In the Green Party antisemitism can be affirming

green_party_real_changeCross-posted on Greens Engage.

Over the past several years Green Party members have proposed a number of motions and initiatives tackling antisemitism, all of which have been defeated or deformed beyond usefulness by anti-Zionists. As The Guardian’s Hugh Muir observed back in 2010, Green officialdom has long opted to brush concerns about antisemitism under the carpet. Below are the most recent fruits of that – a bit of background, a brief timeline of recent events, and finally why you’d be wrong to blame me for bringing this to light.

For a long time the Green Party has been racked by bitter, polemical campaigning against Israel which has crashed the boundaries of simple anti-Zionism. It has included calling Green Party members who defend Israel Nazi infiltrators, alleging that a non-Israeli member with a Jewish name was an Israeli agent, failing to react appropriately to antisemitic comments in a discussion of a “Zionist lobby“, saying that Israeli academics were “not part of the civilised world”, circulating material by David Duke and quasi journalists concerned about Jewish influence in Parliament, promoting material by Gilad Atzmon, objecting to Jews taking certain official positions, affiliating to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War Coalition, and tending to treat concerns about antisemitism as politically motivated.

A main channel for all this was internal Green Party email discussion groups, particularly the International List which discussed little else. Concerned members made several official complaints at the heart of which were failures by those assigned to moderate these groups. The complaints did not lead to any action, though. Some were rejected while others went into limbo. In contrast, a shockingly flimsy complaint against one member on a charge of disrepute and entryism on behalf of Israel progressed smartly to an internal tribunal (although the member, with help, managed to clear herself she has never been notified of the outcome). Members, including me, left, resigned their candidacy, or retreated into the background in protest about both the antisemitism and the ineptitude of the responses. The invective about Israel continued unabated. By some time in 2011 the International List moderator had had enough so it was decided to separate off the Israel-related stuff to the relative containment of a new discussion list called Palandisrl. The new list’s first moderator was someone who had referred to Israel as a “bloated state” with “US puppets in the UN”, and Zionism as “incompatible with Green views” and “an ancient theological fantasy”, so things went on in the same vein but with added moderator caprice. It quickly became an anti-Israel echo chamber where things could get quite surreal. When Terry Gallogly (Yorkshire & Humber Green Party) circulated a video of the 2012 Olympic logo morphing into the word ‘Zion’, an appalled member bypassed the moderator in favour of an email to then-leader Caroline Lucas. Lucas sent a quick, unambivalently sympathetic response but again as far as we know no further action was taken. At some stage Shahrar Ali (Brent Green Party and recently elected joint Deputy Leader) took over moderation.

That was some background – a brief timeline follows.

8 August – during Operation Protective Edge the discussion on the Palandisrl list became over-heated. Malcolm Chapman (Yorkshire & Humber Green Party) circulated a diatribe he had authored titled ‘GENOCIDE TODAY ~ A CALL TO BOYCOTT’. Soon afterwards it was published on the Y&H website (no link because it was taken down without explanation on 8 September). Interspersed with some trenchant criticism of Israel were references to a Holocaust “happening again”, “real terrorists” who “call their victims terrorists”, “deliberate targeting of civilians”, “influence over foreign governments”, “you have the memory of genocide in your DNA, why do you want to visit it upon others”, “why pretend any longer that your Palestinian Semite cousins have no right to their ancestral homeland”, and “all of Palestine must be freed from oppression”. More on why this is objectionable below.

14 August – I (a former member of Waltham Forest & Redbridge Green Party, who due to some bureaucratic error even now receives Palandisrl messages) emailed a request to Martin Deane and Shan Oakes (contacts for Y&H) to take down the piece, giving notice that otherwise I and others planned to make a complaint about antisemitism.

15 August – Martin Deane responded with a long defence but no undertakings, so our complaint was submitted. We took issue with the singularly hostile treatment of Israel, and the simplistic victim/perpetrator story which failed to recognise the role Hamas and the local jihadis in the conflict. We raised the matter of Holocaust inversion, an anti-Jewish propaganda tactic actively pursued by the far right, including Hamas. We pointed out the cruelty in referring to the Holocaust as a lesson Jews failed to learn. We observed that the mystified portrayal of the world’s sole Jewish state as a sinister, irresistible power resonates with the portrayal of Jews by people who hate Jews. We expressed discomfort with the racialised and tribal language of the piece. We objected to Malcolm Chapman’s failure to provide evidence for any of his claims, which made the Green Party look ignorant as well as prejudiced.

