08/05/2018 by socialistfight
Socialist Fight 8 May 2018
Marc Wadsworth has shamefully been expelled from the party after launching a verbal attack on MP Ruth Smeeth (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
Those who capitulate before social pressure and compromise with political Zionism are compromising with the only politically respectable form of racism today. And those who compromise with such organised racism, as epitomised by Labour’s Zionists and the Blairites who support them, cannot avoid becoming complicit in racism themselves no matter how pure their intentions. And that means real acts of discrimination and oppression, unlike the fake news scare about ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party, which has no victims. The victims of Labour’s real racist wing, the Israel lobby within Labour, are many and the racist nature of their bourgeois crusade is becoming more and more obvious. Jeremy Corbyn has become complicit in this and is now, by commission and omission, echoing its tropes and demands.
The white Lynch Mob: Labour MPs Ruth Smeeth (second left), Luciana Berger (centre) and Jess Philllips (second right) at a demonstration outside the Labour party disciplinary hearing for Marc Wadsworth in London (Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire)
The expulsion of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party on 27 April was a racist act, pure and simple. Formally it was for ‘bringing the Labour Party into disrepute’. Marc challenged the activities of Ruth Smeeth – a notorious Blairite MP – for openly working with reporters from the Tory Daily Telegraph at the June 2016 Press Conference launching the Chakrabarti report into supposed ‘anti-Semitism’ in Labour. Marc was distributing to the media a press release from the grouping then called Momentum Black Connections (Now Grassroots Black Left), a grouping of black anti-racist Momentum activists. He then saw it being passed from the Daily Telegraph reporter Kate McCann to Labour MP Ruth Smeeth, presumably to help her with her own intervention in the meeting.
Marc criticised Smeeth for this collaboration when his turn came to speak, as well as deploring the lack of non-white representation at the event which was supposed to be dealing with racism in general. It is well known what happened next; Smeeth shrieked ‘How dare you’, stormed out of the meeting with other press cohorts and started accusing Marc of having used an anti-Semitic ‘trope’, ‘media conspiracy’, against her (she is of Jewish origin), simply for criticising what he witnessed her do personally with his own eyes and ears. The YouTube video of the whole incident shows that the there was no racist content whatsoever in Marc Wadsworth’s remarks and that the allegation is a complete pack of lies from start to finish.
But although it was a pack of lies, it was endorsed by the Labour Party’s National Constitutional Committee and Marc was duly expelled. The body is still Blairite dominated, but actually Jeremy Corbyn, as with all the recent travesties of justice and racist expulsions by this body, could have destroyed politically its ability to victimise left-wing activists by publicly denouncing the lies, solidarising with the victims, and mobilising the mass membership of the party to besiege the fraudulent proceedings in solidarity with the victims. Something like this could have been done ages ago and stopped the fraudulent ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt dead; the reason that it has not is because Jeremy Corbyn has capitulated politically to the pro-Zionist trends within the Labour Party, and is now, albeit shamefacedly, dancing to their tune.
Strategy of capitulation
The whole defensive strategy, not tactic, adopted by Corbyn in dealing with the continual series of lies about ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party and labour movement since it became clear that a supporter of Palestinian rights had won the Labour leadership, has pointed to capitulation. Creating the Chakrabarti enquiry itself two years ago was a capitulation to the idea that there is a ‘problem’ of anti-Semitism in Labour. There isn’t. There is, however, a problem of organised Zionist racism in Labour.
The report itself contained capitulatory recommendations, including discouraging the use of the term ‘Zionist’ when discussing Israel (!), whose state doctrine is Zionism (!) and a whole load of nonsense about the need to be ‘sensitive’ in debate with people who support the Israeli state, which is not in the least bit sensitive in bombing Palestinians with white phosphorus and latterly shooting unarmed civil rights marchers in Gaza with explosive bullets, that have killed 41 to date and inflicted deliberate, crippling injuries to thousands.
