Daniel Allington: “Repertoires for the denial of antisemitism in Facebook”

‘Hitler had a valid argument against some Jews’: repertoires for the denial of antisemitism in Facebook discussion of a survey of attitudes to Jews and Israel

This manuscript has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Discourse, Context & Media.


Discourse analytic research suggests that, in contemporary liberal democracies, complaints of racism are routinely rejected and prejudice may be both expressed and disavowed in the same breath. Historical and quantitative research has established that – both in democratic states and in those of the Soviet Bloc (while it existed) – antisemitism has long been related to or expressed in the form of statements about Israel or Zionism, permitting anti-Jewish attitudes to circulate under cover of political critique. This article looks at how the findings of a survey of anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli attitudes were rejected by users of three Facebook pages associated with the British Left. Through thematic discourse analysis, three recurrent repertoires are identified: firstly, what David Hirsh calls the ‘Livingstone Formulation’ (i.e. the argument that complaints of antisemitism are made in bad faith to protect Israel and/or attack the Left), secondly, accusations of flawed methodology similar to those with which UK Labour Party supporters routinely dismiss the findings of unfavourable opinion polls, and thirdly, the argument that, because certain classically antisemitic beliefs pertain to a supposed Jewish or ‘Zionist’ elite and not to Jews in general, they are not antisemitic. In one case, the latter repertoire facilitates virtually unopposed apologism for Adolf Hitler. Contextual evidence suggests that the dominance of such repertoires within one very large UK Labour Party-aligned group may be the result of action on the part of certain ‘admins’ or moderators. It is argued that awareness of the repertoires used to express and defend antisemitic attitudes should inform the design of quantitative research into the latter, and be taken account of in the formulation of policy measures aiming to restrict or counter hate speech (in social media and elsewhere).

For the whole paper, by Daniel Allington, follow this link:


Seder night, Dayenu, Jeremy Corbyn and what we’re worried about…

This post is mainly for people who aren’t Jewish.  I want to communicate to you the exasperation that many Jews feel when they’re

Adrian Cohen

told that this whole antisemitism controversy is invented by Zionists and Tories to try and damage Labour.

It isn’t invented.  It’s about things that Jeremy Corbyn and his political allies keep doing, it isn’t about things Jews keep doing.  But bear with me for a minute while I tell you a little about seder night.  Which is tonight.

Seder night is when Jews remember their liberation from slavery in Egypt.  It is a family festival, celebrated not in synagogue, but at home, around the dinner table.

Well, sometimes a dinner table, extended by a kitchen table, with a little kids camp table at the end; all covered in white table cloths and with your best cutlery and flowers.  Big extended families eat together; sometimes 20 or 30 people squashed around the table.

But before you’re allowed to eat you have to listen to the person in the family who knows how to read Hebrew trying to hold it all together and get everybody’s attention, while the cynical teenagers gently take the piss and ask if it is time to eat yet.

We are invited to feel that we, ourselves, were slaves in Egypt; and that we, ourselves, were liberated from bondage.  (Cue the annual titters from the other end of the table about how bondage isn’t so bad etc etc.)  This is about how the God of the Jews saved the Jews and smote their enemies, angrily and violently; but it is also about how we think about everybody who is enslaved, and we pray for everybody’s liberation.  Pesach is both about our own particular Jewish story and also about our ancestors finding their way towards a universal God and towards the concept of humanity.

So we go round the table, reading in Hebrew, reading in English; eventually we’re allowed to drink our second cup of wine.  Hooray.  But we spill ten drops of wine.  Why? Because while we’re pleased the Holy One sided with us and hurt our enemies, we also mourn for their suffering too.

And we eat Matzah, which is bread that never rose.  It is like big square crisp breads.  My nostalgic memory is that in England Matzah always comes in red cardboard boxes, of the most common brand.  They’re sitting on the table, waiting to be eaten. One piece is hidden, for the kids to find later and get as prize.  We eat Matzah because our ancestors had to get  out of Egypt quickly, before Pharoh changed his mind; and they could not risk waiting for the bread to rise.