16 August – things got very much worse. Martin Deane posted an email to the  Palandisrl list including the sentence “At this time, to be accused of antisemitism here is a sign we’re probably doing something right”. This sentence crossed the line from shame and denial of antisemitism, to owning antisemitism. A conscientious, responsible moderator would have quickly intervened, but instead nobody intervened.

17 August – I emailed Shahrar Ali as Palandisrl moderator, reminding him of the need for scrupulous moderation on that list, warning that I would publish the events and offering him a chance to respond. He did not respond, nor did anybody on his behalf. I’ve waited a month.

6 September – at the Green Party Autumn Conference Shahrar Ali was elected male deputy leader of the Green Party.

8 September – the ‘GENOCIDE TODAY’ piece was quietly taken down. Since the Green Party has not responded to our complaint about the piece, the reasons for this are unclear. However we do know that somebody had a ‘quiet word’.

12 September – on the Palandisrl list, former Green Party male speaker and newly elected International Coordinator Derek Wall announced that Shahrar Ali would be stepping down as moderator and invited volunteers to replace him. When Martin Deane volunteered Derek Wall, who is himself energetically anti-Zionist, responded that he would be “very happy” for him to take the role.

Perhaps at this stage you’re inclined to shrug – after all, this kind of talk is normal now. But it shouldn’t be because it lowers resistance to antisemitism when what we need to do is make antisemitism strange. Perhaps you’re thinking that I am trying to create a diversion from criticism of Israel. But Greens Engage has frequently directed attention to criticism of Israel. Perhaps you’re of the opinion that the Greens’ creation of the Palandisrl list was a principled measure of containment and damage limitation, a sort of pre-moderation in itself. But the Green Party was aware of antisemitism from these quarters, has taken a policy stand against it, and therefore has a responsibility to keep things clean under that stone. Perhaps you’re wondering why I didn’t pursue the ‘quiet word’ approach – the offending piece is gone now, after all. The reason I wasn’t prepared to pursue the matter informally and discreetly through an intermediary is because I consider that approach ultimately unsustainable, not to mention disempowering for members without these privileged connections to the inner circle of activists.

Perhaps you’re tempted to shoot the messenger or deny that anything antisemitic has or possibly could have happened in the Green Party, because the Green Party is the party of the good people. Well, Shahrar Ali, the moderator of the step change when Martin Deane announced “At this time, to be accused of antisemitism here is a sign we’re probably doing something right” is now a Deputy Leader of the Green Party. His conference speech was all about the need to fight discrimination. That anti-discrimination agenda needs to properly and practically extend to Jews – including Zionist ones, and even when the attacks on them come from what seems to be pro-Palestine campaigning. And then there’s Martin Deane himself, selected to replace Shahrar Ali as moderator of a discussion about Palestine and Israel. So this is not an anti-Green Party post and it’s not suggesting that antisemitism characterises the Green Party. This post has happened because there are no functioning official internal channels for redress on antisemitism.

As well as being frightening and wrong, antisemitism weakens both the Green Party and the cause of Palestinian emancipation. In this case I’m hoping that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

23 Responses to “In the Green Party antisemitism can be affirming”

  1. josephinebacon Says:

    I am glad to say that the Labour Party site from Brighton reports that the Greens are in total disarray. People may be aware that four years ago, at the Camden Council elections, Green councillors won all three seats in Highgate Ward. They all resigned, one by one, over the years and I am happy to report that no Greens were elected this time round.

  2. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Even more interesting background (even deeper than Mira’s): back on 25 October 2010, David H. posted a link to an article (https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2010/10/25/green-party-adopts-careful-policy-on-antisemitism) by Greens Engage. However, the 10th comment in was the following from Deborah Fink:

    “The Green Party has NOT adopted this intellectually dishonest definition.
    The GPRC does not have the power to implement something that is not policy, and something that has not been passed at conference, is not policy.

    Many of us in the party, including Jews, are up in arms over this ridiculous statement which was approved in naivety and with a lack of understanding of the issues. Rest assured, that we will not let the Green party adopt it.”

    For those who are unaware of this lovely lady, she was (probably still is) a leading member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, and claims to be a soprano (though anyone who has heard recordings of her singing (admittedly through a loud-hailer) might wish to dispute that claim).

    My response was no. 15 or16 and I’m sure you can guess its contents, given my history of commenting on this site.

    The “intellectually dishonest” definition was (as you may have guessed, tho’ Mira doesn’t say so specifically) the EUMC Working Definition on Antisemitism, which the Green Party (just like UCU) decided to reject in favour of their noble leadership’s ability to determine whether antisemitism had occurred rather than, as the Definition stated, it being up to the alleged victim of discrimination to raise the matter.

