In defence of Naz Shah MP

A number of courageous individuals have come out in defence of Shah:

Jamie Stern-Weiner interviews Norman Finkelstein
openDemocracy, 3 May 2016

‘… Did you create the controversial image that Naz Shah reposted?

Finkelstein: I’m not adept enough with computers to compose any image. But I did post the map on my website in 2014. An email correspondent must have sent it. It was, and still is, funny. Were it not for the current political context, nobody would have noticed Shah’s reposting of it either. Otherwise, you’d have to be humourless. These sorts of jokes are a commonplace in the U.S. So, we have this joke: Why doesn’t Israel become the 51st state? Answer: Because then, it would only have two senators. As crazy as the discourse on Israel is in America, at least we still have a sense of humour. It’s inconceivable that any politician in the U.S. would be crucified for posting such a map.

Shah’s posting of that image has been presented as an endorsement by her of a ‘chilling “transportation” policy’, while John Mann MP has compared her to Eichmann.

Frankly, I find that obscene. It’s doubtful these Holocaust-mongers have a clue what the deportations were, or of the horrors that attended them. I remember my late mother describing her deportation. She was in the Warsaw Ghetto. The survivors of the Ghetto Uprising, about 30,000 Jews, were deported to Maijdanek concentration camp. They were herded into railroad cars. My mother was sitting in the railroad car next to a woman who had her child. And the woman – I know it will shock you – the woman suffocated her infant child to death in front of my mother. She suffocated her child, rather than take her to where they were going. That’s what it meant to be deported. To compare that to someone posting a light-hearted, innocuous cartoon making a little joke about how Israel is in thrall to the U.S., or vice versa…it’s sick. What are they doing? Don’t they have any respect for the dead? All these desiccated Labour apparatchiks, dragging the Nazi holocaust through the mud for the sake of their petty jostling for power and position. Have they no shame?

[…]

what are the Blairite-Israel lobby creeps up to in the UK? They’re fanning the embers of hate and creating new discord between Jews and Muslims by going after Naz Shah, a Muslim woman who has attained public office. They’re making her pass through these rituals of public self-degradation, as she is forced to apologise once, twice, three times over for a tongue-in-cheek cartoon reposted from my website. And it’s not yet over! Because now they say she’s on a ‘journey’. Of course, what they mean is, ‘she’s on a journey of self-revelation, and epiphany, to understanding the inner antisemite at the core of her being’. But do you know on what journey she’s really on? She’s on a journey to becoming an antisemite. Because of these people; because they fill any sane, normal person with revulsion.

Here is this Muslim woman MP who is trying to integrate Muslims into British political life, and to set by her own person an example both to British society at large and to the Muslim community writ small. She is, by all accounts from her constituents, a respected and honourable person. You can only imagine how proud her parents, her siblings, must be. How proud the Muslim community must be. We’re always told how Muslim women are oppressed, repressed and depressed, and now you have this Muslim woman who has attained office. But now she’s being crucified, her career wrecked, her life ruined, her future in tatters, branded an ‘antisemite’ and a closet Nazi, and inflicted with these rituals of self-abasement.

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The sickening campaign to silence Corbyn and the Left by exploiting victims of the Holocaust

28 April, Kerry-Anne Mendoza

Excerpt: ‘… The treatment of Naz Shah is a case in point. The contemptible conservative blogger Guido Fawkes released a Facebook post that Shah published during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. The post stated that the solution for the conflict would be to relocate Israel to the US as a 51st state. Is that emotive? Yes. Does it make a powerful political point? Yes. Israel receives more than $3bn every year in defense funding from the US, which it uses to enforce a brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine. Israel is an apartheid state, and it was certainly not considered racist to call for British occupiers to get out of the colonies of Rhodesia, South Africa and elsewhere – even those colonialists who had lived in the country for generations…’

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Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do.

27 April, Jamie Stern-Weiner

Excerpt: ‘… The most high-profile ‘antisemitism’ case to date implicates Labour MP Naz Shah. In 2014, before Shah became an MP, she reposted an image on Facebook suggesting that the Israel-Palestine conflict be resolved by relocating Israel to the United States. Obviously, there is no prospect of something like this happening; it was a Facebook meme, not a U.N. draft resolution. Shah was well aware of this, as her accompanying comments (‘I will tweet Barack Obama and David Cameron and put this idea to them’) indicate. The tongue-in-cheek proposal may have been tasteless, but that doesn’t make it antisemitic. And to present it as, Labour MP endorses ‘chilling “transportation” policy’, or, Labour MP ‘[backs] plan to “relocate Israelis to America”’, or ‘Labour MP backed moving Israel to US in antisemitism row’, as if Shah had put her name to a Nazi-like deportation scheme, is obscene.

