By Daniel Margrain
On the surface Jeremy Corbyn’s rally leading up to the Labour Party conference and his closing leadership speech in Brighton were both resounding successes. But there is a long-standing issue that many activists argue need to be addressed by the Labour leadership, namely, the continued false accusations of “antisemitism” instigated by the Zionist lobby within the party, of which Corbyn’s new found indifference to the plight of Palestinians is symptomatic. The first time Corbyn seemingly capitulated to the Zionist lobby occurred when he failed to publicly challenge the staged and contrived attacks on Ken Livingstone by Labour’s principal Zionist henchman, John Mann.
The misnamed, Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), is the main driving force behind a proposed rule-change agenda to redefine “hate speech” as a means of nullifying all criticism of the Zionist state of Israel, and is predicated on the flawed non-legally binding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism.
The IHRA definition states:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish
community institutions and religious facilities.”
With the inclusion of the phrase “physical manifestations”, which might encompass criticism of Israel and Zionism, the definition is essentially meaningless.
Nevertheless, the JLM unwittingly appear not to have realized that the IHRA definition above is a vast improvement on the long and convoluted 500 word ‘antisemitic anti-Zionism’ European Union Monitoring Centre (EUMC) definition authored by attorney Kenneth Stern that preceded it.
Brian Klug, an Oxford academic who specialises in the study of antisemitism, manages it in 21 words:
“Antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.”
This seems to be a perfectly adequate definition. But preventing genuine cases of antisemitism is not the objective of the Zionist propaganda organisation, the JLM. Evidence uncovered by the Al-Jazeera news network, revealed that through the use of journalists and right-wing Labour MPs, their real purpose is to undermine and/or subvert a Corbyn-led Labour government by using the spectre of antisemitism as a weapon with which to achieve it.
A genuine left-wing UK party is seen as undermining what Zionists regard as the very real threat to their Eretz (Greater) Yisrael project of a territory stretching from the River Nile to the River Euphrates. The JLM is affiliated to the Israeli Labor Party and the World Zionist Organization – the latter of which pumps millions into building in the occupied West Bank through its settlement division.
As I inferred in a previous article, the JLM is a misnomer and is more accurately described as a Zionist movement whose aim is to proselytise for Israel. The overriding requirement for membership is an adherence to the movements’ Zionist aims which pertains to the belief that Israeli Jews have the right to settle on land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in addition to that captured following the Six-Day War in 1967.
The contradictory nature of the organisation is highlighted by its membership criteria which excludes potential Jewish members on the basis of their lack of Zionist credentials. So we are left with the absurd situation in which Jewish members can be excluded from an ostensibly Jewish organisation. The anti-Zionist activist, Jackie Walker, although Jewish, is not permitted to join the organisation, for example. However, non-Jewish Zionists are welcomed with open arms.
This is the context in which Mike Sivier pointed out, correctly, that the proposed Labour Party rule change incorporating the IHRA definition supposedly to combat hate speech and racism is “not about antisemitism; but removing a person from the party who does not support Zionism from a position of influence.”
In response to a moral panic about “antisemitic anti-Zionism” seemingly spreading throughout the Labour Party membership, a loosely-knit group of Jewish Labour Party supporters called Free Speech on Israel gathered for an inaugural meeting in April, 2016. The fifteen-member group, which included Emeritus Professor of Operational Research at the London School of Economics, Jonathan Rosenhead, concluded that over their lifetimes they could muster only a handful of antisemitic experiences between them. And, crucially, although in aggregate they had hundreds of years of Labour Party membership, not a single one of them had ever experienced an incident of antisemitism in the party.
These experiences would appear to tally with the findings of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme. Despite filming undercover for six months at political meetings in an attempt to discredit Corbyn, the programme-makers could not find a single incidence of antisemitism among party activists.
In October, 2016, the Commons Home Affairs Committee (CHAC) commissioned a report ostensibly into antisemitism which all reasonable observers acknowledged was another biased political weapon with which to attack the Labour leadership.
