Israel, Anti-Semitism and the Labour Party

For the avoidance of doubt, I declare some Jewish heritage and ancestry.  I also declare a life-long support for (and even involvement in) left-wing politics. With these caveats in place, I want to say this: there is something deeply disturbing, and I think sinister, in the relentless howling about anti-semitism within the Labour Party.

I doubt there is a single UK organisation, political or commercial, where anti-semitic individuals cannot be found.  I bet there are plenty of antisemites in the Conservative party. In Britain we pride ourselves in our open-ness and tolerance: this is a delusion.  Racist, intolerant, bigotted and ignorant people are everywhere – have always been everywhere.  “I’m not a racist, but…” is more than just a stereotypical poke at closet racists.

That is an entirely different thing from accusing an organisation of being institutionally and corruptly racist, especially an organisation like the Labour Party whose raison d’etre is equality.  What’s going on then, why is this issue continually in the media, who is feeding the ‘fire’, and why?

One of the principal complaints against the Labour Party, especially it’s leadership (and specifically of Jeremy Corbyn) is that it refuses to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of Anti-Semitism without qualification.  Why is that?  Well it is rooted in the historic support of Labour (including similar parties in Israel itself) for the people of Palestine and the rejection of the recently adopted act of parliament in the Israeli parliament (the Knesset) which now defines Israel (icluding the occupied territories of Palestine and the previously Jordanian West Bank) as a Jewish state, as Zion.  This means that criticism of the state of Israel is, per se, anti-semiticNot only that, but this new law effectively legally confers on non-Jews, and non-Zionists, the status they have long suffered: of second class citizens in their own land.  For anyone, or any organisation, seeking justice and reconcilliation in the middle-east this is intolerable and unacceptable.  I offer this link to an article in Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, which explains more; https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-passes-controversial-nation-state-bill-1.6291048

In Israel, right now, there are practising Jews of all shades of political opinion; not all support the government which, over the years, has taken on more and more of the trappings and behaviour of a dictatorship.  This is viscerally unsettling, not least because of the historic persecution of Jews everywhere.  For generations the State of Israel has been a proxy-actor for “the west” in confronting Russia and in destabilising the arab nations.  They are past masters at formenting antagonism where the result is better military hardware and resources provided by America.  The pro-Israeli expatriot community, which is large (especially in America) is wealthy and politically influential.  In UK, now, we see the strength of that influence reaching into the UK political scene to destablise the Labour party and disrupt any posibility of a Labour Government and, especially, get rid of Jeremy Corbyn.  I don’t believe, for a moment, that Corbyn has (or has ever had) an anti-semitic hair on his body, but it suits his enemies within the Labour party, who don’t like the direction of travel of his policies (no matter how popular in the electorate) to either say he has, or to not defend him against those who say he has.  You don’t need to do other that look at the unvarnished history of Britain’s involvement in ‘colonising’ the middle-east, right back to the late nineteenth century, and our role in the creation of the State of Israel, to understand where all this really comes from.  It’s not about Jews or non-Jews, it’s not about the rights of the Palestinians, it’s about good old divide and rule, and the perpetuation of the military / industrial complex’s grip on the middle east (and its wealth).  It’s about global power projection, plain and simple.

That’s what we should be be up in arms about: we should be indignant that a powerful legitimate sympathy for Israel and Jewry, even within the Jewish community, is being subverted (and manipulated) by those whose own history (vis-a-vis racism, anti-semitism, etc) would not bear the close attention being focussed on the Labour party (and Jeremy Corbyn).  In short it’s a con job, a distraction, and we should not fall for it.