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Chief Rabbi, we need a better way to fight antisemitism than attacking Labour

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Dear Chief Rabbi Mirvis,

As you say in your article in The Times this week (Tuesday 26 November), “Convention dictates that the Chief Rabbi stays well away from party politics – and rightly so.”

But rather than stay “well away”, you’ve chosen to make a major intervention that attempts to turn the UK’s General Election into a national referendum on the Labour Party’s handling of antisemitism. And (deliberately, ironically, and perversely) you chose to make your accusations on the very day on which Jeremy Corbyn was announcing his party’s policies in support of religious and ethnic minorities (including for the Jewish community).

You justify this intervention on the grounds of challenging Corbyn’s anti-Jewish racism and the need to highlight the fears of the Jewish community in the UK. You make the bold claim that the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety”. And as you travel the country, you tell your readers that the question you are asked most frequently is: “What will become of Jews and Judaism in Britain if the Labour Party forms the next government?”

So how, I wonder, do you answer this question, Chief Rabbi? What is the clear and present danger presented by the Labour party to Jews? Perhaps you can give me a rough idea of what I should expect, so I know whether to be ready to pack my bags when the election results come through.

Will kosher meat be outlawed? Will circumcision be banned? Will I be forced out of my job and my children thrown out of university? Will I be attacked on the street by gangs of roaming Corbynistas? Will synagogues be burnt down and Jews rounded up?

I’m not being flippant here. I genuinely want to understand the nature and severity of the threat which has created the “anxiety” you say is “gripping” most of my fellow Jews. If I can’t grasp what you mean, how can I make an informed and proportionate response?

Asking the family

I’m often accused by my detractors on social media of being out of touch and disconnected with the UK’s ‘real’ Jewish community. This, they argue, disqualifies me from commentary on Jewish affairs. Apparently, I don’t know what ‘real Jews’ are talking about.

Since I was staying with my sister in London last night, I took the opportunity to check-in on her mental wellbeing in regard to Jeremy Corbyn and test whether I was really so out of touch.

Unlike me, my sister and brother-in-law live in a Jewish community, belong to and attend a United Synagogue congregation (the movement you represent), and have a close circle of Jewish friends. My sister is no fan of Corbyn and neither are her friends. She sees him as having failed to deal with antisemitism and believes it has grown under his leadership. She’s heard first hand from former Jewish Labour MPs, Luciana Berger and Dame Louise Ellman, and accepts the accounts they have given of their antisemitic treatment by Labour party members and from the hierarchy of the party. Despite working for the NHS, my sister will not be voting Labour and neither will my brother-in-law (although they’ve certainly been Labour voters in the past).

But are you “gripped by anxiety?”, I asked my sister, not with a frivolous tone but with genuine concern.

She thought for a moment, looked slightly quizzical and replied No.”

When I asked my sister what “bad things” she thought might happen to Jews in Britain if Corbyn became Prime Minister, she couldn’t think of anything at first but then settled on the prospect of more general hostility towards Jews and expressions of antisemitism inevitably linked to Israel/Palestine.

What this family conversation suggested to me is that many in the Jewish community (probably most) are not happy with Corbyn, question his judgement and his past associations, and certainly don’t trust him to tackle antisemitism in his party. But unlike you Chief Rabbi, ‘real Jews’ are more balanced and measured in their response to the situation. They are not packing suitcases based on your overheated rabbinical commentary. Thankfully, it looks like most Jewish households are not taking your rhetoric seriously.

All this leaves me with the conviction that you are deliberately scaremongering your own community. But for what purpose and to what end?

I have no doubt that antisemitism exists within the Labour Party and certainly on the hard left beyond the Labour Party. Strands within Marxist thinking (originating from Marx himself) can encourage this. So too can lazy analysis of Israel and Zionism. It mustn’t be tolerated or excused and it can’t be used to intimidate and hound out politicians considered too far to the right within Labour. Corbyn did not get a grip on this quickly enough. But the debate has to be driven by evidence. And the best evidence we have doesn’t support the scale of your accusations.

Leading the vilification

As I wrote last week, I’m not fearful of a Corbyn government (in fact I’d welcome it) but I’m horrified at how antisemitism has been used against him. And you, Chief Rabbi, have been central to that campaign of vilification.

This isn’t the first time you’ve made a critical intervention ahead of an election. I’m sure you haven’t forgotten your article for the Daily Telegraph just days before local elections across England in May 2016.

On that occasion, you made the case that any criticism of Israel or Zionism must be anti-Jewish. You wrote that Zionism is one of the axioms of Jewish belief” and “a noble and integral part of Judaism.” You went on:

“Open a Jewish daily prayer book used in any part of the world and Zionism will leap out at you.”

Strange then, why so many rabbis (the majority in fact) were dead set against Zionism for so many decades. A few Jewish theological contortions have surely taken place to enable you to make the claims you do.

By mixing, muddling and merging political Zionism with rabbinical Judaism, you create a paradigm in which any criticism of Israel becomes impossible. Not only does that stifle freedom of speech, it stops the freedom of Palestinians to narrate their own lived experience.

The ‘new antisemitism’ which you, and your predecessor, Jonathan Sacks, have been promoting for years, is now becoming an obstacle to Jewish engagement in broader campaigns against racism in the UK and around the world. If you fail to understand how Zionism was, and remains, both a project of Jewish national self-determination and simultaneously an exercise in Settler Colonial dispossession, then you leave yourself, and other Jews, ill-equipped to understand racism or build effective cross-communal alliances.

Race and Faith manifesto

Perhaps if you understood this better you would not have been so relaxed about sabotaging the Labour campaign day which was expressly designed to highlight discrimination against minorities and how a Labour government would legislate to address it. The timing of your intervention made it look as if only antisemitism matters to you even when every piece of research shows that others are at far greater risk than you or I in the streets and in the workplaces of the United Kingdom.

The Race and Faith manifesto was another example of the ‘eccentric’ nature of ‘Labour antisemitism’. Would a party truly up to its ears in antisemitism say anything like this?

“A Labour government will guarantee the security of the Jewish community, defend and support the Jewish way of life, and combat rising antisemitism in our country and across Europe.”

