Anti-semites, Past and Present
May 04, 2016 "Information
- We are desperately in need of some sanity as
the British political and media establishment seek
to generate yet another “new anti-semitism” crisis,
on this occasion to undermine a Jeremy Corbyn-led
Labour party before the upcoming local elections.
his supporters want to revive Labour as a party of
social justice, while Britain’s elites hope that –
in a period of unpopular austerity – they can turn
the Labour leadership’s support for the Palestinians
into its Achilles’ heel. This is nothing more than a
class war to pave the way for a return of the
Blairites to lead Labour.
its supporters in the UK are only too willing to
help fuel the hysteria, given their own fears that a
Corbyn-led government would be bad news for an
Israel committed to destroying any hope of justice
for the Palestinians.
analysed earlier efforts to foment panic about a
“new anti-semitism”, including during the early
years of the second intifada, when Israel’s
popularity plummeted. As now, Israel tried to
deflect attention from its increasingly clear abuses
of Palestinians – and its lack of interest in
peace-making – by suggesting that the problem lay
with critics rather than its policies. You can see
my articles about this
chief targets of the “new anti-semitism” smear
were supposedly leftist elements in civil society
and the media who were concealing their true goal –
vilification of Jews – behind criticism of Israel.
The campaign, despite being patent nonsense, was
successful enough that it cowed the few newly
emerging critical voices in the media – and
terrorised senior editors at the BBC into supine
compliance with Israel’s narrative.
we should take this current campaign seriously and
worry that Corbyn, who is already on the back foot,
is in real danger of conferring credibility on this
whole confected narrative of an “anti-semitism
problem” in Labour simply by giving it house room.
The only suitable response is derision. Instead
Corbyn has suspended leading members of his party
and has announced an inquiry.
be particularly wary of the wolves in sheep’s
clothing. The Guardian’s Jerusalem bureau
chief Peter Beaumont, for example, was
set the task of bolstering absurd claims against
Ken Livingstone for being an anti-semite after he
stated – admittedly clumsily – a historical
truth that for a period of time Hitler and the
Zionist movement shared enough common ground
that they held negotiations about transferring Jews
said the following on radio:
Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then
was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was
supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended
up killing six million Jews.
lot of information about this out there – Lenni
Brenner even wrote a book on the subject.
Livingstone’s mistake was both to express himself
slackly in the heat of the moment and to refer to a
history that was supposed to have been disappeared
down the memory hole. But what he is saying is, in
have gone further, in fact. A century ago, many
European anti-semites, including most members of the
British government that formulated the
Balfour Declaration in 1917 to create a “national
home” for Jews in Palestine, upheld the same logic
as the Zionist movement. They saw the Jews as a
race apart. They thought in terms of a “Jewish
question”, one that needed solving. And for many,
the solution was to export that “problem” far away,
out of Europe.
not surprising because Zionism emerged both in
reaction to Europe’s ugly ethnic nationalisms –
where it was normal to speak of “races” – and
mirrored these nationalisms’ failings. The Zionists
wanted to claim for themselves the same traits as
other European “races”: nationhood and territory.
And the European anti-semites were only too happy to
oblige – especially if the primary victims were
going to be brown people in the colonies, whether
in Uganda or Palestine.
Fortunately, there is an antidote to Beaumont’s kind
of stenographic journalism, apparently written up
after an afternoon at Israel’s Holocaust museum Yad
Vashem, in the form of this
interview with Norman Finkelstein. It is full of
puts into perspective both Livingstone’s comments
and the orginal “offending” Facebook post by Labour
MP Naz Shah that triggered the latest hysteria.
Finkelstein notes that the post (one dredged up from
two years ago), which shows a map of the United
States with Israel superimposed, and suggests
resolving the Israel-Palestine conflict by
relocating Israel to the US, was clearly intended to
be humorous rather than anti-semitic.
make a further point. It is also obvious that the
true target of the post is the US, not Jews or even
Israel – making the anti-semitism claim even more
implicit argument is that, if the US government and
ordinary Americans are really so committed to the
creation of a safe haven for Israeli Jews, then
would it not be far wiser to locate them inside the
US rather than supporting at great expense a
garrison state in the Middle East that will always
be at war with its neighbours? This is classic
satire, and the fact that almost no one in the
British media and political establishment can see
this – or, in the case of Corbyn and his allies,
afford to admit it – is the real cause for concern.
addition, Finkelstein concludes with a very powerful
argument that the “new anti-semitism” canard is
likely – and possibly intended – to fuel the very
anti-semitism that it claims to be exposing
what Finkelstein says:
Corbyn is Bernie Sanders. In all the primaries
in the US, Bernie has been sweeping the Arab and
Muslim vote. It’s been a wondrous moment: the
first Jewish presidential candidate in American
history has forged a principled alliance with
Arabs and Muslims. Meanwhile, what are the
Blairite-Israel lobby creeps up to in the UK?
They’re fanning the embers of hate and creating
new discord between Jews and Muslims by going
after Naz Shah, a Muslim woman who has attained
public office. They’re making her pass through
these rituals of public self-degradation, as she
is forced to apologise once, twice, three times
over for a tongue-in-cheek cartoon reposted from
my website. And it’s not yet over! Because now
they say she’s on a ‘journey’. Of course, what
they mean is, ‘she’s on a journey of
self-revelation, and epiphany, to understanding
the inner antisemite at the core of her being’.
But do you know on what journey she’s really on?
She’s on a journey to becoming an antisemite.
Because of these people; because they fill any
sane, normal person with revulsion.
this Muslim woman MP who is trying to integrate
Muslims into British political life, and to set
by her own person an example both to British
society at large and to the Muslim community
writ small. She is, by all accounts from her
constituents, a respected and honourable person.
You can only imagine how proud her parents, her
siblings, must be. How proud the Muslim
community must be. We’re always told how Muslim
women are oppressed, repressed and depressed,
and now you have this Muslim woman who has
attained office. But now she’s being crucified,
her career wrecked, her life ruined, her future
in tatters, branded an ‘antisemite’ and a closet
Nazi, and inflicted with these rituals of
self-abasement. It’s not hard to imagine what
her Muslim constituents must think now about
Jews. These power hungry creeps are creating new
hate by their petty machinations.
Cook is a Nazareth- based journalist and winner of
the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism -