Reply to the LRC NC charges of Antisemitism against Gerry Downing

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17/06/2016 by socialistfight

Contained in INVESTIGATION OF A COMPLAINT ABOUT YOUR CONDUCT by Gordon Nardell QC

Gerry Downing, May Day 2013, following successful appeal against sacking as a bus driver at Cricklewood garage. John McDonnell stood on the picket line outside the garage in his defence.

Is there any substance to the charges of racist language and conduct against Gerry Downing?

 

This would have formed our substantial defence against the charges of antisemitism levelled by the LRC NC against Gerry Downing, now withdrawn, though there has been no apology and we will not let this matter rest there.

Socialist Fight

In our defence here we would cite extracts from two online articles published soon after Gerry Downing’s 9 March expulsion and appearance on the Daily Politics show of 10 March.

One is from David Hutton, whom we do not know but who made a reasoned and powerful defence of both Vicki Kirby and Gerry Downing. The other is from a Zionist opponent, David Rich, the Zionist Community Security Trust (CST) leading writer, who condemns him but does accept that his opposition falls into the category of Marxism.

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

Hutton says:

“Moreover, the GuidoFawkes Blog had also broken the story about Gerry Downing. It published a piece about him on the 8th of March 2016; decrying him as an apologist for Al Qaeda’s attack on the United States in September 2001. A day later it published a second piece on Downing, entitled ‘Gerry Downing “we must address the Jewish question”. So, those are the allegations of anti-Semitism made against Kirby and Downing; and it would be fair to say that the GuidoFawkes blog has played a key role in bringing these two stories to mainstream media attention.

Writing in the Guardian on the 19th of March 2016, Jonathan Freedland referred to the cases of both Downing and Kirby; and contended that Jeremy Corbyn bore a particular responsibility for them. The article was entitled ‘Labour and the left have an antisemitism problem‘; and sub-titled ‘Under Jeremy Corbyn the party has attracted many activists with views hostile to Jews’. The only ‘activists’ cited are Kirby and Downing. Freedland refers to the aforementioned material – noting that Downing:

“Said it was time to wrestle with the ‘Jewish Question’”; while Kirby “hailed Hitler as a ‘Zionist God’ and tweeted a line about Jews having ‘big noses’, complete with a ‘lol’”.

Freedland then expressly attributes responsibility for this to Jeremy Corbyn: “Thanks to Corbyn, the Labour party is expanding, attracting many leftists who would previously have rejected it or been rejected by it. Among those are people with hostile views of Jews”.

The facts of the case disprove Freedland’s claim, however. Neither Downing nor Kirby were attracted to the party by Corbyn – both had joined Labour before Corbyn had been elected to the leadership. As was plain from her first suspension from the party, Kirby had been a member of Labour at least as far back as 2014; whereas Downing was suspended from the party for the first time in August 2015, as he noted in a comment posted on the New Internationalist website. He also stated on Facebook that he has been a member of Labour “for some 30 years, with a few breaks”. So, Freedland evidently doesn’t have a point with regard to Corbyn here.

However, he goes on to make a more general point about ‘the left’ and anti-Semitism which is significant – specifically that Jewish people have spent “years, lamenting that parts of the left were succumbing to views of Jews drenched in prejudice”; and that these warnings have been ignored in “the belief that what Jews are complaining about is not antisemitism at all, but criticism of Israel”. On the same tack, reacting to the news about Vicki Kirby, on the 15th March 2016 Owen Jones had published a piece on the Guardian’s website, called ‘Antisemitism is a poison – the left must take leadership against it’; which had said much the same thing:

“It is incumbent on the progressively minded to take antisemitism seriously. We wouldn’t belittle the seriousness of other forms of bigotry, or seek to deflect from it. It is possible to passionately oppose antisemitism on the one hand, and on the other oppose the policies of Israel’s government and support Palestinian national self-determination. Both these issues have to be completely disentangled: a discussion about serious antisemitism should not be a launchpad into a debate about Israel”.

