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Rabbi Sacks’ attack on Corbyn damages the standing of the British Jewish community

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Earlier this week Rabbi Jonathan Sacks made himself look foolish, tarnishing his worldwide reputation as a man of considerable Jewish learning and wisdom by making outlandish criticism of the Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn.

This morning, on the BBC Andrew Marr Show, he did it again:

“He [Corbyn] implies the majority of British Jews are essentially alien to British culture…he is as great a danger as Enoch Powell.”

For younger readers and those less familiar with U.K. political history, Enoch Powell was a Conservative Member of Parliament from the 1950s through to the early 70s who Andrew Marr explained to his viewers is “probably the most reviled British figure of the 20th century”.

The former Chief Rabbi of Britain has chosen to storm into the issue that’s dominated U.K. politics over the summer (far more so than Brexit) – the accusations of antisemitism against Jeremy Corbyn.

As the Jewish establishment’s war against Corbyn goes on, I’ve become more convinced by the day of the damage it’s doing to the standing of the Jewish community and our ability to challenge antisemitism and confront racism more broadly by making common cause with other minority groups.

Every spin, twist and distortion applied Corbyn’s meetings, comments and speeches confuses and undermines public understanding of antisemitism. It’s coming to the point where the very word ‘antisemitism’ will lose all meaning and allegations of antisemitism will become discounted as mere political lobbying or dismissed as inconsequential.

The latest example of phoney Corbyn antisemitism, and the one which prompted Sacks to make his Enoch Powell comparison, centred on the news that Corbyn had accused British Zionists of failing to understand English irony despite living in this country for many years. The mainstream media ran with the story, happy to promote the idea that Corbyn was speaking in code and actually meant all British Jews, and not some British Zionists, were not truly British. It took online commentators, such as the Jewish Studies professor Jerry Haber, to examine the proper context of what Corbyn had said, go back to the text of the speech by Manuel Hassassian, the Palestinian Authority representative to the UK, which Corbyn was referencing, and reveal the obvious and deliberate distortion that had taken place.

[Jerry Haber, Facebook post Saturday 25 August 5pm]

— Did you hear that Jeremy Corbyn, in a speech in 2013, said that British Jews weren’t really British even if they were born there?

— Really? He said that?

— Well, he intimated that British Jews couldn’t grasp English irony and didn’t understand history.”

— Really? He was referring to Jews?

— Well, he didn’t SAY Jews, but he said that about UK Zionists, which is a leftwing code term for British Jews.

— Hang on, he made a reference to UK Zionists as a group?

— Well, not exactly. Actually, he was referring to some pro-Israel members of the audience who came up and started arguing with the Palestinian ambassador who had presented the history of Palestine and used irony when he said, “You know I’m reaching the conclusion that the Jews are the children of God, the only children of God and the Promised Land is being paid by God! I have started to believe this because nobody is stopping Israel building its messianic dream of Eretz Israel to the point I believe that maybe God is on their side. Maybe God is partial on this issue.”” which apparently some of the Zionists thought he meant without irony (We do not have a transcript of what they said) . And Corbyn referred to “the Zionists in the audience.”

— So, you mean to say he did not refer to British Zionists as a whole, but he was saying that the Palestinian ambassador, who is Armenian Palestinian, had a greater grasp of English irony, than these Brits who had lived in England all their lives?

— Yes, that’s about it.

— So, in effect, he accused pro-Israeli members of the audience, whom he referred to as “Zionists”, which they are, and who argued with the Palestinian ambassador, with being humorless and misunderstanding history, compared with the Palestinian ambassador.

— Yep.

— Well, that makes the man clearly an anti-Semite, doesn’t it?

Content to believe the national media’s shoddy journalism, Rabbi Sacks gave his interview to the New Statesman magazine saying Corbyn’s comments about British Zionists were: “the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech”.

Here’s what I wrote on Facebook as the news of Sacks’ comments were being picked up by the national media allowing ‘Labour’s ‘antisemitism crisis’ to continue to dominate the daily news cycle:

[Robert Cohen, Facebook post Tuesday 28 August 11.23pm]

Every time a Jewish leader (this time Rabbi Jonathan Sacks) makes a preposterous statement about Jeremy Corbyn and antisemitism, it weakens the Jewish community’s ability to make common cause with other minorities facing prejudice and discrimination in the U.K.

By comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Enoch Powell it gives the appearance that Lord Sacks has no understanding of the contrasting experience of the Jewish community here (largely privileged, empowered, economically successful) and that of the immigrant communities from the British Commonwealth – the target of Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech 50 years ago – still experiencing institutional prejudice and economic discrimination linked to class and skin colour. Look at Grenfell. Look at the Windrush scandal.

Just because the Jewish community is now a largely privileged minority does not mean it does not suffer from racial prejudice. It does. Antisemitism remains in our society. And our current position of security could easily be reversed just as it was for the privileged and successful Jews of Germany who in the 1920s thought only further progress would lay ahead.

But by having nothing to say about Israel’s daily persecution and dispossession of Palestinians and by dismissing the global criticism of the new Nation State Law, Jonathan Sacks calls into question his moral authority and his right to criticise Corbyn. Antisemitism undoubtedly exists on the left in the U.K. And far more so on the right. But, as things currently stand, we are a minority that suffers little compared to the minorities around us.

If I were a Muslim or from an African Caribbean heritage and knew something of what has happened to the Palestinian people, I would be thoroughly confused by the stand Sacks is taking and his deployment of Enoch Powell as a point of reference for Jewish U.K. experience. It’s just wildly inappropriate. And indeed, insensitive to the lived experience of non-white minorities in this country.

The only explanation that makes any sense to me is the fact that Israel has become merged with modern Jewish identity in a way that now skews our moral compass. How to untangle this mess is the Jewish challenge of our Age, along with the need to find new ways to ensure Jewish security not dependent on the oppression of others.

In the U.K. (and around the world) it would be better to use our current success and privilege to demand greater attention to the racism and discrimination other groups experience every day, whether it be job opportunities, housing, health or gaining a prominent voice in mainstream media. Our Jewish experience of institutional and cultural oppression makes us well suited to build bridges with those suffering from this today.

As it happens I’m currently reading Sacks’ book ‘Lessons in Leadership’ in which he takes biblical figures and draws ethical conclusions from the Torah about what good leadership should look like. This extract (about Noah) makes me wonder (once again) why Sacks never applies his thinking to Israel and the suffering of the Palestinian people:

“It is not enough to be righteous if that means turning our backs on a society that is guilty of wrongdoing. We must take a stand. We must protest. We must register dissent even if the probability of changing minds is small. This is because the moral life is the life we share with others.”

These words inspire me to take the position I do as a U.K. Jew in solidarity with the Palestinian people and desperate for justice to come to the Holy Land – for all who call it home. I wish Rabbi Sacks would feel the same way when he reads his own writing.

Within 48 hours this Facebook commentary had been shared more than 2,500 times.

The ‘mutation’ argument

Rabbi Sacks chooses to make his Corbyn/Powell comparison because he’s determined to argue that anti-Zionism – Zionism being the thinking that underpins support for the State of Israel as it’s currently constituted – is nothing more than the latest mutation of antisemitism. As he wrote in 2016

“Anti-Semitism is a virus that survives by mutating. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the 19th and 20th centuries they were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of their nation state, Israel. Anti-Zionism is the new anti-Semitism.”

It’s an idea Sacks was keen to repeat to Andrew Marr this morning and it’s a conflation encouraged and reinforced by Israel’s leaders and by the Jewish communal and religious establishment around the world. As a theory it has traction because it’s a presentation of antisemitism, and indeed Jewish history and Judaism itself, that’s unchallenged by most Jews. In great part, the Jewish embrace of the conflation is an understandable response to the Holocaust. Jewish long-term global security is seen as absolutely contingent on the safety and security of the Jewish State of Israel. So to attack Israel, or question the logic or reality of Zionism in any way, is to attack and question all Jews.

The constant assertion that anti-Zionism is no more than a mutation of antisemitism and Zionism has been no more than a noble endeavour with a religious and historically necessary validation, enables the shutdown of legitimate criticism. The whole debate about Israel’s behaviour becomes a discussion (or row) about antisemitism that allows no room for talking about international law, or human rights or the undeniable Palestinian experience of racism that would not have taken place without Zionism.

IHRA definition

The Israel related illustrations in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism are an example of the conflation/mutation argument being used as a political lobby tool rather than a code to help the understanding of antisemitism.

This is the case even with the IHRA use of caveat words like “might” which attempt to recognise the need for context. The document leaves the onus on the critic of Israel and Zionism to prove they are innocent of antisemitism. Even the author of the illustrations, Kenneth Stern, has voiced his concern that the code works against freedom of speech.

