by Martin Odoni

Gaza Great Return March

The Israeli Government insists that thousands and thousands of terrorists are storming the Gaza boundary fence. They do remarkably little damage for being so numerous, don’t they?

The latest massacre on the Gaza boundary on Monday was the largest of the year, taking the death-toll among Palestinians during the Great Return March past one hundred. Among the predictable, nauseating attempts to blame the victims, or Hamas, for the atrocity, a lot of equally-predictable pick-up-and-play ‘experts’ on  the Israel/Palestine conflict are coming out of the woodwork in the West. These would-be experts appear only dimly aware of the conflict most of the time, but hear about it in the news frequently enough to think they have a fairly strong grasp of what is what. Most of these people are Zionist/Israel-sympathiser in their leanings.

Part-time Zionists do not have a complete monopoly on inaccuracies in the argument over which side is the aggressor, of course – I have no doubt some of my own knowledge is incorrect. But they definitely have the lion’s share, and when it comes to really glaring mistakes, they are pretty much in a realm of their own. It can be quite breathtaking how they get, not just the finer details, but even the most fundamental facts, completely wrong.

In six days of reading lame, anti-Arab, pro-Israel apologia on social media, I have seen claims that Palestine is a separate country from Israel, that the Palestinians are being shot at because they have ‘invaded’ Israel, that Hamas are behind the protests and are trying to make them turn violent, that the destitution in Gaza is the handiwork of Hamas, and that the Palestinians who have died are being punished for ‘trespassing’.

These are all predictable jumps-to-conclusion that often happen in the aftermath of atrocities abroad committed by people on ‘our’ side. The British media always like to portray Israel as ‘our’ side, and therefore habitually offer vague descriptions of the real history of this conflict, while playing down the violence of Israeli actions. The above myths however are easily debunked even before a detailed examination of the events is carried out; –

Palestine is not a separate ‘country’ from Israel. Palestine is Israel. The land that became Israel in 1948 had, for the previous thirty-one years, been a large part of the British Mandate for Palestine. Before that, it had for centuries been part of the Ottoman Empire. What the land is called is not as important to the Palestinians as simply the reality that the land was theirs and was taken from them without asking and without recompense. The Gaza Strip and several parts of the West Bank are officially governed by devolved Palestinian administrations, but even so, they are not countries in their own right, they are semi-autonomous territories that have been occupied alternately by Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

The Palestinians have not ‘invaded’ Israel, certainly not during the current Great Return March. Nor have they been ‘trespassing’. They have simply gathered near the boundary between Gaza and Israel-proper, and protested, at times slightly violently, at being effectively imprisoned in an enclave. The Israeli Defence Force have responded by stationing snipers on the boundary and having them gun down protesters. Despite claims, with no supporting evidence, that the protesters who were shot were attempting to break through the boundary fence and to attack innocents, the truth is that the vast majority of those to die were hundreds of yards from it. Any claims to the contrary are defeated by the fact that snipers were guarding the fence at all. Why use sniper rifles to defend against opponents at close range? Why not use rubber bullets on targets at close range? Why use technology designed expressly for targeting at a distance? I do not doubt that some protesters did go straight up to the fence, and probably tried to break through it, but “the punishment doth greatly exceed the crime”.

Either way, the Palestinians are not ‘trespassing’, as they are not getting across the boundary. They are staying on their own side of the fence, and therefore are staying inside the zone administered by the Palestinian Authority.

Gaza buffer zone

The red-pink-coloured area is the buffer zone that Israel declared in a territory over which it has no right of control.

The Israeli Government declared a ‘buffer zone’ at the boundary that it insists Palestinians must not enter. But as the buffer zone actually begins at the fence and extends only into Gaza, while leaving Israeli-administered territory untouched, it must be illegal; Israel has no right to impose a buffer/no-go zone on territory it does not directly govern. That is very important for reasons that go far beyond the current protests as well. Gaza, with a population density of over five thousand per square kilometre, is the third most-over-populated territory currently inhabited by Man, and desperately needs to use the land in the buffer zone to make more room for its inhabitants. But it dare not attempt to build houses in the zone as long as the IDF continue taking pot-shots at any Arabs setting foot there.

While Hamas, an extremist Sunni-Wahhabist faction, probably deserves some blame for the current misery of life in Gaza, the above shows that the severe over-population (and eleven-year blockade by the Israeli security forces) plays a much bigger role. Palestinian voices have widely insisted that the protests were not Hamas’ idea at all, and have been carried out independently of the faction’s wishes, and have even extended their criticisms to Hamas themselves. It also needs to be noted that Hamas was only founded in 1987, and the general conditions in Gaza have seldom reached the heights of ‘tolerable’ at any time since the Second World War, so it seems a bit much to have Hamas carry the can alone for it all.

asa palestinian

Palestinians are not the brainwashed pawns that British Zionists like to paint them as.

Perhaps the most glaring myth I have seen spread is a historical one, and it left me gob-smacked when I read it. Someone, whose name I shall kindly keep confidential, claimed on social media that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians began, and led to the Palestinians losing their lands, because, and I quote; –

“Palestine attacked Israel in the Six-Day War.”

Intellectual confidence is often inversely-proportional to historical literacy, and this is one of the most startling examples I have ever seen. Let me itemise the reasons this claim is completely idiotic; –

  1. The conflict actually began in 1948-49. The United Nations drew up a plan to divide the land of the British Mandate between Arab natives and Jewish settlers roughly in proportion to their respective population sizes. The Jewish settlers were happy with the plan, the Arabs were not. Israel was officially founded in 1948, but neighbouring countries, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Syria, invaded and took control of the Arab zone, and used it as a platform from which to attack Israel itself. Israel successfully fought off the invading forces, and in the process seized control of over sixty per cent of the Palestinian zone that had been allocated to the Arabs. The West Bank was brought under Jordanian control, while Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip. This struggle is known as the First Arab-Israeli War, and the Palestinians did not really do any serious attacking at all, in large part because there was no immediate central authority to organise them at that point (bar the Arab Liberation Army, which in any event was more international than Palestinian, and was head-quartered in Syria). Large numbers of Palestinians were displaced from their homes during the conflict and had to flee to neighbouring territories, including Gaza. This initial dispossession is known in Palestinian infamy as the Nakba, roughly translated as the ‘Catastrophe’.
  2. The Six-Day War happened nearly two decades after Israel seized most of Palestine. The Six-Day War was a ‘re-match’ of the First Arab-Israeli War, but did not take place until 1967. Egypt and Israel had been on unhappy terms for many years over access to the Straits of Tiran, which were critical to Israeli shipping.Strait of Tiran
    When Egypt tried to close the Straits, and began a military build-up on Israel’s border in anticipation of a retaliatory attack, the Israeli Air Force launched a series of strikes on Egyptian airfields, wiping out the Egyptian Air Force in a single day, and gaining control of regional airspace. Jordan and Syria mobilised in support of Egypt, but in the days before they could intervene, the Israeli army overran both Gaza and the entire Sinai Peninsular. The Egyptian army was totally defeated, while the Israeli military turned east to defeat the Syrian and Jordanian forces in turn. The whole war lasted less than a week, and the Israeli victories saw them seize control of the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria. And with the aforementioned seizure of  Gaza, Israel now had possession of all the land the UN had allocated to the Palestinian Arabs back in 1948. Again, the Palestinians, beyond unsuccessful defensive fighting in Gaza on the orders of the Egyptian Government, played no real role in the war at all, let alone ‘attacked’ Israel. On the contrary, Israel used the attack by Egypt as a pretext for capturing Gaza and the West Bank.
  3. Most Palestinian loss of land tends to happen outside of full-blown wartime. It has been a permanent feature of Israeli policy that any ethnically-Jewish individual on Earth who needs a home and ‘safe space’ against anti-Semitic persecution can automatically receive citizenship in Israel. But Israel was a small land at its birth, and soon ran low on space to keep taking in more refugees from around the world. Therefore, it became a routine process every few years for the Israeli Government in Tel Aviv to pass a new law authorising itself to seize the land and property of entire Palestinian communities, award it to Jewish settlers, and then cart the Palestinians off into Gaza or the West Bank. This sort of practice happens semi-frequently,  no matter how the Palestinians behave. The current protest campaign by the Palestinians, the Great Return March, marks the anniversary of Land Day in March 1976, which was a previous protest that ended in bloodshed against precisely such a shameless Israeli land-grab. You see, Palestinians have not lost so much land to Israel because they are being ‘punished’ for violent behaviour (even allowing for the fact that they have often acted violently). It happens because they have land, and Israel needs land. That is it. Occasional bursts of Palestinian militancy are just used by Israel as a justification for the mistreatment, but even when such militancy does not happen, land-seizures continue to happen anyway. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have little alternative but to use force, as they have few legal rights, and are not allowed to vote in Israeli Elections, but only in the Palestinian Authority Elections, which are fairly useless as long as the boundaries are controlled by Tel Aviv. And the Israeli Government will never change that, as the total Palestinian population in Israeli-held territory is roughly the same size as the Jewish population. It is projected to grow faster than the Jewish population too, and so, with suffrage, Arabs would soon be able to outvote Israeli-Jews. Given the original ethnocratic notion behind Zionism of a strictly Jewish nation, that is a prospect that the Israeli right wing in particular dare not contemplate. (It is also one more reason why I argue that Zionism is a failed ideology.)