Apparently, we have to be ‘sensitive’ to Jewish Israel supporters within the Labour Party, because they are Jews and are supposedly subject to discrimination. But when other Jews criticise them sharply for their support for Israeli crimes, these Jews are expelled and suspended and accused of anti-Semitism, an absurd allegation that in effect means racism against your own ethnic group, in effect self-hatred. In almost every prominent case so far when an individual has been accused of ‘anti-Semitism’, the actual charge has been removed from the final justification for the actual expulsion or suspension.
The charge has usually been something else – ‘bringing the Labour Party into disrepute’ or on occasion (as happened to our comrade Gerry Downing in March 2016), ‘giving support to an organisation other than the Labour Party’ (which can mean any organised trend within the Labour Party itself). The reasons for this are quite cynical and transparent – the Labour Party fears being sued for defamation by people who have decades-long records in fighting racism, or even having its actions on such a basis overturned in court. Thus Tony Greenstein was expelled for ‘abusive behaviour’ in criticising Zionist racism, not for ‘anti-Semitism’ as the apparatus originally claimed.
Another case was a Jewish man named Cyril Chilson in Oxford, whose parents survived the Nazi holocaust. He is an Israeli expatriate who was once a captain in the Israeli Army. He tweeted extensively in defence of the Palestinians but was otherwise relatively unknown to the cowardly bullies in the Compliance Unit and the NCC. The absurdity of expelling someone with that sort of background with the innuendo of ‘anti-Semitism’ eludes these cynical, corrupt racists who deserve nothing other than complete and utter contempt from any opponent of racism.
Wadsworth expulsion: a racist political lynching
All this should be elementary for any socialist-minded anti-racist. But the Wadsworth case is the most flagrant and discrediting to Labour of all these cases. It is worth asking: who is Marc Wadsworth? He was one of the founders of the Anti-Racist Alliance in the early 1990s; he was one of the most prominent campaigners for the family of Stephen Lawrence in bringing to public attention the racism of the cops and their collusion with racist killers. He is one of the most prominent black activists against racism in the whole of the UK over the past 30 years or so.
And yet Corbyn did not dare to speak out in his defence. This is an utter betrayal of the struggle against racism in the Labour Party, and undercuts the creditable work that Labour has been doing in highlighting the racism of Theresa May’s government over the Windrush generation and the ‘hostile environment’, which claimed the scalp of Amber Rudd. Why was there not a major mobilisation of the left to defend Marc Wadsworth? There was virtually no mobilisation at all. Only a few lay and expelled members were able to mobilise for the hearing.
Yet incredibly, there was a racist mobilisation against them, from within the Labour Party! 50 Blairite and Zionist MPs, all white, turned out to ‘escort’ Ruth Smeeth to the hearing, supposedly to protect her from intimidation. In reality, they were there to intimidate any opposition to this political lynching, and to make clear that in the Labour Party, uppity blacks and anti-racists had better stay in their place. Racist white neocons and racist Zionist Jews rule the roost.
That is the racial hierarchy in this society and that will remain the racial hierarchy in the Labour Party if they have anything to do with it. Only three MPs: Chris Wiliamson, Clive Lewis and Keith Vaz, turned out as character witnesses to defend Marc Wadsworth. Powerful figures on the left, Corbyn, Abbot, McDonnell, and others simply turned their backs. The upcoming case of Jackie Walker is almost certain to be a repeat performance.
And well he might!
Corbyn’s capitulationist screed
Why is this? A major capitulation to Zionist racism is the reason why. Jeremy Corbyn’s dreadful article in the Evening Standard (25 April) after meeting with the Board of Deputies of British Jews shows quite clearly why he has betrayed Marc Wadsworth and other anti-racists in Labour. He met with the BOD, and the Jewish Leadership Council, despite the fact that both are led by Tories.
The BOD, by means of its Twitter account, has made it quite clear that it approves of the Israeli attempts to crush the Palestinian “Great March of Return”, raving on about Hamas and ‘human shields” even as unarmed Palestinian civil rights marchers were being shot dead by the dozens and deliberately maimed by the thousands with explosive ‘dum dum’ bullets deliberately targeted at legs with the aim of maiming marchers for life. That is what the BOD stands for, along with those politicians and media types who defend them as well, in reality.
