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The demonisation of Suella Braverman
The Home Secretary gets it
Britain’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, has told the truth and stated the blindingly obvious about the “Palestine” demonstrations. As a result she has provoked absolute uproar and a clamour for her to resign.
She detonated this furore on Wednesday evening with an article (£) in The Times of London. In this she wrote that while marches should almost always be permitted, the weekly pro-Palestinian demonstrations by tens of thousands of people had posed serious threats to public order not just because of violence around the fringes but because of the chants, posters and stickers. Calling them “hate marches”, she wrote:
We have seen with our own eyes that terrorists have been valorised, Israel has been demonised as Nazis and Jews have been threatened with further massacres. Each weekend has been worse than the previous one. Last Saturday, in central London, police were attacked with fireworks, train services were brought to a halt by demonstrators and poppy sellers were mobbed and prevented from raising funds for veterans.
The proposed “hate march” on tomorrow’s Armistice Day was another such promised “show of strength”. She went on:
I do not believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza. They are an assertion of primacy by certain groups — particularly Islamists — of the kind we are more used to seeing in Northern Ireland. Also disturbingly reminiscent of Ulster are the reports that some of Saturday’s march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas.
She then accused the police of double standards by favouring left-wing causes, such as Black Lives Matter to which a number of police officers had themselves taken the knee. She wrote:
Right-wing and nationalist protesters who engage in aggression are rightly met with a stern response yet pro-Palestinian mobs displaying almost identical behaviour are largely ignored, even when clearly breaking the law…Football fans are even more vocal about the tough way they are policed as compared to politically-connected minority groups who are favoured by the left. It may be that senior officers are more concerned with how much flak they are likely to get than whether this perceived unfairness alienates the majority. The government has a duty to take a broader view.
Cue absolute meltdown. Rage and condemnation rained down on her from all sides. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called her remarks “irresponsible”. The former Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Tom Winsor, said she had “crossed the line”. Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, who had herself savagely laid into the police for the way they had handled a demonstration about violence against women, tweeted that Braverman’s article was “ a highly irresponsible, dangerous attempt to undermine respect for police at a sensitive time, to rip up operational independence and to inflame community tensions. No other Home Secretary of any party would ever do this”.
Braverman’s own Tory party could hardly find enough insults to throw at her, with MPs calling her “unhinged” and “desperate”. She was accused of deliberately making incendiary remarks to get herself sacked in order to position herself for a run as party leader. The idea that she might actually have sincerely believed what she wrote and that she was making a serious and urgent point, that Saturday’s planned demonstration was a threat to public order and safety and that the police were playing a dangerous game in refusing to ban it, was not entertained for a second.
Northern Ireland’s unionists were particularly incandescent and accused Braverman of comparing them to Hamas. Braverman subsequently said she had been referring to dissident republicans.
Be that as it may, most of the marches and parades that were banned during the Northern Ireland “Troubles” for fear they would provoke violence were unionist marches. It’s also true that there were violent unionist groups, although most terrorist activity was on the nationalist side.
However, the anger at the analogy with Hamas is understandable, not least because the unionists of Northern Ireland habitually compare themselves to the Israelis facing attempts to wipe them out. It was unnecessary and unwise for Braverman to drag Northern Ireland into what was otherwise a strong and necessary intervention. For on the main points she was making, she was absolutely right.
Despite the arguments of free-speech fundamentalists, there is no absolute right to say whatever you think in public. Free speech is an important right, but of greater importance is the obligation not to cause, permit or enable harm.
Whatever people may think these demonstrations are about, they’re not just expressing a point of view that some people may find objectionable or offensive. They aren’t expressions of acceptable opinion with a few crazy people mouthing off extremist slogans. They are demanding that Israel stop its war in Gaza, which means a demand to stop defending itself against genocide. The purpose of these demonstrations — whatever some of their participants may think they’re doing — is therefore to demand conditions that would enable more Israeli Jews to be murdered.
This is because central to the demonstrators’ aim is to justify the genocidal Hamas atrocities in Israel as “resistance” and to cast Israel’s true resistance as “genocide”. One typical speaker said the Hamas atrocities showed “what the resistance can do when they take the fight and their self-determination in their own hands”.
The calls for “intifada now”, the genocidal “from the river to the sea”, “jihad”, and references to the 7th century slaughter of the Jews at Khybar are not rogue outbursts on the fringes. They are calls to war against the Jewish people and the west, and they are absolutely central to the purpose of these demonstrations.
The script has been provided by Hamas operatives in Britain or people linked to Hamas who, as the Telegraph has reported, form half the groups which have organised these demonstrations. And as the Commissioner for Countering Extremism said in a speech last month:
The Hamas support network in the UK is entrenched. It includes legacy Muslim Brotherhood organisations.But the wider network is also comprised of those who — wittingly or unwittingly — bolster Hamas’s narratives by framing their acts as merely “resistance”.