And the women (well, you know, traditionally…) fuss about in and out of the kitchen making sure the food is ready at the right time; and we eat an egg (you know, an easter egg, to remind us of the Spring time and the circle of life) and salted water and bitter herbs to remind us of the bitter tears of oppression.  And nowadays there’s an orange on the seder plate.  Why?  Because some old rabbi once said that a woman belongs in the rabbinate like an orange belongs on the seder plate.

And before we can eat there’s a bit more praying, and a bit more telling of the story of the liberation from Egypt.

And then… (can’t we bloody eat yet?) …  a few songs.

Dayenu is a long song.  It goes on forever.  Especially when you’re impatient for your soup.  It has a catchy tune and it is one of those songs that repeats and repeats to make its point.  It is about how wonderful God is.  On the face of it, it says that each one of the things God  did for us, on their own, would have been enough, we would have been awed.  In fact, of course, that isn’t really true.  The journey from slavery to freedom required many indispensable events and elements; and all were necessary.  We say we’re grateful for each one; but really that is just to demonstrate how much we’re grateful for the whole lot.

Verse 1: “If He had brought us out from Egypt, and had not carried out judgments against them — Dayenu, it would have sufficed!

and then a chorus.  We sing Dayenu, it would have been enough!

Verse 2: “If he had carried out the judgments against them, and not against their idols – Dayenu, it would have sufficed …

Verse 13: If he had given us the Torah and not brought us into the Land of Israel – Dayenu, it would have sufficed.

Verse 14: If he had brought us into the Land of Israel and  not built for us the Holy Temple – Dayenu, it would have sufficed.

You get the pattern?  Everybody sings the chorus.  It takes a little while.

Then we have matzah ball soup.  And then dinner.  It’s a very warm, family occasion.  And sometimes we argue, and fall out, and laugh.  And some people take it more seriously, some less; and some people go on into the small hours of the morning talking about theology and philosophy and politics and what it means to be Jewish.

So.  Adrian Cohen wrote the Jeremy Corbyn Dayenu.  All I ask is that you read it out loud.  The whole thing.  And between each verse, sing the chorus, if you know it.

Dayenu – it would have been enough for us.

If Corbyn had supported Rev Sizer but distanced himself from Paul Eisen Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t distanced himself from Paul Eisen but had refused to take Raed Saleh to tea in the Commons Dayenu.

If Corbyn had tea with Raed Saleh but had not met with Bashir Assad in Damascus Dayenu.

If Corbyn had met Assad in Damascus but had also organised STW demonstrations in defence of the Yazidis, in support of Kurdish self determination, protested against chemical weapons and barrel bombs by the Assad regime, the siege of the Yamouk Palestinian refugee camp and the slaughter in Eastern Ghoutta Dayenu,

If Corbyn hadn’t organised protests by the STW but had condemned the antisemitism aroused by STW protests against Israel in 2014 Dayenu,

If Corbyn hadn’t condemned antisemitism in 2014 but had refused to meet with Hamas and Hezbollah and call them his friends Dayenu.

If Corbyn had met with Hamas and Hezbollah but had not regularly gone on the AL Quds march under the Hezbollah flag Dayenu.

If Corbyn had regularly gone under the AL Quds march but had refused money from Press TV Dayenu.

If Corbyn had accepted money from Press TV but had supported the removal of the mural in 2012 Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t supported the removal of the mural but had removed himself from Facebook Groups like Palestine Live and blown the whistle on their content Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t blown the whistle but had given interviews with Jewish Communal newspapers and answered their specific queries Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t given the interviews but had said ‘Israel’ at the first LFI reception after his election Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t said the word Israel at the first but had turned up at the third Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t turned up at the third but had met with LFI at anytime for a meeting in the last three years Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t met with LFI but had addressed the concerns about antisemitism at the JLM Chanukah Party as scripted and agreed with his staff Dayenu.

If he hadn’t addressed antisemitism at the Chanukah Party but had asked to tour Jewish areas of London, visit schools and synagogues at any time in the last three years Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t visited Jewish areas but had expelled any of Livingstone, Walker or Wadsworth Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t expelled any of Livingstone et al but had commissioned a proper independent report on antisemitism in the party Dayenu.

