Labour’s Anti-Semitism “Crisis” is Bollocks

JVL Introduction

Richard Silverstein argues that an alliance of the local Israel Lobby, the Tories and much of the British media has concocted an antisemitism scare, declaring the Labour Party riddled with Jew hatred. The ultimate goal is not to stamp out antisemitism here but to destroy Labour’s chance of coming to power

This article was originally published by Tikun Olam on Sun 14 Jul 2019. Read the original here.

Labour’s Anti-Semitism “Crisis” is Bollocks

The current so-called anti-Semitism crisis in the British Labour Party is founded on a complete misunderstanding of what anti-Semitism really is. It is based on a complete misunderstanding of Jewish history and the real suffering of the Jewish people over the centuries.

The current so-called anti-Semitism crisis in the British Labour Party is founded on a complete misunderstanding of what anti-Semitism really is. It is based on a complete misunderstanding of Jewish history and the real suffering of the Jewish people over the centuries.

Today, anti-Semitism poses nowhere near the danger it once did to the Jewish people. And a good deal of the danger it continues to pose derives from a false conflation of Israel with the Jewish people. When an Islamist militant attacks a Jewish school in France or a Jewish museum in Belgium it is because he falsely believes that Israel and being Jewish are the same thing. They clearly are not.

Israel’s leaders bear a considerable part of the blame for this confusion because they often speak in the name of world Jewry. They assume that the interests of Israel are the same as the interests of Jews throughout the world. They claim, for example, that Iran wants to destroy the Jewish people, when they know that Iran’s quarrel is not with Jews, but with Israel.

Israeli settlers too are guilty of co-opting Judaism in pursuit of their ultra-nationalist goals.  They have turned Zionism into a movement that seeks to incite a holy war with Islam. It is no wonder that Islamists have become convinced that Jews are their enemy, when they are not.

Currently, in the UK an alliance of the local Israel Lobby, the Tories and much of the British media have concocted an anti-Semitism scare, declaring the Labour Party is riddled with Jew hatred. In response, Labour has adopted a deeply flawed IHRA definition which posits that most criticism of Israel is ipso facto, anti-Semitic. This was a “cave” to the Party’s enemies in a false belief that giving them half a loaf would make them go away.  Any one of us could’ve told them that giving them that half loaf meant they were going to come back for the whole.  And they have.

The ultimate goal of this campaign against Labour is not to stamp out anti-Semitism in England or in the Labour Party. Rather, the goal is to tar the Party with the brush of Jew-hatred so that British voters will view the Party as extremist.  The purveyors of this canard care not so much about promoting tolerance in Britain, as they do about destroying Labour’s chance of becoming the ruling party in the coming election.

Jeremy Corbyn’s views on Israel-Palestine are to the left of any recent British prime minister. Israel and its allies know that if he becomes prime minister, he will be far more critical of it than any leader in decades. It also realizes that Europe has become a hotbed of pro-Palestinian activism, including the BDS movement.

If Corbyn wins, he will serve as a beachhead, in the view of the Israeli government, for anti-Israel sentiment in Europe. Activists throughout the continent will look to Britain’s Labour Party to lead the march for Palestinian rights.

Finally, real anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews. While there may be some who hate both Israel and Jews who are real anti-Semites, criticism of Israel alone has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. Criticism of Zionism (including anti-Zionism) is aimed against a nationalist ideology, not against a religion. Criticism of Zionism is political in nature. It is not based on theology or any sort of racist notion.

Those who propagate the anti-Semitism smear are deliberately confusing politics with religion.  Whenever you do this you create an insoluble problem. Political debate is one thing.  People may argue about their views on politics and seek compromise.  But once you introduce religion, there is no compromise.  Each side believes they are doing God’s will and will never compromise when it comes to the divine.

That’s why invoking anti-Semitism is a brilliant but poisonous political ploy.  The adherents of this campaign have removed Israel from the realm of politics and transformed it into an issue of religion.  Thus, the Labour Party and Corbyn can never win.  Unless they refuse to take the bait and reject the witch hunt.  So far, they’ve fallen into the trap set for them by their enemies.

Comments (34)

  • dave says:

    “The ultimate goal is not to stamp out antisemitism here but to destroy Labour’s chance of coming to power”

    My worry is that we are still seeing articles like this – it’s been apparent for 3 years what the agenda is.