In a Facebook post, Jeremy Corbyn commented on the report:
“Although the Committee heard evidence that 75 per cent of antisemitic incidents come from far right sources, and the report states there is no reliable evidence to suggest antisemitism is greater in Labour than other parties, much of the report focuses on the Labour Party.
The Committee heard evidence from too narrow a pool of opinion, and its then-chair rejected both [Labour peer and barrister] Shami Chakrabarti’s and the Jewish Labour Movement’s requests to appear and give evidence before it. Not a single woman was called to give oral evidence in public, and the report violates natural justice by criticising individuals without giving them a right to be heard.”
“The report unfairly criticises Shami Chakrabarti for not being sufficiently independent. This fails to acknowledge public statements that the offer to appoint Chakrabarti to the House of Lords came after completion of her report, and was based on her extensive legal and campaigning experience. Commissioning Chakrabarti was an unprecedented step for a political party, demonstrating Labour’s commitment to fight against antisemitism.”
At a fringe meeting at the Brighton conference, absurdity turned into complete farce when Miko Peled, the renowned Jewish Israeli anti-Zionist activist, became the latest target of the JLMs antisemitism allegations after it was claimed he said that discussion of the Holocaust ought to be allowed, even if that meant embracing denialism or revisionism. However, activist, Tony Greenstein who was at the meeting said the claims attributed to Peled and others were a fabrication.
This led former UK diplomat Craig Murray to conclude that the “antisemtic Corbynites” meme printed in the pages of the tabloid press was Fake News. The perpetuation of this fake narrative has been reproduced consistently throughout the media that has led to the wildest of claims. During an interview on the BBC Radio 4s Moral Maze programme, for example, former representative of the Zionist Federation and current Director of Communications for the Campaign Against Antisemitism, Jonathan Sacerdoti, claimed that Jews were being driven “in fear of their lives from Britain to Israel.”
With this kind of highly exaggerated hyperbole, Sacerdoti appears to be confusing Britain’s multicultural, secular and pluralistic liberal democracy, albeit flawed, with the inherently racist, Zionist entity headed by an Israeli Prime Minister who sees himself as the leader of the whole of the Jewish world. Clearly, it hadn’t occurred to either Sacerdoti or Netanyahu that Jews born in Britain are British, just like their Black or Asian counterparts. They are not Israeli. Therefore, Zionists can make no legitimate claim to lead or control the Jewish diaspora. To suggest otherwise is to replicate the false racist and sectarian-based trope that Zionists and Jews are synonymous, and therefore to criticise Israel is “antisemitic.”
Of course, this serves a dual political purpose. With Israel’s Jewish population decreasing in proportion to their Palestinian counterparts, the fear of antisemitic attacks against the Jewish diaspora increases the potential for Jews to emigrate to Israel, while justifying increasing levels of funding to Jewish “charities” and organisations like the highly politicised Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the JLM, whose interests are best served by playing up the antisemitism “threat.”
The narrative of Jews being threatened outwith Israel in which the so-called Jewish State is perceived as a safe haven, perpetuates the racist myth that self-determination can only be adjudged based exclusively on one specific ethnicity and religion.
The JLMs own website states:
“The [object of the] Jewish Labour Movement [is]…to maintain and promote Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel.”
The notion that passport-holding Jews born in countries like France, the US and the UK have any less of a right to self-determination than other groups with citizenship rights born in these countries, perpetuates the myth that Jews can only be safe from the threat of violence when resident in Israel, exclusively among other Jews. This, in turn, reinforces another corresponding racist myth, namely, that the concept of multi-ethnic and secular democratic liberalism is antithetical to “Jewish interests” and that coexistence with other groups is problematical.
Netanyahu outwardly expressed this kind of Jewish-Zionist conflated racist exceptionalism and exclusivity for ideological and political reasons after he attempted to shift the blame for the Holocaust from the Hitler fascists onto the Grand Mufti. From the Zionist perspective, this makes sense given that Muslims are considered to be the joint enemy of both the European far-right and their Zionist allies.
