I hold no brief for the Israeli attack on Gaza, it strikes me that the conventional wisdom on the incursion: "worse than a crime, it is a blunder" seems about right. The attacks seem to have more to do with the Israeli electoral calender than with any real determination to solve the long term problem of Hamas control over Gaza and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
That being noted, we should also be quite clear that the immediate resumption of rocket attacks from Gaza by Hamas after the end of a six month ceasefire was a quite deliberate provocation- in the full expectation of this Israeli response.
The demonstrations close to the Israeli Embassy in London have reinforced my concerns about the European response to the current violence. That so many of the large crowd were waving Communist Hammer and Sickle flags I find deeply offensive- as offensive as I would find the public display of the Nazi swastika. For me the only difference between National Socialism and Soviet Socialism is that the Soviets killed more people.
Then there was the rioting.
The wanton destruction of a Starbucks coffee shop and the looting of a discount clothing store called "Top Gun" - a shop ironically enough owned by an Iranian- reflected the fact that many in the crowd we the usual anti-capitalist malcontents happy to use the occasion of the Israeli incursion as the excuse for creating disruption. The response of the organisers to what was clearly orchestrated violence by elements of the crowd was frankly outrageous: "It is unfortunate that a small group of people did this. Police underestimated the number of people and tried to barricade them into a small area. They should have been more flexible over access". In other words the looting and criminal damage, the targeting of shops and businesses was... the fault of the Police.
No it wasn't- it was the fault of those who rioted and looted.
I do not think that the Israeli incursion is justified, and adding to the misery of Gaza seems to me likely to reinforce the support for Hamas rather than diminishing it. However Hamas are not an innocent party themselves; as always in the Middle east there is cynical duplicity on both sides.
However those who went to Kensington over the weekend have not bolstered support for the cause of Hamas. If you can judge a cause by its friends, it seems clear that there are some deeply unsavoury figures involved in orchestrating an anti-Israeli movement in the UK and they should be treated with scepticism- if not outright hostility.