The Great British Backlash: Anti-Semitism denial in the Labour Party

When the British broadsheets finally began to cover the issue of anti-Semitism on the Left, I was naive enough to believe that a change was coming. I genuinely believed that Labour supporters and others on the Left would be shocked and distressed to discover that their leaders and activists were causing such a degree of hurt to a minority group. I was wrong, and I confess that I was also an idiot. According to a recent YouGov poll, 49% of Labour supporters think that the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has been created by the press. Only one in ten felt that Labour has a problem with Jew-hate and that the media were right to report on it. That suggests to me that 90% believe that either a) Jews and our co-conspirators are simply inventing the anti-Semitism crisis in the Labour Party for our own sinister political purposes, or b) that the media should be silent on the topic. Quite possibly they believe both. However you read it, they are suggesting that either Jews are trying to undermine the party using our sneaky, underhanded, conspiratorial, media-controlling Jewish Lobby power, or that the ‘right wing media’ are doing that job for us.

Ken Livingstone put it succinctly on Wednesday night when he addressed the Oxford Union, saying that ‘all this crap about anti-Semitism’ within the Labour Party is a disingenuous distraction. He went on to say that ‘There is a well organised Israel lobby which diminishes genuine anti-Semitism’.

We are caught in an impossible bind: either we are silent, and allow ourselves to be slandered, derided and defamed, or we speak out, and are accused of manipulating opinion using our powerful and corrupt lobby and our control of the media.

Here is an incident that I have been dwelling upon. A few weeks ago a Labour Party meeting turned so nasty that a Rabbi who was attending went home and threw up. A member had proposed a motion which read: ‘The rejection of the ideology of Zionism cannot be conflated with or regarded as being antisemitism; Non-racist protests against actions of the Jewish State of Israel cannot accurately be described as manifestations of antisemitism’. Rejecting the right of Jews to self-government in their own country is anti-Semitic in itself, but to make matters worse, the speaker who proposed this motion also likened Zionism to Nazism. The conflation of Zionism and Nazism is in fact illegal hate speech, but when the Rabbi lost his temper and shouted at the speaker, the chair apologised to the speaker, but not to the Rabbi.

And yet, Labour Party activists are saying that Jews are inventing our distress.

A week later, a Labour Party meeting was held in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency. The group was supposed to discuss a rule banning anti-Semitism ‘and other forms of racism’ (Labour will never, ever discuss anti-Semitism as a single issue; it is invariably given the suffix ‘and-other-forms-of-racism’). Just before the appointed time, one member proposed that they set aside the discussion. The Jews erupted with fury, but they were ignored. The discussion was shelved. The Jews were silenced.

I recently switched on the radio in the car, and was absolutely horrified by the bile that came spewing out in the program ‘Any Answers’, which is broadcast by the BBC. The topic in the viewing schedule was ‘Can you be anti-Israel without being anti-Semitic’, although the topic as introduced on the program was ‘Does Labour have a problem with anti-Semitism’. There were actually supposed to be several topics, but most callers wanted to discuss anti-Semitism.

They wanted to discuss it in order to dismiss, justify or support it.

The first caller introduced himself as the child of parents who died in the Holocaust, thus establishing his ‘as-a-Jew’ credentials. He said that the Holocaust was anti-Semitic, but that what is happening in Britain today is not anti-Semitism. He then contradicted himself to say that yes, there IS anti-Semitism in the UK today, but that it is Israel’s fault because Israel commits human rights abuses. This is the age-old argument that Jews are to blame for anti-Semitism because of the way that we behave. He then went on to say something quite telling: ‘I am ashamed, as a Jew, of what’s happening in Israel’. ‘As-a-Jews’ are always ashamed. In fact, the more they proclaim their shame in Leftist circles, the more they are applauded and encouraged. The caller then went on to say that Israel is ‘racist’. He then denied that there is any anti-Semitism in the Labour Party,  saying that it has just been invented in order to hurt Corbyn.

The next caller said that Israel is a country whose establishment has a legal basis. This is perfectly true, and it is good to have that support on the radio, but what other country needs affirmation that it has a right to exist?

The third caller said that ‘People are screaming hysterically about anti-Semitism. Where does that come from?…The unquestioning supporters of Israel are attempting to stifle criticism by calling it anti-Semitism.’ So according to this caller, a) we are hysterical, b) we are unquestioning zealots, and c) when we say that we are distressed by anti-Semitism, we are lying in order to silence ‘criticism’. That is a lot of anti-Semitism crammed into just a few short sentences. Hate speech against Jews is always called ‘criticism’ by our enemies, or ‘legitimate criticism’, and this caller clearly believes we are lying when we speak about the sting of the words that come like arrows out of our radios, televisions, and politicians.

The next caller said that Israel excludes all non-Jews. This person was woefully unaware that c. 25% of the population of Israel is non-Jewish, but the presenter (Anita Anand) did not correct him.

The next caller rang up and said that Israel is an apartheid State, and should be boycotted. She did not correct this speaker either.

The next caller described attending a meeting of the National Union of Teachers, in which the NUT advocated the destruction of Israel. When she asked the union if someone could represent Israel in their debates, so that both sides could be represented, she was told ‘There is no other side’.

