Opinion Politics

“Antisemitism”, JLM & Free Speech: The Issues That Won’t Go Away

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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.

“Antisemitism”

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 above definition is essentially meaningless.

Nevertheless, the JLM unwittingly appear not to have realized that the IHRA definition 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.

Misnomer

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.”

Moral panic

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.

CHAC report

In October, 2016, the Commons Home Affairs Committee (CHAC) commissioned a report ostensibly into antisemitism which all reasonable observers acknowledged was nothing other than a 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 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.”

Corbyn continued:

“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.”

Farce

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, anti-Zionist 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.”

Hyperbole

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.”

Self-determination

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.

Banned

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:

“Its outrageous  should hang his head in shame-its like honoring Paul Golding of  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

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.

Battle

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 it 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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