Sunday 3 March 2019

Institutional Anti-Semitism and Factional Struggle

In recent days, the charge Labour is institutionally anti-semitic has surfaced again. The evidence marshalled are the interventions of Chris Williamson - long a bane for Labour MPs for other reasons. Then there are the idiots posting in Corbyn-aligned Facebook groups, the abuse received by sundry MPs, the odd activist hanging about with David Icke and, of course, the very fact Jeremy Corbyn has long-aligned himself with pro-Palestinian groups and causes. Then again, the charge isn't new. It aired last Summer too. You may recall Pete Willsman - he of "Jewish Trump fanatics" fame - was re-elected to the NEC after a secret recording of these comments were publicised. Because this didn't sink his chances and stopped trendy lefty and centrist hero Eddie Izzard from retaining his seat, ipso facto the party is anti-semitic from top to tail. That the polls opened and most of the voting was done before the comments gained wide currency is a trivial detail we need not bother with.

What then does it mean to say an organisation is institutionally racist? Presumably, it is stating that racism or a particular type of racism is endemic and constitutive of its structure and operation. Here then we can outline three different approaches to the issue. The first is that because capitalism itself is intrinsically racist. When you have exploitation, and seeing exploitation is dependent on managing populations, the stirring up of racist and xenophobic sentiments is a useful means of dividing and conquering, of blocking subaltern classes from ever becoming a threat to the social order. Therefore because racism exists in wider society it is bound to penetrate and permeate its institutions, all institutions. The Labour Party then, with its 540,000 members, is going to reflect the prejudices of its context. This includes anti-semitism, reported incidents of which last year were at an all-time high.

Necessary context then, but also a bit of a cop out. While all institutions are only as good as the society that hosts it, undeniably some are less racist than others. Labour has and continues to have a strong anti-racist record, and of the main parties is much stronger at actively rooting out all forms of racism, including anti-semitism. You then have to take institutional intent into consideration. If any member makes anti-semitic remarks, there is a reporting and complaints process, an investigation, and the application of sanctions with varying degrees of severity if one is found to have a case to answer. It is interesting that attacks on the disciplinary process itself have intensified since Jennie Formby took over, while her predecessor escaped all vitriol over the backlog that built up under his watch. But let's put that to one side. Formally speaking, thanks to the measures put in place over the last few years Labour is an anti-anti-semitic organisation and now has more elaborate definitions and procedures for dealing with this than, arguably, other kinds of racism as well as sexism and homophobia.

Nevertheless, the formal is not the same as the substantive, which brings us on to the third understanding of institutional racism. That is at best the blindness to and at worst the encouragement of racist practices. This is more or less the understanding the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry came to regards the Metropolitan Police, defining it as the "... collective failure of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people." Does this fit the Labour Party? Yes. And no.

As I've argued before, there is an historic culture of carelessness in parts of the left vis anti-semitism. A strand of this certainly comes from a more troubling source. The problem, however, is because this is overlaid by factional struggle there is now a blockage, an over-defensiveness and lack of willingness to countenance the very existence of a problem on the part of those who share and push anti-semitic tropes, or promote the work of anti-semites. This, of course, is compounded by the over-amplifying of anti-semitism by the media and the alacrity with which it has been taken up by Corbyn opponents, including hypocrites who floated "rootless cosmopolitan" criticisms of Ed Miliband when it suited just a few years ago. Here's the thing. Just because your opponents take up an issue, some times cynically and in bad faith. and use it to inflict as much damage as they can does not mean the problem is fictitious. Precisely because they can point to Facebook groups full of useful fools, and Twitter accounts with Corbyn-supporting hashtags acting as if the Israel lobby and "Zionists" are the only active force in British politics, this is the stuff that makes the attacks effective and trashes the standing of the party in the eyes of many Jews and the community's allies and friends.

The institutional anti-semitism in the Labour Party is, therefore, somewhat different to the kind you find in other institutions. It is sustained by the battle for the party, a grim battlefront in a zero sum game of entrenched position vs entrenched position. As such, whatever the leadership do, whatever new processes the General Secretary introduces for one side it will never be enough because, as far as many of them concerned, the leadership are politically illegitimate; and for the other it's a sop and capitulation. The resolution of the anti-semitism crisis then is not a matter of compromise - for each side the issue will only go away with the complete crushing and driving out of the party of the other. A situation that can only poison the well further, and guarantee anti-semitism won't honestly and comprehensively be confronted.