So both authors suggest that ‘the left’ has a problem with distinguishing anti-Semitism from criticism of Israel – which to all intents and purposes centres on the policies of the country’s government. They also imply that there is a straightforward distinction to be drawn between these two things.

However, neither the case of Kirby nor Downing support this viewpoint. On the contrary, they serve to demonstrate how difficult it actually is to establish whether a sentiment is anti-Semitic, or is criticism of Israel’s government. The GuidoFawkes site provides a screenshot of Kirby’s comments on Twitter, which are at the centre of the allegations against her. As can be seen, the majority of these were references to Israel, rather than Jews:

If anything, the distinction between anti-Semitism and reproaches of Israel’s government is even less clear cut in the case of Downing. The references to Downing’s essay misquote its title; and none allude to its content properly. It was not called “we must address the Jewish question” as the GuidoFawkes blog claimed; nor did it suggest that “it was time to wrestle with the ‘Jewish Question’” as Freedland suggested. Instead it was entitled ‘Why Marxists must address the Jewish question concretely today’; published on 22nd August 2015. So what is the ‘Jewish question’ it proposes to address?

According to the GuidoFawkes blog “The piece speaks for itself”; and this is supposedly illustrated by the following quote:

“The role Zionists have played in the attempted witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign is glaringly obvious… Since the dawning of the period of neo-liberal capitalism in the 1970s, elements of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, from Milton Friedman to Henry Kissinger to the pro-Israel ideologues of the War on Terror, have played a vanguard role for the capitalist offensive against the workers.”

The ellipses denotes the removal of six and a half paragraphs. The actual text in question discusses something quite different to what’s implied here by the Fawkes site:

“The role Zionists have played in the attempted witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign is glaringly obvious. So is their role in British politics in general. In the last parliament, 80% of Tory MP’s supported the Conservative Friends of Israel. Leading figures in Labour like Ed Miliband and Ed Balls are involved with Labour Friends of Israel, whose sponsor list is a roll-call of Blairite neocons and war makers. The Lib Dems were similarly affected. This gives immense power”.

So, this was evidently not a reference to Judaism, but to ‘Pro-Israel’ lobby groups. Downing’s article is by no means free from problematic qualities; but is it anti-Semitic? It’s more difficult to say than the commentaries discussing it suggest. In fact, despite its references to “Jewish militants” and “the Jewish bourgeois”, the piece itself is primarily about Israel. As it concludes: “The end of ethnocracy in Israel would spell the defeat of this extra resource of imperialism, which today’s Western ruling classes value highly indeed”. It is easy enough to see why somebody would read Downing’s piece and conclude that it is rooted in anti-Semitic hostility; but it seems to be more a badly written and ill-thought out treatise on the demerits of Western imperialism, written from a half-baked Marxist standpoint, than opprobrium aimed at people for being Jewish.

This is the point at issue, here: it isn’t entirely clear whether these two individuals are anti-Semitic; or whether their criticisms of Israel are poorly worded. It could be either which is true. Their views on Israel could be rooted in racism; but they could equally well not be. Either way, the facts of both cases fail to support the conclusion drawn by Freedland that Kirby and Downing’s membership of the Labour party has implications for its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Both of them joined the party before Corbyn was elected to lead it – both were removed while he leads the party.” [1]

All the above is taken directly from Richard Hutton’s blog. He concludes that neither Vicki Kirby nor Gerry Downing were proven to be antisemitic. The article he refers to is Why Marxists must address the Jewish question concretely today, which Gordon Nardell has chosen to include in these charges against Gerry Downing and Socialist Fight on the very spurious basis that “key elements of the article were put to you in the interview; and while the authorship of the article is unattributed, you did not seek to dissociate yourself from it, but rather you answered the points put to you in terms that closely resemble its contents”. [2] However legally spurious these assumptions may be we intend to defend the content of that article from a Marxist/Trotskyist viewpoint. Richard Hutton believes that they were “written from a half-baked Marxist standpoint” but we suggest that his understanding of Marxism on these points may be wanting.