As the upshot of playing along with these racists, Corbyn barely managed to get out a tweet condemning the killing of Palestinians at the outset of the ‘Great March of Return’ – it is notable that Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams managed to condemn this killing 15 hours ahead of Corbyn, and Corbyn did so only after being challenged on Twitter by people on the left, including Socialist Fight, as to why he was not speaking out.
He also failed to appear in person at the rally to defend the Gazan marchers and protest against their killing outside Downing Street, though he did send a statement condemning the killings, while at the same time solidarising with a ‘two state solution’, which is counterposed to the aims of the marchers, who as victims of the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Israel itself, are claiming the right to return to places their families were forcibly driven out of decades ago.
So Corbyn claims, in defence of his statement that ‘bigotry’ against Jews exists in the Labour Party, that:
“Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial, crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.”
“Anti-Zionism is not in itself anti-Semitic and many Jews themselves are not Zionists. But there are also a very few who are drawn to the Palestinian question precisely because it affords an opportunity to express hostility to Jewish people in a “respectable” setting. Our movement must not be a home for such individuals.”
In fact, there has been one case of denial of the Nazi holocaust confirmed in Labour, from a right-wing councillor who was not too fond of non-whites either, by the sound of it.
MORE FAKE ANTISEMITISM Alan Bull, Labour candidate in Peterborough suspended as a result of malicious allegations of anti-Semitism
Apart from that, one council candidate, Alan Bull in Peterborough was suspended when it ‘emerged’ (as a result of hacking) that among many items of varying provenance that he circulated for discussion in a Facebook group he frequented two years before he became active in the Labour Party, was a fake ‘Red Cross’ report questioning the demographics of the holocaust. It was circulated for education and discussion, i.e. in order to debunk it. This case led to the resignation of NEC member Christine Shawcroft, who was bullied into resigning from the NEC and NCC positions that she was elected to by Corbyn, under threat of being suspended herself, simply for having defended Alan Bull against this Zionist smear campaign.
Corbyn’s allegation that some (who? in the Labour Party?) only take up the Palestinian Question as a cover for their hidden desire to abuse and denigrate Jews is an incredible allegation. It would have to be proven beyond doubt against each individual so accused, otherwise it is as extreme as accusing someone of being a child abuser. While it cannot be theoretically excluded that such people exist (as opposed to being ‘deduced’ from someone’s philo-Semitic and anti-Arab prejudices), it ought to take serious and irrefutable proof to brand any individual in this way. Otherwise, we are down to the sort of vile smears and political gangsterism that characterised the Moscow trials and Stalin’s purges.
Conspiracies and racist hypocrisy
The ‘crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers’ that Corbyn is referring to were supposedly in the mural painted by ‘Mear One’, a left-wing American graffiti artist, in Brick Lane in 2012, which Jeremy Corbyn himself rightly defended against being erased, ironically on the orders of the independent Muslim then-mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman. Corbyn never noticed these ‘crude stereotypes’ at the time, simply because there weren’t any! The mural was of six ‘bankers’ playing Monopoly on the backs of the poor, but only two of the six were actually Jewish and you would not have known which was which if the artist had not identified them, as they were non-descript, nothing like Nazi Jewish caricatures as alleged. It’s a farce, that when Corbyn was libelled for his defence of this, in fear of political ramifications, he decided to ‘confess’ and capitulate to the witchhunters.
As part of his attempt to atone for this, absurdly Corbyn says that:
“ there are people who have come to see capitalism and imperialism as the product of conspiracy by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system.”
It is certainly true that capitalism is an economic system and that it is the product of class relationships, not secret conspiracies. Quite how the Mear One mural fits into that is not clear, as it depicts banker capitalists sitting on the poor of the world, which certainly evokes a class relationship in classic agitprop form, as befits the period of Occupy Wall St and Occupy London when it was conceived. In a way Occupy predated Corbyn, and Sanders, in bringing some albeit simplistic anti-capitalist ideas to broad public attention after the credit crunch, before they found greater traction in the Labour movement. But Corbyn using these arguments about a conspiratorial view of capitalism to appease Tories like Arkush and their smears is a sad spectacle. They hate any critique of capitalism.
