Remembrance and Hate Marches

As the death-count rises above 10,000 in Gaza* – you live in a country that believes a commemoration of the cessation of violence at the end of World War One is a bad time to call for peace. In fact you live in a country that has effectively weaponised a remembrance service into a tool of propaganda for war and cultural conformity. As a friend put it:  “It seems to me that Remembrance Day is the perfect day for a peaceful protest to call for a cessation of hostilities in Gaza. One is remembering a Ceasefire and one is asking for one.”

But here we are. Urged-on by the sort of hysterical rhetoric from Suella Braverman, ‘The Sun Says’: “If a pro-Palestine hate march intrudes onto Armistice Day patriotic Brits will be outraged. The Met Police must take a hard look at today’s protests. Because the next, on Armistice Day, could be a tinderbox.”

“YET again today our streets will be awash with Islamist thugs, ignorant teenagers and thick lefties cheered on by Hamas and Hezbollah as the useful idiots they are” the paper continued before adding: “Any intrusion by marchers into Whitehall, or violations of the Cenotaph or other war memorials, will outrage all patriotic Brits fiercely proud of those who gave their lives for our freedom. Rishi Sunak’s letter to Met chief Mark Rowley yesterday made clear cops can apply to ban the demo if merely imposing conditions on it will not keep order.”
It’s beautifully Orwellian. It’s essentially saying “we fought for freedoms which must be suppressed” – and arguing that any movement for peace is an act of hate.

Remembrance has become an act of forgetting. This has nothing to do with ‘respect’ its simply an act of social control, and comes as the Tories are conjuring up even more extreme legislation to suppress the right to protest and to criminalise anyone guilty of critical thinking, as The Observer revealed at the weekend. Michael Gove’s Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities started a review of non-violent extremism in spring this year. Quite how such legislation falls under ‘Levelling Up’ is anyone’s guess but the proposed legislation plans to broaden the definition of extremism to include anyone who “undermines” the country’s institutions and its values, according to documents seen by the Observer.

The proposals have provoked a furious response from civil rights groups with some warning it risks “criminalising dissent”, and would significantly suppress freedom of expression.

Such legislation needs to land into a heightened state of British exceptionalism and outrage to have any hope of being passed. It would require a monumental act of complicity by all of Britain’s political parties to get through, and the grounds for this are being made as we speak.

Internal departmental documents marked “official – sensitive” say the proposed definition could “frame a new, unified response to extremism”. The documents state: “Extremism is the promotion or advancement of any ideology which aims to overturn or undermine the UK’s system of parliamentary democracy, its institutions and values.”

This could mean anything. Certainly anyone in favour of Scottish independence is actively aiming to overturn the UK’s institutions.

I have no idea what the UK’s values are?

The roots of this outrage are many – but we should note three: first the (little noticed) conflation of independence supporting voters with ISIS (Separatists and Extremists) at the last General Election, second the long-standing attacks on environmental protestors in the USA and the militarisation of the police (see Barbarism in Dakota) which is part of a wider pattern in western societies, third the criminalisation of legitimate protest and the new surveillance tools being used against peaceful protesters in England.

As NETPOL (The Network for Police Monitoring monitors and resists excessive, discriminatory and violent policing in Britain) has said: “The media is now test-flying the idea of banning next Saturday’s Palestine solidarity protest. Under Section 13 of the Public Order Act, the final decision lies with Home Secretary Suella Braverman.”

No doubt part of the tactic here will be to ramp up the rhetoric through the week, initiate a ban then ‘come down hard’ on anyone defying it. If, as likely the protests remain absolutely peaceful, it would not be hard to imagine police provocateurs manufacturing appropriate violence to justify any action.

However, such is the scale of the current protests, and the example from France and Germany was that banning protests only acts to greatly amplify them.

We need to act together to resist the grotesque logic that says condemning the mass killing of women and children is an act of hate. This orgy of stupidity just rolls on through melancholy delirium punctured only by the joy of watching Britain disintegrate. We are experiencing (still) late or terminal Britishness. Parody Britain is sustained (for those still transfixed) by Poppies, churnalism and doublespeak, but is visibly falling apart. There is no mistake that despite all the sabre-rattling, military policing and threats of state intimidation this is a huge political crisis in Britain as they struggle to control public rage and (re) control the narrative.


* Over 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military action in Gaza since 7 October, according to new figures released by the health authority in the territory. The total number of deaths now stands at 10,022, including 4,104 children

Comments (33)

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  1. John Learmonth says:

    Unfortunately if the march this weekend is allowed to go ahead the ‘protesters’ won’t be calling for ‘peace’ they will undoubtedly be calling for the destruction of the state of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of the Jews of the region.
    If Mr Small is happy with this, so be it.
    I fear things will not end well……

    1. Alan C says:

      ‘‘protesters’ won’t be calling for ‘peace’ they will undoubtedly be calling for the destruction of the state of Israel and the ethnic cleansing of the Jews’

      Like they have (not) on previous marches? The march is at 12.00 and I’m sure lots of folk marching will have been at the cenataph as well.

      1. John Learmonth says:

        Let’s see what happens this weekend shall we and reserve judgement on the people ‘marching for peace’.
        However the scenes from Waverely Station where a 73 year old veteran was attacked for selling poppies doesn’t bode well
        This will not end well.

        1. Judith Brennan says:

          It didn’t end well. There was a riot at the Cenotaph.

  2. Ian Stewart McMickan says:

    There is no similarity at all between the traditional “Remembrance Day” services which have been held all over the United Kingdom since the 1920’s and protest marches by people who want to destroy the state of Israel. Our long standing, solemn and peaceful acts of remembrance should not be “hijacked” by people with a totally different agenda . When HAMAS struck at Israel in October, what did they think Israel would do ? Invite them to come and have a cup of tea ? Of course not, they got exactly what they expected, the start of another long, bitter and bloody war, where only the innocent have no voice and no choice. Why should our forebears memory be dishonoured by people who have nothing to do with them?

    1. No-one is hijacking anything

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @Editor, the meanings of memorials and forms of associated celebrations are often contested and in flux, as historian Keith Lowe writes in Prisoners of History, on 25 memorials from around the world reflecting World War 2. As Lowe says, you may build a monument to represent one thing, but a public may interpret it differently. Monuments cannot effectively rewrite history.

        I think it is generally accepted that a very popular sentiment after World War 1 was ‘never again’.
        Of course, there has also been a Jingoistic strain of militaristic tub-thumping too.

        But to claim that a monument or a popular act of remembrance only means *one* thing, and has only ever meant one thing, *is* (I feel) an attempt to hijack that object or event, to deny the other colours of poppy, to silence the voices of domestic dissenters, anticolonialists, victims, those fought against and those oppressed or liberated. The British Empire, where the blood never dried, enslaved, raped, tortured, looted, murdered, drugged, imprisoned, lied its way around the world. To claim that its footsoldiers died (never, it seems, killed) for freedom is a gross perversion of history, and those lying about its crimes are complicit in them.

        It says a lot about how alive the British Empire is that these lies, which disable any free and fair relations with independent nations, are so trumpeted today without apparent shame. And I agree with you, the attempts to force the public into consenting to one official lie is totalitarian, and the opposite of freedom.

      2. Ian Stewart McMickan says:

        Of course it has been “Hi jacked” by Hamas supporters. There are 364 other days in the year they could have chosen, why pick this one ?

        1. It’s been planned for weeks, it goes nowhere near the Cenotaph

          1. Ian Stewart McMickan says:

            Why was this particular day chosen, if it has be “planned for weeks” ?

