Does the Labour Party have ‘a problem with anti-Semitism’? No; and the accusations raise more questions than answers.

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04/04/2016 by socialistfight

I don’t know who Richard Hutton is or how qualified he is to judge my “half-baked Marxism” but his conclusion is nonetheless welcome after he has made an exhaustive examination of the issues:

“As with Downing’s other pieces, these seem to be examples of half-baked Marxist approaches to complex world events, rather than anything more sinister. It doesn’t seem likely that Downing is anti-Semitic, so much as ingenuous in how this material comes across.”

And doesn’t he really gets at the heart of the matter when he says:

It’s evident that Streeting persistently conflates the state of Israel with Jewish identity; then accuses other people of being anti-Semitic for doing the same thing as himself – that is, failing to make a distinction between people who are Jewish, and Israel. If Streeting does not differentiate between the two, how can others really be faulted by him when they follow suit? It’s not something which can be had both ways.

“Much the same is true of several other Labour MPs at the forefront of making allegations of anti-Semitic sympathies against both the Labour party and its leader; whose commentaries conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Chris Bryant published a piece in the Times newspaper – quoted in the paywall-free Independent – titled ‘If Labour gives in to antisemitism it loses its soul’; but subtitled ‘criticising Israel is one thing, but questioning its right to exist is another’ [7]. While, writing in Jewish News, the Labour MP, Angela Smith, opined that “for far too long, some on the left have exhibited a distorted logic when it comes to anti-Semitism by equating every aspect of Jewish identity and culture with the politics of Israel and the Middle East” [8]. So, on the one hand, Jewish identity is bound up with the state of Israel; but on the other, it is separate. Again, it’s not possible to have it both ways.”

A New Place Of Exile

Media Commentaries

Does the Labour Party have “a problem with anti-Semitism”? This accusation gained prominence in March 2016, when two Labour Party members, Vicki Kirby and Gerald Downing were removed from the organisation; generating several comment pieces in the national press. In addition to this, allegations had been made against Labour-affiliated students at Oxford University. The commentaries bemoaned the Labour party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for not doing enough to tackle anti-Semitism; and, in some cases, suggested that they have actually encouraged the prejudice.

So then, are these claims supported by evidence; and does the Labour party, or its leader, have a case to answer? No. In fact, what becomes clear when the various allegations are tested against the evidence is that they are not merely inaccurate, but in most cases false. This is cause for concern in its own right.

Firstly, let’s look at the allegations made against Vicki Kirby and Gerald Downing – the two people whose removal…

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