06/12/2016 by Ian
Recently Socialist Fight published a lengthy and detailed political reply to, and review of, a fairly important book by Dave Rich, about purported ‘left wing anti-semitism’ in the Labour Party.
Dave Rich is the director of the Community Security Trust, the Zionist psuedo-“anti-racist” body which purports to protect the Jewish community from racism, but which spends much effort combating critics of Israel’s dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians. His book is of a higher standard than most Zionist rants, and has some sophistication in trying to develop a theory that the very anti-racist fervour of today’s left in defence of Palestinians in particular and non-whites in general somehow brings about a distortion in thinking that leads to an ‘objective’ racism against Jews.
Rich’s book is well argued and well written, and his concepts have enough superficial theoretical plausibility to gain an audience particularly among left-liberals and naive leftists, potentially causing some confusion in the face of the witchhunts in Labour, and thus requiring a proper reply. Therefore our reply took up his ideas at some length, quoting extensively from the book itself and subjecting the strongest aspects of his theorised arguments to a careful and comprehensive deconstruction. There is no point in repeating this material here, as there is a link at the beginning of this piece.
This review of Dave Rich’s book seriously upset a character named Mark Elf, a Jewish leftist blogger and publisher of Jews Sans Frontieres, of semi-Bundist persuasion, who evidently felt his own frivolous and unserious review of Rich’s book suffered somewhat by comparison. Elf is one of those leftists whose criticism of Zionism goes so far and no further. He rejects as anathema any critique of Zionism’s considerable power and influence in Western societies, which Israeli and other mainstream Jewish publications periodically proudly boast about, as being in any sense an expression of reactionary ethnic politics.
His anti-Zionism is therefore partial and incomplete, and worse, acts as left cover for nationalist/Zionst, pro-Israeli Jewish bourgeois like Michael Foster, or Sheldon Adelson, (among many others), whose political activities in the West makes them in effect Israel’s border guards in the ruling classes of the imperialist world. As someone who claims to be on the left, but proudly proclaims his ethnic identification not merely as biographical, but a political identity, he and others like him act in a sense as left-cover for Zionism as a form of reactionary ethnic politics in the West (not just in Israel).
His response is to smear Socialist Fight, the review and its author as anti-semitic. Rather remarkable considering he is fully aware that SF supporter Gerry Downing has been smeared as such and thrown out of the Labour Party partly on the basis of the same smears.
Elf’s recent blog post, which strangely berates Dave Rich for responding to a tweet informing him of our critique in a non-abusive manner, claims that our review is ‘anti-semitic’. Yet not one single argument is made to substantiate this. In response, I posted a comment challenging him to do just that. It reads:
“Can you substantiate the allegation that my review of Dave Rich’s book is anti-Semitic?
This allegation against my views has been debunked and defeated in two different broad left wing contexts now. The Disputes Committee of Left Unity investigated this smear in 2015 and found it to be groundless. And similar allegations were made against Gerry Downing in the Labour Representation Committee by an individual who, when challenged to substantiate them, withdrew causing the complaint to collapse.
That’s two acquittals of prominent Socialist Fight people where this smear has been put to the test of labour movement democracy. I trust you have some regard for the concept. Or do you?”
This was posted, along with a link to the SF review, as a comment on Jews Sans Frontiers on 5 Dec. It stayed up for a few hours, and then Elf and co thought better of it, and deleted it.
A remarkable and scared response from someone who is quite happy to join in attacks on long time socialists initiated by such sterling anti-racists as Andrew Neil and Guido Fawkes, as well as some of their little-Sir-echoes on the soft left.
Two points are obvious from this. One is that for someone to post an article accusing a writer of anti-Semitism, and then in response to a challenge in writing from the person smeared to substantiate the allegation, to instead delete the comment that made the challenge, is a admission that he is unable to substantiate it.
And two, is in the face of the facts about the two occasions on which this smear has been tested, and defeated, in the broader working class movement, to refuse to respond to this point and again substantiate the allegation, is an indication of contempt for working class democracy and the demand for due process and fair hearings for those accused of political ‘crimes’ by the right wing of the Labour Party.
This cowardice and dishonesty from Mark Elf, who claims to be a ‘principled anti-racist’ unlike the targets of his smears, shows he has utter contempt for truthfulness in political debate, and equally utter contempt for working class democracy and due process as manifested in the rejection of smears against us by LU and the LRC. Logically he should accuse both movements of being anti-Semitic. But he does not have the courage
It also shows that Elf and his fellow bloggers, notwithstanding their material claiming to defend victims of the witchhunt like leading Momentum and LRC activist Jackie Walker, have no more integrity than the rightwing and/or Zionist bureaucrats carrying out the witchhunt.