Israel is not exclusively culpable in the history of this conflict. Much of the blame must go to neighbouring countries, especially Egypt, for fuelling a very paranoid emotional outlook in Israel. But it is time that the real history of modern Israel was properly understood in Britain. The Palestinians are far more sinned-against than sinning. Some atrocities they have committed against ordinary Israeli civilians during the various Intifadas have been terrible. But the Gazans are a people in a permanent condition of imprisonment and destitution, chiefly for reasons of their race. Atrocities they may be, but they are hardly unprovoked.

One more point needs to be made, and that is on the matter of what caused the renewed protest on Monday – the US President deciding to move the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This was an astonishingly stupid move, even by Donald Trump’s standards, and not just because it was so obvious it would provoke furious protests. It also puts a huge obstacle in the way of the potential for a ‘two-state solution’ to the conflict, which would require Jerusalem to be neutral territory. East Jerusalem was originally meant to be the Palestinian capital city. For a major foreign embassy to Israel to be located in Jerusalem actively prevents that neutrality.

Many Israelis are celebrating Trump’s decision, which says little for their intelligence. They appear to miss the fact that the move leaves only a ‘one-state solution’, which ultimately will have to include full suffrage and legal equality for all Palestinians, if the arrangement is ever to be accepted by the majority of Arabs. Therefore, the demographic issue mentioned in section 3 above will be brought into play. The future existence of a Jewish state, if we must accept the notion that one is truly necessary, is being endangered by the very people its most fanatical supporters are applauding.

Sad? Yes.

Ridiculous? Certainly.

Symptomatic of the modern world? Totally.

Advertisements

by Martin Odoni

The current chapter with Ruth Smeeth and Marc Wadsworth has only underlined how the right wing of the Labour Party have nothing to offer but theatrics. They are far more resistant to the left wing of their own party than they will ever be to the Conservatives. The ridiculous ‘march-of-solidarity’ a number of Red Tory MPs carried out with Smeeth on Friday, as she headed out to hear the findings of the National Constitutional Committee’s investigation, was just another example of their over-orchestration.

No one should be fooled for a moment by any of this. These people are no more worried about racism than they are about an invasion of Earth by the armies of Ming The Merciless. Their expressions of disgust are only triggered selectively after all. The current clamour about the appalling mistreatment of the Windrush Generation by the Tories is the clearest and most scandalous example of institutional racism in this country in generations. An unspoken but clear expression that victims did not ‘count’ as truly British, and were therefore perfectly acceptable fodder for a policy designed to get net immigration down by any means. And yet all of these Labour MPs shedding crocodile tears for Ruth Smeeth – and indeed Smeeth herself – seem incredibly reluctant to call it racist. They rightly attack the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, for incompetence. Her lack of awareness of so many goings-on at the Home Office are reminiscent of Jim Hacker trying to find out information from Sir Humphrey Appleby, and Yes, Minister was supposed to be a parody. But the racial dimension is unmistakable, and yet few of the people losing bladder-control over Smeeth’s spat with Wadsworth (over something that could only be interpreted as racist by the most ridiculous mental gymnastics), will mention that dimension over the Windrush Scandal.

Luciana Berger, who is also Jewish, is one Labour MP I particularly want to single out for condemnation. I used to respect her for her work on mental health. I was marching next to her at an anti-Tory protest in Birmingham about eighteen months ago. But she no longer has my respect, and if the chance ever came up, I would refuse to march with her ever again.

Berger triggered last month’s ridiculous clamour about a mural that does not even exist anymore, just as Labour’s Local Election campaign was getting underway. It was so blatant what she was doing, it astounds me how few people have picked up on it. She put up a tweet with a screenshot of Jeremy Corbyn questioning on social media way back in 2012 the removal of the Brick Lane Mural, and claimed that she had demanded an explanation from the Leader’s office earlier that day. Not long after, she put up another tweet complaining that the response of the ‘spokesperson’ from the Leader’s office was not good enough. She did not state what the response was, or what was wrong with it. What is clear is that she had not offered much time for a response.

Why did Berger feel the need to announce this on social media? Why did she not make a full attempt to discuss it with Corbyn in private first? Why did she not at least give Corbyn time to look into it and refresh his memory? Why did she feel that this was important at all, given six years had passed since the mural had been painted over? Why did she feel it was important, given that, despite the clamour, the mural was not anti-Semitic in its content? Why did she have to announce it then, and not three years earlier when the matter had previously been raised in the media? Why did she have to choose a moment that was sure to de-rail a Local Election campaign?

The answer to all of these questions is the same, and it is obvious. She and her right-wing colleagues are trying to get rid of Corbyn any way they can, and they find the nearest they have to an effective weapon against him is supposed ‘anti-Semitism’ among his supporters. And as the Angry Yorkshireman points out, the Blairites and their allies had little choice but to side with the left during the General Election a year ago, because their own seats in the House of Commons were at stake. But they are perfectly happy to sacrifice local councillors and the hard work of grass-roots activists up and down the UK, in order to create a Local Elections disaster, for which Corbyn can then take the blame.

Berger was in yesterday’s march, even though she must have been as aware as anyone that Smeeth had repeatedly lied about what had happened during her spat with Wadsworth. Smeeth put up the following statement on social media not long after the contretemps; –

Smeeths statement on Wadsworth

Smeeth’s lies and exaggerations are considerable. Wadsworth most certainly did not say anything anti-Semitic, for reasons I outlined yesterday. He did not speak of a ‘media conspiracy’, nor did he espouse any other ‘vile conspiracy theories about Jewish people’. Smeeth’s statement then twisted events, on very doubtful grounds, into an attack on Corbyn. It is noticeable that Smeeth felt compelled to take the statement down from her Twitter feed in February this year, perhaps hoping that her false claims could not be summoned back to haunt her.

