In my work, it is never claimed that a group is represented by its worst members; the worst members is no more representative than the noblest members of whom a group may boast. What I have said is that the worst members are characteristic of the standards of a group, those the group just barely tolerates.
– Kurt Tucholsky, Der Richter (translation by Élise Hendrick)
In Paris, as I have said, I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism, Which I now begin to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to “combat” anti-Semitism.
– Theodor Herzl, (quoted from Marvin Lowenthal (ed.), The Diaries of Theodor Herzl, p. 6 in Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, p. 17)
If I knew that it was possible to save all the children of Germany by transporting them to England, and only half by transferring them to the Land of Israel, I would choose the latter, for before us lies not only the numbers of these children but the historical reckoning of the people of Israel.
– David Ben-Gurion (quoted in his official biography The Burning Ground, by Shabtai Teveth and Yoav Gelber Zionist Policy and the Fate of European Jewry (1939-42), Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII, p.199.)
[Polish antisemite and neofascist Michal] Kaminski is – as his record in Brussels shows clearly – one of the greatest friends to the Jews in a town where antisemitism and a visceral loathing of Israel are rife.
– Stephen Pollard, Poland‘s Kaminski is not an antisemite: he’s a friend to Jews, October 2009 (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/oct/09/michal-kaminski-antisemitism)
The Antisemitism that Escapes Notice
Much has already been written about the current ‘antisemitism’ row, in which racist groups have attacked Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party by manufacturing accusations of ‘antisemitism’ against – overwhelmingly Jewish and BME – Labour Party members and supporters. There have been the de rigueur debates over whether criticising Israel is antisemitic, whether opposing that regime’s founding ideology, Zionism, is antisemitic (shockingly, leading British Zionists say that it is), and so forth, ad nauseam. Equally predictably, the accusations have – with one exception – proved to be false, and those flogging the accusations have turned out to be associated with organisations dedicated to spreading propaganda in defence of the Zionist state.
In all of the discussion, one peculiarity has gone largely overlooked: The only even potential source of antisemitism – i.e., anti-Jewish racism – is assumed to be anti-racist activists who support Palestinian rights. On the one side, they are accused of antisemitism; on the other, they are defended against these accusations, but, with only marginal exceptions, Zionists themselves are irrebuttably presumed to be incapable of antisemitism. And thus, crucial ground is unnecessarily ceded.
Zionist organisations present themselves as the sole legitimate representatives of all people of Jewish descent, everywhere (and have done so ever since they were a tiny, marginal, right-wing sect in the Jewish community). When the representatives of Zionist groups present themselves as Jewish community leaders, no one asks when and where they were elected, or to whom they are actually accountable. when Israel is presented as ‘the state of the Jewish people’ rather than (accurately) as that of the Zionist movement, the assertion is taken as read. It is on these assumptions that Zionists claim the right to set the agenda in all matters related to Jews, including antisemitism. Put simply, Zionists use Jews as rhetorical human shields for the Zionist regime.
Refuting each of the above assumptions is trivial. None of the Zionists who appear in the media as representatives of the Jewish community as a whole has ever stood for election by that community. It does not matter how the community feels about these ‘representatives’, for they have no institutionalised means of sacking them. In much the same way, the State of Israel, which claims to represent all Jews everywhere does not give most Jews – who don’t even live there – any say in the Zionist regime’s policies. In both cases, the tacit assertion is that Jews are a politically monolithic and intrinsically connected to a state other than their state of birth and residence. In a word, the Zionist claim of standing to represent all Jews is antisemitic.