Attempts by Labour activists to challenge the curtailment of free speech by raising the issues above is the reason why those critical of Israel’s apartheid state and treatment of the Palestinians, have been banned or suspended from the party under the pretext of “antisemitism”. This was the rationale that led to the decision of Finchley and Golders Green CLP last month to reject my application for membership of the party, ostensibly based on a blog article I wrote in which it is claimed I used “Zionist” as a term of abuse – the story of which made it onto the pages of The Jewish Chronicle.
Given that Zionism is indeed an exclusivist, supremacist and racist ideology deserving of abuse, I stand “guilty” as charged. The systematic smears and attacks by Zionists against the right to freedom of speech which challenge the Zionist narrative is the kind of policy Corbyn appears happy to endorse. Indeed, the Labour leader’s close association with the JLM at conference in which he was photographed with some of their leading figures, was a kick in the teeth for the family of Labour Friends of Palestine activist, Del Singh, who died in a Taliban attack in Kabul in 2014. Tony Greenstein on twitter, exclaimed:
@jeremycorbyn should hang his head in shame-its like honoring Paul Golding of @BritainFirstHQ with the Jo Cox award – really sick.”
Corbyn’s repugnant rallying behind the JLM that followed his effective rubber-stamping of the IHRA definition of antisemitism, appears to be indicative of the lack of control he has within his own party. Despite all of the sound rhetoric during his 75 minute closing speech in which the Labour leader focused on the importance of unity, putting people before profit, abolishing tuition fees, rent controls, affordable housing and work-place democracy, the party continues to be dominated by right-wing Zionist forces.
There are few signs at present that he intends to confront the situation. Instead, he seems content appeasing various hypocritical and back-stabbing leading party figures like Tom Watson, Joan Ryan and Jess Phillips, who have either openly said in the past they are opposed to his policies or have abused him. Many people, including millions of Iraqis, Libyans and Syrians would not consider it spiteful of Corbyn to take a firm grip on the party and get rid of the traitors within his midst. On the contrary, they would regard it as a small step towards justice.
Compulsory deselection is the obvious way forward. But to date, Corbyn has suffered from an inability to influence constituency Labour party policy at the local level, where the full-time paid staff are institutionalised. They see in Corbyn, somebody who is a potential threat to the status quo. The General Secretary, Iain McNicol, represents the apex of this kind of tendency towards self-preservation which explains why during the last election campaign, Skawkbox was able to allege that:
“Almost no resources were made available for the fight to win Tory-held marginals or even to defend Labour-held ones. Party officials and national executive right-wingers either assumed that Labour could not win seats or deliberately sought a bad result to undermine Corbyn.”
Of the 260+ parliamentary Labour MPs, roughly 60 hold genuine left-wing views, while a similar amount tread the ground between the left and right. The vast majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) – roughly 140 – however, are right-wing disciples of the Chicago school who are unprincipled cynical opportunists or, as Tony Benn put it, “weathervanes”. They will only go with the Corbyn programme if it looks good for their money-making prospects.
This illustrates the battle Corbyn and his supporters are up against. If Corbyn ends up being too accommodating to the right-wing of the party it will only encourage them, resulting in the blunting of his radical message which is the major part of his appeal and the very reason why Labour voters, especially the young, voted for him in such large numbers in the first place.
Keeping young voters on board is particularly important given that the proposed boundary changes the Tories will be keen to bring in before the next election will benefit them by 18 seats. This will provide the ideal opportunity for Corbyn to force through the compulsory resubmission of candidates to members who are energised by a very different set of priorities to that of the right-wing within the party. If Corbyn proves brave enough to seize the moment by taking control of the party he currently lacks, all of those people who are motivated primarily by money, will disappear by stealth into the ether.
The right-wingers are currently on the defensive and Corbyn might be advised to exploit this situation to the maximum. There were some encouraging signs during the fringe meetings at Brighton which would seem to suggest that sufficient movement within the grass roots will force Corbyn’s hand. Indeed this “stealth tactic” is one the Labour leader might be relying on and that there is sufficient movement happening behind the scenes that this writer is unaware of.
