The Real Question is Why Does Stand Up to Racism Refuse To Stand Up To Racism?
On Wednesday Brighton and Hove Trades Council voted by 9-4 not to support the Stand Up to Racism march in London on March 18. This was because Scottish SUTR, since 2017, have allowed Glasgow Friends of Israel (GFI) and the Confederation of Friends of Israel – Scotland (COFIS) to take part in the march.
In 2018 Zionist groups were allowed to participate, complete with police protection. As a result the Muslim Association of Britain alongside the Muslim Council of Scotland refused to take part.
The SWP ‘invited’ the Convenor of Scottish SUTR Tallis Ahmed to the meeting. Ahmed proceeded to lie and dissemble claiming that Care 4 Calais sponsored their march, denying that Muslim groups had boycotted it. She even pretended that SUTR is democratic claiming that they had AGMs at which officers were elected. A cursory glance at their website reveals no such democratic inclinations.
What the SWP were unable to do was defend the presence of Zionist groups on their march. The reason being that it is indefensible and thus they were caught on the horns of a dilemma. How can you have an anti-racist march with racist flags and groups taking part?
When I pointed out that a number of Black groups and individuals had signed a letter urging speakers not to take part in SUTR’s founding conference, Ahmed claimed that Black Lives Matter was only a name! Almost the same as Keir Starmer calling them a ‘moment’. The fact is that Southall Black Sisters and East End Sisters Uncut also signed the letter.
15 local trade unionists signed an open letter calling on the Trades Council not to back SUTR’s march in London. (see below)
Only last week there was a pogrom in the Palestinian town of Huwara. One person was killed, 98 were injured, attempts were made to burn Palestinians alive in their homes and throughout all of this the Israeli army helped the settlers, dancing with them afterwards in the streets whilst using stun grenades to violently attack 400 Israeli Jews who came to express solidarity with the victims.
Bezalel Smotrich, the head of the Civil Administration in the West Bank, called for the ‘wiping out’ of the town of Huwara, recalling the worst pogroms against the Jews of Europe.
It beggars belief that the Socialist Workers Party, who control SUTR, should allow racists and Jewish Supremacists on an anti-racist march.
Every major human rights organisation, from Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch and Israel’s B’Tselem, have concluded that Israel is an Apartheid State. B’Tselem described Israel as
‘A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea’.
Apartheid is a system of racial supremacy and its supporters have no place in any organisation which calls itself anti-racist.
Veterans of the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa have described Israel’s repression as worse than Apartheid in South Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu observed that
‘What’s being done to the Palestinians at checkpoints, for us, it’s the kind of thing we experienced in South Africa.’
After a visit in July 2008 to the West Bank former Deputy Minister of Health Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge MP explained:
“What I see here is worse than what we experienced – the absolute control of people’s lives, the lack of freedom of movement, the army presence everywhere, the total separation and the extensive destruction we saw….racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa.”
Yet SUTR, who claim to oppose racism, welcomes onto its annual march against racism in Glasgow, two openly racist Zionist groups.
In 2019 GFI Chair, Sammy Stein was filmed harassing a Scottish PSC [SPSC] stall in the company of Max Dunbar, a former Treasurer of the BNP in Scotland with close links to open holocaust deniers.
In May 2022 GFI member Edward Sutherland, a Christian Zionist. was reprimanded by the General Teaching Council for posting ‘vile’ anti-Semitic messages on Facebook using an alias, Stevie Harrison.
Ironically Sutherland’s defence was that ‘the messages were not antisemitic due to there being a “distinction” between Zionism, a political position, and Judaism, a religion.’ Zionists usually spend their time telling us that there is no difference! One of Sutherland’s posts read ‘Looks like a certain Zio’s big nose is out of joint.’
The GFI Facebook Group is a racist sewer. Posts include:
· The description of Israel’s murder of 3 Palestinians as ‘euthanasia’
· The murder of 50 Muslims by a neo-Nazi in Australia which attracted comments such as
‘it’s payback time for the attacks that Muslims have perpetrated across the globe’ ‘what goes around comes around so what’s the problem’ and ‘the whole attack was staged’
· Advocating that a Palestinian activist ‘should be strangled with her own head scarf.’