If Corbyn ordered a whitewash but had at least used that as a basis for zero tolerance going forward Dayenu.

If Corbyn hadn’t used it as a basis for zero tolerance but in the face of the current manifestation of the crisis had distanced himself from phoney JVL and slammed those calling concerns about antisemitism a smear and defended those MPs now under attack for attending the rally Dayenu.

If Corbyn had done none of the above but had sacked Christine Shawcroft from the NEC and removed the whip from Chris Williamson Dayenu.

All together now Day Dayenu, Day Dayenu, Day Dayenu Dayenu Dayenu.

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


Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-racist test

Today we get to learn more about what Corbyn thinks about his responsibilities in what we are assured is his affirmed opposition to all kinds of racism. Many of his supporters think it is apologising and smiling at visibly Jewish people.

The Jewish establishment, which has often reluctant to rock the boat on antisemitism, has been shaken into action. The straw which broke the camel’s back was the revelation that, in one of his Facebook groups where antisemitic material is shared, Corbyn supported an artist whose antisemitic mural was threatened with erasure from Brick Lane in London. The mural, titled ‘Freedom for Humanity’ depicted not contemporary capitalists but instead men from a different time, with stereotypically Jewish features indistinguishable from Nazi propaganda, playing on a Monopoly board balanced on the backs of darker-skinned men. Then-Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman said “the images of the bankers perpetuate antisemitic propaganda about conspiratorial Jewish domination of financial and political institutions”. Corbyn supported Mear One on Facebook at the time, saying the erasure was motivated by pro-capitalist politics not anti-racism. That was back in 2012. Luciana Berger MP raised the matter this week.

The number of apologies coming from Corbyn, and the torrent of abuse and scorn that campaigners against antisemitism are subjected to in the name of supporting him, are testament to the failure of the Labour leadership to address antisemitism.

So the Jewish Leadership Council and the Jewish Board of Deputies have called a rally today Monday 26th 5.30 in Parliament Square to present this letter to the Parliamentary Labour Party. Update Corbyn has issued this response which recognises antisemitism in the Labour movement but makes no specific undertakings.

So turn up today:

  • Monday 26th March;
  • 5.30pm;
  • Parliament Square, Westminster;
  • The organisers ask that there be no banners.

Naturally, Jewish Voice for Labour and Free Speech on Israel are marshalling their supporters to a counter rally. Being contorted Israel-firsters themselves, they will push a tiny, very loud, minority of Jews to the front but they aren’t fussy about their supporters who consequently will include antisemitism apologists and antisemites [Update – it did and here is one of them]. Their aim is to teach us how to discredit the majority of Jews who are trying to raise the alarm about growing antisemitism, and they can succeed unless there is plenty of education to the contrary.

So, get stuck in, always with civility. Call on JVfL and FSoI to stand down. Call on Corbyn, the Labour leadership, and your own MP to welcome today’s campaigners against antisemitism and thereby demonstrate support for the UK Jewish community. He needs to act on his words now. He needs to support Jews against antisemitism even if he, like Livingstone, has written them off as agreeing with him politically.

Labour MPs who aren’t bystanding and who stand on the right side of this include [updated] Ian Austin, Luciana Berger, Wes Streeting, Louise Ellman, Jess Phillips, Ruth Smeeth, Stella Creasey, Mike Gapes, John Mann, Nia Griffith, Preet Kaur Gill, Chris Elmore, Thangam Debonnaire, Chi Onwura, Toby Perkins, Phil Wilson, Chuka Umunna, Yvette Cooper, Harriet Harman, David Lammy, Kate Green, Holly Lynch, Joan Ryan, Margaret Hodge, Liam Byrne, and Stephen Morgan. There are plenty more. These are people who are also used to standing against other forms of racism and they know the ropes. But they need your support, since they are currently on the receiving end of a world of antisemitism themselves.

Some background links (not the perfect list, so please post in the comments):

UCU NEC elections 2018

Engage readers who are also UCU members should have received their voting papers for the NEC elections. In the past those promoting the boycott of Israel, or opposing recognized definitions of antisemitism, have tended to be associated with UCU Left.

