Book they want to ban
Greg Philo, Mike Berry, Justin Schlosberg, Anthony Lerman, David Miller 'Bad news for Labour: anti-Semitism, the party and public belief' Pluto Press, 2019, pp288, £14.99
It says all you need to know about the Zionist lobby’s hatred for free speech, that the Brighton book launch for Bad news for Labour - which focuses on the McCarthyite attack on freedom of speech in the Labour Party - was itself subject to such a torrent of Zionist abuse that Waterstones cancelled it - although CEO James Daunt later admitted that this was a “mistake”.
So afraid are the Zionists that their scurrilous campaign of defamation could be exposed for what it is that a book by five distinguished academics, which looks at the evidence for their allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’, was itself portrayed as “Jew-baiting”, “offensive to the Jewish community” and even “anti-Semitic”. Presumably British Jews are such delicate flowers that statistical evidence in a dry academic book will cause them to relive the holocaust!
Instead of standing up for the basic right of freedom of speech on Palestine, Israel and Zionism, Jeremy Corbyn and Jennie Formby have succumbed to their opponents’ vitriol. Today in the Labour Party anyone who doubts the veracity of the ‘anti-Semitism’ moral panic is now being accused of anti-Semitism themselves. As was the case at Salem, the denial of being a witch constitutes irreversible proof of witchhood.
This book should be read in conjunction with The anti-Semitism wars (Spokesman Books, 2018), including my chapter, ‘The story so far ...’. Bad news for Labour has six parts, but as a whole it is less than the sum of its parts. It suffers from being a dry academic tome, rather than treating the evidence it reveals in the context of the politics of Labour and Corbynism.
The book’s major failing is that it fails to locate the source of the anti-Semitism smear campaign. Greg Philo and Mike Berry in ‘What could have been done and why it wasn’t’ and ‘Will it end?’ observe that “the claims about anti-Semitism had begun after the election of Corbyn in September 2015” (p45). This is incorrect. The claims began as soon as the media realised that Corbyn was going to win the Labour leadership campaign.
People may recall the panic that set it off. MPs like John Mann and Barry Sheerman urged Harriet Harman, the interim leader, to call off the leadership election altogether. General secretary Iain McNicol was meanwhile purging the £3 registered voters of anyone that appeared to be a Corbyn supporter, including myself.
On August 7 2015, a month before the result was declared, the Daily Mail ran an ‘exclusive’ entitled ‘Jeremy Corbyn’s “long-standing links” with notorious holocaust denier and his “anti-Semitic” organisation revealed’1 - a completely bogus story alleging that Corbyn had close links with holocaust denier Paul Eisen. This was followed five days later by the Jewish Chronicle’s ‘The key questions Jeremy Corbyn must answer’.2 By the time he had been elected on September 5, the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign was well underway.
It is fine to suggest, in hindsight, possible strategies to combat Corbyn’s disastrous handling of the anti-Semitism claims, but first it is necessary to actually diagnose where they originated. Never, not once, do any of the authors ask the following questions:
Is it credible that anti-Semitism spontaneously arose in the Labour Party when Corbyn was elected leader?
How did the allegations of anti-Semitism link in with the allegations that Corbyn was a ‘terrorist’ supporter?
Is it true, as Jonathan Arkush and others allege, that socialists, anti-imperialists and anti-Zionists see Jews as inherently rich, powerful and conspiratorial?
During the leadership contest Corbyn had been interviewed by Krishnan Guru Murthy on Channel 4 as to why he described Hamas and Hezbollah as his “friends”. Corbyn handled it disastrously. His only explanation was that he was simply being polite. Ten years ago, however, he said that to label either organisation as terrorist “is really a big, big historical mistake” (p59). Corbyn now admits that he made a mistake.
However, there was another way he could have handled it. Corbyn could have challenged the ‘terrorist’ term. He could have asked himself why Hamas and Hezbollah were terrorists, and why a suicide attack was worse than dropping a massive bomb on a house, killing 20 civilians, in order to assassinate a Hamas operative? He could have explained that before the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, when over 20,000 people were killed, there had been no Hezbollah. Hezbollah was a creation of Israel, as was Hamas. Israel’s Shin Bet security agency sponsored it as a bulwark against secular Palestinian nationalism.
Corbyn could have compared Hamas and Hezbollah to the French resistance and asked why one was terrorist and the other freedom fighters. He could have pointed to US support for the Contras and other terrorist groups such as the Central American death squads. It was Corbyn’s political weakness that prevented him asking these questions. He too operates within the ambit of western imperialist assumptions.