  • Liberty says:

    THE LABOUR PARTY IS THE LEAST RACIST IN THE WORLD
    This horrific witch hunt has been a coordinated calculated deliberate attack designed to force out Jeremy Corbyn, all who support him and manipulate the people to believe lies and repeated smears. Disgusting and repulsive campaign led by the brutal Israeli lobby, their traitorous Blairite minions and their cronies like Joan Ryan, she of the ‘million pounds’ and her toads who are still doing her nasty bidding. Stay strong everyone we have to keep fighting for the TRUTH to be heard, broadcast and published. Thank you to JVL for everything. Brilliant support

  • john tymon says:

    JVL are doing a very good job, as indeed are many other Jewish groups in UK, USA, SA, NZ, Ireland, France, Spain, Canada & not forgetting ISRAEL Jews who produce some of the clearest evidence of the extreme racism of Zionist Apartheid. Johnathan Cook’s critique on the BBC Panorama programme [crossposted on the JVLwebsite here] has started the ball rolling with what should be the basis of TV programme to counter the lies & treachery of the BBC;

  • Janet Crosley says:

    The extra problem is now the Corbyn supporters in the cabinet are begining to believe the Panorama Rubbish. See Emily T. on Marr , and she had not read the LPs’ reply!!

  • David Stretton says:

    Brillant…but how do you get the Party to change its ways?

  • Huw says:

    I share most of your assessment, Richard — but then someone like Liberty sounds off in the comments and makes me wonder whether Labour’s critics don’t have a point after all.

  • Dr Brian Robinson says:

    Now we know what it’s like living in the time of a martyr, what is is to be living through an epidemic of mass hysteria, what it feels like to witness a good, decent, indeed rather saintly man brought down by cynical liars advancing a false cause.

    Some good might still come out of the libel action for alleged defamation, if it proceeds as the plaintiffs reportedly intend. I can think of a considerable number of potential witnesses, eloquent, extremely well informed, Jewish and otherwise, highly respected in their academic and other fields, who in open court would easily demolish the crooked thinking and pseudo-evidence promulgated in the last few years by the forces of hypocritical reaction. Indeed, we could say, ‘Bring it on!’ Clear the air and let there be light.

    But it’s all such a waste of time.

  • John says:

    I agree with every word of this article and would add to it that I have been convinced the Tories are part of the shabby coalition put together by Israel.
    As evidence, look at how May and Hunt have climbed up on board on to the false antisemitism campaign against Corbyn and Labour.
    Look at who the Chief Executive and Treasurer of the Conservative Party is.
    None other than Sir Mick Davies, former Chair of the so-called Jewish Leadership Council, who allowed Jeremy Newmark to resign in ill-health grounds from the post of JLC Chief Executive after financial irregularities were found and publicised by the Jewish Chronicle.
    Looming in the background is Mark Regev, Netanyahu’s former spin-meister.
    This is all a put-up job to destroy Corbyn and Labour.
    What to do about it?
    Firstly, abolish the post of deputy leader of the party and kick out Watson.
    Then hand over powers to re-select MPs/PPCs to ALL CLPs.

  • Mike Cohen says:

    Labour is not a ‘safe space’ for anyone opposed to Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.

  • Liberty says:

    Huw, why are you saving your anger for me and not what is actually happening, good people like Jackie Walker are being expelled on the basis of smears without able to defend themselves properly, the Israeli lobby using dirty tricks to undermine our democracy while they allow the massacre of innocent men, women and children, blocking aid to the abused Palestinians, flouting international rules, their idiotic racist friend Trump putting children in cages ? Why are you not upset at the horrific smears being spread by those who we trusted to help our leader not stab him in the back. I have personally experienced REAL racisim and attacks ever since I was small, my family lived under great fear and danger until people like Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Ken Livingstone and the anti Nazi League saved us from the horrific fascism that was spreading in Britain. I am not a party member but pay union contributions towards it. I have always supported the Labour party until the Tony BLair the parasite took over and his invasions killed hundred of thousands of people, came back to support Labour when the peace campaigner Jeremy miraculously became leader but the traitorous Blairite mps have used every tactic to remove a democratically elected leader. We are fighting to save the soul of the Labour Party from this orchestrated conspiracy of lies and slurs. It’s not about me or you it’s about the millions suffering for years under the REAL nasty party and praying for a Labour Government to help them.

  • Jay Henderson says:

    One quick way to silence the liars who allege that Labour is biased towards jews is to ask them WHEN did the Labour Party, or Corbyn, become antisemitic? Labour is 120 years old ( thanks to traitor Watson for this info) so it is beyond belief that ” eager journalism” did not notice long,long ago how “seriosly antisemitic” the Labour Party is. Ask them this and keep asking. They will have no reply!

