In the last thirteen months, a totally new political phenomenon has taken to the political stage in the UK. The English Defence League (EDL), along with its offshoots in Wales and Scotland (the Welsh and Scottish Defence Leagues) appeared in the spring of 2009. Its marches mobilize thousands of people but it has no clear agenda, apart from disliking Islam and defiant patriotism.
Despite the completely novel nature of the EDL, its opponents have little trouble in understanding it through the prism of the longer standing and more conventionally far right British National Party (BNP). Organizations like Unite Against Fascism have demonstrated against the EDL, calling it a fascist or Nazi organization. More recently, there has been some controversy on the Left when a Jewish Division of the EDL was alleged to have supported a Zionist Federation demonstration of solidarity with Israel in the wake of the Gaza flotilla events. The occasional brandishing of the Israeli flag alongside the flag of England’s Palestinian patron saint, George, has caused consternation among anti-fascists. So, what is the EDL? Is it fascist? And what’s with the Israeli flags?