Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Smears and Anti-Semitism

Those waging a scurrilous campaign against Jeremy Corbyn are deliberately conflating two different things. They demand that Corbyn condemn those in the party who argue that a smear campaign is being waged as a means of undermining him; as a form of proxy war. They argue that the charge of a smear campaign is itself evidence of anti-Semitism, or a failure to take anti-Semitism, in the party, seriously. But, the charge that a smear campaign is being waged against Jeremy Corbyn, is not at all the same thing as saying that claims that forms of anti-Semitism exist within the Labour Party are untrue. There are anti-Semites in the Labour Party, as with all other parts of society, and they should be kicked out. What is untrue is that any anti-Semitism in the party is the responsibility of Jeremy Corbyn, and his supporters. The attempts to blame Corbyn and his supporters for any such anti-Semitism is what constitutes the smear! 

As I said yesterday, this form of smear campaign to present a picture of “the real Jeremy Corbyn”, is almost identical to the campaign that was conducted in Kenya by Harris Media and Cambridge Analytica against Raila Odinga . As Channel4 illustrated, in that case, what Harris Media did was to take some actual facts about events in Kenya, to admix them with made-up or exaggerated and distorted "alternative facts", and then to claim that Odinga was in some way responsible for them, even though he had nothing to do with them. That kind of disinformation and propaganda has been seen many times in the past, and, in fact, it was the kind of procedure that was used to construct the “dodgy dossier” used to convince MP's to vote for the Iraq War. It is the stock in trade of intelligence services, such as those associated with SCL, or who operate out of the secret apparatus of every state. 

Those who seek to smear Corbyn know that trying to do so directly would be likely to simply make them look foolish. So, instead they utilise the old Stalinist tactic of the amalgam. They put together a case based on some semblance of facts relating to one group of people, and then by a series of, however tenuous, links, they tie their actual target to these totally unrelated facts or actions. In this case, unable to credibly accuse Corbyn himself of anti-Semitism, they construct a case that anti-Semitism is rife within the Labour Party – which actual studies show it is not, and that it is far more prevalent in the Tory Party, and the far right – and that it has increased since Corbyn became leader, and so in some unspecified way, Corbyn is responsible for it.  But, the real intention was exposed by those on the anti-Corbyn protest outside Parliament, yesterday, who disgustingly chanted "Oh Jeremy's a racist"!

That use of the amalgam is illustrated by the arguments that have been used in recent days, whereby the #EnoughisEnough meme was predicated on the idea that Corbyn himself was either directly responsible for anti-Semitism in the party, or at least for not stamping it out. But, those making that argument are again being disingenuous, because, set aside any question of the need for due process for those charged with anti-Semitism, they know that Corbyn is not responsible for any decisions, or for the speed with which the processes inside the party are undertaken. The responsibility for the implementation of internal party procedures rests with the party's full-time bureaucracy. If they want to blame anyone for the length of time taken to implement the Chakrabarty Report, they should blame the party's former General Secretary Ian McNichol, and his staff, many of whom are Blair-rights rather than supporters of Corbyn! And, of course when it comes to the witch hunters favourite target, Ken Livingstone, it was Blair himself who pleaded with him to come back to stand for London Mayor, long after various charges of anti-Semitism had been made against him. 

In terms of the actual disciplinary hearings and proceedings, the true story is the opposite of what those trying to smear Corbyn have said. It has often been the case that charges of anti-Semitism have simply been a cover for undertaking a witch hunt against Corbyn supporters. Despite what is being claimed, dozens of party activists have already been suspended or expelled, including many Jewish activists. Again despite what is being claimed, the charges against many of those is not at all that they were guilty of anti-Semitism, but that they have simply criticised Israel or Zionism. One of the most prominent examples of that was the expulsion of Moshe Machover, which was so egregious that, in the end, the party had to reverse the decision. But, it is no coincidence that long-standing, left-wing Jewish members of the party, like Walter Wolfgang have been led to criticise the way charges of anti-Semitism have been used to witch hunt activists. Nor is it any wonder that left-wing Jewish members of the party have felt the need to set up the Jewish Voice for Labour-, as an alternative to the existing establishment organisations within the party. Rather than being socialist fighters for the interests of Jewish workers, those existing organisation act more like the foreign diplomatic corps of, and have significant overlaps of personnel with, the Israeli state, in much the same way that the old Stalinist parties saw it as their task to act as Russian nationalists rather than international socialists. 

But, again, in terms of those disciplinary hearings, the timing of them is the responsibility of the party's full-time bureaucracy, which has been dominated by the Blair-rights not by Corbyn supporters, and the hearings are the responsibility of the NEC and its Sub-Committees, not of Corbyn. Until the last few months, the NEC and certainly its sub-committees, along with the infamous Compliance Unit have been dominated by Blair-rights, not by Corbyn supporters. But, as part of a smear campaign against Corbyn all of these facts are passed over, and to the extent that the highly paid, but poorly informed journalists of the Tory media could even be bothered to find out the facts about internal party procedures, and responsibilities, they have little interest in presenting that truth honestly, as they facilitate the smear campaign to expose “The Real Jeremy Corbyn”, and pass on these lies to the general public. 

