by Martin Odoni

Template for people to e-mail complaints to the Labour Party, via complaints@labour.org.uk.

To whom it may concern,

Jess Phillips MP has made anti-Semitic remarks on social media. Please see below.

Jess Phillips anti-semitic statement against Israel

If a Jeremy Corbyn supporter had said “Isreali [sic] government are racist”, we know what would happen to him/her.

By referring to the Israeli Government as ‘racist’, Ms Phillips has used a term that applies equally to Nazi Germany, and therefore stands as a comparison with Nazi Germany. Under the terms of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition, that makes her remarks anti-Semitic.

The party is presently clamping down ruthlessly on any statement made by members that can be presented as ‘anti-Semitic’, no matter how absurd the leap-of-logic required. Ms Phillips cannot expect to be treated differently from other members simply because she happens to be in the Parliamentary Party.

Therefore, I demand her membership of the Labour Party be suspended with immediate effect, while carrying out a full and exhaustive investigation into her conduct, past and present.

Polite regards
[YOUR NAME]

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by Martin Odoni

No, seriously, how stupid are they?

David Collier is a racist and smear-merchandising Zionist blogger of precisely the kind that currently dominate the ‘Anti-Semitism-in-the-Labour-Party’ contrived hysteria. Yesterday, somebody added me to a Facebook group called ‘Palestine Live‘, and Collier noticed (obsessive, stalking weirdos these Zionists, are they not?), and decided to condemn me for linking to the blogpost I wrote over the weekend. But not having the courage to take me to task in person, he instead took a screenshot and then posted it onto his Twitter feed.

David Collier smear

David Collier attacks me without daring to confront me.

Collier also made some pretty huge assumptions about me in the process. He says Jews who reject Zionism, like myself, are; –

so lost that they comfortably swim with white supremacists, Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

All I can say to that is that I have not knowingly ‘swum with white supremacists, Holocaust deniers or anti-Semites’ in my entire life. That mention of white supremacists is perhaps a little two-faced, given the British Zionist movement’s undeniable links to the English Defence League. And it is also two-faced of Collier to have a cover picture on his feed reading, “Beyond the great divide the truth matters“, given how little priority he gives to accuracy when attempting to describe Jewish anti-Zionists. But I digress.

My point is this; how stupid do these people have to be? All Collier has done is given me a hint that I am starting to get under Zionist skins. Does he imagine that, by “screenshotting” me like this, he will ‘intimidate me into shamed silence’, or something? Does he imagine that by using an image of the link, rather than linking to the blogpost itself, it will be particularly difficult for me to provide counter-links that will allow people to view what I actually said, rather than his crude caricature of it?

But above all, does he not realise that, by trying to do a ‘public lynching’ job on me like this, Collier is demonstrating precisely the sort of toxic, bullying behaviour that is rife among Zionist fanatics, and to which I was referring in the very blogpost linked-to in the image in the first place? Talk about providing an object lesson in the very act of denying it.

Add to this, I probably would not even have noticed the attack, had it not been for our old comic ‘toothless attack-dog’, Jonathan Hoffman (another disturbingly-obsessive social media stalker) – perhaps also imagining that I would be intimidated – actually putting an image of Collier’s tweet on my Facebook timeline!

Do Collier and Hoffman really not grasp that the best indicator I can get that what I write is effective is that it bothers hate-preaching Zionist bigots like themselves? If Zionists were just ignoring what I write, I would take it as a sign that I am not accomplishing very much, and might question whether it is worth the bother of continuing. Moreover, Collier has a lot more followers on Twitter than I have as well, and many of them, who had probably never heard of me until this morning, now know of me and what my position is on Israel. So as things stand, I regard this as a nice, free promo for my blog.

So… thanks for the thumbs-up, Collier and Hoffman. You pair of cretins!

 

by Martin Odoni

Jews 4 Jez

I’m one of these. But this is not an easy position to adopt.

A ‘Theobald-Jew’

As I mentioned on a previous post, Jonathan Hoffman, the man who is to Zionist tolerance what the shark from Jaws was to convincing visual-effects work, told me the following recently; –

You are a disgrace. A Jew In Name Only. JINO According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations. The world is teeming with Theobald-Jews who are ready to betray their own people to serve what they regard as their advantage.