You are not prepared to give the slightest credit to efforts like this or to the changes in policy, process and education in tackling antisemitism brought in by Corbyn. You then repeat the context-free allegations against Jeremy Corbyn which have been compellingly refuted multiple times.

Double standards

Chief Rabbi, with your views on Israel, including your failure to criticise the Occupation in any way, and your welcoming of Donald Trump’s disdain for Palestinian rights over East Jerusalem, I’m not convinced that your ability to spot institutional discrimination is quite as sharp as you like to think it is. It’s these double standards, repeated across the formal Jewish establishment, that blunt any ability to take a credible role in debates over racism and discrimination. While you are quick to see “failure of culture and failure of leadership” within the Labour Party, you also need to consider if the same critique can be applied closer to home.

As you say at the end of your comment piece: “the soul of our nation is at stake” in this General Election. You are right about that, but for all the wrong reasons. How we treat the poorest and most vulnerable; how urgently we tackle climate change; our attitude towards human rights and international law – these are the moral and spiritual issues to which our religious leaders should be drawing our attention and offering their comments. Antisemitism is real and it is growing. It needs addressing alongside other forms of racism. But it should not be the defining issue in this election campaign. It should not be the issue that decides how people vote.

I imagine this won’t be the last intervention from the established Jewish leadership before the polling stations open on Thursday 12th December. Whether Labour win or lose this election, there has to be a better debate on antisemitism and a better understanding of Zionism. Somehow, I doubt that you will be able to make a helpful contribution to that much needed conversation.

Sincerely,

Robert Cohen

This post first appeared on the Patheos site yesterday. 

Robert Cohen

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

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41 Responses

  1. eljay on November 28, 2019, 11:16 am

    Excellent article, Mr. Cohen.

    … On that occasion, you made the case that any criticism of Israel or Zionism must be anti-Jewish. You wrote that Zionism is “one of the axioms of Jewish belief” and “a noble and integral part of Judaism.” …

    It seems horribly anti-Semitic for anyone – even (especially?) a rabbi – to suggest that the Zionism-spawned “right”…
    – to be supremacists;
    – to have as large as possible a supremacist state; and
    – to do “necessary evil” unto others,
    …are part-and-parcel of the religion of Judaism and of the beliefs held by those who have chosen to embrace the religion-based identity of Jewish.

    • Misterioso on November 29, 2019, 10:48 am

      http://normanfinkelstein.com/2019/11/27/professor-frank-land-obe-corbyn-would-be-the-first-on-the-barricades-defending-the-jews/

      “PROFESSOR FRANK LAND OBE: CORBYN ‘WOULD BE THE FIRST ON THE BARRICADES DEFENDING THE JEWS’”

      Frank Land OBE is a distinguished Jewish academic: the UK’s first professor of Information Systems and currently Emeritus Professor of Information Systems at the London School of Economics.

      He writes:
      “Let’s start living in the real world. In a response to an attack on myself and my views I was asked to apologise for opposing the condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn and the institutional Anti-Semitism of the Labour Party. My response included the following:

      “Perhaps it would be useful to outline where my understanding of anti-Semitism comes from.

      “• As a boy of 9, I witnessed the State-sponsored Kristallnacht in Berlin.

      “• A little earlier the German State confiscated my Father’s engineering business.

      “• Every member of our Family had to wear a yellow star and were debarred from sitting on
      designated park benches plus other discriminatory regulations.

      “• My Mother’s parents died in Theresienstadt though we don’t know if they were killed or died of neglect.

      “• One Uncle spent time in Dachau Concentration Camp and another died of ill-health after years of forced (slave) labour.

      “• My large extended family was scattered across the world, including Israel, as refugees.
      “Of course many, many Jewish families fared much worse.

      “What I witnessed was institutional anti-Semitism and very clearly an existential threat to the Jewish Community. Are you, or the Chief Rabbi, telling me that Corbyn or the Labour Party poses any similar threat or even the threat of state sponsored discrimination against Jews? Or would tolerate discrimination of any sort against Jews?

      “We as Jews with our experience through the centuries must be the first to see and fight against racism wherever it crops up and whatever group it is directed at – Jew Palestinian, or whoever. In the 1930s and World War II Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust was the by far the most important and heart-breaking racialist motivated issue and we applaud all those who stood on the barricades with us. But in more recent decades it is not Jews who were the main targets, though Anti-Semitism continued in many communities including most political parties.

      “Corbyn, not surprisingly, focussed on some of these issues. He is now attacked because he called- out discrimination and deprivation against Palestinians But nothing he has said or done make him other than enemy of discrimination and oppression. If he perceived a threat to Jews from based on Anti-Semitic attitudes he would be the first on the barricades defending the Jews.”

      Frank Land OBE

      • Misterioso on November 29, 2019, 11:26 am

        https://www.patheos.com/blogs/writingfromtheedge/2019/11/as-a-british-jew-im-not-fearful-of-a-corbyn-government-but-im-horrified-at-how-antisemitism-is-being-used-against-him/

        “As a British Jew I’m not fearful of a Corbyn government but I’m horrified at how antisemitism is being used against him.” Writing from the Edge, by Robert A.H. Cohen, Nov. 13/19

        EXCERPT:
        “I’ve been told to fear the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. I’ve been warned that the Labour Party leader is antisemitic. And, according to a new poll, nearly half of British Jews are considering leaving the country if Labour wins the General Election on December 12th.

        “Despite the doomsday picture being painted for British Jews, I’m not fearful of Corbyn or the possibility of him reaching 10 Downing Street. Nor do I believe that the Labour Party is ‘poisoned’ or ‘rampant’ with antisemitism. But what has left me horrified over the last four years has been the reckless and irresponsible way in which antisemitism has been used to vilify Corbyn and make the entire Labour Party appear toxic.

        “For the record, I’m not a Labour Party activist, or even a Labour Party member. I have no particular brief to support Jeremy Corbyn. In local and national elections over the years, I’ve voted for Liberal Democrat candidates, Labour candidates and Green candidates. Geography means I don’t attend a synagogue as often as I’d like to, but I read and love my Jewish prayer book, and at home we light Shabbat candles and we celebrate the Jewish festivals. I worry about rising antisemitism around the world and I care about the safety and security of Jews in Britain. And because of all these things, it bothers me deeply when I see antisemitism become drained of meaning for the sake of narrow political advantage.”

