by Martin Odoni

A couple of articles on this blog have received ‘pingbacks’ from a German blog that was, in turn, reblogging a post from a site called the ‘Jewish Concerns Forum‘. The reblogger clearly thought that the articles he linked to were related to what was under discussion.

I traced back to the original post, and, being the sort of person I am, I felt I had to respond to it. It discusses the ongoing conflation between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism in current discourse, and tries to argue that activists who criticise Israel are usually just anti-Semites trying to rationalise their prejudices.

The author of the post makes no attempt to identify him/herself, but my cross-examination of their post follows.

NB: This is a very long article.

“Not Anti-Black, Anti-Africa – A Guide to the Anti-Semitism/Anti-Zionism Debate”

This title implies that no one would condemn African Governments headed by black men or women in the same way they condemn Israel. This is made explicit by the author writing,

“I will attempt to shed light on the problem through satirical illustration of how the phenomenon plays itself out, if we were to apply the ‘anti-Zionist, not an anti-Semite’ logic to a different minority group, the Black community for example.”

The problem with this ‘I’m-being-persecuted!!‘ argument is that it ignores long stretches of modern reportage. Brutal black African Governments headed by the likes of Idi Amin have in fact been subjected to excoriating, damning condemnation for long years, and with good reason. The writer is saying, “This would never happen,” when there is comprehensive evidence that it not only would, but has.

The writer’s further speculation as to how an anti-Zionist argument might translate to an anti-African-Government critique is based on a fundamental flaw. The critique, as worded by the writer, is suggested to be approximately as follows; –

“I am not racist, I am in fact a life-long anti-racist. No one should be discriminated against based on their skin colour. I have nothing against Black people (Jews), I am anti-Africa (anti-Zionist) and critical of the policies of African governments (the Israeli government).”

The flaw is so obvious, it should not need pointing out, but just in case any readers have missed it, here it is: The writer is suggesting that being ‘anti-Africa’ is comparable to being anti-Zionist i.e. the only difference would be a change of parameters. But that is clearly ridiculous. Being ‘anti-Africa’ is about being hostile to a continent, and by extension its peoples and cultures. Being anti-Zionist, by contrast, means being hostile to an ideology. They are scarcely comparable at all.

The speculative nonsense then goes up a scale, as the writer puts into the mouths of Israel’s critics words that they almost never say, be it about black people or Jews. He suggests they would say something on the lines of,

“Africans (Israelis) behave in a primitive, tribal, manner, they are rude, aggressive and barbaric, brutal murderers of children. Their mentality is backward compared to modern nations in the west. With all the aid that is given to African countries (Israel) they use it to wage war and violence and do nothing to advance the stability and well being of the peoples who live in the region.”

Yeah, okay. Give me ten examples of anti-Zionist statements meaning such things about Israelis.

The writer then goes on to claim that anti-Zionists

“ascribe evils to Israel, such as Nazism or Jewish supremacy as well as classical anti-Semitic stereotypes that have traditionally been ascribed to all Jews. However, these types of anti-Zionists insist that they are not anti-Semitic, they are just opposed to Israel and Zionism and those who support this supposed ‘evil’ state. Let us return to how this might play out with our anti-Africans.”

Just because criticisms of Israel occasionally chime with vintage anti-Semitic tropes does not necessarily make the criticisms untrue or unfair. It also does not mean that the criticisms are based on the ‘Jewishness’ of Israel. And if the criticisms resemble descriptions of Nazism, maybe a reassessment of Israeli actions genuinely is required?

More of the same speculative made-up quotations then follow, to which my response is much the same.

To digress for a bit, the German reblog also sources other articles, including a history lesson provided by a website calling itself The British Observer. This too is somewhat flawed.

“Up until the post-war period, Jews were a stateless diaspora who resided predominantly in Europe and Russia, and throughout the 19th century the desire for a nation state of their own gathered momentum as a reaction to real or perceived antisemitism.”

This is misleading at best, as what ‘momentum’ was gathered by the Zionist movement was slight. The reality of Zionism in its early era was that it was notable for its unpopularity with Jews. There was a recognition among the diaspora that it simply proposed co-operating with anti-Semite wishes to see the Jews cast out of their then-home countries.

This dearth of enthusiasm is evidenced by the movements of Jewish communities in that era. The brutality of the Russian Pogroms, for instance, forced many Jews to retreat from the Baltic lands in great numbers. However, it is reckoned that, while around four million Jews left Europe between 1880 and the First World War, a bare one hundred thousand of them settled in the Holy Land. So The British Observer’s suggestion that Jewish nationalism ‘gained traction’ in the nineteenth century is dubious.

Indeed, a telling detail about the drafting of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 is the response to it of the British Cabinet. There was almost unanimous approval for it, but not quite. Edwin Montagu, Secretary of State for India, was notable as being the only Minister who opposed the Declaration. He was also the only Jew in the Cabinet. He knew, as other British Jews did, that starting the process of re-creating Israel would only serve to increase pressure on the Jewish diaspora to leave their then-present homelands. He described the Declaration as a “rallying ground for anti-Semites”. That danger would be demonstrated all-too-clearly in Nazi Germany less than twenty years later with the creation of the Haavara Agreement.

Another article sourced is written by David Hirsh, and is an excerpt from a book called, The Livingstone Formulation.

“Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, said at a fringe meeting of her party’s conference:

‘The pro-Israeli Lobby has got its grips on the Western World, its financial grips. I think they’ve probably got a certain grip on our party (Hirsh 2006).’

“This seems to be an antisemitic claim because it articulates a mindset in which a Jewish conspiracy controls the western world through its financial muscle. It is not a claim about influence or lobbying, but about singular and global financial control.”

It is rather circular reasoning on Hirsh’s part that he tries to explain that anti-Zionism is largely just rationalised anti-Semitism, but when trying to prove it, he simply makes a claim that depends on the assumption in the first place. In the quoted text, Tonge makes no mention of Jews but only of the Israeli lobby. Sure, there will be a high representation of Jews in that lobby, but Hirsh is still making a conflation. That many Israel supporters are rich is just fact, not prejudice. It is prejudice however to assume they are all Jewish, or that the rich sub-section of them are rich because they are Jewish. Tonge makes no suggestion of either, but what we can argue with some justification is that Israel supporters, both rich and poor, do tend to put considerable pressure on the media not to sound critical of Israel’s policies, especially towards the Palestinians.

“David Ward, Liberal Democrat MP for Bradford East, took the opportunity of Holocaust Memorial Day to announce that

” ‘he was saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians… (Quinn 2013).’ “

It is a little odd that Hirsh has decided to put this statement by Ward with Tonge’s, as there is no perceptible link between them bar the implied condemnation of Israel. While I would agree that Ward’s use of the term ‘the Jews’ where he should be referring to ‘Israel’ does raise suspicions about his outlook, that is hardly Tonge’s responsibility.

As for what Hirsh says about Ward’s follow-up remarks, framed by quotations from Lesley Klaff and labelled ‘Holocaust inversion’, no clear explanation is provided as to what is wrong with the implications of what Ward said. Hirsh quotes Klaff,

inversion of reality (the Israelis are cast as the ‘new’ Nazis and the Palestinians as the ‘new’ Jews), and an inversion of morality (the Holocaust is presented as a moral lesson for, or even a moral indictment of ‘the Jews’)…

Casting the Israelis as the new Nazis and the Palestinians as the new Jews may be hyperbolic, but there remains a legitimate parallel. It is only an ‘inversion of reality’ if we are to assume, quite preposterously, that the world is much the same now as it was in the early-1940s. It is not. Israel’s very existence is just one example of how much has changed since the time of the Holocaust. In the Holy Land today, the Israelis are the Government, just as the Nazis were the Government of ‘Greater Germany’ in 1942. In the Holy Land today, the Palestinians are a second-class, dispossessed people living in dire misery, just as the Jews were a second-class, dispossessed people living in dire misery in ‘Greater Germany’ in 1942. The establishment of Israel in 1948, and its subsequent annexation of Palestinian territory, was the turning point that allowed the previously oppressed to become the oppressors. The description is therefore not an inversion of reality, but a description of a reality that had eventually become inverted by physical events.

Equally, the reference to ‘inversion of morality’ is quite, quite ridiculous. No one is suggesting that the Holocaust is an indictment of the Jews at all. They are saying that the mistreatment of the Palestinians is an indictment of Israel, and that there is a danger of that mistreatment evolving into another Holocaust. It is not because the perpetrators of the crimes against the Palestinians are mainly Jews that they are being condemned, it is because the perpetrators are committing crimes. The fact that Jews were the victims of persecution so extreme that it led to a genocide, and that Israel repeatedly claims to be acting in the name of Jews globally, means it is doubly legitimate to point out that what the Government in Israel is doing is unforgivable – precisely because many survivors of the Holocaust came to live in Israel, and brought the full knowledge of those horrors with them. If any nation should know, therefore, that mass-killing, ethnic persecution is wrong, it is a self-proclaimed ‘Jewish State’.

Anyway, back to “Not Anti-Black, Anti-Africa”, whose author has more claims that need answering.

“Israel is central to the identity of the overwhelming majority of Jews not just in Britain, but all over the world. The reason is because it is central to Judaism.”

This claim is unproven – perhaps uncheckable – rubbish. A great many Jews, myself included, have never so much as set foot in Israel, let alone seen it as ‘central’ to our identities. It means no more to me on a personal/identity level than, say, Papua New Guinea, and if I ever chose to live in Israel, which I cannot see ever happening, I doubt I would feel particularly at home there. It is possible that the writer means the ancient Israel of the Bible, but that means there is an equivocation fallacy at play here, because anti-Zionists are not discussing the Israel of Roman Empire days, they are discussing the Israel of the modern world, and it is that Israel that the writer is also trying to defend.

Moreover, if Israel is so central to the Jewish identity, then logically, there can have been no such thing as a ‘Jewish identity’ from late in the first century AD, when the Jews were cast out of the Holy Land, until 1948. To repeat the earlier point, Zionism has always faced its greatest opposition from among the Jews themselves, and even today, it is opposed by many more Jews than one might expect. Zionism’s implied acceptance of an anti-Semitic assumption – that Jews cannot safely co-exist with gentiles – would lead ultimately to Jews casting themselves out of all other societies, and exiling themselves from the human race.

Israel was the result of that sadly nihilistic vision, and so if it is ‘central’ to the Jewish identity, it follows that it is part of the Jewish identity to consider oneself to be not really human. It is thus more than a little ironic that many Israel supporters like to taunt Jewish opponents of their country with the crude insult, “Self-hating Jew”. What could be more self-hating than a human being who endorses an ethnic ideology that thinks its own subjects not to be human?

