Sunday, 25 March 2018

Corbynism and Anti-Semitism

A picture says a thousand words, so take a look at this one and tell me what you see. Did you espy the anti-semitic themes? And how did you arrive at this conclusion - did the caricaturing give the game away? And how long did you take - a fraction of a second? Or are you like leading Stop the War activist Yvonne Ridley who, in the Facebook thread below the now infamous image, couldn't see anything wrong with it?

Unfortunately anti-semitism has yet again resurfaced and as everyone reading this knows, this time it's Jeremy Corbyn who's in the firing line for failing to notice the image above, which he commented on, was racist. In the world of social media there is a tendency to shoot from the hip without looking properly at what or who you're commenting on/sharing. It's happened to me enough times when posts shared on Facebook have been construed as supporting the Tories because of the titles (as such I was expecting some earache for Friday's effort). And I'm happy to accept that Jeremy's explanation that he wasn't paying attention. After all, over the course of his career he has put his name to eight Early Day Motions attacking anti-semitism, and under his leadership Labour has adopted a line far harsher on anti-semitism than any of his predecessors. And still, this happened.

While the Labour Party does not have an anti-semitism problem distinct from the anti-semitism problem of society as a whole, unfortunately a section of the left does, particularly those that have historically prioritised anti-war and Palestine solidarity activity. We're not talking conscious Jew hate a la neo-Nazis and assorted fash riff-raff, though some on the fringes of anti-war work order their conspiracy theorising with a side of anti-semitism, but rather a certain carelessness which, persistent and unchecked, amounts to anti-semitic behaviour. Cast your eyes over the Socialist Workers Party, for example. Previously the key organising force of Stop the War, Respect, and 'official' anti-fascism as per Unite Against Fascism, when it came to matters anti-war they tended to put a plus wherever the British establishment put a minus. They weren't hard "defencists" (i.e. calling for the defeat of one's own military and victory to whoever they are fighting), but in practice this meant tolerating far right Serbs on the small marches against the war in Kosovo, ditto with Islamic fundamentalists in the anti-war movement and, in the case of notorious anti-semite Gilad Atzmon, not just rubbing shoulders with but actively sponsoring his events. The SWP has a history of turning a blind eye to such characters. Sometimes this was for expediency's sake, such as not wanting to threaten the "united front" of whatever bandwagon they're riding at that moment. For others it's because they are of some use. Atzmon was so promoted because a now disgraced former leading member was really into jazz.

The SWP have diminished influence these days, but their attitude to problem people is typical. For them, overlooking the foibles of allies could be justified in terms of their lust for the big time, which was always one more demo, strike, and paper sale away. For others not so invested in sect building, making episodic common cause with people who shouldn't be touched with a barge pole was simply a fact of life of doing left-wing politics: you work with what you've got. Up until the sudden change of fortunes occasioned by the 2015 Labour leadership contest, self-described leftists were a small and dwindling bunch. The likes of Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, both of whom are prophylactics for socialist politics, were tolerated because there wasn't exactly a massive pool of activists to draw upon. And it had been this way for a long time, so turning a blind eye was in many cases a condition of getting things done. Which also meant "left" anti-semitism wasn't taken seriously - a culture of sensitivity was absent.

Nevertheless there were some on the left who refused to go along with this. Among the remnants of self-described Leninism, the Socialist Party tended to prefer focusing on bread and butter issues and promoting its still born initiatives that were always a step toward a new workers' party. It worked with others when occasion demanded, but never fell into the crude 'my enemy's enemy' anti-imperialism of the SWP and friends. The Alliance for Workers' Liberty, in a number of ways the SWP's mirror image, regularly polemicised against the rest of the far left for not taking anti-semitism seriously, and often accused them of an at times unconscious, at times semi-deliberate anti-semitism for focusing so much on Israel and refusing to recognise the national rights of the Jewish people who live there. And Andy Newman via the legendary Socialist Unity blog regularly battled against anti-semitism in the anti-war/anti-imperialism movement, arguing that not only is it appalling in and of itself, it hands ammunition to Israel's supporters. How easy it is to dismiss criticism of Netanyahu et al's latest crimes if those same opponents can be associated with anti-semitic positions and propaganda. That and the small matter of it inevitably biting the left in the behind in due course. Like now.