In a later interview with the Evening Standard, she claimed,

“Wadsworth… said, ‘Ruth Smeeth is working hand- in-hand with the Right-wing media to attack Jeremy’. So I shouted, ‘How dare you?’ The audience started shouting at me — at the launch of an inquiry into how we treat Jews in the Labour Party!

However, it is quite clear from video of the incident that no one was shouting at Smeeth. From the soundtrack, some people seemed to be hushing her because they were trying to hear what Wadsworth was saying, but that is quite different from what Smeeth claims.

Smeeth further claims that, in the aftermath of the spat, she received over twenty-five thousand abusive messages, including twenty-thousand in about twelve hours. That she sat there while receiving all this hostility, earnestly counting the messages, seems implausible in itself, but as Jonathan Cook points out, an analysis of the facts raises severe doubts about her claim anyway. The Community Security Trust, a Jewish lobby group in the UK that, a little like the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, has a habit of seeing anti-Semitic attitudes lurking around every corner, carried out a study of anti-Semitic activity on Twitter across a year-long period that, as luck would have it, included the spell in which Smeeth claims to have been ‘under siege’. Their research found that there were only fifteen thousand anti-Semitic tweets.

“She received fifteen thousand anti-Semitic tweets?!?” I hear you cry. “All right, it’s less than she said, but that’s still horrible!!!”

Well, yes, it would be, except for two details; the fifteen thousand figure is not the total number Smeeth received. It is in fact for the total number of anti-Semitic tweets the CST were able to detect for the entire year. And they were from all of the UK, including all anti-Semitic tweets that had not been directed at Smeeth.

In fairness to Smeeth, she might have meant abuse of a more general type, and some of it may have been away from Twitter, but given she has spent several years using this incident to talk up the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, it seems likely that she was being deliberately misleading. Either way, the twenty-five thousand figure sounds fantastically inflated, if not plucked out of thin air. So she was lying. Again.

I find it difficult to believe that Berger was unaware of all of this, and yet she, and other colleagues, still found Smeeth’s plight of “anti-Semitic bullying” so great that they had to express complete solidarity with her, while paying comparatively little mind to the far more severe plight of the Windrush generation.

To sum up the Labour Right position; –

An MP on the receiving end of a snide remark about co-operating with the Telegraph is a victim of racism. A generation of innocent people threatened with deportation from the country they helped to rebuild after the war, because they have a background of oppressed colonial slavery, are not victims of racism, but of incompetence.

The real give-away though, is that these two-faced Blairite frauds are not even consistent in their anti-racist stance among their fellow MPs. No other MP in the UK has suffered as much, or as vile, abuse of both the racist and misogynistic varieties, as Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott. She gets abuse, especially on Twitter, every day. Including recently, calls for her beheading.

Diane Abbott beheading threat

You might laugh at the reference to lightsabres, but don’t ignore the bit when ‘Greg’ says “whatever you can put your hands on.”

Half the Labour Party were ridiculously quick to express sympathy and support for Berger when she tried to claim she was ‘hurt’ by the business with the mural. (Oh really? Grow a skin, Luciana!) And the same suspects were quick to join the march with Smeeth on Friday.

But when Abbott gets bombarded with, frankly, primitive abuse over social media or in public, these same MPs’ Twitter feeds are so quiet you can hear pixels on their profile pictures clearing their throats.

The above threat was sent to Abbott on the 15th of April.

Check Luciana Berger’s Twitter feed on that date and the days afterwards… nothing!

What about Harriet Harman, Mother of the House, and always a staunch champion of female MPs against misogynistic abuse…. no, nothing!

How about John Mann, who has been extremely loud in his opposition to supposed anti-Semitism? Does he oppose anti-black racist threats too….? No, nothing!

What about Ruth Smeeth? She demands so much solidarity and support when she claims to be a victim of racial abuse, so surely she would have spoken out against the threat Diane Abbott received…? No, nothing!

How about John Woodcock, who made a point of supporting Smeeth very publicly, while joining the insinuations that Jews who do not support Israel are ‘the wrong kind’? Did he back Diane Abbott against threats….? No, nothing!

And on. And on. As I say, Abbott gets abuse on a totally different scale from anyone else in Parliament every single day, and her colleagues on the right wing of the party always just ignore it. The reason, almost certainly, is that she is a Corbyn supporter in the Shadow Cabinet, and therefore, despite her admittedly modest talents, she is regarded as an ‘enemy’ who has to be removed. Expressing any support for her might evoke sympathy for her, and the Red Tories are worried that that would make it harder to get rid of her.

The strategy is comprehensible, but also makes a complete joke of the manufactured outrage against supposed ‘anti-Semitism’. The only racism they get fired up about is the type that is exaggerated and against individuals who are far less vulnerable than victims who are isolated (Abbott) and powerless (the Windrush Generation).

Being Jewish, I would welcome a sincere attempt to combat anti-Semitism. But that anti-Semitism has to be real to begin with, and the attempt to fight it should never happen at the cost of fighting more egregious racism that does more substantial harm. What real anti-Semitism there is in the Labour Party at present is intermittent and fleeting, and no matter how distressing it can be, it causes little real harm. Whereas the institutional racism highlighted by the Windrush Scandal has done enormous harm, and simply has to be dealt with first, on the basis of what it really is – not just Tory incompetence, but Tory racism and incompetence. Labour right wingers need to march with anti-racist groups and attend anti-racism demonstrations in support of all minorities, not just the ones in support of colleagues who are quite clearly telling lies anyway.

Otherwise, they are just using accusations of racism as a weapon, and as I have pointed out many times before, that makes them racists themselves.

by Martin Odoni

Around fifteen years ago, I was sweepingly dismissive of political correctness. Despite my generally leftist views, I found the sometimes-elaborate care people were expected to take to avoid offensiveness to be an obstruction to free speech and even to free thought. (My fellow blogger and Salford-Labour activist, Mara Leverkuhn, still feels that way.)

As the years have passed, my attitude towards it has softened, especially as I have come to realise that the, mainly right-wing, objections to it usually boil down to attempts to offload the blame for hurtfulness onto the person being hurt. Sometimes talking tough is necessary, of course, but that does not make it all right ever to encourage stereotype or urban myths. And when tough talk is not needed, why be hurtful anyway?

One of my old doubts about ‘PC’ rules, however, continues to bug me, despite friends repeatedly telling me that my worries are no big deal. Alas, the very sad outcome of the unpleasant spat between Labour MP Ruth Smeeth and party activist Marc Wadsworth is a concrete example of why I am probably right.

The spat in question began back in June 2016 at an event marking the publication of the Chakrabarti Report into supposed racist, and especially anti-Semitic, behaviour in the Labour Party. During the event, Wadsworth, a lifelong anti-racism activist, made a statement in which he levelled a withering insinuation at Smeeth, who is Jewish. She took the remark to be anti-Semitic – or at least she claims to –  and eventually lodged a complaint against Wadsworth accordingly.

Today, the needlessly-protracted investigation into the incident finally came to a conclusion (the frequent delays in getting these sorts of matters over with are just one more reason why Iain McNicol’s departure as General Secretary was clearly correct). The decision of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee was that Wadsworth should be formally expelled from the Labour Party.