What do we see when we have a look at these assertions from a different angle? The Zionist claim to be the sole legitimate representative of all Jews reveals itself to be another iteration of the racist conspiracy theory that all Jews share a common political agenda, that of Zionism. Likewise, the Zionist claim that Israel is the state of all Jews turns out to be a retread of the antisemitic ‘dual loyalty’ trope that holds that Jews – considered to be a foreign body in their homes – are more loyal to ‘world Jewry’ than to their ‘host countries’. Furthermore, by claiming to act on behalf of all Jews everywhere, Zionists seek to transform Zionist atrocities into Jewish atrocities, for which all Jews are somehow responsible, the atrocities having supposedly been committed in their interest. It takes a real effort to see this claim, an old standard in the Zionist hasbara (propaganda) repertoire as anything other than a modern blood libel, and yet there it is, implicitly framing the debate about ‘antisemitism in the Labour Party’.
It may seem paradoxical that Zionists owe their claim to standing in the ever-repeating debate on antisemitism to antisemitic tropes, but it should come as no surprise, because Zionist ideology has been antisemitic from its inception.
It is a testament to the prevailing ignorance on Zionist ideology that rarely anyone ever remarks on the irony of Zionist groups purporting to fight antisemitism. After all, modern Jewish political Zionism is founded on the premise that combating antisemitism is a futile enterprise. In Zionist ideology, antisemitism is like a virus carried by Jews, a natural and inevitable reaction to their supposedly alien nature. Indeed, reams of Zionist thought are dedicated to agreeing with antisemitic stereotypes of Jews as alien, parasitical, and as a pernicious influence on their ‘host’ societies, whilst arguing that the only solution to the ‘Jewish Question’ thus posed is to ‘negate the Galut (‘exile’)’, repudiating centuries of Jewish culture, and seek redemption on ‘national soil’. Zionism, in short, is an exercise in victim blaming, where antisemitism is Jews’ own fault and only the mystical union between blood and soil can possibly put things right. These ideas have never been repudiated by the Zionist movement, and remain even today are a staple of Zionist propaganda urging Jews to abandon their homes and join the colonial enterprise in Palestine.
Guided by this ‘analysis’, the Zionist movement has never seen antisemites as the enemy. Since Herzl’s day, the Zionist movement has always viewed its role as the proponent of a ‘statesmanly’ grand bargain with the most virulent antisemites of their time, based on the belief that the likes of von Plehve, Balfour, Hitler, and today’s neofascists and fundamentalist Christian antisemites share a common goal and outlook with Zionists, namely a desire to see Jews bugger off.
This, ultimately, is the source of the Zionist notion of ‘the New Antisemitism’: Anti-Jewish racism of the sort displayed by Zionists and their chief allies is ‘old antisemitism’, and need not concern us (as if it had ever actually concerned them). The real problem for Zionists is not racism against Jews (without which the movement would wither and die), but the fact that their ideology has never been unanimously accepted, either within the Jewish community or without. Instead of acknowledging this and accepting that they are one of a number of currents of Jewish opinion, Zionists simply equate Zionism and the Zionist state to all Jews. Thus, the likes of right-wing Polish holocaust denier Michal Kaminski or John Hagee of Christians United for Israel, who sees Israel as a holding pen for Jews in anticipation of their ultimate extermination on the Second Coming, are not considered antisemitic by Zionist propagandists because of their unstinting support of the Zionist regime, whilst supporters of Palestinian rights are, by definition, irredeemably antisemitic, no matter how great their commitment to fighting racism against Jews and anyone else. When forced to choose between Jews and the Zionist state, the Zionist movement chooses the latter. This attitude – which is nothing short of treasonous in times of real danger for Jews, such as the first half of the 20th century – is encoded in the ideological DNA of the movement.
It is on this foetid swampland that the current ‘antisemitism’ witch hunt against anti-racists in the Labour Party is built.
With this in mind, let us turn to the specific accusations levelled against Labour Party members in the current ‘antisemitism row’.