    Given that rejection, the situation Mira describes is hardly surprising, indeed, no more surprising than the situation within the UCU that led to the Ronnie Fraser case.

    We (my wife and I) left the Labour Party years ago (over a different issue) but remained Labour voters…until (possibly) May 2015. The cause of our potential electoral defection is the (in our view) appalling position adopted by Ed Miliband on the Israel/Gaza war, seeking to blame both sides equally for the events of Protective Edge. As I said in what I hope is a scathing email in response to a general email from Harriet Harman, I find this disgraceful from the son of refugees from Nazism, given what he should know about Hamas’s Charter, etc., and of the actual nature of international law on the question of proportional military responses when attacked.

    Unless and until at the very least the local Labour Party prospective candidate clarifies her views on this matter – which she has so far failed to do – our inclination is to vote for the Lib Dem MP who has unequivocally backed Israel’s position here. Our constituency is Hornsey & Wood Green – and Lynne Featherstone has refused to respond “as-a-Jew” in this situation.

    Mira, whatever your voting intentions in 2015, if you are still a member of the party, you shouldn’t be. This lot shouldn’t receive your money or moral support. There are distinct limits to standing and fighting from within.

  3. Shahrar Ali Says:

    Dear MV, I’m sorry that you’ve found a comment recently posted to the Palandisrl-list offensive. Whilst I have not sought to review postings on a case by case basis – they get posted automatically, call it a free speech presumption, against vetting or censorship – I agree that it can be appropriate for the list-administrator to weigh in from time to time. In my own case, I was late to review the postings due to being on holiday and probably should have delegated that responsibility. I also read your request for intervention rather late – i.e. after the 24 hour ultimatum you had given me. I think (a word to the wise) if you sought a response up to a month later then you might have chosen to adopt a less accusatory tone in that email.

    On to the substance of your complaint, the remark itself. Firstly, I do not think that the posting by a member to an internal list, implies any kind of endorsement by the party (let alone the list administrator). The imputation by the poster that more than one person thinks as he does, does not make it so. However, I think the remark itself was highly incautious. What he said could have been misconstrued — not that the accusations were clearly false, and politically motivated to deflect attention away from war crimes, but — that the accusations should be ignored in spite of any reasonable cause for belief in them (your interpretation). Surely, you can see that there is both a more charitable and an uncharitable reading of that sentence. You may regard both as unacceptable, of course.

    We know that during times of conflict in the Middle East, reported incidents of anti-semitism often rise, and that is great cause for concern – and must be challenged at every turn. At the same time, people want to be able to speak vigorously about the political conflict and the supposed reasons for it, whether supposed in human nature or simply in bad interpretation of putative god-given rights to land.

    Had I been closer to the action at the time of the original posting that has caused offence, I agree that I would have counselled moderation in the use of language, whilst keeping an open mind about the motives of the poster. I certainly would not have so easily imputed to him the motives that you have though. You also seem to relish the prospect of imputing uncharitable motives to me and I would simply ask that you exercise moderation in your own language – on pain of slander or hypocrisy otherwise. SA

    • Raphaël Lévy Says:

      So concerns about racist postings should be dismissed out of charity, and, if really really they can’t be dismissed, they ought to be always expressed with great moderation (‘on pain of slander or hypocrisy otherwise’). Good. Does this apply to racism in general, homophobia and islamophobia, or, just to antisemitism?

      I can see that the request for ‘moderation’ does not apply to the ‘conflict’. Here, we need to be able to ‘speak vigorously’… and of course we do. But there are ways of speaking vigorously about the conflict that do not borrow antisemitic themes nor promote antisemitic ways of thinking. As a starter, it is a good idea to avoid references to the holocaust and the lessons it should have taught us:
      “Just because you observe the niceties of Holocaust memorial day, does not mean that you have learnt the lessons of history”
      The crowd: “yeahhh”
      [1 min 06] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WakLInmATw

      Shahrar: I will not speak with moderation. The Green Party institutional response to concerns about antisemitism has been consistently awful and any anti racist should be outraged. Your response above is patronizing, woefully inadequate and worse, ends up accusing the victims.

