by Martin Odoni

The founding idea behind Zionism is that Jews cannot safely co-exist with ‘gentiles’, and therefore require a homeland of their own. This concept led, for better or worse, to the existence of modern Israel, and is intermittently invoked by the Israeli Government, especially when Jews in other countries are the victims of atrocities or hate-crimes.

As I have commented before, I do not accept that Zionism was a ‘necessary’ ideology, and there is an absurdity in that many Jews living outside Israel are Zionists. But nonetheless, Israel sometimes encourages more and more Jews to move there. This may sound perfectly natural, but the real reasons for doing this may not be the ones you might imagine. They are less to do with the survival of the Jewish people, and more to do with the survival of Israel itself.

When Israel was formed in the 1940s, it was a bit of a patchwork of land that had previously been part of the British Mandate For Palestine. The division of land drawn up by the United Nations was rather bizarre and not very efficient, from the perspectives of both Jewish and Arab populations; –

1947 partition israel palestine

The lay-out of Israel in particular was quite puzzling, and strategically quite weak. The new country was a long, thin, curling ‘zig-zag’ of land, which had very long, complicated borders with few natural defences. There was no ‘territorial depth’ i.e. in many places, the border was close to the sea, meaning a defending army had nowhere to retreat to, and settlements were within easy reach of any invading force. There was also not a great deal of habitable space. Bits of Israel were cut off from other bits by narrow stretches of Palestinian territory, and vice versa.

Neighbouring Arab countries were furious that Israel had been founded on lands that they felt belonged to their own people, and had been ‘stolen’ from them. The arrangement was seen as a ‘sell-out’ to Zionist terrorists, who had caused a lot of chaos in the former Mandated territory over the previous few years. Therefore, just one day after Israel formally came into being, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt all invaded the fledgling country.

Under the circumstances, it is perhaps surprising how easily Israeli troops fought off their neighbours. But in the process, they also occupied much of the rest of the land of the former British Mandate. This land was useful for creating ‘buffer-zones’ against further invasions, but also gave Israel extra space into which more Jewish settlers could be accommodated – land that was taken from the Palestinians. Arab communities chased off this land refer to this displacement as ‘the Nakba‘ or ‘the catastrophe’.

Given the enormous strategic difficulties of a return to land-divisions even remotely resembling the lay-out of the UN partition, Israel is understandably very unhappy about the idea of a ‘two-state solution’ to the Palestinian crisis. It is unlikely under those terms that either Israel or Palestine would be anywhere near safe from invasion by neighbours.

Since that First Arab-Israeli War, the desire for more land has become a repeated feature of Israel’s existence. Part of the reason is that one of the sworn ideals of the state is that it will give a home to anybody of Jewish maternal descent, and some Jews abroad have chosen to make use of that of their own volition. As the Israeli population has grown accordingly, inevitably the Israeli Government has needed more land to accommodate them.

But there is another issue at play that Israel does not like to discuss, but which complicates its pursuit of land – relative population sizes. In a world in which (supposed) democratic practice is seen as a mark of humane Government, Israel wants to be viewed as a nation ruled by the majority. But it is also, in a manner of speaking, an ethnocracy i.e. a nation ruled by and for one ethnic group at the expense of any others. Israel is a land where the Jewish population has to be the priority – ‘primus inter pares‘ (“first-among-equals”) almost – in order to serve the country’s founding purpose of preserving the Jewish people. Israel cannot logically be a ‘Jewish state’ without treating the needs of its Jewish population as its most important duty. Unfortunately, such an approach runs contrary to the democratic principle of ‘one-man-one-vote’, and would probably be undermined by a Government elected on most other terms.

But the combined Arab population inside Israel and in territories under dispute is almost exactly as large as the Jewish population. Projections suggest that it will also grow faster than the Jewish population in the years ahead.

Hence Israel’s dilemma, and its reluctance to pursue a one-state solution any more than a two-state solution; the only way it can square the circle of managing to be both a democracy and an ethnocracy is to pursue (obviously undemocractic and unjust) policies aimed at keeping the Jewish population within its borders larger than the Arab population, so that should a one-state democracy come about, Israeli Jews will still be able to out-vote Israeli Arabs. Anything else, and the Jewish state will almost certainly be voted out of existence, when its continuation is so obviously against the interests of most Arabs. While a significant minority of Palestinians are actually quite happy to accept the Israeli way of life as their own, a great many others, especially those sealed in Gaza, and cut off from their real homes for generations, feel very differently.

This is the real reason why Israel makes little more than a token effort to discipline the soldiers of the Israeli Defence Force when they massacre Palestinians. Horrible as it sounds, every time a Palestinian dies, that is one fewer Arab voter to worry about whenever a completely free election is held. Massacres may not be good politics for Israel, but they are quietly in the interests of the Zionist ideal. Zionism, indeed any ethnocratic ideal, is simply incompatible with democracy, and sooner or later, the choice will always have to be made between them. While Israel appears to be putting off that choice for the time being, it is leaning in the ethnocratic direction.

