At last a sensible article about the so called plague of Labour party antisemitism
tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Thu Mar 14 13:20:15 GMT 2019
Is anti-semitism cover for a much deeper divide in Britain's Labour party?
20 February 2019 16:30 UTC | Last update: 2 weeks 5 days ago
Breakaway MPs hope that smearing Corbyn will
obscure the fact that they are remnants of an old
political order bankrupt of ideas
The announcement by seven MPs from the UK Labour
Party on Monday that they were breaking away and
creating a new parliamentary faction marked the
biggest internal upheaval in a British political
party in nearly 40 years, when the SDP split from Labour.
On Wednesday, they were joined by an eighth
Labour MP, Joan Ryan, and three Conservative MPs.
There are predictions more will follow.
With the UK teetering on the brink of crashing
out of the European Union with no deal on Brexit,
the founders of the so-called Independent Group
made reference to their opposition to Brexit.
The report decisively undercut their claims not
only of endemic anti-semitism in Labour, but of any significant problem at all
The chief concern cited for the split by the
eight Labour MPs, though, was a supposed anti-semitism crisis in the party.
The breakaway faction seemingly agrees that
anti-semitism has become so endemic in the party
since Jeremy Corbyn became leader more than three
years ago that they were left with no choice but to quit.
Corbyn, it should be noted, is the first leader
of a major British party to explicitly prioritise
the rights of Palestinians over Israels
continuing belligerent occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Luciana Berger, a Jewish MP who has highlighted
what she sees as an anti-semitism problem under
Corbyn, led the charge, stating at the
Independent Groups launch that she had reached
the sickening conclusion that Labour was institutionally racist.
She and her allies claim she has been hounded out
of the party by anti-semitic bullying. Berger
has suffered online abuse and death threats from
a young neo-Nazi who was jailed for two years in
2016. There have been other incidences of abuse
and other sentences, including a 27-month jail
term for John Nimmo, a right-wing extremist who
referred to Berger as "Jewish scum" and signed
his messages, "your friend, the Nazi".
In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, the
former Labour MP said the Independent Group would
provide the Jewish community with a political
home that they, like much of the rest of the country, are now looking for.
In a plea to keep the party together, deputy
leader Tom Watson issued a video in which he
criticised his own party for being too slow to
tackle anti-semitism. The situation poses a
test for Labour, he said, adding: Do we respond
with simple condemnation, or do we try and reach
out beyond our comfort zone and prevent others from following?
Ruth Smeeth, another Jewish Labour MP who may yet
join a later wave of departures, was reported to
have broken down in tears at a parliamentary
party meeting following the split, as she called
for tougher action on anti-semitism.
Two days later, as she split from Labour, Ryan
accused the party of being infected with the scourge of anti-Jewish racism.
Hatred claims undercut
The timing of the defections was strange,
occurring shortly after the Labour leadership
revealed the findings of an investigation into
complaints of anti-semitism in the party. These
were the very complaints that MPs such as Berger
have been citing as proof of the partys institutional racism.
And yet, the report decisively undercut their
claims not only of endemic anti-semitism in
Labour, but of any significant problem at all.
That echoed an earlier report by the Commons home
affairs committee, which found there was no
reliable, empirical evidence that Labour had
more of an anti-semitism problem than any other British political party.
Anti-Semitism and Labour: Muzzling free speech
silences rightful criticism of Israel
Nonetheless, the facts seem to be playing little
or no part in influencing the anti-semitism
narrative. This latest report was thus almost
entirely ignored by Corbyns opponents and by the mainstream media.
It is, therefore, worth briefly examining what
the Labour Partys investigation discovered.
Over the previous 10 months, 673 complaints had
been filed against Labour members over alleged
anti-semitic behaviour, many based on online
comments. In a third of those cases, insufficient evidence had been produced.
The 453 other allegations represented 0.08
percent of the 540,000-strong Labour membership.
Hardly endemic or institutional, it seems.