And of course, even if this identity issue really were so prevalent, it would not make Israeli policies towards the Palestinians any more acceptable, and so the criticisms of it would not become anti-Semitic.

“Even if a Jew or non-Jew does agree with an Israeli government policy which is unpopular abroad, this doesn’t make it legitimate to unleash hatred against them.”

Of course not. But then in most cases by far, nobody is. They are just criticising the Israeli Government. Nothing that the writer has described – bar the quotations he or she openly admits are made up – sounds like someone ‘unleashing hatred’ towards Jews for reasons of them being Jewish. They are simply criticisms of the Israeli Government, and the way its supporters try to shut down discussion of what that Government does. That is quite different from unleashing hatred.

On the contrary, most of the aggression and bullying in my experience is coming from quite the other direction. Long-time followers of this blog will be aware of very nasty remarks thrown my way by the likes of Jonathan Hoffman, supporter of the (almost entirely-misnamed) Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who last year called me a ‘Shill’ for speaking out against Israel.

In recent weeks, an Israeli put an unsolicited comment on one of my articles, calling me and other Jewish critics of Israel “Kapos”, a slur that may not be familiar to gentiles, but is in fact on of the most vicious and hurtful insults that can ever be directed at a Jew. (It implies a Jewish Prisoner-of-War in Nazi Germany who co-operates with the Holocaust. I would argue that it is comfortably worse than calling a Jew a “K*ke“.)

I am far from alone, even among Jews, in experiencing that blind, bigoted hostility either. Remember Max Blumenthal almost being physically assaulted by Zionists at a book-launch event I attended in Manchester three years ago? Or how about the incredible tidal wave of Zionist hate directed at young members of Jewish communities in the UK, when they have dared to demand an end to Palestinian persecution? (“When a British Jew steps out of line, the full weight of the community will fall on them.”)

This is another reason I get so angry and frustrated at all the largely-manufactured fuss about ‘Anti-Semitism-In-The-Labour-Party’. It is not just because very little of it is real, although that is bad enough. It is also that so much of the media are cheerfully ignoring the enormous waves of hostility, abusiveness and thuggish yobbery coming from the very people – British Zionists – who are painting this gargantuan picture of ‘socialist anti-Semitism’ to begin with. No attempts to impress the other side of the story onto the media seem to have any effect.

“British Jews have other connections to Israel beyond religious reasons. Many have family members who live there.”

I find it very difficult to see what point the writer is trying to make with this. ‘Many British Jews have family in Israel, therefore do not criticise Israel’? Or something? Nope, not following this point at all. I myself have family who live in Israel, cousins of my mother. They are quite patriotic Zionist Israel-supporters, and I often get into very heated and unhappy arguments with them over social media over how Israel treats the Palestinians in Gaza. So you see, it is perfectly possible to criticise Israel, even though I have family there, without insulting me or offending my ‘identity’. You would only be doing what I already do myself.

“Like many other minorities in Britain, such as Indians and Greeks for example. They have strong connections to the culture of these countries and to family and friends who live there.”

Not that this is particularly relevant either, but there is an important difference that the writer misses. Greeks and Indians have emigrated to Britain over the last few generations from Greece or India. British Jews, by and large, have not emigrated to Britain from Israel. Instead, their families have been mostly British for many generations, frequently dating back to long before Zionism was even thought of. So the family and friends in the main have moved to Israel, usually in living memory, and Palestinians have often been unsentimentally thrown off the land to make room for them. It is a bit much to appeal to sentiment over links to Israel, when those links have been created by acts stemming from a complete lack of sentiment.

“The anti-Zionist assumes that being Jewish is just a faith, rather than an ethnicity, that doesn’t need to have any connection to a particular land or people. Therefore, one should be able to completely divorce Israel from their Jewish identity.”

This is a wild generalisation. Some anti-Zionists assume that, some do not. And yes, not only should a Jew be able to divorce Israel from their Jewish identity, they very much are able to. My Jewish identity is divorced from Israel by default, because I have never been there. The identity of Jews before the 1940s was also divorced from Israel by default, because the country had not existed for nearly two thousand years. The integration of a ‘Jewish identity’ into Israel is a completely recent artifice, and is only as important to any Jew as they allow it to be.

“The anti-Zionist, essentially mimics an earlier version of anti-Semitism through the notion of a good Jew and a bad Jew. They have to demonstrate their ‘worthiness’ by denouncing Israel.”

This complaint by the writer is kind of rich, seeing what he/she says later about the “type of Jews Jeremy Corbyn associates with”, whom he describes as “like the Hellenists of our time”, which clearly implies that the writer has definitions of his own for ‘good Jew’ and ‘bad Jew’. The writer’s prejudices are profoundly insulting in their own right. That underlines the point I made above about Zionists being the really abusive ones.

“In the past a good Jew abandoned the beliefs of the Jewish community, i.e. Rabbinic Judaism and converted to Christianity. The Christians then would have said similarly, they do not hate Jews as people (in the way the Nazis did) they are just anti-Judaism and what Jews believe in, if they abandon their beliefs and practices and become Christians then they would accept them.