The emergence of the seemingly radical anti-Zionist JVL organisation have made in clear they will not tolerate anymore of the false antisemitic allegations made against Labour members by the JLM, and certainly the tide does appear to be turning against right-wing Zionist forces in the party. The worse case scenario is one in which these right wing elements wrestle back significant control. With hardcore Zionists like Watson and others remaining in positions of prominence and influence, will only encourage this latter eventuality.
The contradictions among the right within the party that the left has exposed, highlight the extent to which the ideological consensus between the New Labour hierarchy and the ruling Tory establishment, is structurally embedded within a dysfunctional system of state power that is no longer fit for purpose. Corbyn’s task in changing this situation around is difficult but not impossible. Perhaps he is biding his time in terms of deciding when to act decisively. Will he wait until after the next General Election? There are potentially exciting times ahead.
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35 thoughts on ““Antisemitism”, JLM & Free Speech: The Issues That Won’t Go Away”
great piece! sadly this shows whilist I like Corbyn and his Corbynistas and want to see him advance, this sadly proves as Dr.Jill Stein said about Bernie Sanders in the US “You can’t have revolution in a counter revolutionary party”. And I just find it ridiculous that people who simply speak out on Israel some of them like Alice and others who are Jewish and members of the Labor Party simply speaking out on Israel or others like David Miller a superb media critic who challenges Zionism are being put in these kangaroo trials, its soo bonkers and Corbyn is not adequately sticking his neck out for them, or John McDonnell and others. And if Corbyn continues to appear the New Labor cult as he’s done not just on Israel but other foreign policy issues I feel or moderating his socialist domestic policies then it means we will have moderate social reform at home but still imperialism overseas. we can’t have that happen, but again this is why I think we should support Greens and build coalition with likeminded parties that are anti-shock doctrine at home and anti-imperial overseas. Come on Corbyn you got the mandate and the support, use your power!
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Thanks Youri. Very engaging and perceptive comment.Daniel.
your very much welcome Daniel, keep up the brilliant work! I enjoy your dispatches, and if I was employed I’d donate generously 🙂
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oh btw Daniel! did you check out Ken Loach’s appearance on the BBC’s Daily Politics Show, the co-host tried to smear Corbyn and new members who joined to support him YET AGAIN with the trumped up fake news of anti-Semitism again, he handled it well, explained it was largely bogus just to discredit Corbyn and his supporters for his position on Palestine, said some home truths on Israel and of course time ran out and the show had to end LOL unbelievable. Someone get Peter Oborne, JOhn Pilger on or show these Channel 4, BBC, ITV hacks Al Jazeera’s documentary on the Israel lobby and their efforts both inside and outside of Israel to discredit Corbyn and his people, its ridiculous.
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I saw a 2 minute clip of host Jo Coburn being totally destroyed by Loach.
haha! yes she was destroyed by Loach, albeit I would’ve suspended the Gandhian tone which Loach did it but hey that’s just me. I was rewatching Al Jazeera’s epic expose of the Israeli lobby and actual agents of the Israeli government from the embassy and their supporters efforts to smear and derail Corbyn and his supporters. Do you know what is the latest happening with the witch trials of Jackie Walker, Glyn Secker, Professor David Miller, and others who are put on trial? (some like Jackie and Glyn are Jewish which makes them being on trial even more disgusting). How Momentum could throw Jackie under the bus, and Corbyn not go out on a limb to say what soo many of his supporters can glaringly see that this is nothing more then witchhunts/neo-McCarthyism BB (bunch of bollocks lol) is beyond me!
Brilliant Youri – totally agree. Can I ask a favour. FB has categorized my article as “spam” and so I am unable to promote it. They have done this repeatedly to me over the last month. I’m finding the censorship to be extremely frustrating. I get banned for three days, I then post again and the same process happens. I would be grateful if you would share my article on FB. Thanks. Daniel.
seriously?! what a load of rubbish, yes sure no problem! next time I’m on, I’ll be sure to post/share no problem.
