28/07/2018 by Ian
The adoption by Labour of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘definition’ of ‘anti-Semitism’ is an important event as it signifies the capitulation of the Labour Party leadership before a key facet of imperialism. Labour now once again puts the rights of an oppressor people clearly above the rights of the oppressed. No ‘code of conduct’ has been introduced to deal with the organised anti-Arab racism of the Jewish-Zionist trends in the Labour Party which support Israel.
But this is not enough for the Zionists, the Blairites and their Tory backers. This conciliation has not helped Corbyn. There is an obvious and virulent campaign in the media, led by the odious Blairite Margaret Hodge, who abused Corbyn as a ‘fucking racist anti-Semite” in a calculated provocation within the House of Commons, and hence covered by parliamentary privilege against being sued for defamation.
This was because though Labour under Corbyn has adopted the IRHA definition, it has not adopted four ‘examples’ that accompany it in the original IHRA version, as the Zionists demand. She is now facing disciplinary action within Labour, though with the cringe worthy opposition of John McDonnell, who wants to drop the charges – his grovelling to imperialism is getting embarrassing. It is also ultimately suicidal, as the real objective of all this is to undermine Corbyn’s leadership and get rid of him.
The left should demand that Hodge be expelled from Labour for a deliberate public slander of the leader aimed at helping the Tories just as Labour is starting to pull away from May’s shambolic government even in the most biased, pro-Tory opinion polls, despite the unanimous hatred of the entire bourgeois press.
Hodge’s provocation is part of a campaign of media hysteria designed to force Labour to adopt the entire IHRA tract, including those of the ‘examples’ that explicitly deny the right to criticise the racist nature of the state of Israel, or to criticise the pro-Israeli racism of Jewish communal and/or ruling class lobbying organisations in the diaspora. As well as the media, the still Blairite- dominated PLP has chimed in behind Hodge in demanding that all the ‘examples’ be adopted.
What is good, and may militate against the capitulation and unity-mongering of people in and around the leadership that John McDonnell epitomises, is that some at the base of Labour are getting fed up of backstabbing from those who refuse to accept Corbyn’s leadership. Thus both Kate Hoey, in Vauxhall, South London, and Frank Field, the notorious right-wing ‘welfare reformer, in Birkenhead, Merseyside have been effectively deselected by their CLP’s for voting with the Tories over a recent Brexit vote. These five Labour people, also including the odious John Mann, who voted with May over this saved her from defeat and may have saved her government, which won by only six votes. There needs to be much more of this: those who undermine Corbyn and side with the Tories and Zionist witchhunters in the media need to be thrown out from below.
IHRA: an Imperialist Club
What is the IHRA? The bourgeois press claims that it has some kind of real ‘international’ authority over questions that relate to the Nazi genocide. It is not any kind of campaigning or anti-racist body, just a bloc of 31 almost exclusively North American and European countries, often with reactionary governments. Its non-European members are Israel, Canada, the USA and Argentina – three of this four are imperialist powers and key players in the oppression of the Palestinians. It has as part of its Stockholm Declaration the following point:
“With humanity still scarred by genocide, ethnic cleansing, racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils.” (https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/index.php/stockholm-declaration)
This is an incredible statement from an international body that has Israel as a member, a state whose very foundation is the massive ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people; an activity that is ongoing. In fact Israel’s actions in Gaza fit the template of genocide as their objective seems to be to destroy the lives and culture of the Arab civilian population, depriving them of healthcare and the means of life with the aim of causing a major decline in population for the purposes of ethnic cleansing – a textbook case of trying to destroy an ethnic group “in whole or in part” as the definition goes.
The Israeli activities are supported tooth and nail by both the USA and Canada, the latter of which, despite its very limited military and economic role in world politics, is one the most fanatically pro-Israel states in the world. Not to mention the numerous European states that are part of it who also are strongly supportive of Israeli barbarism; Britain, France, Germany, you name it. The very idea that this body, centrally organised as a political prop and screen for some of the worst ethnic cleansers on the planet, can be any kind of authority in fighting the ‘evil’ of “genocide, ethnic cleansing [and] racism” is obscene.
Let’s be clear: this is an imperialist, Zionist body. The British Labour movement should not be touching this body or any of its recommendations or definitions with a ten-foot pole. It’s a basic question of class independence for any working class party to boycott it and its hypocritical pronouncements and ‘definitions’. Its whole purpose in life as an international body, if you strip away various bits of camouflage, seems to be a textbook case of the abuse of the memory of the Nazi genocide to justify Israel’s crimes today. Those who justify it as some kind of ‘international’ body are imperialist chauvinists of the worst kind.
So the Labour left NEC have tried to amend it to make it ‘acceptable’ to today’s left-dominated Labour Party. But it’s nonsense, and its racism is shown conclusively by the fact that no other ethnic minority has or needs such an elongated ‘definition’ of what kind of behaviour constitutes their oppression.
Oppressed minorities and those who act in solidarity with them know oppressive conduct when they see and experience it; the phoney careerist representatives of the mainstream of a minority that do not suffer significant oppression today, but are claiming special privileges over the Palestinian Arab people that do so suffer oppression, cannot call on gut level recognition of such things for one simple reason: they are racists and oppressors. So they need a prolonged sophistry to justify this Orwellian inversion of reality. It is something to be imposed on supporters of the Palestinians; its notable that for all the sound and fury from the right-wing media and Tories, the Tory party do not seem to have adopted it themselves.
Labour’s adoption of it, at first abstractly and now as part of a “Code of Practice” for members regarding anti-Semitism is a serious capitulation to imperialism. Taken with the controversy around the amended ‘examples’ that are part of the code along with the definition itself, given a promise to abide by due process, it could be seen as possibly a slight liberalisation of the party regime that has purged many staunchly left-wing, anti-racist comrades with false allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’. The demise of Iain McNichol and the rise of Jenny Formby to be Labour’s General Secretary, implies that. Though that has yet to be tested and may be speculative.