  • Jamal El Kheir says:

    Couldn’t agree more. This is about removing Corbyn, not racism, and it is disgusting, shameful and totally predictable.
    Stand against racism in all its forms, and stand up for Jeremy Corbyn!

  • Matt Scott says:

    Love and solidarity with all Jewish comrades in Labour.

    Thank you for your support.

  • Andy Coombes says:

    Well said Liberty.

  • Richard Rose says:

    The hysterical cries of “wolf” do nothing to address the problem of anti-semitism and demean the term. Using this smear to attack the Labour party becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as people turn against those spreading this malicious lie.

  • Nicola Malleson says:

    Liberty is right this is a very coordinated campaign to discredit Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party . Behind ,must be some big money and top propagandists as well as countless people searching archives for anything that might possibly ,taken out of context, be used to smear someone it is a professional campaign. The fact that nobody in the MSM has even commented about the fact that the crocodile tears being shed by Ella Rose and Co were by a group of people with direct relationship to the Israeli Embassy and all hold positions in JLM which has spear headed the campaign to smear JC. It should also make you ask about the role of Baron Iain McNicol in employing these JLM members and that they then received non disclosure payments something is very wrong when people with very strong links to Mark Regev and Israel are deciding the fate of Labour Party members who Critize The Israeli Governments daily crimes against Palestinians.

  • Jill bennett says:

    When God adressed the Jews as ‘O my People Israel’ he was not talking about a country but those with a particular devout state of mind. Likewise ‘O daughters of Zion’.doesn’t refer to citizens of modern day Israel So much grief has been visited on the Jewish people on account of these errors. And Palestinians too. It was Europe that started these terrible things.

  • Jonathan Connell says:

    The trouble with the Israeli’s alliance’s smears is the fact that people are seeing the truth because of the hysteria & hypocrisy of the likes of Hodge & Mann, they pray on the idea that the electorate are sheeple, well the flock has woken up.

  • Sean O'Donoghue says:

    In response to Jay Henderson…the anti Corbyn Zionist brigade have moved on from there a bit…they are now claiming that it is the new membership which joined since Corbyn became leader that is the home of the AS. Interesting was an article I read a few days ago from the MP for Luton..who has since left the party…at the bottom of which was a correction stating that the article had been amended since been first published (earlier that day) to say that it is not the leadership of the LP that is AS but the party itself!!

  • Jean Hill says:

    Whilst I agree with, to some degree, and understand the logic put forward here, there are actual issues around anti-Semitism. Luciana Berger, whilst a Labour MP, was a definite target for anti-Semitic hate mail. Whilst some of this came from the Alt-right and trolls, at least one, now ex, member of Labour was found guilty of a hate crime. Jeremy Corbyn, initially, defended a mural that was vile in its portrayal of Jewish people. So underneath, there is a problem, it’s not endemic, the Labour Party is not ‘infested’ with people who hate Jews. And, for sure, the media has kept this one alive, as have Israeli lobbyists who have one or two allies within the Labour Party. It’s a double negative, if you don’t have anti-Semitism endemic within the Labour Party, you cannot seem to eradicate it!

  • Colin Greenway says:

    Brilliant article.

  • Joe says:

    Well so many of the comments denying that there is any anti semitism in Labour reinforces my view and experience that there is anti semitism in the party. How about eradicating it rather than attacking Jewish people who are accused of a conspiracy to oust Corbyn.

    [Web editor: I’m approving this post because it is neither rude nor abusive. But I would ask people who submit comments like this to also provide some evidence for their assertions in future…]

  • Linda Cross says:

    I point out that there were no accusations of antisemitism under previous labour leaders or before Corbyn became their leader. So its very clear that it’s all been to force Jeremy Corbyn out. The Tories and Blairites are shaking in their boots at the prospect of an equal society.

  • Martin Dimmock says:

    It would be *really* useful if you got this out into the mainstream media instead of Facebook, which is pretty much a waste if time.

  • rebekah hirsch says:

    Totally agree. I guess Corbyn hoped to calm things down by staying out of direct confontation, and you can see his point. Taking a stand and calling out the smears for the propaganda that it is could have backfired horribly though it is hard to imagine how the smear could have been even more successful than it currently is. At some point I think he has to draw a line.