In general – although individual views on these issues do of course vary – the ‘independent broad left’ (IBL) is perhaps more likely to be in tune with Engage readers’ own priorities, more pragmatic and more focused on such key issues as pay, pensions, marketization, and casualisation.

UCU members should read all the election statements, but this is the list of IBL candidates by post/region.


Vice President: Brian Hamilton

London and East HE: Amanda Williams, Sarah Brown

North East HE: Paul Errington, Joan Harvey

North West FE: Janet Farrar

London and East FE: Pete Monaghan

North East FE: Rob Goodfellow

Northern Ireland HE: Renee Prendergast

UK elected HE: Dave Anderson, Michael McKrell, Joanna de Groot

UK elected FE: Mel Stoup, Robert Clunas

UK elected HE casual vacancy: Jacky Collins

HE and FE Land-based seat: Helen Burley

Women Members HE: Ariane Bogain, Victoria Showunmi

Women Members FE: Carolyn Campbell

Palestine Solidarity, BDS and Antisemitism

This is a guest post by Ulrich Stephane Savary a Labour Party Campaigner in South Manchester, writer at Labour Vision and a member of Momentum and the Jewish Labour Movement.

When the second Intifada started in September 2000, I was in my first year at University. Having joined my local student union, I was really pleased to have been selected as delegate for my student union in the local Pro-Palestine Committee.  It was a great opportunity for me to show that I could help in organising a mass protest, with various left-wing organisations, trade unions, Christian, Jewish and Muslim organisations.  It also meant that I had to be ready to broker a deal with groups that don’t always agree with each other.  It is fair to say that I was aware that he French left, like the left in Britain often spend more time fighting each other than they do in working together.

So the first time I went to my Pro-Palestine Committee meeting, I knew what to expect. When I entered the room, full of trade unionists and left-wing activists all talking seriously about the influence of US imperialism in the Middle East, the role of successive French Government in the development of Zionism amongst the French Jewish Community before WW2, the allegedly corrupted leadership of Fatah and the courageous young Palestinians that were fighting the Israeli war machine with rocks, I felt like I was part of a group of people who knows, against those who don’t.  But I soon realised that all them, leaders of various small Trotskyists, Anarchists, and Alt-left organisations were arguing with each other about the role played by the working class in the imminent fall of Capitalism. They were all leaders of small talking shops, tiny so-called working-class parties, with only themselves and their group of followers to believe in them. But they had the passion of those who believe that the revolution will come sooner rather than later.  And when you are 19, you want to believe them, even if I couldn’t see the differences between them.

After ten minutes of this noisy and overexcited “brouhaha”, a group in their 50’s emerged from the back of the room to address the rest of the group. They were all members of the powerful CGT / CFDT, the main trade unions in France, and they were all members of either the French Communist Party as well as the Parti Socialiste.

The Trotskyists hated the CGT / CFDT group. The Anarchists, who hated the Trotskyists, hated them even more. The Alt-left left the room in disgust even before the any discussion had really started.  After all, they were viewed as bureaucrats, paid by the Union to work for their respective political parties. And the fact that both parties were in a coalition Government together didn’t help make them more popular amongst the “Bolsheviks”.

And yet, as soon as the CGT / CFDT group started to talk, the entire room listened to them. And they made a very simple and valid point. The meeting wasn’t about Israel itself, but was about our solidarity with the Palestinian people. Back then, it was important to get it right. One after another, they reminded the audience, that the far-right will try to use the events unfolding in Palestine as an excuse to attack the Jewish Community, any calls to boycott Israel will be used by them, in their war against the Jews in France or elsewhere.  Therefore, this committee wasn’t ready to support such things.  What they wanted instead was a principled socialist position on a conflict.

Today, some may find this outrageous, other would even consider this as the ultimate evidence of a so-called Zionist lobby that controls everything, both the left and the right at the same time. But in 2000 in France, in this room packed with so many different political organisations who loved to argue with each other’s, to me this seemed to be the correct political position.  Solidarity with the Palestinian people didn’t mean that all Israelis were to blame for the second intifada, so why punish those who were innocent. And this principled political position, 17 years later, is still mine.