An expression like ‘Theobald-Jews‘ is just an obsolete way of saying, “The Wrong Kind Of Jews” of course. But what Hoffman, and other aggressive Zionist smear-merchants are not very good at is developing their accusations beyond the label. They throw the name, and they sometimes offer a reason why the action has provoked the comparison, but they do not really establish why they believe the motive matches up.

What does Hoffman mean precisely when he implies that I am “ready to betray [my] own people to serve what [I] regard as [my] advantage”? For one thing, why is the Israeli Government supposed to be ‘my people’? For another, how can I have ‘betrayed’ them, when I have never professed any particular loyalty to them? How can it be ‘betrayal’ if I have not done anything underhand against them against their knowledge? But above all, what ‘advantage’ does he imagine I gain on a personal level from opposing Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip?

A frequent pattern

This is a frequent pattern I encounter when I cross swords with Israel supporters. A few years ago, an Israeli castigated me over social media in the following terms; –

such a “jew” martin, like yourself, cannot speak in the name of the jewish people. you see as “completely unnecessary” the existence and continuation of the jewish people, not simply of the state of israel!

i see completely unnecessary the existence of assimilated jews who are hostile towards jews/israel. Such jews should decide: either they’re completing the process of assimilation (and maybe becoming antisemitic – better antisemitic non-jew than a jewish anti-semite) or leave alone the jewish people. you can’t ride two bikes simultaneously and cynically use your “jewishness”: either one or the second.

NB: Please note that I did not change anything in the above passage. The poor grammar and appalling punctuation are not my doing.

Just to make clear, I had not said that I see the existence or continuation of the Jewish people as unnecessary. I had said that I did not believe that it had been necessary to found modern Israel, or to continue its particular status as a ‘Jewish state’. (My reasons why can be read here.) By the same measure, I had not claimed to speak ‘in the name of the Jewish people’. I had been speaking in my own name as a Jew. (“Two Jews, three opinions,” as they say.) Meanwhile, the Israeli’s insistence that my condemnation of Israel is me being “hostile to Jews” or a “Jewish anti-Semite” is not only yet another benighted conflation of Jews with Israel, it is also a variant on the same ‘Theobald-Jew’ accusation I got from Hoffman. When the Israeli accuses me of “cynically using [my] Jewishness”, he implies that I have an ulterior motive of some kind, but like Hoffman, offers no clear thoughts on what that motive is. The rest of his little rant basically amounts to saying that I have to be nice to Israel or I must keep my mouth shut, and ‘choose’ not to be Jewish anymore (which is not even possible, whether I like it or not – even if Gilad Atzmon thinks it is). His argument that the ongoing existence of myself and other Jewish anti-Zionists is ‘unnecessary’ seems like the real hostility, by any standards.

This demonstrates the oppressive attitude Zionist hardliners – gentile or otherwise – hold towards Jews. As far as the Zionists are concerned, Jews must ‘fall into line’. It is not gentiles, or Arabs, or even Palestinian Arabs more narrowly, that Zionist fanatics hate the most. The people Zionist fanatics hate the most are Jews who are not Zionists. Jews who will not fight to suppress the right of Arab people to have the self-determination that Zionists imagine they are fighting to bestow upon Jews themselves, Any Jew who steps out of that line is told he is no longer a Jew, which rather seems to run completely contrary to the idea of Jews having self-determination. That is why Zionism is not about granting self-determination to Jews, but about imposing a collective-determination upon Jews. Anyone, anywhere on Earth who questions it is attacked, but most especially if they are themselves Jewish, as they are not obeying the will of the ‘Hive-mind’ of Zionist imagination.

Meanwhile, anti-Semites think that all Jews already are in line, and that all Jews are somehow ‘secretly working behind the scenes to take over the world’, and other such would-be-hilarious-in-any-other-context tropes.

Anti-Semites and Zionists are flip sides of the same coin, especially to Jewish dissenters. One group hates us for trying to run the world when we are not, and the other group hates us for not trying to.

In short, we get it in stereo.

Anti-Semites & Zionists both hate Jewish dissenters

Now here is the detail I need to get across; an anti-Zionist Jew (or just a Jewish opponent of Israel) gets the worst of both worlds. We know, and anticipate, that anti-Semites are not going to stop hating us simply because we oppose Israel, because they will assume our motives are ingratiation, and will still assume all the other stereotype-Jewish characteristics are true. While Zionists accuse us of being ‘traitors’, and ‘Jews In Name Only’.

