by Martin Odoni

Owen Jones responded to yesterday’s news that Ken Livingstone is leaving the Labour Party, over the unending anti-Semitism controversy, with an unthinking renewal of a very frequent myth.

Yesterday morning, Jones tweeted the following; –

Before addressing the myth, I should mention that I question the first sentence. There were some things Livingstone said that could have been worded much more sensibly and carefully. But looked at objectively, Livingstone’s claim that Adolf Hitler supported Zionism is true, at least in a sense. It is certainly untrue to suggest that Hitler was a doctrinaire Zionist, who adhered to the complex minutiae of the ideology. But then Livingstone never implied that, and it should further be recognised that, back in the 1930s, Zionism did coincide quite neatly with the ugly ideas of Hitler’s desired Lebensraum. ‘Living space’, as the term means, for the Nordic/Aryan peoples across Europe would, rather by definition, be advanced by expelling the millions-strong Jewish population to another land beyond Europe’s boundaries, as that would leave more space for Hitler’s imagined ‘Master Race’.

Livingstone should have empasised that the Haavara Agreement between the Nazis and German Zionists was very lopsided, and that the Zionists signed up to it under duress. That he did not was foolish, but it did not really make his words anti-Semitic, especially as he was discussing Hitler more than he was discussing the Zionist movement or the Jewish people.

Indeed, I would go further and argue that if Livingstone’s remarks are offensive at all, they would be offensive to Zionists, not to Jews. While there is inevitably a lot of overlap between the two groups, they are not the same, and the points Livingstone was discussing were politically Zionist ones, not religiously or ethnically Jewish ones. The links between Haavara refugees and Holocaust victims who were left behind are being twisted by Zionists to make Livingstone’s remarks sound anti-Semitic. (As I have intimated before, I find manipulation of the Holocaust as repugnantly offensive as denial of it, so British Zionists really have soul-searching to do before they make hay about this.)

The second sentence in Jones’ tweet is what really irks me, though in fairness to him, he is only replicating a mistake that the media make very widely. The ‘bad relationship’ between the Labour Party and the ‘Jewish Community’ – a fallacy-of-homogeneity term if ever there were one – is the most question-begging assumption of the modern media. It comes from the constant clamour of Zionist (again note: not necessarily Jewish) groups like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Labour Friends of Israel, the British Board of Jewish Deputies and so on, offering wildly-exaggerated tales of ‘anti-Semitic’ behaviour that is supposedly rife in the Labour Party.

It is lazy and profoundly incurious of the British media just to assume they can get a clear idea of the opinions of ‘Britain’s Jews’ just by consulting these groups. That they are ‘representative’ is a tenuous suggestion, especially given the maddening conflation that exists between Jews and Zionists.

The CAA, as I have demonstrated more than once on this blog, is scarcely interested in combating anti-Semitism at all, but only in discrediting critics of Israel. It is a tiny ‘charity’, is not elected in any plausible sense, and seldom consults anyone on a wide range of issues, bar complaints about possible anti-Israeli rhetoric. To imagine that the CAA knows what the general Jewish community’s thoughts are on, say, Brexit, or controlling inflation, or Scottish independence, or balance-of-trade is therefore comical.

LFI, equally, seem less interested in British Jews than in Israeli politics, as quite openly implied by their name. They seem to serve a similar purpose to the CAA – except to attack Labour ‘from within’ as it were. Many members of LFI are not even Jewish, and support Israel for reasons quite other than the survival of the Jewish people. Again, to suggest that LFI offer reliable insights into wider Anglo-Jewish thinking is ridiculous.

Links to LFI's Facebook Group

If Labour Friends of Israel are representative of Jews in the Labour movement, why do they have so few members in their Facebook group?