When it comes to any political or social movement, socialists usually always start their political analysis from facts, then try to link these facts with what is called “class consciousness”, social classes that have different political and economic goals. This helps Socialists to analyse any social movement in relation to the economy and to the level of political consciousness of the actors of these movements. Karl Marx for instance, saw the political economy as the engine of mind. Therefore, consciousness reflects the political economy. A person’s thoughts tend to be shaped by his or her political and economic circumstances. That’s how all progressive social movements broadly speaking start.

Any Socialist I hope, would agree with me on that, and understand that our capitalist societies are divided between classes having different political and economic interests. However, when it comes to Israel, strong and proud socialists, tend to forget everything they know regarding social movements, the economy, Imperialism, and seem to believe that all Israelis, no matter their social conditions, no matter if they are right-wing or not, rich or poor, pro or against their own government are somehow collectively responsible for the action of their own governments.  If we applied this rather strange view on Britain, it would mean that the entire British population would be collectively responsible for the action of their past and present Governments.  No more class struggle, just a monolithic nation that act, think and fight together and must all be blamed.

The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and its hidden agenda.

That’s why when socialists give their support to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, they renounce any kind of socialist analysis of both Israel as a nation and of Zionism as a political and national movement.

What is the main purpose of this movement? They will claim, it is to support the Palestinian People in their struggle against both Zionism and Israel. Let’s take this argument seriously and examine the results of what this campaign has achieved since it started in July 2005.

Did we get an Independent Palestinian state because of the BDS movement? The answer is obviously no.  Are the Palestinians any closer to have their own Independent State from Israel?  The answer is no.  Twelve long years of campaigning have given no satisfactory results.  If the real goal of the BDS mobement ss to help the Palestinian in their struggle against Israel, then that strategy has failed to deliver.  Therefore, we should question the true goal of the BDS Movement. If after 12 long years of failing to deliver their primary goal, the BDS movement continues with its strategy of “bullying” anyone who wishes to do business, study or just live in Israel, it may mean they have a hidden agenda, something that I think should raise some concerns for all socialists. I would imagine that any socialist would understand that holding all Israelis responsiblr for the actions of their government, can only mean that the BDS movement true goal isn’t really to support the Palestinian people.

We should openly question the true motivation of an organisation, if after 12 years, it hasn’t achieved its goal. Yet, when it comes to the BDS movement, a parts  of the British left seem  unable to question the true motivation of this movement. And this is a serious concern.

But that’s not all. So many left-wing activists, in the broad sense of the term, will compare the political situation in Israel, with what happened in South Africa during the Apartheid regime, when the black population were considered as inferior by the white population.  It was a racist regime, where the black majority living in squalid conditions, couldn’t vote or  even sit on the same bus as the white minority.

Is Israel the “South Africa” of the middle East then? If this was the case, no Arab Israelis would have the right to vote. And yet, there are Arab Israelis members of the Knesset such as Masud Ghnam, Dr Jamal Zahalka or Ahmad Tibi. If Israel was really an apartheid state, there would be no Arab Israelis elected. Therefore, if Socialists argue that Israel is an apartheid state to explain why they continue to support the BDS Movement, then they are committing a gross political mistake, as they clearly don’t understand the true nature of Israel, as a modern liberal democracy.

What about those Israeli citizens who refuse to support the action of their Government in the West Bank? What about the thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women who have joined together to march through the desert for peace[5]? Don’t they deserve our support?

To be frank, I personally find the term apartheid inaccurate and inflammatory when applied to the struggle of the Palestinians.  It doesn’t help us to understand the true nature of the relationship between the 3.6 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank under military rule and the Israelis settlers who live under Israelis civilian law.  The Palestinians living in the West Bank are facing what we can characterise as a modern form of colonialism. And yes, Socialists should oppose it. But the left should also recognise that the Israeli society is as divided as any other society and doesn’t constitute a monolithic bloc around the Israeli government.  For us socialists, there is no such thing as national solidarity, but only national class struggle and international solidarity.