It is striking how Corbyn seems to be repenting of people and ideas he has been involved in defending in the past. His point on “Conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel” is a reference to his defence a few years ago of the Rev Stephen Sizer, a COE Evangelical who is an active opponent of Christian Zionism, and indeed Zionism itself. In social media, Sizer linked to a whole lot of Middle Eastern material to back up his opposition, including material endorsing the widely-held theory in the region of Israeli involvement in 9/11.
These theories are in our view mistaken; apart from Sizer, who is a Conservative Christian and hence not remotely interested in Labour, they have mainly been the provenance of a minority of angry Muslim people in and outside the Labour Party, and are based on the undeniable fact that the most bloodthirsty Israeli militarists such as Sharon and Netanyahu benefitted immensely from 9/11 and the Bush/Blair ‘war on terror’. The motto of Mossad is “By Way of Deception, We go to War”; it is a fact that the Israeli state has been involved in false flag operations in the past, in order to procure Western military intervention on Israel’s behalf. One proven example of this is the Lavon affair of 1954, recognised as such by the pro-Israel Wikipedia, where US and British owned targets in Egypt were bombed by Mossad in an attempt to implicate the Muslim Brotherhood and Communists. This is not the only example of this.
However it is also a fact that the most reactionary fringe of political Islam, which has often been manipulated by the imperialists, has at times carried out indefensible actions that have made things much worse for Muslims. Some Muslims, who are aware that the situation of very oppressed Muslim people has been made very much worse by 9/11, find this hard to take. The sheer scale of 9/11 and the enormous consequences for those involved if a ‘false flag’ on that scale were to come out make the idea virtually impossible, but those who have often been on the receiving end of Mossad trickery before are entitled to a degree of paranoia.
It is highly insensitive to the oppression of many Arabs and Muslims by Zionism and imperialism to simply equate this understandable but mistaken sentiment with “the worst crimes of the 20th Century”, i.e Nazism. This equation is deeply Islamophobic and also exposes the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn, with a degree of justification, to charges of racist hypocrisy, as we will show. And it is hardly surprising that in trying to appease right-wing Zionists and parroting their 99.99% false allegations of anti-Semitism (there’s always one somewhere!) Jeremy Corbyn should have slipped into Islamophobia. After all, the people he is appeasing give vent to such Islamophobic sentiments when they evoke Hamas to excuse Israel shooting Palestinian civil rights marchers.
And as for ‘a member’ who believed that ‘Hitler had been misunderstood’: it’s not even clear who was involved in this or what they were referring to. It’s totally nebulous. Was this person just ignorant or what? And how is their ignorance as an individual significant?
Nazi Allegations and Racism: An Inversion of the Truth
The core of Corbyn’s argument contains a clear racist double standard, and is an apology for Zionist racism. He states:
“The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people and an end to their dispossession is a noble one — just as a genuine two-state solution is essential to lasting peace in the Middle East. But when criticism of or opposition to the Israeli government uses anti-Semitic ideas — attributing its injustices to Jewish identity, demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for its conduct, or comparing Israel to the Nazis — then a line must be drawn.” (https://www.standard.co.uk/comment/comment/jeremy-corbyn-what-i-m-doing-to-banish-antisemitism-from-the-labour-party-a3821961.html)
Apparently, it is forbidden to compare Israel to the Nazis. But by talking of “the worst crimes of the 20th century” with reference to supporters of the Palestinians, he is comparing them, or some of them, to the Nazis. By his insistence on a “two-state solution” as essential and implicitly linking support to that to opposing ‘anti-Semitism’, he is throwing the enormous number of Palestinian refugees who were forcibly and violently thrown out of Israel proper, under the bus, despite his words about ending their “dispossession”.
A two-state solution means accepting no-go areas for Palestinian refugees, those no-go area being the places where the bulk of the refugees were expelled from. The only democratic solution to this is a single state encompassing both Jews and Arabs as equals, with the expropriation of capital to secure real, not fictional equality, as part of a wider socialist Middle East.