Shai Masot said...

This is a witchhunt. When prominent figures in the party call publicly for the expulsion of all Momentum members who clapped Williamson in Sheffield, you know it's a witchhunt. He's guilty. They're guilty. All those who defend them are guity. (Without trial.)

On a more positive note, John Mann has produced a handy guide to sorting out gypsies. You can download it for free here:

Boffy said...

A good analysis. But, it emphasises the point I made in the previous post, which is that, the right are currently engaged in an all out push to remove Corbyn and crush the left with the same old bureaucratic means. Whatever else Williamson may or may not be guilty of, his point that the leadership have facilitated this situation by their continual appeasement of the right is absolutely valid. Its that he is being attacked for, not anti-Semitism.

It is first necessary to close ranks, and defeat the assault of the Right. As marr said to Blair this morning, had Prescott announced he was forming a separate group, and was establishing his own witch-hunting bureaucratic apparatus in the party, Blair would have sacked him immediately - actually not so easy as the Deputy is elected. But the thrust is valid. Unless Corbyn deals with Watson, the Right will roll over the Left, despite the huge disparity in numbers.

Again it comes down to whether Corbyn is up for that task, or whether we need a leadership of the left with a bit more backbone to see it through.

asquith said...

I'm afraid this IS due to the "intersectionality" cult, whereby certain groups are always priviliged and wrong, and some are always oppressed and right. Jews are, accoring to this "analysis", the uber-priviliged and uber-white.

We've heard several times that according to "intersectionality" that it's impossible to be racist against white people because racism requires both prejudice and power, and white people are by definition powerful. Therefore, antisemitism is dismissed because it can't be a thing because Jews are all-powerful and even more oppressive than other whites.

Those who don't subscribe to all of these beliefs are nevertheless tinged with them, which is why people who aren't staunch antisemites will nevertheless fail to take antisemitism seriously.

Ian Gibson said...

Coming on the day when the FT have a column seriously positing that criticising capitalism is inherently anti-semitic, it seems to me that dancing on the head of a pin about whether the 'careless' anti-semitism you've described means the party is institutionally anti-semitic is rather missing the point. (OK, the column is by John McTernan, but the FT gave him column inches to argue that case, and I guess they didn't mean it as the satire it most certainly is.) As many of the comments on your blog on Williamson attest, the salient feature of this - well, call it witch-hunt for the sake of argument - is the double standards where we have to be whiter than white, whilst no account whatsoever is taken of the most egregious racism elsewhere. We live in society: we can never, ever be that whiter than white - especially when it comes to Israel/Palestine, which is so full of contradictions and traps for the unwary (e.g. the position of the Israeli state claiming to speak for all Jewry around the world, in the way that the Board of Deputies position themselves as speaking for all British Jews - neither close to being true, but small wonder that opponents of what they do and stand for take that universality at face value.) The fight we need to take up is to compare and contrast just how pro-active the current party is against anti-semitism in its constitution and machinery with the glaring absence of such elsewhere, and to present a positive picture of what we are doing, rather than mumbling apologetically into our beards. We need to take the fight to the rigged system at the same time as being unstinting in rooting out the troubling stuff.

Boffy said...

The other nonsense that has grown up is that it is only those that suffer any form of discrimination who can define what that discrimination is, i.e. only Jews can define anti-Semitism, only black people can define racism against them, only women can define discrimination against women.

That then assumes that the members of each of these groups are themselves homogeneous, and agreed in such definitions. In reality, it means that dominant elements, i.e. those connected to the ruling class and ruling ideas get to make those determinations.

If we look at anti-Semitism, for example, it is quite clear that there is no agreement amongst Jews on what constitutes anti-Semitism. The JVL, certainly have a different definition than the JLM.

But, just rationally, the concept that only those discriminated against get to define the discrimination is bonkers. Suppose you come from Somalia or some other country that practices FGM, you could argue that it is part of your cultural heritage, and that anyone seeking to prevent you from undertaking this barbaric practice was thereby racist, on your self-definition of what that discrimination against you amounts to. Or Saudis might argue that it is racist to argue against their practice of lopping off women's heads, or stoning them to death for adultery, including having been raped, etc.