With this in mind, it should be as clear as the midsummers day sky that I, and other non-Zionist Jews, have no ulterior motive to adopt the position we do. It is not in our private interests to support Palestinian rights. All it does on a personal level is double the number of opponents we have. Our lives would be infinitely easier if we just shrugged our shoulders and supported Israel without question. The temptation to cave in and get back into line can be strong, especially when we become ostracised by Jewish communities that are stubbornly Zionist.

It is also an immensely frustrating position to be in in wider society, due to our voices being drowned out to the extent that few people realise we are here. Jewish anti-Zionists are routinely ignored by a media near-conspiracy that is determined to present a black-and-white “British-Jews-feel-they-are-under-siege!!!” narrative that is a useful weapon with which to attack the Left. Certainly, no one prominent in the media will ever speak up for Jewish anti-Zionists, and no one is eager to give us a platform to speak for ourselves. This is probably because a Jew who opposes Israel and Zionism is a confusing, water-muddying anomaly in many minds.

As an example, James O’Brien, the Thinking Liberal’s Idiot of LBC Radio, is always bending over backwards to sound sympathetic and sensitive to what he thinks are ‘Jewish concerns’ about the threat of the ‘next Pogrom’. But in doing so, he joins in with the right wing media insistence that ‘British Jews’ are a homogeneous mass with that same aforementioned ‘Hive-mind’. He therefore assumes that if one Jewish Briton expresses wild paranoia about ‘surging anti-Semitism’, and the need for Israel to do absolutely anything it sees fit to prevent it, all Jewish Britons are feeling the same panic, and believe in the same remedy. A Jew who opposes Israel is therefore a cause of confusion, and no likelier to get a platform from O’Brien, or others of his ilk, than a Blackshirt. Indeed, I see no evidence of the existence of Jewish anti-Zionists even being recognised in wide stretches of the western media. O’Brien, if he truly wants Jews to believe he cares and sympathises, needs to get it into his head that by projecting the views of some Jews onto all, he is being profoundly offensive.

Before anyone suggests it, Jewish anti-Zionists certainly do not get paid expressly for speaking out against Israel – or certainly I never have been. This blog is entirely free to read, and I have never been paid a penny for any of the articles written on here, even from adverts that sometimes appear in headers and footers. During my stint writing for The Canary, I did get paid a (very) small amount for my work, but only three of the forty-odd articles I wrote there were about Israel/Palestine. I do not have the precise figures, but I reckon the pay I got for all three articles would have been around £6. Not really worth all the bad feeling just for that, is it?

I have also lost friends within Jewish communities, several of whom were quite close to me, over my position on Israel, and I know I am far from the only Jewish anti-Zionist to experience that. Moreover, I frequently have very bitter arguments with members of my extended family who live in Israel, and who believe I am brainwashed by ‘politically correct’ propaganda.

All of that grief for the sake of £6? Seriously?

If you believe I would go through these miseries for an amount of money that piddling, you must believe every stereotype you ever heard about ‘Jewish money-grabbing’.

Any friend of Netanyahu is a friend of anti-Semites

No, I have no ulterior motive for supporting the Palestinians. I do it because it is right. It is right, because I recognise that Palestinians are as entitled to the same human rights as any other people. It is right because I recognise that Israeli policy encourages and creates a pretext for anti-Semitic feeling, potentially endangering Jews worldwide. It is right because I recognise that creating Israel at the outset was an act of anti-Semitism, as it created a geographical schism between many Jews and the rest of the human race. And it is right because, when Binyamin Netanyahu, without asking, tries to carry out his crimes in the name of the Jews of the whole world, my silence would make me complicit. That gives me a responsibility to say no, and to make damned clear why I am saying no. Especially when Netanyahu

  • tries to condemn a Labour Party leader, who has fought against anti-Semitism his whole life, as an anti-Semite,
  • tries to acquit Adolf Hitler of much of the blame for the Nazi Holocaust, and transfer it to Palestinians,
  • invites to Israel a Filipino elected-dictator, who boasts of being like Hitler, to open a memorial to the Shoah,
  • publicly expresses sentiments that resonate loudly with echoes of Nazi Germany’s ‘Survival Of The Strongest’ narratives.