It is entirely comprehensible why some elements of the Palestinians, including Fatah and even at times Hamas, have felt it appropriate to try to negotiate a two-state solution with Israel. The Israeli state has shown itself utterly ruthless and the line of reasoning goes, “at least if we negotiate a two-state solution, we will have something; at the moment we have nothing”. But the reasoning is spurious. Israel does not draw any distinction between the territories it seized in 1947-49 and those it seized in 1967. The only difference for them is practicalities; how difficult is it to hang on the latter and to settle them?
In that there is no real difference between Israeli Labour, whose leader welcomed Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and Likud, even if Israeli Labour do pay more lip service to the two-state solution. Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement, Israeli Labour’s arm inside the British Labour Party, distanced themselves a bit more from Trump’s November announcement knowing how sensitive this is in the Labour Party, though of course not in any fundamental sense.
Jonathan Arkush didn’t let his opposition to ‘antisemitism’ prevent him from welcoming the antisemitic Donald Trump as the new President of the USA
And even so, yet we have all these Zionist organisations acting as a coalition with the Board of Deputies, led by a Tory, Jonathan Arkush who welcomed Trump’s election as US President and welcomed Trump’s open support for the annexation of Jerusalem! And as a result of meeting with him, and the equally racist Jewish Leadership Council led by Jonathan Goldstein, another Tory, Corbyn came up with the Evening Standard article quoted above, which was fulsomely welcomed in an editorial of that same paper.
Which means of course by George Osborne, the architect of Tory austerity and partner in crime of Cameron and May in real racist crimes against immigrants and the oppressed in this country. If the likes of Osborne welcome Corbyn’s attack on ‘bigotry’ then that is a sure sign that he is not attacking bigotry at all, but capitulating to it. After all, Osborne supported Theresa May’s ‘hostile environment’ measures as did all the Tories.
It is clearly discriminatory for Corbyn to say that “a line must be drawn” against “comparing Israel to the Nazis”. He says nothing to condemn comparisons of the Palestinians to the Nazis, or other Arab and Muslim leaders to the Nazis, which Zionists do all the time, not as an expression of anger at any crime, but to justify bombing Arabs, oppressing them and stealing their land.
Every Arab or Muslim leader who has stood up to Israel in any way has been equated with Hitler: Gamal Abdul Nasser, Yasser Arafat, Saddam Hussein, Ayatollah Khomeni, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Hafez al-Assad, the leaders of Hamas and Hizbullah, and no doubt more, all have been portrayed as Nazis and akin to Hitler in Israeli propaganda. The latest being Mahmoud Abbas. There is not a word in Corbyn’s article about these blood libels against Arab and Muslim leaders and Arabs and Muslims in general.
The neo-fascist Israeli Minister for Justice (!) Ayelet Shaked advocating genocide of the Palestinians
Yet the fact is that any act of genocide is as inhuman and monstrous as any other. And there are people in the current Israeli government who are advocating genocide against the Palestinians. The current Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, is a prime example. In July 2014 she approvingly shared on her Facebook page a genocidal rant by an extremist Jewish settler who wrote:
“Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”
A week earlier, she wrote herself:
“This is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. The reality is that this is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started it.”
Presumably ‘they started it’ by daring to live on land which the Zionists justify seizing with the false epigram “A land without a people for a people without a land”. But Palestine did have people, Palestinian people, and no-one today seriously believes that Palestinian was a ‘land without a people’.
Ayelet Shaked is young, photogenic, and genocidal in her politics, to the point that the expatriate Israeli journalist Mira Bar-Hillel dubbed her ‘The Angel of Death’ (https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/why-im-on-the-brink-of-burning-my-israeli-passport-9600165.html). The pro-Zionist Wikipedia, which tries to sanitise her words, tips her as a future Prime Minister of Israel. This is a very frightening prospect. As she shows clear approval of calls for killing Palestinian men, women and children, and explicitly states that ‘we’ (ie. Israel) are at war with the entire Palestinian people. This is as explicitly genocidal, particularly regarding children, as Hitler’s Mein Kampf was about the Jews, and possibly more so.
