Monday, 26 March 2018

Jewish Leaders Attacks On Corbyn Do No Favours For Jews

Jeremy Corbyn's parents met during the Battle of Cable Street. They were just some of the many left-wing socialists of the time, who risked their lives standing alongside the Jewish community of the area to prevent Mosley's fascists from marching. Jeremy Corbyn has been influenced by that, having dedicated his political life, for the last fifty years, to opposing racism, discrimination and oppression of all kinds. He has spent all that time putting the defence of those principles above securing for himself a cushy job, as a minister or shadow minister, as many of his contemporaries chose to do. 

Of course, at the time that Corbyn's parents were standing alongside the Jewish community at Cable Street, the equivalents of those in the Labour Party, today, who describe themselves as moderates, and who have preferred to further their political career at the expense of abandoning all pretext of principle, were nowhere to be seen. In the 1970's, when Corbyn, like me and many others on the Left, were organising to oppose the rising menace of the National Front, and its anti-Semitic, and racist poison, we were told by those same moderates that there was no need to oppose the NF, because they would just go away, if we ignored them. But, of course, they did not go away, instead they grew stronger, and to counter the rising support they obtained, the mainstream parties themselves shifted further and further on to the ground of blaming foreigners for Britain's ills, and proposing ever more draconian immigration laws, as their easy solution to that problem. It is, in fact, part of the process that allowed the ideas that have fuelled Brexit to fester within a section of the population. In the 1960's, Enoch Powell spouted those same vile racist ideas, but by the 1980's, the only reason the NF vote declined, was that Thatcher had essentially stolen their political clothes, just as today the Tories stole the clothes of UKIP. 

And, of course, in the 1930's, when Corbyn's parents were fighting to oppose the anti-Semites of Mosley's blackshirts, the leading Tories were supporting Mosley's mentors, Hitler in Germany, and Mussolini in Italy. Churchill himself was a well-known anti-Semite, whose attitude to Jews seems to have been little different to his attitude to Gandhi, and the Indians seeking independence. Churchill favoured rounding up a couple of hundred of Gandhi's supporters and lining them up against a wall before machine gunning them, so as to send a message! He'd done a similar thing by sending in the army to machine gun striking miners in Tonypandy in Wales. And, of course, that support for the fascists and anti-Semites was echoed through the British establishment, for example, in the pages of the true blue Tory press, such as the Daily Mail, which hailed Hitler's rise to power. 

And, of course, that pinnacle of the British Establishment, the Royal Family, had well known Nazi sympathies,

And that actual anti-Semitism is rife within the British Establishment today. It is an anti-Semitism not like the left anti-Semitism that derives from an hostility to the actions of the Israeli state, but a real anti-Semitism based upon a hatred of Jews themselves. The Tory media have whipped up a storm, aided and abetted by Corbyn's enemies within the Labour Party, about anti-Semitism, but the real anti-Semitism is, and has always been rooted within the bowels of the Tory Party. The first Immigration Laws introduced in Britain, the 1905 Aliens Act, was promoted by right-wing Tories, and their proto-fascist paramilitary wing the British Brothers League, which was formed in 1902, by Captain William Stanley Shaw under the slogan “England for the English”. The aim, as with later fascist organisations, was to create a paramilitary organisation. The Brothers League quickly made alliances with right-wing Tories such as the MP Major Evans-Gordon, and Howard Vincent MP. The aim of the Act was to prevent Jews escaping pogroms in Russia coming to Britain. 

In the 1970's, there was a more or less open door between the Tory Party and the National Front, with National Front members infiltrating local associations as well as taking over the Tory youth and Student organisations. Today a similar situation exists with fascists moving between their various organisations, and into UKIP as well as backwards and forwards over recent years between the Tory Party and UKIP, and now back again. 

If the leaders of the various Jewish organisations who are today protesting at Corbyn outside parliament, really wanted to protect the interests of Jewish communities, against this real anti-Semitism, they would be focussing their attention elsewhere. No one who knows Jeremy Corbyn believes that there is an anti-Semitic bone in his body. In the last year or so, no one raising the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, made such a claim in relation to Corbyn. A look at all of his actions opposing anti-Semitism, all of the Early Day Motions he has submitted over the years in support of Jews across the globe demonstrates that.  Yet, in the last few days this hysteria has been whipped up against him. Why? 

The charges that have been levelled against him that he is repeatedly seen standing alongside anti-Semites simply do not hold up. On TV today, I heard one presenter ask why it was that it had taken until now, from 2012, for Corbyn to speak out to say that the mural at the centre of the current controversy was anti-Semitic. But, this is rather like the situation some years ago in relation to the Danish Cartoons. The cartoons had been published some months before, and had been unnoticed by anyone. It was only when some clerical-fascists later picked up on them, and began to circulate them via the Internet, that a firestorm of opposition was whipped up. The real question here should be, why has it taken six years for someone to have trawled through Jeremy Corbyn's social media comments, to find this particular comment, and then to spread it across the Internet? Surely, the real anti-Semites here, are those who dragged out a single, careless comment from six years ago, purely for the purpose of waging a political campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, and in the process gave currency to this particular anti-Semitic image that otherwise no one would have been aware of! That is real anti-Semitism, it is subordinating the interests of Jews, to the interest of waging a political war against Jeremy Corbyn; it is an act of weaponising anti-Semitism, for the purpose of purely short-term, sectarian politics. It is even more abhorrent, in this case, because it is being used to wage a sectarian political campaign against an individual that has a proud record of opposing anti-Semitism, and discrimination of all kinds. 