The authors did not even mention this accusation, which is repeatedly used against Corbyn. It more than anything has undermined him with the electorate (far more so than ‘anti-Semitism’). On Ireland he and John McDonnell could have explained his support for Sinn Féin and pointed to a war against the 40% of the north of Ireland that never accepted partition. Instead McDonnell apologised profusely for ever having described the IRA as brave!
It is little wonder therefore that Philo and Berry resort to superficial remedies such as “a coherent public relations strategy” or “self-study and group discussion training” (pp46-47). They suggest the leadership did not have a “strong public relations infrastructure” (p60).
Elsewhere they advocate that the Labour Party must “acknowledge what has happened is wrong and completely unacceptable for your organisation”. But this is precisely what has happened. Corbyn has repeatedly apologised and, far from helping matters, it has been used as ‘proof’ of Labour’s anti-Semitism and Corbyn’s responsibility for it. The authors’ remedy is worse than the disease. This also assumes that the allegations of anti-Semitism were made in good faith. That Tom Watson, Luciana Berger and John Mann seriously believed that the Labour Party had been overrun by anti-Jewish racism.
This displays incredible naivety on the part of Philo and Berry. It suggests a political innocence in a debate where guilt must be assumed. It also demonstrates the pitfalls of a purely academic approach to what is a political problem. Statistics alone will not prove that the anti-Semitism ‘crisis’ is less serious than it is made out to be.
The authors commissioned an opinion poll which showed that people believed that ‘anti-Semitism’ had affected 34% of all Labour Party members. However, it is easy to demonstrate that the ‘anti-Semitism crisis’ was overblown, disproportionate, etc, whilst still accepting that there was a problem. Maybe it is not 34%, but there can still be one.
This is a fundamentally mistaken approach to take. I would argue that there is no evidence of Labour anti-Semitism, apart from a handful of eccentric individuals, nor has there ever been. If we want to talk about racism, then what we need to do is talk about actions, not thought; deeds, not prejudice.
Tom Watson has said that he will not rest until every last anti-Semite is kicked out of the party. Leave aside the problem of how you define an anti-Semite, what we should do is ask what are Watson’s bona fides. Is he being genuine and sincere? Is it the case that Tom Watson really does not sleep well, thinking about the plight of Jews in the Labour Party?
In 2010 Labour MP Phil Woolas was removed by the high court from his position as MP for Oldham and Saddleworth. He had run a campaign of lies against his Liberal Democrat opponent in the election, alleging he supported violent jihadists. During the course of the proceedings an email from Woolas’s election agent surfaced, which stated that the campaign strategy must be to “make the white folk angry”. What was Watson’s reaction?
He wrote an article in which he confessed: “I’ve lost sleep thinking about poor old Phil Woolas and his leaflets.”3 What was the reaction of John Mann and other New Labour MPs? When the high court removed Woolas, Harriet Harman immediately suspended him and removed the whip.
John Pienaar revealed that
... a mutiny took place during last night’s weekly meeting of the PLP ... The decision to suspend and disown expelled MP Phil Woolas, found guilty of lying by a special election court, has provoked what Labour MPs and former ministers are describing as a “mutiny” against the Labour leadership at Westminster.
Jim Pickard reported:
there was “real anger” at the event, with a lot of “shouting” from enraged MPs. According to PoliticsHome, nine members spoke out ... They included George Howarth, Steve McCabe and Dave Watts, I’m told. Among those to have spoken out in support of Woolas was John Mann, a close friend of his.4
At the Hodge Hill by-election in Birmingham Tom Watson was Labour’s campaign organiser and issued a leaflet with the slogan: “Labour is on your side. The Lib Dems are on the side of failed asylum-seekers.”5
John Mann was the publisher of the Bassetlaw anti-social behaviour handbook, which listed amongst its examples the presence of travellers. In the section on travellers Mann states: “The police have powers to remove any gypsies or travellers, and have powers to direct people to leave the land and remove any vehicles or property they have with them.”6
Labour and Israel
The problem with Bad news for Labour is that no attempt is made at comparative analysis of how Labour deals with other forms of racism. Without such a comparison we cannot see whether or not anti-Semitism is being exceptionalised and if so why.
What we can see is that, when it comes to most forms of racism, Tom Watson and John Mann have no hesitation in joining in with the racists.
Philo and Berry mention the case of a Welsh councillor who said that Hitler had the right idea when it came to travellers and asked, “Anyone got any gas canisters?” (p69). I am not aware that this individual has been expelled, yet the authors do not ask why.