Many on these demonstrations are said to be merely pacifists or people wanting an end to the “killing” in “Palestine”. But for more than four weeks now they’ve been marching alongside people justifying the Hamas atrocities and calling for jihad and the murder of Jews. Would they ever march alongside neo-Nazis for four weeks and pretend they had a different agenda? Of course not. And since antisemites lump all the Jewish people together, labelling Zionists as Nazis in this way — let alone the explicit calls for the murder of Jews — puts every Jew in Britain at risk.
The claim being made by some prominent commentators that “free speech” trumps that risk is grotesque. Nor is it borne out by previous events.
In 2011, following a request by the police, the then Home Secretary, Theresa May, banned a march being planned by the English Defence League through east London where many ethnic minorities reside; it was rightly viewed as an attempt to intimidate and provoke violence and disorder.
The issue is that certain forms of speech may cross the line not because they are offensive, nor even that they incite hatred (a slippery concept). It is that they incite violent rage against certain groups — in the case of these massive demonstrations, the Jewish people.
Yesterday, a similar such event outside King’s College London produced further chilling scenes. The mob chanted:
We will honour our martyrs.
That means venerating mass murderers who were killed because they were in the process of butchering, decapitating and raping women, grandmothers and babies in the Hamas pogrom. “Martyrs” is how the Palestinian Arabs and the Muslim world routinely glorify those who murder Jews and other infidels and are then killed by security forces. Glorifying terrorism and supporting murderous attacks abroad are crimes in Britain. Yet the police have been permitting this, with only a tiny number of arrests, and regaling us instead with preposterous disquisitions on the “many different” interpretations of jihad.
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, insists that the legal conditions for banning these demonstrations have not been met. Other lawyers, such as the former Reviewer of Counter-Terrorism, Lord Carlile KC, and the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Macdonald KC, say there are certainly appropriate legal powers which could be used. The former head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove, says correctly that this is not a matter of law but of Rowley’s judgment, which is seriously in question.
Rather than Braverman being unhinged, it’s some of her critics who seem detached from reality. The Times reports:
A former minister said that Braverman’s comments might inflame tensions. “She’s polarising the country, causing division within the country and between different ethnic groups in our country,” they said. “It doesn’t bode well for a united country with good community relations if we have a home secretary so willing to whip things up.”
“Inflame tensions”? Tell that to the Jewish community which is too frightened to travel into central London when these demonstrators are marauding through the streets. “Causing division" ? Tell that to the the elderly Remembrance Day poppy seller who was punched and shoved by demonstrators. “Good community relations”? Is that how this politician views the screams for jihad and the murder of Jews?
The baleful truth is that most people simply have no idea what has been unleashed in their own western societies by the Hamas pogrom. As Ed Husain observed in his book The Islamist, the goal of Islamic jihadis such as the Muslim Brotherhood and its Hamas offshoot is the “total Islamisation of the public space”.
That is precisely what these demonstrations are doing — which is why they are also taking place on the streets of America, Canada, Australia and other western countries. In Britain, they are becoming more and more brazen, more and more extreme, more and more violent because the main protagonists can see that the police and politicians are paralysed by fear, ignorance and moral confusion. That excites these proponents of jihad against the west and genocide against the Jews because they believe they are now within spitting distance of taking over the country — and the west. That’s why the signature emotion on these demonstrations is warlike triumphalism.
The demonisation of Braverman has exposed once again the deep moral sickness in Britain, already on display in these demonstrations. But she has spoken for millions of decent people (not including the thuggish Tommy Robinson, whose call to his followers to travel to London tomorrow to take on the marchers and by implication the police threatens to muddy the issue in violent confrontation) who understand that a civilised society does not defend the “right” of mobs to march through the streets calling for violent jihad and the death of Jews. A civilised society understands this to be a mortal threat to its deepest values, and fights it accordingly under the law.
Braverman gets this. Tragically, many do not. This is yet another tipping point as civilisation trembles on the edge.
My most recent exclusive post for my premium subscribers reproduces an excerpt from my 2006 book Londonistan to show how Britain has sleepwalked into its current civilisational predicament. This is how the piece begins:
As British and other western countries are convulsed by massive, Muslim-dominated demonstrations exulting at the barbaric murder of 1400 Israelis on October 7, and as these mobs call for the destruction of Israel and the further murder of Jews, Muslim preachers in Britain’s mosques have been additionally stoking the fires of hatred against Israel and the Jewish people.
And you can read my most recent post that’s available to everyone, describing how Israel’s Defence Forces try to protect Gaza’s civilians, by clicking here.
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