In context, Jeremy's remarks could be read as symptomatic of this culture of carelessness. But let's not beat the left up too much. Simultaneously the groups and activists above, including the SWP, have a better record than virtually anyone else in the labour movement of taking on outright peddlers of Jew hatred. As Michael Segalov reminds us, writing in September 2016 during another anti-semitism controversy, it was the far left and a few hardy souls from the mainstream of the labour movement who were confronting neo-Nazis on our streets. As he rightly notes, those who take anti-semitism not as a problem to be addressed but as a stick to beat Corbyn and Corbynism with were never to be seen, and barely concern themselves with the threats the far right pose Jewish communities. It's almost as if they're acting entirely in bad faith.

What should be done then? The party is now institutionally anti-anti-semitic, but there remains a persistent and stubborn layer of members who either believe there is no issue, don't think it's worth talking about, or is entirely a weapon used against the leadership by the usual suspects. Clearly, there is much political education to be done. I don't mean every branch and CLP hosting its own diversity training or whatever, but rather a left declaration of war against anti-semitism specifically and the kind of thinking - conspiracy thinking - that incubates it and, in turn, finds a ready audience among large sections of Corbyn's online support. As a rule, the so-called alt-left media sites are dismal failures in this regard and, indeed, stoke the fires of click bait conspiranoia. This has to be opposed by materialist analysis, of understanding the world as it is so we can make the world what we want it to be. This takes a concerted effort at building an intellectual culture that encourages comrades to think critically for themselves, and treat with extreme prejudice any and all explanations that place social ills, however they're defined, at the feet of secret cabals working away in the shadows. Then, perhaps, the culture of carelessness can be overcome and "left" anti-semitism goes back to being what it should be: an oxymoron.

38 comments:

Unknown said...

Thanks for this. I'm gutted that it needed to be said.

Andy Platt said...

I really don't buy it. In this case I'm having to take others' word for it that the mural is anti-Semitic, to me it seems to be anti-capitalist in that rather silly, illuminati way. I saw someone on Twitter say that 'New World Order' was an anti-Semitic trope but in fact it was something George Bush Snr used to proclaim he was establishing. I'm aware that the artist has said that one of the figures is a Rothschild but I personally have no idea which one cos I have no idea what any of the Rothschilds look like. I admit I'm really not aware of how the Jewish caricatures peddled by the Nazis etc look like. That's my lack of awareness.

Anyway, with that in mind I can relate to the idea of someone not spotting the anti-Semitism and thinking it was just a free speech issue. Given that the person who made the decision to remove the mural was Lutfur Rahman, Labour Mayor at the time I'd have thought that there would have been some record of Corbyn getting in touch with him, at least informally if he particularly cared.

I'm looking at this in the context of a Youtube blogger releasing a video where he repeatedly says the phrase 'gas the Jews' being found guilty of a public order offence and a small group of comedians defending his right to release such videos because it's a joke and free speech innit. One of them called me a f****** idiot because I dared suggest that, joke or not, such videos might be beyond the pale. I confess that I'm losing sight of where the boundaries are.

My view, as someone who hasn't voted Labour since 2001, is that Labour does not have an anti-Semtism problem, institutionally or no. Of course there will be some members or supporters who are anti-Semitic and the party obviously needs to deal with them.

The problem, as I see it, is that Labour is failing to recognise the plurality of views within the Jewish community, in particular regarding that awkward Zionism question. This appears to be because Labour has historically been sympathetic to Zionism and there are at least two influential groups within the Party that are strongly Zionist. They appear to have convinced the party machinery that Jews, as a whole, are Zionist.

The problem with this is that it isn't true and an assumption that any ethnic group is monolithic in its views would normally be regarded as pretty racist. It should be raising alarm bells that the majority of people being suspended, with one actual expulsion, are in fact Jewish. On the face of it, that looks pretty anti-Semitic to me.