Jim Denham said...

The JVL come pretty close to arguing that there is *no* antisemitism in the Labour party (Jenny Manson, for instance, says she's never witnessed any)and Glyn Secker wrote a piece in the Morning Star last year comparing claims of antisemitism within Labour to the story of the emperor's new clothes.

Boffy said...

Given that the actual data, even allowing for all of the spurious and mischievous accusations of anti-Semitism in the party, made by right-wing enemies of the the party, and particularly of Corbyn and his supporters, amounts to only 0.1% of the membership, and given that of these, 40% were straight away found to be accusations against people who were not even LP members, with a further 20%, being found to have absolutely no evidence to back them, its quite possible that individual members of the LP, have never seen any instance of it.

Take out all those mischievous and malicious allegations made in order to whip up the hysteria, so as to to damage the party, by its enemies, and you arrive at a figure of only 400 potential cases, out of a membership of 600,000, which is 1 member in 1500. If the average branch size if 100 active members, it means on average there is one potential case of anti-Semitism in every 15 branches. So, if you are a member in any of the other 14 branches, you would never see that one potential case of anti-Semitism.

In fact, based upon the actual facts, as opposed to the fiction and factional hysteria that is being whipped up by right-wing opponents of Corbyn and the party, and by supporters of Zionism for their own narrow political reasons, the chances are about 14: that you will never see any even potential instance of anti-Semitism, even on the narrow definition that the party has now imposed upon itself, which comes pretty close if not entirely to identifying anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, or even just criticism of the current Bonapartist regime of Netanyahu.

In the US, Jewish groups that have long been ardent defenders of Israel have more recently come out to criticise the regime of Netanyahu, and the actions of the Israeli state. The main defenders of Zionism, besides the actual Zionists themselves, appear to be people like the AWL, who for whatever reason hitched their wagon to Zionist ideology some time ago, probably in their usual knee-jerk reaction of putting a plus sign wherever the SWP put a minus. Having done so, and as a result of the bureaucratic centrist nature of the sect, they find themselves now having to follow through on the position they adopted on the basis of the "practical politics" - opportunism - as it dictated itself to them at the time.

If, and probably more likely when, they change position, it will come as with all their previous changes of position with the assertion that "nothing has changed", as when after claiming a few years ago that the LP was a stinking corpse - as they ridiculously stood their own candidates in elections with the inevitable result - and the next minute proclaimed themselves as its most ardent militants, as they sought to use their sharp elbows to gain positions on Momentum's leading bodies!

Boffy said...

Incidentally, on the question of "observance", the only time I have seen someone get stabbed, is more than 50 years ago, when I was at school. I've seen plenty of other violent stuff in the intervening period, for example, people getting glassed, people having wrought iron tables smashed over their heads. My sister, who is several years older than me, and was out bopping during the days of the Teddy Boys, saw more people getting slashed, in the 1950's, because the flick knife was the Ted's favoured weapon.

But, that doesn't mean that I disbelieve the media when it talks about the current spate of knife crimes. Its just that, however, terrible such crimes are for those that suffer or witness them, and no matter how much the media that has to sensationalise every story, for its own commercial purposes, talks about an epidemic or a knife crime crisis, the number of knife crimes per head of population is extremely small.

The chances that 999 out of 1,000 of us will never be the victim of, or witness knife crime does not mean it doesn't exist. But, those that then claim that the 999 out of 1,000 of us who say we have not seen it, must be somehow being dishonest, are not dealing with the facts, and are simply fuelling a moral panic.

When some phenomena is statistically insignificant, which 1 in 1,500 cases, is, and when as with many such phenomena there is no normal distribution of the occurrence of such cases - for example, knife crime will tend to be concentrated in particular areas - trying to present any kind of rational analysis based upon personal observation is a mug's game.

Just because the only case of stabbing I have witnessed was more than 50 years ago, does not, and should not lead me to think that knife crime was worse 50 years ago than it is today. The actual data would seem to suggest that cases of anti-Semitism were greater in the LP in previous times than they are currently, contrary to what the media and those with factional motives would have us beleive. It is certainly thec ase that anti-Semitism is a bigger problem in the Tory party, and other right-wing organisations than it is in the LP, again not that you would know that from the reporting of it, or from the attitude of certain factional sects, such as the AWL.