Antisemitism Accusations against Labour: Equating Israel and Zionism with Jews
Most recently, David Watson of Walthamstow was suspended for referring to Zionism as a racist ideology and to Israel as committing genocide against the Palestinians. It should be noted at the outset that nothing in Watson’s remarks is directed at Jews. Moreover, his statements are true, a matter of no small importance for those for whom facts matter: From its inception, Zionism has posed the alleged ‘Jewish Question’ in explicitly racial terms, as people of ‘alien’ blood living on someone else’s soil. This racism against European Jews formed the template for Zionism’s treatment of Palestinians, whom the Zionist movement holds to be mere squatters in the land they have called home for centuries. As such, the Zionist state declares itself a ‘Jewish state’, which, as Tony Greenstein (himself suspended from the Labour Party on charges that the party has thus far refused to reveal to him) has noted, is only true in the sense that Jews are legally privileged over non-Jews in all areas of life.
Meanwhile, the assertion that Israel, a colonial state formed on an explicitly racist basis, is committing genocide against the indigenous Palestinian population, is well founded. The regime was born out of the mass ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Palestinians, and has, in its nearly 70 years of existence, regularly killed members of the indigenous population and imposed conditions of life on them that are calculated to bring about their extermination in whole or in part. The current Minister of Justice has explicitly called for the Palestinians to be physically exterminated. Meanwhile, officially sanctioned ‘death to the Arabs’ rallies are a widespread phenomenon. In short, what Israel is doing (with decisive US and British support) fits well within the established legal definition of genocide, and the rhetoric of leading figures in the Zionist regime give reason to believe that worse is yet to come.
In what sense can Watson’s factually accurate statements about the Zionist ideology and regime be considered antisemitic? The only way such an accusation is even intelligible is if one equates the Zionist state with all Jews and asserts that Zionist racism is an essential characteristic of being Jewish. In short, the accusation is itself antisemitic, as it smears all Jews with the blood-soaked brush of Zionism.
Bradford MP Naz Shah, for her part, came under attack for social media posts she’d made two years prior during Israel’s 2014 rampage in Gaza that killed over 2000 Palestinians, 500 of them children. One was a satirical meme that suggested that Israel should be relocated to the US. Perhaps sensing that the obvious comparator for this modest proposal – leading Zionists’ own proposals to forcibly expel Palestinian citizens of Israel – was not in the right spirit, Israel’s propagandists seized on the use of the word ‘transport’ to claim that the word itself was a Nazi reference. In effect, then, the hasbara campaign against supporters of Palestinian rights in the Labour Party has itself managed to liken Israel to the Nazis.
Another post of Shah’s that was unearthed has her referring to the fact that, in an online poll on Israel’s atrocities, ‘the Jews’ were voting en masse. This conflation of Zionists with Jews is certainly objectionable for the reasons already discussed, but the likes of John Mann and Jeremy Newmark, who leads a Zionist organisation called the Jewish [sic] Labour [sic] Movement, can hardly call this offhand conflation antisemitic without admitting antisemitism themselves.
Indeed, as I wrote in August 2014 in Helpful Hints for Zionists: How to Advocate for Israel without Being Antisemitic:
[The antisemitic nature of conflating Israel and Zionism with Jews] applies, incidentally, to how you name your organisation. Some pro-Israel advocacy groups, such as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Zionist Organization of America, and Americans for a Safe Israel, have wisely decided to give themselves names that make it clear that their real concern is Israel, rather than the interests of Jews. Others, such as the American Jewish Congress, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, the American Jewish Committee, and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, however, have succumbed to the temptation to use Jews as a human shield for their Zionist advocacy. By using names such as the latter, you are contributing to antisemitic tropes about Jews as a political monolith, and we all know where that leads. In naming your organisation, ask yourself whether its purpose is to represent the views and interests of the Jewish community, or to advocate on behalf of a regime that sees a Palestinian hospital and says ‘Yay, Bonfire Night’s come early this year’. If the latter is your objective, acknowledge and respect that not all Jews will agree with you and name your group accordingly.