  2. Ossinev on November 28, 2019, 1:56 pm

    An excellent debunking of the Rabbis rabid ramblings particularly when Robert asks his sister about the “bad things”. and she struggles to respond.
    Gideon Levy also sums up the situation quite neatly in today`s Haaretz viz:
    “The Jewish establishment in Britain and the Israeli propaganda machine have taken out a contract on the leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn. The contract was taken out a long time ago”
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-the-contract-on-corbyn-1.8192769

    The Rabbi I believe has referred to the Jewish Community in the UK as an “ethnic minority”. So in his warped mind all those British Jews of all colours and shades from Aryan to Ethiopian( recent or some in the distant past time converts )whether they are 6th generation New Yorkers or 20th generation Dutch who at some point were born in or decided to move to pre – Corbyn Britain are to be viewed at all times as a separate “race”. This of course cannot and must not apply to eg Catholics or Baptists or pagans because bottom line is that all goyim are by definition not chosen and only the”chosen” have the right to claim this weird and wonderful overriding unique “ethnicity”.

    The Rabbi is sick and twisted and his intervention in this election and the whole “institutionalised Anti – Semitism in the Labour Party” conspiracy may sadly backfire if as seems likely Corbyn loses. It may generate a considerable amount of resentment amongst those Labour members mostly young and well educated who democratically elected Corbyn as leader. As for the generality of the British voting public I suspect that they long ago smelt a rat and although they may not necessarily vote for Labour they will have recognised and will remember this whole saga as reflecting the corrosion of Zionism wherever it raises its ugly head.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 28, 2019, 3:44 pm

      “The Rabbi I believe has referred to the Jewish Community in the UK as an “ethnic minority”. So in his warped mind all those British Jews of all colours and shades from Aryan to Ethiopian( recent or some in the distant past time converts )whether they are 6th generation New Yorkers or 20th generation Dutch who at some point were born in or decided to move to pre – Corbyn Britain are to be viewed at all times as a separate “race”.”

      The author of the article also believes that bigotry against Jews is ‘racism’ despite the obivous fact that Jews aren’t a race.

      As I said in my comment below, the antisemitism = racism narrative has become mainstream in the past few years. It never was before, at least not in Britain. The vast majority of Jews in Britain are of European origin, and very few ‘stand out’ as members of an ‘ethnic minority’ in the way in which, for example, members of the Hindu faith do. In fact, most of them look rather like other white British people. Does anyone genuinely believe that, for example, Maureen Lipman and Margaret Hodge represent a different ‘race’ than Corbyn does?

      It’s obvious nonsense, but as you say, its appeal is in the way it gives a veneer of ‘specialness’ to any alleged discrimination against Jews, unlike discrimination against, say, Catholics, something which has been very real and very harmful in British history. It’s only a few years ago that anyone in the line of succession to the throne was forbidden to marry a Catholic, though not a Jew or a Hindu or indeed a member of any other faith. But Catholics and Hindus, unlike Jews, are not ‘races’ and their suffering is ordinary and just not that important.

      • echinococcus on November 28, 2019, 6:18 pm

        “As I said in my comment below, the antisemitism = racism narrative has become mainstream in the past few years. It never was before, at least not in Britain. The vast majority of Jews in Britain are of European origin”

        That’s an obsolete, or anyway confusing acception of the term racism. “Racism” is more generally used for group prejudice targeting a characteristic by birth (like eg ancestry, nationality, place of birth, first language or, also, skin color.) There is no need for the existence of a race for there to be racism in that sense.

        Used for discrimination due to ancestry (= as an accident of birth), antisemitism would of course be racism, and therefore contemptible.

        The way Zionists and other tribals use it, though, is to imply that religion is transferable by birth or irrenounceable. Or that Jew-ness is some kind of nation, an “ethny” as clearly stated by this Zio-Rabbi. That is what he most vehemently must be attacked for.

      • Peter in SF on November 29, 2019, 2:59 am

        But in the United States, the ADL and like organizations never use the phrase “anti-Jewish racism“. The reason they don’t do that is that most Americans think of Jews (if not necessarily all Jews then certainly the majority of Jews) as White, and when you decry “racism” against a group of people who are perceived to be White, you lose credibility. The ADL even released a statement last year that “ADL is deeply offended by the perception of Jews as a race” and went into some detail in its explanation:
        https://neworleans.adl.org/news/adl-deeply-disturbed-by-characterizations-of-jews-as-a-race-in-louisiana-lawsuit/

        Obviously the Chief Rabbi chose his words very carefully for a piece that he knew would receive a great deal of attention. The phrase “anti-Jewish racism” occurs three times in the article. It also says that British Jews have been “victims of racism” in recent years. The word “antisemitism” is used in only one paragraph, viz.:

        We have endured quibbling and prevarication over whether the party should adopt the most widely accepted definition of antisemitism in the world. When the breakthrough came it was not without amendments, suggesting Labour knows more about antisemitism than Jewish people do.

        Mondoweiss readers know exactly what he’s talking about and why he’s being so evasive about it, so there’s no need to go into that right here, but notice that the only time in his entire statement that he uses the word “antisemitism” is in reference to a Labour resolution on the definition of the word.

        One word that is notably entirely absent in the Chief Rabbi’s piece is “religion” (or “religious”). Nor does he use a watered-down word like “faith” as in “faith community” (a popular term in the U.S.), or “spiritual(ity)”.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 29, 2019, 3:40 am

        “That’s an obsolete, or anyway confusing acception of the term racism. ”

        From the Oxford English dictionary:

        “racism
        /ˈreɪsɪz(ə)m/
        Learn to pronounce
        noun
        noun: racism

        prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

        ““Racism” is more generally used for group prejudice targeting a characteristic by birth (like eg ancestry, nationality, place of birth, first language or, also, skin color.) There is no need for the existence of a race for there to be racism in that sense.”

