Interesting and provocative analyses of the current onslaught on Corbyn and the Labour party continue to appear. We give short extracts from three of them, by Richard Seymour, Mark Mazower and Mike McNair, with links to the full articles.


1. Richard Seymour writes for the remarkable American website Jacobin in Labour’s Antisemitism Affair on 4 April:

There is, clearly, a problem somewhere. Unfortunately, the way in which allegations of antisemitism have been used for party-political purposes, has tended to obscure the need to address it. Antisemitism is being depicted, by the Right, with the mainstream media obediently reproducing the lie, as a problem of the Left when a study published by the Community Security Trust, which is strongly pro-Israel, finds that the Left is in no way more antisemitic than the political “center-ground.” Antisemitism, in fact, is predominantly a right-wing problem. The narrow, distorted framing of this issue, therefore, clearly benefits one side in a turf war over control of Labour. That narrative has spiraled “out of control”, as Joseph Finlay suggests, when Tory minister Sajid Javid can use the surreal atmosphere (and parliamentary privilege) to accuse Momentum of being a neofascist organization.

However, this can’t be used to avoid a real problem. It is a cautionary tale, or what Americans call a “teachable moment.” To get to grips with why it has happened, we must review the scandals — amid remarkable achievements — of Corbyn’s still-young leadership of the Labour Party.

Read the full article.

2. Eminent historian Mark Mazower has an op-ed in the New York Times Anti-Semitism and Britain’s Hall of Mirrors on 6 April

“Can the party that welcomed my family [from czarist Russia] have changed so much?

To read the recent headlines, one would think so. Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s leader, has been under attack for months. If Britain’s news media are to be believed, anti-Semitism is rife within Labour, Mr. Corbyn has willfully turned a blind eye to it, and successive internal inquiries have been mishandled. A wave of protest in the past few weeks has put his leadership under pressure.

Today it would be stupid to deny that there is anti-Semitism on the left, including in Britain, extending in some quarters to Holocaust denial. But for all the shopworn stereotypes and the repulsive social media postings, the scale of anti-Semitism inside the Labour Party is insufficient to warrant the kind of reaction we have seen recently. So what explains the furor?

To answer that it is simply the work of Mr. Corbyn’s enemies inside and outside the party is tempting. Indeed, that position has been adopted by some of his supporters. But it misses the mark. If people think there is a problem, we need to understand why.

A key factor is that it is on the left that criticism of Israel is most likely to be found. This explains a good deal, because in recent times the boundaries between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have become hopelessly muddled. To be sure, the two are sometimes found together. But a lot of people simply equate them, as Britain’s chief rabbi himself did in May 2016, and regard the very idea of anti-Zionism with suspicion.

The widespread use of what started out as a European Union attempt to define anti-Semitism has done nothing to help. The so-called Working Definition of Antisemitism, internationally adopted since its formulation in 2005 (including by the British government), lumps together Holocaust denial with hostility to Israel. Muddled, catchall definitions such as these lend themselves to the sort of surreal politicking that we now see in Britain.

Read the full article.

3. Mike McNair writes in the Weekly Worker that Smears roll on, 5 April

McNair provides a Marxist account of the current situation. While acknowledging that there is “genuine anti-Semitism in circulation on the left” his concern is to probe the claim made  that opposition to “the Jewish state of Israel, safe and secure”  is itself antisemitism.

It then becomes unavoidable to discuss the meaning of an open-ended commitment to “the Jewish state of Israel, safe and secure”. This has a mild and defensive sound to it. It assumes, of course, the legitimacy of the systemic legal discrimination against Israel’s own Arab citizens under Israel’s constitution and laws. But, beyond this, what would amount to ‘safe and secure’ for the state of Israel?

At the moment, it seems to involve at least the maintenance of the occupation of the West Bank (and continued Israeli settlement-building there) and the siege of Gaza. From the standpoint of the new US national security advisor, John Bolton, “the two-state solution is dead” and Israeli security requires short-term regime change in Iran. At various points in the past it has involved Israeli attempts to occupy southern Lebanon.

The point is, rather, that, because the US is the essential guarantor of the state of Israel’s existence, unqualified commitment to the “safe and secure” survival of the present state of Israel requires support for US policy in the Middle East, up to and including the infliction of destruction and barbarism on nearby states. To imagine otherwise is self-deception – very common among liberals, but self-deception nonetheless

Read the full article.