The Fight Against Fascism in Brighton and the South Coast

by Jay Knott, with input from Francis Clark-Lowes

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Tony Greenstein is a campaigner for the unemployed, the homeless, etc.. He’s been involved for decades in helping the poor in England’s progressive capital, Brighton.

He is also involved in more complicated issues like anti-fascism and Palestine solidarity. He follows Lenni Brenner’s discovery that the Nazis co-operated with Zionists in the 1940s, and tries to apply the conclusion to Britain in the 2010’s (Brenner 1983).

The relatively new English Defence League seem to reinforce that analysis. Not only are they “fascists” (they oppose black immigration), but they are Zionists too (they harass Muslims and Palestine Solidarity groups).

The other main far-right group in the UK is the British National Party. It claimed it was the only party in Britain to unconditionally support the Israeli massacre of Gaza in 2008-9 (Shaviv 2009).

The BNP’s leader, Nick Griffin, frankly admitted that his party was once anti-Semitic, but said it had changed. If you’re a far-right leader, and want to prove you’re not anti-Semitic, what do you do? Support Israel! Most people aren’t aware of Lenni Brenner’s view, that fascism and Zionism are twins, and tend to think in simplistic terms. For them, anti-Semitism implies opposition to Israel.

So why did Griffin feel the need to prove his party is not anti-Semitic? Because Zionists and anti-fascists had been screaming “Nazis!” at the BNP, and its predecessor, the National Front, for decades. The leader of the Anti-Nazi League once confided to me that it wasn’t strictly true to say these parties were National Socialist, but, as he put it, “the shit stuck to the blanket”. To attract wealthy Jewish support, the anti-fascist left exaggerated their opponents’ anti-Semitism. To grab nationalism back from the fascists, the anti-fascists harked back to World War II. It worked. Posters of the leader of the NF, next to a picture of Goebbels and a pile of bodies, did the trick, leveraging both Jewish fear and British patriotism. The far right had to change its tune.

The pro-Semitic, Islamophobic, English Defense League is, in part, the result. Despite this achievement, and despite its falsehood, lefties still shout “Nazis!” at the far right. They don’t shout “Zionists!”. The implication is that white identity politics is worse than Jewish supremacy.
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An important component of anti-fascism is the claim that “appeasement” in the 1930s toward Germany was a mistake. In other words, war was better. Anti-fascists tend to be rather sheepish about this. The successes of the left on the streets against the British Union of Fascists, which was against war with Germany, may have helped prepare the way for Britain’s entry.

Today, we might begin to ask what was so good about the Allies, why the war was “necessary”. This will not harm modern Britain. But undermining the Allied narrative is dangerous for the state of Israel. Why this is so, was indicated, unconsciously, by an anti-fascist, who said that, if you mention the holocaust in the same breath as other crimes of World War II, you ‘eviscerate’ the holocaust’s ‘historical meaning and importance’ (Knott 2012).

Without the holocaust’s ‘historical meaning and importance’, Israel is nothing more than the only remaining apartheid state.

Back to Tony Greenstein. In his blog, he describes a recent meeting to promote his new book on the history of opposition to fascism on the South Coast (Greenstein 2012). The book describes “working-class people” preventing the anti-war BUF from meeting in Brighton in 1936, another battle with the same people in 1948, then the NF in the 1970s and 1980s.

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The EDL threatened to picket the meeting. The Quakers said they wouldn’t let him use their hall, because they were worried about “anti-fascist aggression”. Tony says that it’s always fascists who initiate confrontation. This is not true. Much of the fighting between the two sides consists of anti-fascists trying to prevent their opponents holding legal, peaceful, meetings and marches. This is not to imply supporting the things the EDL say at these meetings, or the right to say these things. It doesn’t even imply criticizing violence against them. It just means “anti-fascists tell lies”.

Anyway, Tony’s meeting was held in the Brighthelm Centre. It wasn’t Tony’s first intervention in that building. Four years ago, Gilad Atzmon had an appointment there to give a talk entitled ‘The Primacy of the Ear – The Road from Music to Ethics (An Alternative Take on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict)‘. Tony is an obsessive opponent of Gilad, so he fly-posted  the Centre, claiming Gilad is a racist, and calling for a picket of the event. No doubt he also wished  to persuade the manager of the Centre to cancel the booking. The organizer, Francis Clark-Lowes, decided to have the meeting at his house instead (Clark-Lowes 2008).

The reader is probably thinking this is all a storm in a teacup. But the story has more wide-ranging implications. Why has Palestine solidarity been so unsuccessful, when the fight against white apartheid was so successful? The oppression of the Palestinians is roughly the same problem – racial supremacy supported by the West – and roughly the same kind of people are opposing it, i.e. leftists. But, whereas there are “Jews Against Zionism”, there never was “Aryans Against Apartheid”. We need a critique of Palestine solidarity as it currently exists. Gilad is a leader in this critique. He’s shaking the movement out of its complacency.