When discussing ‘Bibi’, we are talking about a self-proclaimed ‘leader of the Jewish people’ who says Jeremy Corbyn is a racist, that Adolf Hitler was not, and that Rodrigo Duterte is a sensitive choice for unveiling a memorial to victims of a genocide. If the price of opposing a country led by a doublethinking megalomaniac like Netanyahu is for me to be labelled a ‘Jewish anti-Semite’, then so be it. It hurts and demeans me, but I am used to it, and I will simply shrug it off.  However, that will not always be easy, especially this week; –

I should know this week whether I am to be expelled

As regular readers should know, the latest aggravation I am experiencing in my capacity as a Jewish opponent of Israel is that I have been suspended by the Labour Party. From what I hear on the grapevine, my suspension is one among a number of cases that are expected to be assessed this coming Tuesday.

I genuinely do not know how it will pan out. It will truly anger and frustrate me if my case is assessed, as appears likely, by a gentile who knows little about the subject, and she judges me – a Jew who has experienced the sharp end of this prejudice – to be an anti-Semite. All because of a hopelessly-flawed definition of anti-Semitism being treated as Holy Writ. Anyone who understands and accepts that definition will not only imagine they know what anti-Semitism is better than I do, but will even be judging me under those terms. That is not only absurdly back-to-front, it is also a painful, powerless feeling.

As I say, my life would have been a lot easier had I just toed the line. But it would still have been wrong of me to do so.

by Martin Odoni

Why the IHRA definition is flawed

The definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ offered by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, it has been stated frequently, is given excessive credence.  Its own creator, Kenneth Stern, has stated that it should not be seen as the be-all-and-end-all, that its intent was not to be legally-binding but more a guideline for research into possible manifestations of anti-Semitism, and that it is being cynically exploited to silence critics of Israel. These notes of caution are made quite explicitly by the IHRA themselves even where they have published their definition; –

To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations… Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity… Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

(Emphases added.)

In other words, the notorious ‘examples’ in the IHRA definition, over which the Labour Party is getting into so much trouble, are not meant to be seen as cast-iron proof of anti-Semitic attitudes. They are merely meant to be seen as clues for ‘where to look’, as it were. Where these behaviours are seen, the person or people demonstrating them might be anti-Semitic in their intentions, and so it is advisable to investigate. That is quite different from how Zionists and mainstream media foam-at-the-mouths wish people to interpret it. They want everyone to believe that the examples are defined as inherently anti-Semitic, and that anyone demonstrating such behaviours must therefore be slapped down.

Even if that were what the IHRA definition had said – and it was not – it further needs reiterating that there is no particular imperative that such an ‘edict’ should have to be followed. The IHRA has no authority in this regard, and to be fair to its membership, they have never claimed such authority, to the best of my knowledge. That the definition is not meant to be legally-binding should end all claims to its ‘absolute’ status.

The only remaining argument that I can see people offering for why the Labour Party should be compelled to accept the definition lock-stock-and-barrel therefore appears to be, “Well, so many Governments and groups around the world accept the IHRA definition, so why shouldn’t the Labour Party?” This is one of the laziest, most childish examples of an argumentum ad populum (‘bandwagon fallacy‘) I have ever seen outside of one of Christopher Whittle’s attempted shoutdowns over Margaret Thatcher and the Hillsborough Disaster.

Distinguishing the definition from the examples

The examples are not, strictly speaking, part of the definition itself. They are guidelines – sadly flawed ones – for helping identify behaviours described within it.  The actual definition itself is a lot shorter; –

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

Even this is flawed, given that it is vague and too broadly grounded – especially where it even extends to behaviours directed towards non-Jewish individuals, which lends it a potential for instances of outright absurdity. Without very rigidly-stipulated provisos as to exactly how a non-Jewish individual could possibly be seen as a victim of anti-Semitism, the term as currently described in the definition can, without any real stretch, be extended to literally any act of persecution against any member of the human race. I am not exaggerating. Because of the poor wording, there is nothing within the definition to guarantee that the behaviour must be Jewish-related. Now, yes, there are circumstances where a gentile might be a victim of anti-Semitic behaviour e.g. they are mistaken by an anti-Semite for a Jew, they are close friends of a Jew and they become ‘implicated-by-association’ in the eyes of the anti-Semite etc, but there is nothing in either the definition itself or even in the examples that really narrows it down in this way, and in any event, it would be fair to define it as behaviour related to anti-Semitism, more than anti-Semitism directly.

So ridiculous is the definition as it currently stands that, under its terms, it would be just about feasible to argue that, say, Oliver Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Soviet Union’s Siege of Berlin were all ‘acts of anti-Semitism’. That last one in particular, for reasons too obvious to need pointing out, would be a mind-twisting reversal of reality.