Given that gypsies were exterminated in the holocaust in the same proportions as Jews, what is it about Jews that does not apply to gypsies? Could it be Israel?
What was needed was not PR strategies, educational counter-offensives or other technocratic solutions, but a political counter-offensive. But in order to mount a political counter-attack one needs to understand where the ‘anti-Semitism’ offensive is coming from in the first place, and that is the prime failing of this book.
When I was suspended from the Labour Party in 2016 subsequent to the false allegations circling around Oxford University Labour Club, it was clear to me that the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign was not spontaneous, but organised by state actors. As Asa Winstanley revealed, the key actor in the Oxford allegations had been an intern for the pro-Israel PR grouping, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (Bicom).
Al Jazeera’s The lobby confirmed the involvement of the Israeli embassy, but I had no doubt that US and British intelligence were up to their ears in what was happening, This has subsequently been confirmed by the remarks of Mike Pompeo and the revelations about the charity-run Integrity Initiative and its state funding. See also Asa Winstanley’s article for Electronic Intifada about how the Jewish Labour Movement was refounded in 2015 for the purpose of taking out Corbyn.7
When I spoke in June 2016 in Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds, I explained this succinctly. If I was the CIA director, the idea that an opponent of Nato and US wars in the Middle East and a supporter of the Palestinians should be leader of the second major party in Britain, America’s closest ally in Europe, would have caused nightmares. US intelligence agencies have spent hundreds of millions of dollars destabilising regimes they do not like in Latin America and Asia. They have helped fund and support anti-communist groups in Europe, where the communists seemed influential: eg, in Italy. On what basis would the US adopt a ‘hands off’ policy towards Britain?
Would those who brought Pinochet and the Argentinean generals to power, who helped Suharto murder one million Indonesians, have qualms of conscience about interfering in Britain? None of the authors even raise this question and that is a fatal weakness of this book. Only once do Berry/Philo suggest that “it is not therefore illegitimate to ask if Israel or its agencies might be involved in the anti-Semitism issue in Labour. Such a question is not in itself anti-Semitic” (p75), but they leave the matter there.
The question running through this book is ‘What is anti-Semitism?’ For Jonathan Arkush of the Board of Deputies the answer is clear: “delegitimising Israel” (p32). Because Israel is a ‘Jewish’ state, any attempt to deny the right of Israel to exist is automatically anti-Semitic, since it denies the Jewish people the right to self-determination (pp40-43). The problem which Philo and Berry do not mention is that Jews are not a nation - they are members of every nation. It is the anti-Semites who assert that Jews form a separate nation. And even if they were a nation, the authors do not question why opposition to self-determination is racist in itself.
Philo and Berry alight on the destructive and nefarious role played by Jon Lansman. Why he decided to act as an outrider for the JLM, confirming at every turn their venomous and destructive allegations, will best be left to others. However, I have no doubt that Lansman was aware from the very start that the real goal of the JLM was the removal of Corbyn and that it was with this in mind that he said that anti-Semitism was “more widespread” than originally thought (p61). Lansman is again quoted, saying, the following year: “we have a much larger number of people with hard-core anti-Semitic opinions ...” Again no evidence was offered, but, as Philo/Berry conclude, “because it is from such an unexpected source, it carries greater legitimacy” (p62). However, I would question how unexpected the source was. He seems to have behaved pretty consistently, as with Jackie Walker’s removal as Momentum vice-chair!
When Margaret Hodge called Jeremy Corbyn a “fucking anti-Semite”, no disciplinary action was taken. Why? Because “the leadership had decided to avoid a split in the party at virtually any cost”. The problem was that “it became impossible to have a coherent or united message”. This points to the key weakness of Corbyn’s strategy. Appeasing the right at any price rendered you incoherent and inarticulate, forever fire-fighting.
Philo/Berry focus on the fact that Jennie Formby had admitted that just 12 people had been expelled for anti-Semitism and they assume that these 12 were guilty. However, there is a danger in assuming guilt when pointing to the minute fraction of those disciplined. All the evidence is that those suspended, like Jo Bird, the Jewish councillor in the Wirral, were actually innocent.
I was suspended as part of the fake anti-Semitism witch-hunt. That is what Sam Matthews leaked to The Daily Telegraph and The Times. But when it came to the charges, the allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ disappeared (apart from my use of the term ‘Zio’).
