In unwavering support of Mike Sivier

May 3, 2017

by Martin Odoni

I cringe when politicians pontificate about ‘standing shoulder-to-shoulder’ with allies, but I feel it is my turn to do likewise.

Mike Sivier of the Vox Political blog is standing for election on the 4th of May – May The Fourth Be With You tomorrow, Mike – as the Labour Party candidate for Llanbadarn Fawr council. Mike has recently come under attack from several directions over supposed ‘anti-Semitism’ in his work.

Now, although I am an atheist and, truth to tell, quite dismissive of religion, I am ethnically Jewish by birth. I would therefore always be keenly reluctant to defend, or associate in any way, with anybody who has an unapologetic history of anti-Semitism. Intermittently through my life, I have been the victim of anti-Semitic abuse myself. Therefore I would not wish to defend Mike if he had such a history. But I am very confident he has no such history, and I one-hundred-per-cent back him against these accusations.

I have read the blogposts over which he has been criticised by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, (CAA – unofficial real name; Campaign Against Anyone Perceiving The Reality Of Modern Israel) and I can state without hesitation that Mike did not write the remarks of which he is accused. I especially dismiss the inflammatory false quotation that Mike supposedly “believes that there is a ‘conspiracy’ by Jews.”

On Labour’s local Facebook page for Llanbadarn Fawr, I wrote the following, but I feel I should reshare it now in the hope that more people get to read it; –

This attempt to accuse Mike Sivier of anti-Semitism is yet another in an unending list of examples of the term being used as a weapon. I am ethnically Jewish by birth (though not religious). I have been following Mike’s blog for years and frequently correspond with him. I can state categorically that I have never read anything he has written that could be sensibly construed as ‘anti-Semitic’. With good reason, he is critical of Israel for its treatment of Palestinian Arabs – as indeed am I – but that lazy tendency to call opposition to Israel ‘anti-Semitism’ would be akin to calling opposition to Nazi Germany in the 1940’s ‘anti-Aryanism’.

I am always disgusted by the use of anti-Semitism accusations as a weapon. In a sense, it is as racist to use the term in this way as it is to be anti-Semitic in itself. It reduces an entire ethnicity to a tool to be used whenever a person’s silence is desired. Reducing an entire people to a usable tool is to make them less than the person using them. What could be more racist than that?

I ask readers to pay particular attention to that second paragraph. I mean it, and I say it with both hurt and anger. Any person who uses the word ‘anti-Semitism’ to silence criticism of Israel or Zionism is himself/herself anti-Semitic. Even if the accuser is also Jewish, he/she is still being anti-Semitic (yes, it is possible for people to be prejudiced against their own race; ironically, the CAA is actually an anti-Semitic organisation).

My ethnicity, and the ethnicity of every Jew living or dead, is part of who we are as human beings. It is not a crude debating tool to be cynically manipulated to silence inconvenient counter-arguments, be they voiced by Mike Sivier, Max Blumenthal, Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone, or any of a thousand other honest opponents of Israel. Anyone who uses an ethnicity as a tool or a weapon is putting that ethnicity in the service of themselves, making it less than other people. That is racism. Use false accusations of anti-Semitism, and you are as racist as an explicit anti-Semite.

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3 Responses to “In unwavering support of Mike Sivier”

  1. Sophia.George 💋 Says:

    Reblogged this on Site Title and commented:
    Well written- I fully agree with all points you have made.

  2. Florence Says:

    100% agree. As someone who is also standing for election, I have taken all my social media off line because I am literally afraid of these smears being repeated across Wales. Mike has stood up to these terrible allegations with dignity. I’m glad he has supporters who can speak from the heart.


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