Tony Greenstein | 15 March 2018 | Post Views:

Putting Anti-racism and Anti-imperialism in Separate Compartments – the SWP’s popular frontism in action

Below is a statement
which has been issued by the Secretary of Brighton and Hove Palestine Solidarity
Campaign.  We, like many Palestinian supporters
have been dismayed at the stance of the Scottish STUR to allow supporters of Israel,
the Confederation of Friends of Israel, to take part in Saturday’s anti-racist
march in Glasgow, along with the flag of Israel.

This decision makes
a mockery of the purpose of the march, to oppose racism.  There can be no doubt that Israel is a racist
state, in the same way that Apartheid South Africa was a racist state.  It is a state with racism at its very core
and essence.  It is literally a State of
the Jews, not just its own Jewish citizens even but of all Jews throughout the
world.  That is why when Netanyahu paid a
visit to French Jews at the time of the killing of 4 Jews in a kosher Paris
supermarket, he told them that they should ‘come
home!’ Israeli minister urges French Jews amid terror wave
refugees, driven out in 1948 in order to ensure a Jewish demographic majority
in Israel are not invited ‘home’, despite they and their families having lived
there for generations.  Instead of being
a state of its own citizens Israel is a state of its Jewish citizens and Jews outside
the state. 
fact that a plurality of Israeli Jews support the physical expulsion of Israel’s
Arab citizens bears witness to the degree of racism in Israeli society.  The chant of ‘Death to the Arabs’ is a
favourite one of Israeli right-wing demonstrations.  At this very moment Israel is in the process
of trying to deport 40,000 Black African refugees for the crime of not being
White or Jewish.
Stand up to racism to allow people
with Israeli flags to march as part of its demonstration is a disgrace which
throws into question the purpose of SUTR. 
It is no secret that SUTR is a front organisation of the SWP.  It runs and controls it behind the list of
sponsors.  This is how the SWP have
always operated.  Nonetheless many people
have supported it who are not in the SWP, like Dianne Abbot, because it does
good work in opposing Islamaphobia and the Prevent
SUTR to allow the flag of Apartheid Israel to be present amongst its ranks
negates all of this.  Of course no one
objects to someone who is a Zionist participating in the march.  But to allow the flag of Israel to be present
is an entirely different matter.  The Israeli
flag to Palestinians is like the Apartheid South African flag was to Black
Africans and the Swastika was to Jews. 
reason for this debacle is the politics of the SWP itself.  On the one hand they claim to be anti-Zionist,
albeit in an extremely crude and unworked out way.  On the other hand they prioritise racism
domestically.  They seem to have a blind
spot for the fact that racism in Britain is a product of Britain’s role as an
imperial power and the British Empire. 
Although the SWP have no problem attributing the growth of Islamaphobia
to the War on Terror and the Iraqi and Afghanistan invasions they do not see
that in the Middle East the bastion of Islamaphobia and unadulterated anti-Arab
racism is the State of Israel and Zionism. 
Zionists hold joint demonstration with EDL (in paramilitary uniform in background) at Ahava in Covent Garden – Jonathan Hoffman, Vice Chair Zionist Federation (right), Roberta Moore of Jewish Nazi Jewish Defence League (middle) and Harvey Garfield (left)
is precisely the viciously anti-Islamic policies of the Israeli state, which
tolerates fascist attacks by Lehava on Arab males who are  believed to be in mixed relationships, and
which promotes anti-Islamic racism internationally that makes Israel so
attractive to the European and American far-Right.  Some of the most vehemently Islamaphobic
politicians from Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to Heinz Christian Strache,
the Vice Chancellor Austria to our own Tommy Robinson ex EDL and Britain First
admire Israel for its hostility to Muslims.
adulation of Israel by the far Right seems to have passed the SWP by.  Pictures of fascist organisations marching
and  demonstrating with the flag of Israel
also seem to have passed them by.  If Israeli
flags appear on Saturday in SUTR’s demonstration in Glasgow the shit as they
say will hit the fan.
Statement of Brighton
and Hove Palestine Solidarity Organisation
I write on behalf of the Committee of
Brighton & Hove PSC (BHPSC). As an organisational affiliate to Stand Up To
Racism (since October 2016), BHPSC is shocked and disappointed to learn of the
decision, by the organisers of Saturday’s anti-racist march in Glasgow, to
allow members of the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS), to
take part in the march.
In allowing representatives of an
Israel advocacy group to take part (with banners and/or Israeli flags) the
organisers of the Scotland march have undermined the fundamental principle upon
which the march was planned – ie opposition to racism in all its forms.
Moreover, they have failed to recognise that COFIS is not a group representing
Jewish people, but instead an advocacy group (composed in part of evangelical
Christians) for the racist and apartheid Israeli regime. COFIS has cynically
manipulated the situation to normalise the image of Israel in Scotland.
EDL demonstration in Dudley
 The issue is not fundamentally one of
support for the cause of Palestinian rights, or one of race hatred against
Jewish people. It is about the racist nature of the Israeli regime, and the
message that is conveyed to genuine campaigners against racism, and to genuine
victims of racism, by allowing the visual symbols of that regime to be
displayed in an allegedly anti-racist march.
We have written to Stand Up To Racism
Scotland to urge them to reconsider their decision.
As affiliates to SUTR, and active
supporters of the local SUTR group, we seek an assurance from SUTR that
pro-Israel groups will not be allowed to take part in any overt way (and to
carry pro-Israel banners and/or Israeli flags) in the London march on Saturday
March 17th. We also seek a public statement from SUTR, distancing
itself from the decision in Scotland. Of course individual members of
pro-Israel groups wishing to take part in a personal capacity cannot be
excluded, but pro-Israel banners and/or Israeli flags have no place in the
anti-racist movement.
Ben Steele
Secretary, Brighton & Hove
Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Joint Palestinian-Israeli Demonstration in Tel Aviv in February 2017 against racism