    • noco Says:

      If I understand Shahrar correctly, the two possible interpretations of Deane’s comment go like this:
      Charitable interpretation: It is good to be accused of [insert wrongdoing] because false accusations of this are made when people are not really guilty of it but have done something – which was actually merit-worthy – to provoke a dishonest accusation.
      Uncharitable interpretation: It is good to be accused of [insert wrongdoing] because it’s a good thing to do.
      If you put any action in the brackets which you feel is wrong it should be clear that, in the absence of a decent process for determining the fairness or otherwise of an accusation, the charitable interpretation will work out just as badly as the uncharitable one. Whether you think insider trading is OK, or think all insider trading allegations are false, either way you will not prevent insider trading. The same applies to any form of wrongdoing.
      The complaint about Deane’s comment was rejected by the Green Party for reasons which included the following: ‘We have taken the opinions of some experienced party members … Members of groups outside the party may propose that certain phrases are anti-Semitic but this does not make them so, if people do not notice or know of the connotations attributed by them. We need to avoid trial by conspiracy theory.’ Indeed it does not make them so, but surely they cannot be found *not* to be so simply on the basis that they originated outside ‘the party’. An assumption that a particular capacity for understanding antisemitism is to be found within ‘the party’ which would justify excluding consideration of views from outsiders is particularly odd given that the Green Party has refused to adopt any definition of antisemitism – in my view because ANY definition which was not plainly ridiculous would unavoidably show that platform-sharing with some of the party’s middle eastern friends who openly advocate genocide against Jews is a failure to maintain principled opposition to antisemitism.
      This phase of the debate began when an earlier moderator – Shahrar’s predecessor – circulated an article on the list by a former Ku Klux Klan leader, which noted that Obama was black and had appointed Rahm Emmanuel, a Jew, and concluded that the US election of 2008 was a combined Jewish and black conspiracy against white gentiles. The article added in some anti-Israel stuff as well, and the list moderator concluded that it was anti-Israel rather than racist. In spite of his astonishing willingness to accept racism under a very thin veil of antizionism, this individual remains a Green Party official and election candidate. Indeed, he may well have been one of the ‘experienced members’ consulted in the consideration of the complaint.

  4. Mira Vogel Says:

    Shahrar, thanks for responding.

    On the assumption of free expression, you may have overlooked that the entire Green Party discussion list was on moderation not too long ago because of inflamed arguments about Israel.

    I have not imputed uncharitable motives to you or anybody, and there haven’t been any accusations. I have simply recorded what happened and when. And despite insisting on a quick response I waited a month to do that. So I am not sure what you’re getting at.

    So where have we got to? The “incautious” person to whom you would have “counselled moderation” has nevertheless been welcomed as your successor moderator on the discussion list. In the course of being (in your words) vigorous, he creates the impression that all allegations of antisemitism are politically motivated. He has not found a way to criticise Israel without alarming people worried about antisemitism.

    You are feeling charitable towards him and wish us to allow alternative interpretations of his words. OK, but one of those interpretations – the one proposed by me among others – is a huge concern. That’s the one we would like the Green Party to respond to. The other interpretation embodies what I’m afraid has become a habit among the Greens pushing this variety of campaigning. What Martin Deane said was “At this time, to be accused of antisemitism here is a sign we’re probably doing something right”. If you want to talk about “imputing uncharitable motives” then please start there. People who are raising an alarm about antisemitism in the Green Party are sincere, and we need some action from the Green Party which addresses it. We’ve said it many times before: we cannot get inside people’s heads, so this is far better approached as conduct, not person, effect not intent, behaviour not thoughts.

  5. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Shahrar Ali, above, says “We know that during times of conflict in the Middle East, reported incidents of anti-semitism often rise, and that is great cause for concern – and must be challenged at every turn. At the same time, people want to be able to speak vigorously about the political conflict and the supposed reasons for it, whether supposed in human nature or simply in bad interpretation of putative god-given rights to land.”

    The latter part of that quote, from “At the same time…” to the end illustrates exactly why the EUMC Working Definition (or any similarly worded successor) was and is such a good idea. “speaking vigorously” is far from being the same as “speaking fairly” or without prejudice. There is an exceedingly good reason why the EUMC definition (and the approach taken by UK anti-discrimination law) leaves it to the alleged victim of prejudice or discrimination to raise the initial complaint; it is not for the alleged perpetrator to announce themselves innocent and have the power to cause the alleged offence to therefore disappear.

    This is exactly and perfectly illustrated by Mira’s quote from Martin Deane, in her comment above, that “At this time, to be accused of antisemitism here is a sign we’re probably doing something right”. He is acting as judge and jury in his own case. He cannot possibly know, unless he is gifted with supernatural intellectual powers, that he hasn’t been antisemitic unless he has subjected his own work to intense scrutiny. His response to such an accusation would indicate that he hasn’t carried out such an inspection.