The speech made this morning by the woman from the Jewish Labour group was fantastic and she showed unequivocal support for the Palestinian cause. The huge conference audience cheered her and gave her a standing ovation when she attacked those who were accusing the Labour Party of anti Semitism. There was no dissent, everyone was delighted and relieved to get the chance to show their disgust and anger against those who were pushing this smear to damage Corbyn because of his lifetime support for the Palestinian cause. It looked like a turning tide for the squalid campaign of the Pro Zionist anti Corbyn haters.
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Was it a speech by somebody from the JLM?
No she was from Freedom of Speech on Israel FSOI. A very different stance from the Zionist Supporting Jewish Labour Movement JLM, who support Israeli Apartheid and Palestinian Oppression!!!
No, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi from Free Speech on Israel & the new group, Jewish Voice for Labour. Watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4zpURgqhJw&feature=youtu.be
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Thanks for posting.
Ah, yes, I read Tony Greenstein’s piece on her. Thanks.
While I agree your article, I think you lack the perspective of someone inside the Labour Party.
Newmark and his side-kick were allowed to stand as parliamentary candidates in seats which they failed to win. While they were candidates, they had to keep quiet…….
The motions they submitted – opposed by the NEC, I believe – were submitted last year and could only come before conference this year.
Were they passed? I think they were but in a watered-down fashion – is that not right?
Corbyn DID make a reference to Palestine in his conference speech.
The zionists are being contained and are clearly losing their fight to influence the Labour Party.
Thanks. It’s quite true I do lack the perspective of an insider and I hope you are right about the ability of Corbyn to see off the destructive right-wing elements. Personally, I have my doubts. I hope I’m wrong.
Tony Clug’s defintion of anti-semitism is problematic and nebulous:
““Antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.”
What on earth does this mean? How are ‘Jews’ defined? As a religious group, as an ethnic group, or a collection of overlapping ethnic groups with a common religious-derived cultural component?
If you cannot define who Jews are, how can you define what hostility to ‘Jews as Jews’ means? It is nebulous about whether what is involved is racism, or hostility to a religious trend, or sonething else entirely.
This is important because the definitions of anti-semitism being promoted today elide the question of whether what is being discussed is racism, or something else. Resulting in the common phenomenon of Jewish people themselves being accused of ‘anti-semitism’ for disrepecting some element of ideology held by some other Jewish people. Usually, but not always, this is political Zionism.
Klug’s definition does not break with this broadening of the definition beyond racialized antagonism.
A better definition would be to say: “anti-semitism is the concept that people who are born Jewish constitute a separate race of humanity, accompanied by generalised hostility to the individuals that constitute that supposed race”. That is crystal clear.
It rejects the concept of Jews as being a race, while placing that concept at the centre of the definition.
I’m sorry but I’ll go with Klug’s definition any day.
The term ‘antisemitism’ is relatively modern.
Its modern usage dates from a publication by a German-speaking journalist called Wilhelm Marr based in Vienna who in 1879 published a book entitled The Victory of the Jewish Spirit over the Germanic Spirit, in which he also coined the term Semitismus interchangeably with the word Judentum to denote both “Jewry” (the Jews as a collective) and “jewishness” (the quality of being Jewish, or the Jewish spirit. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism.
Marr subsequently went on to regret creating the term towards the end of his life.
The Wikipedia entry also states ‘The root word Semite gives the false impression that antisemitism is directed against all Semitic people, e.g., including Arabs. The compound word antisemite was popularized in Germany in 1879 as a scientific-sounding term for Judenhass “Jew-hatred”, and that has been its common use since then.’
The real phenomena it is attempting to categorise is really Judeophobia, i.e. an irrational fear or hatred of Jews, which has a much longer pedigree, stretching back over a much longer span of time.
What the zionists have tried to do is to conflate the term antisemitism with antizionism.