Both John Mann and Jeremy Newmark – key figures in the current antisemitic campaign against anti-racists in the Labour Party – have form for this. Both were called as witnesses for the claimant when Zionists sought an Employment Tribunal ruling that the UCU’s boycott of Israel constituted antisemitic discrimination in Fraser v. UCU . In reaching the obvious conclusion that boycotting a racist regime does not constitute actionable discrimination , the FUCU tribunal took the opportunity to call Jeremy Newmark a perjurer:
We regret to say that we have rejected as untrue the evidence of Ms Ashworth and Mr Newmark concerning the incident at the 2008 Congress (see our findings under complaint (8) above). Evidence given to us about booing, jeering and harassing of Jewish speakers at Congress debates was also false, as truthful witnesses on the Claimant’s side accepted. One painfully ill-judged example of playing to the gallery was Mr Newmark’s preposterous claim, in answer to the suggestion in cross-examination that he had attempted to push his way into the 2008 meeting, that a ‘pushy Jew’ stereotype was being applied to him. The opinions of witnesses were not, of course, our concern and in most instances they were in any event unremarkable and certainly not unreasonable. One exception was a remark of Mr Newmark in the context of the academic boycott controversy in 2007 that the union was “no longer a fit arena for free speech”, a comment which we found not only extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing. (emphasis added)
and to take aim at the performance of John Mann, with whom we will soon become better acquainted:
(…) the more conciliatory tone of Dr MacShane gave way to a somewhat hostile display in which Mr Mann made no bones about his view that the union was operating in an anti-Semitic way and that those at its head must address the problem. He did not explain what the anti-Semitic behaviour was supposed to have consisted of besides referring to the boycott debate and characterising any boycott of Israel or Israeli institutions as itself anti-Semitic.
We did not derive assistance from the two Members of Parliament who appeared before us. Both gave glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions. For Dr MacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in [the report of the All-Party Inquiry into Antisemitism (sic)] (the effect of which he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even that assistance. He told us that the leaders of the [UCU] were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever to have witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting. And when it came to anti-Semitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, “It’s clear to me where the line is …” but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking. (emphasis added)
The point here is not merely that Mann is clearly unqualified to participate in a discussion of antisemitism both because of his fundamentally antisemitic beliefs and his unwillingness to discuss the issue with even a modicum of seriousness, or even that Newmark should have faced criminal charges for giving fabricated evidence; the point is that these are the sorts of people who represent a propaganda campaign that claims to be concerned about racism. And with all this effort, the closest thing they’ve been able to find – a post equating Jews with Zionists – is an offence of which they themselves are guilty on a much greater scale.
Naz Shah’s social media posts led John Mann, who has clearly learnt nothing from the FUCU debacle to compare her to Adolf Eichmann , who personally oversaw the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews, including those betrayed by Zionist apparatchik Rézső Kasztner (aka Rudolf Kastner) in yet another scab deal with the devil. Eichmann was not someone who posted a joke on social media. He was a mass murderer. If we take history at all seriously, the suggestion that a satirical social media post makes Naz Shah anything like Eichmann makes John Mann a holocaust denier. Nor can Mann fare any better if we assume – as is likely – that Mann’s remarks were not the result of any serious thought about the Nazi holocaust at all. Although Mann may in that case (only just) be exonerated of the charge of conscious holocaust denial, his casual and thoughtless abuse of the blood of millions as a cheap insult for a political target of opportunity bespeaks a callous trivialisation of an antisemitic atrocity that itself can hardly be called anything but antisemitic.
This is the same John Mann who, last year, claimed, despite not being Jewish in any sense of the word, that he was a victim of antisemitism in the form of a critic’s observation that he is a ‘Zionist scumbag’. This is the same John Mann who insists that the fight against antisemitism should be led by people like himself who are not Jewish and have neither personal experience with nor a personal stake in the issue of antisemitism.
John Mann’s trivialisation of the Nazi holocaust, combined with his insistence on marginalising Jews from the struggle against anti-Jewish racism, is easily the most egregious example of antisemitism in today’s Labour Party (and that’s before we get into his support for disgraced white supremacist ex-MP Phil Woolas). In many other contexts, Jeremy Corbyn and Jon Lansman’s failure to have a proper go at such a soft target would be cause enough for a stewards’ enquiry.
