October 21, 2006

The battle of Furnival Street*

Jewish Chronicle readers have responded angrily to Professor Geoffrey Alderman's apologetics for Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists in his column last week.
Cable Steet:a worthy cause
By Boris Zeto
The article by Geoffrey Alderman could not be bettered by Mosley himself, were he alive.

I was a lad of 13 at the time but I was aware, like so many of my generation, of the situation. Jews and non-Jews came on to the streets, determined to stop Mosley and his lackeys; we succeeded.

The result of our success was that the menace of the Fascists was felt throughout the country; new laws were passed forbidding the wearing of uniforms by political parties, and new public-order laws were introduced. After a brief period, support for the Fascists fell away and by 1939 they were an insignificant group.

By Jill Kaye
How can Geoffrey Alderman dismiss the hardships of the working-class Jews of the East End in the ’30s?

Yes, the battle was between the anti-Fascists and the police, because the police were protecting Mosley and his blackshirts. Yes, these very same (lawless?) Jews — together with trades unionists, dockers and liberals (not “a motley collection of left-wingers”) — were most certainly bent on denying them the same free speech that their fellow Nazis were enjoying in Europe. And yes, of course, the BUF’s membership increased in 1937, just as that of the Hitler Youth was increasing all over Europe in those terrible years, but perhaps not quite as much as it might otherwise have done.

It is a pity that Professor Alderman apparently did not visit the celebrations to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Cable Street battle. No one could fail to be inspired by the pride of those on the march, by the photographs and exhibits, or humbled and invigorated by the memories of the veterans, now in their late 80s and 90s, who never thought of themselves as heroes but simply struggling workers who feared and hated fascism from any quarter.
My post from when the Alderman article first appeared is here.

*Furnival Street is the home of the Jewish Chronicle.

No comments:

Post a Comment