          2. I’m not sure, I’m not, er, organising the march, but the implication that it clashes with, or is designed to clash with Remembrance Sunday is bizarre

          3. John says:

            Re Remembrance Day & Remembrance Sunday when I was younger Remembrance Sunday was the day the country stopped and remembered I do not recall having 2 minute silence on the 11th unless it fell on the Sunday.
            It is strange that the ‘Remembrance industry’ appears to be growing as the number of surviving combatants from WW1 & 2 diminishes to a very few.
            I was a member of Boys Brigade in my youth and every year we had to March to local war memorial and attend the service. Even though I complained about cold and it ‘having nothing to do with me’ it was moving to see survivors of both world wars (that’s how old I am) obviously remembering their fallen comrades. I remember my dad not only telling me to attend and be respectful but also saying that such ceremonies will diminish in size as the survivors from both wars died out however the opposite has happened and this has left me with mixed feelings about the whole occasion now.
            While I happy to remember and am still grateful to those who fell in two world wars there have been a succession of conflicts since then where British soldiers have died and though they have my sympathy the wars they were pursuing often do not. I personally dislike how the present day military displays at unrelated events seems to have developed
            In addition IMO the use of the poppy has become a small industry on its own and almost a showy fashion accessory for many.
            Lastly I do not like the fact that Remembrance Day observation has become almost prescriptive and not left to be an individual choice.
            I am sure I speak for many with these observations and yet I feel these mild views of disquiet are rarely aired on media or by politicians.

        2. John says:

          Probably something to do with it being a weekend when people are not working and the conflict with 11,500 killed ((including 5000 children) on both sides and rising and no sign of hostilities ending possibly godforbid even intensifying.
          There are plenty of events unrelated to Remembrance Day taking place on Saturday pm well after 11am and nothing is happening on Armistice Sunday as far as I am aware.
          I realise some people disagree with these marches especially them taking place on 11th November but many people of all faiths and backgrounds do agree with marches that call for a ceasefire on all hostilities.
          The people that fought and died in WW2 did so for freedom of action, speech and thought even, or especially, to those the government didn’t agree with.
          My grandparents and dad fought in WW1 & 2 and I have attended Armistice Remembrance services but I would not wish to halt a march that is calling for a ceasefire to a war on a date when hostilities in a world conflict ceased.

        3. Oded Yinon says:

          Ian Stewart McMickan is Benjamin Netanyahu going to be there?
          The Israeli’s supported Hamas at the outset to split the PLO.

    2. John says:

      From what I have read the proposed marches will not be going near war memorials and will not start until we’ll after 11am.
      There are many other public events such as football matches taking place on Saturday pm.
      These marches are primarily about calling for a ceasefire to stop further unnecessary killing of innocent civilians.
      The vast majority of marchers will be supporting Palestinian citizens, who by any reasonable judgment, have had a miserable life for many years. They will also have been appalled by the attack on Israeli civilians on 7th October- believe it or not it is possible to have sympathy for civilians regardless of their nationality.
      Lastly many allied servicemen gave their lives in WW2 to be free from facisim. This freedom includes things that you or I may not personally like or approve of.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @John, perhaps you would like to read The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich, or histories about partisans or agents, resistance and freedom fighters against occupation and imperialism including those betrayed by their British allies at WW2’s end; ‘servicemen’ indeed.

        It was those countries which successfully mobilised women that defeated the mostly-fascist Axis (although more accurately the Japanese Empire was a mirror-image of the British one); as the Sun would never say: It Was Wummin Wot Wunnit! Of course, getting credit was always a problem, as historian Antony Beevor describes in the French Resistance, where veteran women were often pushed aside by latecomer younger males in the aftermath of liberation, he writes.

        And dying for your country seldom achieves much, and I dislike this passive distortion. The Allies were guilty of great war crimes, including the bombing of civilians much like is happening in Gaza today, and indeed used WW2 to carve out or sustain their own empires and power bases, to the extent that subject people can have little to distinguish these colonial masters from fascist ones. These victors retain the spoils of permanent vetoes in the UN Security Council, which has long paralysed effective censure of Israel.