 

The Board of Deputies can at least claim to be somewhat representative, as they are appointed by a multi-layered election process of sorts. But this process only applies to synagogues and other Jewish organisations, not by Jewish individuals more broadly. This means that Jews like myself i.e. secular Jewish atheists are not consulted on who should be elected to the Board, or what our views are on any political or social issues. It is my choice that I am irreligious and do not practice any rituals or ceremonies of Judaism, but ethnically, I am still a Jew, a fact about me that can never change whether I like it or not. Therefore, when the BJD say they are expressing the views of “British Jews”, they are claiming to speak for me and others like me when they have never attempted to learn what our views are. If they claimed they are speaking for “practicing religious British Jews”, they would be on stronger ground. But they do not, and it is high time that the media questioned them on that instead of just parrotting the BJD’s assertions all the time when wanting to lend credence to anti-Semitism claims with which to beat up Jeremy Corbyn.

I know I am not alone in saying that I am unhappy for these groups to claim to speak on behalf of all British Jews, just as I am horrified when Binyamin Netanyahu claims to act on behalf of all Jews worldwide. I am also not alone in saying it is past time that the media dared to question these groups when they make such presumptuous claims.

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by Martin Odoni

What a pointlessly horrible individual Nick Ferrari can be sometimes. He wanted to interview Diane Abbott this morning on his LBC Radio show about the resignation as Home Secretary of Amber Rudd. As the programme wore on, Ferrari expressed growing frustration that Abbott appeared to be giving interviews to every other news outlet except him.

Seldom slow to be vindictive when feeling slighted, Ferrari retaliated at the end of the programme by doing something genuinely cruel, unfair, and utterly vindictive. Now, Ferrari was the interviewer interrogating Abbott during the General Election campaign almost exactly a year ago, when she had the notorious ‘brain-freeze’ moment while discussing police funding. As an obvious two-fingered salute to her, Ferrari ended today’s show by playing a recording of that interview to mock her.

nick ferrari mocks diane abbot for her illness

Ferrari’s conduct is childish and cruel, and betrays a really ugly nature that lurks not far below the dignified surface.

Anyone smirking about that little stab should be ashamed, as should Ferrari himself. There is a detail about it that many people, especially smug, jeering, right-wing journalists like Ferrari, keep omitting to mention; Abbott was very ill at the time. (As James O’Brien, speaking on the very next programme on LBC this morning noted, the signs are that she probably still is.) To be precise, she was suffering from diabetic withdrawal this time last year, and it became so bad that she had to drop out of the last couple of weeks of campaigning.

The amount of vicious abuse Abbott receives on a daily basis is an abhorrent indictment of the dark side of this country, in terms of both racism and misogyny. But her diabetic illness has added another ugly dimension to it over the last year. It seems the symptoms of an almost-crippling condition are also considered fair game for mockery and cruel taunts when the sufferer is a left-wing Member of Parliament. (Once again, we can expect her colleagues on the right of the Labour Party to offer her no sympathy, even as they pretend to be concerned about anti-Semitism.)

What on Earth is wrong with modern Britain, that these sorts of malicious behaviours are not only becoming increasingly commonplace, but are even rewarded with a regular show in the media? To mock anyone for symptoms of an illness is frankly as infantile and ignorant as it is spiteful and Medieval. It is difficult, indeed, to distinguish Ferrari’s behaviour from Donald Trump’s at that horrifying moment in 2015 when he mocked a disabled reporter during the Republican Primaries for the US Presidential Election. Trump was widely and rightly castigated for such appalling cruelty – although it is a tragic reflection on the modern USA that it was not enough to stop him becoming President – and so Britain should now do the same to Ferrari. It would hardly be before time; given his ‘othering’ attitude towards asylum seekers and Muslims, Ferrari’s resemblance to Trump is a lot stronger than he would probably like to admit.

by Martin Odoni

Kevin Clegg is not a name that many people will be particularly familiar with, but it is the name of someone who is caught up in a very familiar controversy. He has been suspended from the Labour Party, under investigation into alleged ‘anti-Semitic’ behaviour.