Labour can no longer go on equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, for that is what it's doing thanks to the campaigning of the Zionist groups that has generally led the opinion on the subject. It has to accept that Jewish people, like all people, have a diversity of opinions and that includes being passionately Zionist, equally passionately anti-Zionist and a varied spectrum of views in-between. It must be pretty grim to be Jewish and found to anti-Semitic (Gilad Atzmon aside who pretty much flies it on a flag) and it's not a view hat should ever be reached lightly. If Labour does have an anti_Semitism problem, it's this.

That turned out longer than it was supposed to be, sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

"Did you espy the anti-semitic themes? And how did you arrive at this conclusion - did the caricaturing give the game away? And how long did you take - a fraction of a second? Or are you like leading Stop the War activist Yvonne Ridley who, in the Facebook thread below the now infamous image, couldn't see anything wrong with it?"

Like most thoughtful people, I think, my reaction was to look carefully at the image rather than jump to conclusions. These days, if you react immediately to something on Twitter then You Are Doing It Wrong.

In the absence of any incontrovertible give-the-game-away Jewish/Israeli symbolism (six-pointed stars, menorahs, what-have-you) I was left with the observation that the people depicted all appeared to have big noses.

But I was also left with the conclusion that the artist wasn't very good at human figures and some of the people depicted appear (e.g.) to have unnaturally small heads for their bodily proportions.

My conclusion was that it was suggestive of anti-semitism, but nowhere near conclusive. And "nowhere near conclusive" is simply not enough.

Padma said...

Interesting comment Phil - agree with most of what you say. Particularly like your remarks about Gilad Atzomon - I often suggest to those who are confused about the issue, to have a look a Atzomon, as it is very clear that he is an anti-semite, where as criticism of Isreal and support for the Palistinians by itself, is not. Atzomon is a kind of litmus test as to whether you can tell the difference.

But I would also point out that Greenstein was (quite rightly) thrown out of the Labour Party for his foul mouth, not for any views or motivations that were deemed to be anti-Semitic - if you have a look at his expusion document, it makes that point very clear.

richard yot said...

I've never seen such a large mountain made out of such a small molehill than this whole story dredged up from an ancient Facebook comment made back in 2012. There's practically nothing there, and yet Corbyn's enemies are making as much noise as they can, because finally they've found a stick to beat him with.

It's interesting to note that none of the stories relating to this were open to comments in the Guardian, including opinion pieces. It's as if they might be afraid of a backlash in the comments...

The whole thing is spun beyond the realms of the reasonable. He made an ill-judged comment six years ago, he's apologised for it. Surely that's the end of the matter, because no-one sincerely believes Corbyn to be a genuine anti-semite, however much noise they make about this incident.

Fred said...

Very good as always. I’m curious about your thoughts on the #PredictTheNextCorbynSmear hashtag. On the one hand it seems crass, given that Corbyn himself acknowledged his fault, and there’s no doubt about the picture. Yet the right of the party have the establishment media to whisper (and shout) their bad faith allegations of antisemitism through, and so slightly mocking memes like this seem to be a weapon the more numerous, but more dispersed, left can use to combat this. But then it does seem to provide the right with ammunition to the effect that the left is not take antisemitism seriously enough.

I’m confused. Do you (or anyone else) have any thoughts?

Anonymous said...

It'll be interesting to see the impact of this in local elections. The crucial factor in my eyes is the sway that the mainstream press and broadcasters have over people versus people's capacity to work out these issues in terms of their own interest or their class interests.

It may have as little effect as the 2017 election onslaught and once again demonstrate the press as the declining, degenerate lie machine it is.

levi9909 said...

Taking antisemitism seriously is one thing but pandering to the Zionist movement is an altogether different thing and that has been the instinct of Jeremy Corbyn and his advisers ever since the first coup attempt. Each sop they throw to this essentially racist movement (the Zionist movement) emboldens them further. They even gave the heirs to Poale Zion (so-called Jewish Labour Movement) an award in the name of Del Singh who was barred from Palestine by the Israeli state authorities.

Support for the expulsions of Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein too isn't the smartest of moves. Jackie Walker has had her facebook account hacked and had a private conversation quoted out of context. Similarly she was secretly filmed at a supposed training exercise on antisemitism. Again her words were taken out of context. I feel Phil is taking too much on trust here from members of organisations whose sole raison d'etre is to provide cover for Israel's ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.