This also, however, adds to Israel’s motives to play up the classic Zionist paranoia-chorus about how Jews cannot live safely among gentiles, and how any period without anti-Semitic persecution in other lands is just the pause-for-breath before ‘the next Pogrom‘. This is not only about justifying Israel’s original creation. No, the intermittent appeals for more Jews to come and settle in Israel are even more about increasing the Jewish population there, so that it can keep its numbers ahead of those of the Arab population.

But in order to make that increase feasible, more land will continue to be needed to make space for the new arrivals. And that land will, of course, continue to be taken from Arabs, be it more territory confiscated from Palestinians, or more land taken from neighbouring countries. When land is taken from neighbouring countries, there is the danger that more Arabs may be brought into the fold with them, rather defeating the object of the exercise, and upping the territorial need still further.

Israel, in short, has rather trapped itself in an upward spiral of increasing the land to accommodate a population that it has deliberately increased. It does it only so that it does not have to become truly democratic, and can remain, at least in large part, ethnocratic. Every time it succeeds, its success is only temporary, kicking the proverbial can further down the road, as the Palestinian population continues to grow, even in spite of all the forces pushing against it. And with each passing effort to apply downward pressure on that Arab population, Israel creates more opposition internationally, opposition that cannot be shouted down for much longer with the usual cynical cries of “anti-Semitism!!!

Zionism, an ethnocratic ideal, may be Israel’s founding principle, but eventually, the country will be forced to ask itself, “Is being an ethnocracy really worth all this trouble?”

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by Martin Odoni

The notorious outgoing President of the British Board of Jewish Deputies this week made perhaps the most ridiculous public statement of his entire, lamentable career. The eternally right-wing Jonathan Arkush, speaking to the eternally right-wing Daily Telegraph, claimed,

“Delegitimising the state of Israel is antisemitic. [Jeremy Corbyn] was a chairman of Stop the War, which is responsible for some of the worst anti-Israel discourse. If he shares the prevalent discourse about Israel, then that view is unquestionably antisemitic… [The BDI] will not accept a discourse which denies the existence of their own land to the Jewish people. I think we are all entitled to some clarity on his real views about Israel.”

This remark is either a cynical smear, or a call from the heights of deranged paranoia. Arkush and his allies in the Zionist (important; not Jewish) community keep levelling charges like this at the Labour leader, among many others on the left of the party. But each time, they put precious little meat on the bones of their accusations. There is never a coherent explanation from Arkush as to what Corbyn has really said that is so objectionable, examples are few-and-far-between, and what quotations are offered are usually taken out-of-context.

Arkush also said that Corbyn’s Labour has British Jews wondering: “Do we have a future here?” Not for the first time, and probably not the last, I find myself wanting to ask the Board, “When were you going to ask me before speaking for me?” Because I am one Jew who has never wondered whether I have a future here at all, and no one has ever asked me if I have.

Arkush also stated quite concretely that Corbyn holds ‘anti-Semitic views’, but again offers no specific examples to that effect, just more generalised grumbles about Corbyn’s history of criticisng Israeli policies.

More particularly, Arkush’s leading attempt to imply that Corbyn has a history of ‘delegitimising the state of Israel’ is an outrageous lie. Corbyn’s associations with the Stop The War coalition reveal not a shred of evidence of that; Stop The War are frequent critics of Israel, beyond doubt, but they have never argued particularly for its destruction. (And no, before anyone comments with the familiar urban myth, Stop The War did not publish an article four years ago literally demanding a war with Israel. The often-cited article by Professor Richard Falk was arguing for non-military action against Israel.) Stop The War question the decision to create Israel, and the process by which it happened – especially the much-under-discussed role of Zionist militancy in the mid-1940s – but that is quite different from wanting the country to be destroyed. The coalition, like most critics of Israel, want to see the country reformed with full rights for all Palestinians on an equal footing with all Jews, be it by a one-state or two-state solution. Condemnation of policy is quite different from condemnation of existence.

Arkushleep

So on examination, Arkush’s protestations are not against the way anyone in the Labour Party or Stop The War treats Jews at all. He objects instead to the way that the left will not endorse Israel’s treatment of Arabs. The refusal to approve the repeated slaughters of Arabs is anti-Semitic, according to Arkush.

The only conclusion we can draw from Arkush’s rant – probably his last before rightly stepping down as the Board’s President – is that he sees Israel/Palestine in the most childish of binary terms. He thinks that people can be anti-Semitic, or they can be anti-Arab. (They can also, perhaps, be both.) But as far as Arkush is concerned, it is not possible to be neither. So if you are not anti-Arab, you have to be an anti-Semite. That is how dimensionless Arkush’s reasoning skills are.

I have written numerous times before about the subconscious anti-Semitic mindset required to weaponise anti-Semitism allegations, reducing Jews from human beings to mere tools of disputational convenience – even when the weaponiser is Jewish. So if the Board as a whole endorses Arkush’s remarks, then the Board of Jewish Deputies is now an anti-Semitic organisation.

by Martin Odoni

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

Netanyahu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You see why I am hurting?

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

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

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

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

_____

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

by Martin Odoni

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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