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Zionists of the world (& co.) unite against Corbyn

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The faux ‘Labour anti-semitism problem’ has been a central feature in the fight of the conservative, pro-Israel establishment, against Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive (and pro-Palestinian) agenda, since he was elected to lead Labour in 2015. It culminated in an attack by the UK Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis this week, on the pages of The Times. The Zionist rabbi, who learned his Torah at one of the Israeli Jewish settler-colonies in the West Bank, has now claimed that “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety”.

The rabbi cannot distinguish between Zionism and Judaism. “One can no more separate [Zionism] from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain”, he asserted in 2016 – just as he apparently thinks that the illegal settlement of Alon Shvut, where his yeshiva of Har Etzion is based, cannot be separated from Israel.

The “Labour anti-Semitic problem” has been virtually non-existent, but then was made out to be a huge problem after Corbyn came to lead Labour. Not that it didn’t exist in the Labour fringes: 0.06% of the members were accused of anti-Semitism in cases which were deemed to merit a disciplinary hearing. But even that figure is lesser than on the right. In 2017, Al Jazeera aired a documentary called “The Lobby”, uncovering how secret Israeli operatives in the Israeli Embassy intervene in British politics, plotting to “take down” politicians critical of Israel, working with organizations in Labour to counter Jeremy Corbyn and maintain a strong Israel-loyalism.

This is the real “anxiety” that these people are gripped by. It’s not about anti-Semitism, it’s a fear that Israel may be taken to task for its violations. Indeed, Labour affirmed on its platform that it will halt weapon sales to Israel for its violations:

We will immediately suspend the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen and to Israel for arms used in violation of the human rights of Palestinian civilians, and conduct a root-and-branch reform of our arms exports regime so ministers can never again turn a blind eye to British-made weapons being used to target innocent civilians.

That’s the real fear. Zionists fear such sanctions. Thus Rabbi Mirvis felt he was compelled to act, as a kind of religious duty–because he can’t separate Zionism from Judaism. He nonetheless appeared somewhat aware of the problem: “Convention dictates that the Chief Rabbi stays well away from party politics – and rightly so”, he wrote. But this was an exception, because “the very soul of our nation is at stake”.

Mirvis cannot grasp that as an ultra-nationalist, he is in no position to save that soul. Any more than he is able to separate his Jewish soul from his Zionist one.

The hypocrite Mirvis turned the tables. The witchhunt against Corbyn became a case of Jewish victimhood:

The Jewish community has endured the deep discomfort of being at the centre of national political attention for nearly four years. We have been treated by many as an irritant, as opposed to a minority community with genuine concerns. Some politicians have shown courage but too many have sat silent. We have learned the hard way that speaking out means that we will be demonised by faceless social media trolls and accused of being partisan or acting in bad faith by those who still think of this as an orchestrated political smear.

An orchestrated political smear it was, and still is, and it is only the more appalling that the orchestrators of it, such as Mirvis, are also presenting themselves as the victims.

And there’s more to this farce. Just after Mirvis published his piece on Tuesday, the Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited him and was filled with pride over the Rabbi’s political intervention:

Meeting @ChiefRabbi Ephraim Mirvis this morning, I offered my support for his inspiring work against rising #anti-Semitism and #racism. His clear voice and leadership, particularly in the last few days, fills us all with pride.

The Israeli President is also supposed to be an apolitical figure – but here he is, a leader from a distant nation, congratulating a religious leader in a foreign country for his political intervention on behalf of Israel in that country. This is a multiple political intervention, and all under the supposed ‘apolitical’ concern for anti-Semitism.

And if it’s a chief rabbi saying it, it’s gotta be serious. Thus the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby chimed in, saying that the rabbi’s intervention should “alert us to the deep sense of insecurity and fear felt by many British Jews”. If the rabbi (and the Archbishop) say so, it can’t be wrong, even if it’s beginning to sound like a really bad joke. If it only was just funny. And so this great religious orgy became an invitation to other ultra-nationalist bigots, such as Hindu Council official Anil Bhanot, who said that Labour was not only anti-Semitic, but “almost fascist” – because you know, if you criticize India’s nationalist crackdown on Kashmir, something’s wrong with you. India and Israel are real close buddies, the Indian Consul-general in US just called for applying an “Israeli model” in Kashmir, complete with colonialist settlements.

So there’s a great flocking together of Zionists and their allies, under the holy mission of tackling Jeremy Corbyn. As Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz recently, it’s been “the contract on Corbyn”:

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, and it was clear that the closer Corbyn came to being elected prime minister, the harsher the conflict would get.

