The Israeli Labor Party and the Zionist Union – friends of ours?

Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin, Labor Party Member of Knesset

JVL Introduction

The Zionist Union, an electoral alliance in Israel, was established in December 2014. It is dominated by the Israeli Labor Party with 19 of its 24 seats in the Knesset.

Its politics are something else again (see links to articles at the foot of this post). It is hard to see why our Labour Party maintains any relations at all with the Israeli Labour Party. Or why JLM should organise alongside what it describes as “our sister party in Israel”.

Israeli left lawmaker says Corbyn is an ‘anti-Semite,’ but Netanyahu isn’t a racist cause ‘you can’t be an Israeli PM and be racist’

Jonathan Ofir, Mondoweiss
2nd October 2018

Last Tuesday, Israeli left Zionist Union lawmaker Ayelet Nachmias-Verbin was attending a UK Labour conference in Liverpool, where she was interviewed by a London broadcasting station, and it was all about Corbyn’s supposed ‘anti-Semitic problem’. After Nahmias-Verbin determined Corbyn to be an anti-Semite (“unfortunately and sadly”), she was asked whether Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is racist.

Iain Dale of LBC: A lot of the people at your Labour party conference firmly believe that your Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is racist. Do you?

Nahmias-Verbin: Well, I think Binyamin Netanyahu is not racist, but I do believe he’s doing a lot of things the wrong way […] But I do not believe that he’s racist. You can’t really be Prime Minister of Israel and be racist, I’ve got to tell you, even if your name is Binyamin Netanyahu.

With those words the interview ends, and it’s a real jaw-drop for many of us.

Nahmias-Verbin did not provide any actual evidence whatsoever for her claim that Corbyn is an anti-Semite. Here is the bit where she calls Corbyn an anti-Semite, and here one can follow her reasoning of why that is supposedly so.

Dale: Do you believe that Jeremy Corbyn is anti-Semitic himself?

Nahmias-Verbin: Unfortunately and sadly, I believe that he [Corbyn] is anti-Semite [sic] himself, he really is not concerned with being balanced when it comes to Israel-Palestinian issues, but more importantly, he is, maybe, anti-racist, you know, I really didn’t see any indications for that, real indications for that, but his is anti-Semite [sic], and unfortunately, the Jewish community, the wonderful Jewish British community here, who really want to remain both identities [sic], to stand strongly by both identities, feel unsafe when it comes to the option that Mr. Corbyn should go into Number 10 [Downing Street]. And I think that indicates more than anything else, that we are dealing with something that is very untypical, and definitely, definitely, has nothing to do with Labour party values. What kind of, really, what kind of values do you share, Mr. Corbyn, with those terrorists, what kind of Labour party values do you share with those inhumane people?

On the one hand that’s a real mouthful. But it’s also void of any substance as an answer to the interviewer’s question.

Notice how Nahmias-Verbin begins with politics – she attacks his politics as being imbalanced, in her view, when it comes to Israel-Palestine issues. That’s a political opinion. This doesn’t indicate anti-Semitism per se. In fact, when it came to Verbin-Nahmias’s critique of Netanyahu later, she said pretty much the same things: “I do believe Netanyahu is doing things the wrong way,” she said, criticizing his intransigent position on dialogue with Palestinians. “I’m not happy about what [Netanyahu is] doing, that’s why I wake up in the morning, every morning, picking a new fight”, she says.

So when it comes to political disagreement with Netanyahu, his bias concerning Palestinians in no way suggests that he is racist, according to Nahmias-Verbin, and neither could he be, because he’s the Prime Minister of Israel… But when it comes to Jeremy Corbyn, his political bias, according to Nahmias-Verbin, is the core of the matter.

Ironically, she is revealing a great truth in her rant. This is about politics and nothing else.

Nahmias-Verbin cannot cite any real, substantial evidence suggesting that Corbyn is anti-Semitic, because there is none. “He really is not concerned with being balanced when it comes to Israel-Palestinian issues.” Her next statement is about him possibly being anti-racist, but certainly anti-Semitic. Of course, if you are anti-racist, that precludes your being anti-Semitic, because anti-Semitism is a form of racism, just one of the many which Corbyn opposes.

Then after those two rather invalid points, including the vacuous circular logic that Corbyn is anti-Semitic because he just is, Nahmias Verbin turns to how British Jews will feel “unsafe” if Corbyn were to become Prime Minister, because they want to stand strongly by “both identities”. The two “identities” Nahmias-Verbin is ostensibly referring to are the Jewish and British ones. But there are many Jews who feel utterly safe with the idea of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. There has been no indication of a rise in anti-Semitism due to Corbyn’s election to lead Labour. What this really is about is not the duality of Jewish and British identities, but rather Zionist and British.

The conservative Jewish leadership, as well as the conservative Labour constituency and the Tories wants to maintain an unflinching support of Israel, and the “unsafety” they feel is about their politics being challenged.

This is what this has always been about. These Jewish “feelings” of “unsafety” have been the substance in itself, in lieu of any actual substance to the charges against Corbyn of him being an anti-Semite and of Labour in general having an “anti-Semitic problem”.

Nahmias-Verbin’s rant portrays precisely this lack of substance, this hot air of emotion concerning a political issue, dressed up as if it was racist and anti-Semitic, since it threatens to challenge the Zionist orthodoxy.