In doing so, they endeavour to shield Zionism from the very real criticism that – as an ideology and in terms of the practices adopted by zionists inside and outside occupied Palestine – they have adopted a set of beliefs which can only be described as racist, exclusivist and supremacist.
That is why they were able to collaborate with fascists and Nazis during the 1930s and 1940s.
They shared fairly similar beliefs with the totalitarian racists then and they continue to hold similar beliefs with regard to the Palestinians and even fellow assimilationist Jews.
Ultimately, what the extremist zionist Ashkenazim clique that controls Israel and occupied Palestine are being criticised for is their inhuman and inhumane conduct towards the Palestinian people.
They have breached numerous Geneva Conventions, UN Resolutions and international law.
It is a criminal regime which is being rightly criticised, not a particular ethnic group.
I don’t understand your argument. Klug’s definition is as concise as it’s about to be and as such avoids the potential politicisation aspect that Zionists try to exploit for their own nefarious purposes. It’s precisely the unambiguous nature of his definition that makes it impossible for racists to impugn upon others their own prejudices. This was the point made to the obnoxious Jewish Zionist, Jonathan Hoffman by anti-Zionist Jew, Jackie Walker, in a debate that can be viewed on youtube. Hoffman used exactly the same argument that Nazis used after he claimed Walker’s anti-Zionist views had no validity because in his view her views were antisemitic predicated on the notion “she wasn’t a Jew and therefore wasn’t a Zionist”. Convoluted definitions give the requisite space for racists like Hoffman to conflate antisemitism with anti-Zionism. Klug’s definition doesn’t.
Not sure if Daniel is replying to me or John. But my point is that Klug’s definition is ambiguous and does not clarify whether the ‘anti-semitism’ he condemns is a racist ideology, or not.
Jews are not an ethnic group per se, but a conglomerate of differing ethnic groups (Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Falashas, etc) some of which have played a distinctive social role in pre-capitalist societies that then spilled over into the progressive phase of capitalism and early imperialist capital.
A distinct Jewish-Zionist bouregois caste exists today in the advanced capitalist nations and is the material core of what is sonetimes called the Jewish lobby or Israel lobby according to who you speak to. This is a real issue because Jewish reprrsentation among the ruling classes far exceeds Jewish represntation in the general population.
With the social power that this brings, then there is an element of social contradiction that drives potential conflict between Jews and others in this society. This cannot be reduced to ethnic conflict, though this is an important possibility.
Therein lies the question of so-called ‘tropes’ which are political constructs that conflate the social questions involved with racism against Jews. The social power of a powerful caste of bourgeois in the imperialist countries with an ethnic-political interest in supporting Israel is a social issue that puts Palestinians at an institutional disadvantage.
But the concept of ‘tropes’ seeks to ban criticism of this as racist. Klug’s definition is inadequate because it does not address this problem. Mine does, because it confines the condemnation to racialised antagonism and therefore leaves the field free to address the social questions posed by the existence of the Jewish-Zionist caste.
Which has to be done carefully, because of the potential for the social question to become racialised. But they are not the same – the social dimension has to be separated from racial antagonism otherwise Palestinians and their supporters stand disarmed before the lobby.
For more elaboration on this see my deconstruction of Dave Rich’ s 2016 book on so-called left anti-semitism,which is an oxymoronic concept.
It has to be borne in mind that there are non-Jewish Zionists, as well as Jewish Zionists.
David Lloyd George was not a Jewish zionist but a Christian Zionist.
He – more than anyone else – is responsible for the Balfour Declaration.
The US Religious Right today represent substantial supporters of Zionism.
Of course, they believe all Jews will convert to Christianity once all Jews are in Israel.
It is impossible to make such idiots up!
Ian, Klug’s definition is fine because it removes the ambiguity associated with Jews who do not identify, politically, as Zionists. The problem stems, not from Jews who do not identify politically as Zionists but Jews who do. As John said, “there are Jewish Zionists as well as non-Jewish Zionists.” Numerically, The vast majority of the world’s Zionists are actually non-Jews. The problem is not with Jews per se, but with Zionists, some of whom identify politically, as Zionists but by no means all. klug’s definition disentangles the conflation between anti-Zionism and antisemitism and therefore reduces the likelihood of people who have legitimate political criticisms of Israel of being falsely accused of antisemitism by Zionists who have nefarious motives for doing so.
