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

Oh, Bibi, Bibi, Bibi… you have Royally (well, King David Hotel-ly) stuffed up.

My detestation of Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s hard-right Prime Minister, should never be in doubt. His politics in general are enough for me to oppose him, while his treatment of Palestinians is beyond the pale.

Yesterday, Netanyahu found he could not resist a vigorous, nay reckless, leap onto a dangerous, unsteady bandwagon that is hurtling down a bumpy slope on an uncertain course. This leap has endangered his key allies in the United Kingdom.

‘Contrived-anti-Corbyn-controversy-that-absorbs-disproportionate-press-time’ number umpteen, over Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party’s embattled leader, supposedly paying tribute to a ‘Black September‘ terrorist at the Hamman Chutt cemetery in Tunisia in 1991, has dominated media discussion over the last few days. It looks unlikely that Corbyn did any such thing – not least because the Black September terrorists were all buried in Libya and not Tunisia – but whether he did or he did not, ‘Bibi’ has committed a ‘boo-boo’ by getting involved in the row directly.

On Twitter yesterday, Netanyahu publicly attacked Corbyn for supposedly being guilty of what the accusation suggests.

Corbyn responds to Netanyahu

Netanyahu leaps on accusations against Corbyn that are probably untrue, certainly unproven.

This fits a disturbing pattern of Israeli interference in UK politics over the last couple of years, except this time there was no secrecy about it. But that is not my point. The point is that there are two big problems with what Netanyahu has done.

One, he has not checked to make sure the accusations against Corbyn are true. The fact that they have been printed in the Times, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Express, et al is no reason for confidence. And as The Sqwawkbox and EvolvePolitics have both pointed out, there are very strong reasons to doubt that the accusations against Corbyn are true at all. (Are they ever?)

But second, Netanyahu has opened himself to accusations – of utter hypocrisy. Back in 2006, he attended, and delivered a speech at, an event celebrating the anniversary of a notorious terrorist atrocity in 1946, when Zionists of the Irgun Militant faction blew up the King David Hotel in pre-Israel Jerusalem. Ninety-one people were killed, and nearly fifty more were injured. Twenty-eight of the victims were British.

King David Hotel bombing

Netanyahu celebrates atrocities against Britons, while getting his knickers in a knot about Britons supposedly celebrating atrocities against Israelis

Why is Netanyahu allowed to pay tribute to terrorist atrocities against Britons, if he will condemn Corbyn for supposedly paying tribute to terrorists who harm Israelis (which he almost certainly has not anyway)?

But what makes this ‘Bibi-boo-boo’, if you will forgive the 70’s disco noises, even more of a backfire is that it has raised pressure on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of ‘anti-Semitism’. Exploitation of that definition has been a key part of the Zionist propaganda strategy to shout down legitimate criticism of Israel in recent years. And one of the examples in the definition is now going to be brought front-and-centre, focusing on Anglo-Jewish Zionists. The example is this one; –

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.

Now, here is the dilemma into which Netanyahu has needlessly thrust Anglo-Jewish Zionists; –

If they continue expressing outrage over Corbyn’s supposed tribute to Black September – which to repeat is almost certainly not even true – how can they, as ‘loyal British citizens’, not express equal outrage over Netanyahu’s past, very real, ‘dance-on-the-graves’ of Britons killed at the King David Hotel Bombing?

If the Anglo-Jewish Zionists do not condemn Netanyahu, then surely they are guilty of displaying greater loyalty to Israel than they display to Britain? For they are refusing to condemn an Israeli who applauded an atrocity against the British, while condemning a Briton who vaguely-possibly applauded an atrocity against Israelis.

But if they do condemn Netanyahu, they will be siding with Jeremy Corbyn, the very man they have spent three years trying to destroy, while at the same time undermining the credibility of the effective leader of their central ideology.

Smart move, Bibi, you really have put the ball past your own goalkeeper with this one.

With this stupid intervention, Netanyahu has imperilled the credibility of the IHRA working definition, on which his own propaganda depends, and created a serious quandary for his allies in the UK. Not only does it raise serious questions about anything the Zionists say, it might also lend distasteful and undue credibility to the modern racist trope of ‘Jews who are more loyal to each other than they are to their countries’. Netanyahu has further presented Corbyn with a large platform from which to take the pressure of the summer off of himself, as Patrick MaGuire points out, allowing him to draw international attention to where it should really be turned – the plight of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has never been as bright as he thinks he is. After this move, I am starting to doubt he is even as modestly intelligent as I thought he was.

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.

by Martin Odoni

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

Yesterday morning, Jones tweeted the following; –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Links to LFI's Facebook Group

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

 

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

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