Fred

The Zionists organising this latest coup attempt against Corbyn are not accepting his acknowledgement and apology, the Tory editor of the Jewish Chronicle is saying that Corbyn clearly examined the picture and liked what he saw in spite of there being no evidence for that https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/there-is-only-one-word-for-jeremy-corbyn-1.461313. He is saying that Corbyn is now lying which is pretty rich coming from a paper that routinely accuses Israel's critics, dissidents and victims of antisemitism.

Phil of course is right, Corbyn does seem to have queried why the mural was being taken down.

The artist himself confused matters by saying that the mural wasn't antisemitic but did depict "Jewish and white Anglos", so the artist doesn't seem to know what antisemitism is and Corbyn didn't seem to know fully what he had said.

All much ado about nothing but it is interesting that Harry's Place's post on it when the mural first appeared had David Toube not seeing antisemitism in the mural until the artist said what he was depicting http://hurryupharry.org/2012/10/05/i-was-wrong-about-the-mural/ Of course, right now they are going full tilt for this latest coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn.

Anonymous said...

You say that there is no doubt that the picture is anti-Semitic. I would like to know in which direction there is no doubt. The largest nose belongs to JP Morgan who was an Anglican of Welsh origin. He had rosácea which gave him an enormous red nose. He disliked being photographed due to this. Other figures are the Rockefellers who were Baptists of German background. The Rothschilds were Jewish but are only some of the characters depicted. I know Jeremy has apologised but I can't see why. I have never heard of anything that he said in support of this picture.

John Edwards said...

I went to a meeting a few weeks ago where a person I didn't know stood up and declared he was born and brought up in Israel, his parents were Holocaust survivors and he had been suspended from the Labour Party for a considerable time already with no indication of when he would have an opportunity to answer the case against him. When are the Chakrabarti recommendations on due process actually going to be implemented?

Mathias Alexander said...

Yes its anti-semitic because the faces are like antisemitic characatures of jews. If they all looked like Macron that would not be antisemitic, and nearer the mark IMO.

Gilad Atzmon: can a jew be antisemitic? I haven't read enough of his stuff to say (I may never bother).

Its heartening to think that this is the best Corbyn smear anyone could think of. Then again, maybe it was short notice. It might be a dead cat to distract us from the Salisbury 'narative' starting to fall apart (note conspiracy theory).

What this woman said
https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/03/22/how-to-get-rid-of-paranoid-conspiracy-theorists/

Anonymous said...

I must be so thick. I see old white men in suits, playing a game on the backs of men. I see the symbol on the US dollar. I see a man, a woman and a baby. Sorry but it's not immediately obvious. I wouldn't say I was anti-Jewish, anti-semitic - but I do think I'm anti-Zionist.

Anonymous said...

"John Edwards"

"I went to a meeting a few weeks ago where a person I didn't know stood up and declared he was born and brought up in Israel, his parents were Holocaust survivors and he had been suspended from the Labour Party for a considerable time already with no indication of when he would have an opportunity to answer the case against him."

This has to be the vaguest account of a supposedly-memorable event that I have read in quite some time. I'm going to stick my neck out and say that typing it was completely pointless and you shouldn't expect anyone to take it seriously as evidence of anything at all.

I've heard more reliable anecdotes from the local pub's "special forces" Walt who claims he only runs away from fights because his hands are so deadly that they are registered with the police because they count as lethal weapons.

Rosie Rechter said...

I see it as anti capitalist..Why has it taken people 6 years to discover that Jeremy Corbyn response was inappropriate ?

Marc Mulholland said...

Presumably "The party is now institutionally anti-anti-semitic" should read "The party is not institutionally anti-anti-semitic".

John Edwards said...

re- anonymous. I have since found out who this individual is. I cannot comment on the details of the case because do not know him and I have yet to find out what he is supposed to have done. Other LP members I have spoken to are very supportive however. The point I was making is that there are many people who have been arbitrarily suspended on vague charges and left in limbo, this cannot be right. The disciplinary process needs to be fair, timely and individuals should receive due process as recommended by the Chakrabarti Report. Hopefully with the clearout at HQ this should finally be delivered.

Phil said...