An earlier caller then returned to the program. ‘Most of the people currently attacking anti-Zionists in the Labour Party have a vested interest in confusing anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Why? Because you’ve got pro-Israel lobbyists…joining forces with right-leaning politicians and commentators…who want to demonise supporters of Palestine and destroy Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. All the other stuff is just diversion. The main movers of the witch hunt– because that’s what it is– in the Labour Party are the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel. These are both dedicated to Israeli Zionism’.

A caller then tried to say that the anti-Zionist movement is anti-Semitic, because it focuses inordinate amounts of attention on this particular conflict in a world filled with conflict and disputed territories. Ms. Anand said that this is not true. She went on to say that all the callers have been critical of Israeli policies, and that their criticism was perfectly legitimate.

Except that they were not just ‘critical of Israeli policies’, because no actual Israeli policies were discussed– just Israeli ‘racism’, which in itself was based on the false premise that Israel excludes all non-Jews. It is worth noting that there is another myth that is circulating, which claims that the Israeli government forcibly sterilises Ethiopian women. This came up in another recent radio program, although not in this one.

Throughout the program I heard lies, distortions and voicing of the Livingstone Formulation (David Hirsh’s term for the accusation that when Jews protest about anti-Semitism, they are doing so in bad faith in order to gain political power). At no point did anyone question what Israel has actually done to merit all this hatred; it is almost universally accepted in the BBC world view that Israel is guilty of barbarous human rights abuses against their innocent neighbours, and that one has to choose between support for Israel and support for Palestinian rights, as if the two were mutually exclusive. It is assumed that if you support Israel, then you are a racist who believes in human rights abuses. There is invariably an assumption that Israel has a choice regarding the governance of Judea and Samaria, and no understanding of what would happen if Israel simply withdrew. Most anti-Israel protesters do not seem to be aware that Gaza was traded for ‘peace’, and there is no concern about the mayhem and bloodshed that followed. This is shocking, because anyone who cares about the rights of Palestinians should be concerned about the brutal rule of Hamas in Gaza.

Even journalists and politicians who are voicing support for Israel almost invariably preface their statements with comments such as ‘Of course not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic’, and then they list all the things they believe are deplorable about Israel before turning to its defence. It’s as if they think they will be attacked if they ‘let Israel off the hook’ in any way. I am not aware of any other country that is treated in such a way. Most writers seem able to praise a country without first issuing a caveat that they don’t think the country is perfect. When has anyone ever claimed that Israel is perfect?

Jacqueline Walker, the vice-chair of Momentum (a hard-left group set up to support Jeremy Corbyn), was suspended in May following the publication of her blog posts which stated that Jews were the responsible for financing the ‘African Holocaust’, i.e. the slave trade. She also said that there is ‘increasing convergence between Zionists, the right of the Labour party, the Tories and our right wing media,’ and ‘Of course, most want to destabilise and undermine the Left – but they’re after much more. Is it coincidence that Sadiq Khan, new London Mayor, full of his new found fame, has already met with the Israeli Ambassador for talks that it is suggested may lead to greater trade links with Israel?’ She clearly views such talks with horror. Trade links with Israel, or any links whatsoever, are to be deplored.

It will be of no surprise to anyone to hear that Walker was very quickly re-instated into the Labour Party.

Walker went on to write that ‘The fear in my (Labour constituency) is palpable; McCarthyism lives and with the same purpose – the destruction of the Left’. This ‘fear’ is a recurring aspect of Labour’s response to the demands that they abstain from anti-Semitic slurs. They say that they are being persecuted by the ‘Zionist Lobby’, the ‘Jewish Lobby’, and even (according to the ‘as-a-Jew’ Ian Saville, of the Jewish Socialist Group), the Board of Deputies of British Jews. Similar comments are appearing with predictable regularity, but here is the significant thing: these anti-Jewish meetings are advertised in advance. The time, date and venue of Labour meetings and anti-Zionist events are given out to the general public. Just like that.

If you live in the UK, you will understand my drift. If you don’t, then you need to know that Jews in this country cannot simply get together openly in an unprotected public venue, because there are people out there who actively wish to kill us. As a group, we do not have the same freedoms enjoyed by the Leftists. Even my local public Hannukiah lighting has to be done under a police guard. How would British Christians feel if they had to have police protection for their Christmas tree lightings?

I have never once been to a Zionist meeting, and it’s not for want of phoning and emailing and messaging the organisers. I have never attended because the exact venues are NEVER given out to the public in advance, and living as I do in the country, I need to make travel arrangements. Jews in the UK cannot assemble freely without police protection or shul security. And yet Labour, which is able to assemble openly, has the audacity to whine that they are being ‘silenced’ and subjected to a ‘McCarthyite witch-hunt’.

A Labour politician, Naz Shah, was recently found to have posted a meme that suggested that all Jews should be ‘transported’ from Israel to America. Her Labour supporters clearly saw no problem with this proposed ethnic cleansing, and her statement only received condemnation after it was brought to the attention of the broader public. It is statements like this that have caused Jews to leave the party, and with just 8.5% of Jews still supporting Labour, it seems that soon the whole of the Left will be practically Judenrein. As we know, much of the Middle East is now Judenrein, with around 800,000 Jews having been ‘cleansed’ from Iraq, Algeria, Egypt and other countries. For the anti-Zionist Leftists like Naz Shah, that is insufficient. Their goal is for Israel also to become Judenrein.

About the Author
Rivka Bond is a retired Archaeology Professor living in the UK. She has lived in England, Wales, Scotland, Germany, America and The Netherlands, and has worked on excavations in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Greece, Ireland and the UK.
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