What a difference ten years made to Luciana Berger

What a difference ten years can make.

Ten years ago, Luciana Berger had an article in the Guardian explaining why she felt she had no alternative but to resign from a senior position in the NUS because of the levels of anti-Semitism she had experienced from the pro-Palestinian left.

Here’s a sample of what she said:

“A few months ago, when it was (incorrectly) rumoured that I, a Jewish student, was standing for the NUS presidency, anti-Semitic whispers rocked the NUS. And NEC members failed to condemn a comment made recently at the Soas Student Union in London that burning down a synagogue is a rational act.

To my dismay, for all the talk about the values of equality, diversity and respect at last week’s NUS conference, in practice nothing could be further from the truth, in relation to anti-Semitism. A leaflet was readily available on the GUPS stalls at the conference for two days. The text was the typical anti-Semitic work: the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Once again, complaints were met with unacceptable delays and silence.
Many people claim that being anti-Israel/Zionist isn’t being anti-Semitic.

But why does hatred of Israel lead them to turn a blind eye to the Protocols on a GUPS pamphlet? Furthermore, while the UJS has always preached a two-state solution and peace, time and time again we see others reject it. This is evident in the attack on a UJS peace stall at the European Social Forum. University authorities are also dismissive of these issues — look at the Israeli boycott motions put to this month’s Association of University Teachers conference.”

Yesterday, Luciana Berger accepted a junior minister post in the Shadow Cabinet of Honest Jeremy Corbyn, the People’s Money Printer. She claims she accepted the post after much discussion with Corbyn, and because of the importance of promoting her brief of mental health awareness — albeit this is not a subject on which she’s previously shown any interest or expertise in the public sphere.

In July 2014, Corbyn’s Shadow Chancellor, and her new Shadow Cabinet colleague, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell, wrote a letter to the Home Secretary, suggesting that British Jews who volunteer to serve in the IDF to be treated in exactly the same way as volunteers for ISIS, that is treated as criminals, having their British citizenship removed, of which this is an extract:

“Will you in your capacity as Home Secretary be advising all British citizens publicly that engagement with the IDF in the current onslaught on the population of Gaza puts them at strong risk of being held personally responsible for the war crimes currently being committed in the form of indiscriminate bombing, shelling, or firing that knowingly risks the lives of non-combatants, and the imposition of collective punishment, all of which are unlawful in international law?

Will you be explaining to them that association with those who are intentionally targeting civilians for political ends, or participation in such acts, would involve them in an association with or engaged in, the perpetration of acts that meet the statutory definition of terrorism in the UK?

Will you be warning any British citizens considering engagement with the IDF that, in line with established British Government practice (e.g., the deprivation of British citizenship from, to date, at least 40 UK passport holders who have been involved in the Syrian civil war), such engagement may put their British citizenship in jeopardy? “

The Palestinian student organisations which Luciana Berger complained of in 2005 today regularly publish and promote profoundly anti-Semitic cartoons and writings, many of them urging young Palestinians and Israeli Arabs to murder Jewish civilians in Israel.

Jeremy Corbyn and many of his most senior colleagues are active supporters of BDS. Indeed, boycotting Israeli goods — not just settlement goods — is a core demand of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which he is an active patron. And he’s been in the business of ignoring UJS and other Zionist youth groups’ peace support since well before Luciana Berger resigned from the NUS in 2005.

Why did Luciana Berger get asked to serve in Honest Jeremy’s Shadow Cabinet? At a stroke, his team have demolished the case for a stance I’ve never supported. Because how can anyone argue that he “is antisemitic” if he gives a Shadow Cabinet post to a real zionist Jew, who used to be Director of Labour Friends of Israel?

As far as I’m concerned, it’s completely a waste of time to discuss whether Corbyn or anyone else “is anti-Semitic” or not. We can’t know what’s in his head. We do however know that he has actively supported such would-be exterminationist anti-Semitic movements as Hamas and Hezbollah.

There used to be a time when gay men got married to provide cover by which they could claim they were “normal” heterosexuals. The women in such cases were known as “beards”.

You’ll have to make up your own mind as to whether Luciana Berger is Honest Jeremy Corbyn’s “beard”.

About the Author
Judy Keiner is a London based, retired senior Lecturer in education at the University of Reading and former teacher, school inspector, government education and schools consultant.
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