Jeremy Corbyn’s success in Great Britain reflects an eroding neoliberal consensus that the establishment is fighting to maintain. To undercut Corbyn this establishment has attempted to recharacterize his support for the Palestinians and criticism of Israel as anti-semitism. These attacks have transformed the whole discursive landscape on Israel, the Palestinians, Zionism and anti-semitism in ways unimaginable 20 years ago.
Tag Archives: Jeremy Corbyn
Jonathan Cook writes that while there are signs politicians in the U.S. are finally ready to shine a light onto the pro-Israel lobby, the opposite is taking place in United Kingdom. He says this is due to the way the Israel lobby has recently emerged in British politics – hurriedly, and in a mix of panic and damage limitation mode due to the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, and the end of the international two-state consensus.
The charges of anti-Semitism in the UK Labour Party reflect a program by Israel supporters to smear those who bear witness to apartheid in Palestine who are slowly changing the country’s global reputation. Today a growing number of Jews support Palestinian rights, while Israel is forging a strange alliance with Islamophobes and nationalists.
UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called for Britain to cease arms sales to Israel following a UN report that the Israeli army’s actions against Palestinian protesters in Gaza’s Great March of Return could amount to war crimes. “The UK government must unequivocally condemn the killings and freeze arms sales to Israel,” Corbyn tweeted Friday.
A new documentary called WitchHunt points out the narrow room for debate over alleged antisemitism in the British Labour Party. Anti-Zionist Jews are excluded as unrepresentative of British Jews. And why is it okay to talk about antisemitism and Zionism in Britain without asking a Palestinian what their direct experience of Zionism has looked and felt like?
Jonathan Cook says that elites in the U.S. and Europe have moved on from their once-defensive posture that Zionism is not racism. Now, they are on the attack. Their presumption is that anti-Zionism is synonymous with racism and across the West there are efforts to codify this into law. Nowhere is this clearer than in France where Emmanuel Macron recently threatened to outlaw anti-Zionism.
Israeli left Zionist Union lawmaker Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin attended a UK Labour conference, where she said that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite because he is not “balanced” on the Israel-Palestine issue but that it would be impossible for Benjamin Netanyahu to be a racist.
There are lots of good reasons to think the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, now adopted “in full” by Labour’s national committee and by Labour MPs, is, well, a bit rubbish, writes Robert Cohen: “The truth of the matter is, the Jewish community can no longer define ‘Zionism,’ or indeed ‘anti-Semitism,’ without the help of Palestinians.”
Pete Gregson on the fallout in the UK Labour Party after the vote adopting the full IHRA definition of antisemitism: “What we are seeing is a Party in fear of the media, allowing Zionists to undermine freedom of speech. What we need to do is show those in fear of bad press that the NEC cannot pay lip service to a thing that it does not believe in. For who can argue that Israel is not a racist state? It’s as if we’re allowing Theresa May and Netanyahu to write our rule book here.”
The UK Jewish establishment war on Jeremy Corbyn continues with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks likening him to British pol Enoch Powell, infamous for a bigoted speech. British Jewry is weakening its battle against real anti-Semitism, and weakening its connection to minority communities that face harsh discrimination.
Next week the UK Labour Party’s governing body, the National Executive Committee (NEC), will be voting on whether to adopt examples of antisemitism put forth by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in its definition of antisemitism. Pete Gregson wrote to all 26 NEC candidates to seek their views on the vote. Of the 12 responses that came back, 5 were for adopting the full IHRA definition and examples, 6 were for no change, and 1 was unsure. Of those in favor, he posed the question “If it’s passed and I said Israel is a racist state, would I get expelled?”
In a few days Britain’s Labour Party will decide if it will adopt a controversial definition of anti-Semitism. Norman Finkelstein writes, “If the Labour Party adopts these taboos, respected scholarship will be suppressed while Israel will become the beneficiary of a pernicious double standard.”