No, the phrase means what it says. The party is institutionally opposed to anti-semitism.

Also, in case of any confusion for other comrades the Andy Platt above is not the same Andy Platt who is a councillor in Stoke.

levi9909 said...

Bartholomew's Notes on Religion is a calm, factual left leaning site. His post here http://barthsnotes.com/2018/03/26/a a-note-on-mear-one-and-jeremy-corbyn/ probably says all you need to know about this Near One character. He in murky waters between conspiracism, trutherism & antisemitism.

Mathias Alexander said...

How does anonymous know that the characters depicted are these specific individuals?

Anonymous said...

It's fake antisemitism. Bogus. Nothing antisemitic about this image. I have seen all sorts of explanations given for why it's antisemitic, none of which hold up when examined.

1. They have got big noses.
- Well, 3 have big noses, 3 don't.
- Big noses are not an feature exclusive to Jews, in fact they appear all over the world in equal abandon.

2. They are obviously Jewish.
- Two of them are actually Jewish.
- One looks very english
- One looks positively oriental.

3. It's the illuminati, you can't talk about the illuminati that's antisemitic.
- The Illuminati are not Jews, therefore it cannot ever be antisemitic to reference the illuminati.
- The all seeing eye is a Freemasons symbol
- The image was inspired by the US dollar

4. It's the old trope of the new world order
- The New Word Order is not about Jews (this is becoming tiresome)
- The new world order is about many different groups, and which groups, depends on your particular conspiracy you are theorising about. It include Freemasons, Illuminati (which are not Jews remember, see above), Jews (yes, it can be about jews sometimes) and others, including Aliens.

5. Those are the limbs of holocaust victims that these Jewish bankers are dining on.
- This is a special one, specifically for Peston, bless him, he got a bit carried away in his desperation to make the mural sound antisemitic.
- They are actually the backs of working people of different races (hence the varying skin tones)
- It's a monopoly board, not a dining table
- It is antisemitic to assume that because these are bankers, they are Jewish

levi9909 said...

I think given the history of the imagery used in the mural we should all recoil against it whether it is malicious against Jews or not. That kind of conspiracism either begins, ends or overlaps with antisemitism somewhere along the line. The problem now is that Jeremy Corbyn has gone from throwing comrades under the bus to practically throwing himself under one. I'm not sure if he has apologised 3 or 4 times to the major Jewish organisation who want his blood: The Board of Deputies and The Jewish Leadership Council. The latter group until very recently was headed by a Mick Davis, who is now treasurer and CEO of the Conservative Party. The Board of Deputies too is dominated by Tories.

We are now in a position where Corbyn is allowing himself to be so weakened as leader he could end up like Kinnock or Foot - all history and no present or the Right could simply take over but I don't know how that latter could happen organisationally.

It seems to me that by pandering to this ragbag of Rightists Corbyn is suggesting that he never understood or never had confidence in the Corbyn phenomenon in the first place.

Speedy said...

They've got big noses and beards, OBVIOUSLY they're meant to be Jews, even if they're "Anglicans". That's the point of anti-semitism.

Zionism/ anti-Semitism is red herring. "I'm not anti-Semitic but I am anti-Zionist". Zionism was created in a response to anti-Semitism and the Jewish state was created by the UN in 1948.

So, do these "not anti-Semitic anti-Zionists" agree with Israel's right to exist? If the answer is no, they are anti-Semites, pure and simple. Dozens of states have been created since '48, but only Israel attracts this kind of opprobrium. If there is a better example of the exception proving the rule, I have yet to see one.

cian said...

Yeah I don't know that I'd have assumed that the bankers in the terrible mural were supposed to be Jewish, so if it is anti-semitic, it's obviously too suble for me. There are genres of comics in various countries where all the characters have big noses (and who are clearly not supposed to be Jewish). Sometimes a big nose is just a big nose.

The anti-semitism debate generally is complicated by the fact that Israel, and it's supporters, have put a lot of effort into smearing anyone who is anti-zionist as anti-semitic. Israel has basically weaponized anti-semitism to attack its critics. This doesn't mean that one shouldn't take it seriously (Gilad Atzmon is hardly an isolated case), just that one should assess accusations very carefully.

levi9909 said...