Dave Rich and someone even more famous in June 2009

 The polemic by Dave Rich of CST against Gerry Downing

The polemic by Dave Rich of The Zionist Community Security Trust (CST) against Gerry Downing and Socialist Fight is actually more politically honest than many others. [3] An honest assessment from an outright political opponent, a Zionist source which seeks to put the Trotskyist political position in its historical and political context. This Zionist is an honest opponent who alleges we are antisemitic and should be expelled from the Palestine Solidarity Committee but this is from his clear standpoint that Marxism, beginning with Marx, is antisemitic. A rare document, which does not attempt to brand Karl Marx or Abram Leon or Socialist Fight as Nazis. Although he does press the charge of antisemitism and the opening paragraphs calls for our expulsion from the Palestine Solidarity Committee nonetheless it is gratifying to be honestly opposed from a theoretically engaged opponent. It is clear that he sees the whole history of Marxism from Marx himself in 1843 On the Jewish Question as antisemitic and we are just the latest example. He has this to say:

 “One of the curiosities of the Labour Party under its current leadership is that pundits need to familiarise themselves with Marxist theory that many assumed had become obsolete a long time ago. In that spirit, this blog post will provide a (very) brief guide to what Trotskyists mean by the ‘Jewish Question’.

This isn’t the same as the Nazi’s Jewish Question which led to the Final Solution. Trotskyists do want Jews to disappear, but not via genocide. Instead, they have theorised Jews out of history, and get upset that Jews refuse to go along with this theory and perform their historical function by disappearing.

The key Trotskyist text is The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation, written by a wartime Jewish Trotskyist called Abram Leon. Leon wrote The Jewish Question while in hiding in Belgium during the Nazi occupation, before being caught and deported to Auschwitz where he was killed. The book built on Karl Marx’s original On The Jewish Question (written a century earlier) by coming up with the concept of the “people-class”: a distinct ethnic, religious or racial group, such as Jews, whose characteristics become effectively synonymous with their economic function in society. Using this theory, Leon explained that Jews survived in European history because they were traders and moneylenders and therefore had value in medieval society.

According to Leon’s theory, Jews should have disappeared under capitalism as they became a “declassed element” with no place in modern society. However, antisemitism had prevented them from fully assimilating. Zionism, Leon predicted, would fail because it was an attempt to “resolve the Jewish question independently of the world revolution.” Only socialism could provide a solution, by offering Jews “The end of Judaism” – something that Leon welcomed.[4]

Conclusion from these two extracts

We would point to the final paragraph above from David Rich as proof that we are indeed being persecuted for our philosophical and ideological beliefs and these beliefs constitutes the ideology of Marxism/Trotskyism. We reaffirm that these charges being pressed against us are part of the witch hunt against the left in the Labour party that began against Oxford University anti-Zionist students, against Naz Shah MP, against Gerry Downing, Tony Greenstein and Ken Livingstone, to mention but a few. Here we seek to show that our “half-baked Marxist approaches to complex world events” is, in fact, the genuine Marxist doctrine of universal human liberation by relying on the works of Karl Marx, in particular his On the Jewish Question (1844) and Abram Leon’s The Jewish Question: A Marxist Interpretation (1942). Leon was a Polish/Belgian Trotskyist Jew who perished in Auschwitz in 1944 at the age of 26 for leading a miners’ strike against the Nazis in Belgium. We reject Gordon Nardell’s assertion that Gerry Downing’s remarks, “appear to amount to criticism of persons on the basis not only of their political position or conduct, but also of their ethnicity”. You say:

“As LRC members we are deeply concerned at the present climate in the Labour Party in which the expression of trenchant views about the behaviour of the Israeli State, and of western political support for that behaviour, are wrongly conflated with anti- semitism. We have therefore adopted a cautious approach to the interpretation of your remarks. However, taking the above passage of the interview as a whole, and in the context of the 2015 article, we have reached the provisional view – subject to any comments you may wish to make at this stage — that your remarks cross the line.”