I draw attention to Kevin’s case, because it is another textbook example of why the current ‘crisis’ of anti-Semitism in the party has been blown way out-of-proportion. In fairness to the party’s compliance unit, it has no choice but to suspend members until the accusations against them have been fairly assessed. But the problem, especially in the media, is the accusations themselves are being fallaciously presented as ‘evidence’ that anti-Semitism is endemic in the party. Close examination of many of the complaints, as I keep stating, paints a very different picture. This is certainly true in Kevin’s case.

NB: I am fairly sure there is an anti-Semitism complaint somewhere in the queue against me. Ironic, given I am Jewish, but last year I pointed out to the Zionist bully-boy, Jonathan Hoffman, that his behaviour towards Jewish critics of Israel is anti-Semitic. He claimed that he had reported me to Labour’s compliance unit for it.  (What precisely he has accused me of is unclear. Using the term ‘anti-Semite’ as an insult, perhaps, but even by Hoffman’s standards, that is amazing hypocrisy). That was eleven months ago, and I have heard nothing back from the Labour Party about the matter since. But the point is, if you feel that I can be presented as evidence of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, you clearly have no idea what the term means. The worry is that an awful lot of people making official judgements on the matter do not appear to know either.

The document

Kevin was sent a document outlining the complaint against him, based on news articles he has shared on his Facebook timeline. He put together a response in his own words, so I do not need to go into a detailed analysis here; instead, you can view the response, which he has turned into a .PDF and uploaded to Dropbox, by clicking here.

What I wish to point out is that every detail of the complaint levelled at Kevin comes from a vintage conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and opposition to Israel. Only one instance of the word ‘Jews’ was highlighted in the entire document sent to him, and that was not Kevin’s use of the word; instead it was in the headline of an article to which Kevin had linked, reporting the findings of an opinion poll. The headline in question had only used it as part of the term ‘Israeli Jews’, simply to distinguish Israeli-Jewish views from the views of other people living in Israel.

Screenshot from 2018-04-21 11-26-27

All other references called into question were uses of the words ‘Israel’ and ‘Zionists’ – neither of which are or ever have been synonyms for ‘Jews’ no matter how much the Israeli lobby wishes they were – and an article rightly criticising the megalomania of Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

University of Manchester censors anti-Zionist speaker

Anti-Semitism in the Independent?!?

It is interesting that Kevin is being held responsible for the wording of journalists writing for The Independent. It is also interesting that, if they truly believe these articles Kevin is sharing on social media to be anti-Semitic, no one appears to be complaining to The Independent about the ‘racist attitudes’ of its journalists.

The wild exaggeration of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, transforming it from ‘slight problem’ to ‘crisis epidemic’, is crystallised by Kevin’s example. A deliberate, cynical and false conflation of Jews with Israel is what gives so much of the issue its legs. Remove that conflation, and the true scale of the problem would be shown to be a fraction of how it is being presented.

Paranoia is not justification

I hear people arguing that this cynicism is no such thing, but fear. There is a terror among modern Jews, they argue, that the current time of relative quiet among anti-Semites is just the temporary respite before ‘the next Pogrom’. I would say this is probably a correct explanation (although even that argument, once again, conflates Jews with Zionists and Israel supporters). It is a paranoia I have felt for myself at times in my life.

But understanding the reasons for paranoia does not stop it being paranoia, nor  does it justify some of the deeds being carried out in the name of that paranoia. Knowingly throwing false accusations at people and sullying their names is illegal and it is malicious. No one should understand that better than the Jewish people, given the false accusations we have had to endure collectively ourselves down the centuries.

We also need to pause and ask ourselves where that logic can lead. It was, after all, another paranoia that led to the greatest crime ever committed against the Jewish people. It was the paranoia of the German people, thinking they were being made the world’s punching-bag for the troubles of the First World War and the economic disaster of the 1930s. The paranoia started with vilification of Jews, and from there slowly, gradually led to the Holocaust. We can understand that paranoia, especially given the deprivation and misery of the Hyper-inflation years in the Weimar Republic, but that does not come within a hundred-thousand miles of justifying what followed.