It’s important to recognise that the left is not entirely innocent in all of this. But the behaviour of some is clearly part of the problem caused by the conflation itself.

Some left wing critics of Israel (a tiny but visible minority mostly confined to social media) feed off, or are fooled by, the conflation theory themselves. They draw on traditional antisemitic tropes (such as Jewish control of the media or international finance) to express an ignorant and deeply misguided analysis of the Middle East. It’s clumsy, stupid and racist and needs to be constantly called out and firmly corrected. It also does enormous damage to the cause of Palestinian freedom. But Jewish leaders like Sacks need to recognise that this is the ugly flip side of their insistence that all things Israel are all things Jewish.

While leaders like Jonathan Sacks continue to speak as if Zionism is, was, and forever will be, an innocent and holy endeavour, we will be stuck with a devalued and discounted understanding of antisemitism. And the muddle, confusion and politicisation of antisemitism will continue to undermine our ability to challenge it or understand the suffering of the Palestinian people.

This post first appeared at the Patheos site.

Robert Cohen
About Robert Cohen

Cohen is a British writer. He blogs at Micah's Paradigm Shift. http://micahsparadigmshift.blogspot.co.uk/

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92 Responses

  1. Citizen
    Citizen
    September 3, 2018, 1:53 pm

    So Corbyn’s Hitler. Perfect logic? Perfect conclusion from Corbyn’s entire political career too? Must be since the esteemed humanist Rabbi Sacks is the source.

  2. Kay24
    Kay24
    September 3, 2018, 2:08 pm

    This is a well organized, systematic attack on Jeremy Corbyn, and it has been going on for years. This is the usual zionist attempt, to silence, intimidate, and criticize a Western leader, who does not toe their line, and who has shown concern for the Palestinians. Obviously this does not meet with zionist approval, when it comes to their desperation to control the UK too, just like they control the US. We know the zionists are vicious and unfair, but using Rabbis here and in the UK to help them attack anyone, especially leaders, is disgusting. The Rabbis should know better.

    I hope Jeremy Corbyn never bends to the pressure, and to become a servant of the zionists, just like the US congress is.

    • Abern
      Abern
      September 5, 2018, 12:44 am

      I cannot believe it is a case of “the Rabbis should know better.” They surely do know better. They just don’t care. What is good for the goose is not good for the gander when the gander is Israel.

      • Kay24
        Kay24
        September 5, 2018, 9:35 am

        Yes, it has been instilled into them, like other zionists, that Israel must come first, and to heck with all others.

  3. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    September 3, 2018, 2:38 pm

    Sacks is doing immense damage to his own reputation. Even if they get rid of Corbyn Labour will win the next election and start dismantling neoliberalism. Zionism is a brutal cult with SFA to do with Jewish tradition. Betting the farm on it is unwise.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      September 3, 2018, 3:23 pm

      “Even if they get rid of Corbyn Labour will win the next election and start dismantling neoliberalism.”

      I think both of these premises are false. Labour would be unlikely to win an election with a bland Blairite in charge. And said bland Blairite certainly would not “start dismantling neoliberalism.” Quite the opposite. Much of the fierce opposition to Corbyn has to do with his support of the Palestinians, sure, but also precisely because he has pledged to “start dismantling neoliberalism.”

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        September 4, 2018, 2:22 am

        Neoliberalism is going to blow up in the next few years anyway. The UK is goosed. Blairism has no way to get back to equilibrium.
        Labour need to capture UKIP votes which are driven by anger against the economic system. Neoliberalism has shafted the North of England and Wales. The next crash will hammer house prices around London.
        The Fed will get the party going by raising rates too high. The Blairites don’t know anything about macroeconomics.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      September 4, 2018, 10:28 am

      @Maghlawatan, et al

      Let’s take a moment to acknowledge the courage and humanity of Vanessa Redgrave, a brilliant British actor, and despite relentless attacks by Zionists, a long time supporter of the Palestinians.

      https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/vanessa-redgrave-backs-zionist-hoodlums-comment-during-oscar-speech-1.6433807

      Haaretz, August 31/18

      “In interview for Hollywood Reporter, the veteran actress doesn’t regret her dismissal of the Kahane-formed Jewish Defense League, says she felt a responsibility to speak out.”

      “British actress Vanessa Redgrave is presented with the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement honour at the 75th Venice Film Festival,” – Italy, August 29, 2018\ Tony Gentile/ REUTER

      “Vanessa Redgrave is unapologetic for referring to ‘Zionist hoodlums’ during her Academy Award acceptance speech 40 years ago.

      “On Thursday, the veteran actress told the Hollywood Reporter in an interview ahead of receiving a lifetime achievement Golden Lion Award from the Vienna Film Festival that she felt a responsibility to speak out no matter the consequences.

      “Redgrave, 81, was referring in her remarks at the 1978 Oscars to the members of the Jewish Defense League who objected to her funding and narrating ‘The Palestinian’ a 1977 documentary about the Palestinians’ situation and the activities of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

      “She received the best supporting actress Oscar for her performance in the 1977 film ‘Julia,’ in which Redgrave played the title role — a woman murdered by Nazis prior to World War II for her anti-fascist activism.

      “Following her nomination, members of the JDL burned her in effigy and allegedly offered a bounty on her head. There was a firebombing at one of the theaters that screened the documentary. The JDL also picketed the Academy Awards ceremony where she received her Oscar opposite pro-PLO demonstrators.

      “’In the last few weeks you have stood firm and you have refused to be intimidated by the threat of a small bunch of Zionist hoodlums, whose behavior is an insult to the stature of Jews all over the world, and to their great and heroic record of struggle against fascism and oppression,’ Redgrave told her supporters during her acceptance speech.

      “She concluded the speech by pledging ‘to fight anti-Semitism and fascism for as long as I live.’

      “The controversial statement about ‘Zionist hoodlums’ reportedly cost her many roles over the years.

      “’I didn’t realize pledging to fight anti-Semitism and fascism was controversial. I’m learning that it is,’ she told the Hollywood Reporter this week.

      “’I had to do my bit. Everybody had to do their bit, to try and change things for the better, to advocate for what’s right and not be dismayed if immediately you don’t see results.’”

      “Redgrave has remained true to political causes even at the twilight of her career. Last year she directed her first film, ‘Sea Sorrow,’ a documentary about the European migrant crisis and the plight of migrants encamped outside Calais, France, trying to reach Britain. She has criticized the British government for its policies toward migrants.”

      • Maghlawatan
        Maghlawatan
        September 4, 2018, 12:44 pm

        This story show weak Israel actually is. Without diplomatic support from the UK and others the occupation cannot continue. So Zionism goes lawfare and attempts to outlaw criticism of Israel. Maybe it could work if Israel were stable or interested in peace. But Israel is neither. Elements of Israeli Jewish society marched calling for genocide in 2014. Something awful is going to happen as Israeli Jewish society continues its moral collapse. And when that happens Margaret Hodge will be silenced. Zionism is doomed.

  4. amigo
    amigo
    September 3, 2018, 3:41 pm

    I watched with amazement as this so called Holy man spouted one lie after another , barely pausing to take a breath.

    Decades of practice.

  5. Keith
    Keith
    September 3, 2018, 4:27 pm

    ROBERT COHEN- “Just because the Jewish community is now a largely privileged minority does not mean it does not suffer from racial prejudice. It does. Antisemitism remains in our society. And our current position of security could easily be reversed just as it was for the privileged and successful Jews of Germany who in the 1920s thought only further progress would lay ahead.”

    Ah, a typical Jewish anti-Zionist. That is to say a TRIBAL anti-Zionist who, like a real Zionists, is fixated on anti-Semitism. No amount of wealth and power is ever enough to make you feel secure. And, God forbid, if some should note that Jews are disproportionately influential in the media and financial area, this indicates that they are ignorant and misguided, Jewish power reduced to a trope. I hate to break it to you Robert, but the attack on Corbyn really isn’t about anti-Semitism. That is a pretext. The attack on Corbyn is an attack on Corbyn, on any attempt to resist neoliberal globalization. It is all about power and power-seeking. And the obsession with anti-Semitism is inherent to Zionism where information becomes a weapon in the fight against the eternal external enemy, the non-Jew. Zionism is the return to the notion of Jewish peoplehood, the ideology of Classical (medieval) Judaism in modern garb, the notion of Jews as a people apart, now in the form of a psychological separation. And Jewish anti-Zionism is frequently Zionism without Zion, or at least a liberal version of Zionism.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      September 4, 2018, 1:00 am

      “Antisemitism remains in our society. And our current position of security could easily be reversed just as it was for the privileged and successful Jews of Germany” Cohen

      Thinks a lot of Britians, don’t he? Or maybe Cohen knows some good reasons why that could happen?