Notice – this message is being delivered to us by an Israeli lawmaker who is supposedly on the left – in a party that is supposed to be the equivalent of the British Labour party, and she is trying to condition it from the ‘inside’. This tactic is not new. One may be reminded that the British Jewish Labour Movement leader, Ella Rose, had stepped into the JLM outfit straight out from her Public Relations office at the Israeli Embassy. Rose had featured in the Al Jazeera investigative documentary ‘The Lobby’ where she expressed the hope that journalist Asa Winstanley would “die in a hole” for having exposed her record, and vowed to use “Krav Maga” –Israeli hand-combat techniques–  to take down Jackie Walker, a leading critic and now twice suspended member of Labour. Asa Winstanley has noted how The Jewish Labour Movement had acted as a proxy for the Israeli embassy, and how Rose worked closely with Shai Masot, the Israeli embassy spy who was forced out of the UK after the undercover Al Jazeera investigation in 2017 exposed him plotting to “take down” a senior UK government minister.

“We work with Shai, we know him very well,” Ella Rose admitted to an undercover reporter in 2016.

The Jewish Labour Movement is not really about being Jewish – it is about being Zionist. And they want to tell us, even force it down our throat (maybe by Krav Maga techniques, who knows), that being Jewish and Zionist is absolutely one thing. Just as chief UK Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “One can no more separate [Zionism] from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain”. Mirvis also said that we should not use the Z-word, because Jewish students at universities were confronted with a “wall of anti-Zionism, which they feel and know to be Jew hatred”.

Neither is Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin using the Z-word. But it’s in the name of her party, the Zionist Union. There’s a reason why that Z-word is in the name – it is very important for Israeli Zionist leftists to mark that although they are leftists, they are certainly not “Arab-lovers”, as former Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog had warned them about.

And that is basically what the Israeli Zionist Union wants to do to the British Labour. It wants to ensure that its leader is not an “Arab lover”. Nahmias-Verbin noted in the interview that her party had “disengaged from Jeremy Corbyn’s office, but not from the Labour party”. Imagine that – a party democratically elects its leader, and a sister-party in another country doesn’t like the leader, so it boycotts the leader, but maintains relations with the party as a whole, and the party lets it. If this is not insurgency, what is?

But we must return to Nahmias-Verbin’s last claim, that’s a real eye-opener: “You can’t really be Prime Minister of Israel and be racist”.

No, those Jewish Zionist terrorists and ethnic cleansers who became Prime Ministers from right and left, basically running in a series from Israel’s inception, they couldn’t possibly be racists. But if Corbyn engages with any of those who were on the receiving side of that colonialist onslaught, then he’s meeting “terrorists” and “inhumane people”. But Zionist leaders are never terrorists nor inhumane. Their actions are merely due to them being Zionists, and that’s always humane. Thus the inherent suggestion in the Zionist Union’s lawmaker’s words is, that Zionism couldn’t possibly be racist, and if you’re a Zionist, you just can’t be a racist – at least not an anti-Semite.

This is the idiocy that even the British left allows in as a supposed logical advocacy. Apparently, so many are so scared of potentially being embroiled in an anti-Semitic witch hunt, that they rush to the safest haven – Zionism. If you love Israel, you couldn’t possibly be an anti-Semite. Who cares if you’re an anti-racist in general or not – that’s secondary. The moment you challenge Zionist hegemony in any way, you’re risking it. Bottom line: make sure you’re not seen to be an Arab-lover, that’s the worst.

H/t David Sheen

Comments (1)

  • Rosie Brocklehurst says:

    LBC itself has a long history of rightwing bias and actual evidence of being supportive of the Conservative Party. In 1983 they did an interview with Norman Tebbit, Thatcher buddy , Chair of the Tory party, politically forever associated with his ‘on-your-bike’ solution to mass unemployment, who said that “if at the next election unemployment reached over 3million the Conservative Party was not worth re-electing.” The next election duly came and unemployment reached 3 million. So Labour took out expensive full page national newspaper ads to expose the Tories using this quotation , but before the ads appeared, Labour was challenged by Tebbit to prove he had said it. The Labour Party had the Mirror newspaper cutting from 1983 but no notes upon which the quotation was based. The story then began to be one of Labour ‘lies and distortions’ exposed by Tories. LBC told media no tape existed and the reporter had no memory of the interview. Of course this was a stitch-up between LBC and Tebbit. The Labour Party itself had not done its fact- checking properly and as is often the case, by 1987 a whole new team of PR people had come into Labour since the 1983 General Election and institutional memory had gone down the plughole. Largely. But one of them (me) remembered that there had been a person responsible for antiquated methods of media monitoring, went off and did some digging in long forgotten store cupboards without saying anything to anyone . Three hours later, Eureka. Efficiency had existed in 1983 despite what others would have you believe. The LBC recording had been made and beautifully labelled: ‘Brian Hayes.LBC Tebbit interview May 1983’. Tebbit was challenged the next day live on camera by ITN. BBC still tagged its forelock but had to follow with the story. The Guardian held their nose and did a story, largely because the media correspondent knew me. Much has changed since. The media has become even more rightwing. The Party has many more CLP members, but many of its MPs are tory-lites, who Blair’s Party machine had supported and many of whom have, by their actions, kept the current bunch of over privileged mendacious and cruel extremist Tories in power! LBC – London Bullshit Corporation.

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