    Nothing Shahrar Ali has written lets the Green Party off the hook. Rather, it underlines all the objections that have been raised against a public organisation that refuses to use publicly available means of checking its own good intentions, preferring to use the imputed wisdom of its own internal mechanisms and personnel, recognising no possible flaw with this system.

  6. AShaanan Says:

    What more evidence do you all need to understand that the political left (radical or otherwise and, pathetically, including many of its Jewish adherents) is saturated with a vituperative hatred of Jewish nationhood, which often finds expression in anti-Jewish canards and actions?! The Green Party seems to be no exception. Perhaps your political activism might be put to better use instead of being led into the trap of debating people who most probably despise you and your views (by virtue of being Jewish, Zionist, and champions of honest free speech or any or all of these)!

    • Babs Says:

      Why? Why not name and shame. as Mira has done rather than let such behaviour pass unnoticed just because the perpetrators of such hate speech will never change their minds?

      I agree with the gist Brian Goldfarb’s reply that Shahrar Ali’s reply has done little to get the Green Party out of the hole it is in. Ali has the cheek to lecture Mira about moderating her language! Why? Because she had the temerity to tell the truth – a truth which must have been very uncomfortable for him and others to hear – in a measured way and supported by evidence, and worse still to make that truth public?

      Antisemitism has entered our discourse now to the extent that some people display it either without realising it or seem to be proud of it as was Martin Deane.

      It’s about time the Greens sorted themselves out.

      • Brian Goldfarb Says:

        Further to AShaanan’s comment, as a member of the “sane left” (h/t Noga aka The Contentious Centrist & her label of the “rancid left”), I flatly deny that all members of the left are as AShaanan labels them. I define myself as both a leftist and a Zionist. On the basis of that sort of sloppy labelling, all members of the right in the UK must be seen as fascists. Which is hardly the case. Right-wing and authoritarian she may have been, but Margaret Thatcher was hardly a fascist. By the same token, David Cameron is many things, but, again, fascist isn’t one of them.

        Much more careful and nuanced thinking is needed here.

        • AShaanan Says:

          Dear Mr. Goldfarb- I stand by what I said and what I said was that the political left is saturated with the hatred of Jewish nationhood. No, not all leftists are such, but it is increasingly hard to find them. The very fact that “Engage” finds the necessity to exist is a telling reminder of the endemic anti-Jewish feeling(often masked as anti-Israel criticism using heightened double standards and elegant language of “human rights”) even within the academic community, a population that “ought to know better”. What the “nice” people on the academic left often propagate in their writings (and increasingly in political action) is often part and parcel of the same mindset that is evidenced (in its blatancy)by Nazi-style hate groups or Islamic terrorists.

  7. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    Again, AShaanan, you over egg the pudding to make a non-point. You are clearly implying that all but a vanishingly small part of the left is as you describe. Funny that, so many of the commenters on this site have identified themselves as left, but been supportive of the general position of the site and its founders.

    If you believe otherwise, evidence is needed, which you have so far failed to provide.

  8. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    And I would like to add to my last comment the following: Denis MacShane (before his fall from grace via the expenses scandal), John Mann and all those members of Labour Friends of Israel would count in anyone’s book as on the Left and pro-Israel (or at least not anti-Israel).

    Of course, if you are limiting your definition of “left” to those further to the left than the Labour Party, you need to make that abundantly clear. Anything less than that makes you a mischief maker.

    Are you, AShaanan?

  9. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    How nice! AShaanan, above at 29.9, 7.15pm, reasserts “that the political left is saturated with the hatred of Jewish nationhood.” No evidence, no names (of individuals that we might all agree are members of “the left”), no organisations, nothing. Just a set of words that means nothing.

    I have offered a couple of names and an organisation (which, I agree, is a bit thin), but compared with AShaanan’s, it’s a veritable mountain of evidence. Why should we accept his/her word for this, on the basis of a random set of words put together? Do stop being so anti-intellectual (or perhaps, more accurately, ideological: I know I’m right and I don’t have to prove anything to anyone) and offer us evidence that we can grapple with. If you don’t we shall have to conclude that you don’t have any, beyond the existence of a few fringe groups with a few members each.

    Rather like a mirror image of the far right. And the far right fail completely to be in any way representative of the “conventional” right in the same way that the far (or rancid) left fail to be representative in any meaningful of the sane left.

    To re-use a phrase I’ve used in the past in these columns: AShaanan, put up or shut up. If you prefer: produce the evidence or quit the field.

    If you don’t, we might just be forced to assume that you are a troll.