Now, to be clear, Wadsworth was not officially charged with anti-Semitism, no matter how much the right wing media and pro-Israel groups want us to believe he was. The actual charge was Bringing the party into disrepute. Why that should apply in this case and not in, say, the cases of Tony Blair or Peter Mandelson, given their endless attempts to smear and undermine the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, could perhaps do with some explaining, but let us leave that on one side for now. It is perhaps telling that the charges levelled were more vaguely-defined ones than Smeeth’s original accusation.

Now the broad gist of Wadsworth’s statement was not about Smeeth particularly, it was more an appeal for the party to be more representative of a broader cross-section of the nation’s different ethnic communities. But the specific words spoken by Wadsworth, to which Smeeth took exception were as follows; –

“I saw that the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP, so you can see who is working hand-in-hand.”

Marc Wadworth

Marc Wadsworth making the statement that got him doubtfully expelled from the Labour Party.

This was interpreted by many, including, it seems, Smeeth herself, as Wadsworth accusing her of being part of a ‘Jewish-led media conspiracy’.

In the cold, objective light of day, this interpretation is completely ridiculous. Not only did Wadsworth not mention Jews or anything obviously relating to Jewish people or culture, he also did not mention a media conspiracy as such. He was simply pointing out reasons to suspect that one Labour MP, who happened to be Jewish (of which Wadsworth was probably unaware at the time anyway), appeared to be co-operating with a newspaper whose history is notoriously pro-Conservative and anti-Labour.

This description is quite remote from the silly old stereotype conspiracy-myth of an ‘evil cabal of Jews secretly running the world’s media’. But, and this where my above unease about political correctness comes in, there are a couple of points of resemblance. Only a couple, and not particularly strong ones, but they are there.

Working hand-in-hand with a person or organisation on the quiet can be labelled without too much of a stretch as ‘a conspiracy’. And as the organisation Smeeth was being accused of working with was a media organisation, there is an echo of the stereotype mentioned above.

It is quite ridiculous to say that these points of resemblance alone are enough to make the accusation conform to the stereotype of course. There are way too many other details that would have to be twisted far from reality in order to make it fit – not least that every person covering the Chakrabarti Report for the Telegraph would have to be made out to be both Jewish and answerable to this ‘hidden cabal’ that no anti-Semite can ever identify, but that every anti-Semite ‘just knows‘ is there. Wadsworth never implied either by any stretch.

The problem is that political correctness does not just work against offensive phrases and ideas, but also works against connotations of offensive phrases and ideas. The resemblance between the terms ‘conspiracy’ and ‘quietly working hand-in-hand’ is just strong enough that they can be assumed to be the same thing, especially by anyone nervously on the look-out for anything inappropriate. Then add in the resemblance between ‘conspiracy’ and the ridiculous undying myths that Jews are all part of a secret organisation dominating the world (if that really is true, I must be the one Jew they forgot to include – why me, fellow Hebrews, what did I do wrong?!?!), and the three ideas sort of ‘slot into’ each other like a hand-held telescope closing up. Even when a statement does not mention something offensive, if it is close enough to remind people of something offensive, it is still held to be politically incorrect. This is why casual use of objectively harmless words like ‘Jew’ and ‘black’ often makes people nervous. They have obscene connotations e.g. ‘k*ke’ and ‘n*gger’, and the original words are enough to remind people of the derogatory terms.

What happened to Wadsworth today demonstrates precisely why I am still not at all fond of political correctness; because it stigmatises passing resemblance to offensive ideas, and not just the offensive ideas themselves. And as we have seen, when that stigma is officially acted upon, it can be very destructive to the reputations of people who do not deserve it.

The whole, wildly-exaggerated ‘anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’ furore is simply a larger manifestation of the same problem. It is absolutely right that behaving anti-Semitically is classed as politically incorrect, as anti-Semitism is genuinely harmful and offensive to Jewish people. Take that from a Jew who knows what it is like to be on the receiving end. But as ‘Zionism’ and ‘pro-Israeli’ are connotations (certainly not synonyms, please note!) of Judaism, so being ‘anti-Zionist’ and being ‘anti-Israel’ become connotations of ‘anti-Semitism’. There is enough overlap for the terms to telescope into each other, making opposition to Israel ‘politically incorrect’ as well, and aiding the cynical attempts of the Israeli lobby to accuse opponents of Israel of being ‘anti-Semites’ by connotation.

The same phenomenon that has brought down Wadsworth is being worked on the Labour Party on a far bigger scale.

As I said above, it is telling that Wadsworth was not charged with anti-Semitism, but only with bringing the party into disrepute. (Chris Williamson has summed it up rather well for me on social media.) I suspect the NCC realised that the allegation of anti-Semitic meaning could not be made to stick to what Wadsworth had said, but they also felt that they could not clear him of the charges in the current climate of manufactured hysteria against anti-Semitism. As ‘bringing the party into disrepute’ is a rather vague, very broad charge, it was the easiest fall-back option they could find. But it is undoubtedly a decision made for political reasons, not for reasons of justice.

However, looking again at the wording of Wadsworth’s comments, I fear the Labour Party may have opened up the fish-bait-tin rather by expelling him. If a mildly-insinuating comment like, “This Labour MP is co-operating with a Tory newspaper” (which is clearly all that Wadworth’s comment means, when all is said and done) is enough to ‘bring the party into disrepute’, then I suspect every single member of the party, including the Blairites on the extreme right, will be in trouble for something they have said or done in their past.

by Martin Odoni

FOREWORD: I shall admit in advance that the title above is slightly misleading, as I am not the person being hatcheted as such.

Jewish not Zionist

“Fame at last”, eh?

That bastion of journalistic bastardisation, the Daily Mail, with its long history of racism and anti-Semitism, has been getting very sanctimonious over the last few weeks about supposed anti-Semitism among other people. Yesterday, it seems, I was one of the would-be ‘anti-Semites’ in question. Seriously. The Mail has published (oh! How dirty I feel linking to a page on that website!) an attack on a Labour councillor called Dorian Bartley, who in turn published social media posts comparing Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to the Führer of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler. This has been spun as ‘anti-Semitic’, and as usual with these sorts of attacks, that is quite a stretch; once more, anti-Semitism’s definition is being expanded to encompass all opposition to Israeli policy and politicians. But a little way down the same page, the following image can be seen of a link Bartley shared on social media; –

Bartley link

The Daily Mail has made me famous!

Bartley’s link was to the article I wrote a couple of weeks back dismissing the allegations of anti-Semitism against the ‘Brick Lane mural’. Now that article really went viral. At almost 65,000 hits, it has been read more than twice as often as the second most popular article on this blog, which is otherwise usually a quiet sound in a noisy room. So if we are to assume that Bartley is an anti-Semite for sharing it, then there must be an awful lot of anti-Semites in the United Kingdom. Obviously I should run for my Jewish life!

Daily Mail deceitfulness

What I note about this is how perfectly it encapsulates the cynical deceitfulness of the Mail and its style of reporting. It is hardly going to be a revelation to readers of my blog, I am sure, when I suggest that the Mail is not a newspaper but a hate-rag, and its hypocrisy about racism, given its history, is too stark to be worth the bother of getting angry about. But that this reversal would go so far as to use publication of the work of a Jewish writer as evidence of anti-Semitism requires some serious gonads.

