Barry Gilheany of the Jewish Labour Movement’s Labour Anti-Semitism & The IHRA Definition Of Antisemitism - Prevention Of Hate Crime Versus Freedom Of Speech reminds me of a fox entering a chicken coop to preach the virtues of vegetarianism. I would as soon take lessons on anti-racism from the British National Party as the Jewish Labour Movement.
I was brought up in a religious Zionist home with a father as a Rabbi. Despite this, by the age of 16, I realised that Marxism, which believes in the unity of the working class and universal principles of solidarity, was incompatible with Zionism which sees the unity of Jews as its guiding principle. To Zionism there is only one question: ‘is it good for the Jews’.
The Jewish Labour Movement is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation whose Settlement Division has as its purpose the financing of settlements in the Occupied West Bank of Palestine. See ‘World Zionist Organization Settlement Division Finances Illegal West Bank Outposts’ There is nothing socialist about the JLM. It is akin to the now forgotten Liverpool Protestant Party.
The development of Unionism and Zionism followed very similar lines. In 1921 Ireland was partitioned. In 1920 the Mandate of Palestine effectively began. The Colonial Secretary presiding over the birth of both Unionism and Zionism was Winston Churchill.
Zionism was the bastard cousin of Irish Unionism. As Sir Ronald Storrs, the first Military Governor of Jerusalem explained, ‘A Jewish State will be for England a little, loyal Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism’.
But I forget. Gilheaney’s concern is not Israel or Zionism but anti-Semitism. The fact that he is a member of an overtly pro-Zionist organisation is merely coincidental. He tells us that ‘the Jewish charity, the Community Security Trust’ has reported an increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the first 6 months of the year from 810 to 892, nearly all of which is due to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader of the Labour Party. Corbyn:
if not anti-Semitic himself, (he) has enabled anti-Semitism to grow on his watch just as Donald Trump has enabled and assisted in the growth of racism and race prejudice since becoming President of the USA.
Truly there is a veritable pogrom going on in Britain today, all of which is Corbyn’s fault.
It is difficult to know whether or not to laugh or cry at this nonsense. The reality is that there is probably less anti-Semitism today in Britain than there has ever been. The figures of the CST have little or no basis in fact. They are literally plucked out of thin air. You have more chance of accuracy if you span the wheel in a game of roulette than relying on the CST.
In its Anti-Semitic Incidents Report for January-June 2019 the CST informed us that the 892 anti-Semitic incidents recorded were the highest ever for any six months period. It explained that this ‘can partly be attributed to increasing reports of online expressions of antisemitism.’ An online expression of anti-Semitism, such as a Tweet or Facebook post has now become an anti-Semitic incident. If only the victims of the Kishinev and Odessa pogroms in Russia had been so lucky. As far as I know no one has ever died from a tweet!
One person can cause a Twitter storm. There is no possible way in which the level of racism in society can be measured by engaging in a social media lucky dip. It’s completely impressionistic.
CST are being wholly disingenuous spinning their statistics in order to reach the desired conclusions. They explain that of the 892 incidents of anti-Semitism, no less than 323 of them consisted of online anti-Semitism, a full 36%. In 2018, for the same period, there were 221 such incidents, i.e. 27%. If you strip out on line anti-Semitism altogether then there has been a decrease in anti-Semitism over the past year from 589 to 569.
The CST records 85 assaults in the first six months of 2019 compared to 62 the previous year, an increase of 37%. The strange thing is that not one of these assaults were classified as ‘extreme’ i.e. causing injury or a threat to someone’s life. Yet when it comes to similar statistics for racial attacks, the number of serious incidents of violence compared to less serious or trivial assaults is about one-third. Even more strange the number of assaults compared to racial incidents generally is also of the order of one-third, so if the 892 anti-Semitic incidents were genuine then one would expect something like 300 not 85 assaults.
Why is it that the CST’s statistics are out of kilter with all other measures of racial incidents? Is it because they are being driven by a hidden political agenda or special interests or indeed that the CST is more assiduous in collecting statistics? We don’t know because the CST, although in receipt of large amounts of public money is completely unaccountable. There is no way of knowing whether what they call ‘anti-Semitism’ is driven by a Zionist/pro-Israel agenda.
It would for example be interesting to know how many of these 85 assaults were recorded as crimes or subject to any form of prosecution? The answer is we don’t know, nor do we know what the criteria is for ‘abusive incidents’ and how they are distinguished from normal political argument. The CST is not a politically neutral organisation. It is openly Zionist. It sees as part of its remit collecting information on Jewish anti-Zionists and keeping anti-Zionists out of Zionist meetings. It compiles files on Jewish anti-Zionists (I obtained a massive file when I made a Subject Access Request a few years ago).