  • Rosie Brocklehurst. says:

    John is right, Huw is right and Liberty is right.
    My view? Well – I get frustrated and bloody angry. A sense of humour is useful. Jeremy does not seem to fight back very hard, but maybe his polite and gentle manner is working a tiny bit. Channel 4’s interview with Baronness Joan Bakewell was good. Krishnan Guru Murthy said on air Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti semite and has been working hard to deal with the issue. He asked Why Bakewell signed the advert in the Guardian?” Answer: Because she “believed her good friend Maureen Lipman! ” I was stunned. No evidence at all and she signs something that says Labour Party is not a safe place for Jews. How dare she? What an ignorant thing to do.

    This is what happens when the left take over much of the Labour machine, the right wing New Labour lot then strategise and they make things up and lie along with the organised and well funded Campaign Against Anti Semitism, the Israeli lobby and on top, Tories scrambling to make political mileage and divert away from their own shit-storm, with the help of the Guardian and the BBC. Basically, the establishment along with Jews against socialism are pretending socialists are against Jews. And, as to the fact that someone on here knows it all and knew it all 3 years ago, a lot of people don’t keep up with it and they need to do so. We should be sharing shocking new developments, ideas for resistance, good information and arguments, on social media. Lord McNichol has been planning this ultimate coup with Watson and others since 2015. They won’t stop now.

  • Martyn Jones says:

    My thoughts precisely. Great piece.

  • Keith CLIFF says:

    The most straight forward and clear explanation of why there has been such a sharp rise in allegations of antisemitism against the Labour Party I have yet read.
    I shall recommend the reading of this article to all I know.

    Thank you so much.

  • It has been a pleasure to browse through the varied points of view. Almost all a sensitive, sensible read. I wish it would have a positive impact on other readers. Here’s to a future labour government led by Jeremy.

  • Kevin Green says:

    I agreed with every word (but one) of this article. The idea that Labour poses as existential threat to Jewish people as advanced by Sachs and others is beyond laughable. There’s simply no evidence for it, and if there were any available I think I might have noticed! However, what I don’t understand is why people like Hodge and Ellman, whom I have long admired, are peddling this nonsense or giving credence to it at least.

  • I hate racism says:

    [JVL web: We’re posting this comment so you can see the fuzzy reasoning of some of those opposed to us. We counted 6 straightforward untruths in the certainties it propounds – but perhaps we were too conservative in our counting…]

    The reason Jeremy Corbyn is called out as an anti Semite is because he is one. This article is dangerous nonsense. What is the “israel Lobby” if not a nasty anti Semitic trope? The authors are a disgrace. Corbyn calla Jews born in Britain foreigners. That is because he is anti Semitic. He shares a platform with people who wish to kill all Jews. Threat is because he is Semitic. He lays wreaths for terrorists who kill Jewish athletes.That is because he is anti Semitic. He praises books written by anti semites. That is because he he is Semitic. He likes posts of anti semitic murals. That is because he is anti Semitic. He fails to take any action against those in the party who make nakedly anti Jewish comments. That is because he is anti Semitic. Only an anti Semite or someone who has lost all his critical faculties could defend this awful racism. Get rid of this terrible man before he destroys the Labour Party.

  • Ian Kemp says:

    I hate racism ????
    So do I a person whose mother was of Jewish descent. But your post was a total distortion of the truth. It is disgraceful and you need to learn a lot more about what real anti Semitism before you any more rubbish because that is exactly what it is.
    I have been a member of labour party on and off for nearly 50 years. I have never come across any A/S anywhere and I have been a member of 6 different Labour constituencies.
    Instead of posting what you posted I would suggest that you do proper research. If, you care to look instead reveal your ignorance for all to see there is plenty of evidence that the opposite of the smears you quoted. Much will depend on your ideology.
    Jewish Voice for Labour JVL is a group that you could consult . There are serious Jewish academics out there like Neom Chomsky and many other who will be able to help you to understand what real A/S is about.
    The weaponizing A/S using false allegations does not help. It has become a form of McCarthyism when it comes down to semantics.
    JC is fundamentally a decent human being. He is not racist in any shape or form he is certainly not A/S. You need to look at his long history of opposing racism in all its forms for over 40 years. Yes he has his faults none of us are perfect. That would include you from the look of it.

  • Note, also, Siobhan McDonnagh’s Today programme statement that to be anti-semitic is to be anti-capitalist.

    https://twitter.com/imajsaclaimant/status/1102567632790786048?s=19

    Did she really mean that?

  • I hate racists says:

    Hey Richard. Do you only publish comment which support your views? If you think your argumsnfs actually stand up to scrutiny and analysis why are you so scared of allowing comments which dare to challenge you? Is it because deep down you know quite how shaky your arguments are. Go on l, be a mensch and allow people to disagree with you to air their views on your strange website.

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