It is more than that, however. All the Mail writer, Kate Ferguson, did was take a screencap of a bit of Bartley’s Facebook timeline. She did not offer a link to my article about the mural, so that readers could assess it for themselves and judge whether it really was credible evidence for Bartley’s ‘anti-Semitism’. Moreover, Ferguson either did not read the article I wrote, or she decided to avoid all mention of certain details – especially the fact that I stated quite explicitly in it that I am ethnically Jewish. It is not impossible to be prejudiced against one’s own race, but it is very counter-intuitive, and so it would have undermined Ferguson’s very obvious aim, which was to use Bartley’s suspension to add fuel to the ‘anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’ fire. She offered no specific quotations from my article either, which again should, I hope, raise alarm bells in the minds of healthy skeptics who have not yet read it. But also, note the rather amusing irony of what she wrote: –

And [Bartley] shared a post defending the mural which sparked the recent protests against Jeremy Corbyn – contradicting the Labour leader who admitted it was.

The sentence above is not only a classic example of appalling grammar – Ferguson wrote nothing to specify what Corbyn admitted. It should also make people laugh that the Daily Mail, and the rest of the mainstream media, spent the last three years telling everybody that Jeremy Corbyn is wrong about pretty near everything, and now tell us that we must accept that the mural was anti-Semitic, because Jeremy Corbyn has said that it was. (In this case, Corbyn is wrong. It was not. But his error in this instance is the exception rather than the rule.)

So, we have all the typical hallmarks of Daily Mail shabby ‘journalism’ – contrived outrage, hatred, quote-mining, hypocrisy, self-contradiction, ideologically-driven omissions, shoddy writing, and overall reporting shaped by an intolerant agenda.

Keeping the anti-Semitism narrative alive

This latest chapter reeks of desperation to keep the anti-Semitism narrative alive. There are signs, given the damp squib of the demonstration by the Campaign Against Anyone Being Allowed To Speak About Israeli Atrocities, sorry, I mean the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, on Sunday, that the furore is starting to fizzle out. (The CAA‘s laughable claim that the turn-out for the protest was over 2,000, when it was not a great deal more than 200, only serves to highlight once more how dishonest that ‘charity’ is.) Although this tiny protest was given ridiculously excessive coverage in the media – protests against the Conservative Party Conference regularly draw crowds in excess of 50,000 but seldom get any national coverage at all – the desperate attempt to talk up the occasion has led to a new pretence. That is, pretending that Maureen Lipman once again publicly martyring herself, by announcing that she is leaving the Labour Party, is some kind of big deal.

Yes! Yes, everyone! Let me repeat that for you, so you can all take in this mammoth development worthy of mention alongside the Moon Landings for its gargantuan impact on human history. Maureen Lipman says she is going to leave the Labour Party.

how interesting

Yes, that was pretty much my reaction too.

Oh, come on, British media! Do you seriously imagine anyone cares which party Lipman supports? (Do most people even remember her for anything other than those irritating British Telecom commercials from the 1980’s?) Lipman previously claimed during Ed Miliband’s time as leader that she was leaving Labour, but apparently did not. So one cannot help but feel that there is an echo of ‘child-running-away-from-home-hoping-it-gets-her-more-attention-from-mummy-and-daddy‘ about it. Whether she stays or leaves, Lipman has one of the most perverse and twisted perspectives on Israel/Palestine in the UK. She thinks that Labour’s position of favouring a homeland for the Palestinians is ‘anti-Semitic and racist’. This is of course nonsense. Lipman’s opposition to a homeland for the Palestinians is anti-Arab and racist. She is therefore acting a little like the Daily Mail, in her reversal of plain reality.

Zionism – a failed ideology

Lipman’s hate-enriched bigotry is not about protecting Jews, it is about protecting the gains of Zionism. Not only is that immoral, given what was taken from Palestinian Arabs to make those gains a reality, it is also foolish. This is because Zionism is an example of what is often called ‘a failed ideology’. Its aim was to give Jewish people a country of their own, so any Jew facing persecution anywhere in the world would have a safe space to which (s)he could retreat. The reason this ideology is a failure is self-evident; Israel is an unsafe place for Jews in which to live.

As I wrote last year, this conclusion is objectively true, at least if we accept the present Zionist narrative of Israeli policy being a necessity to combat dangerous and hostile neighbours. The establishment of Israel after World War II has not made its occupants safe from anti-Semitism. All it has done is move the hostility largely (certainly not completely) away from Europe, and transplanted the brunt of it into the Middle East. Israel being unceremoniously ‘landed’ on the space previously occupied by the British Mandate of Palestine has led to bitter resentment, not just among Palestinians, but also neighbouring Arab countries. Whether one feels that resentment is justified or not, it is there, and it has hardened to differing extents across the region into anti-Semitic feeling. Therefore, Jews living in Israel are major targets for anti-Semitism.

This is ironic from a British angle. I suspect that, as ‘assimilates’ (as right-wing Israelis seem distastefully fond of labelling members of the Jewish diaspora), I and my family are safer from anti-Semitic violence here in the UK than we would be if we lived in Israel. Hence why I doubt that Zionism was necessary, and also why I contend that it has never really succeeded. If the point of Zionism was to create a safe space for any Jews to flee to from persecution, but the resultant nation of Israel is under constant threat, then it is time that Jews and Zionists around the world faced a sad reality; Zionism simply does not do what it says on the tin. If anything, it has renewed a problem that was partly-evaporated by the worldwide horror felt at the Nazi Holocaust.

‘World’s most moral army’ shoots teenagers in the back

If Zionism is not anti-Semitic in itself – and its acquiescence to the idea that Jews should be kept away from gentiles would suggest that it is – then it certainly results from anti-Semitism, and even provokes more of it. This is before we even take into account the appalling anti-Arab racism In Israel, which stubbornly manifests itself in the bloodthirsty way the Israeli Defence Force treats Palestinian protesters, even over the last two weeks. That British Zionists can persist in the fiction that the Israeli Army is ‘the most moral in the world’ after what has happened on the boundary of the Gaza Strip since ‘Land Day’  requires mental techniques that go beyond Orwellian doublethink.

Hoffman calls IDF most moral army

The bullying anti-Arab racist, English Defence League sympathiser, and former vice-President of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain & Ireland, Jonathan Hoffman, claims that the IDF is the most moral army in the world while its troops shoot unarmed Palestinian teenagers in the back.

Somehow, I doubt the complexities and nuance of the real discussion of this subject will ever be properly explored in the mainstream British media in my lifetime. It is far more click-bait-friendly to reduce the matter to the simple-minded, black-and-white, “If-you-oppose-Israel-then-you-hate-Jews” narrative so beloved of the British Zionist lobby. And if that narrative requires viciously telling Jews who oppose Israel that they are traitors who hate themselves, or that they are ‘the wrong kind of Jew‘, then it will continue to happen. As is always the way with these matters, what makes money is what decides.

While I am a Jew, I am not a Zionist, nor an Israel-supporter. I am also not a traitor, nor a self-hater. If that confuses people at the Daily Mail or their gullible readers, I suggest they learn to live with it. I am not going to change my moral or intellectual positions just to make it easier for the ignorant to slot different social groups into handy categories.

by Martin Odoni

What happened on Good Friday in Gaza seemed bitterly appropriate, after a week of anti-Semitism hysteria back here in the United Kingdom. The Israeli Defence Force massacred seventeen Palestinian protesters who were observing ‘Land Day’ – the anniversary of a 1976 protest against one of a number of illegal land-grabs by the Israeli Government that led to bloodshed – and injured well over a thousand more, with heavy use of live ammunition.

The protests are being held over the course of the next six weeks at the fence that marks the border between Israel-proper and the Palestinian-administered Gaza Strip. According to reports from the Israeli side of the border, riots broke out among some protesters. The IDF, who had positioned snipers at key intervals along the fence, opened fire.