The above is a rather complicated argument, so we have to explain what we’re not saying. We’re not saying that fascism is an acceptable political philosophy. Though we say the BUF was against war, this doesn’t mean we think they were right on any other issue. We disagree with Tony’s claim that the EDL is a new BUF; it is not a serious political movement. We’re just defending the hypothesis that, today, Jewish racism is so important in comparison with white European racism, that concentrating on the latter, or even making them equal (“against all racism”), occludes this vital truth.

References

  1. Knott, Jay. (2012, March 13). Zionist Bullying in the West Coast Co-op Movement. http://www.deliberation.info/zionist-bullying-in-the-west-coast-co-op-movement
  2. Shaviv, Miriam. 2009, October 23. BNP Leader Nick Griffin, friend of Israel? The Jewish Chronicle. http://www.thejc.com/blogpost/bnp-leader-nick-griffin-friend-israel
  3. Greenstein, Tony. (2012, 18 March). Successful Anti-Fascist Book Despite EDL Threats and Quaker Cowardice. http://azvsas.blogspot.com/2012/03/successful-anti-fascist-book-despite.html
  4. Clark-Lowes, Francis. (2008, January 9). Brighton Rocked – Gilad Atzmon event a success. http://peacepalestine.blogspot.com/2008/01/brighton-rocked-gilad-atzmon-event.html
  5.  Brenner, Lenni. (1983). Zionism in the Age of the Dictators. http://www.marxists.de/middleast/brenner
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In Denial – the politics of global warming

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The term “holocaust denial” is defined as follows by the American Anti-Defamation League:

Holocaust denial is a contemporary form of the classic anti-Semitic doctrine of the evil, manipulative and threatening world Jewish conspiracy. It was this doctrine that was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the Holocaust. What is on the surface a denial of the reality of genocide is, at its core, an appeal to genocidal hatred. (ADL 1996).

In other words, if you are unconvinced of the official view of the Nazi holocaust, you are complicit in it. Note that the party line changes. Thirty years ago, someone who refused to believe that Jews were made into soap, glue and lampshades by the Nazis, was allegedly party to murder. That is no longer the case. But today, if you question cattle trucks, gas chambers, or a number of Jewish fatalities less than about five million, you are still, by the above definition, someone who is trying to replay that genocide. Note that I don’t reject the latest version of the official story; I reject the idea that rejecting it is a crime. But that doesn’t satisfy the thought police; it just makes me an “apologist” rather than a “denier”.

The acceptance of the concept “holocaust denier” is the result of a successful assault on the highest principles of Western civilization – sceptical enquiry and presumption of innocence. It was unlikely it would stop there. Legislators, activists and journalists have tried to extend the term “denier” to protect another sacred tablet: the belief that there is irrefutable evidence that human activity is causing the earth’s climate to enter a period of unprecedented, irreversible warming.

Like the high priests of the holocaust, when the warm-mongers change their tune, they expect us all to march in step. Once it was “global warming”; today it’s “climate change”. Scientific theories usually get more precise, but this isn’t normal science. Once they said Britain was bound to get hotter. “Children just aren’t going to know what snow is,” complained Charles Onians of The Independent in March 2000. Several record winters later, the theory is as strong as ever; when their predictions fail, they change them. The current “consensus” is that the melting of Greenland will cut off the Gulf Stream, and Britain will shiver. And it’s not just this sceptred isle: “Global warming is making the world colder”, a recent headline announced. I’m not making this up.

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Anthony Watts runs the world’s most popular “climate sceptic” site. He uses sound scientific arguments to counteract the official view that global warming is certain. But he is incredibly politically naïve. In March 2010, he wrote an article about moves in Germany to imprison “climate change deniers”. He immediately drew a connection – this reminded him of the Nazis. “This is what the allies fought for: freedom of speech and freedom from tyranny”. German politicians want to put people in prison. For “denying” something. The obvious continuity, is not with Hitler’s regime, but with Germany’s post-war government, which jails people for “denying the holocaust”.

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The similarities don’t end there. The official holocaust religion, and the party line on climate change, both depend on ad hominem attacks, appeal to authority, circular reasoning, and the assumption that the other guy’s arguments need a psychological explanation, not a reasoned reply. Naomi Klein recently argued in The Nation that “conservative white men” tend to disbelieve the theory of global warming “because it threatens to upend their dominance-based worldview” (Klein 2011). The warm-mongers claim to understand the motives of climate change “deniers”. But you can’t read someone else’s mind, particularly someone you’ve only met via their writing. The Anti-Defamation League is being less than candid when it says it knows the motives of holocaust doubters; the same is true of someone who claims to have ascertained the intentions of climate change sceptics.

Instead of fighting for freedom, the climate sceptic community pleaded that the term “denier” should be reserved for “holocaust deniers”. The commissars, scenting cowardice, responded by barking louder.