This flaw in the definition is no minor, quibbling loophole, it is a gaping, fundamental rip in its logic.

My own definition of anti-Semitism, by the way, is simpler, and more precise.

Anti-Semitism is a hatred or fear of Jews, held for no reason other than that they are Jews.

I think that covers it rather well, and is really all that anyone needs. It needs to be remembered that anti-Semitism is not so much an action as an attitude – a motivation for a behaviour more than a behaviour itself. That is why the examples should not be seen as concrete guarantees of anti-Semitism. All of the examples offered can be anti-Semitic in intent, but at least some of the behaviours described therein are often done for honest, non-malicious reasons. I have taken part in some of them myself, as regular readers will be well aware, and as I am a Jew by birth, that should be a most telling note of caution.

Why getting the definition right is so critical

The importance of getting this definition right is enormous in the present climate of near-crazed hysteria, and not only for the sake of the Palestinians, who continue to be ground under the heel of Zionist Israeli expansion, and whose voices are seldom heard in the West and therefore need their global supporters to have the freedom to speak up on their behalf. It is also for the betterment of the Jewish people themselves.

As Robert Cohen pointed out in a social media post yesterday, some of the idiotic, hyperbolic and paranoid remarks coming from Anglo-Jewish leaders (usually unelected ones, please note) are not doing Zionist credibility any favours. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks made an utter hyena of himself this week by comparing Jeremy Corbyn’s very mild dig at Zionists from five years ago to Enoch Powell’s dog-whistling ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech in 1968.

By any standards, Sacks’ remarks are infantile and wildly over-the-top, much in keeping with Margaret Hodge’s recent gobbledegook. But also, they, if anything, tend towards what Corbyn was saying in the first place; that Zionists seem to have a very insecure humour-shortfall on matters connected to Israel, and cannot allow even the slightest of jokes at their own expense.

The latest row is the clearest attempt yet to conflate Jews with Zionists, but I am speaking of Sacks very much in his capacity as a Zionist rather than as a Jew, or even as a Rabbi, here. He has written quite explicitly, and quite preposterously, that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are the same thing. (As I have argued more than once, Zionism is anti-Semitic in its very application, but let us leave that on one side.) Sure, anti-Zionism can be motivated by anti-Semitism, as the IHRA definition’s examples suggest. But certainly not always. Some more sophisticated opponents of Zionism or Israeli policy – dare I include myself among them? – oppose it partly out of concern for the well-being of, not just Palestinians, but Jews themselves. It is precisely because of those who use Israeli brutality as a pretext for letting out anti-Semitic feeling that anti-Zionism (or at least opposition to Israel) is good for Jewish people as a kind of ‘moral anchor’; if enough pressure is applied to Israel that it stops its land-grabs from the Palestinians, and allows the Palestinian exiles sealed in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to return to their real homes, that pretext for anti-Semitic behaviour will be taken away.

But more even than that, the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism may have a very undesired effect on popular discourse that would harm Jewish communities. Quite simply, the definition of ‘anti-Semitism’ has been stretched so much over the last few years in particular that, should society ultimately be crowbarred into going along with it, we are in danger of accepting the idea that the term does not necessarily imply something especially bad anymore.

The intent behind this conflation on the part of the likes of Hodge and Sacks is quite blatantly to use cries of ‘anti-Semitism!‘ to make criticism of Israel and Zionism look bad. That is a possible end result, should we be weak-willed enough to give in to it. And it is clear that some people are taken in by it.

But just as likely an outcome would be for matters to be dragged the opposite way; real acts of Jew-hate could stop being seen as an inherently evil phenomenon instead, because the term ‘anti-Semitism’ will include all sorts of behaviours that really are not hateful and do no harm. At that point, people really may stop taking it seriously when real cases of anti-Jewish behaviour are found.

“Anti-Semitism” now sounds like an inconvenience only

If you doubt that that can happen, consider the exasperated noises some of Israel’s ‘useful idiots’ in the media, such as James O’Brien, keep making when Labour supporters insist that a giant volcanic mountain is being made out of a wart on the face of the runt of a litter of baby woodlice. The truth is, all indicators suggest that the Labour supporters are right. And that skepticism is now visibly growing across the country, which is healthy up to a point.

