I shall begin this reply with a few words which will hopefully prevent my comments from being taken out of context.
I am an atheist who happens to have been born in the north eastern part of the island of Ireland. That my ancestry is both Irish and Scottish is nothing more than a matter of fact, and is of little consequence to the reality of my life. My allegiance is to the Working Class peoples on this Planet, rather than to the piece of land I found myself inhabiting by accident of birth. My current political home is within the UK Labour Party as this is the most effective organisation of my class which exists within these islands at the present time.
As an atheist, I have no bias against followers of any particular religion. My antagonism to religious sects and their organisations is impartial and universal, I am not however antagonistic towards those of my class who follow these faiths. I have many friends who identify with these faiths or with their history.
Barry Gilheany, in his article, has not introduced any new arguments in support of the claim that the L.P. has more of a problem with anti-Semitism than that found in wider society.
I would agree that some on his list of advocates for the Palestinian cause have been on the wrong side of other political disputes, although some of his claims are comprised of quotes taken out of context, especially in the case of Chomsky. It is true that Chris Williamson, and many others have made serious misjudgements on the situation in Syria, nevertheless none of the cited situations have much in common with that in Israel /Palestine.
Where I differ with many others who support the Palestinians is on the question of the continued existence of the State of Israel. I take the same view on this as I do on the question of Northern Ireland. Neither of these political entities should ever have come into existence, but since they do exist, and have done for many decades, they can't simply be swept away.
When I hear the chants of 'from the river to the sea', I despair! Generations of people have now lived in Israel since their families set up home there when no other country would take them. Are they to be driven out and made to start all over again? No one here In Ireland is suggesting that this should happen to the progeny of those planted here by the English a few centuries ago.
I do understand the fears of the citizens of Israel, but this is where my sympathy ends.
To have a society built on the interests of one religious sect /race/ethnicity/ culture to the exclusion of others is indefensible. The argument that unless you only live with 'your own kind' you can't live in safety and security simply doesn't hold water. If I and many like me, took the view that we could only live with our own kind (atheists and socialists) we would soon make a lot of enemies. There are many multicultural, multi-ethnic societies around the World which exist without having resorted to apartheid policies. The evidence speaks for itself.
Of course, if you want to guarantee your security it is a good idea not to take over someone else's land and then persecute them. Making enemies never makes for a peaceful life!
Zionism is not an exclusively Jewish standpoint. There are plenty of Christian Zionists. The USA for example, has millions of them, so equating Zionism exclusively with Jews is disingenuous to say the least. It is quite a convenient tool though, when you're trying to create a certain narrative. A narrative which it is hoped, will make the indefensible more acceptable – 'Manufacturing consent', to quote one of the enemies of elitism.
Denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in the form of a nation state would not be seen as a priori anti-Semitic if those doing the denying were consistent across the board and opposed, on principle, all nationalist movements ….
I suppose for many it would depend on the circumstances of said nationalist movements. I am not a supporter of nationalism because in most cases it is elitist. A state for the Jewish people is elitist in the same way as a state for the Catholic People or a state for the Protestant People, or one for Muslim People etc., and we all know how well those worked out. Remember Franco's Spain, Craig's Ulster, de Valera's Eire, Khomeini's Iran, etc.
The question of self-determination is not necessarily nationalist at all, and can be one of defence from an imperialist power which seeks to undermine the human and civil rights of the natives.
In fact, the situation in Israel the exact opposite. The Palestinians are the natives whose human and civil rights are being violated, their infrastructure bombed and bulldozed back to the stone age.
My view, for what it's worth, that the optimum solution for this troubled state, is that Israel would become a secular socialist entity in which people of all faiths and ethnicities live together in peace for the common good.
I also find it interesting that there is no mention in the article that many of those high profile people expelled or suspended from Labour during the investigation into anti-Semitism in the Party have been Jews.
Again, this is part of the programme. Dispense with all dissent by discrediting the opposition and if that opposition is Jewish, portray them as 'self-haters' or 'the wrong type of Jew'. We need look no further than this article to see this tactic, which dismisses Jewish Voice For Labour as being a small but vociferous, anti-Zionist group as being of the Far Left, therefore of no significance.
Within the Labour Party this issue is not just one of anti-Semitism, it is also one of class interests. The majority of the members of the Party are workers, whose only asset is their labour power, while many in the tiny minority which holds all of the political power are owners of 'the means of production'. The role of this group is to prevent the majority from getting ideas above its station and actually creating a socialist society. The attack on Corbyn in this article is an attack on Corbynism, a movement of hundreds of thousands of people who want a better society and a better World. As a labour member who is part of the struggle to democratise the Party, I believe that the voice of the mass membership should take precedence over that of the MPs and their small ruling clique, most of whom do not work in the interests of working people.
I do not believe that those outside the Party (including those affiliated through sectarian interest groups), who do not support the interests of the majority of the membership, should be able to exert influence in my Party.
The main reason, (conveniently omitted from this article) why anti-Zionists and others do not accept the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is not because they disagree with it's words. Certainly the supplementary additions are problematic, but most agree with the gist of actual 35 word definition. No, the reason is that Jews were not the only victims of the Holocaust, so why have the other victims been excluded? Why do we need a specific anti-racism definition exclusive to one group?
To recognise the suffering of others does not do an injustice to your own suffering!
⏭ Mike Craig lives near Moneymore, Co. Derry. He is a retired electronics technician, a social campaigner, and since 2016, a Labour Party activist. Born to atheist parents in the 1950s, he has 11 grandchildren and 3 Great Grandchildren.