I suspect that if some real deep digging is done into those behind this smear campaign against Corbyn, some links will be found to those who also have connections to Harris Media, Cambridge Analytica and those with whom they have dealings. Certainly, the tactics and strategy have glaring similarities in all of the various cases where those organisations have been involved. Its time to open the books of all these opaque organisations, and to expose them to the sterilising effect of daylight. But, what has been seen in recent weeks only emphasises the point I made some time ago, at the time of the MP's expenses scandal, we should open the books on bourgeois democracy so that we can see transparently the links between these different groups, and where they get their money from. It should not be possible for an organisation such the British Israel Communications and Research Council to simply inform us that it is funded by “private UK philanthropy”, as it does, especially when many of its senior staff have formerly held positions within the  higher reaches of the Israeli state

But, we also need to open the books on all of the British media, to see its financial, political and other links whether to important financial and vested interests, whether domestic or foreign. Leveson illustrated the significance of that in only a limited way, but even that limitation was too much for the Tories that have closed it down. Its time now to blow the whole thing wide open, as the Cambridge Analytica scandal has made clear. 


George Carty said...

Have Corbyn's critics within the Labour party chosen anti-semitism (really anti-Zionism) as the stick to beat him with because this issue (and foreign policy issues more generally) because the traditional Old Labour right is aligned with the Blairites on foreign policy but with the Corbynites on domestic policy?

Antisemitism, cosmopolitanism and the politics of Labour’s ‘old’ and ‘new’ right-wings

Boffy said...

There is a direct parallel between the use of "anti-Semitism" as a basis for attacking Corbyn - you could include the charges of bullying and so on in the same category - with the use of claims of use of chemical weapons, as a pretext for war.

On the one hand, there is undoubtedly some instances of anti-Semitism on the left. Very little of it is the kind of traditional anti-Semitism, of hatred of Jews for being Jews, but is of the kind of what has been termed left anti-Semitism, which is a tendency to treat Israel differently to any other state, and to hold Jews accountable for its actions in a way that say German are not held responsible for the actions of the German state. Though I think that, in reality, if we look back in history, we would see that there are plenty of examples of where all Germans were held responsible for the actions of the German state, and all Japanese were held responsible for the actions of the Japanese state. It led to Germans and Japanese citizens in other states being ostracised, or locked up in concentration camps during periods of war, for example. As socialists we should oppose all such instances.

The instances of more overt ant-semitism, and other forms of racism and bigotry are far more prevalent in the Tory Party, and the parties to their right than they are in the Labour Party or on its Left. So, in other words, anti-Semitism is a fact, and it is wrong to say that talk of its existence is a smear.

The equivalent here in the analogy can be thought of in the fact that Assad and Putin are indeed vile dictators, and both are responsible for atrocities. But, that fact does not mean that every atrocity committed in Syria can automatically be placed at their door, because the Jihadist forces that the West is backing in Syria have committed vile atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons too, and they have been shown to use false flag operations to blame Assad for atrocities the regime did not commit. They are able to use social media to spread such claims that are very difficult to verify, but which the West as backers of those groups are more than willing to accept uncritically in order to gain global strategic advantage as as pretexts for their own acts of aggression.

In the same way, the Blair-rights use social media to spread the idea that every harsh word spoken against them by a Twitter troll, every actual anti-semitic comment posted anonymously on the Interweb, every verbalisation of abuse, every brick thrown anonymously through a right-wing MP's office window is somehow directly the work of Jeremy Corbyn, or his supporters, or in some inexplicable sense their responsibility.

It is a useful tactic for the right to use, precisely because it means that every such troll attack can be laid at the door of Corbyn and his supporters, leaving them with an impossible fire-fighting job of trying to prove that they were not responsible, whereas in reality it should be the responsibility of the right to prove that they were. Simply because some mindless troll seeking to incite a flame war, and gain some entertainment value out of gullible people willing to engage with them, uses some pseudonym that associates them with Corbyn or Momentum, of course does not mean they have any such connection. Yet, the right are more than happy to opportunistically assert such a connection.


Boffy said...


The same thing applies in relation to anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The right have equated the two things. They claim they have not, but the fact that they dismiss left-wing Jews as somehow being "the wrong kind of Jew", effectively because they are anti-Zionist, as has occurred with the expulsion of Moshe Machover, Tony Greenstein, Jackie Walker and so on, illustrates that that is precisely what they have done. To paraphrase Ruth Smeeth "How dare they expel these Jews from the Labour Party for being the wrong kind of Jew. How dare John Mann be blind and deaf to the existence of Jon Lansman as a Jew, and head of Momentum, when he accuses that organisation of anti-Semitism?"

The truth is, that whilst these Jewish members of the party are being expelled by the right, not for being anti-Semitic, but for being anti-Zionist, no one on the Left is talking about expelling right-wing members of the party for being either right-wing wreckers, acting as Tory agents to undermine Corbyn, and certainly not for being Jews. All that the Left is proposing is that the party's representatives should a) reflect the membership of the party, and b) stop acting at every opportunity to undermine Corbyn and the party at large.

Where councillors and MP's are being deselected, and people holding lay positions are losing those positions in elections it is not because they are Jewish, black, gay, not gay or any other such consideration. It is because of their right-wing politics, because they do not represent the views of members, because they have undermined the leadership, and in some cases, because they are simply not very good! By trying to equate the democratic removal of these people from their positions because they just happen also to be Jews, or because they can claim to be supporters of Zionism, is once again to equate anti-Semitism with anti-right wing views, which thereby equates Jews with right-wing, conservative views, just as equating anti-semitism with anti-Zionism, does the actual anti-Semites job for them, by equating all Jews with the reactionary, nationalist and expansionist ideology of Zionist, and its reflection in the actions of Israel against Palestinians and other Arabs.

It is indeed to use anti-Semitism cynically as a weapon to fight an immediate political battle, at the expense of the longer term struggle against anti-Semitism. It is typical of the opportunist, short term politics of the right.