Jim Denham said...

Labour has 'much larger' group of antisemitic members which Corbyn has failed to deal with, Momentum founder warns

By Rob Merrick Deputy Political Editor The Independent, Monday 25 February 2019 16:10 |

Labour has “a much larger” group of antisemitic members than it recognises which Jeremy Corbyn has failed to “deal with”, Momentum founder Jon Lansman has warned.

The Labour leader’s long-standing ally said “conspiracy theorists” had infiltrated the party – a consequence of its huge surge in membership in recent years.

Mr Lansman stopped short of backing the call from Tom Watson, Labour’s deputy leader, for Mr Corbyn to take personal charge of the antisemitism complaints dogging Labour.

But he said: “I do think we have a major problem and it always seems to me that we underestimate the scale of it. I think it is a widespread problem.

“I think it is now obvious that we have a much larger number of people with hardcore antisemitic opinions which, unfortunately, is polluting the atmosphere in a lot of constituency parties and in particular online. We have to deal with these people.”

Speedy said...

Approaching this from another angle...

The apparent level of anti-semitism in Labour is a modern phenomenon turbo-charged and amplified by social media. People have their views reinforced within their bunkers where anti-Israeli memes become anti-Zionist become anti-semitic. It is much easier to send an anonymous email than a letter.

History is very much the tale of new technology transforming the potential of human behaviour and beliefs, and one of the oldest beliefs ("the blood libel") is anti-semitism.

This is how Labour has changed - ie, the rise of Corbyn has coincided with the ubiquity of this technology. In fact, arguably the rise of Corbyn was aided by it.

Corbyn's nuanced position on Israel/Palestine gives permission to social media extremists.

The rest is history.

Incidentally, this is why you are less likely to confront anti-semitism in real-life while the internet may be awash with it - there are the real and virtual identities which only occasionally bleed into each other.

Which is true and which is not? We might wonder if technology has evolved ahead of human adaptation - the "real world" filters that govern apparently "real" behaviour missing.

I'm sure even certain posters here are less bananas in "real life" than their online comments might suggest!

Boffy said...

I wouldn't trust Lansman on this issue, any more than on many others. Lansman abolished democracy, to the extent it existed to begin with, by turning it into his personal fiefdom, reminiscent of the activities of Hyndman and the SDF. His position on anti-Semitism, and fighting the witch-hunt, and of appeasing the Blair-right's as they attacked Corbyn, has been appalling throughout.

Having abolished any democracy in Momentum, which he now runs as its CEO, he also appears to want Corbyn to do the same thing with the Labour Party, abolishing its internal democratic procedures, and putting himself personally in charge of those disciplinary measures. That truly would be the actions of a Bonapartist. That Tom Watson is prepared to do that, as he sets himself up in a situation of dual power, to confront Corbyn is no surprise that anyone who even remotely considers themselves a part of the Left should support should a move is a disgrace. Perhaps no surprise that the AWL supporters of Zionism, and the witch-hunt, appear to be doing so, then.

Its notable that, yesterday, when the Welsh Labour Grass Roots organisation came out to call for Williamson's suspension to be reversed, Kinnock and other Blair-rights immediately called for an investigation into them, and for its Secretary who sits on Labour's NEC to also be suspended, for interfering in an ongoing investigation! So, why did those same Blair-rights not call for the suspension of Watson, who immediately demanded Williamson's suspension, and withdrawal of the whip, before any investigation, or indeed of Hodge and others who on a daily basis go to the media to sally forth about cases that are under investigation, or waiting for investigation.

This truly is reaching into the realms of McCarthyism, where you are found guilty not just of witchcraft, but of consorting with witches, or even having an opinion as to whether an individual charged with witchcraft is guilty, or even the extent to which the number of witches amongst might be exaggerated.

Jim Denham's comment is a case in point. How much more "anti-Semitism" exists? What is the factual basis of the statement, as opposed to click bait headline. Even if the actual extent is 100% more than the data so far presented, that would mean that potentially 1 in 750 LP members might be guilty of some form of anti-Semitism. Its hardly an epidemic, or institutional anti-Semitism, and far less than exists in the Tory Party, which is also infected by Islamaphobia, misogyny, homophobia and xenophobia.