There is the possibility past outbursts have been
part of this investigation. Intemperate language
flared especially in 2014 before Corbyn became
leader when Israel launched a military
operation on Gaza that killed large numbers of
Palestinian civilians, including many hundreds of children.
Certainly, it is unclear how many of those
reportedly anti-semitic comments concern not
prejudice towards Jews, but rather outspoken
criticism of the state of Israel, which was
redefined as anti-semitic last year by Labour,
under severe pressure from MPs such as Berger and
Ryan and Jewish lobby groups, such as the Board
of Deputies and the Jewish Labour Movement.
Seven of the 11 examples of anti-semitism
associated with the International Holocaust
Remembrance Alliances definition adopted by
Labour concern Israel. That includes describing
Israel as a racist endeavour, even though
Israel passed a basic law last year stripping the
fifth of its population who are not Jewish of any
right to self-determination, formally creating two classes of citizen.
Illustrating the problem Labour has created for
itself as a result, some of the most high-profile
suspensions and expulsions have actually targeted
Jewish members of the party who identify as
anti-Zionist that is, they consider Israel a
racist state. They include Tony Greenstein,
Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni, Glyn Secker and Cyril Chilson.
Another Jewish member, Moshe Machover, a
professor emeritus at the University of London,
had to be reinstated after a huge outcry among
members at his treatment by the party.
Alan Maddison, who has been conducting
statistical research on anti-semitism for a
pro-Corbyn Jewish group, Jewish Voice for Labour,
put the 0.08 percent figure into its wider social
and political context this week.
He quoted the findings of a large survey of
anti-semitic attitudes published by the Institute
for Jewish Policy Research in 2017. It found that
30 percent of respondents from various walks of
society agreed with one or more of eight
anti-semitic views, ranging from stereotypes such
as Jews think they are better than other people to Holocaust denial.
Four-fifths of those who exhibited a degree of
anti-semitism also agreed with at least one
positive statement about Jewish people
However, lead researcher Daniel Staetsky
concluded that in most cases, this was evidence
of unthinking prejudice rather than conscious
bigotry. Four-fifths of those who exhibited a
degree of anti-semitism also agreed with at least
one positive statement about Jewish people.
This appears to be the main problem among the
tiny number of Labour Party members identified in
complaints, and is reflected in the predominance
of warnings about conduct rather than expulsions and suspensions.
Another of the institutes findings poses a
particular problem for Corbyns opponents, who
argue that the Labour leader has imported
anti-semitism into the party by attracting the
hard left. Since he was elected, Labour membership has rocketed.
Even if it were true that Corbyn and his
supporters are on the far-left a highly
questionable assumption, made superficially
plausible only because Labour moved to the
centre-right under Tony Blair in the late 1990s
the institutes research pulls the rug out from under Corbyns critics.
It discovered that across the political spectrum,
conscious hatred of Jews was very low, and that
it was exhibited in equal measure from the very
left-wing to the fairly right-wing. The only
exception, as one might expect, was on the very
right-wing, where virulent anti-semitism was much more prevalent.
That finding was confirmed last week by surveys
that showed a significant rise in violent,
anti-semitic attacks across Europe as far-right
parties make inroads in many member states. A
Guardian report noted that the figures show an
overwhelming majority of violence against Jews is
perpetrated by far-right supporters.
Supporters of overseas war
So what is the basis for concerns about the
Labour Party being mired in supposed
institutional anti-semitism since it moved from
the centre to the left under Corbyn, when the
figures and political trends demonstrate nothing of the sort?
A clue may be found in the wider political
worldview of the eight MPs who have broken from Labour.
All but two are listed as supporters of the
parliamentary Labour Friends of Israel (LFI)
faction. Further, Berger is a former director of
that staunchly pro-Israel lobby group, and Ryan
is its current chair, a position the group says
she will hold onto, despite no longer being a Labour MP.