        “Generally used” by who? Not in Britain. And of course you need a race in order to be racist. As a white person, I cannot be racist towards another white person, which the vast marority of Jews in Britain are. What you are describing is bigotry and prejudice of various forms, making the term ‘racism’ so vague as to be meaningless. Words, do, however, have meanings and should not be abused for political smear campaigns.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 29, 2019, 8:21 am

        @Peter in SF

        Very interesting piece from the ADL. I’m going to refer to it any time someone screams about how antisemitism = racism.

        Though there’s this:

        “What unites Jews as a people, whether they come from Europe, Asia, Africa, or the Americas, is a common culture, rooted in a common religion.”

        I’ve asked this question before but never received an answer. Take away cultural practices related to religion, and what exactly is this ‘culture’ that unites, say, a Jew in New York and a Jew in Esfahan? They speak different languages, eat different foods, probably look quite different and have different lifestyles. Both very likely have much more in common with their fellow citizens of different faiths than they do with Jews on the other side of the world. So what exactly is this ‘common culture’? I cannot see how they have more in common than a Catholic in Ireland has with a Catholic in El Salvador.

      • echinococcus on November 29, 2019, 3:14 pm

        MDM,

        You certainly have a point re dictionary definitions and “street” understanding, especially in English-speaking countries.

        I should have been way more careful in formulating it. “General usage” is in fact limited to what I am aware of as general usage in the political speech of several different tendencies: as a hitting shortcut for “group discrimination against individuals based on any characteristics by birth”, which is a mouthful.
        I should also be more aware of the general Americanization of usage, following the demise, to all practical purposes, of the European left.

        It has been routinely used, as far as I am aware, to characterize not only group prejudice among what Americans call “White”, but also for interethnic enmity like Turkish-Greek, intra-ethnic conflict based on nominal religion only, as Moslem (Pakistani) vs Hindu Indians, Serbs-Croats-Bosnians, etc. It certainly is still abundantly used in the case of Zionists of all possible origins vs Palestinians (although, thinking of it now, I don’t think I ever came across any use in the case of Ireland.) Historically, I find oodles of that usage for older intra-European conflicts.

      • wondering jew on December 1, 2019, 1:23 pm

        Cohen is a jewish surname that cuts across regional differences. First names cut across regional differences as well.
        When discussing Jewish ethnicity one should specify regions: Ashkenazi vs. Sephardic vs. Mizrahi. The languages Ladino and Yiddish share an alphabet: the hebrew alphabet ( whatever its origins) is used by both.

        The intermarriage rates of ashkenazi and Mizrahi jews in israel is far greater than intermarriage rates of distinct ethnicities in other societies, which indicates the commonality these groups feel despite their differences.

        The historical experiences bear similarities and though the overwhelming fury of the 3rd reich was focused on ashkenazi jews, sephardi and Mizrahi Jews were not spared. Secular jews, converts to christianity, were also not spared.

        The existence of distinctive ethnic groups within the jewish grouping might have some political ramifications, but to ignore ethnicity when discussing jewish history or jewish sociology would be foolish.

      • echinococcus on December 2, 2019, 1:57 am

        Mr Friedman seems to be encouraged to insist in offering his crass ignorance to general admiration by doubling down after he is exposed.

        “Cohen is a jewish surname that cuts across regional differences. First names cut across regional differences as well.”

        Names, in the Eurasiatic and American area, are generally religious, duh. They “cut across regional differences for Christians, Moslems, Hindoos, etc. –and these are not an “ethnicity”.

        “When discussing Jewish ethnicity one should specify regions: Ashkenazi vs. Sephardic vs. Mizrahi.”
        Meaning one should be extremely careful to specify that these ethnic groupings have zilch, bupkis, nada to share with each other. Regions my eye and foot.

        “The languages Ladino and Yiddish share an alphabet: the hebrew alphabet ( whatever its origins) is used by both”

        Oh, the miracle! People who write with the liturgical alphabet of their nominal religion! Like most Catholic, most Islamic, etc. nationalities. How exceptional! How religion-independent!

        “The intermarriage rates of ashkenazi and Mizrahi jews in israel is far greater than intermarriage rates of distinct ethnicities in other societies, which indicates the commonality these groups feel despite their differences.”

        Who gives a rat’s privates for the disgusting practices of criminal invaders on criminally occupied soil? That’s not what anyone was talking about and see how miraculously the goalposts are moving by themselves…

        “The existence of distinctive ethnic groups within the jewish grouping”
        meaning the existence of 2 (not more than that, really…) definitely ethnic groups with their own language and peculiar culture, totally separate from each other.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on December 2, 2019, 4:32 am

        “Cohen is a jewish surname that cuts across regional differences”

        So one single surname which only a small minority of Jews have? Not proof of much, is it?

        “First names cut across regional differences as well.”

        Which is very common among religious groupings, which is what Jews are. The name ‘Maria’, for example, is very common among Catholics the world over, but nobody would claim that Irish and Brasilian Catholics belong to the same ‘ethnicity’.

        “The languages Ladino and Yiddish share an alphabet: the hebrew alphabet ( whatever its origins) is used by both.”

        Again – proof of precisely nothing. Persian, Urdu and – at one point – Turkish share the same script but have nothing else in common as languages. This is done for religious reasons, not ‘ethnic’ ones. All you’re doing is bolstering my claim that Jews are a religious, not racial, grouping.

        “The intermarriage rates of ashkenazi and Mizrahi jews in israel is far greater than intermarriage rates of distinct ethnicities in other societies, which indicates the commonality these groups feel despite their differences.”

        This is a really daft point, and I think you know it. They live in a state where Jewish identity is everything, so of course they’re going to marry each other. Wasn’t always the case though. An educated German speaking Jew in turn of the century New York would never have considered marrying his daughter to one of those Yiddish speaking Ost Juden from a village in Ukraine, let alone to a darker skinned Jew from the Middle East. The idea that they were all members of the same ‘race’ would have made him laugh.

        The historical experiences bear similarities and though the overwhelming fury of the 3rd reich was focused on ashkenazi jews, sephardi and Mizrahi Jews were not spared. Secular jews, converts to christianity, were also not spared.

        The existence of distinctive ethnic groups within the jewish grouping might have some political ramifications, but to ignore ethnicity when discussing jewish history or jewish sociology would be foolish.

