Cross posted from my blog at the Times of Israel
Alas it’s true, the Zionists are currently in the midst of a plot to remove Jeremy Corbyn as head of the Labour Party. Or at least this is what you believe if you’re Ken Livingstone, Ali Abunimah or one of thousands of other Labour party activists.
If you’ve been away from the internet and any media outlet for the last several weeks you’ll be unaware of what’s going on in the UK Labour Party at the moment. Let me briefly summarise by saying that they have a problem with antisemitism. A big problem. Namely that many of their members and leading lights are batshit crazy when it comes to Jews and Zionism.
The reasons the Labour Party has found itself in this mess is because a core of its members think Zionists are modern day Nazis and that Judaism and Zionism are not only utterly different but incompatible with one another. This nonsensical position leads to ridiculous conspiracy theories using all manner of intellectual gymnastics to avoid admitting two simple truths;
- Most Jews are Zionists and most Zionists are Jews.
- Zionism is nothing more than the ideology of national self determination for the Jewish people.
The reason these two ideas seem so utterly incomprehensible to so many Labour Party members is because it means accepting that Israel is a country borne of the Jewish desire to decide their own future as opposed to a colonial project created to dominate Palestine and kill Palestinians. Since those on the left who view the world through a Marxist lens, where just about everything that happens does so as a result of Western imperialism, accepting Zionism as something other than a symptom of Western aggression is damn near impossible.
Before the election of the fringe MP Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party this view was confined to the backwaters of the Labour Party but his candidacy kicked off a wave of support from the radical fringe and like Corbyn now they are at the forefront of the party.
For these people Zionists, Zios, Zionazis can be found at the centre of just about anything that happens that they don’t like. These people would never think of themselves as Jew haters. On the contrary they see themselves as passionate campaigners for human rights. However what they will do is constantly attack Israel and Zionists with all manner of bizarre claims that couldn’t possibly hold any basis in reality. They perceive themselves as antifascists and since in their world view Zionists are the 21st century Nazis they are passionately anti-Zionist.
The now suspended Member of Parliament Naz Shah’s antisemitic Facebook posts serve to illustrate this point perfectly. During Israel’s Operation Protective Edge one of the memes she shared on Facebook contained the words;
Never forget everything Hitler did was legal”
Shah is a passionate advocate for Palestinians. But this has nothing to do with Palestinians and everything to do with making Jews look like Nazis. The former Labour parliamentary candidate for Woking, Vicki Kirby, went even further when she said on Facebook:
Who is the Zionist God? I am starting to think it might be Hitler. #FreePalestine
She then upped the anti in the same thread by saying:
Lol we invented Israel when saving them from Hitler, who now seems to be their teacher
And so we arrive at a situation where Jews regularly come under attack in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party for being Nazis. Furthermore Jews standing up and holding their attackers to account only leads to them being accused of smearing people with unfounded allegations of antisemitism as part of some kind of sinister plot against the party.
So when Lord Levy talks about antisemitism in the Labour Party his concerns are immediately dismissed as coming from an evil Zionist rather than a concerned Jew. In fact whenever anyone raises concerns around antisemitism in the Labour Party those concerns are dismissed as being Zionist or part of a conspiracy aimed at hurting the Labour party.
For these people unless a synagogue is being burned down by skinheads they don’t understand what the antisemitism problem is. For them there is no such thing as a unique hatred of Jews and there’s no way antisemitism can manifest itself other than in the same way it manifests itself against Muslims or black people or any other minority. Just look at Jeremy Corbyn himself. When asked about comments made by Lord Levy regarding antisemitism in the Labour Party in April he said the following;
Lord Levy clearly hasn’t been listening to the seven times since I became leader I’ve absolutely condemned anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, any form of racism. It is absolutely something I totally passionately believe in and I’m disappointed that Lord Levy has made these remarks.”
In his response above he mentioned antisemitism alongside “Islamophobia and any form of racism”, he did the same thing when interviewed about the suspension of Ken Livingstone by the BBC saying;
We’re not tolerating antisemitism in any way, or indeed any other kind of racism within the party. It’s not acceptable.”
The complaint against the Labour Party is specifically that of antisemitism. The complaints concern Labour party activists arguing Zionists control the Islamic State or were behind 9/11, that shadowy Zionists exert control over British government institutions, control foreign wars and other tropes that when the word “Zionist” is replaced with the words “Jew” or “Jewish” the statements closely conform to the most disgusting anti Jewish abuse thrown at Jews throughout history.
This simply isn’t acceptable. It is antisemitic. How do we know? Because just about every Jewish organisation in the UK is saying so.
Corbyn’s need to reference other kinds of racism every time he condemns antisemitism simply serves to show that he doesn’t really understand what it is he’s condemning. Furthermore Jeremy Corbyn is infamously the man who referred to his “friends in Hamas and Hezbollah” a comment he later defended;
I spoke at a meeting about the Middle East crisis in parliament and there were people there from Hezbollah and I said I welcomed our friends from Hezbollah to have a discussion and a debate, and I said I wanted Hamas to be part of that debate. I have met Hamas in Lebanon and I’ve met Hezbollah in this country and Lebanon”
It can hardly be considered a coincidence that Corbyn’s “friends” in Hamas and Hezbollah consistently express the same antisemitic views currently being shared by members of his Labour Party. If Corbyn maintains relationships with people who are virulently antisemitic such as those in Hamas and Hezbollah, if he defends working with them and meeting them how can he possibly be surprised when members of his own party take on their antisemitic messages as their own?
At the root of it all lies the failure to understand that being Zionist is simply supporting Jewish national self determination and that this is the passionately held view of the vast majority of Jews not just in the United Kingdom but in the world.
Including the vast majority of Jewish members of the Labour Party.
Until he makes it clear that there is no Zionist conspiracy in the party, that Jewish members of the Labour Party with a connection to Israel are not evil Nazis but incredibly loyal party members (they’d have to be to still be there) the Labour Party will continue to be in the grip of nut cases convinced that the Zionists are plotting world domination.
People are saying that the party is “structurally” antisemitic. Under Corbyn it clearly is. The question remains, what is the Labour Party now going to do to about it?