There have been uncorroborated reports that Hamas, the faction currently administering the Gaza Strip, may have been using human shields in the crowd, and that rioters were trying to pull down the fence and force their way across the border. Reliable evidence to these effects has been in very low supply (READ: none whatsoever). Footage from Palestinian sources shows disturbing signs of over-zealous Israeli behaviour, including apparently shooting unarmed Palestinians retreating from the fence in the back. (Trigger warning.)

Other sniper-fire appears to have been aimed at a group of protesters who were knelt in prayer. One of them appears to have taken a bullet in the thigh. (Trigger warning again.)

Whether the riots were really happening at certain points of the border, it seems incontrovertible that at least some of the actions by the IDF were completely needless and indiscriminate. They also appear to have been very deliberate and premeditated, rather than reactive, judging by the IDF’s own words. One rather boastful tweet its leaders had circulated on its Twitter account was later deleted; –

IDF boast

They don’t exactly sound like their consciences are over-burdened by the deaths, do they?

All of this is, in short, typically squalid on the part of Israel, a country that continues to adopt the pretence of defending itself while using sledgehammer-lethal force on a tiny, poorly-armed opponent. This is not to say that there is no possibility that the Palestinians were behaving aggressively of course. But the dearth of credible evidence for the IDF’s claims, and the IDF’s smug lack of contrition over the deaths, do not inspire much confidence in their word.

Here in the UK, we have gone through a week of crazed hysteria about supposed anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. For reasons I have explained previously, a lot of this perception of anti-Semitism stems from a mixture of fraudulence and paranoia. Some of it stems from the same old problem of conflation of opposition to Israel with hatred of Jews. But this does mean that the massacre has presented us with a bitter opportunity; it allows us to judge whether anti-Semitism is really so prevalent as is currently suggested.

The aforementioned conflation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism (if we are to assume that ‘Zionism’ is the correct name for supporting Israeli policy, which technically it is not*) works in two directions, both equally dishonest. Zionists like it, because it allows them to shout down legitimate criticisms of Israel by accusing the critic of being motivated by anti-Semitism. Actual anti-Semites also like it, because it allows them to rationalise their hostility towards Jews by reference to Israeli policy, implicating the rest of the Jewish people using a rather elongated form of guilt-by-association logic.

My impression is that some of the British reaction to the massacre has been disgusting, but not for anti-Semitic reasons. Arguably it has been for Islamophobic reasons. In fact, the lack of official reaction has been almost disturbing. Boris Johnson, who as Foreign Secretary is supposed to be what passes for the UK’s leader in international relations (heaven help us!) has had absolutely nothing to say about it at the time-of-writing. Also no noticeable interest has been displayed by our great moral and spiritual leader, the Prime Minister. So, after this and the hysteria about Labour anti-Semitism, this week reveals to us two Tory inner values; –

Sort of half-defending a picture that may or may not have been slightly anti-Semitic is completely unforgivable.

Massacring Arabs is not worth the bother of comment.

I have personally had some testy discussions on social media with Zionists, including the notorious bully and smear-merchant, Jonathan Hoffman. He informed me absolutely emphatically that all the protesters were ‘terrorists’ (seventeen thousand terrorists? Wow, how did they do so little damage? How were so few of them armed?) that they were in a military zone (how is that even possible when they were on the Gaza side of the border, over which the Israeli military has no right of jurisdiction?) that the young man shot in the back in one of the clips above was not shot, he “just fell over”, and that the Israeli military is the “most moral in the world”. In other words, the people who were shot were only Arabs, therefore Hoffman cares not a jot if they all die. He always complains about racism against Jews, even where there is none, but fails to recognise his own racism against Arabs.

EvolvePolitics, meanwhile, eagle-eyed as ever, spotted that the Zionist side of the conflation-habit remains depressingly consistent. Chaim Gordon, a Zionist Tax attorney, called Nadeem Ahmed, a disability activist, a “Corbyn supporting anti-semite”(sic) for the heinous crime of noticing the massacre.

Gordon went on to claim that he knew Ahmed must be an anti-Semite because the protesters had all been sent by Hamas. He offered no evidence to that effect. He was making assumptions against Hamas, while also assuming that anyone not accepting those assumptions must be an anti-Semite. Both of which are quite prejudicial in themselves.

So we have silence from Conservatives, and warm approval from prominent Zionists, what do we have from the media? Well, I think the most disgusting element of all was rightly identified by Owen Jones. It was the disingenuous response of the BBC; –

The BBC puts blatant spin on a massacre

It is doubtful that the BBC headline would have sounded anything like this had Bashar al-Assad massacred 16 peaceful protesters.

For the BBC to encourage, however subtly, the notion that the protests were ‘terrorism’ was completely outrageous, and that in itself dismisses any possible suggestion that the Corporation might be trying to foster anti-Semitic feeling. On the contrary, it was trying to foster Islamophobic feeling.

The Labour Party’s response, meanwhile, has not been one of anti-Semitic disgust, but of measured and correct disapproval. None of the responses I have seen from Labour MPs so far have even mentioned the words, ‘Jews’, or ‘Judaism’, nor offered any thoughts on supposed ‘Jewish character-traits’. They have simply focused on the killings. Jeremy Corbyn, keeping his usual astonishing dignity in the face of the endless attacks to which he has been subjected, was forthright but entirely correct.

The right wing of Labour has been noticeably quieter, a little like their real allies in the Tory Party. Chuka Umunna was happy to join in the public parade against anti-Semitism during the week, but has gone mysteriously silent in discussions of the massacre. Stella Creasy at least saw fit to mention the killings, although her initial thoughts did rather veer towards the old ‘well-obviously-there’s-fault-on-both-sides‘ safe narrative. Creasy also needs to be a little more careful about implied criticism of Corbyn supposedly failing to recognise racism, given her own recent history.

Screenshot from 2018-04-01 09-39-17

Tony Blair, who was quick to leap on the anti-Semitism bandwagon but slow to remember his own past dalliance with the prejudice, has also shown no detectable concern over the massacre; so much for the Middle East Peace Envoy, right? John Mann, who is seemingly unable to shut up about anti-Semitism, also seems scarcely aware of events in Gaza. The impression one gets is that the massacre has come at a most ‘inconvenient’ time for Labour rebels who want to use anti-Semitism as a stick with which to beat the left. They probably fear losing their artificial ‘moral high ground’ if any implied criticism they make of Israel is presented as anti-Semitic. That is pretty cowardly, and possibly gives in to Islamophobic elements, but it is not anti-Semitism.

So insofar as I can test the water for anti-Semitism triggered by the attack, I have yet to see anything from Labour, at least among prominent voices. (If there is a clamour from less-prominent voices, surprisingly little attempt is being made by the usual accusers to draw attention to them.)

Okay, I concede I have not been able to search comprehensively, so my analysis should not be seen as scientific. But I have to say, from what I have seen, the prejudice seems very much to be on the pro-Israeli side, with an upswing in anti-Semitism not really featuring, no matter how much Chaim Gordon would like to pretend otherwise.

The indicators would reinforce what I said the other day, and indeed have been saying for several years – the ‘anti-Semitism-in-Labour’ crisis is wildly exaggerated.