  10. AShaanan Says:

    Dear Mr.Goldfarb-
    1. First of all, I am an observer here and my comments reflect my opinions. That makes me neither a “mischief-maker”, “troll” or “anti-intellectual”, nor would I dream of using such language about you and your comments.
    2. As for “evidence” to peruse that might give you an understanding of how I could come to my assumptions, I would refer you first of all to the Engage “About Us” on this site, where we are told that Engage is left wing, coming out of a socialist tradition, aiming to combat anti Jewish racism in the left (no, it is not defined precisely which particular groups make up the left) because “a new commonsense is emerging that holds Israel to be a central and fundamental evil in the world”. As for more evidence, one need only examine the “Recent Posts” on this site to find the many groups and individuals “in the left” (including the UCU union leadership and many members) that Engage finds the necessity to “combat”
    3. So if the word “saturate” bothers you, then perhaps one might say instead “Jewish nationhood is anathema to many on the left”
    4. I wish you and your family a very pleasant Succot.

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Actually, you may define yourself as an observer, but what you have, so far, done is make an assertion as to the nature of the (otherwise undescribed and undefined) “left’s” attitude towards Israel and appear to believe that this somehow satisfies the need for evidence. It plainly does not. The Left is hardly monolithic in the UK or elsewhere in Europe. Which strand or strands of the Left are you so referring to? The whole of it? Including all of the Labour Party? Or only those parts of it to the left of the Labour Party? Are we talking about August Bebel’s “socialism of fools” here? And if not, why not?

      Anyone who comments here as unspecifically as you have will receive responses like mine: just search back through these many pages. In fact, compared with some regular commenters here, I’ve been mild.

      Your second numbered point is patronising (although, in fairness, you might not know this): I have been commenting on this site since it started, back in 2004, so I know all about “About Us” and am often referring others to it. I have also been posting occasional articles here, and you might find the following enlightening: https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2013/02/18/the-looking-glass-world-of-the-modern-progressives-anti-zionist-trends-within-the-british-left-brian-goldfarb/. If you do read it, don’t ignore the comments below the article. You will find a lengthy discussion between people who share the same general approach to Israel and the British left, but are still able to vigorously engage with one another, while offering grounds for their various disagreements.

      So I ask you once again: just who do you mean by the Left in Britain? And I mean who do you, AShaanan, mean by this term/label? And Jessica Goldfinch, below, offers a very useful link (that I must save), but that is her answer, not yours.

      I’m waiting with bated breath.

  11. Jessica Goldfinch Says:

    I think I understand A Shaanan as meaning this kind of thing, (see link below), a more hardcore left.

    I suppose I would be labelled or label myself as centre-left, but can see how hardcore left or right are pretty similar in their thinking method. I also see seepage into the less hardcore left of antisemitic discourse as ‘normal’.

    Some of it is deliberate and those involved use the mood of their organisation as cover from which to peddle antisemitism, but for some it is not deliberate, but as unrecognised antisemitism as part of normal speech…it’s the latter I find more sinister.
    For those identified here, and some others off this page, they are cogent grown-ups who know exactly what they’re doing, have previous ‘form’ in some cases and are given cover by way of excuses & a mood set by the organisation itself.
    The types of cover given are 1) an institutional inability to grasp & recognise antisemitism as antisemitism. I call it The Emperor’s New Clothes cover. 2) An infantilising parent style style e.g. Oh I’m sure they didn’t mean it; so-and-so isn’t antisemitic; some of their friends are Jewish; some Jews say those things too;….
    Treating grown-ups like children won’t solve this, own it, deal with it and knock it on the head.

    http://www.paulbogdanor.com/antisemitism.html

    • Brian Goldfarb Says:

      Too late for Paul Bogdanor’s reading list is Colin Shindler “Israel & the European Left: Between Solidarity & Delegitimization”, well worth reading. It explains the origins of many of the “as-a-Jew”s who side with their left-wing & anti-Israel, anti-Jewish friends and thus deny their Jewishness and/or their identity with fellow Jews.