      • Keith
        Keith
        September 4, 2018, 10:31 am

        MOOSER- ” Or maybe Cohen knows some good reasons why that could happen?”

        His statement is based upon Zionist mythology that the Holocaust represents the culmination of 2000 years of anti-Semitism. The reality is that the Holocaust cannot be separated from World War II and the invasion of Poland and Russia where most of the Holocaust victims lived. The majority of German Jews escaped and fled to the Western nations, primarily the US and Britain, Palestine accounting for a small percent, hardly a refuge. And the attack on Corbyn is an attack on any challenge to business as usual, charges of anti-Semitism a baseless smear. And Cohen’s inability to see beyond the impact this may have on Jews and their ability to charge anti-Semitism is a big part of the problem.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 4, 2018, 12:32 pm

        “cannot be separated from World War II…”

        And the loss of WW1, the abdication of the Kaiser, and the wild economic swings, and a state of revolution for many years.
        Germany was having trouble, what a sad, sad story, and needed a new leader to restore its former glory.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      September 4, 2018, 10:14 am

      Not to mention that bigotry against Jews cannot be a form of ‘racial prejudice’ because Jews are not a race. They just simply aren’t.

      Plus, as Norman Finkelstein wrote in his superb article here last week, you’d struggle to find a minority or nationality which doesn’t face ‘prejudice’ of some sort, in the sense that many, maybe even most, people harbour stereotypes about them. The Scots are tight fisted and dour. Black are violent. Catholics are conservative and a zillion others. No doubt there are some people out there who think of Jews as money-obsessed and tribal, but how is that any more shameful than thinking that the Irish are fighty drunks, for example? Some people might also think that Jews are intelligent and educated – sterotypes that many Jews themselves like to promote.

      “No amount of wealth and power is ever enough to make you feel secure.”

      What makes any minority secure is a society raised to consider every member equal and worthy of respect, whatever their ethnicity or religion, and a legal system to enforce. In other words, the type of system which exists – however imperfectly – in the UK and other Western democracies, and which has allowed Jews and another minorities to flourish. And the very same system which Zionists would deny to non-Jews in Palestine.

      • Keith
        Keith
        September 4, 2018, 11:07 am

        MAXIMUS- “Not to mention that bigotry against Jews cannot be a form of ‘racial prejudice’ because Jews are not a race.”

        Unfortunately, belief that Jews do constitute a separate race has consequences. Many of the pioneering Zionists held such beliefs. I quote Vladimir Jabotinsky.

        “It is impossible for a man to assimilate with people whose blood is different than his own. In order to become assimilated, he must change his body, he must become one of them in blood. There can be no assimilation. We shall never allow such things as mixed marriage because the preservation of national integrity is impossible except by means of racial purity and for that purpose we shall have this territory where our people will constitute the racially pure inhabitants.” (p26, “The hidden history of Zionism,” Ralph Schoenman)

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        September 4, 2018, 2:53 pm

        MDM: “Not to mention that bigotry against Jews cannot be a form of ‘racial prejudice’ because Jews are not a race.”

        Racism doesn’t target only races, but also targets group of peoples as if they were a race.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        Maximus Decimus Meridius
        September 4, 2018, 4:39 pm

        Well, that’s an even more spurious and unworkable ‘definition’ than the IHRA nonsense all the fuss has been abou!

  6. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    September 3, 2018, 4:34 pm

    What intrigues me is the notion that if the IHRA plus examples is included in the rule book as most commentators think will happen, and others say it will still be possible to criticize Israel. I would like to know how any of the LP leadership would answer this question… In view of Israel’s clearly racist ‘right of return’ [basic law, 1950] for Jews only and its clearly racist ‘nation state law’, which claims that only Jews have rights as set out in that basic law, plus the over 50 Israeli laws which discriminate against Palestinians within Israel proper. How could you defend a member who said “because of these racist laws, I think the Israeli state is a racist endeavor?”

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      September 4, 2018, 2:29 am

      HarryLaw: How could you defend a member who said “because of these racist laws, I think the Israeli state is a racist endeavor?
      ———————————————-

      Simply say that the current state of Israel is racist, but a non-racist state of Israel is not only possible, but something which must be fought for.

      • HarryLaw
        HarryLaw
        September 4, 2018, 8:41 am

        Sibiriak, but if I say the current state of Israel is at the moment a racist endeavor, I could not be a member of the Labour party because it is deemed Anti Semitic, therefore any fight against Israeli racism must be conducted outside the Labour party until an unknown time in the future when Israel becomes a non racist state. No, that example is a denial of free speech, in fact it is a denial of the truth.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 4, 2018, 10:54 am

        HarryLaw: if I say the current state of Israel is at the moment a racist endeavor, I could not be a member of the Labour party because it is deemed Anti Semitic…
        ———————————–

        How so? You would not be claiming that “the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor” .

        On the contrary, you would be claiming that a state of Israel would be non-racist if the current racist policies were abolished.

      • HarryLaw
        HarryLaw
        September 4, 2018, 11:34 am

        I agree with Tony Greenstein who complained about a dishonest Freedland article in the Guardian, “Freedland claimed that you can say anything about the State of Israel All it prohibits is branding as a racist endeavour “a state of Israel” Again this is dishonest. It is clear that the reference in the IHRA is to the existing State of Israel. This is confirmed by the succeeding example, ‘Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation’. Clearly this refers to the actual existing Israeli state not some abstract version”. http://azvsas.blogspot.com/

      • HarryLaw
        HarryLaw
        September 4, 2018, 11:59 am

        Also in Greensteins blog [well worth a read] Jon Lansman founder of momentum suggests Jeremy Corbyn should undergo Antisemitism training, presumably from the racist Jewish Labour Movement [JLM] who are affiliated to the WZO, a branch of which funds the settlement enterprise. You could not make this stuff up.
        Greestein then argues that the aim of the IHRA is to protect Israel and quotes Margaret Hodge
        as saying that Labour is ‘consumed by a hatred of Jews.’ The answer to this hatred was to ‘engage with Israel.’ At least there is no pretense any longer that the campaign over anti-semitism is really about Israel.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 4, 2018, 12:34 pm

        HarryLaw: It is clear that the reference in the IHRA is to the existing State of Israel.
        ———————————-

        Nonsense! It’s not clear at all. And if YOU agree to that Zionist interpretation, you have only yourself to blame for being accused of antisemitism.

        Nothing is forcing you to agree with that interpretation.

        If you want to capitulate fine.

        If not, simply say, “Israel as it exists today is a racist state, but Israel need not be racist”, and that statement is NOT antisemitic per the IHRA definition. Full stop.

        Stand your ground, man!

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 4, 2018, 12:45 pm

        HarryLaw: …Jon Lansman founder of momentum suggests Jeremy Corbyn should undergo Antisemitism training…
        ————————————————

        Labour adopts IHRA antisemitism definition in full

        Ruling body also clarifies right to non-racist free speech on Middle Eastern politics

        […]The veteran activist Peter Willsman, a Corbyn supporter, was cheered by supporters as he arrived at Labour HQ following his re-election to the NEC on Monday.

        At a previous NEC meeting he had accused Jewish “Trump fanatics” of making up some of the allegations of antisemitism in the party and was dropped by Momentum from its slate of NEC candidates. He has since apologised and said he would undertake diversity training.

        https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/sep/04/labour-adopts-ihra-antisemitism-definition-in-full

      • HarryLaw
        HarryLaw
        September 4, 2018, 3:22 pm

        the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism has been criticised by virtually all academics and legal professionals who have commented on it. The most contentious example in my opinion is ‘by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor’ I do believe that it is and so my membership of the Labour party is [according to Zionists] Antisemitic and therefore incompatible with membership, my belief is a political opinion and nothing to do with Antisemitism.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius
        Maximus Decimus Meridius
        September 4, 2018, 4:44 pm

        HarryLaw,

        “a dishonest Freedland article in the Guardian”

        Is there any other type of Freedland article? The man is the most morally dishonest person writing in British media today.