If this obsession with condemning Israel, does nothing to advance peace or help the Palestinians, it does however help to enforce the belief that Israelis are all guilty. We should be suspicious of any left-wing organisations obsessed with Israel, to the point that they don’t seem to vigorously campaign on any anything else.  And this obsession raises other questions. Why some sections of the British left continue to use a false definition of the nature of Israel.  Does it fit another political agenda, something that they don’t want to confess? Let’s say it, aren’t they a bit anti-sematic?  Of course, they will vehemently refute the term, and will accuse anyone who raises this as a “Zionist” like it was an insult.

The truth is that many on the left aren’t conscious that their own actions can reinforce anti-Semitism in Britain or elsewhere in the world, however some do embrace it plainly.

The Great International Zionist Conspiracy that will destroy Britain, the Labour Party and the world.

How many times have we seen labour party members, trade unionists or far-left activists claiming that the media is being controlled by Zionist or Israel. This is a recurrent theme of the British left. The BBC and with it, the mainstream media, are all seen to have a hidden agenda against the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn and the world in general. And often, they are all Zionists. What about our Parliament or the “right wing of the Labour Party”? Have a guess. They are all under the Zionist or Israelis lobby influence too. Zionists are seen everywhere, and I am sure that some may even believe that I am part of this conspiracy too.

Even if I have utter contempt for any so-called socialists that  use such disgusting anti-Semitic propaganda, to explain pretty much everything that is happening in the world, let’s for a moment take their point  seriously.

Believing that Israel, as a nation, can corrupt, control, international organisations and then dominate the entire European or American establishment, is basically believing that Israel is the most powerful nation on earth. If taken this seriously, we should all be asking how this tiny nation, who needs the US support to maintain its regional power, can have such power?

This defies logic.  In the hierarchy of Imperialist nations, Israel is no more than a small player. It is a regional power, like Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are too. They don’t have the capacity to topple successive presidents in Africa, like France has done so many time since the 1960’s, they don’t have military bases in each continent, like USA have and they wouldn’t have been able to start a war with Argentina, and to win it, like United Kingdom did during the  Falklands War in 1982.  So how can any socialist explain that “Zionists”, no sorry Israel have such an influence.

The only logical explanation would be that all Zionists have some sort of magical powers.  They must be super humans too as how  could  anyone explain the Zionists can control the world from Tel-Aviv, New York, Paris, London and Frankfurt since 18th Century or even before, whilst no one can see them gathering together at some point.  The “illiterate socialists” who believe in a gigantic Zionist worldwide conspiracy, must also believe that Zionists have some sort of supernatural powers. There are no other explanations possible.

When it isn’t Israel itself, it is “the master of the puppets”, Rothschild himself that is behind everything.  Of course, Israel and Rothschild must be working together. They are all Jews, no sorry Zionists.

This anti-Semitic Left-Wing Conspiracy has no valid political ground, and yet it is what some “illiterate Socialists” want to believe.

What is their best line of defence? Anti-Zionism isn’t anti-Semitism. When it comes to Israel, for them, it means that Zionism isn’t truly Jewish, therefore it isn’t anti-Semitic to believe that Zionist control the world.

Sometimes they even see Israel as some sort of a capitulation to anti-Semitism. If Jews are leaving Europe to live in Israel, it’s because they refuse to fight for their own right to stay and live in Europe. Even if today many Jews see Israel as a safe place, a last resort against Anti-Semitism, this section of the anti-Zionist left will see them not as victims, but as defeatists, or worse.  Let’s not mention to them the Holocaust, to explain why so many Jews consider themselves as Zionists.  Some of them will even claim that Zionist and Nazis were working together against Jews, to create a situation where all Jews had to leave Europe.

Even if their Anti-Zionism wasn’t linked to their Anti-Semitism, it is a fact that the Anti-Zionist Left don’t want to offer any credible alternative to Zionism, as they don’t perceive it as a political, national movement worth of interest.  As Steve Cohen explained, in his fantastic book “That’s Funny You Don’t Look Anti‐Semitic” the left has historically offered nothing more than so-called “assimilation” to fight against anti-Semitism.  Don’t be Jew and then you won’t be victims of anti-Semitism. Even today many on the left have nothing more to offer to the Jewish Community.