Those that are weaponising anti-Semitism in this way, purely to wage a political campaign against Corbyn, do Jews themselves no favours. The reason this campaign is being organised now, the reason why a comment from six years ago has only now been dredged out from the bowels of the Internet, is that we are weeks away from local elections in which Corbyn's Labour Party is expected to do very well. The same strategy was employed in 2016 and 2017, of launching a divisive attack on Corbyn, of launching what is essentially a witch-hunt, so as to divide the party, and put off potential voters in those elections, because the right of the Party would much rather Labour do badly, and the Tories do well, in order to weaken Corbyn, and his supporters. 

Yet, the truth is that by associating themselves with the Labour Right, and the Tories, the Jewish Leaders are doing no favours to the ordinary Jewish people, and communities they purport to represent. It is ordinary working-class and middle class Jews that will lose out from a continuation of Tory policies. It is the policies of Blairism, continued by the Labour Right that led to urban decay, in many areas that fuelled the right-wing populism, economic nationalism and racism that gushed out in the Brexit vote, and which threatens minority communities, including Jewish communities, across Britain. The Jewish Leaders might be protecting their established links with the old Blair-right politicians, but they are doing no favours for ordinary Jewish workers and communities. 

And they are doing no favours to Jews more generally by their actions either. By weaponising anti-Semitism, as a means of attacking Corbyn and his supporters, they are undermining the struggle against real anti-Semitism, for simply short term sectarian political gain. Over the last couple of years, the tactic has been well developed, of accusing anyone who challenges the politics of the right of being anti-Semitic, misogynistic, homophobic and so on. If a right-wing woman councillor was deselected, the response was to accuse party members of being misogynistic, or if they were Jewish then the deselection was clearly motivated by anti-Semitism, rather than any question that party members might actually politically disagree with the Councillor, and so on. 

Similarly, comments by Labour Party members opposing Zionism, or the actions of the Israeli state have been equated with anti-Semitism, and used as a weapon to demand their suspension or expulsion from the party. Today on TV I heard one newsreader actually ask a supporter of Corbyn, “Well, Corbyn might not be anti-Semitic, but he is anti-Israel, isn't he?”, as though these were supposed to naturally be considered to be the same thing. In fact, as far as I am aware, Corbyn is not “anti-Israel”. As far as I am aware, he supports a Two State Solution, which is something, which in practice, although successive British Prime Ministers have given lip-service to, none of them have shown any real determination to bring about! And this is another explanation of what is really going on here, because the truth is that whilst right-wing Labour politicians have been technically committed to a Two State solution, just as have US Presidents, the reality is that they have simply sat back whilst the Israeli state has continued to support settlers as they occupied one piece of land after another on the West Bank, thereby making a Two-State solution nigh on impossible, and they have similarly sat back whilst the Israeli State systematically discriminates against Israeli Arabs, and whilst it undertakes murderous attacks on Palestinian men, women and children, including with the use of internationally outlawed munitions. 

The reason that the leaders of these Jewish organisations have been prepared to allow themselves to be used as useful idiots by the Labour Right in their sectarian war against Corbyn, is that on this they have common cause, because the leaders of the Jewish Establishment also have close links with the Israeli State itself. In their minds there is no difference between anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism, or criticism of the actions of the Israeli state. But, for socialists there is no reason to hold Jews responsible for the murderous, and racist actions of the Israeli state, any more than we would hold British people responsible for the actions of the British state in holding millions of people as slaves during the age of British colonialism. 

As a state, Israel is entitled to defend itself from attack in the same way as any other state would do. Those who deny Israel that right, let alone those who deny the right of Israel to exist as a state, are indeed guilty of a form of anti-Semitism, because they hold Israel, as a Jewish state to a set of rules that they do not hold any other state. That form of left anti-Semitism is still to be opposed, but it is driven by a hostility to the colonialist and racist ideology that gave rise to the current Israeli state, and to its current behaviour, rather than to a hatred of Jews for being Jews. But, whilst Israel has a right to be treated in the same way as any other state, that does not give it the right to occupy Palestinian lands on the West Bank, nor to discriminate against Israeli Arabs, nor to impose collective punishment on Palestinians, or to use excessive military force against Palestinians. 

By equating criticism of the actions of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism, in order to attack Corbyn the Labour Right, and their mouthpieces in the Tory media, as well as the leaders of the Jewish establishment undermine any struggle against real anti-Semitism, because any decent democratic, defender of human rights, let alone any socialist, must be led to attack those indefensible actions of the Israeli state, must speak out in defence of Palestinian rights. By delegitimising any such criticism of the Israeli state, or of Zionism, by equating it with anti-Semitism, the leaders of the Jewish establishment thereby do the work of the real anti-Semites for them, because they thereby make all Jews, wherever they are in the world equivalent to the Israeli state, and thereby responsible for its heinous acts. They thereby invite attacks on all Jews in retribution for the actions of the Israeli state. 

That is the longer term consequence for all Jews of the self-centred, short-term strategy of weaponising anti-Semitism, simply for the purpose of attacking Corbyn and his supporters. It is time for ordinary Jews to reject that self-serving action of the leaders of the Jewish establishment, and to call them to account. It is time they objected to Jews being used as pawns by that establishment, and by the Labour Right, simply to fulfil their own sectarian political ends. It is time to clearly distinguish between opposing the reactionary nationalist ideology that is Zionism, as opposed to anti-Semitism. It is time for all Jews to recognise that they have more in common with Palestinian and Arab workers than with the reactionary regime of Netanyahu, and the Israeli ruling class, and that a real solution in the Middle East will only arise on the basis of such shared interest, and the creation of a United States of the Middle East, within which all workers can struggle for a Workers Government.

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