Nor is what Israel, or its supporters around the world, are doing right now.

by Martin Odoni

NB: No longer ‘unconfirmed’, please see postscript below.

As the title says, please do not consider this definitive, but Spirit Radio have published a podcast that they state is a segment of an interview with Robert Fisk, foreign correspondent of the Independent. If the recording is genuine, then any doubt that the air-strikes on Syria over the weekend by US, British and French planes were a war-crime will be ended forever. Fisk, if it really is him, claims in the recording that he is in the targeted city of Douma, and from his earliest findings there, he has concluded that no chemical weapons were used in the attacks during the previous weekend. The images of children choking and foaming at the mouth were genuine, but the reactions were caused by smoke inhalation and clouds of dust thrown up by explosions triggered by conventional weapons.

Da6ne1QX4AAC6hV.jpg:large

The implications of this are enormous, but again I must reiterate before anyone gets too excited that I do not know for sure if the recording is genuine. If it is, then the obscene possibility is raised that the suspiciously-timed air-strikes might have been carried out by allied forces in order to prevent inspections by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose representatives arrived in Douma the very next day, from revealing that no such weapons were used. If such a discovery were made, it would undermine the entire narrative used to justify the air-strikes. Such a militarised cover-up would be political corruption of the lowest order, and would surely raise the spectre of Donald Trump, Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron being sent to the Hague.

But again, we must wait and see whether the interview can be corroborated before we get carried away.

Spirit Radio say that the full interview will be at 10:30 am on Tuesday 17th April.

_____

POSTSCRIPT:

Confirmation: Fisk is indeed in Douma, and he writes in the Independent that, from conversations he has had with local medical personnel, the ‘chemical weapons reaction’ of the victims was probably hypoxia i.e. a reaction to smoke and dust inhalation.
 
It is therefore very unlikely that chemical weapons were used nine days ago in Douma.
 
Trump, May and Macron must now face severe repercussions for apparently lying to the world.

by Martin Odoni

I have received a comment on the article I put up yesterday. I am unsure whether the person who posted it – an Israeli Jew and presumably a Zionist – was aware of the irony, but in posting it, he demonstrated precisely the point the article was making.

NB: I considered concealing the name of the commenter from this screenshot, but then I thought, “What would be the point? He was happy singing out his name when making the comment in the first place, and he hardly deserves his privacy to be protected anyway.”

zionist malice

(Where Jacobs says “he”, he means Jeremy Corbyn.) The Jews to which Jacobs refers were the group ‘Jewdas’ and the fact that he put speech marks around the word “jews” shows that he cannot tolerate the idea that ‘Jewdas’ are Jewish people at all. They are “the wrong kind of Jew”.

Then, there is Jacobs’ use of the slur ‘Kapo’. This is a particularly malicious and dirty insinuation. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Jacobs is accusing myself and other Jewish opponents of Israel of being prisoners in a World War II concentration camp who help the Nazi officers to run the facility, including by informing on any fellow prisoners who disobey the rules. It effectively implies a Jew who co-operates with the Holocaust. I am a Jew who dares criticise Israel’s barbaric treatment of the Palestinians, therefore I am the enemy-within. That makes me “the wrong kind of Jew” as well.

Is everyone clear just how cruel, and yes, anti-Semitic this topic of ‘undesirable kinds of Jews’ really is yet? And how vicious, bigoted, and aggressive hardcore Zionists can be, especially towards Jews themselves? Can you imagine the public uproar there would be if a Zionist had received remarks similar to these from someone in the Labour Party?

Zionism as a whole is anti-Semitic in tendency; it accepts the anti-Semitic notion that Jews cannot co-exist with gentiles (which is plainly untrue given how large the Jewish diaspora is) and so should be sent elsewhere, and its frequent intolerance of non-conformity of Jewish opinion is oppressive to Jewish people.