The CST finds it difficult to make a distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. It says that they do not ‘not consider criticism of Israel or Zionism inherently antisemitic’ which is a strange way to put it. In other words anti-Zionism is usually anti-Semitic! Whatever else you could accuse the CST of it’s not political neutrality.
The CST admits that:
There were 203 allusions to Israel, the Middle East or Zionism, used in antisemitic incidents recorded by CST, of which 18 directly compared or equated Israel with the Nazis.’
Equating Israel or Zionism to the Nazis isn’t anti-Semitic. Israelis do it all the time, See Calling Your Political Rival a Nazi Is a Time-hallowed Tradition in Israel.
The truth is that a decrease in anti-Semitism wouldn’t serve CST’s purposes. CST is not merely a Zionist organisation, it is effectively a para-state body. It has close links to both the British and Israeli states. The Home Office gave it 13.4 million in 2018. See para. s.6.2 of its own annual report ‘Working with the Government, Civil Servants and the Police’.
When the CST’s Security Director Carol Laser retired ‘Scotland Yard presented her with a commendation usually reserved for officers shot in the line of duty.’ As Ms Laser admitted ‘"Nothing comes higher than the protection around the Israelis.’
However when Raed Saleh, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Northern Israel came to visit Britain in 2011 he was greeted by an exclusion order and an attempt by Theresa May to deport him. The ‘evidence’ against him was provided by the CST. This evidence included a poem of his which had been doctored to include words relating to Jews. Channel 4 reported:
The government’s main source of information was from the Jewish run Community Security Trust (CST). The CST has denied that it in any way misled the government. The group has also expressed disappointment that the exclusion order has been overturned.
It is trite knowledge to say that Zionists use ‘anti-Semitism’ as a propaganda weapon against their opponents. This is why according to Tony Lerman, the founder of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, Mossad (MI6), with which the CST has close links, took over the monitoring and collation of anti-Semitism statistics.
Lerman was later forced to resign from his post because of his views. He documented what happened in Antisemitism Redefined [‘On Anti-Semitism’ Haymarket Books, 2017].
I had close personal experience of the role the Mossad played in establishing Israeli hegemony over the monitoring and combating of antisemitism. While I was director of the Institute of Jewish Affairs (IJA) and its successor, the 'Institute for Jewish Policy Research OPR) in the 1990s, I founded and was principal editor of the annual Antisemitism World Report... The London Mossad representative dealing with antisemitism made it clear to me that they were very unhappy about our independent operation and then tried to pressure us into either ceasing publication or merging our report with one that the then new Project for the Study of Antisemitism at Tel Aviv University, headed by Professor Dina Porat and part-financed by the Mossad, was beginning to produce.
What possible reason could there be for Mossad to take over responsibility for the monitoring of anti-Semitism in Jewish communities abroad? Can you imagine MI6 getting involved in the race relations business in Britain? There is only one explanation and it is that ‘anti-Semitism’ is a vital part of the political defence of Israel.
The statistics of anti-Semitism compiled by the CST are not worth the paper they are written on. They are part of Israel’s propaganda war against its adversaries. To paraphrase Mark Twain, there are lies, damn lies and CST statistics.
Gilheany says that ‘one of the kernels of the Labour anti-Semitism dispute relates to Israel and Zionism’ and that the document at the heart of it is the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism.
Which is like saying that opposition to the British presence in Ireland makes you an anti-British racist or that support for a United Ireland means you are anti-Protestant. Zionism like Unionism is a political not a racial project and opposition to them is political not racial.
The IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism is a racist’s charter. Why does one even need a definition unless there is a hidden agenda? When my dad joined 100,000 Jews and non-Jews at the Battle of Cable Street in 1936 to stop Oswald Moseley’s British Union of Fascists marching through the Jewish East End of London he didn’t need a definition of anti-Semitism to know what anti-Semitism is! It’s a complete nonsense.
The IHRA isn’t even a definition. It’s 500+ words long. The Oxford English Dictionary definition of anti-Semitism, ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews’ is just 6 words. The IHRA is so long because that’s how much it takes to conflate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
The IHRA definition has been around, in one guise or another, since 2005. The definition has been criticised by academic researchers such as Brian Klug, David Feldman, and Antony Lerman; jurists including Hugh Tomlinson QC, Stephen Sedley, Geoffrey Bindman QC, and Geoffrey Robertson QC who described it as ‘not fit for purpose.. Even the original drafter of the IHRA, Kenneth S. Stern stated that: ‘“The definition was not drafted, and was never intended, as a tool to target or chill speech on a college campus.,”. “It was never supposed to curtail speech on campus.”