In our day, anti-Zionists similarly expect Jews to abandon the beliefs that the majority of them hold, which are central to their identity. The beliefs that were condemned in both periods are different, but what they share in common is that they are and were both beliefs that were central to Jewish identity in their time.”

This again, is the paranoia of the persecution complex. Very few people who criticise Israel care one way or the other what ‘beliefs’ or ‘practices’ Jews adhere to in their own lives. Hardly any of them care whether modern Jews convert to Christianity, or any other faith. They just think Israel should stop dispossessing Palestinians of their land, or trying to starve Palestinians into leaving the region altogether. If supporting these Israeli ‘practices’ is the writer’s idea of ‘Jewish beliefs’, then he/she is clearly a disciple of a very strange and remote school of Jewish thought, one that I have never encountered.

Likewise, the conflict between the Jews and ancient Greece was similar. The Greeks were fine with a Hellenized version of Judaism that would inevitably lead to its downfall but felt threatened by a Judaism as it was and the Zealots who refused to have their identity colonized by Greece. The Greeks banned Brit Milah (circumcision), Shabbat observance and the New Moon.

And who is trying to stop practising Jews today from observing rituals in the way the Greeks tried to? Okay, there is talk of stopping circumcision being practised on infant children, but that is not proposed for reasons of anti-Semitism, but for concerns over possible child abuse. As I was circumcised as a baby, long before I had a voice to protest against it, I happen to agree with putting a stop to it.

Anti-Zionists know that in our day, what keeps the Jewish people strong and proud is Israel.

Do they? How many of them has the writer asked?

This is, in large part what the Jewish festival of Chanukah is about, a victory against an effort which began with a Greek Hellenization of Judaism which became an internal struggle between Hellenized and non-Hellenized Jews, with the latter reigning victorious.

Yes, but Chanukah does not take place in the spring, so what that has to do with current developments is quite unclear.

Today that battle takes place with efforts by those who seek to undermine the source of Jewish identity and strength, the state of Israel and Zionism by appealing to, tokenizing and misrepresenting fringe groups and individuals as mainstream, that have internalized anti-Jewish tropes or are detached from the mainstream Jewish community for one reason or another and do not speak for the majority of the Jewish community.

As I pointed out the other day, most of that practice is done on behalf of Zionism, by the media projecting the views of prominent Jewish/Zionist organisations onto Jewish people as a whole. The proclamations of the Board of Deputies, Labour Friends of Israel et al are always being presented as the views of British Jews altogether, when in truth they do little to consult the wider Jewish population of the UK.

The type of Jews that Jeremy Corbyn associates with, for example the anti-Zionist Jewdas and other fringe Jewish groups are like the Hellenists of our time.

See my reply to this offensive snobbishness above.

The anti-Zionists also know very well, that without the state of Israel, the Jews will once again be defenceless in what is clearly still a world which is hostile to them, giving them free reign again to oppress the Jews as they wish. The state of Israel stands in their way, as it allows Jews the dignity and strength to stand up for themselves.

More paranoia, completely divorced from what is happening in the real world. Again, I must refer to a point I have made previously. Far from what the writer indicates here, Israel is not necessary to the survival of the Jewish people, and Zionism is in fact a failed ideology. Were Israel so necessary, why is there still a Jewish diaspora at all? Why have Jews like myself, who not only do not live in Israel but have never even visited it, not been slaughtered by this ‘world which is hostile’ to us? How does the State of Israel ‘protect’ us in countries all around the world, far beyond its reach?

Indeed, I would argue, and have done before, that Jews in Israel are in more danger of violence than I and my family are here in Britain. Israel is surrounded by countries like Egypt, Syria, and Jordan, all of whom, rightly or wrongly, are usually hostile towards Tel Aviv. That hostility is the justification that Israelis always use for their Government’s policies, so they can hardly change that story now. The founding of Israel has created the hostility with which it is immediately faced. Here in the north-west of England, I do not have to worry about rockets being fired across the Welsh border, meant to wipe out the large Jewish community of Manchester. But Israelis insist that Hamas is hurling rockets their way from the Gaza Strip almost daily. (This claim is enormously exaggerated, but nonetheless, it is still more anti-Jewish violence than I can generally expect to face.)

I will even suggest that the writer’s own existence appears to be an absurdity. He/she clearly, from what is in the article, writes as an Anglo-Jewish Zionist. But such a person is innately absurd. As are American-Jewish Zionists. Or German-Jewish Zionists. Or Australian-Jewish Zionists. In fact, any Jewish Zionist who does not live in Israel is an absurdity. Given Zionism’s ideology is grounded in the idea that Jews trying to live among gentiles cannot be safe, and therefore need to move to Israel to survive, how can any Jewish Zionist possibly live anywhere other than Israel? By living in Britain, the writer is clear evidence that Jews can co-exist safely with gentiles. The writer disproves his/her own ideology by his/her own location.

Sure, some parts of the world remain dangerous places for Jews to venture into, but by no means all of them.

Our anti-African example would take people like Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela and those who fought for rights for Blacks and turn them into African Supremacists and racist trouble makers.

No it would not, because Luther-King and Mandela were struggling against oppression in their respective societies. Israel is imposing oppression on Arabs on the fringes of its society.

They would be ok with Blacks as victims or collaborators in their hatred towards their fellow Blacks/Africans but they would oppose those who have self dignity and stand up for themselves.