Hoffman is an ignoramus.
When I told him he was just another Jack Ruby, his response was “Who’s Jack Ruby?”
He – like many other simple-minded defenders of Zionism – is incapable of rational thought.
John, I agree. Hoffman is racist. His confrontation with Jackie Walker was really illuminating. By attempting to define for her what her background was, he showed himself up for what he is.
Non-Jewish Zionists are not able to become citizens of Israel. They are fellow-travellers of Zionism, not the real article. They depend on Jewish Zionists to make their movenent viable. The problem is indeed not Jews but Zionists, but that does not mean that political Zionism is not Jewish in its core.
Denying that political Zionism is Jewish is like denying that Ukip is driven by British nationalism, or that Nazism was driven by German nationalist extremism. All these things are at bottom driven by material interests, of a particular part of ruling class interests with ‘national’ aspirations, and Zionism is no exception.
Christian Zionism is driven by class interest in the concrete, not abstract theology. This is why this Judeophile form of Christianity is so influential, as opposed to the pre-war days when Judeophobic forms of Christianity were more influential. Why is this? Because Christianity is linked to the bourgeoisie in the main imperialist countries, and the bourgeoisie have abandoned the suspicions they once had of their Jewish brethren.
There is nothing inherently either good or bad about being Jewish. And Jews, who are an upwardly mobile population in the Western countries, have acquired social power for their dominant nationalist trend over Arabs and their supporters.
Jews are not collectively guilty, but they are not collectively innocent either. The picture is mixed, and class divided. This concept that Zionism is not Jewish at all implies Jewish collective innocence and thus reinforces the idea of Jewish moral superiority promoted by Dave Rich in his rather important and inflenential book.
But Jews are not morally superior to non-Jews. Nor are they morally inferior. Humanity is indivisible along such ethnic-moral lines. The division that matters is one of class.
We need a definition of anti-semitism that says that racialised antipathy to Jews is to be condemned but that all social and economic aspects of the Jewish-Israeli/Arab-Palestinian conflict are fair game for criticism and analysis. We should reject upfront the smear about ‘tropes’. Klug’s definition does not do that.
Why not have a definition that simply says clearly that racism is wrong, but all criticism and analysis of social reality is legit? Klug’s defunition does not say that. One that did, like mine, really does put anti-semitism on the same plane as other forms of racism.
Klug’s definition clearly says racism is wrong. Attacking Jews because they are Jews is racism and it’s wrong. That’s precisely what Klug’s definition does. I fail to see how you can misread that.
So why does it not use the words ‘racism’ or ‘racialise’, or even deny the concept that Jews are a ‘race’ as mine does?
This is linked to the practice on the mainstream left of setting up Jews-only groups to challenge Zionist accusations of anti-semitism. The assumption being that Jews are better placed to counter allegations of anti-semitism, providing a shield to non-Jews etc. This is understandable at one level, pragmatically, but it effectively concedes the notion of Jewish moral superiority. Which is an overlap with the Zionists, who of course are much more consistent in pushing this concept.
It comes from political traditions on the Jewish left associated with the Bund. Autonomy etc. Which might have had some element of justification when there was a large, oppressed Jewish semi-proletarian artisan population in East Europe, but there is none now. Jews are not an oppressed people any more and the idea that only Jews have the moral authority to debunk allegations of anti-semitism fails to challenge Zionist ideological hegemony. It is Arabs who are the oppressed today, not Jews, and with regard to the Israel issue, their oppressors are Jews.
This is not a pedantic issue. Some critics of Zionism have been accused of anti-semitism including by some on the left who claim to be anti-Zionist.
