Actually existing and imaginary anti semitism

22nd September 2018

CorbynSept

Jeremy Corbyn

✔@jeremycorbyn

Ten years ago today the financial crash began.

The people who caused it now call me a threat. They’re right.

Labour is a threat to a damaging and failed system rigged for the few.

 

Actually existing and imaginary anti semitism

by Nick Wright

It was with a sense of relief that I caught Jeremy Corbyn’s tweet marking the tenth anniversary of the financial crash and setting out Labour’s plans to deal with irresponsible speculative banking practices. This is real substantial politics that goes to the core of the choices facing people in Britain and provides a welcome respite from the highly concocted ‘debate’ around alleged antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Such naivety!

But Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle misses no opportunity. In response to the video he tweeted the following: “Been hesitating to tweet this bevause (sic) I keep thinking it can’t be, surely it can’t be.

But the more I think about it, the more it seems it really is. This is ‘nudge, nudge, you know who I am talking about don’t you?’

And yes I do. It’s appalling.”

As Pollard undoubtedly anticipated this set off a twitter storm in which the more rabid critics of Corbyn made explicit what he implied. Nudge, nudge, know what I mean.

Equally predictable was the response of many people who allowed themselves to be tangled up in his twitter train. Comments ranged from sheer misbelief that even a notably partisan Tory like Pollard could concoct such a thing to a world-weary recognition that nothing less can be expected from the man.

For readers whose mind does not run on the twisted tracks that Pollard lays let me explain. Pollard is saying that in criticising bankers and the banking system Corbyn is giving voice to an age-old antisemitic trope.

There is, of course, no basis for Pollard’s slur. But let us deconstruct this narrative a little.

Bankers are rarely popular and in times of capitalist crisis less so especially among petty-bourgeois commercial interests and small business people whose dependence on credit is nowadays increasingly shared by all working people enmeshed in a tangle of mortgages, credit card debt and borrowing.

Of course, there does exist a subterranean antisemitic trope that conflates bankers with Jewish people. In the inflationary panics of the Weimar Republic, the Nazis played it to the deluded whose votes they sought. But far from challenging the power of finance, Hitler sought its support, and when the foundations of capitalist rule were in danger he found both German and (to the extent they could be separated) international finance willing partners.

Banker Kurt Baron von Schröder’s account of how he hosted the critical meeting between Hitler and Reich Chancellor von Papen is revealing.

“…This meeting between Hitler and Papen on 4 January 1933 in my house in Cologne was arranged by me after Papen had asked me for it on about 10 December 1932. Before I took this step I talked to a number of businessmen and informed myself generally on how the business world viewed a collaboration between the two men. The general desire of businessmen was to see a strong man come to power in Germany who would form a government that would stay in power for a long time. [ . . . ]

And it was international bankers and Montague Slater, governor of the Bank of England, who facilitated the transfer of Czechoslovakia’s gold reserves to Hitler the better to aid his war plans. (The Independent 30 March 1997: The Nazis’ British bankers, Secret war documents may reveal that Germany had staunch allies at the Bank of England).

If some Jewish banking dynasties exist today it is precisely because institutional antisemitism by medieval state and church confined Jews to certain trades including money lending, and these traditions were maintained through the development of mercantile capitalism and are now embedded in the present system of state monopoly capitalism. But in today’s politics, no great explanatory power is mobilised by a futile attempt to separate out “Jewish” capital from capital as a whole or find class interests that distinguish Jewish bankers from others.

For those early socialists who failed to break free from the then prevalent forms of antisemitism the German social democrat, August Bebel defined such beliefs as ‘The socialism of fools.”

It has always been necessary for socialists to make explicit the ways in which occupation and social positioning reveal how successive social systems organise classes. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the vast bulk of Jewish people in Britain were super-exploited workers, in the main garment workers, furniture workers and craftsmen. And if the vast majority of Jewish people in Britain have improved their conditions of life they are as far from the centres of wealth and power occupied by the financial elite as any other British person.

So who is propagating this equation – Jews as bankers. Bankers as Jews.

It is Stephen Pollard who is playing with this antisemitic trope. He does it knowingly precisely in order to mobilise the discourses that present-day social media make possible conscious that this profoundly dishonest tweet will provoke.

But he miscalculated and instead drew criticism down on his own head. His tweet answering the overwhelmingly negative response he provoked is revealing in its faux self-criticism

“I accept all the criticism of this tweet, and that I may be way off beam. But this is what happens when antisemitism is allowed to flourish — and when an antisemite leads a party. You start to read his every word through that prism. Even if the words aren’t about Jews.”

So there you have it. Jeremy Corbyn is responsible for Stephen Pollard’s capitulation to an antisemitic trope.

The public service union leader Mark Serwotka, this year’s president of the Trade Union Congress, made an entirely reasonable point when he suggested that the Israeli State might be interfering in British politics.