Mann’s exploitation of Jewish suffering as a punchline reached a crescendo when he declared Labour NEC member Ken Livingstone an ‘apologist for Hitler’ for bringing up the history of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis in the context of his defence of Naz Shah (for which he was himself suspended). Mann knows perfectly well that Livingstone opposes Zionism, and that, as such, his claim that ‘Hitler supported Zionism’ can hardly be taken as a defence of Hitler.
Livingstone’s remarks were problematic in several respects. For one thing, it is simply not true that Hitler, or the Nazis generally, ‘supported’ Zionism, though the Zionist movement itself made the same mistake at the time. Rather, Hitler exploited the Zionist movement due to their ideological opposition to antifascist organising (‘meddling in Gentile politics’), and their mawkishly naive attempts to ingratiate themselves on the mistaken assumption that the Nazis shared their goals. Hitler ‘supported’ the Zionist movement the way any boss ‘supports’ scabs: as a weapon against the rest of the Jewish community.
Likewise, Livingstone’s attribution of the Nazi genocide to Hitler ‘going mad’ is ableist, ahistorical nonsense. The Nazis didn’t shift from expulsion to extermination because Hitler ‘went mad’; they abandoned expulsion when the war made it impracticable, because the possible destinations for Jews either refused to take them in, or came under Nazi control themselves.
Historical inaccuracies aside, Livingstone’s remarks are problematic, but by no means antisemitic. The real problem is that Livingstone utterly missed the point. There was no need to bring up the history of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis in order to defend Shah’s social media posts, and by doing so – and doing so without a firm grasp of the facts – he merely distracted from the real issue and made himself an easy target.
Zionism and the Nazi Holocaust: Keeping Jewish Fear Alive
It has been said that anti-Zionists should leave the Nazi holocaust alone. This, in my view, is monumentally bad advice. Zionists bring up Hitler the way a cat brings up hairballs: frequently and accompanied by repugnant noises. Zionists clothe themselves in the ashes of millions of murdered Jews, and sell their racist, colonial regime as the solution.
It is often said – sometimes by sincere, well-meaning people – that anti-Zionists should not bring up the Nazi holocaust and the Zionist movement’s betrayal of the Jews of Europe because it amounts to picking at the wounds left by a major historical trauma. But are anti-Zionists the ones ‘bringing it up’ a propos of nothing? Is it anti-Zionists who equate one official enemy of Israel after another with Hitler, with no regard for the fact that they are, in effect, denying the Nazi holocaust? Is it anti-Zionists who conveniently rewrite history in order to exonerate Hitler and blame the Palestinians for the genocide? Is it anti-Zionists who twisted Naz Shah’s satirical meme in order to create a Nazi reference out of thin air? Is it anti-Zionists who deploy an impressive propaganda machinery to keep Jewish fear alive and prevent the wounds healing?
To listen to Zionists, they’re the heroes of the story, the only ones who warned of the coming slaughter, the ones who could have saved the day if only people had listened to them when there was still time. Zionists regularly present themselves as the guardians of the memory of the genocide and the experts on how to stop the next one.
Zionist abuse of the Nazi holocaust plays a central role in their efforts to legitimise themselves as representatives of all Jews, and to promote and exploit Jewish fears. This terrain should not be ceded to the propagandists of a genocidal, racist state.
However, the only legitimate reason to bring up the Nazi holocaust in discussions of Israel and Zionism is to discuss what the Zionist movement did. What Hitler did is peripheral; what matters in this context is how the Zionist movement conducted itself in European Jews’ darkest hour, why they did what they did, how they relate to it now, and whether they have changed their approach.