So extreme are the LFIs views on Israel that it
sought to exonerate Israel of a massacre last
year, in which its snipers shot dead many dozens
of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza in a
single day. Faced with a social media backlash,
it quietly took down the posts.
The eight MPs voting records except for Gavin
Shuker, for whom the picture is mixed show them
holding consistently hawkish foreign policy
positions that are deeply antithetical to
Corbyns approach to international relations.
They either almost always or generally backed
combat operations overseas; those who were MPs
at the time supported the 2003 Iraq war; and they
all opposed subsequent investigations into the Iraq war.
Committed Friends of Israel
In one sense, the breakaway groups support for
Labour Friends of Israel may not be surprising,
and indicates why Corbyn is facing such
widespread trouble from within his own party.
Dozens of Labour MPs are members of the group,
including Tom Watson and Ruth Smeeth.
Smeeth, one of those at the forefront of accusing
Corbyn of fostering anti-semitism in Labour, is
also a former public affairs director of BICOM,
another stridently pro-Israel lobby group.
None of these MPs were concerned enough with the
LFIs continuing vocal support for Israel as it
has shifted to the far-right under Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu to have stepped down from the group.
Wrong kind of Jews
Anti-semitism has taken centre stage in the
manoeuvring against Corbyn, despite there being
no evidence of significant hatred against Jews in
the party. Increasingly, it seems, tangible abuse
of Jews is of little interest unless it can be related to Corbyn.
The markedly selective interest in anti-semitism
in the Corbyn context among the breakaway MPs and
supposed anti-semitism watchdogs has been starkly on show for some time.
Increasingly in this febrile atmosphere, there
has been an ever-greater indulgence of the 'right
kind of anti-semitism' when it is directed at Corbyn supporters
Notably, none expressed concern at the media
mauling of a left-wing, satirical Jewish group
called Jewdas when Corbyn was widely attacked for
meeting the wrong kind of Jews. In fact,
leading Labour figures, including the Jewish
Labour Movement, joined in the abuse.
And increasingly in this febrile atmosphere,
there has been an ever-greater indulgence of the
right kind of anti-semitism when it is directed at Corbyn supporters.
A troubling illustration was provided on the TV
show Good Morning Britain this week, when Tom
Bower was invited on to discuss his new
unauthorised biography of Corbyn, in which he
accuses him of anti-semitism. The hosts looked on
demurely as Bower, a Jewish journalist, defamed
fellow Jewish journalist Michael Segalov as a
self-hating Jew for defending Corbyn on the show.
Revenge of the Blairites
So what is the significance of the fact that the
Labour MPs who have been most outspoken in
criticising Corbyn those who helped organise a
2016 leadership challenge against him, and those
who are now rumoured to be considering joining
the breakaway faction are heavily represented
on the list of MPs supporting LFI?
For them, it seems, vigorous support for Israel
is not only a key foreign policy matter, but a
marker of their political priorities and
worldview one that starkly clashes with the
views of Corbyn and a majority of the Labour membership.
Anti-semitism has turned out to be the most
useful and damaging weapon to wield against
the Labour leader for a variety of reasons close
to the hearts of the holdouts from the Blair era,
who still dominate the parliamentary party and parts of the Labour bureaucracy.
Perhaps most obviously, the Blairite wing of the
party is still primarily loyal to a notion that
Britain should at all costs maintain its
transatlantic alliance with the United States in
foreign policy matters. Israel is a key issue for
those on both sides of the Atlantic who see that
state as a projection of Western power into the
oil-rich Middle East and romanticise Israel as a
guarantor of Western values in a barbaric region.
Corbyns prioritising of Palestinian rights
threatens to overturn a core imperial value to which the Blairites cling.
Tarred and feathered
But it goes further. Anti-semitism has become a
useful stand-in for the deep differences in a
domestic political culture between the Blairites,
on one hand, and Corbyn and the wider membership, on the other.
A focus on anti-semitism avoids the right-wing
MPs having to admit much wider grievances with
Corbyns Labour that would probably play far less
well not only with Labour members, but with the broader British electorate.