A leader in the online newspaper The Independent described this as “the stuff of historical antisemitic tropes” and suggested that now  “If Mr Serwotka is a dedicated anti-racist, he should at least ask himself why he has fallen into this manner of thinking.”

One might ask Stephen Pollard the same question.

Of course, unlike Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged antisemitism Israeli State interference in British public life is not imaginary but rather established fact. It was only a short while back that the Israeli State was compelled to recall a member of its embassy staff here after he was caught on camera discussing — with allies in British political life — how to take down a politician. (In this case, a Conservative deemed to be too much an Arabist.)

In conflating Mark Serwotka’s well-founded comments — which amount to nothing more than straight forward criticism of actions by the Israeli State – with hostility to Jews as such the Independent has given some credence to the narrative upon which reactionary Zionist opinion trades.

Not all bankers are Jewish, not all Jews are bankers. Not all Jews are Zionists, not all Zionists are Jewish. Stephen Pollard might have capitulated to an anti-semitic trope, Mark Serwotka hasn’t.

This original article is from the following site

https://21centurymanifesto.wordpress.com/2018/09/19/actually-existing-and-imaginary-anti-semitism/

 

Anti-Semitism row reflects media bias

7th September 2018

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Jeremy Corbyn – under siege by a biased media

The demonisation of Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, by the British government, media and factions within his own party, continues apace as the return to Westminster after the summer recess precedes the party conference season.

The damage inflicted upon Labour by the almost certainly Mossad inspired debate over anti Semitism is hard to calculate.  It has undoubtedly muddied the waters in the fight against racism in the UK.  It has given succour to those who believe that any criticism of the Israeli government and its policies is anti Semitic.  It has proven to be a rallying point for those opposed to a Corbyn government at all costs.

In spite of the fact that Corbyn has overseen the development of the largest mass based social democratic party in Western Europe, boasting more members than the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists combined, the UK media continue to characterise the policies of the Labour opposition and the leadership of Corbyn in particular as unpopular.

A report published in The Independent (19th July 2016) indicated that in the first two months of Corbyn becoming Labour leader,

“Over half of the news articles were critical or antagonistic in tone, compared to two thirds of all editorials and opinion pieces. Besides the almost total lack of support in the latter, especially in the rightwing media, the high level of negativity in the news reporting struck us as noteworthy here….Corbyn’s voice is often absent in the reporting on him, and when it is present it is often presented in a highly distorted way. In terms of the news sources used in the articles, the civil war within Labour is very enthusiastically amplified.”

Ongoing monitoring of the UK media suggests that this has not changed in the two years.  Media coverage of Labour in general and Corbyn in particular remains overwhelmingly negative.  The showing made by Labour in the June 2017 General Election has, if anything, exacerbated this trend as right wing fury at Corbyn’s increased popularity, and the failure of the Theresa May government to rise above the level of debacle, is reflected in the BBC and popular press.

Corbyn is not corrupt, racist or prone to publicly bad mouthing those who oppose him.  He has a long and distinguished history of standing up for the rights of oppressed minorities.  Prominent Middle East author and journalist, Jonathan Cook, has recently commented that in relation to Corbyn,

“It is a sign both of their desperation and their weakness that they have had to resort to the nuclear option, smearing him as an anti-semite.  Other, lesser smears were tried first: that he was not presidential enough to lead Britain; that he was anti-establishment; that he was unpatriotic; that he might be a traitor.  None worked.  If anything, they made him more popular.”

Cook has also highlighted documentary work undertaken by TV channel Al-Jazeera, looking at the work of Israeli lobbyists in the UK and US to interfere in the politics of each country.  The US series has not been aired.  The UK version shows Israeli embassy official, Shai Masot, helping to create an anti-Corbyn front organisation in the Labour Party and working closely with the pro-Israeli Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel.

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) boasts a membership of some 80 Labour MPs, many of whom have been wined and dined on all expenses paid trips.  As a result, the widespread international condemnation of the Israeli killings of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza in May, led LFI to take to Twitter to condemn Hamas, not Israel, for the killings.

Former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, disgraced himself recently by comparing a passage in a speech by Corbyn to that of Tory racist Enoch Powell in 1968, telling the New Statesman that it was,

“the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech”

If Sacks really believes this then he is living in a world far removed from the realities faced by most of the UK’s black and ethnic minority population and has a poor grasp of the depth of the endemic institutionalised racism of the British state.

Corbyn’s offence was to be critical of a group of hardline pro-Israel partisans who had disrupted a Palestinian solidarity meeting, referring to them, in accurate political terms, as Zionists.  The rightwing media have pounced upon this to suggest that Zionist is simply a code word for all Jews and therefore use of the term is anti-Semitic.  This is nonsense of the highest order, not least because not all Zionists are Jews and by no means are all Jews Zionists.  As Corbyn stated in his defence he was using the term “in the accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people”.