Zionists are not the victims in modern Britain, they are the aggressors in Palestine, and it is high time that the current establishment-narrative was exposed for the deceit it is.

by Martin Odoni

I have been hurt down the years by comments Zionists have thrown at me, for being a Jew who opposes Israeli policy, and who does not think Zionism was a necessary ideal. I have been accused of being a ‘Palestinian shill’, an ‘assimilate half-breed’, and the ever-popular insult-of-choice, a ‘self-hating Jew’. (How this abuse is any more acceptable than explicit anti-Semitic terminology is quite mysterious.) I try to resist the temptation to blow up at Zionist-fanatics when they resort to this, but I have not always succeeded. This is because these are vicious insults designed to make me feel guilty, as though I have violated my own nature – as though they know better than I do what my nature is. But for all the hurt that causes, my stance on Israel has not changed.

Netanyahu

The Israeli leader has to stop claiming to act in the name of Jews around the world. There is a very large number of us whom he has never consulted.

I have long felt the suffering of the Jewish people has been exploited and manipulated for political purposes, including by Jewish, and more particularly Zionist, groups themselves. But never have I felt as personally sullied as by what has happened over the last twenty-four hours. Never have I felt as angry, hurt, exploited, or demeaned, by the use of anti-Semitism as a political football, as I feel right now.

Last night, by invitation, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, observed a seder for Pesach with members of ‘Jewdas’. They are a group of leftist British Jews who are opponents of Israeli policies. After over a week of ridiculous hysteria against Corbyn over a remark he made years ago about a putatively anti-Semitic mural, he is now under constant attack for doing something that could hardly be more pro-Jewish.

‘Jewdas’, due to their opposition to Israel, are being spoken of in the same terms as the anti-Semites that Jeremy Corbyn supposedly supports (very untrue). That is the only reason that ‘Jewdas’ are being criticised.

This is yet another no-win-situation for Corbyn. Had he declined the invitation he had received, the headlines would have been, “NOW CORBYN SNUBS JEWS AT PASSOVER!!!” followed by lengthy twisting-of-details to present it as clinching evidence of his ‘anti-Semitism’. Because he accepted the invitation, and the media narrative requires that he needs to be presented as, at worst anti-Semitic, at best insensitive towards Jews, the group he visited must now be de-legitmised. The fact that the ‘Jewdas’ group has a track-record of criticism of Israel is thus used against them. The media, and right-wing politicians, are effectively intimating that, because ‘Jewdas’ say things that some other Jewish groups do not, they are ‘undesirable’ and that mixing with them is ipso facto insulting to Jews more widely.

There are too many reasons to list why this is ridiculous, the most glaring being the near-racist assumption of ‘homogeneity’ – that Jews are a sort of ‘Hive-mind’ people with no individual power-of-thought. Any independent thinkers are therefore ‘seditious’ almost. This is not only the narrative of hawkish Zionists, it is being leapt upon by opportunistic politicians and journalists who have nothing to do with Jewish communities at all. And the narrative has been expressed so persistently loudly since last night that it is beginning to stick. “Corbyn is prepared to mix with Jews,” goes the narrative, “but the ‘wrong kind’ of Jews. The kind that criticise Israel. That makes him even more of an anti-Semite.”

So, to be Jewish and a critic of Israel is to be a “wrong kind of Jew”. That of course means I personally must be “the wrong kind of Jew” too. Society’s expectations override the freedom to be an individual once more, like in Victorian times.

Now as I have mentioned before, I spent intermittent spells of my childhood being insulted for being a Jew of any kind. Now I find myself insulted for being a particular kind of Jew – the wrong kind. And the frightening realisation is that we are on a slippery slope, at the foot of which, people like myself will likely be told we do not ‘count’ as Jews, because we support the Palestinians against Israeli oppression.

You see why I am hurting?