While decent journalists like Levy point out that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite and never was, Zionists, even of the supposedly ‘liberal’ type like Forward Opinion Editor Batya Ungar-Sargon, shamelessly ride the wave of incitement against Corbyn and suggest that he is an anti-Semite  or endorse that view. While Bari Weiss of the New York Times labels him an anti-Semite outright.

Some of us have been pointing out how disastrous this political trend is for Judaism: to be so closely affiliated with an ultra-nationalist, settler-colonialist movement, Zionism, that the religion and the movement become indistinguishable, and leading rabbis push this conflation. Jeremy Corbyn is actually trying to bring the British “nation” forward to a place of decency with respect to international law and human rights. But those of the Zionist persuasion work against that progress.

We can only hope that the allegiance to Zionism amongst Jews does not create more anti-Semitism. Judaism should be known for other things than violence, bigotry, hypocrisy and ultra-nationalism. But Ephraim Mirvis is making it hard for us to persuade others that this is the case.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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11 Responses

  1. Misterioso on November 30, 2019, 10:57 am

    Zionism in action:

    “Israeli Jewish rabbi: Burning Christian churches in Israel justified”

    Palestine 24 Post, Nov.19/19

    “The Rabbi said he is ready to spend 50 years in prison for burning a church.”

    “The Israeli Jewish Rabbi Benzi Gopstein has said that Christian churches in Israel must be burnt because Christians worship idols and idols must be destroyed.

    “Gopstein, the head of Lehava group, made his remarks at a panel discussion for Jewish yeshiva students when asked by a fellow panellist if he believed burning down churches in Israel was justified.

    “’Did the Rambam [Maimonides] rule to destroy [idol worship] or not? Idol worship must be destroyed. It’s simply yes – what’s the question?’ Gopstein told the panel.

    “His comment alarmed his questioner Benny Rabinovich, a journalist, who told him: ‘Benzi, I must say I’m really shocked by what you’re saying here. You are essentially saying we must go out and burn down churches. You’re saying something insane here.’

    “Told by another panellist, Moshe Klein, that the discussion was being filmed and that his remarks could lead to his arrest, Gopstein answered: ‘That’s the last thing that concerns me. If this is truth, I’m prepared to sit in jail 50 years for it.’

    “Gopstein later tried to evade accusations of inciting his followers to fire-raise, saying it was the government’s responsibility to carry out what he presented as a religious teaching of the 12th century Jewish philosopher, Maimonides.

    “In 2015, Shin Bet – Israel’s domestic intelligence agency – concluded that there are no legal grounds for outlawing Lehava, despite a request from the then Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon to consider doing so.

    “Lehava – whose name means ‘flame’ – regularly holds open gatherings in Jerusalem’s Zion Square, where members distribute literature warning of the dangers of relationships between Jewish women and Arab men.

    “The group held a demonstration at which members chanted ‘death to the Arabs’ outside a wedding between a Muslim and Jewish woman who had converted to Islam in 2014.”

  2. HarryLaw on November 30, 2019, 12:36 pm

    The Chief Rabbi was wrong to criticize the Labour Party, he is supposed to be above party politics, this might have a tendency to backfire on himself, and the UK Jewish community. Unfortunately a far worse interjection was made by Tony Blair over 6 months ago….
    During an interview at Bar Ilan university in Israel on 4th June 2019 Mr Tony Blair made a factually false allegation of Anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn. When answering a question… “if he believed Corbyn himself was Anti-Semitic, Mr Blair said yes” Mr Blair did not refer to any specific allegation of Anti-Semitism against Mr Corbyn.
    A gratuitous and false accusation such as this without providing evidence is a grave breach of an ordinary person’s rights and does in fact bring the Labour party into disrepute in breach of its own rules, it could also ostracize that person from society for life, in the case of Mr Corbyn a life time believer in anti-racism he could be forced out of his leadership and the country deprived of a Labour government, so the stakes are extremely high.
    Could Blair’s false allegation have any effect on Labour Party members or the average voter? Of course it could, because Mr Blair has a very high profile and having served as leader and Prime Minister of the Labour party for 13 years and Envoy to the Middle East quartet for many years, his views have enormous credibility, plus he is a lawyer, so he should know his words have consequences.
    Would the average voter believe Mr Blair? Yes, because of his high profile and credibility over many years people are inclined to say, why would Mr Blair tell lies? What could he possibly gain? Obviously nothing, so people would tend to believe him. Have the Labour party expelled or warned Tony Blair as they have expelled others for far lesser breaches of Labour party rules? No.