In fact, its probably much less than you would find in the BBC, Sky or other establishment institutions. Anti-Semitism exists, and is a problem, but that does not mean it is not being used by Labour's enemies or the proponents of Zionism for their own political ends. The real conspiracy theorists are those that try to present anti-Semitism as a conspiracy based upon infiltration of the LP, the same people who presented the support for Corbyn from 300,000 new members as really just being a case of far left entryism, by Trots.

Jim Denham said...

This is a meme, taken from Incog Man, a far-right site. It was posted with positive endorsement by a Labour member, Kayla Bibby, a delegate to conference in fact:

Link to the meme:

Bibby subsequently received only a formal warning, with Thomas Gardiner of Labour's Governance and Legal Unit (what used to be the Compliance Unit), saying it was only anti-Israel, and not anti-Semitic.

Not only could a Labour member post something obviously anti-Semitic, it was not deemed to be so by the Compliance Unit. I bet we all know people who would agree.

Boffy said...

It's not a factually accurate description of global political realities, because Israel does not control the US, if that is what the image is intended to imply. But, the message, is thereby anti-Israeli state, not anti-Semitic. It could only be considered anti-Semitic, if in fact you are a Zionist and claim that Israel and Jews are are interchangeable terms, which they are not.

In fact, there are probably not an inconsiderable number of Jews, who think that the state of Israel does exercise undue influence over US policy, and certainly it seems to be the case that, in the US, more liberal Jewish groups, seem to think that one reason that the Bonapartist regime of Netanyahu, in Israel, was so supportive of Trump, and we see the same support for Trump amongst Zionists in Britain, is at least in part due to the fact that Obama had been distancing the US from its historical uncritical support for Israel.

If we replace Zionism with Toryism, and Jew with British, the situation becomes fairly clear. If the we show the British state as being controlled by Tories, who implement their ideology of Toryism, in what way would criticism of the British state, under the control of such Tories, or criticism of Tories be the equivalent of British people as a whole?

Clearly it wouldn't, because there are a majority of British people who oppose Toryism, and thereby oppose the actions of the British state under the control of the Tories. A nationalist, or racist might want to equate the nation state with the whole of its people, but the people who are doing that here, by interpreting criticism of the Israeli state with anti-Semitism, are the Zionists themselves, and their apologists, because they seek thereby to delegitimize any criticism of the state of Israel and Zionism by equating it with anti-Semitism.

That in effect makes the Zionists themselves, and their apologists anti-Semites, because in adopting this equation of Jewishness with being Zionist, and with Israel, they make all Jews thereby responsible for the actions of Zionism and of the state of Israel!

Boffy said...

The problem for the AWL, and its members like Jim Denham, on this issue comes down to this. Until thirty years ago, the organisation, under its previous names, was an ardent defender of the ideas and traditions of Jim Cannon. Cannon's "The Struggle for a Proletarian Party" was required reading for all of its members. Then, in an about face, the organisation overnight collapsed into what Trotsky called "the petit-bourgeois Third Camp", and so became ardent defenders of the enemies of Cannon, the petit-bourgeois Third Camp of Burnham- Shachtman. That kind of wild zig-zag is typical of bureaucratic-centrist organisations, which is what the AWL is.

As part of this collapse into the petit-bourgeois Third Camp, and the moralistic politics it is based upon, the AWL also adopted the ideas of Third Campists like Al Glotzer, in relation to Israel and Zionism, as opposed to the position of Mandel, which represented a continuation of the ideas of Cannon and Trotsky. I set this out in a short blog post 12 years ago Glotzer and the Jews as Special, after the AWL had repeatedly censored it appearing on their website in response to an article setting out Glotzer's position.

Having committed themselves to the reactionary Zionist ideology that essentially underpins Glotzer's stance - the same thing idea of having lost faith in the working-class, and so having to rely on the bourgeois state, or "progressive imperialism" to accomplish the tasks of the working-class, is behind the AWL's support for NATo's war against Serbia, Iraq, Libya etc., but is also behind the politics of other Third Campists such as the SWP, that instead look to other larger forces, such as reactionary "anti-imperialist" states to carry forward its moral agenda - the AWL are left now trying to defend their position of support for the creation of a racist, expansionist state in Israel, as the inevitable consequences of that venture unfold.