But you have made no attempt in the 2,500 word legalistic document to define what that line is. Is John Mann correct in the opening statement we have quoted in this document to be totally self-contradictory in relation to Judaism and the state of Israel. Are you and the LRC in general? Pressing these charges against Gerry Downing and Socialist Fight in the atmosphere that was then current, apparently accepting bogus accusations against us levelled by the likes of Paul Staines and John Mann strongly suggests you are. We hope to be proved wrong in this assessment.

 Substance of the complaint

Now to the substance of the complaint as rendered in your letter. It is claimed that my words, spoken in a TV interview with Andrew Neil on 10 March 2016 satisfied the criteria of an offence thus:

“Words or behaviour of a discriminatory character or which improperly make reference to an individual’s personal characteristics (which may include gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, disability, age, religion or belief)”.

Apparently in answering in an affirmative manner to Neil when he quoted parts of a Socialist Fight article on the Jewish Question…

“I’m interested because you talk about Zionism – you say and your group says — you say Zionism plays a major role in politics in all advanced capitalist countries, Zionists are behind the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn, Zionists hold great sway over our 3 main political parties, Zionism is in the vanguard of injecting anti-Muslim hatred into western politics, Zionism is in the vanguard role in the capitalist offensive against the workers. Sounds to me … for you the Jewish question is a Zionist conspiracy… “

…I ‘improperly’ criticised some individual’s ‘protected characteristics’. In particular it is alleged that the following words…

“It doesn’t add up to a Zionist conspiracy – it adds up to something very material – the number of millionaires and billionaires of zionist persuasion within the American ruling class and within the European ruling class in general, it’s their economic and political power that lead to the ridiculous situation…  They obviously do play a key role, they have dual citizenship in fact most of them”

…include ‘improper’ references to someone’s ‘protected characteristics’. It is not clear whether the ‘protected characteristics’ that are being referred to relate to ‘race or ethnicity’ or ‘religion or belief’, since apart from ‘race’, matters including all the others were at issue in the above exchange. However the wording of the clause does not forbid all references to these characteristics, as that would be ridiculous and would forbid nearly all discussions about anything substantial in politics. It is rather alleged that the references above are improper concretely. In other words, the indictment agrees with the views of the Tory Zionist Andrew Neil:

“That language is reminiscent of Nazis in the 1930s – rich Jews controlling the German economy…  I just think if you list the things that you accuse of Zionism [sic], it sounds very much – I don’t want to push this too far – but people listening may think they hear shades of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

So it appears that my real accuser is Neil; the LRC leadership is just a transmission belt for this bourgeois poison into the workers movement.

The primary ‘protected characteristic’ being criticised in my words above is the beliefs of particular groups of rich capitalists. Those beliefs are political Zionism, a form of ethnic nationalism. This particular form of ethnic nationalism postulates that Jews worldwide constitute an ancient nation, originally based in the territory of the Levant, and that Jews as a ‘nation’ thereby have a claim to that territory that trumps any claim made by the people who actually live there and whose ancestors have lived there since the days of the heavily mythologised ancient Hebrew states (in fact there were two of them: Judea and Israel) ceased to exist around two millennia ago. This particular form of ethnic nationalism claims that the Hebrew Bible and its stories effectively constitute an ancient Title Deed that entitles Jewish colonists to dispossess the people of Palestine. We strongly disagree, and regard that ethnic nationalist project as utterly reactionary and one of the most dangerous threats to the working class movement internationally today.

