The left wing fight against anti-Semitism needs to be colour blind

Since the beginning of 2016, in the UK there have been a number of Labour politicians holding office either as a local councillor or MP who have been suspended for anti-Semitic conduct.

On the face of it the Labour Party in the UK is dealing with these hate mongers effectively with most of the senior members stating they abhor anti-Semitism. The party has even set up an inquiry to deal with this. What is becoming clear though is that the anti-Semitism they hate is selective. The left wing in the UK certainly have no truck with neo-Nazis or their ideology, hence their enthusiasm to denounce then. The left wing does have a problem with the more recent hatred of Jews espoused by the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah.

The problem is that they cannot bring themselves to understand that these groups propose exactly the same deadly approach towards Jews as the neo-Nazis. Cries of “death to the Zionists” fall on deaf ears. The leader of the Labour Party claims he is not anti-Semitic though when he makes this claim he refers to right wing hatred. He struggles in accepting that there is anti-Semitism from those from the left with brown or black faces. Hatred is hatred irrespective of the colour of the person spouting it. The Mufti of Jerusalem is proof of this, if any were needed. The Labour Party though refuses to acknowledge this.

The issue of anti-Semitism has been a long time in fermentation. It started when the party allowed traded votes for control. When immigrants came into the UK from the Indian sub continent and East Africa their traditional home was the labour party. So keen was the left wing to have these new members they were less than careful about what some of these individuals had to say about the Jews. It is no coincidence that areas with these people, such as Luton, Blackburn and Bradford have councillors or MPs who are happy to expound anti-Semitic rhetoric.

It is very difficult if not impossible to escape the conclusion that these individuals became candidates either because they were required to be anti-Semitic, or at best, that their anti-Semitism was of no concern to those selecting them. Either way it is hardly surprising that that these communities have these people representing them. Ms Naz Shah, the MP for Bradford faced a tirade of criticism when it was discovered she had supported a social media comment proposing the relocation of Israel (the Jews) to the United States. Since then she has made a very sincere apology for this. What is telling is that it appears from her apology that she was surprised to have caused so much upset; that she clearly thought that anti-Semitism was standard practice in Bradford in particular and presumably in the Labour Party generally.

The fact that she has now recognised this is not the case is commendable. What is not so commendable is the failure by the Labour Party to recognise how this routine hatred has been generated. There is now underway an inquiry set up by the Labour Party. Whilst this was announced to the world to underscore the party’s opposition to anti-Semitism, in some quarters there is concern that this inquiry will not do the job properly.

The very title of the inquiry gives this away: “….investigate allegations of anti-Semitism and racism within the Party.” Why not just anti-Semitism? Probably because there is a widely held view in Labour Party circles that the incidents of anti-Semitism are the whole iceberg and not just the tip; hence the inclusion of other forms of racism. It is this view that is not only delusional, but will doom the inquiry to failure.

If the Labour Party fails to acknowledge that hatred of Jews is not confined to those with white faces, the inquiry will be wholly ineffective. All it will show is that the party is committed to fighting anti-Semitism but actually not doing anything about it. The party must condemn as anti-Semitic calls for the destruction of Israel and the denial of the Jews to self-determination. It must in short, be colour blind as to the source of the hatred against the Jews and on its current record, the jury is still out.

About the Author
Robert Festenstein is a solicitor based in Manchester with considerable experience in Court actions. He is active in representing groups opposing BDS and fighting the increase in anti-Semitism, particularly amongst the left-wing in the UK.
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