This is crucial reading. While This Blog has been sorting the information from the noise in the Ken Livingstone/Naz Shah controversy, our old friend Kerry-Anne Mendoza over on The Canary has exposed the overarching strategy of those who denounced them.
It is critically important that as many people read this as possible – particularly those who have been persuaded by the “Labour is full of anti-Semites” narrative being pushed in the mainstream press and by stooges in the social media.
It is time to speak out against the concerted and, loosely, coordinated effort to silence Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and critics of Israel, by smearing them as anti-semites. As a journalist who has been engaged in the Israel-Palestinian conflict since I was 20 years old, this tactic is nothing new to me. But I have never witnessed (in the UK at least) the kind of sustained and widespread attacks that have happened in recent weeks. For this reason, it’s time to put forward a powerful statement on why our team at The Canary refuse to be censored by this hypocritical and cynical smear campaign.
How it works
It appears that enemies of Jeremy Corbyn’s progressive plans for the Labour party have discovered some common ground. Blairites within the party and the media, along with their conservative peers and the pro-Israel lobby, all lose out if Corbyn succeeds. So, in short, they are seeking to take him out of play by hitting him where it is mutually beneficial – his long-standing criticism of Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine.
The efforts to deliberately confuse anti-Zionism (criticism of the political movement to establish an apartheid Jewish state), and anti-semitism (the prejudice and persecution of Jewish people) are longstanding. Israeli advocacy groups within the EU have been attempting to formalise the bogus definition of anti-semitism since at least 2005. As Ben White reports for Alternet, as recently as March 30 this year:
Eric Pickles, UK Special Envoy for Post-Holocaust issues and chair of Conservative Friends of Israel, revived the discredited definition by publishing it on the government’s website.
By setting up this framework, such groups simply have to wait for someone to make a criticism of Israel – then launch their attack. Here’s how it works:
Some journalist or pro-Israel group seize on an anti-Israel statement (generally scouring social media accounts over years). They then release it as a shocking revelation. Pundits and political opponents then whip up some mock outrage until they can force a resignation or suspension – and so they go on repeating with each subsequent target.
In the case of Labour activist Vicky Kirby, the allegations of anti-semitism absolutely bear true. Her statements were despicable and indefensible. However, since then, the project has expanded to include any and all expressions of outrage at Israeli atrocities.
The treatment of Naz Shah is a case in point. The contemptible conservative blogger Guido Fawkes released a Facebook post that Shah published during Israel’s 2014 assault on Gaza. The post stated that the solution for the conflict would be to relocate Israel to the US as a 51st state. Is that emotive? Yes. Does it make a powerful political point? Yes. Israel receives more than $3bn every year in defense funding from the US, which it uses to enforce a brutal and illegal occupation of Palestine. Israel is an apartheid state, and it was certainly not considered racist to call for British occupiers to get out of the colonies of Rhodesia, South Africa and elsewhere – even those colonialists who had lived in the country for generations.
It is also worth noting that none of these come-lately crusaders against anti-semitism utter a word against Israel when its statesmen and women call openly for the ethnic cleansing and genocide of the Palestinians.
So let me be clear: anyone seeking to cloak their bigotry under the petticoats of persecution meted out to the Palestinians will find no sanctuary here.
For enemies of Corbyn and the progressive left to leverage this into a sickening smear campaign against all those who stand against prejudice – to abuse the memory of holocaust victims for their own political ends – is almost beneath our contempt. We denounce these appalling tactics in the strongest terms. They are repulsive and repugnant, and they have no place in our public conversation.
The Canary exists to confront anti-semitism. Not only anti-semitism, but all prejudice, whether based on race, sexuality, gender or anything else. Which is more than can be said for those promoting the campaign against Corbyn and the progressive wing of the Labour party right now. If you agree, make this stand with us. Call out prejudice wherever you find it, and let’s have the same policy for bullshit too.
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