Labour Shadow Educational Secretary, Lucy Powell claimed that Labour had a problem with anti-Semitism “otherwise we wouldn’t have spent the best part of the last six days talking about it”. (Channel 4 News). The Labour Right has indeed spent this time talking up a storm, a whole farrago of hints, misrepresentations, and false allegations.
The Telegraph claimed that fifty members had been “secretly suspended over anti-Semitic and racist comments as officials struggle to contain the crisis engulfing the party”. Labour’s official Complaints Unit had been “swamped by complaints about hard-left supporters”. This has the smell of a witch-hunt directed against Corbyn and his supporters who oppose the oppression of the Palestinians.
Anti-Semitism has a long history in the British ruling class including the 1905 Aliens Act aimed to keep out Jewish asylum seekers fleeing Tsarist programs, the Balfour Declaration, the support for Hitler by Edward VIII and sections of the aristocracy and the Daily Mail. If it was a major problem today the pro-Hitler fascists would be using it to mobilise support on the streets.
The main problem today is prejudice against Muslims and Islamophobia. This is where the fascists and the right wing parties are focused. It is how the Tories are trying to stop Saddiq Khan for London mayor. The Tories are a racist party, ready, when necessary, to exploit race issues for political advantage, as in the London mayoral election, and Cameron using anti-Semitism to smear the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn and Ken Livingstone.
Labour’s problem is policy on Palestine. Muslim members of the Labour Party feel sympathy and solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Palestine more acutely than the average citizen. The sense of injustice over Palestine is deeply felt. Now with the election of Jeremy Corbyn there is an outside chance of a pro-Palestinian Labour government. It is may be no coincidence that Mark Regev, former chief apologist for Israeli terror, is now the Israeli ambassador in London.
With Regev in town, it is no surprise that the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews attacked Corbyn for refusing to accept that anti-Semitism was a more widespread problem in the Labour Party. He alleged that Corbyn’s failure to recognise a “pretty serious problem in the current party membership” was “an issue itself”.
Anti-Semitism is prejudice against or hatred of Jewish people. More than this, it must include stoking up fear of anti-Semitism amongst the Jewish population for political advantage. Exploiting the holocaust for political gain is not just cynical but dangerous. The Labour Right is using the charge of anti-Semitism as a political weapon to undermine Corbyn. They are no better than Cameron and the Tories running their Islamophobic London Mayoral campaign.
Anti-Semitism has been mainly a European problem. It adds to a sense of injustice in the Middle East that European imperialism and European anti-Semitism was responsible for creating the state of Israel. There is no reason to assume that British Muslims are any more anti-Semitic than the rest of the population and may indeed be less since they are victims of racism themselves. But we can suggest that Muslims are more likely to speak out and demonstrate against crimes by the Israeli state in Palestine.
Most of the alleged claims of ‘anti-Semitism’ relate to Muslim members of the Labour Party speaking against the actions of the Israeli state. Now we turn to Ken Livingstone. I am no fan of Livingstone. But I defend him one hundred percent against the witch-hunt.
Defending him does not mean agreeing with everything or indeed anything he says. It does not mean not criticising him. But he is not a racist and not an anti Semite. There is no valid reason to suspend, expel him or remove him from office, especially when bully boy John Mann got away scot free.
Criticism is the essence of science and truth seeking. I don’t criticise Livingstone for mentioning negotiations between the Zionists and the Nazis in 1933 because he might “offend” people. His statements on this were crass. But like anything that comes out of our mouths under pressure it can be clarified, confirmed or modified.
I don’t like to see the bullying of Livingstone by Mann and the Tory press. But worse are his Labour left friends saying he is not allowed to clarify or explain his view but must just “shut up” and apologise.
The Corbynistas may think they can save themselves from the witch hunt by throwing Ken Livingstone to the wolves. They can’t. Once the Tory fox hunters have devoured Ken they will want more blood. The issue here is the alliance between Israel, the British Crown, the Tories and the Labour right using allegations of anti-Semitism as a weapon against Corbyn and supporters of Palestine.