First they came for the holocaust deniers, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a holocaust denier

Then they came for the climate change deniers, and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a climate change denier

Then… well, you know the rest

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References

Anti-Defamation League (1996). Holocaust Denial: An Online Guide to Exposing and Combating Anti-Semitic Propaganda.

http://www.adl.org/holocaust/theory.asp

Klein, N. (2011, November). Capitalism vs. the Climate. Naomi Klein. The Nation.

http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate?page=full

Onians, C. (2000, March 20). Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past. The Independent, London.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/snowfalls-are-now-just-a-thing-of-the-past-724017.html

Watts, A. (2010, November 11). Germany’s Greens get ugly with climate skeptics.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/11/11/germany-gets-ugly-with-skeptics/

Zionist Bullying in the West Coast Co-op Movement

Several articles on deliberation.info have described the power of Zionism in corrupting progressive groups in Britain, e.g. Laura Stuart’s A Victory for Bullies Everywhere (2012). It’s the same in the USA.

In the summer of 2009, just as the west coast co-operative movement was gearing up to adopt a resolution boycotting Israeli goods, there was a sudden outburst of accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’. One individual in particular, a long-established co-op organizer in Portland, Oregon, and a defender of Palestinian rights, was accused of ‘Holocaust denial’ and ‘anti-Jewish organizing’. Let’s call him X. The ostensible basis for this allegation was that he invited a white nationalist to speak. Let’s call him Y.

I reject most of Y’s views, as does X, in particular, his Islamophobia. However, Y made some useful criticisms of American ‘anti-racist theory’, and helped us understand the reasons for the anti-racist obsession with ‘white supremacy’.

Y, who is Lithuanian, reminded me of something I’d discovered on visits to Eastern Europe. Many people in this area think Soviet dictator Uncle Joe Stalin was worse than Adolf Hitler. In the West, we all know the former was a bad guy, but are taught that the latter was the Devil.

Y refers to the German invasion as ‘the liberation’. This is shocking – we tend to think the American invasion of Nazi-occupied France in 1944 was liberation, and grudgingly give credit to America’s ally, the Soviet Union, but cannot imagine how anyone could use the same word about the expansion of the Third Reich. Of course, Hitler’s SS murdered many Lithuanians, especially Jewish ones. But Stalin’s NKVD also murdered many Lithuanians, and Jews were overrepresented in the top ranks of that brutal secret police force. It was, in part, a continuation of an ancient ethnic conflict, in which neither side emerges with much credit. A lot of effort has gone into persuading us that it’s not like that, that ‘we’, and our allies, were the good guys. But the USA won’t collapse if its inhabitants adopt a rigorously neutral view of World War II. Israel is another matter.

Some of X’s comrades, undeterred by Anti-Racist Action’s threats of ‘assaulting attendees’, decided to see David Irving, the alleged ‘holocaust denier’, speak in Portland. His talk wasn’t about the holocaust, but about code-breaking. Nevertheless, there was a contingent of Zionists and anti-fascists outside the hotel where the meeting took place, and some of them took our pictures, publicized details about us, tried to get us fired, posted threatening messages online, sent a death-threat, and wrote the graffito ‘X is a Nazi’ on X’s workplace.

X works in a co-op. Whereas the rest of us are merely oppressed by capitalists, he feels the pressure from the p.c. left. So he apologized for inviting Y. His apology included

“I don’t deny the horrors of WWII including the Holocaust and the many forgotten details of that time.”

An anti-fascist – let’s call him Z – responded this is “a classic Holocaust-denial strategy”. How can saying the holocaust happened be a way of denying it? Z explained that, if you mention the holocaust in the same breath as other crimes of World War II, such as the incineration of Tokyo, or the rampage of the Red Army, you ‘eviscerate’ the holocaust’s ‘historical meaning and importance’. The holocaust was special: it was a crime against special people.

As Laura Stuart wrote of the British Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s recent expulsions of ‘holocaust deniers’: “like all acts of appeasement, it didn’t satisfy the Zionists one bit”.

The p.c. brigade demanded that X

  • cease involvement with groups that promote anti-Semitism and other oppressions;
  • agree to learn about anti-Semitism and other oppressions, especially in radical circles;
  • publicly apologize for promoting anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry;
  • resign from the Co-op Board in order to focus on unlearning oppression.

But by then, having learned that appeasement is futile, X had acquired a pair of balls, and he didn’t sign up for re-education.

In the process of trying to get X sacked, his opponents bombarded co-op members up and down the west coast with criticisms of his activity, including the following:

“And because local Palestine solidarity organizing is overrun with members of anti-Semitic groups like the 9-11 Truth Alliance and the Pacifica Forum, many anti-racists and radical Jews have been driven away from these movements.”

In other words, if only the Palestine solidarity movement would make itself more acceptable to Jews, they would join it. Can you imagine an anti-fascist group asking its black members (both of them) to tone down their anger a bit because it might deter white people from joining?

But when Jews claim they don’t support Palestinians because some of their supporters are allegedly anti-Semitic, they are taken seriously. This discrimination shows a pro-Jewish bias in the left. Palestine solidarity means trying to reduce that bias.