        “The historical experiences bear similarities”

        You can find ‘similarities’ in” ‘historical experiences’ among all sorts of groups if you choose to look. Again, proves very very little.

        “The existence of distinctive ethnic groups within the jewish grouping might have some political ramifications, but to ignore ethnicity when discussing jewish history or jewish sociology would be foolish.”

        But you’ve said yourself. Jews aren’t an ethnicity. They are – at most – a collection of different ethnicities whose only commonality is practicing the same religion, or being descended from those who did. Which is precisely what we’ve been saying.

      • wondering jew on December 2, 2019, 4:40 pm

        MDM- It sounds as if you’re trying to prove something, which is understandable, because Zionism feels itself bolstered by the inherent unity of the Jewish people culminating in a Jewish state and you wish to disprove this.
        My point of view regarding what needs bolstering for Israel’s survival’s sake particularly in regards to Jewish ethnicity is practically nil.
        I wonder how jewish history would have developed without world war II (and its consequences including 1948) and how a jew like me (because I wouldn’t have been born without the war causing my mother’s family to cross the atlantic) would have reacted or interacted with a mizrahi jew or an ethiopian jew.
        (by the way in regards to the german jews, they knew they belonged to the same race as the ukrainian jew and they were embarrassed by him.)
        the first nonashkenazi jews i came across were from morocco, kicked out in 56 or so, made their way to france and then to winnipeg canada. i am not from the same ethnicity as them and any one studying the sociology of the melting pot of new york city would study ashkenazi jews (and the sephardic jews who preceded them) and the german jews versus the russian jews and the turn of the century and a few short chapters on the other ethnicities of jews.

        to me it is a matter of finding things in common with other jews that is of interest to me and where these commonalities come from.

        but you are trying to prove that the jews should have dissolved themselves and should still choose to dissolve themselves and I don’t agree with that. if they choose to do so, i’m not stopping them and i see the wisdom in such a move. but because i am close to so many jews who have not chosen dissolution, therefore the current state of the Jews is of concern to me. as such the cause of Israel is of primary import: to be specific, affinity for Hebrew and the Jews who feel at home in Jerusalem and in the Hebrew language and to be specific, a curiosity regarding the minority of Israel supporters who oppose the occupation and how this minority position interacts with the onslaught of anti Israel leftist sentiment and the onslaught of right wing Israeli sentiment.

        the ethnic aspect adds a specific spice to the stew of being a Jew on the eve of 2020 and the multiplicity of Jewish ethnicities simplifies it for you somehow to: if there is more than one jewish ethnicity therefore there is zero jewish ethnicity and to me it is a very interesting aspect of Jewish existence or persistence as we bid goodbye to 2019.

      • eljay on December 2, 2019, 5:08 pm

        || wondering jew on December 2, 2019, 4:40 pm ||

        So many words just to say that you believe in the universal and consistent application of justice, accountability and equality that the religion-based identity of Jewish grants to those who choose to embrace it the “right”:
        – to be supremacists;
        – to have as large as possible a supremacist state; and
        – to do “necessary evil” unto others.

      • Mooser on December 2, 2019, 7:02 pm

        “the inherent unity of the Jewish people…” “wj”, who else?

        “Yonah” get over yourself. Jewish “inherent unity” is exactly proportionate to how much anti-Semitism and segregation Jews are subjected to.
        When (legal and political)anti-Semitism and segregation are gone, Jews associate freely, just like anybody else would.

        But hey “wj” if you think promulgating the most basic anti-Semitic libel , that Jews are united with each other against everyone else, is beneficial, you keep it up.

        Funny how that “inherent unity” is keeping Israel from forming a government, even when all the Jewiswh parties agree on excluding the Palestinians.

  3. Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 28, 2019, 2:36 pm

    I disagree with the poster above that this is ‘excellent analysis’ as it appears the author has fallen for some of the anti Corbyn smears. Hence:

    “I have no doubt that antisemitism exists within the Labour Party and certainly on the hard left beyond the Labour Party. Strands within Marxist thinking (originating from Marx himself) can encourage this. So too can lazy analysis of Israel and Zionism. It mustn’t be tolerated or excused and it can’t be used to intimidate and hound out politicians considered too far to the right within Labour. Corbyn did not get a grip on this quickly enough.”

    I’m not sure what exactly Corbyn was supposed to have done to ‘get a grip on this’, and when. Is the author suggesting that there was no antisemitism in Labour until Corbyn became leader a mere 4 years ago? And since he elsewhere – quite rightly – asked for ‘evidence’ I’d love to see what evidence he can provide to bolster his claim that antisemitism might “be used to intimidate and hound out politicians considered too far to the right within Labour.”

    Then there’s this:

    “Antisemitism is real and it is growing. It needs addressing alongside other forms of racism.”

    I see that ever since the antisemitism weapon began being used against Corbyn, it’s become the norm to refer to it as ‘racism’. This was never before the case in Britain, probably because Jews are not in fact a race. You can convert to or out of Judaism, but you cannot convert in or out of a race, since it is based in biology, not religion. Judaism is a religious identity, not a racial one. Of course, that doesn’t mean that biogtry against Jews as a group does not exist, just as it does towards other religious groups (with Jews by no means the worst affected, certainly not in contemporary Britain). And all forms of bigotry are wrong. So it’s interesting that so many of those pushing the Corbyn as antisemite narrative insist on incorrectly describing antisemitism as racism. I believe this is all about identity politics and intensifying the victim narrative, whereby Jews aren’t just another religious group like all the others, but something more special a ‘race’. Even though they’re very clearly not.

    Anyway…… the antisemitism ‘crisis’ has reached absolutely absurd proportions, as might have been predicted. Corbyn is constantly being asked to ‘apologise’ on cue in a very McCarthyite fashion. Discussions on things which are much much more important to the average voter – such as the NHS, climate change or immigration – are dominated by the ‘antisemitism crisis’. Does anyone seriously think this is good for British Jews? How are non-Jews – ie all but 0.5% of the population – meant to feel when their very real concerns are deemed unimportant compared to some unnamed Labour party member retweeting an ‘antisemitic’ tweet 5 years ago?