Imposing an eleven-year blockade on the walled-in inhabitants of an autonomous region that has little access to clean water or electricity, while frequently launching missile attacks on their heads, can be called many things. “Self-dignity” or “Standing up for themselves” are not among them.

would conflate any mistake or wrongdoing by such rights groups or leaders as being as bad as slave owners, turning them into their own oppressors and perpetrators of their own persecution. They would point to the fact that slavery didn’t begin with America and that Africans sold slaves for centuries as well. This would then get misconstrued as Africa being the true arbiter of the slave trade.

The tragic irony of this prediction is that it is precisely what Israel and its supporters do to Palestinians desperately fighting for their freedom.

For all the criticism one might have, we all know, that most decent people would not dare say something as offensive as to equate a Black person with a slave owner, as Ken Livingstone casually, knowing he was a Jewish, compared journalist Oliver Finegold to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Well firstly, it would depend on the record-of-behaviour of this hypothetical black person. The worst of the slave trade in history by far was the handiwork of white men, but there have been black slave owners too. If the hypothetical black person the writer is speaking of happened to be one of them, or at least one who has a history of very bullying or coercive behaviour, then yes we would.

As for the reference to Nazi concentration camp guards, again, this is rich given the aforementioned habit of Zionists of calling Jewish opponents “Kapos”.

But our hypothetical anti-Africans would, like Ken Livingstone, refuse to see it as racist, not care that it was offensive or insensitive or apologize, its their right to free speech.

I repeat, its ‘racist’ or ‘offensive’ qualities depend entirely on the behaviour of the person being accused of being a slave owner. Just as Israelis should know better than anyone that ethnic persecution of a people is wrong, so black descendants of Africans who were shipped to the West Indies should know better than anyone that slavery is wrong. If they do it anyway, it is quite reasonable to point out to them why they should intimately know better.

I could go on and provide other analogies and equivalences, but I hope that what I have discussed above has provided some insight into how many Jews currently experience the type of remarks that are made about them and Israel emanating from the ‘anti-racist’, anti-Zionist left.

What you have provided is an insight into how fallacious, paranoid, and muddled your thinking is.

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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.

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

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.

by Martin Odoni

Denying the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews is a crime in some countries. Whether it is right for Holocaust-Denial to be outlawed is debatable, but there is no doubt that it is a horrible behaviour brought about by anti-Semitism. In particular, it comes from a hatred of Jews so severe that it leads to resentment of seeing any Jew receiving sympathy. When there is evidence to demonstrate that such sympathy is merited, the evidence must simply be denied. That the Holocaust happened is incontrovertible to any reasonably objective eyes. Sadly, anti-Semitism – indeed all forms of racism – is prejudice, which by definition is not objective, and so the incontrovertibility of the evidence is simply denied.

Holocaust-Denial is sometimes even called ‘a revisionist industry’, given the vast, comprehensive library of ugly, deeply-misleading literature attempting to distort the facts. Perhaps the most notorious ‘scholar’ at the apex of this industry is David Irving, a man who has never heard of me and knows nothing whatever about me, but plainly would nonetheless be very happy if I were dead. Because I am an ethnic Jew.

Even were I not an ethnic Jew, I would still see Holocaust-Denial as disgusting. As I am a Jew, I find Holocaust-Denial completely abhorrent.

But there is another industry that has thrived from the Holocaust, not by refusing to acknowledge it, but by exploiting its irrefutability. That industry is simply referred to by the controversial Jewish author, Norman G. Finkelstein, as ‘The Holocaust Industry’.  I do not think that name is specific enough. I think it should be referred to as ‘The Holocaust-Manipulation Industry’.

The ‘profit’ for this industry is political expediency, and it trades, not in lies about the past, but in using the truth about the past to blot out the present. More specifically, it uses the memory of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews in the 1940s to draw attention away from the misdeeds of the State of Israel in the present day.

This industry prevails in Europe and North America in particular. In the United Kingdom, its most despicable exponent is probably the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, a supposed ‘charity’ whose real title should probably be ‘The British Wing Of The Israeli Thought Police‘. As I have asserted in the past, the organisation’s behaviour is not only deceitful and far more focused on silencing criticism of Zionism than combating prejudice against Jews. It is also effectively anti-Semitic in itself, due to the way it reduces Jewry to a political tool rather than a human condition, and the way it tries to compel British Jews to support Israel. I have personally been accused by one of its most aggressive members, a particularly unpleasant individual called Jonathan Hoffman, of being a ‘shill’ for supposed Arab prejudice against Jews. (What I would have to gain by ‘selling out’ in such a fashion was never explained. Perhaps the CAA imagine that a ‘shill’ is merely someone who does not take the ‘side’ that might be expected at first glance.) It should be noted that Hoffman has a history of collusion with the English Defence League, making the CAA membership’s own opposition to Nazism less consistent than they would have people believe.

Long-time readers of this blog (yes, all seven of you) may remember a declaration of support I wrote last spring for Mike Sivier, the writer of the Vox Political site, after the CAA had written a cynical hatchet-job attack on him. Today, Mike was hatcheted again, this time in the national media, especially by a characteristically distorted report in the Sunday Times. (Subscription required.) Mike posted an article on Saturday detailing what he really said to the reporter from the Times, in wise anticipation of being misrepresented, and today Mike has posted a response to what he correctly sees as libellous journalism. I wish to add my ha’penny’s-worth.