“It’s funny you don’t look anti-Semite”

The “Anti-Zionist Left” often uses other tricks to claim that those who oppose them are all wrong. Jewish and Socialist authors have been opposed to Zionism in the past. To be perfectly clear, and especially in the context of Europe before Hitler and the Holocaust, many socialist Jews were against Zionism. Today, some Jews are even deeply involved in the Anti-Zionist BDS Movement and the Anti-Zionist Left. Therefore, the conclusion that the “anti-Zionist” naturally draw is that Anti-Zionism isn’t anti-Semitism.

The Anti-Zionist Left see the world as if it was divided between “good Jews” opposed to the “bad Jews”.  The “good Jews” must be against Israel as a state, and must spend their entire political lives opposing Israel. There is no escape because the Anti-Zionist left love using them as evidence that they aren’t anti-Semitic. All accusations of anti-Semitism are simply an attack organised by Israel, the Zionists or the “bad Jews”.

In his essay On the Jewish Question, one of the clearest example of acceptance of anti-Semitism to the point that the individual himself – here Marx- includes anti-Semitism as part of his thinking is this:

ʺWhat is the secular cult of the Jew? Hagglingʺ.

ʺWhat is his secular god? Moneyʺ.

ʺExchange is the true god of the Jewʺ.

ʺThe chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchantʺ.

ʺThe emancipation of the Jew is, in the last analysis, the emancipation of mankind from Judaismʺ.

As Steve Cohen explained, this is not to make the reactionary claim that Marxism as a philosophy is anti-Semitic, but to show that victims of anti-Semitism can assimilate themselves to an anti-Semitic environment to the point that the victims themselves become anti-Semitic.

Therefore, when the “anti-Zionist left” uses Jewish writers as a line of defence against accusation of anti-Semitism, it only proves that they either don’t understand the true nature of anti-Semitism or that they are themselves anti-Semitic.

They aren’t good or bad Jews, but as soon as the “anti-Zionist left” makes this distinction between “anti-Zionist Jews” and “Zionist Jews”, the latter being the bad ones, they just show the true nature of their opposition to Israel.  It has little to do with the Palestinian people, but has everything to do with their own anti-Semitism.

Of course, I know that many good and decent people members of this section of the British Left truly believe that they aren’t anti-Semitic, however as Democratic Socialists, it our duty to re-evaluate our own political beliefs, especially when it considers an entire nation responsible for the mistakes of their own government, to the collective culpability of all Jews who are not anti-zionist

It is of the utmost importance that the left starts educating itself on antisemitism, as not understanding the true nature of anti-Semitism can lead to grave political mistakes which in return pave the way for discrimination and racism. If we, Socialists are serious about our support for Palestine, Palestinians and their fight for an independent state, as well as our commitment towards peace in the Middle East, we must step up our game, and work with all of those who truly want peace between Israel and Palestine.

[1] Mainly antifascist skinhead movement.

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masud_Ghnaim

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamal_Zahalka

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmad_Tibi

[5] http://edition.cnn.com/2017/10/09/middleeast/israeli-palestinian-women-peace-march-desert/index.html

Hear David Hirsh speak about “Contemporary Left Antisemitism”.

5  12.00 Haifa University, Auditorium 101, Students’ Building
6  12.30  Hebrew University, Jerusalem  Social Sciences Room 3510
6  18.30  Netanya AACI 28 Shmuel Hanaziv [fb page]
7  14.00  Bar Ilan University
17  12.30  Landshut
7 13.00  Brussels, European Parliament.  Conference on ‘The New Antisemitism’.
7  19.00  Glasgow.  “Whitewashed” Giffnock Synagogue Hall, 222 Fenwick Road, Giffnock, G46 6UE
25  Limmud.  “Whitewashed”.  And also a panel about antisemitism and methodology.  And a talk about ‘Contemporary Left Antisemitism’.
9  20.15  Edgware United Synagogue
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