    Then we have the real absurdities… such as how Corbyn’s (correct) pronunciation of Jeffery Epstein’s name with the last syllable rhyming with ‘fine’ was deemed evidence of ‘unconscious antisemitism’. No I am not making this up. We have reached the stage where how you pronounce a dead sex offender’s name is scrutinised for ‘antisemitic’ undertones. Future generations will look back in bafflement at how such insanity took hold. But it did.

    • Peter in SF on November 29, 2019, 1:55 am

      Maximus:

      I see that ever since the antisemitism weapon began being used against Corbyn, it’s become the norm to refer to it as ‘racism’. This was never before the case in Britain, probably because Jews are not in fact a race.

      I think we’ve all read the response to the Balfour Declaration by Edwin Montagu, the only Jewish minister in the British government of the time:
      http://www.balfourproject.org/edwin-montagu-and-zionism-1917/
      His memo includes this sentence:

      It is no more true to say that a Jewish Englishman and a Jewish Moor are of the same nation than it is to say that a Christian Englishman and a Christian Frenchman are of the same nation: of the same race, perhaps, traced back through the centuries – through centuries of the history of a peculiarly adaptable race.

      So here in this 102-year-old memo we see that this prominent British Jew does in fact accept that Jews in different countries are “of the same race, perhaps“.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 29, 2019, 8:12 am

        “So here in this 102-year-old memo we see that this prominent British Jew does in fact accept that Jews in different countries are “of the same race, perhaps”

        He can ‘accept’ it but it does not make it true. Jews are not a race. That is a fact. They are not even an ethnic group but at the very most, a collection of different ethnic groups. Perhaps not even that as it is possible to convert to Judaism.

    • Peter in SF on November 29, 2019, 2:13 am

      Then we have the real absurdities… such as how Corbyn’s (correct) pronunciation of Jeffery Epstein’s name with the last syllable rhyming with ‘fine’ was deemed evidence of ‘unconscious antisemitism’. No I am not making this up. We have reached the stage where how you pronounce a dead sex offender’s name is scrutinised for ‘antisemitic’ undertones. Future generations will look back in bafflement at how such insanity took hold. But it did.

      I noticed that when I watched the Johnson-Corbyn debate. Corbyn pronounced it “Ep-stine” the first time, and then “Ep-shtine” the second time. It is not correct to call either of these pronunciations “correct”, because the man himself pronounced it “Ep-steen”. But this kind of thing (and reaction to it) is not new. When I heard it, it reminded me immediately of 2003 when the BBC used to pronounce Paul Wolfowitz’s name as “Volfovitz”. This irritated Christopher Hitchens enough to write an article about it on Slate, “The Boy Who Cried Wolfowitz, A mispronunciation with undertones”:
      https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2003/06/mispronouncing-wolfowitz.html

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 29, 2019, 8:10 am

        ” It is not correct to call either of these pronunciations “correct”, because the man himself pronounced it “Ep-steen”.”

        I suspect that Corbyn, like the vast majority of Brits, has never heard a single word that Epstein ever uttered. I am close to 100% certain that he never once heard him pronounce his own name. I’m also willing to bet that you have not either.

        In Britain, there has only been one other well-known person with the surname ‘Epstein’ – the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein. And he pronounced his name to rhyme with ‘fine’. That’s how I would pronounce it too. It takes a special kind of insanity and narcissism to search for ‘othering’ in such a pronunciation.

      • Mooser on November 29, 2019, 12:15 pm

        ” ‘Epstein’ – the Beatles manager, Brian Epstein. And he pronounced his name to rhyme with ‘fine’.

        This casts a new light on the lyric: “I’m in love with her, and I feel Fein.”

    • jrg on November 30, 2019, 10:25 am

      Maximus: “Jews are not in fact a race.” No, we’re not (There are blonde-haired and blue-eyed sabras, black Jews from Ethiopia, and many shades between), but we are an ethnic-national group as well as a religion. There are recognizably Jewish names, there are non-religion-related Jewish customs, there are non-Israeli Jewish languages (Yiddish and Ladino), there are genetic diseases that are more likely to affect Jews than non-Jews (Tay-Sachs disease and breast cancer), there are at least some traits of physical appearance that are more common among Jews than other groups etc. These facts have to be kept in mind when people say that being Jewish is only a “religion-based identity.” It isn’t. Many people who are ethnically Jewish, as varied as Albert Einstein, Lazar Kaganovich and David ben Gurion, did not believe in all or even most Jewish religious teaching.

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 30, 2019, 5:55 pm

        “There are recognizably Jewish names,”

        Would these names be as likely to be found in Jews in, say, Iran, as in Jews in, say, America? Or are you simply thinking of Jews of European descent?

        “there are non-Israeli Jewish languages (Yiddish and Ladino), ”

        The former is a Germanic language, the latter a variation of Spanish. They are languages which used to be spoken by Jews living in certain regions. A Jew from Germany would not have understood Ladino, though a Catholic from Spain probably would have. They are not markers of ‘ethnicity’.

        ” there are non-religion-related Jewish customs”

        I asked above: Name one “non-religion-related Jewish custom” which all Jews from Iran to New York have in common. Just one.

        “there are at least some traits of physical appearance that are more common among Jews than other groups etc”

        Could you please name these ‘traits’? Because if the subject of this discusssion – Jeremy Corbyn – were to say what you just said it would be considered evidence of antisemitism. The way I see it, even as a casual observers, Jews from the Middle East look clearly different to Jews from Northern Europe., and both look more like non-Jews from the same region than they do like their fellow Jews from other continents. Probably because they ARE different.

        “These facts have to be kept in mind when people say that being Jewish is only a “religion-based identity.” It isn’t. ”

        It is though.

        How does one become Jewish, other than through conversion to the Jewish faith, or being descended from someone who converted to the Jewish faith?

        To repeat what I said above: You can convert to or from Judaism, like any other religion. You cannot convert to a different race, or even ethnicity. Judaism is a religious identity.

      • oldgeezer on November 30, 2019, 9:03 pm

        @Maximus Decimus Meridius

        If you do convert from Judaism then you lose your both your ethnicity and indigenity according to zionists. Yet no biological change occurs due to adopting a religion.

