David Hirsh on the re-emergence of the antisemitism crisis in Labour

This is some of my writing on facebook over the last few days.

On the call not to wave Israeli flags on the demonstration against antisemitism:

Some say that supporters of Israeli human rights abuses manufacture fake claims of antisemitism to silence the legitimate protests of the Palestinians.

They always try to spin those who oppose antisemitism and those who facilitate antisemitism as two sides of a legitimate debate about Israel, about the occupation, about Palestinian rights.

The institutions of the UK Jewish community who have organised today’s demonstration have asked that people do not wave Israeli flags. The reason for this is that flags would help the facilitators of antisemitism to portray opposition to antisemitism as being identical to support for what they call “Zionism” – by which they mean racism, imperialism, Nazism and apartheid.

We could respond: “We will take their antisemitic construction of Zionism and we will subvert it; we will proudly proclaim our own Zionism and we will show that what we mean by that is self-liberation, opposition to antisemitism and safety, culture and freedom after the Holocaust…”

Racism constructs ‘race’; contemporary antisemitism constructs ‘Zionism’. This is done in a hostile way, from outside, and is entirely independent of the way we embrace and create our own liberational identities.

What, literally, is a “demonstration”? What are we trying to show today?

The antizionists will organise a counter demonstration.

Are we trying to show that we support Israel while the other side opposes Israel?

No, that is not today’s demonstration. We will not allow the antisemites to twist our message. Today’s message is against antisemitism; it is not pro- or anti-Israel.

I understand that there are important relationships between diverse kinds of support for Israel and opposing antisemitism; I understand that Israel was constituted to oppose antisemitism; I understand that antisemitism aims to de-legitimize Israel.

But today, what we want to demonstrate, by our presence, is that UK Jews oppose antisemitism. And the most effective way, today, of doing that, is not to stage what can be portrayed as a pro-Netanyahu demonstration, in the face of a pro-Palestinian demonstration,and in the face of Corbyn’s support for Palestinian rights.

Most British Jews, of course, including the institutions of the Jewish community which have called this demonstration, support Palestinian rights, and also oppose antisemitism.

On the role of the antizionist Jews:

My book, ‘Contemporary Left Antisemitism’ is the story of how antisemitsm has moved into the mainstream, particularly since 9/11, since the collapse of the peace process, and since the UN conference at Durban.

Far from being the ‘useful idiots’ of the antisemites, antizionist Jews are leaders, facilitators and kosherizers of antisemitism. They are indefatigable opponents of anyone who opposes antisemitism.

They say that opposition to antisemitism is a dirty Zionist trick, an attempt to silence the free speech of the oppressed.

They begin and end debates and events which aim to exclude Israelis, and only Israelis, from the global communities of science, business, sport and culture.

They educate non-Jews to adopt antisemitic ways of thinking.

Antizionist Jews organise counter-demonstrations against Jews who protest antisemitism.

They claim that there is no consensus within the Jewish community about antisemitism and that their voice is equally representative.

They claim that the JLC, the BoD, the CST, the Chief Rabbi, the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish journalists (Aaronovitch, Cohen, Finkelstein, Freedland etc) the Jewish scholars (Garrard, Geras, Fine, Spencer, Rich, Hirsh, Julius, Schama etc), the synagogues (Liberal, Reform, Masorti, United)… … represent no consensus.

They claim that they are the representatives of Jews who support Palestinian rights; and that all the other Jews oppose Palestinian rights and are prepared to lie and cheat in an effort to do so.

Antizionist Jews will be out on the streets this evening, trying to smear and de-legitimize the Jewish community’s demonstration against antisemitism.

They will portray this as a debate, with two legitimate positions.

They say that this is not a debate about antisemitism but it is a debate between Israelis and Palestinians – thereby constructing Palestinians as antisemites.

This is what they say about this evening:

“The BoD and the JLC and those supporting them must be aware that this is an attempt to influence local elections and has nothing to do with the real and necessary task of challenging racism and antisemitism at all levels of political life. We call on them to stop playing party politics and start representing what our community needs. We believe that is best represented by the politics we fight for and hope to see win on May 3rd.”

They say that the huge and reasonable consensus within in the Jewish community over antisemitism is actually an anti-left conspiracy.

They try to substitute themselves for the Jewish community.

Jewish antizionists aim to pose as the Jewish community, to be the voice of Jews in discussions with the Labour Party.

They are being financed by UNITE – what shame for one of our most important trade unions.

Stop Gaslighting Jews:

Every time we’re told we’re only pretending to see antisemitism, our answer should be: “Stop Gaslighting Jews”.

Corbyn, and his political allies have, for decades embraced antisemitic politics. Corbyn offers political support to antisemitic movements like Hamas and Hezbollah (dedicated to peace and justice, he says); he sides with antisemites against Jews (Sizer, Salah, Eisen, Mear One), he shills for the Iranian regime, he celebrates the Iranian revolution. He supports a regime of boycott against Israelis, excluding them from the global community of humankind and legitimizing the bullying culture of BDS.