Having said Corbyn was throwing himself under the bus, I was wrong. He was interviewed by Jewish News UK http://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/listen-to-the-full-jeremy-corbyn-interview/ and I think he handled the whole thing very well much to the chagrin of his Zionist detractors who had told him he had to denounce the non-Zionist Jewish Voice for Labour and only liaise with the Zionist so-called Jewish Labour Movement. The Jewish Chronicle reduced the whole interview to "Corbyn calls Jewish Voice for Labour “good people”".

David Parry said...

Speedy

'Zionism/ anti-Semitism is red herring. "I'm not anti-Semitic but I am anti-Zionist". Zionism was created in a response to anti-Semitism'

Cool story, bro.

'So, do these "not anti-Semitic anti-Zionists" agree with Israel's right to exist? If the answer is no, they are anti-Semites, pure and simple.'

Bullshit! Being opposed to Israel's 'right' to exist no more makes one an anti-Semite than opposing apartheid South Africa's 'right' to exist would have made one anti-Afrikaaner.

Boffy said...

"We are now in a position where Corbyn is allowing himself to be so weakened as leader he could end up like Kinnock or Foot - all history and no present or the Right could simply take over but I don't know how that latter could happen organisationally."

Kinnock never was of the Left and weakened by the Right. From the start, Kinnock was of the Right, and the means by which the Left was smashed by the Right. He had the advantage for the Right, from the beginning that many took his ill-deserved reputation of being on the left as good coin, because they were desperate for someone who could, they hoped win them an election, and who were prepared to accept a fake left in order to achieve it.

They got neither. He began by destroying the party base through a witchhunt against socialists, opposing those Left Councils that organised to oppose Thatcher's austerity, expelling thousands of members, closing down branches and CLP's, and so on, which opened up a witchhunt of the Left in society in general, as left-wing union activists were sacked, the use of blacklists of union militants meant many of us could not get jobs, for years, and the same kind of witchhunts spread into organisations like CND and so on. By the time the Miners Strike came along the Part and union movement had been sufficiently weakened, and the mentality of the need to keep your head down so entrenched that Kinnock could stab the Miners in the back, and Labour Party members could steer away from any mention of supporting the NUM for fear of losing votes in the local elections from scabs, and other opponents of the strike!

If you want to see how the Right could take over the party quickly in short order, look no further than Kinnock. It took the Left in my branch nearly 10 years to go from a moribund shell to one of more than 100 members, with around 30 turning up to branch meetings regularly, and it took the left in the CLP around the same amount of time to do the same, and get rid of the old right-wing MP. It took Kinnock and his supporters only a couple of years to turn it back to its previous moribund condition.

And having destroyed the party, having seen the previous long-standing 57 out of 60 seat domination of the Council fall apart, and the Council fall into the hands of the Tories and a rag bag of "Independents", Kinnock could not even win the elections of '87 or '92 anyway, despite having moved further and further on to the ground of Thatcher. Then the Right simply pushed him to one side completely.

Boffy said...

"So, do these "not anti-Semitic anti-Zionists" agree with Israel's right to exist? If the answer is no, they are anti-Semites, pure and simple. Dozens of states have been created since '48, but only Israel attracts this kind of opprobrium. If there is a better example of the exception proving the rule, I have yet to see one."

Kosovo, I think is still not recognised as a state by a large number of countries. Similarly, the West does not accept the incorporation of Crimea back into Russia, and does not accept the establishment of separate states in South Ossetia.

The fact that the state of Israel was established as a solution to anti-Semitism does not mean that it was necessarily a solution that socialists or anyone else had to support, or that opposition to its establishment made you anti-Semitic. What is anti-Semitic is a refusal to accept that whatever the rights and wrongs of its establishment, it now does exist, and any attempt to deny its existence today could only be achieved by a brutal war that would result in the deaths of millions of Jews.

levi9909 said...

"What is anti-Semitic is a refusal to accept that whatever the rights and wrongs of its establishment, it now does exist, and any attempt to deny its existence today could only be achieved by a brutal war that would result in the deaths of millions of Jews."