The book shows how it is only racist abuse directed at Jewish Zionist members of parliament, such as Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth, that merits attention in the press, whereas Diane Abbot’s experiences of far greater abuse merits no attention. Likewise the studied bigotry of Tory Party members, 43% of whom would prefer that Britain did not have a Muslim prime minister, goes unremarked (pp69-70). What the authors do not ask is why.
Justin Schlosberg frames the anti-Semitism controversy as a prime example of a ‘disinformation’ campaign, which he defines as “systematic reporting failures that privilege a particular ideological or political agenda”. The media narrative rested on two assumptions: firstly that anti-Semitism under Corbyn had become endemic to the Labour Party; and secondly that there was a wholesale failure by the leadership to deal with the problem
Schlosberg argues that the anti-Semitism controversy “by its very nature inhibits the development of a counter-narrative”. Why? Because “much of the discursive framing serves to pre-emptively delegitimise any defensive response as ‘part of the problem’”.
This goes to the heart of what has happened. Why has the response been so pathetic and weak? Why has Jewish Voice for Labour lamentably failed to provide an alternative Jewish response? In these few sentences Schlosberg puts his finger on the unique and problematic nature of the whole anti-Semitism campaign.
The problem lies in the subjective nature of the offensive. When Smeeth complained of 25,000 anti-Semitic tweets (which was a lie) or Berger of a deluge of anti-Semitic hate mail (also highly unlikely) it is difficult to rebut. This can only be done by locating both Jews and anti-Semitism in a wider context of racism and imperialism. In other words, you can only meet the subjective with the objective. You cannot simply assert that Smeeth and Berger were lying,
Jews in Britain, as Geoffrey Alderman and William Rubinstein have pointed out, are not economically discriminated against. Rubinstein wrote: “... the rise of western Jewry to unparalleled affluence and high status ... has led to the near disappearance of a Jewish proletariat of any size; indeed, the Jews may become the first ethnic group in history without a working class of any size.”8
Jews in Britain are not the victims of state racism. Police and fascist violence, judicial bias, stop and search, deportation, etc do not affect them. Jews are white and privileged. Zionist cliques can define their identity in whatever way they choose, but this does not change the reality. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance defines ‘anti-Semitism’ by denying the Palestinian experience of oppression and that is why it is illegitimate. No-one has the right to define themselves in such a way as to legitimise the oppression of another group.
Schlosberg mentions Labour’s ‘anti-Semitism guidelines’, which were overturned after a concerted Zionist campaign in September 2018 in favour of the wholesale adoption of the IHRA. He quotes Ivor Caplin, then JLM chair, as saying: “There have been extensive discussions about how we deal with anti-Semitism and get it right ... I think we are starting to see the progress that I wanted to see.”
Only The Sun, on July 5 2018. ran a story about how JLM representatives had met with Jennie Formby to discuss this. “Remarkably, no other reference to this consultation was found within the sample of coverage analysed” (p89). Barely a month later, Pete Mason, secretary of the JLM, claimed on Sky News that “there have been no formal conversations with the Jewish community; there have been no invitations offered” (p91). This was a barefaced lie. What really happened was that there had been a furious reaction within the JLM to Caplin’s comments. Caplin had clearly not understood that it was imperative never to accept any concession that the leadership offered - apart from Corbyn’s resignation: that was the goal.
The New Statesman was quite happy to go along with this cover-up. From the start it had run with the anti-Semitism smears and on July 5 2018 it ran a propaganda piece masquerading as an article by Mason and Adam Langleben, which argued that the JLM had never accepted Labour’s anti-Semitism guidelines and there were no differences within the JLM.9 Their argument included the non-sequitur: “If we had approved them, we would have deserved to resign for betraying our members.”
The Guardian demonstrated that, when it came to the fake anti-Semitism campaign, there was no difference between it and the Tory tabloids. Critics of Labour’s anti-Semitism code were three times as likely to be quoted as those supporting it. Even The Sun’s coverage was more balanced (pp92-93). Television news programmes were four times as likely to quote those attacking as those supporting the code (p95).
Schlosberg notes that “the degree of consensus surrounding the IHRA definition formed the crux of the controversy and evidence of widespread dissensus was overwhelming”. Jonathan Freedland, who has single-handedly been responsible for The Guardian’s poisonous output and its stifling of debate, referred to the “near universally accepted” IHRA (p101).10
In fact there was confusion over whether or not the 31 member-countries of the IHRA had adopted the definition. In March 2018 the IHRA published a fact sheet, showing that just eight had adopted it and, when the BBC published a correction of its previous misstatements on this, it was tucked away out of sight. Persistent efforts to engage with editorial staff at The Guardian over this “did not bear fruit” and “a protracted formal complaints process resulted in a blanket dismissal of the research by The Guardian’s ‘readers’ editor’” (p106).
