A Racist Marriage of Convenience

How extremist groups are banding together in the name of hate.

Protesters spar with police outside the Toronto Zionist Centre.
(Tyler Anderson/National Post)

One might find it curious to see militant Zionists and Hindu nationalists come together to host a rally in solidarity with racist British football hooligans in the dead of the Canadian winter.

But when the common enemy is Islam, transatlantic right wing extremists seem happy to ignore their differences and embrace a marriage of convenience.

The leader of the English Defense League (EDL), a rabidly anti-Muslim organization notorious for holding violent and intimidating street protests, was given a forum to address approximately 100 people at the Toronto Zionist Centre by the Canadian wing of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) last Tuesday.

In a political and economic climate of uncertainty and fear, scapegoating and blatant racism have found receptive audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

Speaking to the Canadian crowd via Skype connection, EDL leader Stephen Lennon stated that, “Islam stands fundamentally against what we are for. It’s like oil and water.”

He warned Canadians to fight back before being overrun by “Islamofascists” like Britain.

Alleged to have been a member of the racist British National Party, Lennon was charged with assaulting a police officer at an EDL demonstration last November.

While the EDL has forged links with Dutch far right politician Geert Wilders and elements of the Tea Party movement in the US, this was the group’s first foray into Canada.

Though major British Jewish organizations have denounced the EDL as Islamophobic and violent, the Jewish Defense League of Canada welcomed them with open arms due in large part to the EDL’s support for Israel in what it sees as a war of Western civilization vs. Islam.

The JDL claims to be committed to, “the reclamation of the Jewish sense of Justice and the abolition of hatred and bigotry.”

Outside the event protesters from the Anti Racist Action shouted, “How can you stand arm in arm with these fascists? Your grandparents would be ashamed!”

Wearing balaclavas and hoodies emblazoned with the image of a clenched fist over a Star of David, JDL members silently stood guard.

Labeled a violent extremist organization by the FBI, the JDL is a far right Zionist movement founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane in 1968.

A former charter member of the JDL named Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinians in a Hebron mosque in 1994. The JDL's website praises Goldstein as, “A martyr in Judaism's protracted struggle against Arab terrorism.”

Most recently the leader of the JDL, Irv Rubin, and another member were arrested in 2001 for plotting to blow up a mosque in Culver City, California and assassinate Arab-American Congressman Darrell Issa.

The Canadian branch of the JDL operates openly in North Toronto, a testament perhaps to the unprecedented strengthening of ties between Canada and Israel over the last five years.

While the group has not been linked to any acts of terrorism, hate speech and incitement spewed unchallenged from JDL representatives at the EDL event.

Before introducing Lennon a JDL representative advocated the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from the Occupied Territories and the destruction of the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.

Expressing support for Florida pastor Terry Jones’ effort to organize a mass burning of the Koran on the anniversary of 9/11, he proclaimed, “The Koran should be burned in any civilized country.”

Global linkages are being made between racist organizations hell bent on combating their perceived enemies. When such voices of violence and provocation receive a welcoming audience in one of the world’s most multicultural cities it is frightening to imagine what it portends for the future.

The words of a speaker from the group Canadian Hindu Advocacy should serve as a warning.

“The problem of Islam is a global problem,” he declared.

“We will resolve this problem one way or another.”

—Blake Sifton