So it appears that this abuse of process is aimed at criminalising within the LRC criticism of Zionism as a form of ethnic nationalism. The people who formulated these charges, centrally Jon Lansman, believe that this particular form of ethnic nationalism should not be criticised, and that to criticise Zionism is in some way a surrogate for a racially motivated attack on Jews. Evidence that Lansman, who reportedly formulated this charge against me, believes this is clearly shown in this article on the Left Futures blog which he also runs, Why the Left must stop talking about ‘Zionism’ [5]

The claim that my criticisms of Zionism are in some way racist would only make sense if my accusers could show that I had an ideological motive for hostility to Jewish people in general, that is, that I was some kind of anti-Jewish racist or ethnic nationalist. But there is no evidence of that from the above, from the article that Neil quoted from and to which the indictment engages in innuendos against. It is perfectly obvious that Socialist Fight is an anti-nationalist, internationalist political grouping that as a matter of principle calls for the defeat of British and Western imperialism in colonial and neo-colonial wars, a position that is about as far away from any form of ethnic nationalism as you can get.

It is also obvious from the above reference alone that it is Lansman, and those who support him in this such as David Osler and Andrew Coates (and whoever else voted for the unlawful expulsion motion that they reported had been passed in the 2 April  LRC NC meeting) who are supporters or apologists for reactionary ethnic nationalism – political Zionism. No one else in this dispute is supporting or minimising the import of the oppression or ethnic cleansing of anyone.

Basically the claim that Neil makes is that to include Jewish bourgeois in the diaspora in the forces that oppress the Palestinians, and to analyse the fact that that particular layer of bourgeois have played and do play this role on a broader level, equates to an attack on all people of Jewish origin in the same way as the infamous Tsarist forgery the Protocols of the Elders of Zion made out that Jews of all classes, capitalists and revolutionary workers together, were supposedly involved in a conspiracy to dominate the world according to 19th and early 20th Century anti-semites.

Those who popularised this Tsarists forgery included that great American hero, Henry Ford. “The Protocols was an attack against all classes of Jews, and was fantastic. In order to believe that nonsense, you had to be an ethnic nationalist to begin with. As indeed the ‘anti-semites’ from Sergei Nilon to Phleve to Hitler were. To believe the other, you merely have to be an honest Marxist and consistent internationalist, who is able to go beyond the social conditioning in this period of widespread Zionist ideological hegemony over politics – which the current massive witchhunt in the Labour Party is indisputable evidence of – and in particular overcome the guilt referred to above that is widespread and being consciously exploited by the ruling class.”

Lansman and the other accusers cringe in the face of this piece of unscrupulous Tory-Zionist demagogy. Before we point out the difference, which any political novice will be able to understand provided they have not first been subjected to the social conditioning of conventional, pro-Zionist opinion and the social pressure exerted by pro-Zionist racists, it is worth quoting an observation about this witchhunt made in a trenchant contribution to the Shami Chakrabarti inquiry by a group of mental health professionals, UK-Palestine Mental Health Network, who are also campaigners for the Palestinians:

“Over recent decades, writers from the mental health professions have contributed something to our understanding of the dynamics of racism, one of the most damaging and destructive of human proclivities. It has helped to open up to reflective consideration a subject that provokes deep anxiety and guilt.  This literature takes as given the ubiquity of our potential for ‘othering’ sections of our communities, and provides insights into its subtle and complex functions for the individual, and for large groups. Our first comment on the rash of accusations of anti-Semitism is that it has been aimed to manipulate our anxieties and guilt, rather than contribute to our enlightenment or, indeed, to protect society from the scourge of this pernicious form of racism.” [6]

It is obvious that this is what Neil is up to with his unscrupulous reference to the Protocols. There is an obvious difference between accusing Jews of all different incompatible class interests of conspiring together secretly and despite their well-known public class antagonisms, in pursuit of a programme of world Jewish domination; and accusing one politically defined group of capitalists, those of Jewish origin and  Zionist politics, of possessing disproportionate power in capitalist society, and using it both to oppress the indigenous people in the state they claim as their own by means of the Biblical ‘Title Deed’ referred to earlier, as well as playing a disproportionate, vanguard role in the war of the capitalists in general against the working class internationally.

