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The March for Palestine was a far-right march

Polite society obsesses over right-wing ruffians while marching alongside literal anti-Semites.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Politics UK World

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To appreciate the depths of the ideological cesspit that Britain’s cops have climbed into, consider this. This week, police in Northumbria interrogated a woman, a lesbian, under caution, for tweeting that ‘trans women are men’. ‘What did you mean by this?’, the Orwellian creeps asked the lady whose only speechcrime was to state biological facts every six-year-old knows. Meanwhile, in London, the Metropolitan Police ruled that ‘no offence’ was committed by an imam at the Greenwich Islamic Centre who, 13 days after Hamas’s 7 October pogrom, preached about ‘the usurper Jews’. ‘Curse the infidels’, he said. ‘Destroy their homes.’

So in 21st-century Britain the cops will come knocking if you say people with penises are men but they’ll leave you alone if you demean Jews. They’ll drag you to a station and grill you on your separation of the letters LGB from TQ – as those tyrants in Northumbria did – but shrug if you issue curses against Jewish people. The ideological capture of our police is complete. They’re indistinguishable from the ideologues of polite society who are also likely to feel more rage for a lesbian who denies the catechisms of transgenderism than the Muslim preacher who wags a finger at Jews. Under their ideology of identity, trans people are ‘oppressed’, and thus deserving of their pious concern, while Jews are ‘privileged’, so screw them. That this poisonous creed now holds sway among the men and women charged with keeping society safe should worry us all.

The ideological pollution of the cops was much in evidence on Saturday, Armistice Day, when there was yet another ‘March for Palestine’. Thousands of members of that unholiest of alliances between the pseudo-virtuous middle classes and literally racist Islamists took to the streets to register, once again, their intense loathing for Israel. Meanwhile, a few hundred right-wing agitators, mostly white working-class men, gathered in Westminster ostensibly to ‘protect the Cenotaph’ but no doubt looking for trouble, too. And while all this was unfolding, the Met Police issued what I think is one of the most socially irresponsible statements a police force has issued in years. All the trouble is at the hard-right gathering, there are ‘no issues’ on the pro-Palestine march, the Met said. It was untrue. And the consequences of this untruth could be dire.

It was assistant commissioner Matt Twist who put out the video statement on X. The right-wing protest seems ‘intent on confrontation [and] violence’, he said. These ruffians seem hell-bent on getting to the Palestine march, but we have been ‘effective in preventing that happening’, he continued. Twist then gushed over the pro-Palestine march: it is ‘moving along the prescribed route’, it is attended by ‘tens of thousands of people’, and ‘at the moment there are no issues with it’. Witnesses to this bizarre political edict from the top of the Met will have been left with the impression that one demo was made up of bigots, the other of saints.

The truth? The march that Twist praised was a hotbed of racial hatred and a simmering violent loathing for Jews. ‘No issues’? There were people wearing the green bandanas beloved of Hamas. In central London, a mere month after the worst attack on the Jews since the Holocaust, people were dressing up as the anti-Semites who carried that attack out. It would be like Londoners donning the uniform of the Sturmabteilung in the wake of Kristallnacht. There were marchers chanting about the Khaybar massacre – the 7th-century mass murder of Jews by Muhammad’s army. This is an expressly anti-Semitic chant, designed to strike terror into Jewish people. I’d call that an ‘issue’.

There were swastikas on the supposedly good march. One placard showed the swastika mangled with the Star of David alongside the blood-spattered words: ‘No British politician should be a friend of Israel.’ There was rank Holocaust minimisation. Placards said Gaza is ‘twinned with Auschwitz’ or featured the Star of David next to the swastika and said ‘They are the same’. And of course there were bellows of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’. It seemed to be said with more gusto this time. People heard the pleas of London’s Jews not to make this cry for the destruction of Israel and they decided to make it even more vociferously than before. There’s cruelty in this.

Yes, there was a far-right march in London on Saturday which we should be hugely concerned about. It was called the March for Palestine. One has to marvel at the gall of middle-class virtue-signallers who look aghast at the right-wing blokes around the Cenotaph while marching shoulder to shoulder with literal racists. Who reach for their smelling salts at the sight of rowdy working-class men in tracksuits while turning a blind eye to radical Muslims singing the praises of mass violence against Jewish people. Who wring their hands over the ‘return of fascism’ while marching with people who taunt Jews by comparing them to the Nazis who vapourised their forebears. Going by all the available reporting, there was only one demo on which outright racism was widely expressed and violence against minorities was celebrated – and it wasn’t the one at the Cenotaph.

What was most sickening about Twist’s premature insistence of ‘no issues’ on the Palestine march is that he unwittingly gave moral cover to this hate gathering. Journalists like Owen Jones cited Twist’s comments as proof that the Palestine march was good. And thus was the truth of this march – its flashes of violent-minded anti-Semitism – hidden away. Did Twist stop to think what impact his statement might have on London’s Jews, who could already see, via social media, that anti-Jewish hate was being expressed on the march? Perhaps he decided that accruing likes from his fellow woke ideologues was more important than letting Jews know we have their back.

It’s just as well Twist said ‘at the moment there are no issues’, for the Met have since had to admit that there appear to have been numerous instances of hate on the good demo. The Met’s rush to praise it was staggeringly ill-advised, a cynical move that will have horrified Jewish citizens.

How do we explain this extraordinary spectacle where middle-class leftists can mingle with extremists cosplaying as Hamas’s anti-Semitic murderers while looking down their noses at a bunch of right-wing agitators? How can they rage against home secretary Suella Braverman for stirring up a ‘far-right mob’ with her criticisms of the Palestine marches and the politicised police while they give cover, weekend after weekend, to people literally celebrating anti-Jewish massacres?

Partly, it’s because they are so blinded by visions of their own virtue that they cannot countenance ever doing wrong. Even the cardinal sin of associating with racists becomes a virtue when they do it. But it also tells us a larger story about polite society’s own racism, and its classism too. Their snobbery means they think only ‘gammon’, like the riff-raff at the Cenotaph, are capable of racial hatred, not nice people like them. And yet the truth is that their conversion to the cult of identity means they are helping to rehabilitate racism. It is identitarianism’s organisation of every social and ethnic group into boxes marked ‘privileged’ (bad) or ‘oppressed’ (good) that explains polite society’s blindspot on anti-Semitism. They think Jews are privileged, and thus not convincing victims of hate. They must be lying when they claim to experience bigotry.

The dishonesty and hypocrisy of the chattering class’s ‘anti-racism’ has never been clearer. ‘Anti-racism’, to them, is little more than a means of lording their moral superiority over the oiks, the supposedly racist throng. A new anti-racism is urgently needed. A real one. And one that starts by standing up to the wave of anti-Semitism that has swept through our society under the watch of institutions and influencers who lied about being anti-racist.

Brendan O’Neill is spiked’s chief political writer and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. His new book – A Heretic’s Manifesto: Essays on the Unsayable – is available to order on Amazon UK and Amazon US now. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Politics UK World

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