Political journalists of any nous will of course understand this.  However, they appear to be either incapable of articulating it, or are unwilling to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

With the conference season up and coming leadership issues, analysis and challenges are always a great media talking point.  Boris Johnson appears to be lining up a tilt at Theresa May’s job and Vince Cable has announced he will, gradually, stand down as Liberal Democrat leader.  Is there an obvious challenger to Corbyn? Not yet but with the British media and establishment firmly in the “anyone but Corbyn” camp, and a chunk of the Parliamentary Labour Party leaning the same way, anything is possible.

Whoever emerges and wherever they emerge from, you can bet there is a good chance they will be a Labour Friend of Israel.

 

 

Antisemitism smokescreen for the right wing

12th August 2018

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Israeli Defence Force tackle Palestinian militancy in Gaza

If the Israeli secret service, Mossad, are not behind the current antisemitism smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.  More than that, they ought to be paying whoever is behind it for doing their job for them, as the ongoing slurs against Corbyn and his allies continue to give the UK media an excuse not to report on the real chaos in the country and the economy.

If Mossad wanted to take attention away from the atrocities committed by the Israeli Defence Force for decades in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, they could not be doing a better job.  If they wanted to cover up the ongoing illegal land grab by Israeli occupiers, euphemistically referred to as settlers, who steal land from the Palestinian people, they could not wish for more.  If Mossad wanted to bury the fact that the actions of Israel in the occupied territories are illegal, and in contravention of international law and countless United Nations resolutions for over fifty years, they could not hope for a better smokescreen.

Racist action against Palestinians, it would appear, is not racism at all.  It would appear that it is especially not racism if perpetrated by those whose parents and grandparents have been victims of the racist atrocity of the Holocaust, carried out by the Nazis in Europe in the 1930s and 40s.

Inside the Labour Party it would appear that any family tie with victims of Nazism is enough to give your words a vicarious authenticity in the eyes of the UK media.  Dame Margaret Hodge is a case in point.  Her Jewish roots, in spite of a limited record in fighting racism at home, appear to give her more credibility than lifelong anti-racist campaigner Jeremy Corbyn, to the extent that Hodge gets away with calling Corbyn an antisemite and racist.

Deputy Labour Leader, Tom Watson, added fuel to the fire this week by suggesting that without tacking the issues of antisemitism Labour would be facing ‘eternal shame’ over the issue.  Watson had clearly failed to read the articles published by Jeremy Corbyn or the video he released last weekend, which were absolutely categorical in their opposition to antisemitism and all forms of racism, in the Labour Party and in society in general.

No such statement in defence of Palestinian rights, as endorsed by almost the entire international community in accordance with international law, has been forthcoming from any of those critical of Corbyn in recent weeks.

Instead the focus has been upon the Labour National Executive Committee not adopting the exact wording of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism when debating the issue and how to address it recently.  Unlike the Israeli government’s ignoring of the resolution of the United Nations regarding its occupation of Palestine, the IHRA definition has no legal standing.

In fact the author of the definition, Kenneth Stern, regards it as a working proposal, not a legal or disciplinary definition.

This weekend twenty four Constituency Labour Party activists have put their names to a letter to The Observer (12/08/18) in an attempt to redress the balance of debate within the Labour Party.  They focus fire upon Watson in particular for laying the grounds for a further leadership coup against Corbyn stating,

“Is this another attempted coup against the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn gathering force and is the issue of antisemitism being weaponised to that end?  Watson seems oblivious to the many organisations such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians and Jewish Voice for Labour, which believe that the IHRA definition needs further work to ensure defence of free speech.”

The signatories go on to point out that there is a “wider and worrying under reporting of the growing threat from the racist far right”, while the media choose to focus upon manufactured divisions within the Labour Party.

With the Tories in disarray over Brexit, facing the possibility of a leadership challenge and the possibility of being forced into a General Election, there is the distinct prospect of a UK government led by Jeremy Corbyn.   The anti-Corbyn right wing in the Labour Party would not like that, the ruling class in the UK would be unnerved by an actual socialist, who may event try to translate policies into action, with the keys to 10, Downing Street.

You can be sure that the conservative Israeli lobby and Mossad would not like it either.

 

Tory witch hunt exposed

30th March 2018

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 Jeremy Corbyn speaks for Palestinian rights

In an exclusive interview with Jewish News this week Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is unequivocal in his condemnation of anti-Semitism, his opposition to all forms of racism and his desire to have a negotiated settlement and peaceful solution to the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory by the Israeli state.