Firstly, to address the Labour Party’s own very inadequate investigation into the allegations of anti-Semitism, there is a detail about it that I think needs to be put on record; –

In October, a few months after Mike’s Labour membership was suspended, he asked me if I would be willing to be interviewed by the party about my involvement in the dispute, which had become quite significant by then. I happily agreed to speak to the National Executive Committee’s disputes panel, and Mike gave them my contact details. It is an indication of how lacking in rigour, and how narrow-ranging, the ‘investigation’ was that the disputes panel never contacted me. Not once.

Secondly, and more pertinent to my general point about Holocaust-Manipulation, after seeing what happened today, it is quite clear to me that it is time for this industry to be taken every bit as seriously as Holocaust-Denial. Perhaps even taken more seriously.

Not only did the Times help the CAA to sully Mike Sivier’s name with implications of Holocaust-Denial. Robert Peston did the same on his ITV programme this morning, in a manner that was as unprofessional and irresponsible as it was unfair. Peston described Mike as ‘vile’, clearly without ever checking that the allegations against him stand up to scrutiny.

The CAA and other Manipulator groups have politicised the Holocaust in a way that shames their (and of course my) ancestors. And sadly, as the Sunday Times and Robert Peston have so comprehensively demonstrated, the mainstream media are either too lily-livered to take them to task over it, or too lazy, or too biased.

Mike Sivier has never written anything I have seen – and I have been following his blog for something like six years – that could be sensibly construed as anti-Semitic. The CAA deliberately targeted him with accusations through cynical quotemines in order to influence a council election unfairly – therefore illegally. They did it because they are scared of Jeremy Corbyn and his history of support for the Palestinians, and because Mike Sivier in turn supports Corbyn. The fewer Corbyn supporters there are in positions of authority at a national or local level, the weaker Corbyn’s position as a potential Prime Minister will become.

That is what this is really all about. And influencing elections in this way is explicitly against the law. The CAA’s behaviour is not only deceitful, it is politically corrupt.

Therein lies the reason why I believe Holocaust-Manipulation is now a more urgent issue than Holocaust-Denial. Denial is terrible and hurtful, and has long-term dangers. But at present, its influence is tiny. Holocaust-Deniers are widely regarded with contempt, even mockery. There must be guards against it, to make sure it does not recapture the public imagination, but the short-term danger of that is minimal.

Holocaust-Manipulation, on the other hand, does not just pose a threat of exerting political influence, it already does exert political influence. Corrupt, probably illegal political influence. It is distorting the political process, and tilting the electoral playing field in favour of the right wing.

The false conflation of Jews with Israel (I am a Jew and I have never set foot in Israel – so how can I or others like me possibly represent both?) is not the only aspect that is corrupting. The Holocaust was one of the worst crimes of the Twentieth Century beyond question, but it is doubtful that it is even particularly relevant when discussing the matter of Israel and its treatment of the Palestinians.

Moreover, frenzied cries of ‘ANTI-SEMITE!‘ when such treatment is condemned could, paradoxically, be manipulated into a horrifying defence of the Holocaust. After all, if it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to criticise Israel for its violent repression of Palestinians, it could be countered that it is ‘anti-Aryan’ to criticise Nazi Germany for its violent repression of the Jews. Such an argument of course would be as disgusting as it is absurd, but groups like the CAA have to face the fact that they are the ones opening the door to it in the first place.

star of david swastika

Mike Sivier is innocent of what he is accused of, I am completely confident of that.

The CAA are not innocent of manipulating a crime for propaganda purposes, a crime that was so heinous that no human being should even consider exploiting it in such a way.

by Martin Odoni

I do not discuss the matter of Israel/Palestine on this blog as much as perhaps I should. Events this week however are forcing me to state my position quite explicitly.

The events in question are the smears against Vox Political writer, Mike Sivier. He was standing as a Labour candidate in the Local Elections this week, when he was targeted by activists for the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, who accused him of a history of anti-Semitic writing. Now Mike has addressed the accusations in detail himself, and so there is no need for me to join in with the deconstructions – although I do feel compelled to point out how hilariously silly one of the accusations was; –

'Anti-Semtic punctuation' is now a thing.

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

However, I did post a declaration of support for Mike in mid-week. I also got caught up in a social media discussion of the matter on Facebook, one that CAA members targeted in an apparent attempt to maximise the damage caused by the smears. Sadly, they appear to have succeeded, as Mike lost the constituency vote.

During this online argument, one of the CAA members insinuated that I am not really a Jew and that I have made up my ancestry. (Just for the record, that accusation is not only untrue – I am a non-practising Jew in religious terms as I am an atheist, but I can no more cease to be a Jew by that than Morgan Freeman can cease to be a black man simply by voting for the Republican Party. The charge is also offensive, and another attempt to discredit an opponent by means of a smear. As a matter of historical clarity, my ancestors were Lithuanian Jews who were forced to flee the old Russian Empire during the Pogroms of the late-19th Century; if you have ever seen the movie Fiddler On The Roof, well, my family’s story is essentially the same as that, minus the singing of course.) This is always a difficulty for Jews like me who oppose Zionism. We are treated as either treacherous or ‘fake’, and these stubborn accusations are frequently used by Zionists as a substitute for reasoned argument.