A coalition of 24 Palestinian civil society groups, including the largest trade unions, professional associations and refugee networks, released a statement urging the UK Labour Party and trade unions to reject the “biased, anti-Palestinian” IHRA definition of antisemitism which seeks to conflate antisemitism with criticism of Israel. The definition they say, “aims to silence criticism of Israeli policies that clearly violate Palestinian human rights.”
On August 19, Israeli Advocate Eitay Mack filed a freedom of information request to shed light on the government’s role in the ongoing smear campaign against UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. In an interview with Mondoweiss, Mack spoke about his motivations behind filing such a request, the significance of Israel’s possible interference in UK politics, and the Netanyahu government’s failure to challenge real threats of anti-Semitism in Europe and around the world.
Last week an unprecedented intervention occurred into the debate in the UK over the definition of antisemitism. Over 80 community, professional and rights-based organisations representing black, minority ethnic and diaspora peoples decried what they say is the framing of antisemitism in a way to ‘silence’ Palestinians, and other migrant groups, from speaking about their history.
In a piece in the New York Review of Books on the Labour anti-semitism controversy, Matt Seaton lumps anti-Zionism with anti-Jewish bigotry. The unspoken assumption of the article is that Palestinians have no right to be anti-Zionist and that anti-Zionism is a form of vitriolic zealotry and can never be a principled human rights position.
The current hysteria engulfing the British Labour Party is based on the premises that anti-Semitism in British society at large and the Labour Party in particular has reached crisis proportions. There is no evidence for either claim, Norman Finkelstein shows.
Jimmy Wales the founder of Wikipedia has disappointed a lot of folks in the last day by siding with Israel over the latest exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza, and by essentially accusing British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of anti-semitism.
We seem to be hearing a lot these days about an “antisemitism problem” on the Left – and accusations of “antisemitism” are almost sure to arise whenever Israel is criticized. Peter Cohen writes that what we really should be concerned about is racism in all of its forms – including, but by no means limited to – anti-Jewish racism. “Keeping our focus on racism rather than only antisemitism also makes it easier to see the shocking prevalence of racism in the discourse of Zionists themselves,” Cohen says.
Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine writes, “We call on everyone to see that creating a largely-mythical anti-Semitism ‘crisis’ in the Labour Party is one of the few tools left to ailing and desperate establishment hacks wanting to smear Corbyn and maintain UK support for Israel, no matter how many Palestinians the Israeli army slaughters, or how many houses, schools, and hospitals Israeli jets destroy in Gaza. In the face of this, Zionist groups with a history of uncritical support for Israel claim that Corbyn presents an existential threat to British Jews? This is obscene, hypocritical scaremongering.”
The Jewish establishment in the UK has only one issue: Israel, and how best to protect it from criticism. On this basis they are willing to brand the main opposition party in Britain as irredeemably antisemitic under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. And that’s what makes Robert Cohen fear where we could be heading.
Conservative British Jewish organisations are trawling Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn through the mud of ‘anti-Semitism’ for a Facebook response in 2012 to a London street mural portraying oppressive bankers. The campaign is about one thing: preventing criticism of Israel inside a major British political party.
At a British Labour Party gathering, Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest applause came when he said the oppression of Palestinians must end. No wonder he snubbed an invitation from the Jewish Leadership Council to commemorate the Balfour Declaration at 100. And no wonder a UK diplomat says Balfour’s promise to non-Jewish communities has gone unfulfilled. Balfour anniversary is dividing British opinion on Israel.
The witch-hunt against ostensible ‘anti-semites’ in the British Labour has intensified into ‘thought crime’ persecution. A Jewish professor was expelled from Labour because of what Jews “feel and know” about his argument that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.
Pro-Israel activists in the UK Labour Party say there has been a surge of anti-semitism in the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader two years ago. Moshe Machover, an anti-Zionist philosophy professor born and raised in Israel, appears to be among the first Labour members to be netted by a rule change on anti-semitism for an article he wrote, paradoxically titled “Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism”. As Jonathan Cook shows the pro-Israel activists’ concerns are much less about anti-semitism than about Corbyn and the trend he represents, including the possibility that Palestinians will be put at the heart of a Labour government’s foreign policy.