        1. John says:

          Thanks for your comment. I am aware that WW2 was far more complex than the simplified patriotic narrative we are often presented with. I am an avid reader of Anthony Beaver and am currently reading his book about Arnhem.
          I used the term servicemen died as it would be term that would be understandable to the writer of the comment I was responding too. It is however indisputable that many servicemen (conscripts or otherwise)died, along with many other fighters of either sex and civilians in WW2 to liberate countries from Nazi occupation something I and many others of my generation will always be grateful for.

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @John, indeed. I intended to make the point that only (or chiefly) mentioning ‘dying’ as a measure of contribution to the war effort is grossly unfair to those who contributed in many ways but not necessarily on the frontline (an ambiguous concept in total war), like medical staff, munitions workers, women codebreakers, support roles, and so on. Many non-service or non-combat jobs and callings were actually more dangerous than enlistment. And of course people suffered physical, mental, moral injuries in great numbers, often for a great many years after the war was finished.

            And I don’t think many service-people could have faced more deadly and courage-requiring jobs than the women tank combat medics who went into battle on the outside of Soviet tanks, jumped off, then waited for one of their own tanks to catch fire before diving in to attempt to rescue its crew, as Svetlana Alexievich describes. I have yet to read her book on children in war.

            A further point, one that Antony Beevor makes in his Normandy book is that Allied commanders often prioritised the safety of their own troops over the safety of anyone else, including civilians in the countries they were liberating. This meant a reliance on overwhelming firepower (artillery, naval and aerial bombardments) often directed at urban areas. If my notes are correct, in the Arnhem book Beevor notes that US bombers killed 800 in Dutch Nijmegen (on 1944-02-22) supposedly thinking it was a German town. That is, they killed Allied civilians instead of Axis ones. Allied occupation could also be a nightmare for even victims of previous Axis occupation (Sean Longden compiles veteran testimony of the road to Arnhem in To the Victor the Spoils which touches on this).

            One example of the kinds of war behaviour that is regularly omitted from romanticised ‘remembrance’ pantomimes is treated in Crimes Unspoken: The Rape of German Women at the End of the Second World War by Miriam Gebhardt, who writes (p2):
            “According to my calculations, at least 860,000 women (and a good number of men) were raped after the war. At least 190,000 of them, perhaps even more, were assaulted by US soldiers, others by British, Belgian or French. Nothing has ever been said about these victims. Just as the misdeeds of ‘big brother’ were swept under the carpet in East Germany, West German society also kept silent about the attacks by its democratic liberators.”

            Gebhardt gives a rare example of a memorial which testifies to these ‘crimes unspoken’ (p206):
            “In the former local cemetery in Neukölln is a hidden memorial stone with the inscription: ‘Against war and violence. In memory of the victims of expulsion, deportation, rape and slave labour. Innocent children and mothers, women and young girls. Their suffering in the turmoil of the Second World War should not be forgotten, so as to prevent future suffering.'”

            I have personally spoken to officers in the British Army of WW2 who told me of often-horrific crimes their own troops enacted against prisoners and civilians, and said that there was even worse that they could not speak of.

            By erasing such crimes from our histories, we make war more palatable, even romantic, which encourages a repeat of these cycles of violent depredation, depravity and denial.

  3. Tom Ultuous says:

    “Westminster love us, yes they do
    Boris, Rishi and Suella too.
    His Majesty Charles is our King
    ‘Rebellious Scots to crush’ we all sing.”
    Yours most sincerely
    The Thick Alliance (Scottish Loyalist Branch).
    “PS Alister Jack is our shepherd. WE SHALL NOT WANT (FACT).”

  4. SleepingDog says:

    Well, quite. You don’t really get to tell everyone what your ‘values’ are, especially if those are all positive ones entirely at odds with historical evidence, without being guilty of hubris, hypocrisy and cant (this triple crown of British elite values are much in evidence).

