Sunday, December 14, 2008

From Cable Street to Umm el Fahm(2) "They shall not pass!"

ISRAELI police have told a far-Right "Jewish National Front" outfit which had planned a provocative march through the Arab town of Umm el Fahm on Monday, December 15 that they cannot go ahead. The police said they were acting to prevent violence and bloodshed.

But the Israeli Peace Bloc, Gush Shalom, greeted the ban, saying "The cancellation of the racist provocation in Umm el Fahm is a victory for common sense and for solidarity between Jews and Arabs in Israel"..

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled back in September that the right-wing march, planned by followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane whose fascist Kach party was banned, was legal and could be permitted. The Kahanists said they would march through Umm el Fahm with Israeli flags to give local people the chance to prove their loyalty to the state. These are the same racists who encouraged settlers to resist evacuation from Gaza, and who have turned up wherever they see the opportunity for starting anti-Arab pogroms, from Akko to Hebron.

The mayor of Umm el Fahm said Jewish people were welcome to visit Umm el Fahm, but if the Kahanists came they would be met with a human wall of resistance. By this weekend left-wing Israelis in Tel Aviv and Haifa had transport booked to come and join Umm el Fahm's townspeople in blocking the way to the fascists.

Gush Shalom said at the weekend: "The municipality of Umm el Fahm and the leaders of the Arab public in Israel deserve praise for their response to the planned Kahanist "procession" : the immediate issuing of a public call upon Jewish Israelis to arrive en masse in Umm el Fahm, as welcome guests, and face the racists shoulder to shoulder with the townspeople. The police assertion that there had been a danger of violence and even of bloodshed is wrong. Had the Kahanists arrived at the entrance to Umm el Fahm, they would have found there a human chain formed by thousands of Arabs and Jews holding hands and barring their way, with no need of violence of any kind – and the same is what will happen if a new date is set for this provocation.

"In order to block the entry of the Kahanists into Umm el Fahm, the police needed no further justification than the fact that these are members of a violent racist movement which was formally outlawed already 14 years ago, following the massacre perpetrated by Baruch Goldstein in Hebron. The time is long overdue to actually implement that ban. But even if the police felt the need to resort to false pretexts, it is good that the racist provocation was prevented. Hopefully, this is the end of a shameful affair".


In London, the call to halt the Kahanists was echoed on the Jewish Chronicle's blogsite in a posting today from the East End Walks guide whose conducted tours of the onetime Jewish neighbourhoods include an "Anti-Fascist Footprints" walk taking in Gardiners Corner and Cable Street, where the famous battles took place on October 4, 1936 to prevent police clearing a way for Sir Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts. Echoing also what I said in this blog at the time of the Israeli court decision, the JC blogger headed his posting "From Cable Street to Umm el Fahm: they shall not pass!"

" Umm el-Fahm is a large Palestinian city within Israel. Its mayor Khaled Hamdan is proud that Israeli Jews always come there and are welcome to Umm el-Fahm: 'They walk around Umm el-Fahm. They eat in the restaurants of Umm el-Fahm... This happens every day.' Only tomorrow, Jews and Palestinians, will be standing together, shoulder to shoulder, to keep a certain unsavoury group of Jews well away who intend to hold a provocative march through the city.

"In a December 7th press release, the municipality of Umm el-Fahm called on all 'peace and co-existence seeking people in Israeli society' to stand with them at the entrances of the city on Monday December 15th to protest and "to block the racists.' This call has been enthusiastically backed by Gush Shalom (the Peace Bloc), who are organising transport for people to join the protest

"The group they are trying to keep out are the 'Jewish National Front' - followers of the late and unlamented Rabbi Meir Kahane - led today by Baruch Marzel. According to the Jerusalem Post, Marzel is 'a former spokesman of the Kach movement, which was outlawed in 1994 and is considered a terrorist movement by Israel, the United States and the European Union.'"

Marzel had boasted defiantly "The land of Israel is ours. And Umm el-Fahm is ours... we won't think twice about going there. We will arrive and we will march."

East End Walks comments "I suppose it is a timely reminder that no group of people on Earth are immune to the poisonous ideologies of racism and fascism, and a group calling itself the 'National Front' doesn't become kosher just by putting the word 'Jewish' in front of it. Like the National Front or British National Party here, they should be treated as being as treyf as pork.

"Let's hope that after this day Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel will be able to look back with pride and say, 'They did not pass' just as Jewish and non-Jewish East Enders could say about Cable Street in 1936."

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