By Jennifer Lipman
October 25, 2010
As I boarded the train to Kensington yesterday, I noticed a large group of men and boys; the men mostly with heads shaved, the boys heartbreakingly young, with fair hair and flushed faces. All were wearing heavy black jackets and dark scarves. It was clear they were on the way to something big, something they found exciting.
Were they members of the English Defence League, on their way to demonstrate, ostensibly in support of Israel but really against Islam and a way of life other than their own? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe it was just the paranoia setting in.
Hours later, as I watched 300 EDL members march up to the high street, banners in hand, chants of "no surrender" and "death to Allah" deafening, I felt my earlier apprehension to be justified.
To anyone who says the EDL are moderates, not racist, defenders of a way of life not obstructers of another, I'd challenge you to listen to a massive throng of angry men and women shouting "Death to Allah" and other obscenities.
Make no mistake. These people are not moderates, they are extremists. One I spoke to denied being from a violent organisation, but admitted to me that he would be willing to fight "if that's what it takes". Looking at the EDL yesterday, I have no doubt.
Outside the Israeli Embassy, they came to hijack a cause - support of Israel and the Jewish community - for their own ends. Yesterday their hatred was for Islam, but tomorrow, who knows.
One member of the counter-demonstration, an Israeli called Yossi Bartel, told me he was there to show that "the EDL are not speaking for Israel and the Jews”.
He's right, and more of the Jewish community must acknowledge and advertise that point.