        Siberiak,

        “Israel as it exists today is a racist state, but Israel need not be racist”

        But Israel isn’t just racist ‘today’ is it? Its whole premise is racism. It could not survive without racism. For Israel not to be racist would require the defeat of Zionism. Fine by me, but not, I expect, by those who think the IHRA ‘definition’ is some sort of holy writ.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        September 4, 2018, 4:47 pm

        Non-racism is possible in the territory and under the name of Israel, certainly. And we are being allowed, indeed positively invited, to share in the fastidious attitude towards Netanyahu which is common in the London Jewish intellectual world. But if we say that Netanyahu’s Israel is racist the question arises of where this racism comes from: is it a perversion of Zionist principle or an expression of what that principle always was? If we say the latter then any critique we are allowed must be a loyal critique, affirming a basic shared value. If we say the former we find ourselves judged to be anti-Semitic by what will soon be a statutory definition and will eventually be enforced with penalties. I want to express my disagreement with Netanyahu without any expression of shared loyalty to the alleged right of Jewish self-determination – I don’t believe in any right of s-d, but that will probably seem like prevarication to the judge. Maybe Harry, Eva and I will one day find ourselves in the same Black Maria.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        September 4, 2018, 9:34 pm

        “Maybe Harry, Eva and I will one day find ourselves in the same Black Maria.”

        If you are lucky. They would have you at the stake.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 4, 2018, 9:49 pm

        HarryLaw: . The most contentious example in my opinion is ‘by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor’ I do believe that it is. .

        ————————————————

        If “a state of Israel”—i.e., any conceivable Israeli state– is perforce racist, that would mean any two state future for Palestine would be perforce racist. I don’t think that is a tenable stance.

        Even the official BDS movement makes it clear that two non-racist democratic states would be compatible with its goals. (It doesn’t matter how politically unlikely that is.)

        Look, this is not a polite philosophical debating society–this is ideological warfare. Be smart. Be strategic. Craft the strongest, most effective talking points and stick with them.

        Israel is an apartheid state. Apartheid is racism. Israel discriminates against Palestinians. Israel denies Palestinians their right to self-determination. Israel violates international law. Israel commits war crimes. Ethnic cleansing. Illegal occupation. Illegal settlements. Illegal blockade of Gaza. ETC.

        None of those statements are antisemitic according to the definition and clarification adopted by the Labor Party.

        Let the Zionists try to prove otherwise. Don’t make their work easy with unnecessary confessions.

      • Keith
        Keith
        September 6, 2018, 3:13 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “Stand your ground, man!”

        Where? The comments section of Mondoweiss? In the real world, laws and guidelines are nothing but words on paper until interpreted by power. And who has the power to make their definition prevail when it matters? Why, the same people who have the power to get the Labour Party to approve the IHRA guidelines. The same people whose power is increasing as economic power continues to flow upward.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 7, 2018, 6:01 am

        Keith: In the real world, laws and guidelines are nothing but words on paper until interpreted by power.
        ———————————

        Point taken. But I believe you overstate the case. Individuals and popular movements do have at least some power. A perfect world, or anything close to it, is impossible, but small and large victories for the Good have been won, and can still be won. (In any case, time moves on, and everything, the good and the evil together, disappears.)

        Pessimism is certainly justified, but in the end, we are born and we die and must act in the meantime.

        I wrote to HL: “If you want to capitulate fine. If not, simply say, “Israel as it exists today is a racist state, but Israel need not be racist”, and that statement is NOT antisemitic per the IHRA definition. .

        I think that’s better than saying, “Yes, according to the IHRA definition, I’m am an anti-Semite. I admit it.

        The point is: if you are in this fight, fight– never admit to antisemitism, even rhetorically. Don’t be stupid!

      • Keith
        Keith
        September 7, 2018, 10:21 am

        SIBIRIAK- “I think that’s better than saying, “Yes, according to the IHRA definition, I’m am an anti-Semite. I admit it.”

        No, of course you don’t accept the IHRA definition. But, you are aware that if you continue to criticize Israel you most likely will be kicked out of the Labour Party like Ken Livingston, or otherwise subject to a lawfare attack if you have any influence at all. One must search out the options somewhere between capitulation and getting stomped. I have never considered the charge of the Light Brigade something to emulate.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        September 8, 2018, 3:32 pm

        I can’t deny that under the crucial stipulation – that those who deny that Israel is an expression of the rightful self-determination of the Jewish people are anti-Semites – I am anti-Semite and there’s nothing I can do about it. Mind you, some of who would say this about me can’t avoid the fact that under my definitions and stipulations they are brutes and tyrannophiles and worse.
        It is of course the stipulation that the example falls under the definition that is the problem, not the oddly worded but essentially innocuous definition itself.
        One oddity is that the definition does not say ‘a certain false or morally wrong perception of Jews’ – so that anti-Semitism may, within the terms of the definition in itself, be justified sometimes. Perceptions which may issue in hatred are not necessarily wrong unless there is no possibility that anyone deserves to be hated. If there is an overwhelming presupposition that anti-S, whatever it might be, is wrong there can be no objection to making that idea clear.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        September 9, 2018, 3:52 am

        MHughes: “One oddity is that the definition does not say ‘a certain false or morally wrong perception of Jews’ – so that anti-Semitism may, within the terms of the definition in itself, be justified sometimes. Perceptions which may issue in hatred are not necessarily wrong unless there is no possibility that anyone deserves to be hated.”

        It means a hatred towards Jews AS JEWS. And that’s the problem of the IHRA or any other bogus definition of antisemitism. Because when it comes to Israel it is obvious that Jews are not targeted AS Jews. Only when they are its antisemitism.

        Denying the Jewish people the right of self determination, simply because they are Jews is obviosly antisemitic. But there are a lot of explanationso on MW why Jews don’t or have a right to a state in Palestine. And not one of these explanations has something to do with them being Jews. These explanations are based on universal principles and easy to defend.

        Actually it’s always the Zionists who can’t formulate a single universal principle why anyone could have a right to create a state within Palestine except the people OF Palestine. The Zionists perversion of the right to self determination is always based on Jewish exceptionalism. Just ask any Zionist commenter on MW to justfiy Israel’s existence using universal priniciples regarding the right to self determination. They fail every time.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 9, 2018, 3:07 pm

        “Denying the Jewish people the right of self determination, simply because they are Jews is obviosly antisemitic. “

        Like denying the right to self-determination for religions in the US is, say anti-Christian?

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        September 9, 2018, 11:37 pm

        Mooser, I’m not sure whether or not you are taking Talkback’s point.

        Saying “Jews don’t have the right of SD because they are Jews” is anti-Semitic, just as saying “left-handed people don’t have the right of SD because they are left-handed” is anti-Sinisterist. (Or antisinisterist, or countersinisterist, or …)

        Saying “the Jewish don’t have the right of SD because they are not the total population of a specific territory” is perfectly OK, just as saying “The southpaw people don’t have the right of SD because they are not the total population of a specific territory” is perfectly OK.

    • RoHa
      RoHa
      September 4, 2018, 3:12 am

      “…claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor” is, it seems, anti-Semitic, so there is considerable pressure to deny British citizens their freedom of speech on the issue.

      Of course, I am not claiming that this pressure comes from British Jews, because that would be tantamount to making a “stereotypical allegation about … Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions” and ” accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.”

      So, although someone is acting against the interests of British citizens by restricting their freedom of speech, I cannot say who that someone might be.

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      September 4, 2018, 12:52 pm

      HarryLaw: This is confirmed by the succeeding example, ‘Applying double standards….
      ——————————

      No. “Double standards” is a separate example and a separate issue. And the answer to the “double standards” charge is simple: “There is no double standard. I reject apartheid and racism wherever it exists. Without exception.

      • HarryLaw
        HarryLaw
        September 4, 2018, 2:13 pm

        Siberiak, No. “Double standards” is a separate example and a separate issue. And the answer to the “double standards” charge is simple: “There is no double standard. I reject apartheid and racism wherever it exists. Without exception. “
        Yes it is a separate example but not a separate issue, both seek to silence free speech on Israel, I could be found guilty of Antisemitism because of all my thousands of comments criticizing Israel but none criticizing Morocco. Which means [according to the Zionists] I am applying a double standard.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 4, 2018, 2:37 pm

        HarryLaw, the point is that even if as a party member you have been forced to accept the IHRA definition , you are not forced to accept the Zionist interpretation of that definition.

        [according to the Zionists] I am applying a double standard.

        And according to anti-racists the Zionists are applying a double standard– claiming self-determination rights for Jews, but not Palestinians. Defending Israeli racism, but not racism elsewhere–and so on and so forth.

