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Countering both Nazi and Zionist hate

July 28, 2006 | Page 12

ON JUNE 18, we were faced with two racist events in Boston.

First was the annual "Boston Celebrates Israel" event, which is held at City Hall and draws thousands in a Zionist festival. This year's event, themed "Talk, Walk, and Rock for Israel" featured concerts and speeches about "defending Israel," as the Israeli state was working on its apartheid wall across Palestinian land, continuing to strangle Palestinian society with economic sanctions, launching a new wave of rocket attacks against civilians and militants, and redeploying troops to Gaza.

With a new assault on Palestinian human rights, there was nothing to "celebrate."

On the same day, Northeast White Pride, a grouping of neo-Nazis, set out for Boston, ostensibly to "protest" the Zionist event.

In truth, the Nazis couldn't care less about the injustices faced by Palestinians. The fascists were mobilizing to spread anti-Semitic hate. They spent months building their event, and aimed for it to be a "celebration of white pride."

While we confront the Nazis whenever they rear their ugly, shaven heads, the growth and boldness of the far right in their attacks on immigrants brought an added urgency to mobilizing our side to smash them.

The Nazis planned to rally twice, both in the morning at the beginning of a march for the Zionist event, and then a second time, in a bigger rally at City Hall.

Unfortunately, our understanding of the need to deal a decisive blow to the fascists was not shared by many others on the left. When we invited groups to be part of organizing an anti-Nazi demonstration at their initial rallying point, few groups responded at all, and those that did mainly declined.

A local Palestinian rights group concerned itself primarily with rightly organizing a needed protest against the celebration of Israel at City Hall. But not only did they refuse to confront the Nazis earlier in the day, they actually dissuaded other groups on the left from doing so as well.

In an e-mail sent out to the Boston left, the organizers of the pro-Palestinian rally said that their group "maintains that our focus on June 18 should be on the several thousand Zionists marching through Boston...and not on the handful of Nazis protesting behind a ring of blue-helmeted cops at the perimeter of the event. Zionist genocide against Palestinians should be reason enough to protest."

While it is true that a racist event that whitewashes the destruction of the Palestinian people needs to be resisted, socialists don't counterpose standing up to the Zionists with confronting the Nazis. Antiracists must stand up for Palestine and beat back the right wing.

On the day of June 18, our anti-Nazi picket involved 10 or so International Socialist Organization members and a handful of supporters.

We were small, but had a strong and effective presence. One skinhead came to the rally site and waited by the subway for his fellow racists, but they never showed. We saw a car of Nazis drive by, look at our picket, and keep going, too intimidated to stop and hold their "rally." The lone fascist eventually left, discouraged and deserted by his compatriots.

After our victory, we headed downtown for the bigger events. As we marched toward the Palestine solidarity rally, chanting in support of the Intifada, we saw two Nazis with anti-Israel signs and disgusting, anti-Semitic shirts standing right next to our rally.

We immediately surrounded them and pushed them away from the Palestine rally, joined by a handful of other Palestinian solidarity activists from the rally.

We could have driven them out of the plaza, had Boston cops not stepped in to push us back with their clubs and bikes, and protect the Nazis' vigil of hate. Over a dozen cops stood there for the next few hours, holding the ground of the two pathetic fascists.

But the crucial thing keeping us from kicking the Nazis out completely was the fact that our numbers were too small. We could have challenged the cops and pushed out the Nazis had the bulk of our sisters and brothers in the Palestine solidarity rally seen its importance and joined the effort. Instead, the rally went on as if the fascists weren't there.

While the organizers of the rally eventually raised chants against the far right in addition to the ones for Palestine, they didn't confront them when it was important to. After making it clear to the Nazis that they can never come here unopposed, we joined up with the pro-Palestine demonstration to expose the reality of Israel's crimes.

That rally was critical, lest the truth of the latest catastrophe for Palestinian people be lost in a shameful "celebration."

But making the Nazis' attempt to rally at a big event an utter failure was critical, too. They are the same Nazis who attempted (and failed) to "protest" equality for Black people at the Afro-American Meeting House on this past Martin Luther King Day. They celebrate the attacks on Arabs in the U.S. and in the Middle East.

And inspired by the latest offensive by politicians in Washington, these same fascists have been gaining confidence by standing on roadsides in New Hampshire with anti-immigrant signs--and receiving honks of support.

Smashing them when they try to come to Boston discourages them from bolder efforts and keeps them in the shadows, where they belong.

After June 18, the fight continues--to build a left that stands up to racism, no matter the source, understanding that an attack on any of us by the far right is an attack on all of us.
Khury Petersen-Smith, Boston

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