  12. AShaanan Says:

    Dear Mr. Goldfarb- Although the Succot holiday has left me little spare time, and even taking into account that your breath may have already abated, I reply:
    1. I read your article and found it to be cogent and illuminating-you pointed out the hypocrisy of that part of the (“sane”) left that you feel to be part of.
    2. Bogdanor’s article on Jewish anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism also pointed out a pathetic phenomenon that seems to be more widespread than thought (and many if not most of these people, like Chomsky who is world reknown in the field of linguistics, come from the academic elite, which supposedly would belong to the “sane” left -or even the few on the “sane” right).
    3. I do not live in the UK and am not British (I live in Israel) and would not presume to be able to define to you what is meant by “the left” in Britain, and I am neither a university professor versed in political theorists (August Babel), nor do I claim to know the vagaries of British political life, including whether the Labour party is or isn’t leftist (and to what degree).
    4.As for “evidence” that the left (of whatever stripe) is inundated with anathema to Jewish nationhood, that borders and often crosses the line into outright anti-Jewish hatred- well, I did “search back through these many pages ” (of “Engage”), and lo and behold, I found well over 1000 comments/articles/critiques of groups or individuals, most being “on the left” (after all, “Engage ” combats anti-Jewish feeling “on the left”), including the Green Party, UCU, The Guardian, boycotters in Leeds, COSATU, Workers Liberty, Cafe Crema, The New Statesman, protesters of a Jewish charity ball in St. Andrews,Fintan O’Toole, Antony Lerman, ASA boycott of Israel, Trades Union Congress, and even the Malmo (Sweden) City sports and recreation committee etc etc etc etc!
    5.I leave it to you and/or “Engage” to come up with a definition of “the left” or even the “sane” left or “mainstream ” left (would “Workers Liberty” be defined as the “sane” or “insane”(!) left and who is doing the defining?!)
    6. Yes, Mr. Goldfarb, my feeling is that of yours that those groups and individuals professing egalitarian values and championing human rights and individual freedoms and wary of authoritarian power and expressions of racism would be considered to be “on the left”, and yet , so many of them have veered abruptly into the field of anti-Jewish hatred, Israel’s political decisions (or even its very existence as the Jewish State) serving as a convenient excuse for hatred that no other group would tolerate, especially “by the left”!
    7. In reality, Mr. Goldfarb, I think we actually may agree with each other!
    8. In the spirit of the Jewish New Year, I forgive you for some of your rather snide remarks and name-calling-I’m sure that in “the heat of the moment” you lost your sense of civil discourse.
    9. I wish you and your family a very pleasanr Simhat Torah!

  13. Brian Goldfarb Says:

    I don’t know whether you are being deliberate obtuse or are actually being “provocative” when you say,
    “1. I read your article and found it to be cogent and illuminating-you pointed out the hypocrisy of that part of the (“sane”) left that you feel to be part of.” Actually, calling my article “cogent” is insulting. Of course it’s cogent, otherwise Engage wouldn’t have published it. More importantly, I did not “point out the hypocrisy of the (“sane”) left…” Again, either your command of English is weak or you are (I repeat) being deliberately obtuse. Whatever else I did, I did not point out the hypocrisy of the sane left. The sane left is that part of the left that still believes that anti-racism is universal and not relative and must be fought everywhere and anywhere that it is found. What did you think I meant? Perhaps more importantly, what did you want me to mean? Clearly not what I actually said or plainly meant.

    “3 I do not live in the UK and am not British (I live in Israel) and would not presume to be able to define to you what is meant by “the left” in Britain, and I am neither a university professor versed in political theorists (August Babel), nor do I claim to know the vagaries of British political life, including whether the Labour party is or isn’t leftist (and to what degree).”
    In that case stop telling us what the left in Britain is or is not like: you plainly (as you admit) have no credentials for this. Yet this is, through your earlier comments, exactly what you have been doing. So I suggest it is time for you to stop doing this.

    Without repeating your point 4, what are you trying to say here? That some parts of the political spectrum that likes to think of itself as “left” are antipathetic to Israel? Well said for repeating what this website (and others) have been saying for more than a decade.

    And your point is? If you are saying anything, it is to claim that this encompasses the whole of the British left, which shows that either you are incapable of reading these pages correctly, as many of those of us on the left oppose and fight those who say that they are on the left but are anti-Israel (NOT merely critical, but wish Israel gone, to be polite about it). It also shows that, again, either you are not reading all those many pages correctly or you are doing what certain others have done over the years: reading what you wish us to have written not reading what we have actually said, which is a cheap trick tried by many in the past. They have all, again and again, had this pointed out to them, more or less politely. And as I said above, compared with many who comment here on “my” side of the debate, I am being polite.

    I have news for you, AShaanan, we remember what we actually wrote and will correct the record when others seek to rewrite our words.

