The British far right has been predictably opportunistic and shameless, but also confused and divided, in response to the recent Hamas attack on southern Israel.
A broad swathe of extremists, ranging from Nigel Farage to EDL founder ‘Tommy Robinson’, have tried to exploit the situation to promote Islamophobia.
At the opposite pole are some of Britain’s old-school nazis including Patriotic Alternative leader Mark Collett, who have been as antisemitic as they dare to be without breaking either the Public Order Act or the Terrorism Act.
And some racists including former BNP führer Nick Griffin have tried to pitch themselves somewhere between Robinson and Collett, taking advantage of the slaughter to stir up racial and religious hatred in all directions, while pretending that they are ‘neutral’ towards Middle East politics.
Mark Collett, Patriotic Alternative Leader
Though the Hamas incursion into Israel took place while he was busy staging PA’s annual meeting in a Leicestershire village hall, Collett was among the first prominent British extremists to gloat about the deaths of Jews.
Some of Collett’s posts on Telegram ought to be investigated by the CPS, as they could be viewed as inciting racial or religious hatred, including:
“Jews helped turn the UK into a place where White Britons are second class citizens, but now they complain about ‘not feeling safe’.”
One recent post came close to endorsing Hamas (contrary to the Terrorism Act):
“In the face of Zionist terror the Palestinians in Gaza are standing firm. …How any nationalist can watch this unfolding and not at the very least respect those brave souls is beyond me.”
Collett’s international allies include the Irish antisemite Keith Woods, who has been predictably active in spreading anti-Israel propaganda. Woods has directed some of his bile against fellow racists, dismissing Tommy Robinson and others as
“Zionist talking heads who redirect their opposition to multiculturalism toward support for Zionism and ‘western liberal values’.”
Irish anti-Semite Keith Woods
The two groups that broke away from PA earlier this year have also been unable to restrain their antisemitic obsessions. Alek Yerbury and his National Support Detachment have tried to keep up a façade of denouncing Muslims as well as Jews, in an even-handed display of hatred. But Yerbury’s partner Katie Fanning (a former UKIP official) has been unable to keep her overriding antisemitism in check, writing on Twitter:
“Jews lying again to drum up war and excuse the genocides they commit against others.”
Steve Laws, another former UKIP activist, appeared alongside Yerbury at a feeble “Stop the Boats” demonstration outside Parliament on 14th October. He told the handful of racists planning to attend that they were barred from bringing either Israeli or Palestinian flags.
Laws chose not to disguise his disappointment at the failure of the Westminster event:
“Yesterday’s demo in London didn’t go to plan. It was a poor turnout and poorly planned. It was a lack of organisation all round, we can all do more. I think we should now wait until early next year for the next big one. Plan it universally with everyone else. Get everyone to plug it. Go back to what works. A lot of people travelled a long way for something to last an hour. That’s not acceptable. We can do better.”
Steve Laws (foreground) and a disconsolate Alek Yerbury (left) at their ill-attended Westminster rally
Laws is still trying to pretend that the far right can be “neutral”. What he doesn’t realise is that his fantasy of a cross-factional demonstration would depend on gathering together ‘leaders’ of the far right who are mainly obsessive antisemites.
The Homeland Party, another PA splinter group led by former BNP official Kenny Smith, seems to be trying to distinguish itself from Collett by being less overtly anti-Israel, and spewing hatred in both directions. This might be linked to Homeland’s ambitions to register as a political party, which have already been knocked back once by the Electoral Commission.
Searchlight suspects that Homeland will eventually succeed in registering, and will use this to put pressure on Collett and his deputy Laura Towler, painting them as unrealistic ‘extremists’ even by far-right standards.
Similar patterns can be seen among the British far-right’s overseas allies. Greg Johnson of Counter-Currents, often seen (especially by himself) as one of the Alt Right’s leading intellectuals, wrote a week after the Hamas attacks:
“Israel will remain a ticking time bomb until the power of the American Jewish community to dictate US foreign policy is ended. Only when that day comes will Israel be forced to deal decently with the Palestinians and its neighbors.”
Johnson’s website has tried to throw some mud at the pro-Palestinian left and at American Muslims, but he finds it hard to disguise his essential Hitlerism.
His fellow racist Jared Taylor chooses to avoid any taint of antisemitism, instead attacking American anti-racists for their pro-Palestinian sympathies and warning of “possible terrorists” entering the USA. Whereas Mark Collett’s nazi friends emphasise the presumed power of the “Zionist lobby”, Taylor and the supposedly philosemitic wing of racism choose to emphasise the handful of pro-Palestinians in Congress and strain to draw an equivalence between Black Lives Matter and Hamas.
Jared Taylor, American Renaissance
Jared Taylor chooses not to remind his readers that his organisation American Renaissance has regularly played host to antisemites at its annual conferences. Speakers at AR events have included Taylor’s closest ally Sam Dickson, as well as Nick Griffin, and two once-prominent but now deceased columnists dismissed by conservative American publications for antisemitism, Joe Sobran and Sam Francis.
Here in the UK, there is sure to be intense and legitimate debate about Israeli policy, and we may well see the most right-wing elements of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition seeking alliances with European racists including thugs and fraudsters like Tommy Robinson.
Searchlight will continue to monitor these associations, just as we urge pro-Palestinian organisations to distance themselves from nazis, Holocaust deniers and antisemites such as Michèle Renouf and James Thring, who have repeatedly attended anti-Israel demonstrations and meetings in London.