Shaked is probably the best known Israeli génocidaire at this time, but she is far from the first. It is not unusual for racist Israeli-Jewish demonstrations, or mobs, to erupt with the chant ‘death to the Arabs’. In Hebron, where a vanguard of extremist settlers dug in quite early in the occupation against a mainly Arab population, and an atrocious massacre by a Jewish settler-fascist took place in 1994 in the celebrated ‘Tomb of the Partriarchs’ Mosque, Arab homes, under persistent curfew and martial law, have been daubed with the slogan ‘Arabs to the Gas Chambers’. There is much more of this to be dug out, ad nauseum, you could say.
There are some conclusions that can be drawn from this which even have legal implications. The idea that it is ‘anti-Semitic’ to compare Israeli behaviour with Nazism is discriminatory against Arabs. It implies that Arab life matters less than Jewish life. This idea has been implanted in the Labour Party by supporters of Israel, a state that really does treat Arab life as worth far less than Jewish life. Forbidding comparisons between this state formation and Nazi Germany is an act of discrimination against Arabs. If a Palestinian, for example, or arguably any other Arab person, were expelled from the Labour Party, or disciplined for expressing such views, they could take the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn to court for racial discrimination. They would have a strong case.
If someone else, not a Palestinian or an Arab, were so expelled, they would also have a very strong case on grounds of what is called ‘associative discrimination’. It is not only illegal to discriminate against members of a particular ethnic or ‘racial’ group; it is also illegal to discriminate against someone for associating with, or defending, such a group. A classic case of this in the past was a white manager of an amusement arcade who was sacked by the owners for refusing to deny admittance to young black people. He sued the owner for ‘associative’ discrimination and won. He was not dismissed for his own ethnicity, but for refusing to discriminate against others. This happened in 1984 and was an important legal precedent. (https://www.lawteacher.net/free-law-essays/employment-law/associative-discrimination-and-equality-act-employment-law-essay.php) Given the facts above, anyone expelled from Labour for comparing genocidal Israeli behaviour and ethnic cleansing with that of the Nazis would have grounds for a complaint of racist discrimination, either direct or ‘associative’.
Racism and Responsibility
Likewise there is Corbyn’s threat that anyone “demanding that Jews in Britain or elsewhere answer for [Israel’s] conduct” should be regarded as anti-Semitic. This is quite astonishing as a number of people accused of anti-Semitism and suspended or expelled from Labour have been Jewish themselves. Tony Greenstein was accused of anti-Semitism, though his accusers were legally canny and morally cowardly enough to shuffle away the charge of anti-Semitism before expelling him for supposed ‘abuse’. Cyril Chilsom, who is also Jewish, likewise. That may well come back and haunt his accusers in due course. Jackie Walker, who is also part-Jewish, is still suspended on grounds of supposed ‘anti-Semitism’. In terms of holding Jewish people responsible for the crimes of Israel, evidently, it is not these Jewish people who Jeremy Corbyn has in mind.
Corbyn has a problem with this line of reasoning again. No one holds these Jewish people ‘responsible’ for the conduct of Israel. Obviously, since they are vocal critics and opponents of this ‘conduct’, which they consider to be criminal. But what about Jewish people who do defend Israel vocally, or who support organisations that lobby for Western governments to support Israel, to supply arms to it, to give it enormous amounts of economic support? Are they responsible for the conduct of Israel? Obviously yes, and that includes the ‘mainstream’ Jewish organisations that Corbyn has met with and which he is attempting – not very successfully it should be said – to appease by writing his dreadful article. Even despite his conciliation, they expressed ‘disappointment’ with the meeting; because Corbyn could not undertake to summarily expel Ken Livingstone and dissident Jewish people like Jackie Walker. But of course, that underlines that it is not all Jews that bear ‘responsibility’ for Israel’s ‘conduct’ – only those who defend that state and its ‘conduct’, to some degree or other.
The same criteria apply here, in other words, which applied to the racist white supremacist state of apartheid South Africa, or to Jim Crow in the United States, or even to Nazi Germany. Those who defend those states do bear moral and political responsibility for their conduct. Those who vocally oppose them, do not. It’s a very simple logic. If comrade Corbyn wishes to argue that white supporters of Apartheid in South Africa did not bear any responsibility for that state, or that overseas supporters of Nazi Germany likewise should be absolved, then he should do so.