_____

* Zionism is merely the belief that the Jewish people require a country of their own. It does not necessarily follow that adherents to that belief agree with Israel’s long-term policy towards its Arab neighbours. Indeed, there are some Zionists who disapprove very keenly of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. However, they are in a very clear minority. Most Zionists, certainly in Britain, take a very uncompromising view that Israel can do no wrong.

by Martin Odoni

The ridiculous furore over ‘anti-Semitism-in-Labour’ has been fuelled by wall-to-wall coverage. Any remotely objective assessment of the actual evidence would demonstrate that a mountain is being made out of a Labour molehill, while a molehill is being made out of a Conservative mountain.

29572657_10156366518233489_4954806921188844906_n

Now, it is not the suggestion that there are anti-Semites in the Labour Party that is the problem for me. Of course there are. In a party of over six hundred thousand, there are bound to be a fair few who were not filtered out at the entry stage. Yes, they should be exposed and expelled, and yes, by law of averages, many of the accusations of anti-Semitism are certain to be genuine.

My frustration is on several levels though. For one, according to SKWAWKBOX, another investigation a little over a year ago by MPs, all of whom were outside the Labour Party, came to a similar conclusion – there is no firm evidence of unusually high levels of anti-Semitism in the party. Whereas a Jewish organisation just a couple of months ago found that forty per cent of Conservative Party members surveyed agreed with one or more anti-Semitic remarks. The outrage against Labour is therefore completely out-of-proportion, and the media just ignore any demand for them to even out the coverage.

VanByNat racism

Secondly, how many people getting carried away by the furore have actually studied the accusations of anti-Semitism being levelled? If you look into a lot of them, you soon realise that much of it really is absurd. I have seen people being accused of Holocaust Denial just for reading articles written by someone who, in unrelated circumstances, questioned the Holocaust. I have seen people having sentences they have written twisted and removed from all context to make them sound anti-Semitic, when they were arguing the absolute polar opposite. And of course, we all remember the ‘ANTI-SEMITIC PUNCTUATION‘ charge levelled at Vox Political‘s Mike Sivier. I was not aware that punctuation is what conveys ideology, I must be careful in future when deploying my semi-colons.

There are widespread sneers at the Labour left for ‘trying to play down’ the scale of the anti-Semitism in the party. But the main reason for the leftist backlash is not denial or fanaticism, it is that a lot of innocent people beyond doubt are getting this very damaging accusation hurled at them, destroying their reputations for years to come, and sometimes on grounds that are not only heavily-distorted, but also inherently ridiculous. And because not enough people, even in the media, bother to check the details before screaming for heads to roll, the clamour about this has lost any grounding in reality.

It is not enough just to go along with the complaints, there has to be an objective assessment of how honest they are on the whole. Anti-Semitic behaviour cannot be dismissed without investigation, no, but that works both ways; false accusations cannot simply be shrugged at and co-operated with either, and far too many people are looking only at the number of complaints and jumping to conclusions from there.

goysplaining

It turns out that I rather ‘re-invited the wheel’, as this term is already used by other Jewish people on social media.

On that note, I made a point on my last post about what I now call ‘goy-splaining‘ – the habit of gentiles to tell Jews what is or is not anti-Semitic, and even to overrule Jews on the subject. I need to clarify this; my point was not that gentiles cannot have an opinion on this, or that they should just sit back and take every complaint of anti-Semitism at face-value. It was that gentiles are actually telling me – a guy who as an early-teenager was routinely surrounded by bullies at school yelling “dirty, filthy, money-grabbing JEW!!!” – that I am wrong when I argue that something is not anti-Semitic. (Just look at the comments section on that article to see non-Jews telling me I was wrong about the Brick Lane Mural.) How would they know better than me what real anti-Semitism looks like when I am the one who has been on the sharp end of it? My point was that they need to hear the whole story and get the fullest details possible from the people who know, and then they can judge. In other words, do not jump to conclusions. Do not assume you are a pick-up-and-play expert on the subject.

Thirdly, my biggest aggravation of all is that the people engineering this furore are constantly finding ways to twist it so that the brunt of the blame lands in Jeremy Corbyn’s lap. Very, very little of this is his fault, and so it is all too clear the real reason why this is happening. It is not an attempt to eradicate anti-Semitism, it is an attempt to undermine Corbyn – probably by Zionists who are terrified of the prospect of a pro-Palestinian UK Prime Minister.

People who genuinely want to fight anti-Semitism need to be realistic about this. If all this is only happening to undermine one man, this Enough-Is-Enough so-called movement will do absolutely nothing to eradicate anti-Semitism, either in Labour specifically or in the country as a whole. Moreover – and this is a point I find myself having to repeat a lot – as a Jew, I feel personally exploited when anti-Semitism is manipulated in such a dirty way. My ethnic background is not a tool for others – even if they are also Jewish themselves – to use for political ends. Such behaviour dehumanises Jews and their history of suffering. It is therefore as anti-Semitic as any insult thrown at a Jew, and if we are truly to eradicate anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, that practice must be one of the ones that is stamped out.

One more point about ‘goy-splaining’ needs to be made. I do appreciate gentile support in the battle against anti-Semitism, but this week has highlighted that there remains an undercurrent of dishonesty in some would-be ‘allies’. A lot of the outrage against the mural has come from non-Jews insisting that it is anti-Semitic. They point to passing resemblances between the mural and anti-Semitic propaganda of the past. (Again, see the comments section on the previous post for examples and my debunking of them.) They were judging by appearances, at which they were so uncomfortable that they thought they could overrule my better-informed conclusion that it was not anti-Semitic.

Reginald D Hunter is one of my favourite stand-up comedians. A few years ago, he got caught up in a similarly-specious row for repeated use of ‘the-N-word’ in a performance at an event held by the Professional Footballers’ Association. He summed up the real reasons for the controversy on stage in Salford Quays a few months later; –

It wasn’t really about me. It wasn’t about racism. It was about privileged white people’s discomfort with the appearance of racism.

I am afraid to say that the same applies to an extent this week. At least some of the outrage against the mural is coming from non-Jews who are not so much opposed to the cruelty of anti-Semitism, but from non-Jews who feel discomfort at the appearance of anti-Semitism.

Discomfort at the appearance of racism is definitely progress from where this country was a few generations back, because at least there is now a far wider recognition that racial prejudice is wrong. But the discomfort at its appearance is not the same as wanting to combat it. Instead, it is an instinct to want it hidden away. It is also an instinct to want not to risk being stigmatised with the label of ‘racist’, and thus to make as loud a parade of outrage as possible, to say to everyone else, “See? I got angry at racism, so I can’t possibly be racist, right?”

So while it is, as I say, progress, it is far from a completed journey. And some of the people clamouring about anti-Semitism this week – including some enormously-disingenuous politicians like Norman Tebbit and Ian Paisley Jnr – need to ask themselves their real motives. Are they altruistically trying to defend victims of anti-Semitism, or are they selfishly just trying to look like they are?

by Martin Odoni

The largely-fictitious ‘anti-Semitism-in-Labour’ controversy is clearly never going to be allowed to die. I have no doubt more examples will be brought to public attention in the final days before the Local Elections in May, and most accusations will stem from heavily-distorted information, just as Mike Sivier can testify from what happened a year ago.

In case anyone is just back from a five-day holiday to Mars, the present storm of outrage is about a notorious mural on Brick Lane in London.

Mural

The artist who painted the mural is an American called Kalen Ockerman – alias ‘Mear One’. The mural is widely-held to be anti-Semitic in intent.

Back in 2012, there was a discussion on social media about having the mural removed. Jeremy Corbyn left a comment on the discussion thread defending its presence on freedom-of-speech grounds. This comment has ‘mysteriously’ been dragged into the cross-examination of the public domain just as the Local Elections campaign is getting under way.