Corbyn was asked how he felt about the demonstration outside the House of Commons last Monday, called to protest against the Labour Party’s handling of anti-Semitism and replied,

“I am not an anti-Semite in any way, never have been, never will be.  I’ve opposed racism in any form all my life.  It’s the way I was brought up, it’s the way I’ve lived my life.  I recognise the hurt that’s felt within the community and that’s why I responded immediately with an invitation to the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies to come and meet me.”

The interview went on to press Corbyn about the scale of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and his long standing position of support for the Palestinian cause.  Once again Corbyn was very clear that “processes in our party had to be speeded up and that all of the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report had to be carried out”, going on to stress emphatically that,

“…anti-Semitism is a cancer in our society and it has resurfaced across Europe and Britain in recent years.  It has to be challenged at every single stage.”

Corbyn has been a consistent supporter over many years of the rights of the Palestinian people and, in line with the position of the United Nations and many governments around the world, has argued the case for a two-state solution, which both recognises the right of the State of Israel to exist but also acknowledges the rights of the Palestinian people, as agreed under internationally recognised UN resolutions.

Corbyn reiterates this view in the interview stating,

“I’d argue that there has to be a just solution for the whole region.  That means that the settlement policy should end, the occupation of the West Bank should end, to have an effective two-state solution.  As you know my party’s policy, which Ed Miliband led us on, was for recognition of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, and that was included in our manifesto as well.  Indeed that’s what Parliament voted for.”

At every turn in the interview, in which Corbyn is persistently pressed, he rejects any claims that he is anti-Semitic, based on his long standing record as an anti-racist activist; opposes any abuse aimed at activists from either wing of the party for expressing their views; and consistently commits to implementing the recommendations of the Chakrabarti report aimed at rooting out anti-Semitic views in the Labour Party.  In short his position could not be clearer.

Nevertheless Jewish News chooses to emblazon its front cover, which features a picture of Corbyn, highlighting the exclusive interview with the banner headline, ‘Not Good Enough’.  Clearly nothing Corbyn could say would be good enough for Jewish News which appears to have nailed its colours to the mast of the anti-Corbyn witch-hunt, currently being conducted under the banner of anti-Semitism, by the mainstream press and BBC.

The witch hunt has been called out by amongst others, the Jewish Socialists’ Group, who have made clear their,

“…serious concern over the rise of anti-Semitism especially under extreme right wing governments in central and Eastern Europe, in America under Donald Trump’s Presidency and here in Britain under Theresa May’s premiership.”

The JSG have pointed out that the accusations against Corbyn in particular have come from the unrepresentative Board of Deputies and the self styled Jewish Leadership Council, both dominated by supporters of the Tory Party.  Jonathan Arkush, President of the Board of Deputies was one of the first to congratulate Donald Trump on his election and gives unqualified support to Israel’s anti-Palestinian Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

The JSG go on to point out that,

“Until very recently the Jewish Leadership Council was chaired by Sir Mick Davies, who was appointed Tory Party Treasurer in February 2016 and is now Chief Executive of the Conservative Party.”

Less widely reported than the anti-Corbyn protest last Monday was a counter demonstration organised by Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), which has praised Corbyn’s “consistent commitment to anti-racism” and accused the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council of playing party politics ahead of the May local elections.  The current chair of the Jewish Leadership Council, Jonathan Goldstein, launched a personal attack upon Corbyn when being interviewed on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme last Monday suggesting that,

“Jeremy Corbyn is now the figurehead for an anti-Semitic political culture, based upon obsessive hatred of Israel, conspiracy theories and fake news.”

JVL have also stressed that the bodies most quoted by the mainstream media are not representative of Jewish opinion stating,

“…we are appalled by the actions and statements of the Board of Deputies.  They do not represent us or the great majority of Jews in the party who share Jeremy Corbyn’s vision for social justice and fairness.”

The right wing press, who have historically supported every anti-progressive movement from the blackshirts to the apartheid regime in South Africa, are not going to acknowledge any differentiation in the opinions of the Jewish community, they will stay with those that can be used as a stick to beat Corbyn with.

The BBC however, in spite of its supposed ‘balance’, has responded in the same way and failed to challenge either the veracity or the motivations of those making the allegations of anti-Semitism.  Could the BBC be scared to tackle the powerful Tory lobby behind these allegations, in spite of the alleged independence from the government proclaimed in its Charter?

With local elections scheduled in May there is every indication that the Tories are heading for a meltdown.  Brexit negotiations are a constant headache for the Tories, exposing significant schisms in their ranks.  They have no solutions to the problems facing the majority of people in the country and are increasingly exposed at every turn as the party of the rich.

The Tories cannot argue against the policies advocated by Corbyn and the Labour Party.  Their only recourse would appear to be to attack the personal integrity of Corbyn and anyone associated with him.  It is a shallow tactic and one which, in spite of the weight of the right wing press and the BBC behind it, will be exposed.