Applying a different standard to Israel, with its own documented mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and its genocidal threats is a huge double standard. This applies to both Jewish and non-Jewish supporters and defenders of Israel, by the way. But it would be foolish to deny that there is a specific element of ethnic solidarity involved in the solidarity of mainstream Jewish organisations with Israel, and to say that this cannot be criticised is yet another example of violating the basic tenets of racial equality, in that all should be held accountable for the actions they carry out or support, irrespective of their ethnic origin. Which brings us on to the question of Jewish identity and Corbyn’s point about how it is impermissible to “attributing [Israel’s] injustices to Jewish identity” in any shape or form.
Zionist racism and Jewish Identity
It should be noted that the Jewish Labour Movement, formerly Poale Zion, an affiliated part of the Labour Party and a major participant in the recent re-drawing of Labour’s rules regarding what views individuals are allowed to hold within the Labour Party, states that in its view Zionism is “the basic expression of the national identity of the Jewish people.” (This can be seen in archived form at: https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/jewishlabour/pages/1/attachments/original/1460532332/ProposedRuleChange-ConstitutionalAmendment.pdf).
Indeed, this formulation found its way into one of the proposed rule changes put forward by the JLM for the 2017 Labour Party conference, though it was not adopted into the Labour Party’s rules. The Jewish Labour Movement do not consider that there are any fundamental injustices involved in Israel’s dispossession of the Palestinians, but this is an index of their anti-Arab chauvinism and their belief that the territory of Israel, as they define it, belongs to Jews by virtue of a particular interpretation of history that ultimately derives from religious texts, not considerations of the rights of peoples who actually lived in that territory when the Zionist movement was working to create the Israeli state.
So it can be taken as a basic fact that the Zionist wing of the Labour Party, the JLM, the Labour Friends of Israel and others who follow their ideological lead, believe that Zionism and Jewish identity are effectively synonymous. It can also be taken as read that they attribute Israel’s conduct (we will not say ‘injustices’ here for a moment, for argument’s sake) to Jewish identity. What then of Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that “a line must be drawn” against people who “attribute [Israel’s] injustices to Jewish identity”? Surely, though he evidently does not agree with them that Israel is not responsible for fundamental injustices, they must fall into the category of those who “attribute” Israel’s conduct to “Jewish identity”? If they do not make this attribution, how can Zionism and therefore Israel be for them synonymous with Jewish identity?
This point by the JLM renders Jeremy Corbyn’s attempt to ‘draw a line’ against those who “attribute” Israel’s “injustices” to “Jewish identity” incoherent, and make any attempt to enforce this in reality, again, an example of racist discrimination, either direct or by association. For if avowedly Jewish (by name) and Zionist organised trends are allowed to equate Jewish identity and support for Israel in a positive sense, but others are not allowed to criticise this, then this stipulation involves granting a special privilege to a particular kind of ethnic politics within the Labour Party. If someone who supports Israel attributes Israel’s behaviour to Jewish identity by simply stating that support for Israel is a ‘basic’ part of that identity, then if anyone is disciplined for stating the same thing negatively, i.e. for denigrating that ‘basic’ part of ‘Jewish national identity’ as unjust and racist against Arabs, then again, if such a person is an Arab, they are a victim of direct discrimination, and if they are non-Arab, they are a victim of associative discrimination.
It’s as simple as that. On our part, we do not directly equate Zionism and Jewish identity, though nor do we consider them to be completely separate things either. Obviously Zionism embodies one form of Jewish identity, and today it seems to be the dominant form. That does not make it right. At times in the past, white racist supremacism has been the dominant form of ethnic consciousness, or in a sense ‘identity’ in the imperialist countries, though the mere fact that such supremacism is dominant at a given time does not make it right – very much the opposite. So it is with Zionism.
Since WWII, that specific form of white identity politics has become intellectually and socially discredited, though it still exists as a far right subcurrent and shows its face from time to time. When it does it tends to try to camouflage itself behind more respectable forms of bigotry, as with the white supremacist types who infested Trump’s election and still hang around his administration, who dub themselves ‘white Zionists’.
