Challenge borders: no one is illegal

David Rosenberg spoke on behalf of the Jewish Socialists' Group at the International Conference on Racism and Fascism organised by Stand Up to Racism on 15th October. Here is his speech.

Challenge borders: no one is illegal

Anti-fascist greetings! This week, a 19-year-old-student in Bratislava, Slovakia, shot two people dead, outside a gay bar, then killed himself. The gun was apparently owned by his father who in 2020 stood for Parliament for the racist-populist Slovakian Homeland Party.

The murderer tweeted threats to enemies of “the White Race”. And released a manifesto headed “Race First”.  It praised perpetrators of shootings of Muslims, Jews and socialists in Norway, New Zealand and America, who left similar manifestos. His manifesto especially targeted LGBTI and Jewish communities.

This incident illuminates key aspects of racism and fascism in 2022. It tells us how racism and fascism are evolving, and where they draw strength from.

In many countries, including Britain, anti-LGBT and vicious anti-migrant sentiments are not confined to neo-Nazis but are mouthed by mainstream right-wing politicians and mainstream media. The chief threat to Gypsy Roma Traveller communities in Britain comes from the Tories’ Policing Bill.

When Suella Braverman plays to the racist gallery on Rwanda deportations, Labour is disgustingly trying to outflank her from the right. Only the Far Right will benefit from that. We need mass grassroots resistance now to challenge nationalism and borders and say: “No one is illegal!”

Racist and fascist ideas are no longer limited by colour. Narendra Modi’s ethno-nationalism rooted in Hindutva fascism is as repellent as that of white-dominated euro-fascist movements. Tommy Robinson’s EDL is happy to use Sikh or Jewish supporters to spread Islamophobia.

That young Slovakian fascist had a far-right father but no one is born racist: they learn that. What can we do in our families, communities, workplaces to ensure that young people grow up with anti-racist values?

When we meet people with bigoted ideas, do we shun them or seek to change them? We have to talk to people who disagree with us.

In Britain the barrier is disintegrating between the Tories’ and the fascists’ racist views, but Labour shrinks from supporting immigrants in case their stereotyped Red Wall voters disagree. In the political vacuum, mass movements are growing over the cost of living. We must influence them with anti-racist arguments.

The events in Slovakia, and the examples the murderer praised, confirm that fascist antisemitism still rides alongside homophobia, Islamophobia and other racism. As a Jew it really pains me that the fight against antisemitism has been so undermined by so-called “leaders” of the Jewish community, who cynically conflate it with legitimate criticism of racist Israeli policies against Palestinians. Racism is indivisible. This false conflation divides Jews from our natural allies among other victims of racism.

My final point is about conspiracy theories, which I’ve written about in the new issue of Jewish Socialist magazine.

Antisemitic conspiracy theories are as pivotal to the fascists' worldview today as they were in the 1970s, when the National Front targeted violence against Asian and Caribbean immigrants while telling their core members that non-white immigration to Britain was a Jewish plot.

They prefigured the “Great Replacement Theory” which far right groups, and racist right-wing governments, like Orban’s in Hungary, share today, that Muslim migrants and refugees are diluting “White Christian Nations” and replacing low birthrate white families.

Both Orban and outright Fascists continue to blame “cosmopolitan” “One Worlders”, with Jewish names for pulling the levers. Our fight against every single aspect of daily racism must be wedded to the fight against fascist conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories of all kinds are never our friends!

Author: david rosenberg  |   Posted: 22 October 2022