The Gaslighting of Jews by people who think of themselves as socialists needs to stop.

We won’t be told that this is ‘criticism of Israel’ or ‘siding with the Palestinians’.

We won’t be told that opposing antisemitism is a dishonest Jewish conspiracy.

“Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.”  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting

What does Labour have to do to fix the problem?

Labour MPs make three demands to fix the antisemitism problem in the party. But, because they ignore the politics of the situation, they’re not enough.

1. Disavow the notion that those who raise the issue of antisemitism do so as part of a conspiracy to smear and to silence.

2. Articulate its solidarity with Jewish members who experience antisemitism.

3. Beef up the structures of the party so they can expel antisemites.

But this leaves the politics of the situation untouched.

1. Corbyn must account politically for his own actions, or resign. His support for antisemites against Jews – Salah, Sizer, Eisen etc. His work for Press TV and his speeches for the Iranian regime. His political support for Hamas and Hezbollah. His support for the mural. etc.

2. The party must make clear that this is not about picking out antisemitic apples, but it is about dealing with an institutional and cultural antisemitism which has become mainstream in the British left barrel.

3. It must be clear that the politics of hostility to Israel, of denouncing it as a unique evil, as apartheid, as Nazi, as racist, as imperialist, is related to the rise of antisemitism.  https://www.thejc.com/…/corbyn-antisemitism-labour-john-man…


Follow this link for Hadley Freeman on the protest against antisemitism

Follow this link for Julie Lenarz

Follow this link for the documentary “Whitewashed” about the Chakrabarti Report


4 Responses to “David Hirsh on the re-emergence of the antisemitism crisis in Labour”

  1. Jonathan Says:

    Truth is, Jews can’t win. This was one response to the ban on flags (which I actively opposed because most antisemitism on the Left is Israel-based): “See how cunning the Zionists are? They hide their Israeli flags for their Monday rally, but pray for Israel on Saturday. They have a dual loyalty and in any conflict, Israel will always come first. They are willing to deceive and manipulate decent British people, in order to defend Israeli apartheid.”

    • Jacob Arnon Says:

      I’m sympathetic to Jonathan’s view that Israeli flags should not have been banned from the demonstration against Corby’s (and the Labour Party—it’s his party now, just as the Republican Party in the US is Trump’s party, now). However, It was more important to bring the racism in Corbyn’s party to the attention of the public in the UK and the presence of Israeli flags, at this time, would have been a distraction.

  2. Jacob Arnon Says:

    “Far from being the ‘useful idiots’ of the antisemites, antizionist Jews are leaders, facilitators and kosherizers of antisemitism. They are indefatigable opponents of anyone who opposes antisemitism.”
    David Hirsh’s important comments are clarifying as well as a practical guide in our fight against this type of antisemitic bigotry.
    No matter it’s source, it is important to counter antisemitism and anti-Zionism (these are related phenomena) as Mr. Hirsh is doing.
    I would like to add that anti-Zionism within the contemporary Jewish community is a marginal and abstract phenomenon. It originates within ultra-leftist political movements with a strong anti-Jewish bias and their fellow travelers within academic communities.
    Their claim to be “independent Jews” is hollow; they are only independent of the Jewish community but dependent on openly antisemitic political organizations.
    In my experience, these anti-Zionist Jews are out of touch with the non-Jewish as well as the Jewish communities at large. Hence their inability to recognize the virulent nature of anti-Zionism which includes the categorization of all Jews as potential zionists.
    They are seldom the targets of antisemites because of their non-identification as Jews. They also live their lives within narrow cult like political groups.
    Even a Nroman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky, the well-known anti-Zionists were the target of antisemites because they called the BDS movement a dishonest “cult.”
    See Judea Pearl:
    see also:
    Attacks on the two unflagging anti-Zionists for their mild criticism of BDS can be found in many pro-Palestinian and White supremacist websites.
    Anti-Zionist Jews are drawn into an antisemitic maelstrom which their alienation from the Jewish community doesn’t allow them to recognize. If their anti-Jewish activity affected only them, it would just be another page in the long sorry history of renegade Jews, who left the Jewish community. However anti-Zionist Jews are as dishonest as BDS supporters who claim they are “working for peace” when their aim is the abolition of the Jewish State, similarly anti-Zionist Jews claim to acting as Jews when their aim is the marginalization and eventual abolition of Jewish communities.

  3. Eric Says:

    The mural wasn’t a criticism of Israel or some sort of anti-semitically harsh criticism of Israel. We’re seeing the rise of conspiracy theories on the left and a worry degree of acceptance and excusing of such conspiracy theories and the anti-semitic poison that they carry. These long tracts about what you can and can’t say about Israel are just not relevant to the problem we are facing.

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