        Totally, 100%, religion based.

        And no secular Jews don’t obviate that argument.

        While I’m an atheist I was certainly raised in a Christian environment and society so yeah I follow most the religious customs of most holidays. It has no religious meaning to me. Zip. But it’s fun and brings family together. So secular Jews sharing some religuous customs doesnt’ make them biologically Jewish. They’re still Jewish religious customs.

      • echinococcus on November 30, 2019, 10:45 pm

        MDM,

        You can keep asking that particular question until the cows come home. Whenever the “moderators” let it get posted, I never received any response but the same invalidated, stupid statements. Their shameless propaganda tactic is that of never answering objections.

        There is no percentage discussing with Zionists, or even trying to reason with otherwise reasonable -souunding people who also cling to a belief in a “Jewish People-ness” of non-religious mytho-nationalists.

        “Judaism is a religious identity.”
        That is so according to sane mortals. According to Zionists and other tribalists, though, it is a characteristic by birth, not acquired, which one can’t lose even if totally irreligious and atheist –except by converting to a rival monotheist rite. This is precisely why Zionism is a profoundly racist ideology, condemned as such even by a majority of the UN.

      • echinococcus on November 30, 2019, 10:50 pm

        JRG,

        All three people you mentioned are ethnically German (Einstein) or Ashkenazi (Yiddish-speaking) east-Europeans.
        Is your contention that they are of the same “ethnicity” as Spanish, Dutch, Bukharan, Chinese or Ethiopian Jews?
        A little logic, please!

      • Maximus Decimus Meridius on December 1, 2019, 3:56 am

        “If you do convert from Judaism then you lose your both your ethnicity and indigenity according to zionists. Yet no biological change occurs due to adopting a religion. ”

        Maybe the poster can come back to us and tell us what happens to those “traits of physical appearance that are more common among Jews” when one converts out of Judaism? Or the reverse? Did, for example, Ivanka Trump acquire certain “traits of physical appearance” when she converted to marry Jared Kushner?

        “While I’m an atheist I was certainly raised in a Christian environment and society so yeah I follow most the religious customs of most holidays. It has no religious meaning to me. Zip. But it’s fun and brings family together. So secular Jews sharing some religuous customs doesnt’ make them biologically Jewish. They’re still Jewish religious customs.”

        Exactly. And like I’ve said, all ‘Jewish culture’, common to all Jews from New York to Esfahan, is based in religion. Whereas other ethnic groups, say Chinese or Italians, will have traits such as language, food or secular traditions which they carry with them everywhere in the world, at least until they become assimilated to the point that they no longer differ from the mainstream community. This simply is not the case for Jews, due to the fact that the are a religious, not ethnic group.

      • eljay on December 1, 2019, 10:16 am

        || jrg: … These facts have to be kept in mind when people say that being Jewish is only a “religion-based identity.” It isn’t. … ||

        Jewish is very much a religion-based identity, as it can only be acquired by:
        – undergoing a religious conversion to Judaism; or
        – being descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism.

        To the best of my knowledge it cannot be acquired by:
        – being born in “Judea and Samaria” / “Jewish State” / “land of Judah” / “Land of Israel” / Israel;
        – reading or speaking Hebrew; or
        – partaking of Jewish customs and cuisine.

      • Mooser on December 1, 2019, 4:30 pm

        ” being descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion to Judaism.”

        In which case you get your Judaism and Jewishness through your genes? Does this apply if the parents are “descended” from Jews, but not practicing the religion or educating their kids in Judaism?

        Sure, the children of actively Jewish parents will be exposed to Jewish religious education and customs, but they still have to accept the religion for themselves as they grow up or can reject it, or understand it and practice it very differently from their parents.
        Happens all the time.

      • eljay on December 2, 2019, 7:31 am

        || Mooser: … the children of actively Jewish parents will be exposed to Jewish religious education and customs, but they still have to accept the religion for themselves as they grow up or can reject it, or understand it and practice it very differently from their parents. … ||

        Thanks for the explanation, Mooser.

        My assumption was that being descended from someone who underwent a religious conversion meant that you already had the bona fides to be considered Jewish. You might have to “accept the religion” as a formality, but I didn’t think that “accepting the religion” was the same thing as undergoing a religious conversion.

        But if it is the case that the only way a person can become fully/correctly/indisputably Jewish is through religious conversion, that pretty much removes any doubt that Jewish is a religion-based identity.

      • Mooser on December 2, 2019, 12:30 pm

        ” These facts have to be kept in mind when people say that being Jewish is only a “religion-based identity.” It isn’t.” “jrg”

        Okay, it isn’t “only” (that isn’t enough? Why not?) a religion. We are everything you say and more besides with a cherry on top.

        And what does the world owe us for being all that?

      • Talkback on December 3, 2019, 11:38 am

        jrg. I can also tell you what Jews are not: A constitutive people. For example like the people OF Palestine since 1925. Which means the real souvereign and title holder of this land whether they are Jewish or not and not some foreign settlers who infiltrated this country under a British de facto and later Israeli de jure occupation and without any consent of the real indigenous population and citizens.

  4. Ossinev on November 28, 2019, 6:25 pm

    @MDM
    “Then we have the real absurdities… such as how Corbyn’s (correct) pronunciation of Jeffery Epstein’s name with the last syllable rhyming with ‘fine’ was deemed evidence of ‘unconscious antisemitism’. No I am not making this up. We have reached the stage where how you pronounce a dead sex offender’s name is scrutinised for ‘antisemitic’ undertones. Future generations will look back in bafflement at how such insanity took hold. But it did.”