For instsnce Mearheimer and Walt for their pioneering work on the Israel lobby. Socialist Fight have been accused of ‘left anti-semitism’ by the CPGB and Moshe Machover for our Marxian analysis of the Jewish-Zionist caste within the imperialist bourgeoisie. This was echoed by Tony Greenstein, who is to their left and rejects the whole concept of ‘left’ anti-semitism. Thats his contradiction.
Yet these people accept that neither myself nor Gerry Downing hate Jews. It is absurd to argue that Mearsheimer and Walt hate Jews. Mearsheimer is Jewish. An anti-semite, for me and most people, is someone who hates Jews as a group.
When questioned about this at a CPGB forum, Greenstein was very clear that the Klug definition, which he is one of the leading exponents of, does not equate anti-semitism with race-hate. See this report, which the CPGB refused to publish supposedly on grounds of ‘left anti-semitism’ (but in fact because the content was embarassing and they had no reply to it).
Your contributions are very interesting and welcome but you are losing me.
Unfortunately this one of the most complex issues the left has had to address. Heresy hunts against so-called anti-semitism on the left pre-date Corbynism and some of those currently victimised have victimsed others in the past. This is not about moral targeting of such people but correcting political weaknesses so they do not recur..
We need both the broadest united front of the left against Zionist witchunts and also free discussion, so that united front remains intact and we do not have the baleful experience of part of the left pointing out others as supposedly guilty. So if this material appears abstract or unfamilar, take a look at the history.
I guess one key concretisation of this is that there is a layer of people of Jewish origin who reject the entire concept of secular Jewish identity, as well as Judaism. On the grounds that secular Jews are an exclusive group that outsiders cannot join, even when they oppose Zionism.
Three prominent individuals are known for this: Shlomo Sand, Gilad Atzmon, and Will Self. There are no doubt others. Are they hostile to ‘Jews as Jews’? It appears so. Are they motivated by racialised hostility to people who are born Jewish? Evidently not.
I am not sure why you keep using the phrase ‘born Jewish’.
All people are born homo sapiens.
There is no other species that any modern day human being can belong to.
Growing up, people acquire different cultures but they are not born with that culture.
If you took a child born to parents professing Jewish culture and then raised that child in a non-Jewish culture, would that mean that they would still be Jewish or non-Jewish?
It goes back to the old debate about nature versus nurture – does it not?
It is the same with regard to any culture – christian, muslim, hindu – whatever!
The people who were trying to accuse The Labour Party of Antisemitism were routed at the Labour Conference, and Jeremy Corbyn hammered a final nail into their coffin when he staunchly aligned himself with the Palestinian cause in his speech. He has handled this whole business brilliantly and Ken Livingstone continues to display solidarity with Corbyn and the party, as do the Palestinians as far as I can see.
A minority view here I’d suspect: This is a very thorough, excellent exposition and polemic from the left for the Defence against the barrage of complaint about Labour’s alleged anti-semitism problem. Doubly pertinent with recent scandal involving Jeremy Newmark and financial shenanigans pertaining thereto. I could take issue with a few points, particularly as it hit the third act, but I welcome it as illuminating of the enormous wealth of bullsh*t from the Right on this issue.
That said – the Chakrabarti Inquiry made some very insightful points that didn’t leave Livingston or others endlessly hammering the same nail, smelling entirely of roses either. Worth another read ( https://labour.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Chakrabarti-Inquiry-Report-30June16.pdf ) lest we think we can safely keep making the same pot-shots against Israel with complete impunity in all matters at all times. The Six Day War didn’t happen in a vacuum, the occupation wasn’t perpetuated in a vacuum and most importantly anti-semitism isn’t simply a wilful invention of the Zionist movement. If you don’t understand the history of Jewish persecution over thousands of years, then you really haven’t been paying close enough attention to overwhelming historic evidence. Despite Israel’s provocations and illegal land grabs, and without making any claim for equivalence, we have to try to not roll this up as a “good-guys versus bad-guys” conflict, nor try to write off the case for the creation of a Jewish State as without cause and foundation however strong the case for some justice for those who suffered the Nakba or are suffering ongoing human rights abuses, Amnesty and others have reported.