Earlier this week, I noted that Newt Gingrich and John Bolton, both of whom had been scheduled to appear at Pamela Geller’s Sept. 11 rally in Lower Manhattan against the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque,” now appear to be getting cold feet — Gingrich has pulled out entirely, while Bolton will deliver a videotaped message rather than appearing in person. Now we get one possible reason why Gingrich and Bolton were so hesitant: according to Geller, members of the English Defense League, a British far-right group, will also be attending the rally. The EDL is notorious for provoking violent confrontations with residents and law enforcement, simply adding to worries that the rally against what Geller and her allies term a “9/11 victory monument” will end badly.
The EDL’s participation in the rally is only the latest step marking the convergence of American pro-Israel hawks with segments of the European far right — a process that we have been tracing over the last couple years. (The radically Islamophobic Dutch MP Geert Wilders will also be a featured speaker at the rally.) It remains to be seen whether the more mainstream Republicans who have been involved in the campaign against Park51 will distance themselves from the neofascist elements who are attempting to cash in on the uproar.