    Thanks for this gem. I had somehow missed this “yet further evidence of JC`s virulent Anti – Semitism”. Having done some Googling on it I am now also familiar with a new and wonderfully dynamic term for “Ant- Semitism” viz “otherising”. And if I have understood this correctly Anti – Corbyn Jews on the one hand are criticising him for allegedly “otherising ” them whilst at the same time basking in the hubris of the likes of Rabbi Mirvis describing them as a distinct “ethnic minority” which patently self “otherises” them. Try squaring that circle – it comes up have cake and eat it everytime. And guess one of those “new wave ” at the time English comedic talents now author and presenter author David Baddiel has tip toed out of the Zionist closet to criticise JC.
    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10382852/david-baddiel-tweets-jew-notice-jeremy-corbyn-mispronounce-epstein/
    Funny thing (sic) about Baddiel is that he is (was?) a long time Labour Party supporter and in 2015 said of JC:
    “My main thing about Corbyn is I think the scaremongering about him by the right-wing press is so absurd it makes me want to support Corbyn, even though in some ways I might not. Some of the people around him I personally wouldn’t trust but I think he himself is a decent man.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Baddiel
    Sounds like he has been nobbled by the Zio machine since then . Shame on you David – flushing away what was your street cred so cheaply. Well there is I suppose a lot of competition in the TV “presenter” market these days.

    • Maximus Decimus Meridius on November 29, 2019, 4:07 am

      David Baddiel is a real piece of work – I don’t follow him on Twitter but from time to time his posts come to my attention. His usual MO is giving himself a bit of plausible deniability by saying ‘Oh I don’t think this is antisemitic BUT….. “and then giving lots of reasons why he think it actually is, and/or linking to some fanatic anti-Corbynite. He wrote several posts on the great EpSTEIN scandal, leading some commenters to point out that he was paying an awful lot of attention to something which he didn’t actually think mattered that much. Oh well.

      Not to mention that cries of ‘I’m a victim of racism’ don’t sit very well given Baddiel’s past in donning blackface and putting a pineapple on his head to mock black footballer Jason Lee.

      https://nyebevannews.co.uk/why-is-baddiel-being-given-a-platform-to-talk-about-prejudice/

      But like so many of these antisemitism scaremongers – Hadley Freeman or Jonathan Freedland being perfect examples – what Baddiel seems to miss most of all is that the vast, vast majority of British people really don’t give much thought to Jews one way or another. Why would they? Being Jewish doesn’t make you any more interesting than being Anglican, or Hindu, or athiest. Whatever they themselves might like to think.

  5. HarryLaw on November 28, 2019, 7:07 pm

    A poster put up by Peter Gregson [he has had articles in Mondoweiss before] featuring Corbyn and Netanyahu was taken down by the police at the last LP conference in Brighton, Corbyn said it was Antisemitic poison…
    “An antisemitic poster outside Labour Party Conference was allowed to remain by police before officers changed their mind and removed it.
    The poster — which was not officially connected to the Labour Party — depicted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu piloting a fighter jet labelled “the lobby” and yelling “antisemite! antisemite! antisemite!” at Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who is standing at a podium labelled “Palestinian rights”. The fighter jet is shown having fired a missile labelled “defamation” at Mr Corbyn. The implication of the poster is that the Israeli Government or the ‘Israel lobby’ — portrayed in a militaristic fashion — has weaponised antisemitism and is behind defamatory accusations of antisemitism against the Labour leader, and that Israel wields significant power over British political affairs.

    Even Mr Corbyn audaciously tweeted: “I’m disgusted that this banner was displayed near our #Lab19 conference centre. We asked the police to remove it and I’m glad they did. This kind of antisemitic poison has no place whatsoever in our society.” https://antisemitism.uk/antisemitic-banner-outside-labour-party-conference-eventually-removed-by-police-after-labour-intervenes-but-such-images-remain-standard-fare-on-social-media/
    Telling the truth is now incompatible with Labour party membership. Tony Blair can call Corbyn an Antisemite without any evidence [at an Israeli University this year] and nothing happens to him, yet an ordinary member who tells the truth has the LP compliance unit on his back and the usual suspects baying for expulsion. Corbyn will regret not fighting back against the smears and throwing his closest supporters under the bus.

  6. HarryLaw on November 29, 2019, 4:23 am

    UK Chief Rabbi Mirvis unprecedented intervention in the UK general election campaign was wrong when he said anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was a ‘poison – sanctioned from the top’. However a letter from another Rabbi supporting Corbyn will never see the same coverage
    The letter, written to Jeremy Corbyn, is signed by Rabbi Mayer Weinberger on behalf of the Executive Board of the United European Jews organisation. It describes the Chief Rabbi’s comments that British Jews are “gripped by anxiety” at the thought of a Labour government as “unusually disturbing”.
    Rabbi Mayer Weinberger has been forced to contact police after receiving threats over a letter he signed on behalf of Orthodox Jewish organisation United European Jews (UEJ).
    A spokesperson for the Rabbi has confirmed that he received chilling threats of harm to himself and his family if he did not withdraw and repudiate the letter, which supports and thanks Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for his “numerous acts of solidarity with the Jewish community”.
    We know where you and your family live.
    Part of the chilling threat to Rabbi Weinberger
    Rather than withdraw the letter, Rabbi Weinberger has contacted his local police force.
    https://skwawkbox.org/2019/11/28/rabbi-goes-to-police-following-personal-and-family-threats-for-issuing-pro-corbyn-letter/

  7. HarryLaw on November 29, 2019, 5:52 am

    Jeremy Corbyn does not have a racist bone in his body, however the same cannot be said of the Prime Minister Boris Johnson when he came out with these racist and homophobic comments…..
    He likened veiled Muslim women to “letter boxes and bank robbers”
    Last year, he referred to tribal warriors with watermelon smiles and flag-waving piccaninnies and then just to get another demographic in, tank-topped bum boys.” https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-question-time-debate-racism-muslim-gay-comments-columns-a9214561.html

  8. Ossinev on November 29, 2019, 7:42 am

    @MDM
    Still on the Monty Pythonesque skit about the prononciation of Epstein see/hear:
    https://www.pronouncenames.com/pronounce/epstein
    But wait a minute we also have Weinstein as in good old Harvey:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWLBueM6aK0

    For a scientific resolution of this critical existentially threatening cloud looming over Zioworld you have to go to the experts:

  9. HarryLaw on November 29, 2019, 10:12 am

    This must settle it….
    “It’s Frankensteen”: Dr. Frederick Frankenstein meets Igor for the first time.

  10. Vera Gottlieb on November 30, 2019, 2:37 pm

    I have NO USE for people like this rabbi. Inciting hatred…is that what the Torah is all about? Shame on you, rabbi.

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