Independent Jewish Voices statement

May 1, 2016 by IJV

We are concerned at the proliferation in recent weeks of sweeping allegations of pervasive antisemitism within the Labour Party. Some of these allegations against individuals are, in our view, baseless and disingenuous; in other cases, ill-chosen language has been employed; elsewhere, there have been statements which, deliberately or otherwise, have clearly crossed the line. We welcome the fact that the Labour Party has demonstrated its commitment to rooting out antisemitism with the seriousness of its response, including the setting up of an independent inquiry.

We are equally concerned, however, by the way in which such accusations are deployed politically – whether by the press, the Conservative Party, opponents of Corbyn’s leadership within Labour, or by those seeking to counter criticism of the actions of the Israeli government. The current climate is quickly coming to resemble a witch-hunt, in which statements and associations, some going back years, are being put under the microscope.

We appreciate the concern for anti-Jewish prejudice – a concern which we share. We are committed to our principles of opposition to all forms of racism, including antisemitism, anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia, in any circumstance. We are therefore dismayed by a lack of parallel attention to other forms of racial and religious bigotry, particularly given the current climate of growing Islamophobia across Europe. In the same week that the government refused to admit 3000 unaccompanied minor refugees to Britain, we cannot help but note the highly disproportionate attention paid in the media to errors of speech rather than errors of deed.

We also reiterate our view that the battle against antisemitism is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as antisemitic. Allegations of antisemitism foster an atmosphere increasingly hostile to  those fighting for the rights of Palestinians at a time of growing opposition to Israel’s racist and discriminatory policies towards its Arab citizens and its ongoing occupation in violation of international law. What is clear to those of us who have been engaged in the movement for Palestinian rights, and who believe in the right to dissent of Jews in relation to Israel, is that the more public opinion turns against Israel’s indefensible actions, the more our opponents will resort to name calling in an attempt to discredit us. As Jewish critics of Israel’s policies, we urge people of conscience not to succumb to this campaign of intimidation and to continue the struggle for equal rights and freedom for all people.

A response to Freedland’s defence of ethnic cleansing

JONATHAN FREEDLAND’S PLEA

30 April, Jamie Stern-Weiner
You can read this excellent article in full here

Excerpt: ‘… Let’s imagine that the entire world agreed on how to bring this brutal military occupation to a peaceful close, but that, in defiance of this overwhelming international consensus, the occupying power brazenly refused to withdraw to its legal borders. Let’s imagine that, when a number of individuals finally got together and tried to do something to bring the nightmare to an end, Jonathan Freedland came along and issued to them a heartfelt ‘plea’guys, take it down a notch.

The upshot of Freedland’s wretched article [‘My plea to the left: treat Jews the same way you’d treat any other minority‘] here is this: for a half-century nothing has been done to put a stop to the brutal, immoral and illegal persecution of the Palestinians, and it’s time to do less.

P.S. Naz Shah MP was vilified for posting an image suggesting, tongue-in-cheek, that Israel be relocated to the United States.  Here is what Jonathan Freedland had to say about an ethnic cleansing that actually happened, and whose surviving victims are still struggling for a mite of justice: ‘I have long believed that Israel should be strong enough to admit the reality of 1948 [i.e. the mass expulsion of Palestinian civilians]—and to defend it all the same’. The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was ‘a horribly high moral price’ to pay for the establishment of a Jewish state—but it was also ‘a moral necessity’’

LABOUR JEWS ASSERT: The Labour Party does not have a ‘problem with Jews’

We are witnessing a wave of orchestrated hysteria over claims that the Labour Party is rife with antisemitism and has a ‘problem with Jews.’ This is not true. Yes there is indeed a problem. The problem is that some people – Jewish and otherwise, inside and outside the party – use allegations of anti-Semitism as a stick to beat the Corbyn leadership, regardless of the damage caused.

Jeremy Corbyn and others have done their best to respond, rightly asserting their impeccable anti-racist credentials, treating specific allegations of antisemitism seriously, investigating them and taking appropriate measures. This is no more and no less than should happen with allegations of racism or discrimination of any kind.

But this has not satisfied those sections of the pro-Israel lobby orchestrating the attacks. They have targeted Malia Bouattia, the first Muslim woman to be elected president of the National Union of Students, on the thinnest of pretexts and despite her consistently principled stance. Another victim has been Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) founder member and lifelong anti-racist Tony Greenstein, suspended from the Labour Party without even being informed of the charges against him. Now Naz Shah has been suspended on the basis of a few inappropriate social media posts, which she evidently regrets – swiftly followed by Ken Livingstone for having the temerity to defend her. (Regarding Shah’s comments, read more here, and this background to Livingstone’s comments on Zionism & Hitler)

Those who are making allegations of anti-Semitism are talking a different language.  It is not anti-Semitism but anti-Zionism that is their concern.  It is opposition to Israeli racism not anti-Jewish racism that concerns them.

This campaign of vilification is intended to undermine Labour’s new leaders, because of their commendable record of supporting justice for Palestine. The wider aim is to crush support for the solidarity movement, which is working to achieve for Palestinians basic rights that are endorsed by international legal bodies.