For a Marxist, it is not at all difficult to say that the establishment of the state of Israel is one that we should not have supported at the time, because it would lead to the kind of consequences we see today, and yet, to say, 75 years on from the creation of that state, it is an established fact, and trying to unwind history, by calling for the destruction of that state would have even more calamitous consequences for the global working-class. It is quite easy for a Marx to say that the current nature of the Israeli state, as a racist Zionist state, based, like almost no other state in the world on a confessional basis, i.e. of being a Jewish state, a state for Jews in preference to every other ethnic/religious group flows from the ideology, and nature of its creation. But, then to argue that the answer to that is not a destruction of the state of Israel, which could only be done on the bones of millions of Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, but is to wage a working-class based struggle against that racist foundation upon which the state has been founded, and that struggle is one that must unite Jews and Arabs alike. In fact, the position of palestinians today is a mirror image of that of the Jews 75 years ago.

The hope of a Two-State Solution disappeared long ago, and was never credible. It simply allows Zionists to proclaim they are in favour of it, whilst doing everything to make it practically impossible, such as extending West Bank Settlements. The solution must flow from a struggle for democratic rights for Israeli Arabs, and for a right for all Arabs in occupied territories to be extended the same rights as any other Israeli, including the right to vote, and send representatives to the Knesset. As I argued thirty years ago, the longer-term solution is a Federal Republic of Israel and Palestine, guaranteeing democratic rights to all, as part of building a wider Federal Republic of MENA.

Anonymous said...

Jim Denham: imperialist lackey and sycophant turned Witch hunter in chief

Let us be very clear about what this witch hunt is about, it is about purging from public life any credible and effective opposition to Israel in particular and more generally opposition to the imperialist barbarians of the imperialist core. It is about driving from universities, social media and intellectual life any form of opposition to the interests of the imperialists.

This is nothing but authoritarianism in action, censorship of political opponents and the closing down of any credible definition of free speech.

In other words this is something any leftist worth half an atom would be fighting against with all their energies.

But what do we find, pathetic pro war pro imperialists leftists and post modern liberals joining the witch hunt.

Meanwhile in the real world:

A UN report has concluded that Israel deliberately targeted and killed hundreds of protesting civilians, including children and disabled people and it shot 20,000+ people (yes 20,000+!).

The UN says this likely a war crime.

Why are the noble defenders of the Palestinian cause in the dock and not notorious Palestinian haters like Jim Denham?

How can anyone on the left get away with supporting and providing ideological cover for Israel?

How can any leftist allow a socialist movement to be sabotaged by the Israel state and its army of appalling immoral apologists?

These attacks on Corbyn and his supporters, repeated in all of the most aggressive imperialist countries, are simply a proxy attack on the Palestinian people themselves.

Jim Denham said...

Anyone who cannot recognise this...

... as antisemitic is simply part of the problem and (if they are an experienced leftist rather than an ignorant newcomer) not worth engaging with.

Boffy said...

Jim Denham's comment here illustrates the problem entirely. The picture he has linked to shows an alien symbiote having attached itself to the face of the statue of liberty. The statue of liberty here represents the US. The symbiote has on its back the Israeli Flag, and likewise, thereby represents the state of Israel. The picture therefore, represents the well-worn, and clearly factually wrong meme that Israel controls the US.

But, as a Zionist organisation, the AWL and its members cannot distinguish between the state of Israel and Jews, so they cannot distinguish between criticism of the state of Israel, and criticism if Jews. For them, as for the Zionist ideology of the state of Israel, which is most clearly manifest in the ideology of its current political leadership, in the form of the Bonapartist regime of Netanyahu, with the recent introduction of blatantly racist laws that discriminate even more openly against not Jewish Israeli citizens, and with his willingness to try to keep his corrupt regime in office by going into coalition with an avowedly Neo-Nazi party that until recent times was considered beyond the pale, even by most Zionists, the term Zionism is synonymous with the term Jew. So, any criticism of Zionism, or of Israel is for them immediately equated with anti-Semitism.

It is what leads such Zionists to then also insist on their right to determine who is a Jew or not. The AWL do that with all those Jews, such as the JVL, who refuse to accept the AWL's definition of anti-Zionism = Anti-Semitism. Its like the old saw that the definition of a Scot is someone who wears a kilt, and when asked about Jock McTavish, from Arbroath, who does not wear a kilt, the reply comes back, then he cannot really be a Scot!

