Posts Tagged ‘Jewish People’s Council Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism’

David Rosenberg on Tory Support for the British Union of Fascists

October 9, 2018

Last week, David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group put up an article describing the events culminating in the ‘Battle of Cable Street’. This was an attempt by Oswald Mosley and his thugs in the British Union of Fascists to terrorise the local Jewish population by marching through the East End of London. He didn’t get very far.

Rosenberg’s article describes how Mosley and the rest of his thugs were beaten off, despite a police presence to guard them, by an anti-fascist coalition of Jews, including the Jewish People’s Council Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, Irish Catholics, trade unionists, the Communists and Independent Labour Party, as well as the Labour League of Youth. This was despite advice from the Board of Deputies and Jewish Chronicle that Jews should remain indoors and not attempt to resist the Blackshirts marching through their neighbourhood. The confrontation between Mosley and his thugs, and their defeat by working class, radical Jews and gentiles, has become the stuff of legend. I’ve heard folksongs about it. It’s naturally celebrated as the time working class Brits very definitely showed ‘No Pasaran!’ to Fascism.

The article’s also worth reading for what Rosenberg says about the support for Mosley in the Tory party and the House of Lords. I think it was Rosenberg, who was so shocked by the current president of the Board, Marie van der Zyle, who declared that the Tories were ‘good friends of the Jews’, that he put up a list of notorious episodes of anti-Semitism in the party. Of their support for Mosley and the BUF, he writes

Two major parliamentary debates on antisemitic terror in the East End took place in 1936. MPs detailed the wave of attacks on their Jewish constituents, but the only response Home Secretary John Simon could muster was to call for “all sides” to behave reasonably. Pathetic, though perhaps better than the sniggering of Tory backbenchers in the House in 1934 after violence erupted at a 15,000-strong fascist rally at Olympia in June that year.

The rally audience included 150 MPs looking for political inspiration, while
House of Lords members turned up in black shirts. The violence at Olympia was one way. Eighty anti-fascists needed medical treatment, yet Tory MPs parroted the BUF line that anti-fascists had attacked Mosley’s thugs. William Greene, Conservative MP for Worcester asked in the House: “Is it not a fact that 90 per cent of those accused of attacking Fascists rejoice in fine old British names such as Ziff, Kerstein and Minsky?” Frederick MacQuisten, Conservative MP for Argyll enquired: “Were some of them called Feigenbaum, Goldstein and Rigotsky and other good old Highland names?” A fellow Tory MP, Captain Archibald Ramsey frequently railed against what he called the “Jewish
imperium in Imperio (empire within an empire),” claiming that the correct term for “antisemite” was “Jew-wise”.

There’s also a photo of Captain Archibald Maule Ramsay in dress uniform. He was one of the most venomous and splenetic of British Fascists in this period. I think he was the head of one of the various pro-Nazi, British anti-Semitic organisations.

Rosenberg’s article concludes

As recent political interventions have shown the “advice” offered to the Jewish community from its self-defined “leaders” has not improved in the decades since. The current Board of Deputies president, Marie Van der Zyl displayed either political ignorance or amnesia when she told an Israeli news channel recently that the Conservative Party have “always been friends of the Jewish community”. Meanwhile, anti-fascists must face up to the renewed threat to minorities, not just here, but elsewhere in Europe and America. We still have much to learn from those who united in resistance and built an anti-fascist majority in their communities in 1936.

https://rebellion602.wordpress.com/2018/10/03/he-didnt-get-to-first-base/

He’s absolutely right. On this side of the Pond the past few weeks have seen UKIP’s party conference, which under Gerard Batten has become much more openly racist, and which as speakers Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars, Carl Benjamin, AKA Sargon of Akkad and ‘Count Dankula’, all of whom have extreme right-wing, anti-feminist and Islamophobic views and are fiercely opposed to immigration. The EDL are back on the rise and over the other side of the Atlantic Donald Trump has very strong connections to the Alt-Right and real anti-Semites. In Europe, ultra-nationalist, racist and anti-Semitic parties have taken power in Hungary and Poland. And the Tories, who have now allied themselves with Far Right parties like the Sweden Democrats and True Finns, aided the Hungarian president, Viktor Orban and his Fidesz party last week by voting against an EU motion censuring them.

We do need a revived antifascist movement, both here in Britain and abroad, to combat this. And this means a revived local, working class activism. Margaret Hodge, the Blairite MP for that part of the Metropolis allowed the BNP to take control of Tower Hamlets council because she did precious little to oppose them. As a token of their appreciation, they sent her a bouquet of flowers when seven of them got elected to the council. As the Jewish bloggers have pointed out, it was when activists from the left of the Labour party and other radical groups started traipsing round the borough knocking on doors and alerting local people to what the BNP really represented, that the Nazis were finally voted out.

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