These last two questions are of particular importance. If the Zionist movement itself ensured that the collaborators in their midst were held accountable for their betrayal, and took responsibility for it before the Jewish community, if they identified and rectified the aspects of Zionist ideology and practice that made this collaboration possible, then it would indeed be fair to say that today’s Zionist movement, whatever else is wrong with it, is not the movement that scabbed on Europe’s Jews in the face of extermination. Then, the history of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis would be of mere academic interest; after all, few, if any, of those involved are alive today. Of course, if today’s Zionist movement were the same movement that sought a grand bargain with Jews’ worst enemy, Livingstone would not have been suspended for bringing up the history in the first place.
The reality is that there never was any accountability for the Zionist betrayal of European Jews. Indeed, when a writer by the name of Malchiel Gruenwald described Kasztner – who sold out hundreds of thousands of Jews in Hungary in exchange for the rescue of a few hundred prominent Zionists – as a collaborator, it was Gruenwald and not Kasztner whom the Ben Gurion government decided to prosecute, because, as Attorney-General Chaim Cohen put it in his submission to the Supreme Court:
Kastner did nothing more and nothing less than was done by [the Zionist leadership, who went on to occupy top positions in the Israeli government] in rescuing the Jews and bringing them to Palestine…You are allowed – in fact it is your duty – to risk losing the many in order to save the few…It has always been our Zionist tradition to select the few out of the many in arranging the immigration to Palestine. Are we therefore to be called traitors?
(from Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators, p. 289, ellipses in original)
Not only has there been no accountability for the individual Zionists who made deals with the Nazis that endangered – and in some cases directly caused the death of – European Jews, let alone those responsible for the twin Zionist policies of opposing safe havens for Jews other than Palestine whilst discriminating the Yishuv’s allotment of immigration certificates based on the ideological and economic needs of the Zionist colony rather than the humanitarian needs of persecuted Jews, and those who deliberately downplayed the news of the genocide in order to protect those policies – the Zionist movement as a whole has made no effort to re-examine its policy of putting the interests of the colonial enterprise in Palestine above those of Jews. This is why no less than the Stephen Pollard Jewish Chronicle can indignantly claim that that neo-fascist holocaust denier (and Tory ally in the European Parliament) Michal Kaminski is not only not antisemitic, but ‘a friend to Jews’ based merely on Kaminski’s staunch support for Zionism. This thinking is also to be found in Chief Rabbi Mirvis’ recent declaration denying anti-Zionist Jews the right to speak as Jews, although his remark likening the relationship of Zionism to the Jewish community to that of the City of London to Britain as a whole is perhaps a bit more spot on than Mirvis would have liked.
In short, this is not the same Zionist movement that betrayed European Jews in their darkest hour out of opportunism and ideologically driven naivety about the real agenda of their negotiating partners; this is a Zionist movement that looks on that disgraceful history with the benefit of hindsight, and sees nothing fundamentally wrong with it.
Of course, the underlying assumption of this argument is that the anti-Zionists in question are not Jews themselves. In many cases, they are indeed no more Jewish than John Mann, but this is certainly not always the case. What of those Jews who, knowing the history, consider Zionists’ self-portrayal as the saviours of Jewry to be no less than grave desecration? What legitimate purpose can possibly be served by expecting us to remain silent as the movement that – alone in the Jewish community – considered Hitler a potential ally claims to have been our last, best line of defence? Surely, if the wounds left by the Nazi genocide are ever to heal, we must pull the rug out from under those who seek to exploit that trauma, and question whether their longstanding sympathy for even the most repulsive antisemites deprives them of the right to proclaim themselves our representatives and defenders. For the wounds to heal, there must be at least historical justice for the collaborators, and accountability for those who would seek to whitewash treason.
The only way for the historical trauma of the Nazi holocaust to be overcome is for that crime, and the spectre of antisemitism, to be dealt with seriously and honestly, without redefining and rewriting them for contemporary political convenience. But this the Zionist regime and the Zionist movement can and will never do.