“Palestinians have situated their struggle, the BDS movement, as
part of a wider struggle against racism. Week after week Israel’s crimes
escalate, fuelled by racism and genocidal discourse so malevolent that even
Israeli generals, prominent journalists and Holocaust survivors have spoken out
about how Israeli society develop ever more marked features resembling 1930s
European fascism and Nazism.”

As an anti-racist organisation, SPSC has
participated over the years in Stand Up to Racism demonstrations; last year we
provided a high-profile speaker, Prof Richard Falk, who co-authored the UN
ESCWA report ‘Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the
Question of Apartheid’
which concluded “that Israel has established an
apartheid regime that dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”
. A year
later, the active agents of that apartheid state, defenders of its crimes
against humanity are to be allowed onto the march.
We understand that racism is a mortal danger to any project for a better
future in Britain, threatens to hurl us backwards into the abyss and that ALL
racist organisations need to be challenged and quarantined like political and
social Ebola.
According to SUTR publicity, March 17th marks the anniversary of the
Sharpeville massacre of 1960 and is part of worldwide demonstrations called to
combat all racism, including state-enforced racism.
How did this come to pass that an organisation that represents and works
on behalf of apartheid Israel can be welcome to participate in such an
occasion, in a city proud of the internationalism and solidarity that led to
the naming of Mandela Place?

It is with great regret, that we have concluded that we cannot
participate in Saturday’s march since SUTR in Scotland and UK-wide has let it
be known that the racist Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland (COFIS),
will be allowed to present itself as an anti-racist group on the march with a
banner and Israeli flags.