        Fight fire with fire.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        September 4, 2018, 4:51 pm

        Well, Sibi, Roger Garaudy tried half heartedly to argue that he was not really breaking the equivalent French law but he ended up, as has every individual – Livingstone, for instance – who has been exposed to the degree he was, Krrushed by the Zionist outrage machine and in a sense discredited.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 5, 2018, 12:34 am

        MHughes976: ….Roger Garaudy tried half heartedly to argue…
        ——————————

        Did he really argue only “half heartedly”? I’m not familiar with Garaudy’s book, or the case against him, but according to Wiki:

        Under France’s 1990 Gayssot Law, which prohibits the questioning of the existence of the category of crimes against humanity as defined in the London Charter of 1945, several of Garaudy’s assertions, in particular, his claim that the Holocaust was a myth, were deemed to be illegal. Garaudy’s trial began in 1996 and he was convicted in 1998.

        The court ruled that the chapters entitled “The Myth of the Nuremberg Trials and The Myth of the Holocaust” in the first edition, constituted “Holocaust denial” by writing of “the myth of the six million” Jewish victims.

        * * *

        Because of this breach of French law concerning Holocaust denial, the courts banned any further publication and on 27 February 1998 fined him 240,000 French francs. He was sentenced to a suspended jail sentence of several years. Garaudy appealed this decision to the European Court of Human Rights, but his appeal was rejected as inadmissible.[10][11] At his hearing, Garaudy stated that his book in no way condoned National Socialist methods, and that book was an attack on the mythologizing and use of “the holocaust” by Israeli government as policy. He argued that his book dealt with the Israeli government’s use of “the holocaust” as a “justifying dogma” for its actions, mainly in Palestine and toward Palestinians.

        In any case, what is your point? Resistance is futile? Meekness and surrender the only options? (I suggest there might be other lessons to be learned from Garaudy’s conviction.)

        Anti-Zionists need to play a long game.

        The adoption of the IHRA definition was a blow, but is no reason for wallowing in defeatism.

        The IHRA definition has been adopted (with clarification), but party members can still vigorously contest its interpretation . They can still claim that Israel is a racist, apartheid state. They can still condemn all of Israel’s crimes and atrocities.

        On top of that, the Zionists’ own favorite notions of double standards, the right of self-determination etc. can and should be thrown back in their faces and used to stigmatize as Islamophobic (or just “racist”) any Zionists who deny Palestinians their rights and defend the Israeli apartheid regime.

        Individual battles can be lost, but the war goes on.

      • MHughes976
        MHughes976
        September 7, 2018, 2:54 pm

        Sorry for slow reply. I have found it difficult to get to an objective report of the Garaudy trial but it seems that he tried to argue that he was not denying what the law – ‘Guyssot Law’ – forbade him to deny, but only doubting the interpretation placed on it. The judge, by a display of sympathetic interest, got him to question the figure of 6m. Jewish victims, so he was in flagrante delicto then and there.
        I think that many efforts will be made to parse the emerging laws, which will enmesh ‘definitions’ of anti-S with hate speech, so that punishment is evaded. I would very much like to argue that the examples do not in logic exemplify what the definition connotes: which God knows they do not. God is also well aware that no power on earth can decree that logic can be overridden. But all that sort of thing will be dismissed as prevarication, as Garaudy’s defence was. Unless, that is, enough and enough well-known people come forward to face the music, in which case the judges will join in the prevarication – but that is a tall order.
        So far very few people whom the Israeki machine has set out to crush have survived. Ken Livingstone, hero of the Labour Left – where now? Where is Stephen Sizer, tenured CofE incumbent, whose eccentric views of 9/11 hardly contradict the Bible or the 39 Articles.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 7, 2018, 11:18 pm

        MHughes976,

        I just took a look at Roger Garaudy’s book, “The Founding Myths of Modern Israel.”

        Now, I’m generally not in favor of Holocaust denial laws, hate speech laws, and all such attempts to limit freedom of thought and expression. And there is a lot in the book anyone opposed to Israeli policies and racist Zionism would agree with. But the simple fact, clear as day, is that Garaudy denies that any genocide of European Jewry ever took place, or was ever intended.

        He has the right to that opinion, but to be frank, I do not appreciate his yoking valid anti-Zionist arguments to such blatant genocide-denial. It doesn’t help the anti-Zionist cause. It doesn’t help the Palestinians.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        September 8, 2018, 12:00 am

        “Where is Stephen Sizer, tenured CofE incumbent, whose eccentric views of 9/11 hardly contradict the Bible or the 39 Articles.”

        Gone are those innocent days when vicars just got into trouble with chorus girls, choir boys, and lion-taming.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 9, 2018, 3:25 pm

        “Gone are those innocent days…”

        Actually, “Freddie” sorta tamed the Vicar of Stiffkey. Permanently.

    • Sibiriak
      Sibiriak
      September 7, 2018, 11:26 am

      Keith: But, you are aware that if you continue to criticize Israel you most likely will be kicked out of the Labour Party like Ken Livingston…
      ————————————

      I don’t think so. Not if you are smart. For example, if you are a prominent LP person, don’t make Nazi comparisons. Oh my God! That’s a violation of free speech! Nazi comparisons are valid! Netanyahu talks like a Nazi! Nazi-Zionist collaboration! Nazi-like Zionist terror groups! Nazi-like blood and soil nationalism, racism, ethnic cleansing, genocide…

      No. Be smart. You can’t effectively attack and delegitimize and polemically rip to shreds Israel and Zionism without Nazi analogies? You’re going to stomp and fume and quit the party because your free speech is restricted and you’re not clever enough to deal with it? ” But that’s not fair!” No it isn’t. Carry on.

      [Keith:] One must search out the options somewhere between capitulation and getting stomped.

      Bingo!

      • echinococcus
        echinococcus
        September 7, 2018, 12:43 pm

        Sibiriak,

        You’re talking as if there was any need to be in the Labour Party in the first place.

      • Keith
        Keith
        September 7, 2018, 5:52 pm

        SIBIRIAK- “You can’t effectively attack and delegitimize and polemically rip to shreds Israel and Zionism without Nazi analogies?”

        Yes, of course I can. But that isn’t the point of all of this. All of these charges of anti-Semitism are pretexts for attacking Corbyn and his allies, the more prominent and progressive ones already kicked out of the Party. When this all started about 3 years ago, Corbyn should have counter attacked and tried to defeat this Zionist group. It was them or him. But he didn’t and the Labour Party has been rendered more-or-less ineffectual. You disagree? Corbyn can’t bring himself to stop kissing Zionist you-know-what. Maybe he would have lost the fight. As it is, he has lost the surrender. What then was the point of sacrificing Ken Livingstone?

        Perhaps this was all inevitable. The very notion of political redress via our corporate controlled electoral system a self-defeating myth. These are dark times of wild power imbalance between we the people and our corporate overlords. The Zionist friendly 1% is increasingly authoritarian. We are at the end of the energy intensive hydrocarbon era. We are also in the 6th great extinction event which is getting worse as the environment may have crossed the threshold of irreversibility.

        Let me make a relevant observation. A while back, I was a member of the Seattle Greens back before it became part of the Green Party. At the time, I supported establishing the Green Party as an alternative to the Republicans and Democrats. A protest vote. Unfortunately, the political Green Party has completely sapped the life out of the Green movement. The voters will not revolt at the polls, and capitalist electoral politics is a chimera. Defeatist? You betcha.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 7, 2018, 11:07 pm

        Sibiriak: You can’t effectively attack and delegitimize and polemically rip to shreds Israel and Zionism without Nazi analogies?”

        Keith: Yes, of course I can. But that isn’t the point of all of this.
        ———————————————

        The only point I was addressing was: how to carry on now that this A/S definition (w/clarification) has been adopted. My suggestion is –if you are a LP person, someone likely to be a target etc.–keep on attacking Israel and Zionism etc.–but be clever about it. And never confess to being an antisemitie by any definition, even jokingly.
        ——————————————————-

        [Keith:] All of these charges of anti-Semitism are pretexts for attacking Corbyn and his allies

        Exactly. But that obvious reality does not eliminate the need to carry on, develop new tactics, adapt polemical rhetoric etc.

      • Sibiriak
        Sibiriak
        September 10, 2018, 9:58 pm

        KEITH: All of these charges of anti-Semitism are pretexts for attacking Corbyn and his allies…

        ————————————————-

        Yes, this needs to be emphasized.

        Letter from Britain: The Real Reason for the ‘Anti-Semite’ Campaign Against Jeremy Corbyn by Alexander Mercouris

        […]the campaign against Corbyn has very little to do with the situation in the Middle East. I say this, though I have no doubt that the Israeli embassy is playing an active role in the campaign, a fact which is apparently freely admitted within Israel itself, though not in Britain.

        However, it is a mistake to see the campaign against Corbyn as principally Israeli inspired. If it were, I would expect those conducting it to say far more about the situation in the Middle East than they do. Nor, in my opinion, is the campaign exclusively or even primarily the work of British Jews. As it happens, the Jewish community in Britain is far from united behind the campaign, with many British Jews expressing doubts or even outright opposition to it.

