By Daniel Margrain
It is a sad indictment on modern politics that the long-standing socialist, Ken Livingstone who fought most of his political life fighting anti-Semitism and other forms of racism has been hung out to dry by a political party he had been a member of for decades. Had Livingston not formerly offered his resignation, almost certainly he would have gone the way of another veteran anti-racist activist, Marc Wadsworth, who was expelled ostensibly for ‘anti-Semitism’ but more accurately for bringing the Labour Party into disrepute.
It could be reasonably argued that on the latter grounds, Wadsworth’s suspension was justified given that he had inappropriately targeted a Labour MP during a press launch showcasing an important report. But then this begs the question why it is the case that some of the 80 Labour Friends of Israel members who have links to Mossad agents and have attempted to subvert UK domestic politics in order to favour a foreign power, have not been expelled for what are obviously far more serious offences?
Wadsworth’s ‘affront’ to the party hierarchy was, not that he should have pursued a more suitable avenue in which to attack his target, but that the said target was former British Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) employee and Israel lobbyist, Ruth Smeeth MP. Any hope that Wadsworth would receive a fair hearing was dashed the moment his Israel lobby critics unjustly accused him of anti-Semitism.
Fifty right-wing and pro-Israel parliamentarians proceeded to demand the political lynching of Wadsworth at his hearing. Had he not voluntarily resigned, a similar show trial scenario predicated on yet more spurious anti-Semitism charges would almost certainly have been used as a justification to drive Livingstone out of the party. The long-standing anti-racist campaigner’s ‘crime’ in the eyes of his critics, is his interpretation of a specific event in history that runs counter to the elite pro-Israel political narrative.
So why hasn’t Corbyn come to Livingstone’s defense?
It appears that Corbyn and his strategists have made the political calculation that continuing to appease a hard core of neoliberal war-mongers both within the party and in the corporate media is preferable to taking a principled stand – presumably on the basis that the anti-Zionist left would eventually win their critics over through rational debate.
But such hopes appear fanciful. Nothing Corbyn says or does will, for example, satisfy political commentators and arch Livingstone and Corbyn critics like Nick Cohen, John Rentoul or Dan Hodges.
The latter disdainfully wrote the following on his twitter feed in response to the news that Livingstone had resigned:
“I think if Jeremy Corbyn ever wins an election Ken Livingstone will be welcomed back.”
In other words, for Hodges, Corbyn can do nothing right no matter how accommodating to his critics he is or how many concessions he makes – even to the extent that many MPs from his own party would rather back the Conservative government position than support the leader of their own party. One of the most prominent of these, John Mann MP, initially set Ken Livingstone up on fake charges and then blamed Corbyn for not expelling him, claiming the Labour leader turned a blind eye to anti-Semitism.
However, the establishment by the Labour leader of the Chakrabarti report is evidence that Corbyn in less than three years has done far more than his political adversaries have managed in decades. One of Corbyn’s key critics, Ed Miliband, when he led the party failed to introduce any extra measures to deal with complaints of anti-Semitism, but paradoxically has joined in the chorus of criticisms against Corbyn’s apparent inability to tackle the problem.
Anti-Semitism, as with all forms of racism, is a societal problem and therefore is bound to exist within political institutions that form part of the said society. The crucial question then, is not that anti-Semitism exists in a party comprising hundreds of thousands of members, but rather whether the problem is endemic and/or disproportionate compared to other political parties and wider UK society as a whole.
The aspiration to stamp the problem out completely is worthy but unrealistic. Yet this is what Corbyn’s critics uniquely task him with. The implication is that anti-Semitism is more prevalent within the Labour Party compared to other political parties in the UK. However, this does not stand up to scrutiny as doesn’t the claim that it is more prevalent compared to other forms of racism in UK society more widely A survey by Pew, for example, found that 7% of the UK public held “unfavourable” views of Jews. By contrast, about a fifth held negative views of Muslims and almost two-fifths viewed Roma people unfavourably.
In response to a moral panic about ‘left anti-Semitism’ seemingly rife within the Labour Party, a loosely-knit group of Jewish Labour supporters, Free Speech on Israel, met for an inaugural gathering in April, 2016. The 15 member group, which included Emeritus Professor of Operational Research at the London School of Economics, Jonathan Rosenhead, found that over their lifetimes they could muster only a handful of anti-Semitic 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 anti-Semitism in the party.
These experiences would appear to tally with the findings of the Channel 4 Dispatches programme. Despite filming undercover for 6 months at political meetings in an attempt to discredit Corbyn, the programme-makers could not find a single incidence of anti-Semitism among party activists.
As one independent commentator put it, the mainstream media anti-Semitism furor “is not about anti-Semitism; but removing a person who does not support Zionism from a position of influence.”
The Blairite Friends of Israel have succeeded in removing Marc Wadsworth from the party. Using ‘anti-Semitism’ as their political weapon, their latest casualty is the influential Ken Livingstone. If the fifth columnists responsible for the coordinated attacks against Israel’s critics are not compulsorily de-selected from the party, then such attacks, under the guise of anti-Semitism, will continue unabated.
As Tony Greenstein put it:
“Ken Livingstone’s resignation will embolden the Zionists to go for new victims, of whom Jackie Walker will be the next target. And after that Chris Williamson MP and anyone else who sticks their head above the parapet in order to denounce the world’s only apartheid state.”
The Zionists will not be happy until their top target – key Palestinian supporter, Jeremy Corbyn – is removed from power.
A version of this article originally appeared on Renegade Inc.
Please make a small donation
If you’ve enjoyed reading this or another posting, please consider making a donation, no matter how small. I don’t make any money from my work, and I’m not funded. You can help continue my research and write independently.… Thanks!