COFIS is a group that considers extreme racist Tommy Robinson to be “a
colourful character”
, refers to Palestinians as ‘Pallys‘ and ‘Fakestinians‘ and
posts about Palestinians being “euthanised”. COFIS is led by a Christian
fundamentalist and is closely allied with Christians United for Israel. CUFI
leader, Rev. John Hagee, asserts that Hitler was chosen by God to carry out the
Nazi Holocaust to drive Jews to the only place they should live, Palestine.
Ask why the extreme right across Europe and beyond fly Israeli flags and
they will provide the answer; US White supremacist Richard Spencer calls
himself a ‘White Zionist’ because Israel is already their model for a state
built on racist principles, ethnic cleansing and permanent inferiority for the
indigenous people.
Palestinians have situated their struggle, the BDS movement, as part of
a wider struggle against racism. Week after week Israel’s crimes escalate,
fuelled by racism and genocidal discourse so malevolent that even Israeli
generals, prominent journalists and Holocaust survivors have spoken out about
how Israeli society develop ever more marked features resembling 1930s European
fascism and Nazism.
EDL demonstrators in Brighton, after having failed to attack PSC stall – with Israeli flag
An earthquake is sudden but it is the result of long-term movements in
the earth’s crust. The shock of what happened last Saturday is the result of
several factors:.
  • The
    support for the Palestinian BDS call has been growing year on year since
  • Since
    2014, the Israeli government has mobilised their support through the new
    ‘Ministry of Strategic Affairs’, working with organisations around the
    world. In Scotland, that organisation is COFIS.
  • The
    smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the witch-hunt being conducted
    against his support base is having an influence, leaving activists fearful
    of being targeted by the campaign that secured expulsions and suspensions
    from the Labour Party of dedicated anti-racist, anti-Zionist Jews. Corbyn
    delivered a shattering defeat to the pro-war, pro-Israel Blairites to
    become leader of the Labour Party. He channelled the hopes of millions and
    spoke to tens of thousands.
  • The Old
    Guard of the Labour Party are fighting back and the pro-Israel Labour
    groups are spearheading the attack by smearing Corbyn as an ‘antisemite’.
  • Unfortunately,
    Jeremy Corbyn has allowed some of his most active supporters to be
    expelled and suspended following demonstrably false accusations.
  • The
    result has been increased intimidation of anti-racist, pro-Palestine
    voices across the unions and the wider society.
Corbyn will find that COFIS and their ilk are insatiable and will
continue to come for him, for the left, and certainly for all of us concerned
with ensuring a future in Palestine / Israel that is apartheid-free and based
on equality, justice and freedom.
During the long agony of the Palestinian people, most of the British
left openly sided with the colonisers. Groaning in a vast gulag, periodically
massacred, denied minimum human rights, an entire people were violated over
decades, while the Churchills and Thatchers cheered on and armed the
But we also must acknowledge that the British Labour Party in 1944/45,
in the most progressive Labour Government ever, asked the Palestinian people as
a whole to move out of Palestine to make way for Jewish colonists. Only
recently has the British trade union movement and most of the left begun to
atone for this shameful past.
The movers of the motion to ‘unwelcome’ COFIS were informed that the
decision to accept defenders of Israeli war crimes and apartheid on to the
march “came from SUTR National Officers, from Diane Abbott all the way down”.
The repeated reason given by SUTR for allowing COFIS onto the march was the
fear of being attacked in the media as “antisemitic” if they told these
uber-racists they were unwelcome.
This is a capitulation to racism in a double sense. Scottish SUTR
officers agree that COFIS is a campaigning racist organisation. (“We fully
agree with you about what COFIS is”). But as the letter from Scottish Jewish
anti-racists makes clear, to treat COFIS as a Jewish community organisation is
itself a racist position because it asserts that all Jews are in some way
associated with the Apartheid State. When clear anti-racist politics are
needed, when its ‘fight or flight time’, SUTR has chosen capitulation to a
racist smear against Scottish Jews and has thrown the Palestinians under the
We have seen that there is far to go and we have been thrown back by
this rotten decision. We are even hesitant about communicating this betrayal to
our friends in Palestine for we know the pain it will cause to people who
gambled on our support and have been rejected by some in Scotland.
There is the danger of the retreat in the face of weaponised false
antisemitism charges turning into a rout.
We pick ourselves up from defeats just as we have celebrated victories
and we dedicate ourselves to a long struggle, seeking the new allies that will
inevitably come to the aid of the Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.
Palestinians are being occupied, murdered and dispossessed, many living
in cruelly besieged Gaza under a military that uses guidance systems made in
Fife to get bombs to their targets on Palestinian universities, schools,
hospitals and homes. The same flag that flies over their constant humiliation
in Palestine will now fly over the demonstration in Glasgow.
We have never been in such a situation before where a hard racist
organisation has learned that they will be welcome on an ANTI-racist
demonstration. This is salt in open Palestinian wounds and sends a message –
the message COFIS and the Israeli Embassy work tirelessly to send – that
resistance is futile because Palestinians under Israel’s iron heel are
completely isolated. “Just look – even Scottish anti-racists are with Israel!”
What better way to spread pain and despair, for Israel’s benefit. Those
progressive Palestinians and citizens across the Middle East who argue that
international solidarity can contribute to their liberation and a better world
have been kicked in the teeth and those elements who thrive on despair – ISIS
and Al Qaeda – can put another slide in their PowerPoint.
Those Palestinians, our comrades in the fight against the Apartheid they
suffer under, have reached out to join with anti-racists around the world and
have been told that the flag of their torturers is welcome in Glasgow.
But everything is now out in the open for all to see. New lines must be
drawn with those who oppose all racism on one side of that line, and on the
other extreme racists and their partners, racist and “anti-racist”

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