        Instead, the campaign should be seen for what it is: the latest in a long series of attacks by the British establishment against Corbyn, the one British politician who more than any other embodies the threat to the current status quo and to the British establishment’s hold on power.

        These attacks have at various times sought to portray Corbyn as a Communist, a Russian agent, a terrorist sympathizer and a traitor. Adding a charge of anti-Semitism to this catalogue is an obvious further step, and given Corbyn’s well-known advocacy of Palestinian rights an easy one. The only surprise is that it has not happened before.

        That the anti-Semitism campaign is the latest in a long series of establishment attacks on Corbyn, which extend all the way back to his election as Labour’s leader, is shown by the sheer breadth of the campaign. The parliamentary Labour Party, the entire Conservative Party and the media (including the BBC and the supposedly left-wing Guardian newspaper) have all embraced it.

        Certainly, it extends far beyond those members of Britain’s Jewish community who form part of the greater British establishment and who initially spearheaded it. As it happens, the great majority of British politicians and commentators who have joined in the campaign are non-Jews.

        A New Political Dynamic

        As for the campaign’s greater vehemence by comparison with earlier campaigns, that is the product of the changed political dynamic in Britain since the June 2017 general election.

        Before that election, the British establishment did not take Corbyn seriously, since it assumed that the British electorate would reject him in any election which he fought. The horrifying realization following the June 2017 election that the opposite is the case has—not surprisingly—caused panic and has led to the establishment pulling out all the stops. That explains not just the greater vehemence of this campaign but why it has persisted for so long.

        In other words, what is driving the campaign is not some overarching loyalty on the part of British Jews to Israel or a belief that Corbyn is an anti-Semite. Rather, it is British establishment panic. As Britain’s Conservative government disintegrates, Corbyn stands poised to become Britain’s next prime minister. That terrifying prospect—of a radical socialist in 10, Downing Street—is one which must be averted at all costs. That is the reason for the anti-Semitism campaign we have been witnessing, and thus all the other campaigns against Corbyn we have witnessed, of which there are certainly more to come.

        ———————————-

        The Left-Wing, Anti-Imperialist Labour Tradition

        The British Labour Party was formed in 1900 before World War I, and if there has been one political movement in Britain that has stood rock solid against all manifestations of anti-Semitism in British life (perhaps more than any other group), it is the British Labour Party, and first and foremost its left wing.

        This is consistent with the traditional stance of the left wing of the British Labour Party, which can be broadly defined as anti-racist, anti-fascist, and, above all, anti-imperialist. The latter has been important in a country like Britain—historically the preeminent imperialist power—where imperialism was justified in racist terms. British left-wing anti-imperialists, who are mostly drawn from the working class (a fact which gave British anti-imperialism a strong class-conflict character) strongly were predisposed to be anti-racist.

        Not surprisingly, British Labour left-wing anti-racism extended to staunch opposition to anti-Semitism, which is, of course, the reason why so many British Jews were drawn to the Labour Party in the first place.

        The key point to understand about Corbyn is that it is from within this left-wing, anti-imperialist Labour tradition that he comes. His parents after all first met each other in the 1930s attending a rally in support of the Spanish Republic at the time of the Spanish Civil War. He has been loyal to the traditions of the Labour Party’s anti-imperialist left ever since he began his career in politics, as his long record of opposition to all the West’s interventionist wars shows…

        https://consortiumnews.com/2018/09/10/letter-from-britain-the-mendacity-of-the-anti-semite-campaign-against-jeremy-corbyn/

      • Keith
        Keith
        September 11, 2018, 10:34 am

        SIBIRIAK- (Mercouris quote)- “As it happens, the Jewish community in Britain is far from united behind the campaign, with many British Jews expressing doubts or even outright opposition to it.”

        This is roughly equivalent to saying that the American citizenry is far from united in support of empire. Overall the article was good, however, the point is that the LEADERSHIP of British ZIONIST Jews is solidly behind this, including those in the media. And yes, British Gentile fat-cats and corporations support this attack on Corbyn. What is not being said (Jeez, I hope this passes moderation!) is that these Jewish Zionists seek to increase their power by performing a service to the elites, both Jewish and non-Jewish. This essentially reprises the role of Jews in medieval Europe of serving the Christian nobility in administering/exploiting the peasantry (the medieval 99%). With the meteoric increase in the wealth and power of Zionist Jews, Zionist Jewish organizations and individuals promote the agenda of the 1% at the expense of the 99%. Just look at the warmongering neoliberal Democratic party.

        I will soon leave for the airport and lack time to pursue this, however, I maintain that much of the urgency regarding Corbyn is not that he would radically transform society, he can’t and won’t. Rather, we are transitioning into a new era and Corbyn would be an impediment to efficient corporate/financial hegemony. The empire is on a rampage.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 11, 2018, 12:41 pm

        Socialism is now antisemitic. How far we have come!

  7. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    September 3, 2018, 7:24 pm

    “The definition of antisemitism adopted by the government is not fit for the purpose and will chill legitimate criticism of the state of Israel, a leading QC says.

    In an opinion published yesterday Geoffrey Robertson, QC, states that the IHRA (International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance) definition also fails to cover the most insidious forms of hostility to Jewish people.

    The looseness of the definition is liable to chill legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel and coverage of human rights abuses against Palestinians, he says in an opinion produced to advise the Palestinian Return Centre, an advocacy group”. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/government-definition-of-antisemitism-not-fit-says-geoffrey-robertson-qc-htx6trnmq

    This is obvious, unfortunately many on the NEC will vote for the full IHRA in the hope that it will put the Anti Semitism disputes behind them, how wrong can they be. Its Corbyn’s head they want and his supporters. The question I posed above, to my mind is crucial, is Israel a racist state? In my opinion it has been Since the Nakba and has grown worse over the years culminating in the racist monstrosity called ‘the nation state law’. Is pointing that truth out grounds for expulsion from the Labour party?

  8. CigarGod
    CigarGod
    September 3, 2018, 9:15 pm

    He can now comfortably sit on a perch alongside the rest of the hysterical Rabbis.

    Did Cigar really call all rabbis hysterical?

    • gamal
      gamal
      September 4, 2018, 6:53 am

      ” really call all rabbis hysterical?”

      I think that is particularly the case in the Hysterically White Nations, everyone needs a little colour in their cheeks every now and then.

      (I should note that in reality I am somewhat in that Rabbis debt, he was very kind to me twice for which I am grateful, can’t catch me out for having no nuance)

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        September 4, 2018, 10:47 am

        We can use all the nuance we can get these days, gamal.
        But, those who drive bulldozers, fly drones, kneecap demonstrators…or support similar actions, will have to wait at St. Peters Gate, to receive any nuance from me.

  9. chris_k
    chris_k
    September 3, 2018, 10:41 pm

    I looked at Corbyn’s approval ratings the other day and the Zionist attacks on him are working. As bad as May’s numbers are, Corbyn’s are worse. Pro-Zionists, Tories and Blairites in the media are teaming up on him. Also, I googled Corbyn’s name the other day and page after page there was nothing remotely related to British policy, just Israel’s. Today he’s managed to insert comments on transportation reform, which he needs to do more of.

    The idea that Corbyn can ‘put this to rest’ by adopting the IHRA laws is a hustle that anyone following Israeli history can see as such. Sign this and it will all be over. The IHRA laws are themselves racist to the core, diametrically opposed to truth, free speech, and national sovereignty. As soon as you pass those laws then it’s ‘proof’ that Corbyn and anyone who opposes endless wars against Muslims is an anti-Semite, and the media barrage would likely get worse. The media is going to keep this up until Corbyn goes down, and younger Brits are going to have to eventually choose between anti-war leaders or the media.

    This and a good op-ed in Haaretz worry that this might be bad for Jews in Britain. First of all, the notion that devoted or potential Corbyn supporters are going to persecute Jews has no basis in reality. Second, what about everyone else? including victims of Western wars and British citizens who might benefit from their leaders focusing on their own problems.

    • chris_k
      chris_k
      September 3, 2018, 11:07 pm

      I’d meant to add that Corbyn can beat this by staying resilient and using a future election platform to refocus attention on British policy. He is a fighter and an elite policy wonk. Israel often benefits from media narratives changing the subject, and there will be a point when a fatigue sets in about these allegations, as much as the Tories and the Blairites don’t want it to ever end. Caving in makes it worse.