Many states have been abolished over the years without brutal wars resulting "in the deaths of millions". Israel seems to find war quite to its liking and even with its racist ideology the wars Israel has initiated haven't resulted "in the deaths of millions". The idea that the abolition of The State of Israel as a state specially for the world's Jews would essentially lead to the "deaths of millions Jews" looks like a crude anti-Arab stereotype considering frontline Arabs have won a couple of wars against Israel (Lebanon 2000 & 2007) with no disproportionate killing of Jews...au contraire. And yet Israel seems to fear boycott, divestment and sanctions" more than anything else and for those of us who support justice for the Palestinians including their right to return that BDS route seems the way to go.

levi9909 said...

Boffy, thanks very much for the Kinnock history. I knew what he did as leader but not before that. Thanks again.

Boffy said...

The wars that have been waged with neighbouring states have been partial wars not wars for the destruction of the state of Israel. Where the latter might have been the intention, such as in the 1960's, the Arab states were quickly defeated, so we do not know whether had they gained the upper hand, millions of Jews would have died, but that looks to be a reasonable assumption of what would happen under such conditions.

Indeed, the actions of groups such as Hamas, and Hezbollah appear to have no regard, and make no distinction between the Israeli state, and Israeli Jews (or in practice Israeli Arabs) when they indiscriminately fire off crude missiles into Israel, or set off suicide bombs on buses etc.

And, unfortunately you make a similar failure of distinction when you say,

"Israel seems to find war quite to its liking and even with its racist ideology the wars Israel has initiated haven't resulted "in the deaths of millions"."

That kind of collective responsibility which lumps all Israelis into the actions of the Israeli state is what leads to anti-Semitism. It is quite different, for example, to the way we do no hold all British people responsible for the actions of the British State.

Its quite possible that at some point the current state of Israel might disappear peacefully, if for example, a United States of the Middle East is constructed. However, given the understandable concern of Israeli Jews, here and now, to have confidence in their own safety, its unlikely they would be easily convinced of such a course of action.

After all, just look at the example of Brexit!

Boffy said...

Incidentally, I'd like to see the list of states that have peacefully disappeared where there populations opposed such a course.

In the United States, the desire of the individual states to retain sovereignty, as against the establishment of a centralised federal state, resulted in a brutal Civil War in which half a million workers and small farmers on both sides were killed.

levi9909 said...

I didn't say anything that even implied collective responsibility on the part of Israelis, nor would I.

You are assuming that in the face of boycott, divestment and sanctions, Israelis still prefer supremacy to equality and we simply don't know how they would respond. There are always clues of course. When the USA decided to punish Yitzhak Shamir's government by withholding loan guarantees, Shamir reluctantly came to the negotiation table albeit only for the photo op that America was seeking. In the subsequent Israeli election, Likud lost, Labour won. It appears the Israeli public responded to what was a minimal sanction.

When I say Israel finds war to its liking, the constant state of tension and Israel's propensity for escalation does, in addition to the massive amount of aid it receives, seem to be the glue that holds together what is possibly the most ideologically mobilised society on the planet.

Regarding the "list of states that have peacefully disappeared where there populations opposed such a course" there is a wide gap between not peaceful on the one hand and annihilation on the other and I do feel very strongly that it is a racist stereotype with an enormously unjust, indeed racist, outcome to assume that if the Palestinians were granted equality with Jews in what is now known - to most anyway - as Israel and the occupied territories they would inevitably annihilate the Jews there.

I don't for a moment doubt your sincerity but I find it bizarre that there are people who claim to want socialism everywhere who are determined that Israel remains a bastion of reaction. Just look at the situation now, two coup attempts against Corbyn have involved the playing of the Israel card among other things. Democratic and leftist opinion where it accepts Israel as a state specially for the world's Jews, which is how Israel defines itself and even what its name means, is inconsistent where it demands the abolition of racist rule elsewhere else. The pretence that Israel is just another country but one which cannot grant equality to most of its native population lest they annihilate the population the state claims to exist for is what has brought us to this antisemitism smear campaign and as long as Israel exists on its current basis that smear and all the destabilisation that goes with it will persist.

levi9909 said...

Anyway, apologies to our esteemed host. I know he doesn't want his comment space hijacked by I/P obsessives!

