Labour and the left have an antisemitism problem

Jew hating lately seems to have become a litmus test as to whether or not one can consider themselves either left or progressive.  Seems that because I support both Israel and an individuals right to keep and bear arms for the purposes of self defense while loathing the present day so called Left’s drum beat of attacks upon Free Speech I have, in my old age become a former leftie.

Fortunately for me I have grown weary of politics and have come to view both the left and the right as a bunch of pompous, full of shit trip pushers.  As a result I don’t give a shit as to what either group of extreme lunatics has to say.

My politics can be summed up by the phrase, “Leave me the fuck alone.”  It has all become a game of self promotion and gathering a fan base of sycophants who adore you and lavish praise upon you for your extreme positions.

The Guardian UK:

Under Jeremy Corbyn the party has attracted many activists with views hostile to Jews. Its leaders must see why this matters

Jonathan Freedland
Friday 18 March 2016

As the Conservative party divides its time between running the country and tearing itself apart over Europe, Labour has been consumed with a rather different problem. In the past two weeks, it has had to expel two activists for overt racism. That follows the creation of an inquiry into the Labour club at Oxford University, after the co-chair resigned saying the club was riddled with racism. The racism in question is hatred of Jews.

I suspect many in Labour and on the wider left dearly wish three things to be true of this problem. That these are just a few bad apples in an otherwise pristine barrel; that these incidents aren’t actually about racism at all but concern only opposition to Israel; and that none of this reflects negatively on Jeremy Corbyn.

Start with the bad apples. The cases of Gerry Downing and Vicki Kirby certainly look pretty rotten. The former said it was time to wrestle with the “Jewish Question”, the latter hailed Hitler as a “Zionist God” and tweeted a line about Jews having “big noses”, complete with a “lol”.

It’d be so much easier if these were just two rogue cases. But when Alex Chalmers quit his post at Oxford’s Labour club, he said he’d concluded that many had “some kind of problem with Jews”. He cited the case of one club member who organised a group to shout “filthy Zionist” at a Jewish student whenever they saw her. Former Labour MP Tom Harris wrote this week that the party “does indeed have a problem with Jews”. And there is, of course, the word of Jews themselves. They have been warning of this phenomenon for years, lamenting that parts of the left were succumbing to views of Jews drenched in prejudice.

But this is the brick wall Jews keep running into: the belief that what Jews are complaining about is not antisemitism at all, but criticism of Israel. Jews hear this often. They’re told the problem arises from their own unpleasant habit of identifying any and all criticism of Israel as anti-Jewish racism. Some go further, alleging that Jews’ real purpose in raising the subject of antisemitism is to stifle criticism of Israel.

You can see the appeal of such an argument to those who use it. It means all accusations of antisemitism can be dismissed as mere Israel-boosting propaganda. But Downing and Kirby make that harder. Their explicit targets were Jews.

What of those who attack not Jews, but only Zionists? Defined narrowly, that can of course be legitimate. If one wants to criticise the historical movement that sought to re-establish Jewish self-determination in Palestine, Zionism is the right word.

But Zionism, as commonly used in angry left rhetoric, is rarely that historically precise. It has blended with another meaning, used as a codeword that bridges from Israel to the wider Jewish world, hinting at the age-old, antisemitic notion of a shadowy, global power, operating behind the scenes. For clarity’s sake, if you want to attack the Israeli government, the 50-year occupation or hawkish ultra-nationalism, then use those terms: they carry much less baggage.

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4 Responses to “Labour and the left have an antisemitism problem”

  1. Edith Pilkington Says:

    Gonna go for a twofer, here, Suzan and Tina. i,e, two comments within the span of one week. I’ll read with interest but refrain from offering an opinion. Here’s my comment: I am surprised you’ve missed this one It’s close to home for me. There’s a lot of context that I find myself in the midst of:

    • Suzan Says:

      I don’t much follow Transworld these days. But Janet Mock managed to lose my respect by caving to the antisemites.

      • Edith Pilkington Says:

        I live right around the corner. I had no idea she was supposed to be coming to Brown. I think Julia Serano came last year. I didn’t know anything about that event, either. The trans celebrity thing is something I think is responsible for creating a lot of distorted perceptions. I have no idea what either one gets for speaking fees. I don’t know.

        I learned about this from a couple from Australia, one of whom used to work at Brown and still has connections there. There was a separate, unrelated incident of true anti-semitism at a Jewish fraternity house that people were upset about. Someone made a comment on a Facebook page about Mock’s withdrawal from her speaking engagement as an aside.

        I don’t think I’d fault Mock for backing out. Most of the commenters siding with the people from Hillel House don’t seem to. I wouldn’t want to be a pawn in that situation, either. Her appearance there became about something entirely different than what it was supposed to be. In my opinion, the trans/queer thing has taken on a life of its own and become a trendy juggernaut that is attempting to grow a political constituency so large it could never be relevant to any one person.

  2. Edith Pilkington Says:

    For the record, I had no idea she was supposed to appear at Brown, which is just around the corner from me. I found out about this on my Facebook newsfeed from a couple who lives in Australia now, one of whom used to work at Brown and still has connections there. The Janet Mock withdrawal was referenced in a reply to a status update about an unrelated incident of serious antisemitism at a Jewish fraternity which everyone involved was very upset about.

    It seemed most of the commenters to the articles I read, who were very upset with the SJP group, weren’t really critical of Mock for withdrawing. I don’t think she actually “caved”. It became clear that what this turned into became about something that had nothing to do with what she was invited there for. That said, I think the fascination with celebrities, along with the trans/queer juggernaut, turns people into pawns and creates distortion. I wonder how much money is involved in these speaking engagements. Brown is an incredibly elite stomping ground for the privileged. It took me years to realize Peggy McIntosh was a white professor from Wellesley. That’s where a lot of this stuff seems to end up.

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