Neither Israel nor Hamas

After Hamas gunmen breached the Gaza frontier on October 7 and filmed themselves enacting brutal scenes of violence against civilians in Southern Israel, Britain has emerged as the center of European demonstrations, comprising of grassroots diaspora Muslims, Islamists and the political left, condemning the Israeli state.

This rapidly unfolding situation represents an escalation in some form into a more primitive form of tribal politics with the potential to fracture the post-WWII consensus that designates the Holocaust as the original sin of all Western cultures and multicultural mass migration as penance. For many ‘new Europeans’ this theology makes no cohesive sense, while for the native population it is losing power as older generations die and cultural memories of the Second World War fade. The mooted clash between the state-instituted Remembrance Day events and pro-Palestine Muslim-led demonstrations acutely illustrates the paradox.

Deciding to attend the Central London protests personally in order to observe them I was struck by an uncanny feeling: under a familiar sky, amidst recognizable British architecture, the culture and event was strikingly alien. The predominant participants were British Muslim youth and families. Flags such as those of Pakistan, Bosnia, Algeria, and Turkey were prominently displayed. The clear and understandable motives for mobilization were ethno-religious kinship ties with fellow Muslims, rather than ideological leftist, or universalist humanitarian concerns. Turkey’s role in the September 2023 ethnic cleansing of Nagorno-Karabakh of Christian Armenians was obviously of no interest to the demonstrators proudly carrying Turkish flags. 

Attempts to link these demonstrations with the ‘woke left’ are somewhat tenuous, as evidenced by the objections of some protestors to the presence of LGBTQ+ paraphernalia. Although the Trotsykite Socialist Workers Party has been active in the organization, the strongest actual ideological current was Islamism, marked in particular by instances of public prayer along the route. In one scene, a woman in a niqab photographed her husband, draped in a thobe, deep in pavement prayer. Many chants resonated with a religious undertone. Some moments recalled the film Four Lions: at one point I overheard an Anglo-Saxon convert reassuring a comrade that soon we will “expel the Zionist rot.”

Although Islamism is a fiercely anti-liberal movement, it finds in modern Britain an ideal environment to thrive. Beginning in the 17th century, British culture underwent a cultural evolution that developed through secularism into an attitude approaching indifference. Unlike in most Muslim nations, Islamists in Britain are not considered a serious threat to political stability and social order – there are no Middle Eastern countries that grant political freedom to political Islam quite like Britain does. They are further protected by Leftist ‘anti-racist’ institutions that suppress discussion of non-White political extremism and well-funded Islamist front organizations like CAGE. 

For many of the young participants in the protests, the event doubled as an identity-formation exercise expressing an evolving ‘British Muslim’ political and personal identity through an excursion to central London. This evolution is a rational response to the deracination, dislocation, and challenges often faced by diaspora populations. The identity crisis generated by modernity fused with large and rapid population movement impacts both the existing and the new Britons in different ways. 

Alongside this, there was a familiar yet visibly less powerful presence of explicitly left-wing demonstrators. These were divided into a youthful demographic, familiar from rallies for BLM or to ban ‘Transgender Conversion Therapy’ and older British ‘crank’ leftists who have been stalwarts of the anti-Israel movement for many years. These two groups constituted a discernible minority, making up perhaps twenty or thirty percent of the marchers. By the end of the protest, this contingent had largely dissipated while more energetic Muslim youth scrapped with the Police. 

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The core of the pro-Palestine movement is a clear and explicit enemy of the political right. Incorporating some of the worst elements of the contemporary left, Islamists, diaspora groups with tenuous ties and lukewarm and often overtly hostile feelings to Britain, sprinkled with a mix of benign, elder White British eccentrics, it is a diverse congregation, none of whom are our allies. The gleeful reaction or indifference of many to the murder of Israeli civilians indicates the extent to which they may welcome or support such a similar approach to ‘decolonizing Europe’. 

At the same time, the Right should resist pursuing a neoconservative foreign policy agenda targeting Islam in the Middle East. Europeans must coldly discern their own national interests, as opposed to the interests of Israel, and perhaps most critically the United States. In particular, given that any British policy lever tends to end in ‘more immigration’ and that a future Starmer premiership may attempt to assuage fierce internal criticism of his pro-Israeli policies by relocating Qassam rocket technicians to Skegness, Bolsover, and Cardiff. Therefore, Europe must strenuously resist any attempt to import refugees from Gaza into Europe.

Horrified reactions to the recent demonstrations by the foolish yet politically powerful ‘pro-immigration right-wing’ represents one string to pull. Those who simultaneously support pro-immigration policies, pro-liberal views, and Zionism have had a challenging month. They lack any real understanding of the motivations of the migrants and their descendants they champion, and their astonishment at discovering that many Muslims harbor highly negative sentiments toward Israel to the point of supporting actions like the Al Aqsa Flood operation is insightful and comical. It cannot be emphasized enough that any vision that favors resettling large numbers of Muslims across the country whilst also fiercely supporting Israel’s war on Gaza is a schizophrenic, incoherent, and destabilizing policy.

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The historical context of the Israel-Palestine conflict itself is illuminating to the situation ordinary Europeans are facing. At its core, the Israel-Palestine conflict is an intense ethno-religious clash, shaped by waves of mass migration. The newcomers successfully contested against weak political authorities and were ultimately able to enforce their will on the region. Although not an exact parallel to our current predicament, anyone observing immigration policy in Britain can see analogies.

In 1878, Jews constituted just 5.3% of the area encompassing the Ottoman districts of Jerusalem, Nablus, and Acre. However, by 1944, the Jewish population had surged to 30.3%, facilitated by the migration of 367,845 Jews to Mandatory Palestine between 1920 and 1945. By the time of the 1947 UN partition, the proposed Jewish state was poised to be 55% Jewish. Interestingly, Jerusalem itself saw a Jewish majority by 1893, under Ottoman rule, and they accounted for 61% of the city’s residents by 1944. 

Similar to Palestine in the early twentieth century, modern Europe is undergoing a demographic transformation, albeit under wildly different circumstances. However, it is without popular consent and at an accelerated pace and similarly overseen by a distant authority that is unable to understand the long-term consequences of its actions. 

Both situations underscore the destabilizing and unsettling effects of rapid demographic change. In the metropole of the old Mandate, white British Londoners are now an increasingly marginalized minority group in their capital. This demographic shift occurred without public consent or approval.

It is jarring to notice how ready the British and European political class are to defend the right of Israel to preserve an ethnostate by force while it remains taboo and potentially illegal to advocate for an Israeli-style ethnostate here. Nevertheless, the Right should capitalize on the openings available to it to highlight the undeniable: mass migration has crafted a disunified and incoherent culture. Our own worldview is essentially moderate and our proposed solutions are rational and fair; it is our present ruling class that is extreme and dangerous. 

Mithras is a British writer.


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