How allegations of ‘left anti-Semitism’ have been weaponised against Jeremy Corbyn

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Inquiry chair Shami Chakrabarti arrive to deliver anti-Semitism inquiry findings, June 2016. The training session run by the Jewish Labour Movement that led to Jackie Walker's second suspension was set up by the Labour Party bureaucracy in direct contradiction of the Chakrabarti inquiry. [Image: Jonathan Brady/PA].

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Inquiry chair Shami Chakrabarti arrive to deliver anti-Semitism inquiry findings, June 2016. The training session run by the Jewish Labour Movement that led to Jackie Walker’s second suspension was set up by the Labour Party bureaucracy in direct contradiction of the Chakrabarti inquiry. [Image: Jonathan Brady/PA].

This terrific article by Jonathan Rosenhead makes some useful comments about the reasons behind the rise of anti-Semitism allegations against members of the Labour Party – especially those supporting Jeremy Corbyn.

The original article contains a large amount of information that This Blog has already covered, so I’ll cut to the new stuff. Read the rest by clicking on the link at the bottom.

[Jeremy] Newmark is a man with a mission. It seems to be the identification and rooting out of antisemitism. And his arrival on the national Labour Party scene has coincided with the uproar about left antisemitism.

What surge in antisemitism? We do know that antisemitic incidents reported in the UK in the first 6 months of this year, as recorded by the Community Security Trust, rose by 15% above those for the previous year.  But percentage changes like these tell only part of the story. The actual number of such incidents recorded for the first half of 2016 was 557. And that figure is still below that for 2014, which were boosted by the Israeli assault on Gaza, so no surge.

Is it possible that despite the low levels of antisemitic behaviour in the general population there is significant antisemitism within the left and specifically the Labour Party? Attempts have been made to show that such views are either historically endemic on the left, or brought on by the Corbyn ascendency (that these explanations are mutually contradictory is glossed over).

The group Free Speech on Israel coalesced in April out of a loosely-knit band of Jewish Labour Party supporters. Some 15 of us got together at a couple of days’ notice for the inaugural gathering. We found that over our lifetimes we could muster only a handful of antisemitic experiences between us. And, crucially, although in aggregate we had around 1000 years of Labour Party membership, no single one of us had ever experienced an incident of antisemitism in the Party.

How then do we make sense of a ‘crisis’ for which evidence is so lacking? Well, one solution if you want a crisis and lack enough evidence is to invent some. Another is to redefine innocent behaviour as evidence of criminal intent.

As long ago as April a report in openDemocracy on accusations of antisemitism which led to early suspensions showed that nearly all of them related to remarks that people made, not about Jews, but about Israel and Zionism. Historical Facebook postings and Twitter feeds had been ransacked (by whom?) to find a careless nuance. A Labour member using the word ‘Zionist’ as a purely descriptive adjective in a tweet can be treated as a suspected antisemite for it (I refer to the case of the Vice-Chair of my own constituency Labour Party, still suspended as I write).

It is impossible to know from the outside exactly what and who have made this moral panic go with such a swing. Key individuals may well be Jeremy Newmark, well-placed in JLM, though only just in time, to fan these flames. The wily Mark Regev took up his post as Israeli ambassador in London at the start of April. In July Ella Rose left her job as public affairs officer at the Israeli Embassy to become Director of JLM. Who knows? Organisationally, judging by their public pronouncements there is an at least informal coalition of forces involving JLM, Progress (the Blairite pressure group), and Labour Friends of Israel which have all been promoting the idea that the left is permeated with antisemitism.

What has made this alignment of forces a natural is that they have all wanted the same thing – the ejection of Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour leadership.

All the significant Jewish community organisations, now including JLM, sing from the same psalm book – the refrain is that an attachment to Israel is an integral part of Jewish identity in the twenty-first century.

So – if attacks on Israel’s Zionist project of securing the maximum territory with the minimum number of Palestinians can be construed as antisemitic, and this can somehow be blamed on Corbyn, everyone gains.

Source: Jackie Walker: a suspense mystery | openDemocracy


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9 thoughts on “How allegations of ‘left anti-Semitism’ have been weaponised against Jeremy Corbyn

  1. Roy Beiley

    I am in danger of losing the plot here as these accusations of anti-semitism coupled with Zionism have become increasingly based on complete fabrications or ‘nuances’ rather than being evidence based. In the larger scheme of things. Do voters really care about such wailings when there are so many more important issues to be concerned about.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Yes they do.
      It’s about the character of the individuals concerned. Nobody wants to be seen to support a Nazi – and some try to take advantage of that fact

      1. mohandeer

        BT’selem’s examples of how the IDF and Jewish settlers behave is in fact too reminiscent of the nazi state of Germany, so support of nazi ideology is not unreasonable in comparing Israel with the pre existing Third Reich. If the zionists were really that concerned about the comparisons of behaviour posited by so many of these extremist then why have they not been up in arms over the introduction of neo nazi’s like Poroshenko and the Kiev regime in the Ukraine? It seems that only certain individuals and left wing political parties are their preferred targets as opposed to hard right wing like Likud and Kiev’s junta. An odd way to go about fighting prejudice since the UK government supported the military coup which enabled nazism to make it’s come back. Even more strange that the extremist zionists have made no angry protestations about the genocide being committed against ethnics in the Ukraine enabled by Right Wing governments within Europe and the UK, so why target left wing or centrists like Corbyn?

  2. casalealex

    New antisemitism
    Starting in the 1990s, some scholars have advanced the concept of new antisemitism, coming simultaneously from the left, the right, and radical Islam, which tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and they argue that the language of anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are used to attack Jews more broadly.
    In this view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and they attribute this to antisemitism. Jewish scholar Gustavo Perednik has posited that anti-Zionism in itself represents a form of discrimination against Jews, in that it singles out Jewish national aspirations as an illegitimate and racist endeavor, and “proposes actions that would result in the death of millions of Jews”.
    Critics of the concept view it as trivializing the meaning of antisemitism, and as exploiting antisemitism in order to silence debate and to deflect attention from legitimate criticism of the State of Israel, and, by associating anti-Zionism with antisemitism, misused to taint anyone opposed to Israeli actions and policies.

  3. jeffrey davies

    call me names call me out but these rats who started this are the real culprits who would use any method to stop corbyn yet we the peasant now that lies spread by the greedie ones who want control back from those they dislike funny nay but they shot them selves in the foot again by showing up themselves for more to see how devious they are

  4. Barry Davies

    Is it just me or has anyone else considered that if there is anti semitism in the labour party it was there before Corbyn became leader, and his predecessors clearly did nothing, and yet whilst having to continually fight off the anti Corbyn M.P.’s he is supposed to sort out what is igf it exists not a novel problem.

  5. mohandeer

    Samo, Samo. The pro Israeli Zionist extremists are trying to silence all criticism of Israel by accusations of anti-Semitism, which it is not, because many Jews do not associate their faith or Jewish identity with the entity calling itself Israel. That is the pro Israeli extremists bullying tactic and an inaccurate one at that. It is also now very apparent that although anti Semitism went up after Protective Edge in which Israel murdered 500 Palestinian children, the incidents have not grown and certainly not in the left or under Jeremy Corbyn.
    What we have seen is the extremists make unfounded allegations in order to remove Corbyn and the left wing from British politics and promote ways and means of silencing all opposition to the barbarous and apartheid state, regardless of any factual evidence, but manufactured lies and disinformation or misinformation. They can only win if we let them, it is now time to call out all those who make these false allegations and accuse them of bigotry or provide evidence or shut the hell up.

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