But as a counterweight to this is the racist insult to the victims of Israel, and their supporters, by adopting a ‘Code of Conduct’ and phoney ‘definition’ of ‘anti-Semitism’ that has been formulated by a small subset of pro-Zionist, mainly Western governments, explicitly as an attack on the rights of anti-racists to express full solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Just how much of an imperialist-led pro-Zionist governmental claque the IHRA with its 31 members is can be gleaned by contrasting it with the G77 group at the United Nations, which just elected the occupied and eviscerated semi-state of Palestine to be its presiding nation for 2019. The G77 had 77 members when it was founded in 1964 as a group of nations from the Global South; it now has 134 member states and represents 80% of the world’s population. There are no imperialist countries in the G77. So when Labour’s social-imperialists demand that Labour adopt the IHRA’s tract because it is represents ‘international opinion’ this is disgusting imperialist chauvinism against the majority of the people on this planet.
Even with the amended examples, which water down the most egregiously racist Zionist demands for criminalising dissent, the whole thing has the impact of creating a hostile environment for defenders of the Palestinians, where a word out of place will lead to disciplinary action and possible expulsion from the Labour Party. Whereas the overtly Zionist, openly racist trends such as the Labour Friends of Israel, and the Jewish Labour Movement (formerly Poale Zion) who defend the Naqba (the original 1947-9 ethnic cleansing of the majority of the Palestinian population that laid the foundation of Israel), who habitually jump to Israel’s defence over its most disgusting crimes, and who use blood libels about the Palestinians, have to abide by no special code at all. Irrespective of the dispute over the amended examples in the ‘code of practice’, this is a major capitulation to imperialism and racism by Corbyn, and defines Labour at the point as having a social-imperialist, anti-Arab composite leadership.
This needs to be fought hard by supporters of the Palestinians within the party. A purely defensive tack, attempting to simply manoeuvre around the amendments to the IHRA tract, would be fatal. We should oppose the IHRA lock, stock and barrel because its overall thrust is racist and an attack on the oppressed. We need to brand all those within Labour who support it as in retreat from defence of the Palestinians and involved in an unprincipled indulgence of organised Zionist racism. The Party’s definition of anti-Semitism only needs what is in the Oxford English Dictionary – “Hostility to or prejudice against Jews.” The same as racism against any other group.
Defence and offence
There are four ‘examples’ that have been amended or omitted: “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination” by claiming that Israel is a “racist endeavour”; “accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations”; “applying double standards by requiring [of Israel] behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation” and “drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis”.
Obviously the IHRA definition with these ‘examples’ is considerably worse than the IHRA definition without them. Without them, the IHRA definition creates a hostile environment for defenders of Palestinian rights. With them, it would create a racist, totalitarian setup rather like the regime in old-type Stalinist parties. And of course, like the Stalinist parties it would be directed against left-wing dissent and at crushing genuine anti-racism and anti-imperialism. Thus, despite our strong antipathy for the IHRA definition and the Corbynite/Blairite hostile environment for Palestine defenders in Labour, we still take a side, with those who are fighting against the ruling class demand to incorporate their ‘examples’.
But such a defensive position must be preparation for a left counter-offensive, to get rid of all this Zionist crap, proscribe the organised Zionist-racist trends such as JLM and LFI, and pass a rather different policy: that support for the racist state of Israel is incompatible with membership of the Labour Party on basic anti-racist grounds.
Then there is the upcoming election for the NEC, in which 9 pro-Corbyn/Momentum candidates (JC9) are standing as a slate against 5 Blairites (who are pretending not to be a slate at all). The despicable and often treacherous behaviour of Jon Lansman, who heads the Momentum slate (the organisation is legally his personal property!) over the anti-Semitism witchhunt makes it difficult for the left to contemplate voting for him as an individual. But on the other hand, he is part of a slate, with people like Pete Wiilsman and Rachel Garnham who have spoken out on the NEC against the witchhunters latest campaign. We welcome any resistance to the Zionists’ campaign and give critical support to such resistance, even if its political level is far from adequate.
Need for a Marxist left
It is also the case that, because the both the left and the Blairites are organised into slates at this point, there is no independent left or Marxist candidate that could be voted for against individual members of the JC9 slate to ‘improve’ it. A serious shortfall of votes for one of the JC9 slate could conceivably let in a Blairite, as happened when Christine Shawcroft was disgracefully shoehorned off the NEC earlier this year in an earlier phase of the witchhunt, which let in the Blairite Eddie Izzard. Which would be qualitatively worse. So at this point, it would seem to be best for the left to call for votes for the entire JC9 slate, notwithstanding Lansman’s problematic presence. While working for future differentiation so capitulatory individuals and trends such as Lansman represents can be sidelined in future as part of building a better left.
And a better left is what we need. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is still a bourgeois workers party, and Corbyn, for all his anti-imperialism in decades gone by and his leftist social democracy, still represents bourgeois, pro-imperialist politics, albeit a special form of that rooted within the labour bureaucracy and some advanced parts of the working class itself. This capitulation to Zionism is a key indicator that Corbynism is still capable of pro-imperialist treachery even if it has not yet been tested as were the leaders of social democracy in 1914. We need Marxism in the labour movement, not ‘left’ bourgeois politics and Socialist Fight intends to be part of the creation of such a Marxist current, whose strategic aim is proletarian revolution, in the political heart of the labour movement in this country. Which includes the Labour Party, which needs a new left, setting itself the aim of working class power.