The IHRA has 11 examples of ‘anti-Semitism’, seven of which refer to Israel. For example ‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.’ In Nazi Germany mobs chanted Death to the Jews. In Israel mobs chant Death to the Arabs. Why is this anti-Semitic? Is Ze’ev Sternhell, a childhood survivor of a Polish Ghetto an anti-Semite for writing about Israel’s ‘Growing Fascism and a Racism Akin to Early Nazism.’
Another example of ‘anti-Semitism’ is ‘Applying double standards by requiring of it[Israel] a behaviour not demanded or expected of any other democratic nation.’ Which begs the question, is Israel a democratic state? Israel is an ethnocracy not a democracy. Its Jewish majority was created out of the forced expulsion of the native Palestinians. If you don’t accept that Israel is democratic then you are declared ‘anti-Semitic’. There was a time when anti-Semitism was about hating Jews, not criticising Israel or Zionism.
According to the IHRA ‘Denial of the right of the Jewish people to self-determination’ is anti-Semitic. Gilheany argues that if you oppose the right of every other national minority, from the Kurds to the Catalans, to an independent state then you ‘would not be seen as a priori anti-Semitic’. This is not true but is in any case irrelevant.
It used to be the case when it was those who argued that Jews constituted a separate nation who were condemned as anti-Semites. Jews argued that they were British and Jewish by religion. The Zionist belief that Jews are strangers whose ‘real home’ is in Israel was seen as a form of Jewish anti-Semitism. Indeed this is the real purpose of this false and confected ‘anti-Semitism’. To persuade Jews that they should ‘return’ to Israel.
Lucien Wolfe, who was Secretary of the Conjoint Foreign Committee of the Board of Deputies wrote, during the negotiations around the Balfour Declaration in 1917 that:
I have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form of anti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerous when they come to me in the guise of Zionism. They constitute a capitulation to our enemies, which has absolutely no justification in history, ethnology or the facts of everyday life, and if they were admitted by the Jewish people as a whole, the result would only be that the terrible situation of our coreligionists in Russia and Romania would become the common lot of Jewry throughout the world.
As Isaac Deutscher wrote in The Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays:
the great majority of East European Jews were, (up to the outbreak of the second World War) opposed to Zionism … the most fanatical enemies of Zionism were precisely the workers, those who spoke Yiddish … they were the most determined opponents of the idea of an emigration from East Europe to Palestine … in the idea of an evacuation, of an exodus from the countries in which they, had their homes and in which their ancestors had lived for centuries, the anti-Zionists saw an abdication of their rights, a surrender to anti-Semitism. To them anti-Semitism seemed to triumph in Zionism, which recognised the legitimacy and the validity of the old cry ‘Jews get out!' The Zionists were agreeing to get out.
As anti-Semitism increased in Poland so did support for Zionism wane. In the last local elections in 1938, out of the 20 Jewish Council seats in Warsaw 17 were won by the anti-Zionist Bund and just one by the Zionists. Everywhere in Poland it was the same story. Zionism was seen as a capitulation to anti-Semitism.
Gilheany’s conspiracy theories about Stalinism and the Soviet Union lying behind the revelations of Nazi-Zionist collaboration are absurd. It wasn’t Stalin who was responsible for the fall of the second Sharrett government in Israel in 1955 but the verdict in the Kasztner libel trial, brought as a result of the accusations of Jewish survivors of the Holocaust against the leader of Hungarian Zionism that his collaboration had led to the deportation of thousands of Hungarian Jews. It is a fact, amply documented by Zionist historians such as Francis Nicosia and Lucy Dawidowicz, that the Zionists were the favoured Jews of the Nazis, the ones who traded with them not campaigned against them.
Zionism is and always has been a reactionary movement and ideology. Today that should be clear to all when the best friends of Israel are anti-Semitic leaders like Trump, Orban and Duterte. When even the neo-Nazi founder of the alt-Right in the United States, Richard Spencer openly boasts that he is a White Zionist and Netanyahu’s own son pens an anti-Semitic cartoon of George Soros that is immediately republished by David Duke of the KKK then it should be clear why Gilheany’s attempts to portray the Left as anti-Semitic are, to quote Neil Young, pissing in the wind … Socialist Zionism was always an oxymoron, today it is simply a bad joke.
⏭ Tony Greenstein is a socialist, anti-Zionist and anti-racist.