Matthew Berlow, a member of GFI and a solicitor was fined £500 for staging a fake graffiti attack on his home and then trying to blame SPSC for it. This did not stop him taking part in SUTR’s march. See
Scottish lawyer admits framing Palestinian group with fake vandalism attack
GFI’s Facebook page includes attacks on Jewish peace group Brighton and Hove Trades Council Muslim Association of Britain alongside the Muslim Council of Scotland, Tallis Ahmed Starmer Huwara, Smotrich, Amnesty International to Human Rights Watch Desmond Tutu Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge Sammy SteinMax Dunbar, Edward Sutherland, a Christian Zionist. was reprimanded by the General Teaching Council Matthew Berlow, Na’amod, calls Roger Waters one of ‘the worlds’ best known anti-Semites’, calls for refusing entry to Britain of an anti-Zionist rabbi, denies that Jewish settlements are illegal under international law, attacks Humza Yousef, a Muslim candidate for First Minister in Scotland for meeting with Hamas being part of the Scottish Islamic Foundation and has a comment with 3 likes denying that the Palestinians even exist:
‘Every time one uses the word Palestinian, one is perpetuating a MYTH”
I wrote on behalf of the Trades Council to Scottish SUTR asking for
clarification as to what is the position this year. Will GFI and COFIS be welcomed onto the march or will you make it clear to them that they are not welcome and will be excluded if they attempt to join.
The reply was disingenuous. They claimed that neither Zionist group had been welcomed, which is a lie. In 2019 a motion not to allow them to participate was defeated in the SUTR organisers group. My anonymous correspondent also claimed that
SUTR is a domestic campaign to mobilise against racism and the far-right in Britain.
The Tory attack on refugees is being jointly undertaken with the French government. Racism in Britain originates in Britain’s colonial past. The SWP claims to be Marxists yet Marx called on workers of the world to unite.
I was informed that ‘The demonstration is for everybody who agrees with these core demands’. It beggars belief that GFI agree with welcoming refugees. In Israel non-Jewish refugees are automatically refused asylum.
In 2012 Prime Minister Netanyahu stated that ‘”illegal infiltrators [i.e. refugees] flooding the country” were threatening the security and identity of the Jewish state.’ Has GFI ever condemned this? If not why would they support asylum seekers coming to this country?
I also asked:
If SUTR considers itself a ‘domestic campaign’ mobilising against racism why does it not mobilise against the increasing anti-Palestinian racism that Palestinian students, academics and supporters are facing from Zionist groups that manifests in abuse, vilification, silencing and in some cases loss of livelihood?
The Zionist movement is prominent in attacking Black, Muslim and Palestinian students and academics. They targeted Shaima Dallalai, the Muslim President of NUS who was sacked and Shahd Abusalama, a lecturer who was first suspended and then forced out of her job.
Close relations have developed between the Zionists and the far-Right resulting in Tommy Robinson attending the Board of Deputies rally at the Israeli Embassy, in support of the attack on Gaza, in May 2021.
UN Anti-Racism day was instituted in 1966 in order to remember the 69 Africans gunned down by the South Africa police at Sharpeville in March 1960. To allow pro-apartheid groups to take part in the SUTR march is to spit on the grave of those who were murdered.
As Margaret Pacetta and John Hilley wrote in the Morning Star of 13 March 2018
‘You cannot stand up to racism while lying down to Israeli apartheid.’
To Palestinians the Israeli flag is the equivalent of the swastika for Jews. It is the flag of those who march through East Jerusalem each year chanting ‘Death to the Arabs.’ It is the flag of house demolitions.
It’s like expecting Black people to march alongside the Confederate flag. The SWP are incapable of integrating anti-imperialist and anti-racist politics. It is the politics of opportunism and left sectarianism.
Why? Because the SWP sees their primary task as building their party. Everything else is secondary. SUTR has won the support of trade union leaders by playing down their politics. Frightened of the false charge of ‘anti-Semitism’ if they banned Zionist groups, they have also conceded to the Zionists’ false ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign.
SUTR is an SWP front. It is their main recruiting tool and they are willing to sacrifice the Palestinian struggle in order to win the support of those to their right. Trade union leaders are happy to subcontract anti-racism onto SUTR. That’s why SUTR doesn’t criticise trade union leaders who remain silent about the Labour Party’s anti-refugee policies. Yvette Cooper criticised Cruella Braverman’s refugee proposals because they won’t work, not on principle. Rachel Reeves has gone further and criticised the Tories for not deporting more.
SUTR seems to believe that since the majority of British Jews are Zionists they should turn a blind eye to Zionism. They forget that Zionism was founded on the belief that anti-Semitism could not be fought as it was inherent in all non-Jews.
Racism was how imperialism justified colonising other peoples’ countries. Palestine was a British colony between 1917 and 1948. By allowing Zionist groups to march with them, SUTR has become complicit in British racism.