    The British Empire so hated freedom that at the end of WW2 it crushed freedom movements in colonies that weren’t even its own, and preferred to employ war-criminal troops of a defeated enemy Empire (Japan) in viciously oppressing freedom movements instead of letting its war-time allies against the Japanese choose their own governments. Indeed, Indonesians celebrating their own Heroes Day will not have forgotten the British and Indian troops who committed the most appalling crimes including shelling civilians to reimpose Dutch colonial rule:

    It is the British political elite who espouse the most vile and dangerous form of extremism, theocratic hereditary monarchy (nuclear-armed imperial-terrorist version), which of course is why they have had such insurmountable problems in defining a form of ‘extremism’ that would hold up in a court of appeal. Our war-criminal Queen, Elizabeth Windsor, used this extreme (and draconianly secretive) form of government to commit the most grievous crimes, for example in league with France and Israel faking a pretext to invade Egypt and kill 10,000 Egyptians while claiming it was their own fault. You may know this tripartite crime of aggression by its euphemism: Suez Crisis.

    Hubris, hypocrisy and cant; sadism, secrecy and ultraviolence; denial, lies and extremism; terrorism, elitism and perversion; misogyny, racism and bogus piety; corruption, looting and rape; ecocide, invasions and slavery (etc). All enshrined in the institutional worship of dynastic rule and perhaps the greatest British value of them all: Nepotism.

    1. John Learmonth says:

      As you seem to hate your own country so much why do you live here?
      There’s plenty of choices out there, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia
      the list is endless. Take your pick….oh and I’ll help you pack your bags.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @John Learmonth, your fear of facing up to reality, your moral cowardice in baulking at calling out wrongs, your mental slavery in kowtowing to monarchical authority, your inability to handle truth, your desperate need for a comfort blanket of flattering national myths, your general weakness and spinelessness, must be extremely disabling, and hardly fit even for a subject, let alone a citizen.

        In case you missed out on any citizenship training, in its core form, it imposes duties on citizens to hold their government (their representatives) accountable, at least in a republic, supposedly in a democracy. Often a citizen is enjoined to defend the constitution of a state (a problem in the quasi-constitutional UK/British Empire which lacks a coherent, codified constitution to defend.

        It seems to me that you would be happier in a totalitarian-leaning state, perhaps another theocracy like Iran or Israel. The idea of citizen dissent and honourable calling crimes to account seems to send you into a tizzy. You can pack your own bags, if they’ll have you.

        1. John Learmonth says:

          I see, so your staying.
          Flights are cheap to Cuba at the moment just in case your tempted!

          1. SleepingDog says:

            @John Learmonth, why do you seem to hate your own living planet so much? Perhaps you can stow away on the next Moon mission, that may be barren enough for you.

            Or perhaps you simply worship evil in all of its forms, so perfectly naturally you idolise the British Empire and delight in lying about it.

            Of course, modern Israel was very much a British project designed to meet its imperialist interests (and spite the French, probably).

            What does your fake British history say about the Battle of Surabaya in 1945 anyway? If you’d like to break a habit of frothing about your own precious feelings and deal with something factual for a change.

          2. Derek Thomson says:

            That’s great news. I need my teeth fixed and I can’t get an NHS dentist.

  5. Dougie Blackwood says:

    Do you wonder what prompted the Palestinians to attack Israel in the 7th of October. Clearly past experience would have informed them of what the consequences would be. Was there a specific humiliation, among the many they suffer, that was the final straw?

    I am disgusted that our government has not had the guts to cry “Enough”. They, and all the rest, cravenly follow the lead of the United States who stand back and watch the tragedy unfolding before our eyes. Maybe it is time for more people to get out and peacefully protest.

