The EDL was two years old yesterday. We should have been blowing out candles and tucking into fruit and jelly. But like all good East End family occasions it turned into a ding dong.
What happened is that the departure of Roberta Moore from both the Jewish Division and the EDL generally led certain US bloggers to fear that this indicated an underlying streak of possibly Nazi, or neo Nazi, or plain old fashioned anti-Semitism within the EDL. This means that they are now questioning their support. I believe they should continue to support the EDL.
I will quote from Tommy Robinson’s statement on the subject.
One of the fundamental beliefs that this movement was built on was its support for Israel’s right to defend itself. . . The reason for this is because Israel is a shining star of democracy. If Israel falls, we all fall.
Recently, in the EDL there have been internal arguments, which are nothing more than that. Every large family has its disagreements, but when push comes to shove, we all stand on the same side. (His family must be a little like my east End side).
We reject all anti-Semitism. The EDL stands where it always has stood, which is side-by-side with Israel.
We repudiate any individual, group or writing that favours anti-Semitism, neofascism, and any race-based ideology. Any rogue elements within the EDL who go against our mission statement and our beliefs will be removed from the organization. . . The EDL stands for freedom. It always has, it always will. We want the Jewish people and all free people to remain free forever, and we all stand together in this fight against Islamic jihad.
An argument had broken out over whether the EDL should support Israel, not because of the current situation in Gaza, but the deaths of British servicemen in 1945/6/7 at the hands of Irgun, the Stern Gang and others. As my father-in-law could have been one of those men I don’t take those deaths lightly.
My father-in-law was sent to Jerusalem from Egypt for administrative purposes some time in 1946. He and the colleague he was travelling with had got so far by official transport and bus but decided they would hitch hike the last few miles. Luckily for them a British army truck quickly picked them up. Unwittingly they were on a stretch of road where the guerillas had recently been in operation.
But I also lost family who never lived to see me born during the Blitz on London. I don’t refuse to work with Germans because of ancestral memory of the Blitz. I don’t refuse to work with anybody Irish because of the bombing of the Stock Exchange, Hyde Park or Canary Wharf, which rattled my windows and woke my sleeping baby.
Terrible things happen in war. At the same time in Israel British general Orde Wingate was being celebrated with at least one forest and a bridge named after him. My father-in-law is very supportive of what has been achieved in Israel in the last 65 years. His time in Egypt gave him a healthy wariness of Islam which was not dispelled by time spent as a curate near Dewsbury.
I met Roberta Moore several times and our exchanges were pleasant. I did not hear the remarks attributed to her; if true I would have found them offensive. Notwithstanding that, I know that she has enormous personal courage and passion. I have heard accounts and seen the video of her attempting to address a packed meeting of the UAF with her evidence of the many races who attend EDL demonstrations and being forcibly ejected from it for her pains.
Courage and passion are qualities we need in our global battle against jihad. I hope that she will be able to use them as a force for good in whatever new field she is being called to serve.
I have never come across genuine racism or anti-Semitism in my dealings with the EDL; quite the reverse. We are all individuals, some refined, some raucous, some both depending on the company. Of course race relations professionals, and I met rather too many people in the civil service who made their living out of the diversity industry, can see racism in anything. ‘Good Morning’. Define ‘morning’. Is ‘morning’ not a white western concept that does not take into account the culture of this minority group who celebrate evening? I’m joking but you get the idea. But serious, offensive, bigoted prejudice, no.
We have grown fast in two years but there are more growing pains to come. This episode was one of them. Let us learn from our mistakes. Let divisions reconcile for the mature goal of the greater cause.
Happy birthday EDL.