The Guardian makes great play of what it calls its “internal ombudsman”, boasting that ‘The Guardian was the first UK newspaper to adopt a readers’ editor in 1997.” Clearly, when it comes to systemic editorial sponsored bias, its readers’ editor is useless.11
The fifth chapter by Antony Lerman is based on three articles written for Open Democracy. Lerman begins with the allegation made against the Labour Party of “institutional anti-Semitism” by the Zionist ‘charity’, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and the JLM (p111). The ‘institutional’ concept arose with the Macpherson report into the death of Stephen Lawrence and it represented an “appropriation” of the anti-racist struggle in Britain by supporters of Israel. The Zionists had not contributed anything to the Lawrence campaign or indeed any anti-racist campaign, but they acted as parasites on the anti-racist struggles of black people.
Lerman quotes Chuka Umunna, who in October 2016 told Labour List:
Some have suggested that there is institutional anti-Semitism across the whole of the Labour Party. This is not a view I share, not least because I have not seen one incident of anti-Semitism in almost 20 years of activism within my local Labour Party in Lambeth.12
Contrast this with what he told Sky News on February 24 2019 (p140): “I’ve been very clear: the Labour Party’s institutionally anti-Semitic and you either put your head in the sand and you ignore it or you actually do something about it.”13 Umunna displays all the consistency you would expect of someone who described his own constituents as “trash”.14
So what is this ‘institutional anti-Semitism’? Lerman goes back to the Macpherson report (p143) and isolates three elements:
The collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their protected characteristics.
The resulting discrimination.
The resulting disadvantage which they suffer as a result.
Lerman shows that, if anything, there is a de facto discrimination in favour of Zionist Jews in the Labour Party. This is because the JLM, an affiliated ‘socialist society’, is only open to Zionist Jews. Non-Zionist Jews, the majority in the Labour Party, are ineligible: “no other affiliated society makes membership dependent on the individual expressing support for the official, nationalist ideology of another state” (p148). Normally the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) would have its work cut out proving Labour is ‘institutionally anti-Semitic’. However, given that its CEO, Rebecca Hilsenrath, has already stated that “the Labour Party needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist party”, there can be no such assumptions. Lerman also notes that two years ago the EHRC “was subjected to withering criticism for itself targeting disabled and ethnic-minority employees and denying them work opportunities in other agencies” (p155).
Lerman examines whether Labour’s anti-Semitism code did reject the IHRA, as the Zionists asserted, and he convincingly demonstrates that it did not. This proves that Jewish Voice for Labour was wrong to have embraced the code. The JVL put its faith in Labour’s bastard child and its disappointment was all the greater, when it was stillborn (p115).
Lerman correctly describes the actual IHRA definition as being just 38 words (p129) - something which the IHRA’s permanent office confirmed on September 12 2017:
Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.
It is followed by three paragraphs which provide a context for the 11 examples of ‘anti-Semitism’ - seven of which relate to Israel. They are permissive and conditional. The examples “might” and “could include, depending on the context” anti-Semitism. This is clearly not a definition. As Stephen Sedley observed, it is “indefinite”.
Lerman slaps down Mark Gardner of the Zionist Community Security Trust (CST),15 who “is simply wrong when he claims that ‘the definition is a single document, but Labour treats it as having two parts’. It has two parts. Period” (p116).
Lerman shows how the Zionist lobby has systematically lied about the Macpherson ‘principle’. Indeed there is no such principle: merely a definition of a ‘racist incident’, which is “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”. However, there was nothing in the Macpherson report that suggests moving from a “rule about recording the victim’s perception ... to a general rule that only the victim can define the racism they experience”.
This dishonest elision was fronted by Britain’s most dishonest journalist, Jonathan Freedland, who tweeted on July 5 2019 that “Labour’s decision means a break from the Macpherson standard, which held that a minority was best placed to define prejudice against it”. Since when has ‘defining’ oppression been the sole preserve of a minority? Are all Jews oppressed and of one mind? Are all ‘minorities’ oppressed? Billionaires? Capitalists? Warmongers?
With identity politics there is a conflict of rights - the right of the oppressed vs the right of the oppressor. Since identity politics excludes context and power relations, it automatically privileges the powerful, who in this case are Zionist Jews.