The Zionists insists on defining anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism, and thereby closing down debate. Jim Denham does that most clearly here, in his refusal to debate the actual substantive points. It is typical of the attitude of the AWL, in general which long since gave up trying to defend its bourgeois liberal, opportunist politics by rational debate, and instead turned to bureaucratic censorship, and ill-tempered invective.

Jim Denham said...

If the likes of Boffy cannot see that the image represents classic anti-Semitism, then they really are beyond hope. I don't intend to engage with him or anyone like him again on this topic as, frankly, it makes me angry. Just to point out some basics that I thought would be well known to any reasonably well educated person: the Star of David does not just symbolise Israel. In the past It was the symbol sewn onto the jackets of concentration camp prisoners to denote their jewishness or painted onto shop windows by Nazi storm troopers to boycott jewish businesses. This image also plays on the tired and disgraceful antisemitic 'conspiracy theory' trope of undue Israeli (Jewish) influence on world affairs. Not for the first time have creepy monsters been used to depict the malign influence of Jews: it was a favourite Nazi image and can still be seen in cartoons in the Arab press. Apart from demonstrating a lamentable ignorance about the holocaust clearly Kayla Bibby (and now her defender Boffy)has uncritically absorbed all the standard themes of "left" absolute anti-zionism and conflated antisemitism with legitimate criticism of Isareli policies towards the Palestinians. Just about forgivable from someone new and politically uneducated but unforgivable coming from an experienced leftist.

Boffy said...

Once again Jim Denham reefuses to engage in rational debate, and again resorts instead to his assumption that Israel = Jews, as well as his crude attempts at a typical Stalinist amalgam, to conflate the views of his opponents with some hate figure.

Again Jim Denham makes the conflation of Israel and Jews explicit when he says,

"This image also plays on the tired and disgraceful antisemitic 'conspiracy theory' trope of undue Israeli (Jewish) influence on world affairs."

The conflation of equating Israel with the term Jew flows directly from the Zionist ideology that underpins the Israeli State, but which also adopted by the AWL, and its members like Jim Denham. It thereby effectively denies statehood to non-Jewish Israeli citizens, making them non-persons, erasing them from history, in the same way that Jim Denham has sought to do in diminishing if not entirely denying the genocides against other ethnic groups such as Native North Americans, Australian and New Zealand aboriginals etc., as a result of his Zionist privileging of the specific genocide against Jews in the Holocaust.

It is the same kind of racism, of course, that is applied by the BNP and other white nationalists, who seek to portray Britain as being a nation for white Britons, and thereby deny other Britons the right to consider themselves really British. Every socialist, can understand the racist nature of that ideology when it is applied to Britain, and elsewhere, but the AWL, and its members, like Jim Denham, deny it when it is applied to Israel, which they want to treat as being different to every other state on the planet, in defence of their Zionist ideology that privileges Israeli Jews over others, and by extension equates the term Jew with the term Israel.

Its most extreme version comes with the fascists that Netanyahu has now gone into alliance with, whose ideology states that God only put gentiels on the Earth to be slaves and serve the needs of Jews, as the chosen people! It means that they see the place of non-Jewish Israelis in those terms, as being allowed to remain in Israel only on that subservient basis. This is the ideology that the AWL is now logically tied to, in having adopted Zionism as the answer to the problems of Jewish workers rather than socialism.

And, of course, the extension of that principle for other Zionists is illustrated in their support for fascists like Orban in Hungary, who wants to adopt a similar nationalist ideology of keeping Hungary, and other "white" European nations exclusively for "whites", in the same way that Zionists want to keep Israel exclusively for Jews.

It is a sorry state when socialists have degenerated to such an extent that not only do they fail to distinguish between nationalist ideology and socialist ideology by adopting nationalist solutions to workers problems such as "nationalisation", by the capitalist state, but where, in adopting such reactionary nationalist ideology, the logic of their position drives them to supporting the idea that nation states should be exclusively for particular ethnic groups, such as Israel for the Jews, Hungary for white Christians and so on.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to agree with Boffy here.

Is this OK?

Boffy said...