I responded by pointing out that the general stance of British Zionist activists is in fact anti-Semitic, and I stand by that; as I wrote the other day, to use anti-Semitism claims as a means of silencing honest debate of Israel is to reduce Jews to a tool, and therefore make them less than people. It is also, if not anti-Semitic, then certainly bullying and repressive behaviour to tell a Jew that he or she does not ‘count’ as a ‘real’ Jewish specimen unless he or she is an unquestioning supporter of Israel.

(I have been accused on Twitter, by the way, of saying one of the CAA people has a “Jewish vulpine nose”. This was a characteristic verbal sleight-of-hand for a Zionist.

18308959_406247426440480_439228925_n

I did indeed say the individual in question had a vulpine nose, by which I meant he is always sniffing around like a feral canine for any pretext for making trouble and for assassinating the characters of perceived opponents*. It was not a reference to the supposed ‘Jewishness’ of his appearance, and I did not use the word ‘Jewish’ in the sentence at all. That would be quite ridiculous, not least because my own nose, with its prominent bridge, has typical Jewish qualities too.)

The CAA members have told me they have reported me to the Labour Party’s compliance unit, so I imagine I may join Mike in getting suspended by the party. I expect it, given the pusillanimous way the party panics and does whatever Zionists tell it to do whenever they cry out about supposed ‘anti-Semitism’.

Like the wider and wildly exaggerated ‘anti-Semitism in Labour‘ controversy over the last year and more, the whole attack on Mike was really about forcing supporters of Jeremy Corbyn out of the party. This is because Zionists are terrified of any possibility of Corbyn becoming Prime Minister, as he is a consistent critic of Israeli policy.

But I suppose the question must be asked why I, as a Jew, do not support Israel, or even the founding principle of Zionism. This week’s argument has led me to realise that I have never really articulated this in any fully coherent way. So now is as good a time as any; –

As a young Jew being brought up in Exeter in the 1980s, I never really understood the origins of modern Israel and so I blindly followed the lead. I was well aware of the horrors of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, and I understood the stated aim of giving the Jewish diaspora – forever ostracised and resented in other countries – a nation of their own. After all, if the Jewish people were never going to be fully tolerated in other countries, what alternative was there but to give them a country of their own? Everyone has to be somewhere. And as there was an ancient historical ‘Israel’ in the region around Jerusalem, it sounded to my young ears like that was where the new Israel was meant to be.

But as I entered my teenage years, I ceased to believe in God, which led me to drift away from the Jewish community in Exeter – I had never taken religion all that seriously in the first place. My family then moved to Glasgow in 1989, which essentially broke all contact with Exeter’s Jewish community, and disconnected me from the Israel-only perspective by which I had previously been surrounded. In its place, through the Scottish school curriculum’s subject of ‘Modern Studies’ (probably nearest equivalent subject elsewhere would be ‘political science’), I finally began to learn the other side of the story. I learned through one teacher in particular – her name was Mrs Bauld – of how hundreds of thousands of Arabs in the ‘British Mandate of Palestine’ had been forced off their lands to make room for Jewish settlers. Moreover, I learned about the murky reality of the ‘Occupied Territories‘, and the illegal settlements that Israel was establishing and expanding within them. I was still young and felt an instinctive, tribal wish to defend Israel, but as the 1990s wore on, this gradually receded. By the time I had moved in 1996 to Manchester, with its very large Jewish community, I had been completely disabused of the simplistic notion of the Israelis being ‘the good guys’ and the Palestinians being ‘the bad guys’.

While I still accept that the Jews should have a land of their own, somewhere to which the diaspora should be allowed to retreat when they face persecution in other lands, I do not accept that it was right founding it in ‘The Holy Land’. I further consider the implementation of the Zionist project to be the epitome of British post-colonialism; an arrogant, cack-handed mis-step in dismantling an Empire that the country no longer had the resources to control. The familiar pattern in other places such as Ireland and India applied just as firmly in Palestine. High-handed partitioning of land between two antagonistic populations, ignorance of historical rights and wishes of the local peoples, forced re-settlement of very large numbers of people, and a patronising insistence on British convenience taking priority over the realities of the foreign maps they were redrawing.

Naz Shah MP notoriously shared a joke map – originated by that most Jewish of anti-Zionists Norman Finkelstein – implying that Israel could have been located in the United States of America instead of the Middle East. In the process, Shah inadvertently started up the ‘Anti-Semitism In The Labour Party’ controversy, but she was not being as offensive or silly as one might imagine. Indeed, I have long-since concluded that establishing Israel somewhere like North America would have been a far better approach than the one that was adopted in the 1940s. Yes, a lot of Jews who had fled the threat of Lebensraum in Europe had settled in Palestine, and yes, the most devout and Orthodox among them wanted quick and easy access to Jerusalem. But the number one raison d’etre of the resurrected Israel was to be a homeland and safe haven for any and every Jew who wanted one. This is precisely why it was not only immoral but also impractical that Israel was founded around Jerusalem.

Israel’s justification for its policies is that it is surrounded by enemy countries populated in large part by people who feel they have a right to kill Jews. Whether one agrees with that perspective, or sees it as exaggerated and even a little paranoid, the inference from it that is impossible to avoid is that Jews in Israel are not safe.