Shah was further accused of tweeting a link to a ‘blog post comparing Zionism to al-Qaeda’ and accusing ‘Zionists of “grooming” Jews to “exert political influence at the highest levels of public office”’. The article in question reads:

“In my view Zionism like Al Qaeda was and is a political movement layered with religious symbolism that was (in the case of Zionism) responding to a millennia and more of European pogroms, persecution by people who were fuelled by hatred and need to find any excuse to persecute Jews. Zionism used this and the colonial period to groom other modernised men and women of Jewish decent to exert political influence at the highest levels of public office by using the guilt of the pogroms and offered a solution to the ‘Jewish Question’ in Europe.

Zionism is compared to al-Qaeda in the sense that both are politico-religious movements; that is the only mention of al-Qaeda in the piece. The claim in the paragraph above appears to be that the Zionist movement leveraged antisemitism, which the author emphasises was real, brutal and pervasive, to win Jewish support, and exploited European guilt over anti-Jewish persecution to persuade colonial elites to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. There is nothing remotely antisemitic about any of this. The article also explicitly distinguishes Israel and Zionism from Judaism….’

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UK Labor Party Witch Hunt: “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been Anti-Zionist?”

30 April, Richard Silverstein

Excerpt: ‘… it’s important to note that when understood in proper context, neither of these comments by Shah or Livingstone is far off the mark. Let’s begin with Shah: is it offensive to suggest that Israel should be America’s 51st state? Even American liberal Zionists and Israelis themselves offer this satirical reflection as mordant criticism of Israel’s over-reliance on U.S. largess, weapons stocks, and political power.

What about likening the current policies of the Israeli government to Al Qaeda? […] There are those who use the hashtag #JSIL, to dramatize Israel’s current status as a racist theocratic state.  One might argue that the term is over-dramatic, since Israel hasn’t yet taken to cutting off the heads of Arabs and displaying them on pikes as ISIS does. But given that the social media platform is like a dramatic stage, I don’t find the terms inappropriate. Twitter isn’t a PhD treatise nor a legal proceeding. It’s a place where people argue and use dramatic tropes and language.

What else is offensive in Shah’s Facebook post? That Israel brings ‘foreign interference’ to the region? How can anyone deny the truth of this? Israel’s virtually sole ally is the strongest superpower in the world. We provide Israel with the most advanced, lethal weaponry in the world. When Israel is fighting a war and runs low on ammunition, who restocks Israel’s weapons armories?…’

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Slurs, lies, innuendos: Defend Malia Bouattia and Naz Shah

28 April, Tony Greenstein

Excerpt: ‘… Every day there are new charges and only this week Naz Shah was forced to resign as John McDonnell’s aide because of a 2014 post she forwarded about Israel’s attack on Gaza during ‘Operation Protective Edge’, when over 2,000 Palestinians, including 550 children were killed. The post, suggesting that Israel’s Jews be transferred to the United States, was certainly written in jest – although no doubt it reflected the anger of many at the attack on Gaza, supported by around 95% of Israel’s settler Jews. There is nothing anti-Semitic in this….’

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Note on Jews for Justice for Palestinians website: The map Naz Shah shared was posted in Norman Finkelstein Solution for for Israel-Palestine Conflict‏ , on Monday, August 4th, 2014 in his blog. Reposted or linked to in 2014 by politics i.e. and Democratic Underground (Are you caught in social media crossfire over Gaza) among many others (mostly American).


Naz Shah, Labour and anti-Semitism

27 April, George Galloway

Excerpt: ‘…There are three (at least so far) posts in the eye of this storm. I shall enumerate them for ease of reference.

1. She commented that it would be a good idea to relocate ISRAEL (my emphasis) to the United States. This was accompanied by a map showing the hugeness of the USA and the smallness of Israel. After all she said, the US was spending plenty of tax-dollars maintaining the Zionist state where it currently is, it would be cheaper to relocate it. This a foolish idea of course, but contains a serious point.

If the maintenance of the Zionist state is so important to the US, why does it have to be maintained on the land that clearly belongs to someone else, the Palestinians? Palestine was small, and was obliterated to make way for Israel. Why?

It isn’t as if the founders of the state of Israel were always committed to building their state in Palestine. There was no Biblical reason for doing so, the Zionist leaders were overwhelmingly atheist. Zionism is a nationalist idea not a religious one (which is why some of the most religious Jews continue to oppose it to this day.) The founders of Zionism negotiated seriously with the then dominant British Empire over proposals to locate their European settler state in all manner of places, Uganda, the Seychelles and Argentina being just three of them.

And it isn’t that there has been no “transportation” or “relocation” of populations in this story already. The transportation of 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and their lands is no Facebook post, it actually happened! This 800,000 driven from their land by mass murder and terror in the lifetime of some people alive today, have become millions of Palestinians “transported” to the four corners of the earth as usually stateless refugees….’

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