Even the Zionist CST in its 2009 Anti-Semitic discourse report rejected victim perception in favour of an objective approach (p119). David Feldman of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism noted that, if the definition of racism rested on individual or minority perception, then
... we open the way to conceptual and political chaos ... Without an anti-racist principle which can be applied, generally we are left in a chaotic situation, in which one subjective point of view faces another (p120).
Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, has observed that “The Israeli government needs the ‘new anti-Semitism’ to justify its actions and to protect it from international and domestic condemnation” (p125). Lerman concludes that one of the consequences of this is that if “almost everything is anti-Semitic then nothing is. The word is rendered useless.” Or “when anti-Semitism is everywhere, it is nowhere. And, when every anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, we no longer know how to recognise the real thing - the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance” (Brian Klug, quoted on p126).
Never can such a poorly worded piece of prose have been so closely examined as the IHRA ‘definition’. Anti-Semitism is said to be “a certain perception’ which leaves out discrimination and hostility, but, as Lerman remarks, we are not told what this “certain perception” is. David Feldman called it “bewilderingly imprecise”. I prefer to think of it as deliberately obfuscatory (p130).
Kenneth Stern, who drafted it, warned against making the IHRA legally binding - a situation which may be fast approaching. Geoffrey Robertson QC concluded that the IHRA was “not fit for purpose ... as an adjudicative standard” (pp132-33).
Rebecca Gould, an academic at Bristol University, was targeted by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA), which demanded that she be sacked for having written an article, ‘Beyond anti-Semitism’, for Counterpunch in November 2011. The article linked the use of the holocaust to the deflection of criticism of Palestinian suffering. That was enough for the CAA. Kenneth Stern called this out as “chilling and McCarthy-like” in his testimony to the US Congress (p134).16 By making the term, ‘anti-Semitism’, meaningless the IHRA actually makes Jews more, not less, vulnerable to anti-Semitism (p136).
One of the results of the false allegations is that people lose any understanding of what anti-Semitism actually is. In a 2015 survey 45% were not confident they could explain what it is and in a poll in March 2019 some 40% of people did not know what anti-Semitism is - that rose to more than half amongst under-25s (pp158-59). Yet, as Lerman observes, the UK must be one of the safest places on earth for Jews to live! (p160). He describes what has happened as a “moral panic”, which is when “a condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests”.
Where Lerman goes wrong is to suggest that what has happened is a “Jew on Jew war”. This is a fundamental misreading of the situation. Behind the JLM stand non-Jews, such as Tom Watson and Joan Ryan. Jews have been the alibi, not the instigators. Unfortunately JVL also fell for the idea that simply creating a non-Zionist Jewish group could remedy this. It was never about Jews.
But Lerman states that the “intra-Jewish war and the poisonous atmosphere around Israel” must be brought to an end. “It is a festering sore. It’s a boil that needs to be lanced.” He goes on to recommend a “managed but open debate” on Israel and Palestine, minus all discussion of “state-based paradigms”. Again this is wrong. This was never primarily about Israel or the Middle East. It was about Corbyn, who was seen as the figurehead of anti-imperialism. The archetypal anti-capitalist. The Middle East and Palestine were secondary, not primary (p164).
In the ‘Conclusion’ the emphasis is on stamping out all forms of racism, whoever is the target. It makes no distinction between actions and words. Miriam Margolyes commented that anti-Semitism has been weaponised as a means of attacking Corbyn. The CAA responded that “accusing Jews of making accusations of anti-Semitism in bad faith... is a well-established anti-Semitic slur”. One wonders whether CAA’s accusations against other Jews of ‘anti-Semitism’ are also anti-Semitic? If so my libel action is likely to succeed! Would this be true of any other group, whites included? Jews are as capable of being Machiavellian as the next group and Zionists almost by definition are dishonest! (p176).
The section finishes with a quote from Alexander Gauland, the co-leader of Germany’s Alternative for Germany (AfD), that the holocaust was “a small bird dropping in over 1,000 years of successful German history”.17 A comment which recalls Le Pen’s description of the holocaust as only a “detail” of French history.18 In May the German Bundestag voted to condemn the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign as ‘anti-Semitic’ and it was the AfD which wished it to go further and make BDS a criminal offence.19
All this is an irony that is lost on the leadership of the Labour Party - and on Corbyn above all. Anti-Semites may hate Jews, but they love Israel!
. www.theuardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jul/27/jewish-anger-labour-listen-antisemitism-opinion. Freedland has turned The Guardian’s ‘Comment’ pages from a discursive to a propagandist forum.↩︎