    • Misterioso
      Misterioso
      September 4, 2018, 10:42 am

      @chris k

      Worth noting, courtesy of Dr. Norman Finkelstein:

      http://normanfinkelstein.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/image.png

      British Opinion Poll: “What news stories have you noticed most:”

  10. echinococcus
    echinococcus
    September 4, 2018, 1:14 am

    Interesting to note that while the old saying “the world is aflame” is true now more than ever and the Palestinian people are perhaps in the direst straits, what some people are concerned by is summarized by

    the damage it’s doing to the standing of the Jewish community and our ability to challenge antisemitism…

    and forget the “confront racism” that comes after that phrase: when some people are only worried by racism when directed against themselves one can only laugh.

    It’s coming to the point where the very word ‘antisemitism’ will lose all meaning and allegations of antisemitism will become discounted as mere political lobbying or dismissed as inconsequential

    Also interesting, that use of the future tense for something that has been obvious for so many years.

    • Maghlawatan
      Maghlawatan
      September 4, 2018, 9:37 am

      “It’s coming to the point where the very word ‘antisemitism’ will lose all meaning ”

      It reminds me of a story
      Age Range: 3 – 8 years. The moral of the story is that liars are not believed even when they speak the truth. Sacks is an extremist

  11. Brewer
    Brewer
    September 4, 2018, 1:30 am

    “One of the basic convictions of Diaspora Jewry was that “the whole world is against us”. Jews have been persecuted throughout the ages in many countries, up to the Holocaust. In the Seder ceremony on Passover eve, which unites all the Jews around the world, the holy text says that “in every generation they arise to annihilate us”.

    The official aim of Zionism was to turn us into “a people like all peoples”. Does a normal people believe that everybody is out to annihilate it at all times?

    It is a basic conviction of almost every Jewish Israeli that “the whole world is against us” – which is also a jolly popular song. The US is concluding an agreement with Iran? Europe turns against the settlements? Russia helps Bashar al-Assad? Anti-Semites all.

    International protests against our occupation of the Palestinian territories are, of course, just another form of anti-Semitism. (The Prime Minister of Canada, who visited Israel this week and made a ridiculous speech in the Knesset, also proclaimed that any criticism of Israeli policy is a form of anti-Semitism.)

    Does this mean that in Israel, the self-proclaimed Jewish State, all the old Jewish attitudes, suspicions, fears and myths are coming to the fore again? That the revolutionary Zionist concepts are disappearing? That nothing much has changed in the Jewish outlook?

    As the French say: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

    Or, as Ecclesiastes puts it in the Bible (1:9): “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be, and that which is done is that which shall be done, and there is no new thing under the sun.””
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/01/24/the-re-judaizing-of-israel/

    RIP Uri, a far more righteous, knowledgeable and holier man than Sacks.

    • Mooser
      Mooser
      September 9, 2018, 3:38 pm

      “Some left wing critics of Israel…They draw on traditional antisemitic trope…needs to be firmly corrected”

      Nothing exempts Zionism from any propaganda or persuasive technique. (But it would be easier to “firmly correct” these “left wing critics of Israel if they had names.)

  12. Peter in SF
    Peter in SF
    September 4, 2018, 2:34 am

    Some left wing critics of Israel (a tiny but visible minority mostly confined to social media) feed off, or are fooled by, the conflation theory themselves. They draw on traditional antisemitic tropes (such as Jewish control of the media or international finance) to express an ignorant and deeply misguided analysis of the Middle East. It’s clumsy, stupid and racist and needs to be constantly called out and firmly corrected.

    Is anyone actually doing this firm correction? I know of a Palestinian-rights activist who lives in my area and has angered some Jewish Palestinian-rights activists by telling audiences (truthfully) which reporters and commentators on Israel in the mainstream media are Jewish. Like that’s not something that should be made public, but should be kept hidden, lest people get the impression that Jews control the media.

    Have you heard the antisemitic trope that Jews control Hollywood? When that trope is not dismissed but actually addressed by people who present themselves as some kind of representatives of the Jewish community, they’ll admit that of the people who really run Hollywood, the great majority are Jewish, but (a) being Jewish has no influence on what those particular individuals do in Hollywood, and (b) hey, why do you care about this anyway? Needless to say, when you tell people that some fact about the world we live in is unimportant and then try to suggest to them that they should be ashamed of being interested in that fact, people don’t usually respond by concluding that this fact really is unimportant and that they should be ashamed of themselves for being interested in it. But they’ll probably get the message that they might get in trouble if they bring it up again.

    Most left-wingers believe that the United States of America is controlled by white men. If you challenge them on that proposition, the more earnest and diligent ones will respond with statistics about the proportion of powerful positions in American society that are held by white men. Anyone who says that it’s necessary to “firmly correct” the “stupid and racist” notion that Jews control the media or international finance needs to do the same kind of thing.

    • Peter in SF
      Peter in SF
      September 4, 2018, 3:19 am

      By the way, last night at midnight, U.S. National Public Radio’s hourly news broadcast led with a story about Gordon Brown’s comments on antisemitism in the Labour Party and support for adopting the full IHRA definition. How did NPR decide that this is the most important news story of the hour for American listeners? I don’t know, but six minutes later, an announcer thanked American Jewish World Service for sponsorship of NPR news.

      • drhmay
        drhmay
        September 4, 2018, 10:45 am

        Showing concern for Palestinians is commendable.
        Showing love and affection for murderous terrorists who unabashedly call for the destruction of Israel, murder civilians and athletes and terrorize their own people is clearly another.

      • drhmay
        drhmay
        September 4, 2018, 10:47 am

        Aha! Grab any straw that supports your racist world
        View.

      • CigarGod
        CigarGod
        September 4, 2018, 11:00 am

        NPR and BBC might as well start using the verbal FOX signature “Fair and Balanced” at every commercial break.
        Works like a hypnotist snapping his fingers.

      • eljay
        eljay
        September 4, 2018, 11:33 am

        || drhmay: Showing concern for Palestinians is commendable.
        Showing love and affection for murderous terrorists who unabashedly call for the destruction of Israel, murder civilians and athletes and terrorize their own people is clearly another. ||

        Showing concern for Jews (i.e., people the world over who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish) is commendable.

        Showing love and affection for hateful and immoral supremacist hypocrites who believe that their religion-based identity entitles them…
        – to a colonialist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” in as much as possible of geographic Palestine; and
        – to do unto others acts of injustice and immorality they would not have others do unto them,
        …is clearly another.

      • gamal
        gamal
        September 4, 2018, 12:11 pm

        “Aha! Grab any straw that supports your racist world
        View”

        “Showing concern for Palestinians is commendable.
        Showing love and affection for murderous terrorists who unabashedly call for the destruction of Israel, murder civilians and athletes and terrorize their own people is clearly another”

        for those who are not au fait with this kind of thing, by the power of my English I believe what is above is an Irony..an “unabashedly” fine one.

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 4, 2018, 12:25 pm

        NPR is a tragedy.

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        September 4, 2018, 3:04 pm

        drhmay: “Showing concern for Palestinians is commendable.
        Showing love and affection for murderous terrorists who unabashedly call for the destruction of Israel, murder civilians and athletes and terrorize their own people is clearly another.”

        So that’s the reason why you want Palestinians to treat Jews the same way Jews have treated Palestinians since the late 1930s.

      • RoHa
        RoHa
        September 4, 2018, 9:49 pm

        “Showing concern for Palestinians is commendable.”

        And that’s why you are a firm supporter of the Palestinian Right of Return to all of Geographic Palestine.

      • Peter in SF
        Peter in SF
        September 5, 2018, 3:02 am

        Doctor, what are you referring to with “Aha! Grab any straw that supports your racist world View”?

        Also, it is unbecoming for someone in your position to adopt such a childish tone in addressing one of your inferiors.

  13. HarryLaw
    HarryLaw
    September 4, 2018, 4:33 am

    How about this hypothetical example… Mr Law over the last 10 years you have written thousands of comments on the internet complaining about Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians and its illegal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, our compliance unit have had a complaint from “interested persons” to the effect that in all that time you have made no complaint [not one] about Morocco’s occupation of the Western Sahara this is clearly a double standard and as clear a case of Anti semitism that this unit has ever seen in breach of the IHRA i.e. “Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation. Therefore Mr Law “[Full name of prisoner] you are sentenced to be taken hence to the prison in which you were last confined and from there to a place of execution where you will be hanged by the neck until dead and thereafter your body buried within the precincts of the prison and may the Lord have mercy upon your soul”.

    • drhmay
      drhmay
      September 4, 2018, 10:49 am

      Evidently there is no limit to the stupidity of hypotheticals.