Boffy said...

"You are assuming that in the face of boycott, divestment and sanctions, Israelis still prefer supremacy to equality and we simply don't know how they would respond."

But, this is besides the point. The question is not whether Israeli Jews might be prepared to negotiate a Two State solution, and the Jewish State might be pushed in that direction. That implies the continued existence of the state of Israel. The question is about those who deny the right of the state of Israel itself to exist!

Those who hold that position are not interested in a Two State solution, or some series of democratic reforms within Israel, but with its complete abolition, and replacement with something else, in which Jews would themselves end up as an oppressed minority. The only way that is going to happen under the current world reality is by force, by a brutal, genocidal war of the kind that some in the Middle East have spoken about, and which has absolutely nothing to with any kind of socialist perspective!

Its true that the reason we have this mess today comes down to the creation of the state of Israel in the first place, which is why socialists should and many did argue against such a solution in the first place. But, we are not moralists undertaking some kind of Quantum Leap to put right what once went wrong. We have to deal with the reality as it exists, and trying to reverse history, by effectively imposing a Palestinian state on to Israeli Jews, would be to simply repeat that historical mistake but with the actors involved reversed.

levi9909 said...

You are contradicting yourself. You say you want democratic reforms at the same time as saying you want ethnocracy to be maintained. You are also layering assumptions on assumptions. You think the right of return means that all Palestinians will return and you further assume that they will all be more vindictive than other liberated peoples have been towards former oppressors.

Gary Elsby said...

Does passing information to the Telegraph undermining the Leader and being exposed,class as an Anti-Semitism attack?
Apparently, 20,000 anti-Semitic insults plus death threats followed.
How many prosecutions?
Who actually is penning such accusations of mass membership anti-Semitism?
My own thoughts are that it is probably those that did not want Jeremy as leader and probably sponsored rival candidates for the role.
I declare that I am ignorant of racist and anti Jewish people in the Labour party because I have never met any but I have met many who oppose Israeli carpet bombing of Palestinian areas.
Is this a Progress v Momentum fight?
Lansman, of Jewish faith should be asked.

Boffy said...

@Levi,

No I'm not. I am saying that reforms can only come from joint action by Jewish and Arab workers being able to find common cause as workers. It will never be possible to achieve such common cause if Jews are confronted by demands for the physical destruction of their state, as being an illegal state.

The error of Third Campists, such as the AWL, who post facto defend the establishment of the state of Israel in the first place, is that it reflects the fact that they have lost faith in the working-class as the revolutionary agent of historical change. So, they place their faith in other social forces to bring about change, and to implement their vision of morality. It is necessarily opportunist, resulting in politics being driven by short-termist requirements to "do something" to deal with the latest moral panic, which then simply results in the contradictions exploding in some other form, further down the road, and requiring a sharp zig-zag to address it.

The Third Campists of the SWP, and others who call for the destruction of Israel, as a means of addressing the plight of the Palestinians, are simply a mirror image of the Third Campism of the AWL. They apply the same logic that the AWL used to justify the creation of Israel, to address the plight of the Jews, now to justify the violent destruction of Israel to address the plight of the Palestinians.

As Trotsky described this ideological trend of Third Campism back in the 1930's, it is simply petty-bourgeois moralism that flows from their loss of faith in the working-class, and attachment to other social forces - for the SWP et al various reactionary "anti-imperialist", but actually only nationalist forces, and for the AWL the bourgeois democratic state. In order to cover up this crisis of faith, both of these trends have to cover it up, and try to convince themselves they have not abandoned Marxist politics by proclaiming ever louder their belief in independent working class action, even though their actual behaviour repeatedly demonstrates they believe in no such thing.

I said nothing about the right of return etc. I am dealing with the reality as it exists, that those who argue that the state of Israel is an illegitimate state with no right to exist, argue for its forcible destruction, and that forcible destruction requires the deaths of millions of Jews. No socialist can support that.

Lidl_Janus said...

"one which cannot grant equality to most of its native population lest they annihilate the population the state claims to exist"

The Palestinians are only the majority of natives if you want to use the 'dog born in a stable' analogy not normally beloved of left-wingers.