It’s as easy as ABC. The Protocols was an attack against all classes of Jews, and was fantastic. In order to believe that nonsense, you had to be an ethnic nationalist to begin with. As indeed the ‘anti-semites’ from Sergei Nilon to Phleve to Hitler were. To believe the other, you merely have to be an honest Marxist and consistent internationalist, who is able to go beyond the social conditioning in this period of widespread Zionist ideological hegemony over politics – which the current massive witchhunt in the Labour Party is indisputable evidence of – and in particular overcome the guilt referred to above that is widespread and being consciously exploited by the ruling class.

The evidence is quite conclusive. The ‘dual citizenship’ I spoke of in the interview is a reference to the racist Israeli ‘Law of Return’, which grants citizenship rights to anyone born anywhere in the world of a Jewish mother, while refusing it to Palestinians born, or whose parents were born, in historic Palestine. This is a racist law, which capitalist Jews born abroad benefit in particular from since Israel is a capitalist state. As Shlomo Sand observed (in a manner that is impermissibly class neutral for a Marxist, but Sand is not one):

“It is enough to make a short visit to Israel, readily obtain an identity card, and acquire a second residence there before returning immediately to their national culture and their mother tongue, while remaining in perpetuity a co-proprietor of the Jewish state – and all this for simply having been lucky enough to be born of a Jewish mother.” [7]

As Marx put it, is “The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie” (Manifesto of the Communist Party). But which bourgeoisie depends very much on citizenship. The British bourgeois state is not the executive committee of the German capitalists, obviously. What this internationalisation of Israeli citizenship, combined with an aggressive nationalist movement like Zionism that actively seeks to exploit such connections, signifies, is that the ruling classes of Israel and several Western countries, including the US and UK, overlap.

The considerable overrepresentation of Jewish capitalists in the ruling classes of the Western countries is an empirically demonstrable fact. It is not difficult to find Jewish sources on the internet that boast that up to 40% of US billionaires are Jewish, for instance.See Joseph Aaron (51% in his case):

“I just can’t help it. This kind of thing gives me a big thrill. And a big chill. It’s not that often that you find the entire state of Jewish life today encapsulated in one place. So when you do, it’s worth taking note of and learning from. The place of which I speak is the October issue of Vanity Fair magazine. Vanity Fair is one of the most fascinating magazines around, one that every issue features an amazingly eclectic collection of articles, from the very serious to the completely frivolous.

Indeed, while the October issue features such stories as “How $9 billion in cash vanished in Iraq;” “Inside Bush’s bunker;” “How the Media Gored Al Gore in 2000;” and more, the cover features Nicole Kidman wearing a sailor cap and opening her shirt to reveal her nautical necklace and her brassiere. Vanity Fair is nothing if not on the cutting edge of where society is and is going. Vanity Fair is definitely not a Jewish publication.

And yet, in this one issue, it tells us more about the Jewish world as it is today than any lecture or book or class out there. It does that in two ways. The first is its annual list of what it calls The New Establishment, the 100 most powerful, most influential people in American society.

What is absolutely amazing, stunning about the list is how many Jews there are on it. Jews make up about 2.5 percent of the U.S. population so there should be two or three Jews on the list. Guess again, bubeleh. The list of the Vanity Fair 100 includes, get ready, 51, yes 51 Jews.” [8]

Even if the numbers were exaggerated somewhat, Jews are only around 2% of the US population. This overrepresentation is a product of history and the unusual class structure of the Jews as a people. According to Leon, as cited earlier, Jews in medieval times were a people-class of commodity traders and later usurers when they were driven out of ‘respectable’ trade by the rising, but constrained bourgeoisie prior to the overthrow of feudalism. When feudalism was overthrown, the Jews were emancipated from the ghetto and in a complex history, came to occupy a contradictory class position. As well as being an oppressed minority in some ways, subject to discrimination both of a religious and increasing racist nature, at the same time the cultural capital, and also literal capital, some had accumulated as traders in earlier centuries made them very suited to capitalist success. So Jews did become overrepresented among the bourgeoisie.