  3. Vera Gottlieb on November 30, 2019, 2:34 pm

    Indirectly, israel is meddling in the UK’s election process. Corbyn anti Semitic? Why? Because he opposes how israel is treating Palestinians? Or because this shit-disturbing rabbi says so? I am of Jewish background (and not exactly proud of it) and I most certainly oppose what israel is doing. So…am I an anti Semite too? The MSM needs to stop and think before giving “carte blanche” to such nonsensical hatred and printing it.

  4. Tom Suarez on November 30, 2019, 2:40 pm

    Thanks, Jonathan.
    Regarding “we can only hope that the allegiance to Zionism amongst Jews does not create more anti-Semitism,” indeed that is Zionism’s marvel of self-perpetuating efficiency. Those who take Zionism at its word, that it is synonymous with “Jews”, therefore hold Jews, as Jews, culpable for Zionism’s crimes. Zionism, to thrive, needs antisemitism, real or perceived, as a permanent state of humanity.
    The UK has already experienced this: The horrible anti-Jewish pogroms in Britain in the summer of 1947, following the macabre hangings of the sergeants and booby-trapping of the bodies. The many Brits coming back from Palestine in body bags were seen by bigots as the victims not of Zionist thugs, but of “the Jews” — they were, after all, according to the Zionists, one and the same.

    • eljay on December 1, 2019, 1:27 pm

      || Tom Suarez: … Those who take Zionism at its word, that it is synonymous with “Jews”, therefore hold Jews, as Jews, culpable for Zionism’s crimes. … ||

      As Zionist commenter JeffB once wrote:|

      There is nothing anti-Semitic with blaming Jews for stuff that Jews institutionally support. … Not holding the Jews responsible for Jewish policy on the excuse that “well some Jews didn’t agree” is denying them agency.


      … Israel is the agency by which Jews as a nation take collective action. … What we do, we do as a people.

      With friends like Zionists, Jews don’t need enemies.

  5. Kay24 on November 30, 2019, 6:47 pm

    Jeremy Corbyn has been demonized, and caricatured, and it is all a concerted effort by the Israeli lobbies, that do the same damage in the UK, just like they do over here. It is unfortunate that he has this huge hurdle to get over, if he ever stands a chance of becoming Britain’s leader. Apparently The Guardian has been doing damage to his reputation over there.

    “It was difficult to attack Corbyn directly for these positions. There was the danger that they might prove popular with voters. But Corbyn was seen to have an Achilles’ heel. He was a life-long anti-racism activist and well known for his support for the rights of the long-suffering Palestinians. The political and media establishments quickly learnt that they could recharacterise his support for the Palestinians and criticism of Israel as anti-semitism. He was soon being presented as a leader happy to preside over an “institutionally” anti-semitic party.”

    How about US interference?

    “Framing Corbyn yet again as an anti-semite, a US Jewish leader could be heard asking Pompeo if he would be “willing to work with us to take on actions if life becomes very difficult for Jews in the UK”. Pompeo responded that it was possible “Mr Corbyn manages to run the gauntlet and get elected” – a telling phrase that attracted remarkably little attention, as did the story itself, given that it revealed one of the most senior Trump administration officials explicitly talking about meddling directly in the outcome of a UK election”

  6. Bumblebye on November 30, 2019, 7:17 pm

    This incessant attack is getting some fightback – and the behaviour of boris and senior tories is also having a negative impact. Since the election was called to today, the Telegraoh (aka ‘Torygraph) has revised their projected tory majority from 80 sests down to 12. With 12 days left to go, with some 5 million newly registered voters (total since the month before the election was called) – responding to calls put out all over social media by the Labour Party as none of the other major parties even bothered – there is absolutely *no* foregone concludion about this election yet.

    As for pushback, see the video in this article, taken from hustings in his own constituency, of Matt Hancock, boris’s Health Secretary, losing an argument over nurse numbers in the NHS. He goes to a crazed rant about Labour antisemitism – and his constituents, the people he wants to re-elect him, are roaring their fury until the mic is taken away from him!

    Then there are hundreds, if not thousands, of british Jews, prominent and not, posting pictures of themselves as supporting Labour – sometimes with longer accompanying posts – on social media, others, like Robert Cohen, posting articles on blogs. Here’s one from Michael Rosen:

  7. Avigail on December 1, 2019, 12:45 pm

    Really important piece Jonathan, thank you! Try to publish it in The Guardian! Avigail

  8. Mooser on December 1, 2019, 2:04 pm

    And soon the Tories will be saying: ‘If Labour wasn’t so anti-Semitic, Britain could have kept the NHS!’

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