Now, I really was not planning to comment on this, because frankly it was embarrassing that anyone thought it worth the nation’s time or attention. What Corbyn said six years ago about someone’s right to produce a slightly paranoid bit of artwork is not important. No, sorry, it really is not. James O’Brien (oh good grief, him again?) and Shelagh Fogarty may have thought that this business was worth top billing on their LBC shows today, but they are wrong. They should not have dignified it with their time, nor should the other hysterics across the media. The only reason I am even bothering to write about it is because individuals on social media – including the aforementioned O’Brien – have been complaining that Corbyn sympathisers are ‘more outraged’ by Owen Smith’s rebelliousness on Brexit than they are about anti-Semitism.

That accusation is rubbish, but okay, I will talk about the mural. And I will not just focus on how minor or old Corbyn’s ‘transgression’ is. I will also point out a detail that the critics refuse to acknowledge about the mural; –

It is not anti-Semitic.

No, I am perfectly serious, it really is not. Now, if a Jew wishes to argue with me about that, they are welcome to bring it on – the comments section is below. But I will not have the likes of O’Brien, or Fogarty, or any of a million other outrage-foam-at-the-mouths who are not Jewish telling me what is anti-Semitic or what is not. I am a Jew, and I have experienced the sharp end of real anti-Semitism first hand. I know the genuine article when I see it, and I also know a false alarm about anti-Semitism when I see it too. So you can stuff it if you are non-Jewish and you try to tell me which is which. The mural is not anti-Semitic, and this is why.

The rich men portrayed in the mural sitting around the Monopoly gameboard include the Rothschilds, the Rockefellers, the Warburgs and the Morgans. The Rothschilds and the Warburgs are indeed Jews. But the others are not. They are portrayed in exactly the same light as the Warburgs and the Rothschilds, but this is not because of their ethnicity, but because they are all banking magnates. Their portrayal is not anti-Semitic, it is anti-plutocratic.

The pyramid in the background is often assumed to embody the legendary ‘Illuminati’, which is often thought to be an undercover world-controlling movement dominated by Jews. But again, this is not correct. The pyramid actually symbolises Freemasonry, and the widely-held (and possibly correct) suspicion that Freemasons often give each other un-earned ‘foot-ups’ up the hierarchy.

Freemasonry is not a Jewish movement.

How do I know that all of this applies to the mural? The explanation for that is shockingly simple; unlike the majority of pompous outraged attack dogs snapping at Corbyn’s heels, I bothered to read up on the history of the mural before passing judgement on it. One of the details I checked was what the artist had to say about it. Sure enough, Ockerman responded to the accusations of anti-Semitism back in 2012, and explained all of the above.

You might argue, “Why should we believe what Ockerman says?” but if you think about it, that really is a stupid question; if Ockerman had intended to stir up anti-Semitic paranoia by painting the mural in the first place, surely he would be defeating the object of his own exercise by then denying that the rich men in the picture are Jewish? (And be careful – if you see a picture of rich men with large noses and your immediate assumption is “Jews!!!!” that may say more about your own prejudices than it says about the artist’s.)

What astounds me is that the people who are steadfast in their certainty that the mural is anti-Semitic seem so confident that they know more about it than the person who bloody painted it in the first place! So much so, they never even thought to find out what the artist had to say. And James O’Brien has the nerve to lecture his listeners on being ‘rational’ when he makes an absurd leap-to-conclusions, probably a bandwagon fallacy too, on this scale? Not for the first time recently, I find myself saying, “Pull yourself together, O’Brien!

NB: Worry not, James, I do like you really, and I agree with far more of what you say than I disagree with usually, but you really have been suckered on this. I cannot believe you wasted ninety minutes of your programme today on this. It is a complete non-story.

It has been pointed out that the mural bears a passing resemblance to Nazi propaganda. I do see that, and I agree that it is unfortunate. But again there is a deafeningly-loud fallacy in the argument. Just because the mural has a resemblance to Nazi propaganda, it does not follow that it has to have the same meaning as Nazi propaganda. As I say, it does not. I find the reference to the Freemasons in the mural a bit paranoid, but the fundamental meaning of the picture is visibly anti-elitism, and there is no reason to assume that the plutocrats therein are Jewish. I mean, why is there no Star of David in the image?

(Jonathan Cook makes some more useful points about how doubtful and obviously-orchestrated this flare-up about the mural has been.)

Now as I say, this whole business has been a nonsense. Even if there were genuine anti-Semitic content in the mural, so what? It was years ago, and it was very clear that Corbyn’s comment was not meant as a defence of anti-Semitism. Now, how is a passing comment that Corbyn made six years ago on a bit of bizarre artwork suddenly so important that it takes priority over the Local Elections, over Conservative laundering of Russian finance, over Tory and pro-Brexit groups getting potentially-illegal help from Cambridge Analytica, the fantastic fraudulence of Jeremy Hunt’s untrue ‘pay-rise’ for NHS workers, the suspicious-looking miracle of only three people getting exposed to a lethal nerve agent in Salisbury and all of them so slightly that somehow none of them are dead almost a month later, the never-ending Brexit chaos, rampant child poverty… ? Good grief, I reckon even the ball-tampering scandal by the Australian Test Cricket team should rate as more of a priority than this! I mean, at least that happened this week! (Darren Lehmann and Steve Smith should be sacked, for what my view on that is worth, by the way.)

Of course, the answer to my question lies with the alternative topics I have listed. A lot of the media would like to talk about ‘anti-Semitism-in-Labour’ right now precisely because it blots out all these other matters. And sadly, even usually fairly sensible broadcasters and journalists, including O’Brien and Fogarty, have allowed themselves to get caught up in the tidal wave of rage.

No, Corbyn is not ‘comfortable in the company of anti-Semites’. No, the majority of the Labour left are not anti-Semites, not even a large minority of the Labour left are anti-Semites. Rather than being taken in by the huge number of accusations, what is needed is actually to study a lot of the accusations. Do so and you soon notice how absurd some of them are. Ask Mike Sivier about his ‘anti-Semitic punctuation’. No, I kid ye not, he really was accused of ‘anti-Semitic punctuation’ last year!

'Anti-Semtic punctuation' is now a thing.

Zionists are becoming such uncompromising censorship-trolls, they have now invented ‘anti-Semitic punctuation’. (Click here for more info.)

Ask Tony Greenstein (who is himself Jewish, but an anti-Zionist).

Ask Alan Bull.

Ask Jacqueline Walker, of course.

This whole controversy about anti-Semitism only started up in the aftermath of Jeremy Corbyn standing for leader of Labour, and the reason for it should be obvious; Corbyn is pro-Palestinian, and a loud critic of the way Israel treats the Palestinian people. The Zionist-Israeli lobby is terrified of the prospect of a UK Prime Minister who is pro-Palestinian, and so they are trying to isolate him by getting some of his most articulate supporters removed from the party. The Zionists, especially in the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, are perfectly happy to use false accusations in order to do so, knowing that they are unlikely to be held to account for doing it, as authorities fear the same accusations being re-directed at them.

What the Zionists are doing is corrupt and illegal. Instead of exposing this corruption, the media are allowing themselves to be pushed into playing along with it.

Labour were seven points up in the polls sixteen days ago, and the Local Election campaign began last week. This non-story controversy from years ago suddenly flares up now.

How is it that no one in the media is able to join such giant dots?

_____

MORE ON THIS HERE.