But beyond that point, the danger is that when real anti-Semitic behaviour is uncovered, an awful lot of people are going to roll their eyes and dismiss it, as much as Labour supporters dismiss anti-Semitism in the party right now. “Anti-Semitism now just means something Jews don’t like!” appears to be the unsettling refrain echoing towards us from over the horizon, and I already see signs of it developing on social media.

Because the term anti-Semitism has already been stretched far beyond its realistic limits, and because, however inadvertently, the IHRA have tried to set such ridiculous terms in stone – with the British contingent of the Alliance even doubling-down on them in the last few weeks – wider reactions appear to be getting skeptical. Some are even starting to assume that the word just means something Jews – or to put that far more accurately Zionists – would rather were kept quiet. Because in a manner of speaking, that is precisely what Zionists and Israel apologists have been trying to make it mean.

There is probably even less anti-Semitism in the Labour Party than I thought

Now, one might argue that I am wrong about anti-Semitism in the party, and that it really is widespread. However, for reasons I have given repeatedly over the last eighteen months, many of the accusations are trumped up, and what numbers we can find when investigating proportion suggest there are so few people involved that they total a small fraction of one per cent of the Labour membership. This is underlined by a conversation I had only yesterday with a party member who always has her ‘ear-to-the-ground’ (I have withheld her name for privacy reasons). She said; –

Most of those suspended in the purge are now back in the party, with no action against them, proving IMO it was a set up. It’s a myth that there have been hundreds expelled by NCC. They hear one case a month

(Emphasis added.)

Now, I have no way of verifying how accurate this is, but the individual in question has a good track record, and it certainly tallies with all the other indicators I have found since the present hysteria started up. If the numbers involved were really so gigantic as the media want us to believe, and if they were mostly genuine cases of anti-Semitism, why would the party’s National Constitutional Committee be processing cases at such a slow rate, and why would so few of the accused be expelled?

Going back to the definition and its examples, there is another matter to which I wish to draw attention.

Ugh, Jonathan Hoffman again?!

I and one of my allies at the Wear Red blog have been having yet another contretemps with our dear old chum and comrade-in-nausea-induction, Jonathan Hoffman. Yes, he of the vulpine demeanour and the Nazi entourage.  Yes, he of such self-unaware stupidity that he does not recognise what an own goal it is to put the word ‘RACIST‘ in big capital letters on his Twitter display pic directly above his own name; –

Hoffman and his Twitter display pic

Jonathan Hoffman genuinely doesn’t realise what this display pic appears to declare about himself.

(NB: I have no doubt that the Hufflepuff-man will soon realise what a stupid blunder the above is, change the display pic, and then insist that I ‘photoshopped’ this picture. He has a history of making such laughable denials when caught red-handed.)

Indeed, he of such awesomely bad taste in victim cards, he thinks that adding Je Suis Margaret Hodge to his profile name will make him sound like a formidable man of principle, and not like a brainless drama queen.

Yes, him again.

I shall not go into much detail about the exchanges we had with Hoffman on social media, as they were lengthy, with endless, very catty back-and-forth. But I wish to draw attention to his conduct when I challenged him to condemn Binyamin Netanyahu for his history of taking part in celebrations of the King David Hotel Bombing of 1946, and Israel for selling arms to Leopoldo Galtieri’s Military Junta in Argentina during the Falklands War.

As I pointed out a couple of weeks back, Bibi’s foolish public attack on Jeremy Corbyn over the wreath he placed in Tunisia in 2014 has put British Zionists in an unhappy position. And this latest showdown with Hoffman has proven my point. Despite repeatedly being challenged to condemn Israel, past and present, Hoffman repeatedly sidestepped the matter, sometimes quibbling over terminology, before eventually lapsing into guilty silence. (You can read the exchanges here, although be warned, it is a disjointed, rather fractious comment thread.)

Hoffman disproves the IHRA definition he depends on

Hoffman has spent almost every day over the last three years condemning Jeremy Corbyn for being “anti-Semitic”, just because Corbyn is a tireless critic of Israel, and a supporter of Palestinian rights. But Hoffman refuses to criticise any proven connection between Israel and British deaths that happened in the name of Zionism, be they in 1946 or 1982. Corbyn commemorates Palestinians murdered by Israeli planes – Hoffman offers castigation. Bibi commemorates Zionist militants blowing up a hotel and ending British lives and Israel sells arms to a nation with which Britain was at war – Hoffman offers pedantic quibbles and stony silence.

