The UK far-right & Tories: When it comes to Palestine they’re two sides of the same coin
Over one million people lined the streets of central London last weekend demanding a ceasefire and an end to Israel’s genocide in Gaza, making it one of the largest protests in recent British history. This momentous event was, however, quickly overshadowed by members of the British far-right led by Tommy Robinson, inciting racist attacks against pro-Palestine protestors. This was no doubt fuelled by the former Home Secretary, Suella Braverman and those who support Robinson.
Indeed, the far-right’s racist and xenophobic chanting of “we want our country back”, was starkly juxtaposed with ‘free Palestine’ chants calling for an end to the theft, colonisation and occupation of Palestinian land.
In the week running up to the protests against Israel’s onslaught, Braverman alongside Britain’s sensationalist press were fuelling tensions over the now-weekly solidarity actions, specifically the one that took place on Armistice Day. The 11 November historically marks ceasefire agreement made to end the fighting during the First World War as a prelude to peace negotiations that began at on that day in 1918. In many ways, it could not have been more appropriate for the public to be marching for a ceasefire.
''The fact that Braverman’s dismissal was for her criticism of the police, and not the emboldening of actual hate marches by the far-right, or even a potential conflict of interest when it comes to Israel, emphasises that the repression she sanctioned will likely continue under the unelected David Cameron who has taken over from her.''
Over the last five weeks of solidarity efforts, Braverman’s divisive rhetoric regarding pro-Palestine demonstrations were amplified across British press, including her claims that these actions were “hate marches'', and that protestors were “chanting Jihad”. She also stated that waving the Palestine flag ‘could not be legitimate’. Shortly before losing her post as Home Secretary, she had publicly said that the police were being ‘too lenient’ with pro-Palestine protestors.
Indeed, the former Home Secretary’s extreme policies, from censoring Palestine protests to wishing to deport refugees to Rwanda, have all highlighted her careerist ambitions to level up within the Conservative Party by appealing to the party’s ultra-right.
Furthermore, Braverman is far from impartial when it comes to her crackdown on Palestine protests. She has stated in past interviews that she has family members that serve in the Israeli military, and that her husband is a “proud”. This is all of course in addition to the fact that the political party she represents, which has now been in power for many years, has been staunchly pro-Israel, extended considerable support including through arms, and weaponised antisemitism to silence and attack Palestine solidarity.
The fact that Braverman’s dismissal was for her criticism of the police, and not the emboldening of actual hate marches by the far-right, or even a potential conflict of interest when it comes to Israel, emphasises that the repression she sanctioned will likely continue under the unelected David Cameron who has taken over from her.
However, the consequences of Braverman’s words in recent weeks cannot be underestimated.
Scenes of Robinson with far-right hooligans attacking police officers as well as Palestine protestors, dominated headlines. Whilst the fact that over a million people took to London’s streets peacefully calling on the UK government to end its complicity with Israel’s war crimes, was completely ignored. This was especially highlighted by Parliament’s overwhelming opposition to calling for a ceasefire last night.
Additionally, the links between the far-right and pro-Israel views is more and more visible, and public expressions of this are only facilitated when state heads target Palestine solidarity, as well as anti-racist and anti-fascist movements under the guise of opposing terrorism.
Robinson, the former leader of the far-right racist extremist group, the English Defence League (EDL), has previously made appearance in pro-Israel protests in London and declared himself a Zionist. Whilst on trial in 2018 on charges of contempt of court, a notorious hard-line, pro-Israel think thank helped fund Robinson’s legal expenses. The Middle East Forum (MEF) stated publicly that they were proudly “helping Robinson in his moment of danger” by paying for his legal defence, “bringing foreign pressure on the UK government to ensure Mr. Robinson’s safety and eventual release”; and “organising and funding” a rally that took place in London.
It has also been reported that pro-Israel multi-millionaire, Robert Shillman, was funding Robinson’s five figure salary from 2017, under the cover of a fellowship with a Canadian media group. Shillman sits on the boards of The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces and the David Horowitz Freedom Centre, a far-right group dubbed an anti-Muslim hate group.
Robinson has also been invited on sponsored trips to Israel where he visited illegal Israeli settlements, and was even pictured carrying a rifle while standing on an Israeli army tank in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Whilst some may be confused about why Robinson, part of a movement that is historically antisemitic, would be supporting Israel, aside from the financial gains, there is a logic to it. The far-right in Britain, the US or anywhere in Europe, supporting Israel is testament to the very foundations of Israel’s establishment which have depended on racism, settler-supremacy, apartheid, and of colonial domination. All of these align with the flames of fascism that fuels the far-right in every corner of the globe.
From Braverman and the Tory government, to the far-right, to say that the Palestinian struggle faces considerable and aggressive opposition would be an understatement. However, this reinforces what the long-standing slogan “in our thousands in our millions, we are all Palestinians” chanted at demonstrations, continues to highlight. The fight for Palestine is not only not only for the freedom of Palestinians, but is one for all peoples, and for a world free of oppression, racism, fascism, prejudice, and authoritarianism.
Farrah Koutteineh is founder of KEY48 - a voluntary collective calling for the immediate right of return of over 7.4 million Palestinian refugees. Koutteineh is also a political activist focusing on intersectional activism including, the Decolonise Palestine movement, indigenous people's rights, anti-establishment movement, women's rights and climate justice.
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @key48return
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