The way that the right are using anti-Zionism as the equivalent for anti-Semitism, and the appeasement of that attack has led them to widen the scope of that attack. As Labour List reports, right-wing Labour MP Siobhan McDonagh, is now claiming that to be anti-capitalist is also to be “anti-Semitic”. The idea was put forward also by former Blair-right spin doctor, John McTernan, who wrote an article in the FT to that same effect

Channelling Jim Denham, McTernan writes,

“As the historian Deborah Lipstadt points out, anti-Semitic tropes share three elements: money or finance is always in the mix; an acknowledged cleverness that is also seen as conniving; and, power — particularly a power to manipulate more powerful entities.
All of these feature in the criticism of Israel and the so-called Israel lobby. They can be easily moulded into a critique of capitalism, too.”
The line of argument was illustrated to me some weeks ago, in a comment I received in relation to an article I wrote about Marx's analysis of fictitious capital, as part of my critique of Paul Mason's Postcapitalism. The commenter, argued that Marx's analysis of fictitious capital appeared to be simply Marx blaming bankers and money lenders, for which read Jews, for the world's ills, and was thereby simply an expression of the well-known fact that Marx was a self-hating Jew, much as the AWL, describe all those other Jews that do not share their commitment to |Zionism. The commenter as evidence of this provided a link to a literary critique of Marx's On The Jewish Question, which is cited as proving that Marx was an anti-semite.
In fact, I pointed out that in nothing that Marx had written about fictitious capital, or what I had written describing Marx's analysis of fictitious capital are bankers discussed, let alone Jewish bankers. The anonymous commenter, has, in fact, since deleted their comments, meaning that my responses to them were also deleted.
But, this is the way this right-wing witch-hunt proceeds, by throwing a net to catch whatever they can trawl in, and at the very least sowing the seeds of doubt as they require those being attacked to respond to their wild accusations. It means that any statement can be framed to mean that there is some subtext beneath the actual words and pictures that is somehow anti-Semitic, if only you know the relevant coda to unlock the true meaning, and anyone who doubts the meaning being placed upon it, is thereby a defender of the anti-Semitic message. As with the attacks on Momentum, and the initial surge of membership supporting Corbyn, it is always phrased in dark conspiratorial language, about unseen forces being behind what is seen on the surface. So, we were supposed to believe that a few hundred Trots in Britain somehow morphed into 300,000 new LP members! But, Momentum now having shown that it is a tame part of the establishment, is even able to recruit McTernan himself as a member.
The appeasement as with all witch-hunts only provokes the witch-hunters to widen the scope of their activities. The AWL, which was at the forefront of helping the witch-hunters with their shameful support for the witch-hunting of Jackie Walker, was repaid by having their own members expelled too, and having right-wing Labour MP's appear on TV, to characterise the AWL themselves as “anti-Semites”, despite their well-known Zionist politics. Yet, oddly, the AWL seem to consider that a price worth paying, as their advocacy of Zionism seems to trump any other consideration for them in their politics.

Boffy said...

It didn't take long for my comment of yesterday to be proved correct. Today we learn that Jess Phillips has claimed that Marxism is necessarily misogynist, because it places class oppression above all else, and so now claims that as well as the Left in the party being anti-Semitic, it is also misogynist. The attack of the Right, as I said yesterday will spread ever wider on this irrational basis, using all of the usual conspiratorial language that such witch-hunts have always adopted. Rather like a Dan Brown novel, it will imply that there are dark (Marxist) forces at work, of which Corbyn is the head of the coven (or even worse that some unseen Dark Overlord is really standing behind Corbyn, who is only its representative on Earth (i.e. in the LP). It will suggest that these dark forces do not speak openly, but only in codes and symbols that have to be unlocked by the forces of Light, who like Jim Denham, can look into the minds of men and women, and see what is really going inside.

I actually found that despite the anonymous Zionist commenter to my article on Medium having deleted their comments, my replies to them, were in fact still floating around here, here, and here.

As the right-wing extend their witch-hunt against socialists in the LP to claim that Marxists are necessarily misogynist, as well as anti-Semitic – and the same logic presented by McDonagh, McTernon, and Phillips would presumably mean that the Left must also be xenophobic, homophobic, anti- Green, and many other charges they want to throw into the mix – it will be interesting to see whether and to what extent the AWL, join them in that assault, in the same way they have done in their promotion of Zionism.