As the Jewish Socialist Group has stated on its website: ‘A very small number of such cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism. Others represent genuine criticism of Israeli policy and support for Palestinian rights, but expressed in clumsy and ambiguous language, which may unknowingly cross a line into antisemitism. Further cases are simply forthright expressions of support for Palestinian rights, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.’                         

As Labour and Trade Union activists, we condemn this witch hunt and assert the right to campaign in solidarity with all oppressed people, including Palestinians. We: Continue reading “LABOUR JEWS ASSERT: The Labour Party does not have a ‘problem with Jews’”

Electronic Intifada: an exposé of the UK Israel lobby

How Israel lobby manufactured UK Labour Party’s anti-Semitism crisis
By Asa Winstanley

Please read article in full hereExcerpt:

‘…an investigation by The Electronic Intifada has found that some of the most prominent stories about anti-Semitism in the party are falsified.

The Electronic Intifada can reveal that a key player in Labour’s “anti-Semitism crisis” covered up his involvement in the Israel lobby.

Most Labour members so accused are in reality being attacked for expressing opinions in favor of Palestinian human rights and particularly for supporting the boycott of Israel.

Labour activists, many of them Jews, have told The Electronic Intifada that false accusations of anti-Semitismare being used as a weapon against Corbyn by the party’s right-wing…

[…]

Oxford

An “anti-Semitism scandal” erupted in the Oxford University Labour Club – an association of student supporters of the party.
[…]
In a public Facebook posting Alex Chalmers, the co-chair of the club, resigned his position over what he claimed was anti-Semitic behavior in “a large proportion” of the student Labour club “and the student left in Oxford more generally.”

But as evidence he cited the club’s decision, in a majority vote, to endorse Oxford’s Israeli Apartheid Week, an annual awareness-raising exercise by student groups which support Palestinian rights.

This connection was clearly designed to smear Palestine solidarity activists as anti-Semites – a standard tactic of the Israel lobby.

In fact, the similarity was no coincidence.

The Electronic Intifada can reveal for the first time evidence that Chalmers himself has been part of the UK’s Israel lobby.

Chalmers has worked for BICOM, the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre.

Funded by the billionaire Poju Zabludowicz, BICOM is a leading pro-Israel group in London….’

Continue reading here

The lessons of Zionists and the Nazis

By Mike Cushman
April 2016

It is a matter of historical record that some Zionists tried to do a deal with the Nazis in the 1930s. We should try and see this through what they knew at the time rather than with the aid of hindsight. Before Kristallnacht in 1938 it is quite possible that the Zionists saw the Nazis as maybe worse but not different in kind from the pogroms Jews of Eastern and Central Europe had suffered and survived for centuries; the brownshirts were just the new Cossacks. Maybe a closer reading of Mein Kampf would have told them different but neither they, nor anyone else, foresaw the Holocaust.

What is important is the lessons that are to be drawn from Heskem Haavara. In 1933 the Zionists in Germany thought that doing a deal with the Nazis would help them establish a Jewish state in Palestine. That the Nazis were antisemites was less important to them than that they supported proto-Israel. But you can only learn from history if you acknowledge history and Zionist organisations try to pretend that the Haavara never happened: Haavara denial.

Why is this important to those not interested in the minutiae of pre-war history? It is because the Israeli Government and their Zionist apologists are still seeking the support of visceral antisemites providing they support Israel. We can see this in the affectionate relationship between Israel and the US Christians United for Israel (CUFI). CUFI was founded by John Hagee who has claimed that, “God sent Hitler as a ‘hunter,’ in order to ‘hunt them [Jews] from every mountain and from every hill and out of the holes of the rocks … to get them to come back to the land of Israel’“. Hagee has argued with another Christian Zionist Joseph Farah CEO of WorldNetDaily about who has the purest antisemitic views.

They argue their points in terms of the fate of Jews and their eternal damnation as foretold in the Book of Revelations in the Christian Bible and Isiah in the Jewish Bible. We can infer however that their views are more practical. Like the Nazis they would rather the Jews were somewhere else rather than living next door. Having them forgather in Israel solves that problem as well as prefiguring the rapture. From 9/11 onward we may also suspect that they have come to hate Muslims even more than Jews and their Islamophobia leads them to ally themselves with Israel against their feared Islamic invasion of America – Europe to them is already lost.

None of this prevented Benjamin Netanyahu embracing Hagee when CUFI held their conference in Jerusalem in 2012. In the same year the largest US pro-Israel lobby Group, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) inviting Hagee to give the keynote speech at their annual conference.

What is clear is that antisemitism is unimportant to Israel providing you support their actions. For Zionists, perceiving antisemitism is a weapon to bludgeon their opponents not a principle. Proclaiming antisemitism is a tactic to attempt to scare diaspora Jews into making Aliyah, migrating to Israel.

The lesson of the thirties is that doing business with those who wish you dead may, or may not, be tactically astute; it does not promise long life and happiness.