Because of Israel’s need to maintain an artificial majority of Jewish colonists, the regime has always been dependent on promoting Jewish immigration. To this end, Israel has marketed itself as an insurance policy for Jews, a place to go if it ever kicks off again (despite the Yishuv having turned away Jewish refugees on political and economic grounds the last time Jews needed a safe haven). Without antisemitism – or at least the fear of antisemitism – the colonial enterprise in Palestine has little to make it attractive to anyone except the tiny minority of far-right religious fundamentalists and ultra-nationalists. To the self-styled Jewish national liberation movement, thus, the demonstrable decline of antisemitism is not cause for celebration, but an existential threat that must be countered.
It is for this reason that, whilst the Palestinian struggle and the solidarity movement have been at great pains to combat attempts by racist groups to transform the struggle for Palestinian rights into an antisemitic campaign against imagined ‘Jewish world domination’, whilst Zionist organisations and the Zionist state are happy to consort with out-and-out neo-Nazis and holocaust deniers. Associations with racists can only provide propaganda ammunition for Israel and harm the Palestinian struggle, which derives its credibility from its anti-racist character. The Zionist movement, on the other hand, has never had any fundamental interest in avoiding ties to antisemites and other racists. Their claims to be interested in combating antisemitism are thus nothing but cynical fraud.
In this context, it should come as no surprise that one of the earliest targets of the Zionist witch hunt was none other than Brighton antifascist and long-time Jewish anti-Zionist activist Tony Greenstein, who has been as instrumental as anyone in exposing and rooting out antisemites who have infiltrated the Palestinian solidarity movement, most prominently fascist sympathiser Gilad Atzmon. If antisemitism were the real concern, Greenstein’s record would make him an obvious ally (and, indeed, at least one prominent pro-Israel propagandist has had the honesty to acknowledge this). Were this the case, we would expect to find the likes of Mann and Newmark coming to Greenstein’s defence. Their refusal to do so betrays their true agenda.
One might ask at this point where nominal Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is in all this. Given that this campaign against ‘antisemitism’ is, in essence, a campaign by the right-wing Labour machine against a leader who is perceived to be too pro-worker and too anti-racist for the tastes of those who hold real power in the Party, one might reasonably have expected him and his fixer, Momentum boss Jon Lansman, to be campaigning aggressively to counter right-wing smears against people who have supported and defended Corbyn. Instead, we find Lansman having closed-door meetings with the British branch of the racist Israeli ‘Labour’ Party (whose positions would put it on par with the National Front and the BNP in British politics), seeking to appease them by discussing pro-Zionist rule changes and internal enquiries (even though thorough digging by Zionist groups has only yielded two genuine cases of antisemitism in the entire party). Rather than using this issue to mobilise the Labour base, Corbyn and Lansman have been content to follow a policy of appeasement, as they have done repeatedly in the recent past. Once again, it becomes clear that Corbyn is either powerless to champion his principles (and those of the people who put him in the top job by a landslide), or they are not really his principles to begin with. Either way, Corbyn’s supine stance in the ‘antisemitism row’ demonstrates that Labour is, as ever, a dead end for left politics.
In closing, the current ‘antisemitism’ row demonstrates that it is well past time that anti-Zionists and the left generally went on the offensive on the issue of Zionist antisemitism. Neither Israel nor the broader Zionist movement – with their lengthy history of promoting antisemitic ideology and allying themselves with racists and fascists – has any right to be taken seriously on the issue of antisemitism. They have no plausible right to proclaim themselves defenders and representatives of the Jewish community on this or any other issue, and it’s time we attacked their undeserved credibility on the issue head-on by exposing them for the antisemites and reactionaries they have always been.
The fight against Zionism and the fight against antisemitism are one. This has already been recognised to a certain extent, e.g., in the Palestinian Granting No Quarter statement calling on the solidarity movement to cut ties to the likes of Gilad Atzmon. It is time, however, to take that recognition all the way and expose the antisemitism of Zionist ideology and practice. This is not only a principled approach that is consistent with the anti-racism at the heart of the Palestinian liberation struggle; it also deprives Zionists of one of their best weapons: the use of Jews as human shields for Israel.