We can only conclude from that therefore that Hoffman is more loyal to Israel than he is to Britain. But he is British – a former vice-President of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain & Ireland.

Now, by one of the examples given in the IHRA definition, the above highlighted paragraph is anti-Semitic.

Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

But how can that paragraph be anti-Semitic? Judging Hoffman’s priorities as being Israeli is simply the only reasonable conclusion to be drawn from the facts. He will not condemn Israel or Zionists for undoubted misdeeds against the British, but will condemn a Briton for a (dubiously-perceived) misdeed against Israel. An objective assessment of the facts cannot be anti-Semitic, because anti-Semitism is a prejudice. By definition, an objective assessment is the antithesis of prejudice.

So, to say it again, the examples appended to the IHRA definition are only guidelines, and should not be seen as absolute. When these examples manifest in the real world, they indicate places to be on the look-out for anti-Semitism, but should not be seen as concrete evidence of anti-Semitism. Once investigations have been carried out, there is every chance of discovering that there is nothing untoward going on.

Now, one of the most deranged, bullying Zionist fanatics in the country has kindly helped me to demonstrate why.

I must remember to thank him some time.

by Martin Odoni

I mentioned a couple of months back that I was expecting some kind of suspension to my membership of the Labour Party. Well, it took them a long time, but there is predictable news, and unexpected news on that front. The predictable bit (a friend and fellow Labour ‘suspendee’ even said, “Unsurprisingly” when I informed him of my suspension) is that I have indeed received my suspension notice. Not a promising reflection on the party’s competence that they got my address wrong some seven months after I informed them that I had moved to a new home, but I shall not dwell on that.

Wrong address

The Labour Party suspends me while getting my home address wrong.

The unexpected detail is what I have been accused over. I was expecting the suspension to be connected to past entanglements with the malevolently vulpine Zionist, Jonathan Hoffman, who claims to have lodged a complaint against me. In fact, the accusation does not appear to have anything to do with arguments with him. Instead, it was over the cover picture I put together for an article I wrote back in February. Here it is; –

star of david swastika

I am told that the image may “meet the definition of antisemitism [their spelling, right or wrong, not mine] adopted by the Labour Party, and thus be in breach of the Labour Party’s rule 2.I.8.”

It is entirely possible that I am guilty, given the well-recorded problems with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism, which the Labour Party has largely adopted. The dangerous flaw in the definition – that comparing the policy of The State of Israel to that of Nazi Germany is inherently anti-Semitic –  would probably apply here.

I am quite pleased that I have been suspended over this though, because it may force Labour to have a close look at the absurdity of this clause in the definition. What is likely to force the matter is the obvious, big drawback in the allegation against me; it is directed at someone who is ethnically Jewish. As I have said more than once in the past, it is quite possible to be prejudiced against one’s own race, but it is very counter-intuitive and rare, so when the suggestion is made, it needs a very strong supporting case. In other words, if anyone wishes to accuse me of being a Jewish anti-Semite, they had better come up with some ultra-solid reasons why.

My history of criticism of Israel is not an ultra-solid reason, or even a half-solid reason. Anti-Semitic feeling will never be the only possible motivation for condemning Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Arabs. Nor is it the only possible reason why people might see resemblance between the deeds of modern Israel and the deeds of Nazi Germany.

Even if one could argue that there is no such resemblance at present – a very shaky assertion but let us humour it for now – there is no reason for certainty that there never will be one in the future. But the IHRA working definition insists that we must assume that, and that if we do not, we are anti-Semites. And worse, this further means that, even if Israel actually went as far as to set up extermination camps complete with gas chambers and incinerators, and started ‘processing’ Palestinians through them in their thousands (no, I am not suggesting that Israel really is doing that, or that it is likely to in the future, this is purely hypothetical), the IHRA definition would still class it as anti-Semitic to suggest a resemblance to Nazi policy. Even though, in such a scenario, Israel’s policy would not only resemble but exactly match that of the Nazis.

Policy criticisms of Israel are not necessarily even anti-Zionist, let alone anti-Semitic, as it is quite possible to support Israel’s existence as a Jewish state without supporting its policies. (I support neither, just in case anyone was somehow in any doubt.)

That clause in the definition is clearly horribly, dangerously flawed, that is the clause I appear to be falling foul of, and it is a part of the definition I reject. Being an ethnic Jew, I believe I have an intimate right to dispute it.

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?”

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.