I despair that many Jews are letting themselves – and the people’s history of suffering – be exploited in such a cheap, demeaning way. But then it is difficult for a Jew to fight it. In my position, and indeed the position of ‘Jewdas’ (which in this context is proving to be an unfortunate choice of name), there is a strong, demoralising threat of being seen as a traitor. And there is no one in prominent positions in the media or politics right now who is prepared to speak up for us. To speak up, that is to say, for people who know that the stigma of anti-Semitism is being cynically exploited, and feel personally hurt by it. No politicians seem prepared to resist the narrative. Even Corbyn’s allies in Labour like John McDonnell and Rebecca Long-Bailey seem reluctant to call out the deceit. The mainstream media clearly want to believe the ‘anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’ crisis is real and huge-scale, so will not give voice to anyone who points out why it is not, let alone lend credibility to the objection by pointing out how many of the dissenting voices are Jewish.

Dissenting Jews like myself are screaming-into-the-void. Which makes it hurt even more.

Were there ever proof that ‘anti-Semite!‘ is often a politicised shoutdown of voices inconvenient to Israel, this is it. The definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ is now so broad that it is poised to extend, not just to gentiles who disagree with Israel, but even to Jews who disagree with Israel.

No one will combat that, because the circular reasoning therein classes me as ‘the wrong kind’ of Jew. And who would want to listen to someone who cannot get ‘being Jewish’ right?

_____

POSTSCRIPT 04-04-2018: Please see the comments section below for an example of precisely the treatment dissenting Jews such as myself often receive from Zionists, then click here for more about this.

by Martin Odoni

I was going to write an article about this myself but SKWAWKBOX got there first; –

Just after last year’s General Election, as ‘centrists’ and the Establishment reeled at Labour’s huge ‘surprise’ surge – though we and others said all along it would happen – the SKWAWKBOX pointed out six ‘desperation tactics‘ Labour insiders had predicted that the Labour right would use to try to undermine the Corbyn-led, continuing impetus toward government.

All six were duly used.

To learn what they are, click here.

6 desperation tactics

But there are several extra thoughts I need to add.

The big worry that occurs to me is that the centrist fanatics may have been conspiring with the Conservatives to set up the last two weeks of renewed infighting in the Labour Party. Think about the order of events; –

  • An opinion poll two weeks ago put Labour seven points up.
  • Two days later, the Tories hid information about the Salisbury Poisoning from Jeremy Corbyn prior to a debate of the matter in the House of Commons.
  • Corbyn asked reasonable questions about the matter as a result.
  • The Right of the Labour Party appears almost on stand-by to throw a public wobbler about him being ‘unpatriotic’ and a supporter of Putin.

 

A little like with the way the Chicken Coup was carried out two years ago, it all looks too neat and tidy not to have been orchestrated. Blue Labour has always been very fond of theatrics, and they always hope that the public are too naive to notice the implausible degree of ‘coincidence’.

With Corbyn rightly firing Owen Smith yesterday (whether you agree with Corbyn’s policy on Brexit or not, collective responsibility principles demand the Shadow Cabinet supports it, and Smith publicly opposed it), we are now getting more of the usual guff about Corbyn being a dictator; funny how in Blue Labour minds, Corbyn alternates between being too feeble to be a leader and being too iron-fisted (Schrödinger’s Labour leader once more). But Smith has no one to blame but himself. He knew Labour’s position on Brexit , and he probably realises how impractical a second referendum would be. When can we fit it in? What exactly happens if the vote rejects the final deal?

People think that centrists are, by definition, moderate in outlook, ergo less fanatical. But the Labour Right demonstrate that this assumption is nonsense. Just because their actual policy preferences tend to be the furthest from the extremes, it does not mean they are more tolerant or willing to compromise. On the contrary, their rejection of radical policies is so heavy-handed that it takes on an incredibly self-destructive form of fanaticism.

It is quite clear that Blue Labourites are terrified of the possibility of a Real Left Prime Minister, as it would prove their assumptions of the last thirty years have been completely wrong. Cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant sensation, and so they would rather hand the Tories another five years at Number 10 than accept that they made an enormous mistake moving to the right under Neil Kinnock, John Smith, and Tony Blair.