The gathering was not, by all accounts, a large one, but that wasn’t really the point. What marked it out was the appearance of Stephen Yaxley Lennon, who styles himself Tommy Robinson, who not only lent his presence to the rally, but was welcomed into it.
That reality was noted by Nick Lowles of Hope Not Hate, who mused “Depressing to see Stephen Yaxley Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) on the pro-Israeli demo in London today. Just as we called out antisemites on the pro-Palestinian demo yesterday, so we need to call out Islamophobes on today’s pro-Israel demo”. Others then voiced their unease.
The Board of Deputies of British Jews was one. “Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) & supporters of of far-right extremist organisations like the English Defence League are not welcome at our community’s events. Their message of hate and division must be confronted and defeated. We utterly reject their bigotry”. Those gathered didn’t.
Over at the Community Security Trust, the message was similar. “Stephen Yaxley-Lennon ('Tommy Robinson') is an extremist and we utterly reject his message of hate and division. His so-called support for our community is not welcome or helpful”. But he was welcomed.
That got missed by the Jewish Leadership Council as they claimed “Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, or Tommy Robinson as he likes to be called was not invited today. Nor was he in any way welcome. We do not want his ‘support’ and we ask him to stay away from future events. Today is about supporting Israel, not spreading hate”. But, er, see above.
David Rosenberg had seen that welcome. “I predicted that attendance would be under 1,000 at the Zionist Fed. ‘Solidarity with Israel’ rally today. A Sky News reporter estimated 150. Wonder why she didn't mention well known attendees like the guy in the middle of this pic: ex-BNP member, EDL leader Tommy Robinson?” Why indeed.
Andrew Feinstein explained why far-right support is of concern: “The close links between Israel & fascist groups are historically ironic & deeply disturbing. Think Tommy Robinson below, the antisemite Viktor Orban so beloved by Netanyahu, those who invaded the Capitol with antisemitic posters & Israeli flags, & extreme Unionists in N Ireland”.
Alex Tiffin was in the same area: “The problem for the BoD and other groups condemning Tommy Robinson attending their protest outside the Israeli Embassy today is; The footage makes it very clear he wasn't shunned, he was welcomed. They should ask themselves why the far-right identity will zionism so much”. Abi Wilkinson tried to answer that one.
“The contemporary far-right are into Israel because they think the existence of an ethnostate helps legitimise their own demands for a white ethnostate. And of course, to achieve that they want somewhere to send all the Jews to”. Full thread HERE.
Lennon’s presence discomfits many Jewish groups. Too close to reality for them?
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