Over the past few months, there has been more than enough fodder for criticising Israel from political corruption to the handling of the metal detectors on the Temple Mount. But to do so would require reporting on what’s actually going on in Israel in a way that reflects the situation there. Instead we in the UK have been treated to a host of conspiratorial nonsense that has Israel playing the role of an evil villain hellbent on world domination.
Take Electronic Intifada (EI) for example, their blogger Asa Winstanley has been too busy writing about “How the Israel lobby fakes anti-Semitism” to write about any scandal actually rocking Israel. The editor of EI, Ali Abunimah, fresh from arguing that Israel was trying to take over the Al Aqsa Mosque proceeded to blame Israel for the election of Far Right politicians to the German Bundestag;
While Germany needs no lessons in how to be racist, this catastrophe can in part be attributed to leaders in Israel and their fanatical supporters: for years they have made common cause with Europe’s far right, demonizing Muslims as alien invaders who must be rejected and even expelled to maintain a mythical European purity.
The Israeli parliamentarian Hanin Zoabi penned an article for the UK based website Middle East Monitor entitled ‘British Labour is also a victim of the Zionist lobby’ in which she wrote that;
Confronting the nature of the Jewish state requires the Europeans to first liberate themselves from the continuous oppression and extortion that they are constantly subjected to, that undeniably succeeds in controlling the political scene they are living in.
In case the above quote wasn’t explicit enough she goes on to say;
The Zionist lobby’s success in oppressing the freedom of expression of other nations would be the greatest indicator of the credibility of the Palestinians’ claims, not to mention the fact that the Zionist lobby is forced to exaggerate its means of pressure and repression in an attempt to keep up with the increased solidarity with the Palestinians.
This is crazy stuff, but people over here in the UK are lapping it up. Once upon a time politicians of all stripes could be relied on to be adults and put the conspiracy monster back in its box. But those adults are long gone and this is the fuel that fires a continuation of the myth of a Zionist boogeyman coming to occupy your local political party.
The word Jew is no longer used but the vision of the omnipotent Zionist with tentacles stretching all over the world using money and power to subvert the lives of everyday people are a consistent part of grassroots left wing discourse here when talk turns to Israel. Zoabi even calls the British government’s acceptance of much of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism as a “violation of human rights in Britain”. The scene that took place at the Haringey local Council when that council incorporated that definition of antisemitism served to show that there are activists willing to physically oppose even adopting a definition of antisemitism.
That was just one part of a much larger campaign to stop any council adopting the definition.
This isn’t fringe stuff anymore. If you’re in the Labour Party your Parliamentary Political candidate (PPC) may have espoused it. Vicky Kirby the one time Labour Party PPC for Woking did until the UK political blog Guido Fawkes sent a selection of her tweets to Labour Party HQ asking what they were going to do about it;
According to Zoabi the Labour Party suspension of Kirby was evidence of the Zionist intimidation she speaks of in her article. In fact the suspension and in some cases expulsion of Labour Party members for being antisemitic has led to its own counter culture where their very expulsion has become proof that the conspiracy theory of Zionists taking over the Labour Party is true.
Difficult to believe? The former vice chair of the powerful pro-Corbyn Momentum group within Labour, Jacquie Walker, has found a niche for herself with a one woman show called The Lynching where she spends over an hour telling crowds who have come to hear her just that.
Note the statement above that “to oppose Israel is not to be anti-semitic [sic]” but the thing is I’m not hearing very much criticism of Israel at all. In fact, all I want to do is criticise Israel. All I want is to find a room where I can talk about Israel and all that ails her…and how to deal with those issues.
There isn’t a room like that in Britain. In fact, the bombastic and occasionally racist statements made by some Israeli politicians tend to get a pass by the pro-Palestine media in favour of diatribes about Zionists subverting the UK Labour Party. There’s nowhere here to discuss issues around race in Israel or the rich poor divide or corruption. The only game in town is to accept that Israel is an Apartheid state who has learned lessons in oppression from the Nazis during the Holocaust and is now putting them to good effect against the Palestinians.
The Labour Party has just accepted the IHRA definition of antisemitism at its annual conference. This was the same conference where it emerged that Tapash Abu Shaim was staffing the Palestine Solidarity Campaign stall. He had shared articles on his Facebook page suggesting that ISIS was an Israeli sponsored group and that 9/11 was an Israeli conspiracy. And this really is what we’re up against over here. Don’t get me wrong, most people here couldn’t find Israel on a map. Most people haven’t got any interest in Israel, but those who do seem prepared to believe anything no matter how ludicrous and prove to be utterly unwilling to let go of their conspiracy theories when it comes to the Jewish state. At the end of the day it seems easier for them to believe that Israel is the embodiment of all evil rather than just another country with its own set of problems.