We consider political Zionism to be a racial supremacist current, dedicated above all to supremacy of Jews over Arabs in the Middle East. Zionist currents in the diaspora act to preserve that supremacy in the Middle East, including by the use of supremacist tactics against supporters of the Palestinian Arabs in the wider world, and in this context in the Labour Party. While they are not attempting to dominate the world, as Jewish supremacists, unlike white supremacists, do not remotely have the numbers and social weight to do this, they are trying to dominate the Middle East and also to dominate political discourse around the Middle East in Europe and North America.
We do not consider Zionism to be ‘inherent’ in Jewish identity for the simple, obvious reason that both Judaism, and the existence of Jewish communities in a number of countries in Europe, Asia and North Africa, long predate the existence of Zionism. Obviously other forms of Jewish identity have existed in the past that were not Zionist. Also, on the fringes of the Jewish communities today, including prominently in the Labour Party expressed in Jewish Voice for Labour, there are avowedly anti-Zionist Jewish trends and in some cases sects that differ vehemently with the idea that Jewish identity and Zionism are synonymous, many of whom are sincere defenders of the Palestinians.
However, Zionism today is not just another form of Jewish identity in the abstract, but the central ideological totem of an important part of the imperialist bourgeoisie, not only in Israel, but also of an identifiable caste of Jewish bourgeois centred in the imperialist countries who regard Israel as just as much ‘their’ state as the states where they live. They are entitled to citizenship of Israel by birth, a great many exercise that right, and, as Jewish bourgeois, Israel is their bourgeois state. Zionism is a bourgeois ideology par-excellence, and it is the ideology today of the bulk of the actually existing Jewish bourgeoisie. Therefore support for Israel and Zionism is support for an imperialist ideology, just as much as British, French or American nationalism and patriotism are irremediably support for those imperialisms.
Imperialism is a material force that pulls all political currents that reject consistent internationalism and universalism in its wake. There can be contradictory consciousness involved in this; there are some Jews who abhor what is done to the Palestinians but still have some identification with Israel because of the Nazi holocaust. Others go further. It is very difficult for Jews who maintain a Jewish political identity to consistently fight and oppose Zionism. There are radical currents in Jewish history that can be evoked, but they existed when Jews were oppressed as a people and before a specifically Jewish imperialist state came into existence. In the same way, some very radical and revolutionary trends existed in French history before France became imperialist, but any tendency today that evokes them would have to totally reject particularism and identity politics in order to escape from being simply an unwitting tool of French imperialism.
Fight capitulation: left renewal through Marxism
Jeremy Corbyn’s conciliation of and capitulation to the Zionist forces which are attacking the Labour left are a reflection of the historical political weaknesses of the Labour left. As Leon Trotsky wrote in the context of the General Strike of 1926, about the Labour Left of that day:
“‘The left faction on the General Council is distinguished by a total ideological formlessness and for this very reason it is incapable of consolidating around itself organizationally the leadership of the trade union movement … The rights win despite the fact that the lefts are more numerous. The weakness of the lefts arises from their disorder and their disorder from their ideological formlessness’”
This sums up the dangerous ideological weakness of Corbynism today. Even though Corbyn has the support of the overwhelming majority of Labour Party members, and is probably secure for the foreseeable future against a repeat of the 2016 Chicken Coup attempt by the right, still the right exercise power over him and the Labour left. This is not because of the mass support of the right; it is rather because of their support from the ruling class. The Israel lobby today is both an agency and a faction within the ruling class, but it is playing a vanguard role for that class in disrupting Corbyn and the left-dominated Labour Party.
For this reason, while continuing to give unconditional but critical support to the Corbynities against the neoliberal right wing and the Zionists, it is necessary for a new, genuinely Marxist broad left to crystallise; to fight to overcome Corbyn’s servile position towards the Blairites and the Zionists, to openly proclaim that supporters of Israel are agents of the class enemy and should be driven out of the Labour Party, and the need for the left and Labour itself to adopt a revolutionary, not a social-pacifist, anti-imperialism and anti-Zionism. Such a left must include all revolutionary-minded elements in Labour, including those expelled and suspended and work on the basis that where the left is concerned, an injury to one is an injury to all. That is the only way forward politically in this situation.