Those who deny that this overrepresentation exists deny reality – the evidence is conclusive. Those who say that it should not be mentioned because it is used as a propaganda weapon by the traditional far right, as such right-wing demagogues as Andrew Neil and Guido Fawkes say, have a serious problem. Because disproportionate representation in the bourgeoisie means disproportionate social and political power. Zionism is a hegemonic ideology among Jews, but as a bourgeois ideology it is much more hegemonic among bourgeois Jews. And their disproportionate social power means that Zionism has gained considerable hegemony in Western bourgeois society, in the changed political conditions of today, which are very different to the conditions of the 1930s.

Palestinians are on the receiving end of that social and political power. The ability of Zionists to bully, attack democratic rights, and wage witchhunts such as those taking place in the Labour Party, is a testament to that social and political power being used to undermine and wreck solidarity with the Palestinians. To deny this is simply to deny the material reality right in front of your face.

The cat is out of the bag on this question, in a historical sense at least. The case of Jackie Walker in a way let it out on the historical aspect of that. Her ancestry is both Black and Dutch Jewish, expelled from Portugal and from Spain in 1492 and undoubtedly these Dutch Jews were heavily involved in the  trade in slaves and sugar in the Caribbean in that early period of capitalism. This is historically accurate. The historical reasons for this possibility are the same as with our analysis: the role of Jews in medieval times as a class of traders made it easy for them to become highly represented among traders under capitalism, including slave traders.

This is a legitimate question for historical debate; though she is now reinstated it is an outrage that Jackie Walker was suspended from Labour for discussing it. It is likewise an outrage that I am being slandered as a racist for discussing something of which there is solid evidence.

I note that even Jon Lansman himself has signed a statement from ‘Jews for Jeremy’ calling for a Jewish section in the Labour Party. Among the points motivating this is the following:

“Welcoming the fact that Jews are an international people with communities in many countries, its outlook [i.e. that of the projected Jewish section] will be internationalist and anti-racist and it will link the interests of Jewish people with those of other minorities and oppressed groups.” [9]

The key point here is the notion that Jews are an internationalist force and that this gives some kind of advantage in the sphere of combatting racism. This might have been a valid point to make once upon a time, when the Jewish left was strong and played a vanguard role in the workers’ movement.

But times have changed, and the Jewish left is now extremely weak and cowed. Any people by its very nature consists of different classes. And this ‘international people’ must have an international or pan-national bourgeoisie, by the same definition and logic. The agents of that class are in the Labour Party in the form of the JLM, many in the LFI and Compass, Progress, etc. The proposal for a Jewish section is a proposal for an ethnocentric, cross class bloc with these class enemies of the Labour Party’s working class base (including any socialist or class conscious workers of Jewish origin). This is class treachery.

In fact the Jewish bourgeoisie does exist and it does collaborate across national lines. If it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to say that, then logically the statement by Jews for Jeremy that Jews are an ‘international people’ is also anti-Semitic. Of course neither statements are anti-Semitic at all.

What is an asset for one class can, in different circumstances and with a different balance of class forces, be turned into its exact opposite. Jews once, before the rise of Zionism, because of their broader international outlook played a vanguard role in the working class movement.[10] Today however, the Jewish bourgeoisie under the banner of Zionism has conquered hegemony over the Jews. The Nazis bear great responsibility for that, both for exterminating the best and most far sighted Jewish militants (including Abram Leon) and for demoralising many more by means of the genocide and driving them into the arms of the worst Jewish nationalists, who have become in many ways mirror images of the Nazis themselves.

