by Robert Clough
As the Zionist campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party reached fever pitch in July, the passage of the racist Nation-State of the Jewish People Bill through the Israeli Knesset exposes the fundamental truth that Israel is a racist, apartheid state. Yet to say this, according to the Zionist press and the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs, is to be anti-Semitic, and they want to enshrine this in the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism code of conduct. Outrageously, Corbyn has not publicly condemned this censorship attempt at a time when the Palestinian people are suffering accelerated ethnic cleansing on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. By his silence, Corbyn has allowed the Zionists both inside and outside the Labour Party to get away with their lies, and has hung the Palestinian people out to dry.
The latest round of the Zionist campaign started with the presentation of a draft code of conduct on anti-Semitism to a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) on 3 July. The document used the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, but excluded four IHRA-defined examples of anti-Semitism, of which the important ones for the Zionists are ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour’ and ‘applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation’. These are the basis for attempts to ban events associated with Israeli Apartheid Week, or suppress description of Israel as a colonial-settler state. Yet until recently, the Zionists never specifically mentioned them since it would lay bare their real intention – to censor opposition to the Israeli state.
The exclusions aroused virulent opposition from Zionist organisations such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and, within the Labour Party, from the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), whose director is a former official in the Israeli London embassy. When on 17 July, the NEC formally adopted the code of conduct, the Zionists went into overdrive to denounce both the NEC decision and Corbyn. LFI chair Joan Ryan tweeted that: ‘the NEC has decided to prioritise the rights of those who seek to demonise and delegitimise the state of Israel…’ This is the LFI which issued a statement blaming the Palestinians for the massacre of 14 May when Israeli snipers shot down over 1,200 Palestinian protesters, killing 62.
LFI MP Margaret Hodge took the Zionist campaign to a new level when on the evening of the NEC meeting she confronted Corbyn in parliament and shouted that he was a ‘fucking anti-Semite and racist’. Even though this was an obvious lie, her fellow MPs rallied around her and denounced any attempt to discipline her for using abusive language; the overwhelming majority had already condemned the code of conduct at a meeting prior to the NEC decision. The Guardian gave over a column to Hodge to justify her aggression. Throughout the piece, she did what all Zionists do: conflate Zionism with Judaism so that condemnation of Zionism becomes anti-Jewish and therefore anti-Semitic. She concluded by saying that ‘I stand by my action as well as my words’.
Israel: an apartheid state
On 19 July, the Israeli Knesset approved the Nation-State of the Jewish People Bill, which not only formally relegates the legal status of Palestinian people living in Israel to that of second-class citizens, but also endorses ethnic cleansing by stating: ‘the state views Jewish settlement as a national value and will labour to encourage and promote its establishment and development’. Such settlement necessarily requires the displacement of Palestinian people from the homes and land they have occupied for centuries. Liberal Israeli Daniel Barenboim, the world-renowned pianist and conductor, was appalled: ‘the Israeli government has just passed a law that replaces the principle of equality and universal values with nationalism and racism. This law states that only the Jewish people have a right to national self-determination in Israel,’ continuing ‘we have a law that confirms the Arab population as second-class citizens. It follows that this is a very clear form of apartheid.’ Barenboim’s statements clearly constitute a breach of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism: he writes with anger, while from the LFI and the JLM there is silence.
Labour left opens the door for the Zionists
As we have reported before (see FRFI 264), the Labour left has continued to retreat in the face of this racist offensive, making the job of the open Zionists easier. On 21 June, Momentum leader Jon Lansman, showing his complete disregard of the Palestinian demand for a political boycott of Israel, spoke at a meeting organised by the ‘liberal’ Zionist Rosa Luxemburg Institute in Tel Aviv, airing his view that the Labour Party had under-estimated the level of anti-Semitism in its ranks. Breaching the boycott is entirely consistent with his arrogant view that Zionism is not a ‘useful’ concept. At the 17 July NEC, both he and Momentum leader Rhea Wolfson called for continuing consultation over the code of contact with Jewish organisations – and these will be exclusively Zionist. The fact that Lansman has not faced any challenge for his reactionary standpoint within Momentum demonstrates the organisation’s worthlessness.
Corbyn has already stated his opposition to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and expressed admiration for the Israeli state. Now it seems he can only offer silence in the face of these Zionist attacks. No defence of the Palestinian people. The Jewish lawyer Stephen Sedley has put forward a straightforward definition of anti-Semitism: hostility towards Jews as Jews. Corbyn could use this as part of a counter-attack, but he is terrified that such a move will undermine his attempt to keep the PLP united. His ally, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, has called for a ‘swift’ and ‘amicable’ resolution of the disciplinary case against Hodge for ‘abusive’ behaviour when it is quite clear that the PLP does not want this: it will vote on adopting the full IHRA definition at a meeting on 5 September.
It is revealing that the anger of the PLP does not extend to those of their number who in three parliamentary votes during July on the Brexit Trade Bill managed to save the Tory government from defeat. There have been no demands for Frank Field, Graham Stringer, Kate Hoey and John Mann to be excluded from the PLP. Saving this utterly racist and reactionary Tory government is clearly not a crime for this appalling crew.
Zionists step up their attack
Scenting blood, the Zionists are upping the ante. On 25 June, the principal Zionist newspapers published in Britain, the Jewish Chronicle, Jewish Telegraph and Jewish News published a shared editorial claiming: ‘The stain and shame of anti-Semitism has coursed through Her Majesty’s Opposition since Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015’ adding that ‘Labour makes a distinction between racial anti-Semitism targeting Jews (unacceptable) and political anti-Semitism targeting Israel (acceptable). The reason for this move? Had the full IHRA definition with examples relating to Israel been approved, hundreds, if not thousands, of Labour and Momentum members would need to be expelled.’ These reactionary rags have let the cat out of the bag: now everyone can see that at stake for Zionists inside and outside the Labour Party is the issue of the Israeli state.
Anti-racists need to be quite clear in the face of this vitriol: Israel is a racist, colonial-settler state, and cannot be anything else. As the Zionist state steps up its plans to annex the West Bank, clear Palestinian people out of Jerusalem, and continue its blockade of Gaza, we have to stand against the cowardly Labour left to build solidarity with the Palestinian people.
The article above is taken from the British Marxist newspaper, Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! #265, August/September 2018. See here.