Anti-semitism is not Labour

There is a very instructive article on Labour’s supposed anti-semitism, which has long been a trumped up charge in my view. It is written by Jonathan Rosenhead, Emeritus Professor of Operational Research at the London School of Economics, and also Chair of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine. So I suppose suspicions might arise.

Even worse, the author just happens to be Jewish.

The state of Israel is on record as suggesting that anti Israel views should be considered anti-semitism.

The article in ‘Open Democracy’ is well worth reading, but perhaps the most illuminating sentence is:

“The Israelis had every reason to wish for a short tenure for the first major party leader in a developed country to have a record of supporting Palestinian rights.”

Indeed I understand that the Guardian has now deleted the online publication of a letter from 100 Jewish people, including Naom Chomsky and Norman Finklestein, supporting Chris Williamson, MP, following a simple complaint from the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

This really seems unfathomably bizarre.

Conspiracy theory it may be, but there is not much alternative when the media is giving so much publicity to supposed anti-semitism in the party of opposition.

Yet when Sayeeda Warsi who has been long campaigning without recognition about the obvious Islamophobia in the party of government, the Conservative Party, you begin to see how the media moulds the process…..

Comments

  1. Paul Wright -

    I cant help but agree on this point, it seems to me that there is an attempt by the Israeli government, and its political friends, to dismiss legitimate criticism by conflating it with antisemitism.

    I cannot believe that criticism of illegal settlements in Palestine, occupation of the west bank, and the shooting of unarmed civilians, constitutes antisemitism. Is Bibi above international law?

    The censure of the 100 jewish people criticising Israel as you noted is a worrying or a bizarre feature. Is this a Gertrude -” She protesteth too much” censure?

    God bless our dreadful media, they are truly awful, Orwell wept.

    Regards

    Paul

    I,m not sure about any conspiracy theory but

  2. Peter May -

    Entirely agree.
    George Galloway (and he is another controversial figure!) has tweeted ‘There is no “anti-Semitism crisis” in Labour. Anti-Zionism is NOT anti-Semitism.’
    Which I think is the nub of the issue.

  3. Andrew Dickie -

    There’s a wonderful internal contradiction in the IHRA definition, whereby singling out Israel for criticism for near identical behaviour carried out by other States is said to constitute antisemitism, yet the effect of that definition is to protect Israel from criticism, which is effectively to single out Israel for special treatment.

    We see this bizarre behaviour in the USA, where the constitutional right to criticise the Government and America generally is protected, while some of the States have effectively legislated against the right to criticise Israel – 27 of them have brought in laws banning BDS, on the grounds that it is antisemitic.

    Effectively, then, the IHRA definition is itself antisemitic, by its own terms, which is surely the reason prominent Jewish lawyers, such as Lord Justice Sedley, and Sir Geoffrey Bindman, as indeed is the author of the definition, a Mr Stern, are critical of the definition.

    As to the Board of Deputies – who I believe speak for no more than
    50% of the 0.5% of the population who are Jewish (a figure supplied in a tweet by a Jewish tweeter) – managing to get the Guardian to censor the views of a 100 prominent Jewish intellectuals with whom they disagree – the mind boggles.

    1. Andrew Dickie -

      If I may gloss my last paragraph – a common antisemitic trope is the old lie that Jews have too much power and influence.

      The censorship of the views of other Jews that the Board of Deputies takes issue with, after a complaint by the Board after the publication of those views could seem to suggest to some observers that that old antisemitic lie has
      some truth to it, with the result that antisemitic responses and actions may intensify.

      I really do think the Guardian’s action has increased the risk of harm to ordinary, innocent British Jews.

  4. Jim -

    It’s clear that the furore regarding the Labour Party and antisemitism has very little to do with religion and a lot to do with politics.

    1. Peter May -

      Spot on!

  5. A. Pessimist -

    What’s so depressing is to see slowly growing suspicions about the BBC and the Guardian confirmed. And to wonder who is calling the shots.

    1. Peter May -

      Agreed

      1. A. Pessimist -

        After reading all the blogs etc. I’ve written my first ever complaint to the BBC (re Panorama), although it’ll probably be as pointless as all the emails I used to send to my MP!

        The most notable comment I’ve seen on this issue so far has been that if JC and his team can’t put down a challenge like this in opposition, what chance will they have against the forces of capitalism, international finance, US foreign policy etc. if they ever get into government.

        Although I would suspect elements of all of those being involved in the current difficulties.