So a Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie is now almost hegemonic over the Jews who defend Israel. It is also true that this class retrogression has not, and could not, eliminate the international element of the Jews. It has subsumed it to a different class, or transmuted it. And the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie has tended to play a vanguard reactionary role for the bourgeoisie in the period of neo-liberalism in an analogous, though reversed manner, to the way Jewish workers and revolutionary intellectuals played a vanguard role in the heyday of the Communist movement. It has actually helped the imperialist bourgeoisie at least partially overcome their own national narrowness, as part of the phenomenon of globalisation of capital.

Thus instead of Marx, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Leon, Joffe, Zinoviev, in the past several decades the most influential names among Jewish political figures have been the likes of Milton Friedman, Henry Kissinger, Keith Joseph, Alfred Sherman, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard and Daniel Pipes, etc.

The allegation of anti-semitism against me is fraudulent. It is the brainchild of Zionists and Zionist apologists such as Andrew Neil and Guido Fawkes, reactionary supporters of ethnic nationalism as they provably are. And it has been fed by people on the left who are in the process of vacating class principle in favour of embracing, or at least meeting halfway, racist ethnic nationalists and proposing a common ethnic-based organisation with them in the Labour Party. Left Zionism is now the prospect of Jon Lansman and his supporters.

There is no such thing as left-wing anti-Semitism. That is actually a Zionist concept. All kinds of racism are the preserve of the right. This calumny comes from people for whom the Naqba is either seen as a good thing, or tolerable, or becoming tolerable. It should be rejected by the LRC with utter contempt as a blood libel against socialists and internationalists.

Notes

[1] Richard Hutton Does the Labour Party have ‘a problem with anti-Semitism’? No; and the accusations raise more questions than answers, https://richardhutton.wordpress.com/2016/04/02/does-the-labour-party-have-a-problem-with-anti-semitism-no-and-the-accusations-raise-more-questions-than-answers/

[2] Why Marxists must address the Jewish question concretely today, https://socialistfight.com/2015/08/22/why-marxists-must-address-the-jewish-question- concretely-today/

[3] [7] From About CTS from the Blog: CST is Community Security Trust, a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats. CST received charitable status in 1994 and is recognised by the Police and Government as a unique model of best practice. CST has over 60 full and part-time staff based in offices in London, Manchester and Leeds. CST provides security advice and training for Jewish communal organisations, schools and synagogues. CST secures over 600 Jewish communal buildings and approximately 1,000 communal events every year. https://cst.org.uk/about-cst

[4] [8] Dave Rich, Gerry Downing’s ‘Jewish Question’, 10 Mar 2016,   https://cst.org.uk/news/blog/2016/03/10/gerry-downings-jewish-question#.VuPBxdfFGRQ.wordpress

[5]  Jon Lansman, May 2nd, 2016. Why the Left must stop talking about ‘Zionism’, http://www.leftfutures.org/2016/05/why-the-left-must-stop-talking-about-zionism/.

[6] UK-Palestine Mental Health Network submission to Labour Party Inquiry on antisemitism, http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/uk-palestine-mental-health-network.

[7] Shlomo Sand How I stopped being a Jew (2014), p84

[8] Joseph Aaron: Feel the power –  Jewish World Review Oct. 10, 2007 http://www.jewishworldreview.com/joe/aaron101007.php3#

[9] “Jews for Jeremy” submission to Chakrabarti Inquiry: the Zionist Jewish Labour Movement should have no role in training Labour members http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/shami-chakrabarti-inquiry-remit-make-submission/

[10] Remember Stalinism’s charge against Czechoslovakian Slánský and others in the post anti-semiticshow trials of the early 1950s? They were “rootless cosmopolitans”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sl%C3%A1nsk%C3%BD_trial

 

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