Anti-Semitism and Labour: Jeremy Corbyn must stop
apologising and start fighting back
As well as their enthusiasm for foreign wars, the
Blairites support the enrichment of a narrow
neo-liberal elite, are ambivalent about austerity
policies, and are reticent at returning key
utilities to public ownership. All of this can be
neatly evaded and veiled by talking up anti-semitism.
But the utility of anti-semitism as a weapon with
which to beat Corbyn and his supporters however
unfairly runs deeper still.
The Blairites view allegations of anti-Jewish
racism as a trump card. Calling someone an
anti-semite rapidly closes down all debate and
rational thought. It isolates, then tars and
feathers its targets. No one wants to be seen to
be associated with an anti-semite, let alone defend them.
Weak hand exposed
That is one reason why anti-semitism smears have
been so maliciously effective against
anti-Zionist Jews in the party and used with
barely a murmur of protest or in most cases,
even recognition that Jews are being suspended
and expelled for opposing Israels racist policies towards Palestinians.
This is a revival of the vile self-hating Jew
trope that Israel and its defenders concocted
decades ago to intimidate Jewish critics.
The Blairites in Labour, joined by the ruling
Conservative Party, the mainstream media and
pro-Israel lobby groups, have selected
anti-semitism as the terrain on which to try to
destroy a Corbyn-led Labour Party, because it is
a battlefield in which the left stands no hope of
getting a fair hearing or any hearing at all.
But paradoxically, the Labour breakaway group may
have inadvertently exposed the weakness of its
hand. The eight MPs have indicated that they will
not run in by-elections, and for good reason: it
is highly unlikely they would stand a chance of
winning in any of their current constituencies outside the Labour Party.
Their decision will also spur moves to begin
deselecting those Labour MPs who are openly
trying to sabotage the party and the members wishes from within.
That may finally lead to a clearing out of the
parliamentary baggage left behind from the Blair
era, and allow Labour to begin rebuilding itself
as a party ready to deal with the political,
social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century.
The views expressed in this article belong to the
author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in
Nazareth since 2001, is the the author of three
books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He is
a past winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special
Prize for Journalism. His website and blog can be
found at: www.jonathan-cook.net
NB please do reply with remove as the subject or
first line if you do not wish to recieve further emails - thanks
'From South America, where payment must be made
with subtlety, the Bormann organization has made
a substantial contribution. It has drawn many of
the brightest Jewish businessmen into a
participatory role in the development of many of
its corporations, and many of these Jews share
their prosperity most generously with Israel. If
their proposals are sound, they are even provided
with a specially dispensed venture capital fund.
I spoke with one Jewish businessmen in Hartford,
Connecticut. He had arrived there quite unknown
several years before our conversation, but with
Bormann money as his leverage. Today he is more
than a millionaire, a quiet leader in the
community with a certain share of his profits
earmarked as always for his venture capital
benefactors. This has taken place in many other
instances across America and demonstrates how
Bormanns people operate in the contemporary
commercial world, in contrast to the fanciful
nonsense with which Nazis are described in so much literature.
So much emphasis is placed on select Jewish
participation in Bormann companies that when
Adolf Eichmann was seized and taken to Tel Aviv
to stand trial, it produced a shock wave in the
Jewish and German communities of Buenos Aires.
Jewish leaders informed the Israeli authorities
in no uncertain terms that this must never happen
again because a repetition would permanently
rupture relations with the Germans of Latin
America, as well as with the Bormann
organization, and cut off the flow of Jewish
money to Israel. It never happened again, and the
pursuit of Bormann quieted down at the request of
these Jewish leaders. He is residing in an
Argentinian safe haven, protected by the most
efficient German infrastructure in history as
well as by all those whose prosperity depends on his well-being.'
You can donate to support Tony's work here http://www.bilderberg.org/bcfm.htm
TG mobile +44 7786 952037
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Diggers350