    1. Oded Yinon says:

      Dougie on the 5th October over 800 Israeli settlers stormed Al-Aqsa Mosque compound

  6. Satan says:

    The Russian government has apparently slaughtered 10,000 Ukrainian civilians in 2 years, and the Isreali government has apparently slaughtered 10,000 Gazan civilians in 2 months, give or take people dieing of natural causes or unreported bodies buried under rubble. With the Hamas government slaughtering 1,600 men, women, and children as starters.

    I bumped into a pall of mine who broke out in tears because she couldn’t speak to her relatives in Mauripol because they had been living undergound for 3 weeks. Including the local professor of Greek – bizzairely Mariopol has a large Greek population. Thankfully they walked through the front line and stayed in Edinburgh for a couple of months, but I don’t see any Gazans going anywhere. Grim. It would be nice if people could just get along with each other.

  7. Daniel Raphael says:


  8. John says:

    The US, UK and other European countries are not independent observers in this conflict but essentially supporters of Israel against HAMAS.
    Unfortunately this approach appears to include turning a blind eye to breaches of international law on both war crimes and treatment of civilians as highlighted by UN workers in Gaza (those that have not been killed).
    This may well help Israel achieve their short term political ends but at what cost to this and other countries longer term credibility and support for repelling invasion of Ukraine.
    Lastly the average age of Palestinians is 18 and many of them will have lost family in this current war. Does anyone imagine these children are going to grow up with goodwill to their Israeli neighbours and that there is a real possibility that the longer this war continues the greater the chance the survivors in Gaza will be radicalised to be successors to HAMAS.

  9. John Monro says:

    Thank you, nothing to argue about here.

    I’ve written a letter to the Telegraph, I sent it a couple of days ago, and I doubt it’ll be published. But it’ll save my typing just to paste it here.

    Dear Sir / Madam

    I am a 76 year old retired GP who was proud to attend the Palestine protest in London two weekends ago, almost entirely peaceful and ordered. I repudiate and strongly resent the slur that I am unable to distinguish between hate and humane concern; Suella Braverman’s deconstruction of her own fellow citizens as haters is unforgivable. Our leadership’s unwavering political and physical support of this extreme Israeli violence is not just grossly immoral but geopolitically highly dangerous, bringing the serious risk of a disastrous wider conflict – they remain marooned on the wrong side of history. Some context: during nine months of the Blitz on London, the Luftwaffe killed some 20,000 civilians. In just one month Israel has killed, on a population basis, half as many people again. It is entirely appropriate to remember these innocents and try to prevent yet further murderous death and untold misery by peacefully demonstrating on Armistice Day, as we all also remember our own.

    Yours faithfully,

    Dr J K Monro

    Unfortunately illness in my family and need to travel to Scotland means I won’t be able to attend the London demo on Armistice Day. I also have a concern that all of a sudden Tommy Robinson has just been supplied with a Twitter feed again, it would suit the Government to actually incite violence on this march and I suspect they’ve given the nod to Musk. (as if Suella Braverman and Rishi Sunak haven’t already cynically been stirring the pot of contention in the society they’re supposed to be protecting. Our leaders pouring petrol on the flames, instead of trying to calm things down. They are beyond redemption)

    1. SleepingDog says:

      @John Monro, indeed. And partly to provide even more context, and partly to fulfil an obligation to a citizen of Pforzheim I know, I will once again draw attention to the RAF bombing of that example of least-war-relevant of German cities:
      “During the latter stages of World War II, Pforzheim, a town in southwestern Germany, was bombed several times. The largest raid, one of the most devastating area bombardments of the war, was carried out by the Royal Air Force (RAF) on the evening of February 23, 1945. Some 17,600 people, or 31.4% of the town’s population, were killed. About 83% of the town’s buildings were destroyed, two-thirds of the complete area of Pforzheim and between 80% and 100% of the inner city.”
      But of course, a giant memorial dedicated to the worship of RAF Bomber Command was recently erected in London, which I think the Telegraph (‘always on the wrong side of history’) feverishly supported.

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