    As for point 5, “I leave it to you and/or “Engage” to come up with a definition of “the left” or even the “sane” left or “mainstream ” left (would “Workers Liberty” be defined as the “sane” or “insane”(!) left and who is doing the defining?!)”, we don’t need to, we know what it is. You are the one who needs to do the defining, which you are patently failing to do, because if you did, you would have to be precise and definite. This you have failed notably to do, through several comments, because if you were precise and definite, you would have to argue and debate on specifics, not vague, woolly and undefined notions of something you say is the left in Britain, but actually means whatever you want it to mean. If you really don’t know what the left in Britain means, then why are you here? Go and google the term and do some reading. Then come back and demonstrate your learning, not your prejudices.

    “In the spirit of the Jewish New Year, I forgive you for some of your rather snide remarks and name-calling-I’m sure that in “the heat of the moment” you lost your sense of civil discourse.” Don’t patronise me, when you clearly have nothing of substance to say to us, and can only resort to avoiding genuine debate by cheap tricks such as this. Actually, you’re not good enough to patronise me, if only because your argument is so vague and unspecific that any refutation is going to appear snide, if only in asking for specifics, which you have notably failed to provide. You clearly have no idea of the notion of forgiveness and I dismiss it as a cheap rhetorical trick, as I dismiss your Simchat Torah good wishes as pious rubbish.

    And if the name August Bebel means nothing to you, why haven’t you googled his name to find out who he was and what he said? Easy enough to do, and you clearly have access to a computer.

    Oh, by the way, being an Israeli doesn’t make someone pro-Israeli or a Zionist, which your mention of your place of residence is meant to imply (making me what?). Just consider Shlomo Sand, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe…there are many more. And if these names mean nothing to you, google them as well.

  14. rob Says:

    What are peoples opinions of this?

  15. Greg Kaye Says:

    At a fundamental level the politicker Shahrar Ali is not a green representative but betrays core principles of a genuine green policy. Due to this it’s insane immigration policies and the catastrophic effects that this will have on any conception of the sustainability of the United Kingdom (also within the context of their abject failure to even consider the fundamental problem human overpopulation) the party that he misleads is fundamentally THE LEAST GREEN PARTY of any major political group in England and Wales. UKIP and, yes, both the tories AND labour are certainly FAR GREENER.

    The unavoidably sad fact is that countries with high population densities (such as many in Europe and exemplified by the UK) already have need to import vast amounts of food simply so as to feed their own burgeoning and inflating populations. Much of this food is already imported from a wide range of countries including those from which people are leaving. Many of these countries, especially in locations from Africa to Afghanistan, have exceedingly high birthrates. This is very clearly illustrated on the map of countries by fertility rate presented at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_fertility_rate .

    In comparison, the relatively slow natural population growth of European countries remains much more closely in line with the rate of improvement in food production. Never-the-less, the population of the UK is already way in excess of the environmental factor of “overshoot”. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overshoot_(population) and https://populationmatters.org/documents/overshoot_index_2011.pdf

    The UK is already far from being anywhere near a sustainable situation. This in even in a situation in which we use a relatively very small proportion of our agricultural area for the production of fuel. Our sustainability situation will be critical in any conceivable situation in which we may imagine the UK as being beyond its dependency on non-renewable resources. In short, we already have way to many people. Until we are in a situation in which we stop importing food, It makes no sense to import yet more people.

    In comparison rates of population growth in many of the countries that people are leaving are way in excess of rates of improvements in food production techniques.

    It also makes absolutely no environmental sense to take people from countries where per capita resource use is low and allow the import of such people into countries where per capita resource use is high. It makes no sense to import both people and food into the same densely populated areas. People should have support and opportunity in their own countries of origin. Destabilizing and prejudiced regimes that prompt attempts at migration should be opposed. Population concern organisations (such as at http://www.populationmatters.org/) should be urgently referenced and supported.

    If anything potential migrants should be informed of the relevant facts regarding the global economic and environmental situation because, every migrant that makes it into countries like the UK, just adds to the problem of the global situation. Problems need to be solved at source. High stands of general education needs to be encouraged with particular attention given to the education and equal empowerment of women across the world, both because these issues are of fundamental importance for human rights as well as because the education and empowerment of woman has been proven to check the spiraling growth of population. Groups that oppose these principles and who act so as to displace populations, themselves, need to be opposed.

    For the related David Attenborough documentary search on: How Many People Can Live On Planet Earth

    Quote: ‘Anyone who believes in indefinite growth in anything physical, on a physically finite planet, is either mad or an economist.’ Kenneth Boulding

    Whether we like it or not there are limits

    I am a passionate green but I can’t stand back and see this wholesale ecological idiocy of this anti-green party. These anti-greens need to either return to practically environmental agendas or leave the party to those that will.

    This man’s outputs have a notable absence of environmental content. Why the hell does he think he has a place in a group called the “Green Party”?


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