted at face value the EDL's claim that the Zionist Federation had welcomed their support, but after a while qualified this. Dave Rich of the Community Safety Trust has attempted to put the record straight.
There is no doubt that some Jews and some Zionists support or sympathise with the EDL, attracted mainly by its virulent hatred of "Islamic extremism", a slippery term that sometimes includes all Muslims as well as those who are genuinely deserving of hatred. But these Jews are a pretty marginal minority, and the mainstream are better represented by the denunciations of the EDL made by the Board of Deputies and other communal leadership organisations.
If you want to know who the EDL are, read my post from earlier this week, the excellent posts by the Community Safety Trust (1, 2, 3) or the post by "Malatesta" up at Harry's Place. This by Louis Amis is also informative and worth reading, but too soft on the EDL.
The HP post, incidentally, is subject to the dangers of Harryism: many people in the comment thread, mostly from North America, are far to the right of its posters; many are supportive of the EDL and some are racist against Muslims. The squeeze on a genuinely decent and thoroughly anti-racist left, between the phobic Harryists and the pro-Hamas left, is another cause for depression. (On this sort of thing, see this from Anti-German Translation and some of these from Entdinglichung.)
The maverick veteran anti-fascist Terry Fitz adds his comment to the HP comment thread, worth extracting:
It is quite clear from the long article in The Guardian on the 29th of May, using information supplied by Searchlight, that the EDL is a loose amalgam of the remains of C18, NF elements, disaffected BNP members and football firms.
I would describe it as a racist flash mob that communicates through the net and mobiles. It has no real structure which is one of its strengths. It has come out of a widely held fear of Muslims as a result of various atrocities carried out across ther world by extremists in the name of that religion.
It has tapped into a widespread dislike, or at the very least suspicion, of all Muslims because of the actions of a few. The EDL only has to announce an event for the almost defunct but now rejuvinated UAF to call for a counter demonstration which involves them inciting young Muslims to attack the police.
The ensuing arrests and violence further alienate these young men from a society which they already feel has a dislike of them because of their racial origins and faith.
We are caught in a circle which can only lead to more arrests, injuries and possibly deaths. In Tower Hamlets we have a paricularly dangerous situation whereby on the 20th of June some of the most extreme preachers in Islam will be at the Troxy Centre on Commercial Rd. The EDL are already talking about a counter demonstration and the SWP/UAF are calling for opposition.
UAF/SWP are using their contacts through the failed Respect project to wind up young Bangladeshis and are convening a meeting this Saturday in Bethnal Green to form a front group to oppose the EDL. All in all the omens are not good and I will keep you all informed of progress or the lack of it.
*Talking of Tony Greenstein, here's one of Michael Ezra's strolls down memory lane to 1983.