That Israel has hostile neighbours is an unmistakeable fact. The reasons for that hostility are varied. Some are justified e.g. resentment that Arab/Islamic land has been confiscated and given to mainly Europeans, a perception that the Arab world has been punished for the crimes of Nazi Germany, deep anger at the very harsh treatment of people in the remaining Palestinian territories, the ongoing encroachment of Israeli settlements into territories over which Israel has doubtful right of sovereignty, and the Israeli control over Jerusalem, a city that is as sacred to Islam as it is to Judaism and Christianity. Other reasons for hostility to Israel are thoroughly offensive, and all of these ones boil down to genuine anti-Semitism i.e. a distaste felt by many at sharing what they see as ‘their’ lands with Jews.

But quite simply, that is my main point. What the blazes were the British thinking in the immediate post-war period, establishing Israel in a part of the world where it was bound to be met with enormous resentment, and in a fashion that was certain to increase it?

There is so much land in the USA, just for instance, that is surplus to its Government’s requirements. While no one should be under any illusion that there was not a serious anti-Semitism problem in the USA then, and indeed it is still far from ended there today, it would surely have been better to establish a new Israel somewhere like North America. As much as anything else, the reason Israel keeps encroaching into the Occupied Territories is because its heartlands are tiny and narrow but with long borders and minimal natural defences. By contrast, there are parts of North America where the natural defences, such as mountains and large bodies of water, are formidable, and yet are sparsely-populated. If the Jews need a land of their own where they can be safe – and as I say I think they (oh all right, we) do – surely there could have been a better place to establish it in North America? Surely the USA, given the size of the Jewish lobby there even back in the 1940s, would have at least considered co-operating with the idea. Sure, large numbers of Jews had already settled in Palestine by 1948, but then I am not saying they should have been forced to move to North America. It would simply have been better to give them the option of moving there, instead of destroying Palestinian society.

Both practically and morally, Zionism’s insistence on having a Jewish homeland actually in the Holy Land was and remains wrong. It forcibly dispossessed huge numbers of people who had had nothing to do with the suffering of the Jews, while also defeating the object of the exercise, because it did not make the Jewish people safe. Jews in Israel still feel threatened. That was not supposed to happen. That perception of danger has led Israel to commit a lot of aggressive acts – be they extenuated or otherwise – against neighbouring countries, and to mistreat Arabs within its own borders. Atrocities like the ‘51-Day War‘ against the Gaza Strip in 2014 make Israel look increasingly like a monster. One can criticise Palestinian terrorism as well, but, firstly, it is quite evident that Israel exaggerates the extent of it, and secondly, we must recognise that, as a people who feel occupied and second-class within their own land, the Palestinians feel that they are defending their home. (If what happened to the Palestinians ever happens to the British, I have no doubt the British would feel the same way and respond the same way; just look at the xenophobia and animosity uncovered by Brexit.) In any event, the harshness of Israel’s attempts to suppress Palestinian uprisings is so severe that it only invites more attacks.

Had the Zionist movement accepted the idea of a homeland for the Jews elsewhere, I would support it without hesitation. But it did not. I recognise that it is much too late to go back and change what happened now, but there is a refusal among Zionists to accept that the chosen location for their country has created problems that still show no signs of being resolved today.

(There is also an unsavoury ‘if-you-can’t-beat-’em-join-’em’ defeatist aspect to Zionism that I find unsettling. It implictly accepts the anti-Semitic notion that Jews and non-Jews cannot co-exist. For Jewish Zionists living outside Israel in particular, there is a clear contradiction in this; how can a Jew living outside Israel hold a Zionist stance, when the very fact he/she lives outside Israel demonstrates that Jews and non-Jews can co-exist?)

The paradox of Zionism is that it was meant to make the Jewish people safe, and yet it has led the Israelis to seventy years of paranoia instead. And while I am also a Jew, paranoia is something I can never endorse, even when I understand it. This paranoia leads not only Israel, but the Zionist movement, to behave with great aggression and dishonesty; hence the attack on Mike Sivier on absurd grounds. Hence also the Zionists’ never-ending expansion of the definition of ‘anti-Semitism’**.

That is why I am not, and never will be, a Zionist.

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*It is further worth noting that the individual I accused of having a vulpine nose took further offence at me calling him an anti-Semite, on the basis of his habitual exploitation of anti-Semitism to stifle debate. What is interesting is that he voiced his outrage at this, but did not see anything objectionable in his fellow CAA supporters accusing me of faking my ancestry on the basis of no information whatsoever. This alone demonstrates that the CAA are quite partizan, tribal, and arbitrary about what they consider offensive, and what they consider fair.

**During the row over Mike Sivier’s written work, one of the CAA supporters explicitly stated that anti-Semitism is now whatever the Jewish community finds offensive. The implication of this is scary enough in itself, but is made all the more unsettling in the way that the ‘Jewish community’ is not really defined. What if not all Jews agree what is offensive and what is not? I am a Jew and I, among others, do not agree with the recently-affirmed International definition of anti-Semitism, as it extends further the dangerous conflation of Jews with Israel. But other Jews do agree with it. Does this division of opinion not mean that the ‘Jewish community’ cannot be said to accept the definition? Well, it seems that the CAA insist that it still does accept it. My worry therefore is that when the CAA talk about the ‘Jewish community’, they are pulling the same transparent trick British and American politicians pull when talking about ‘The International community’. In other words, what the CAA really mean by the ‘Jewish community’ is the CAA itself.