  6. Bill Hughes -

    It has been noted that there is an element of ant-semitic support in the general UK population (1%?) so it is inevitable that members of UK political parties may reflect this bias. Margaret Hodge who is someone I do have some regard for (though I am not a Labour supporter) is probably right that she has come across or has evidence of anti-semitisism in the Labour Party. What I cannot understand is if these accusations are correct why on earth the exact details are not published and the problem rooted out.

    1. Peter May -

      Couldn’t agree more.
      If there’s a problem, root it out!
      If there isn’t, concentrate on the Islamaphobia, like the ‘incredible’ (to me) Tory, Sayeeda Warsi!

  7. Adrian Chaffey -

    Thanks Peter for the link. It is of course almost three years old now, so things have moved on a bit, but the background it provides and its argument are very much still to the point.

    I also agree with your own remarks. I’m an occasional reader here, as I am to Richard Murphy’s blog, and was slightly surprised, but pleased, to find your piece here, having just read a couple of Richard’s posts endorsing the mainstream antisemitism narrative. I imagined PP might, because of your links to Richard, have a similar line, but no.

    I’m still an admirer of Richard, but he blocked me a couple of years back and called me an misogynist. I’d linked to evidence that suggested that allegation of abuse of women in public life might be got up for political purposes. He insisted then on conversations with people he knew over Pew research, and appears to be doing more or less the same on antisemitism, which to me appears similarly got up. People are apparently telling him it is endemic, and he appears immune to all evidence to the contrary.

    This is a pity as he has quite a following. But I do slightly wonder whether he takes these lines (and takes every opportunity to knock Craig Murray) in part to enhance his credibility in the mainstream.

    1. Andrew Dickie -

      Adrian,

      Richard Murphy does indeed subscribe to the idea that antisemitism is not a negligible phenomenon in the Labour Party, but widespread, as this posting on his Blog today shows:

      https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2019/07/
      17/racism/

      And he does indeed base his argument on conversations with what he refers to as Left Wing Labour MP’s

      However, Richard is a personal friend, and, from my knowledge of him, I cannot see that he would adopt positions “to enhance his credibility in the mainstream”. I have to say, however, that I disagree with his take on this issue.

      For example, he supports the “Two State Solution”, which is not only deader than the dodo, which did at least once exist, unlike the “Two State Solution”, which briefly had potential with the 1947 UN Partition proposal, since when it has been effectively, despite appearances,a figment of the imagination.

      Finally, as to your point about the article posted here being 3 years old, it strikes me that Jonathon Cook’s article in the blog post here, about the plot keep out Corbyn, is just as apposite to the then of AS, and more current in its scope.

    2. A. Pessimist -

      I too have been taken aback by “progressive thinker’s hero” Professor Murphy’s take on this issue. I’ve tried to get a comment on his thread saying that whatever our views on this or any other “fringe issue” we should all take note of what Simon Wren-Lewis said yesterday;

      https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/2019/07/there-is-only-one-alternative-to-prime.html

      and share this where it might help

      1. Adrian Chaffey -

        Agree with you. SWL’s seems a sensible political analysis.

  8. Andrew Dickie -

    Sorry, wrongly edited the link. Here it is:

    https://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2019/07/
    17/racism/

    Also, I omitted to add that, rather than court mainstream credibility, Richard is far more likely to go out on a limb, and deliberately challenge the mainstream.

  9. A. Pessimist -

    Here’s a link to the article that Andrew refers to above (I can’t see it anywhere?)

    https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2019-07-03/plot-corbyn-out-power/

    And here’s a link to his view of the Panorama episode;

    https://www.jonathan-cook.net/2019-07-11/panorama-hatchet-job-labour-antisemitism-bbc/

    I too was taken aback by Prof Murphy’s take on all this, I tried to say in his comments thread that whatever our view of these “fringe issues” we should take note of what Simon Wren-Lewis wrote yesterday;

    https://mainlymacro.blogspot.com/2019/07/there-is-only-one-alternative-to-prime.html

    But I think he must have blocked me too!

  10. A. Pessimist -

    If you’re struggling to make some sense of all this, consider the following.

    Today is Nelson Mandela Day. Last week, Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Chief Zwelivelile Mandela, spoke at the Palestine Expo at London Olympia, and without going into details was very critical of Israel, based on his knowledge of apartheid. Gideon Levy has an article about this in Haaretz if you want to know more.

    I haven’t been able to find any reference to this, or the Expo itself, on either the BBC or the Guardian websites. If anyone has seen or heard reference to it anywhere on the MSM it would be reassuring to be told about it.

    Prof. Murphy says that we shouldn’t subscribe to conspiracy theories, but when you’ve got your eyes open it’s difficult not to see what’s in front of your face.

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