      • Peter in SF
        Peter in SF
        September 5, 2018, 3:17 am

        Doctor, you do realize that your comment “Evidently there is no limit to the stupidity of hypotheticals” reads as an assertion that HarryLaw’s comment is full of stupidity? And then you have done nothing to help readers to understand what’s stupid about it? You come onto this site acting all high and mighty, just to put down those who aren’t as enlightened as you are. What does your conscience tell you?

      • Talkback
        Talkback
        September 5, 2018, 8:28 am

        drhmay: “Evidently there is no limit to the stupidity of hypotheticals.”

        Yeah. For example: What if you were able to make an intelligent counter argument? Stupid, isn’t it?

      • Mooser
        Mooser
        September 5, 2018, 1:17 pm

        “You come onto this site acting all high and mighty, just to put down those who aren’t as enlightened as you are.”

        Every once in a while pro-Israel commenters have to try a new technique, one we have never, ever seen before.

    • Bumblebye
      Bumblebye
      September 4, 2018, 11:40 am

      Mr Law can fight back – as with other cases of occupation around the world, the indigenous people are not denationalised and have representation in the Moroccan govt. This is not so of the Israeli occupation. Indigenous Palestinians have no nationality and no representation in the Israeli govt. No double standard has therefore been evidenced.

  14. Ossinev
    Ossinev
    September 4, 2018, 7:58 am

    “The idea that Corbyn can ‘put this to rest’ by adopting the IHRA laws is a hustle that anyone following Israeli history can see as such”

    Agree 100 %. It would be seen as straight forward appeasement which will encourage the Zionists and simply open the flood gates to a torrent of accusations of “Anti-Semitism” with each and every criticism of Israel`s policy and actions with regards to Palestinians by Labour MP`s ,groups and members being declared “Anti – Semitic”.

    I believe the vast majority of the approx 560,000 Labour Party members recognise what is going on and I fear that if the NEC votes to adopt the IHRA definition without any clear caveats protecting legitimate criticism of the racist laws,policies and actions of Israel. there will be a hemorrhaging of membership particularly amongst the younger members .At the moment the Labour Party members rule book states the following:
    “The Labour Party is an anti-racist party, committed to combating and campaigning against all forms of racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia.

    Labour will not tolerate racism in any form inside or outside the party. The Labour Party will ensure that the party is a welcoming home to members of all communities, with no place for any prejudice or discrimination based on race, ethnicity or religion.

    The Labour Party welcomes all who share our aims and values, and encourages political debate and campaigns around the vital issues, policies and injustices of our time.

    Any behaviour or use of language which targets or intimidates members of ethnic or religious communities, or incites racism, including antisemitism and Islamophobia, or undermines Labour’s ability to campaign against any form of racism, is unacceptable conduct within the Labour Party”.

    This position statement is comprehensive and is is clearly not broken but Zionists in the UK are conspiring to fix it on behalf of a Foreign Government.

    You will note that this does not specify any individual country. The adoption of the IHRA will introduce the concept of criticism of individual countries falling within the the Labour Party rules on racism. It is also worth pointing out that the adoption would effectively introduce a de facto element of discrimination in that Jews and Judaism are being given a more privileged status than eg Muslims.

    Apart from those members who I think would quit the party in disgust if the definition is adopted in full there will be the question of what exactly to do with regards to those members who will be seen to be openly contravening the amended rulebook by continuing to criticise Zionist Israeli racism. Will they be suspended? If so will they appeal? All in all I believe that if the NEC votes to accept a non caveat full IHRA definition it will have the effect of tearing the Labour Party apart and on the face of it the Zionists will have won. However this will be a Phyrric victory as It would IMO lead to a huge backlash against Jews and Israel not only from disaffected Labour Party members but also from the general UK electorate who will be angered by the fact that a tiny tiny minority of the UK population who generally are privileged have conspired to bring down the party which is seen as being the party representing the non privileged.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius
      Maximus Decimus Meridius
      September 4, 2018, 10:24 am

      Exactly. The whole thing is the most cynical farce I’ve seen in a long, long time. So many problems facing Britain, a but the minutiae of a unofficial ‘definition’ is the real priority?

      It’s looking very likely that The Definition will be adopted in full, thereby essentially outlawaing all meaningful criticism of Israel. This is a huge blow for free speech and political integrity, and The Lobby will tout it as a massive victory, which will embolden them to push on for the real prize – Corbyn’s head on a plate. He should never have allowed this to happen. He should have said that Labour had a perfectly workable definition of antisemitism and no further ‘definitions’ were needed. Now, he’s allowed a massive hysteria to envelop him, and while it won’t bring him down, it does damage the causes he fights for, justice for Palestine being just one of them.

  15. Maghlawatan
    Maghlawatan
    September 4, 2018, 9:43 am

    Sacks is a hypocrite who will always put the evil of Zionism ahead of Jewish morality. He will always support the IDF murder machine over pikuat nefesh, the sanctity of life.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2011/jan/14/donor-cards-jewish-law-organ-donation

    “Wherever we can save life, we should. That is a longstanding and fundamental proposition of Judaism,”

  16. Bennorius
    Bennorius
    September 4, 2018, 9:57 am

    Robert Cohen, thank you for this excellent article. I agree wholeheartedly with everything you say.

  17. amigo
    amigo
    September 4, 2018, 12:30 pm

    What is needed is a list from the PRO IHRA gang , laying out what exactly is “Legitimate “opposition to Israel,s policies.

    They have no problem coming up with a list of what is illegitimate so it shouldn,t be too difficult to tell us what we can say.Clearly the list would blank.

    My suspicion is that if the NEC gives in ,( I just heard on BBC the NEC adopted the full IHRA definition) the Jewish Labour group will feel emboldened and push for more restrictions , ie , any criticism of Israel would be antisemitic.

    If they win that battle then the goal will be to include anyone who condemns the policies of Israel and to make this a crime.

    Zionists never get enough.Anyone who has not yet learned that is either comatose or dead.

  18. Bumblebye
    Bumblebye
    September 4, 2018, 12:33 pm

    In the last few minutes the NEC has adopted the full IHRA. Woe for all of us. 😤

  19. Rashers2
    Rashers2
    September 4, 2018, 2:23 pm

    It’s quite obvious to anyone acquainted with Jonathan Sacks’ views on a number of broad moral and social issues such as equal marriage rights that he’s an unempathetic, prescriptive reactionary who retains a media platform and the appearance in the popular mind of authority on “matters Jewish” owing to his former rôle and to his membership of the British Parliament in the House of Lords. As such, of course, he’s a useful “elder statesman” for the pro-Israel lobby in Britain to wheel out in its shameless (and, it seems, increasingly desperate) bid to “assassinate” and unseat Jeremy Corbyn on fictitious grounds of anti-Semitism. Sacks’ comparison of Corbyn with Enoch Powell could not have been a more calculated or unpleasant insult.

    If – which I greatly doubt – anyone heeds previous comments made here and elsewhere, I’m an improbable Corbyn advocate, being generally at odds with his/Momentum’s political agenda. I believe him, however, to be honest and, on Palestine/Zionism, fully in the correct quadrant of the moral compass. The UK MSM’s gorging on “anti-Semitism-gate” at the expense of genuine news is unedifying to behold; regrettably, the blood-lust is likely to be sated only when Corbyn’s severed head has been impaled on London Bridge as a warning to others who would venture to question the righteousness of the Zio-pathic vision and its infallible embodiment in the Jewish State of Israel.

    The Labour NEC’s decision to adopt the full IHRA “definition” (with examples) of anti-Semitism is depressing although this capitulation probably brings the “definition” closer to finding its way onto the statute books and thus may bring closer the day that a court in the UK must publicly decide whether some blogger has committed a penal offence by describing Mr. Mileikowsky as a “Holocaust revisionist” because the latter ascribes the Final Solution to an ex-Grand Mufti of Jerusalem; or by characterising the Nakba as the crime that it was.

  20. alan1803
    alan1803
    September 5, 2018, 6:08 am

    I’m from Walsall, next door to Enoch Powell’s patch of Wolverhampton, in a marginal Labour needs to win. Is Sacks completely unaware that comparing JC with Powell might do him some good round here, where “Enoch was right” is a regular trope in the local rag’s letters page and one of its opinion blowhards is Nigel Hastilow, who got deselected by the Tories for saying the same?

  21. Rashers2
    Rashers2
    September 5, 2018, 12:36 pm

    @alan1803, whilst you may be correct about a few voters’ reactions to the “Enoch dog-whistle” in your constituency, Jonathan Sacks’ choice of Powell as the Corbyn comparator was calculated to be as wounding and insulting as possible to Corbyn who, as far I can discern, is absolutely not a racist and detests unjust discrimination in any form – hence his solidarity with the Palestinians’ plight.

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