Wednesday 10 November 2021

Cynically Exploiting Antisemitism

Another day, another cynical display. Tuesday night's visit to the LSE's debating society by Tzipi Hotovely, Israel's ambassador to the UK, drew the sorts of crowds she'd probably rather not have. A modest groups of student protestors descended to express their solidarity with Palestinians, and challenge the grotesqueries of Hotovely herself, a woman whose extremism finds no parallel in British politics except on the furthest reaches of the far right.

According to Anshel Pfeffer, writing in Haaretz on the occasion of her appointment, she was groomed for high office by Benjamin Nethanyahu precisely because she's a far right fanatic. He says, "Hotovely is an unabashed Islamophobe and religious fundamentalist who denies the existence of the Palestinian people and supports annexation of the entire West Bank and Jewish control of the Temple Mount." She even criticised the British Board of Deputies for "working against the Israeli interest" because it backs a neutered form of Palestinian statehood. Anshel concluded that her ambassadorial appointment should be welcomed because she will show British Jews the rot eating up the Israeli state.

Unsurprisingly, and not for the first time, choosing between an oppressed people and a shameless oppressor, Priti Patel threw her lot in with the powerful. She's backing a police investigation of the protest, saying antisemitism has no place in Britain. The Israeli embassy itself condemned the non-existent violence that supposedly greeted Hotovely as she left the building. Which is exactly what you'd expect the Tories and Israel's official channels to do. For their own reasons, both are happy to inflate the sense of peril British Jewish communities feel. For the Tories, it's electoral reasons. Having won disproportionate support among Jewish voters since at least 2015 they'd quite like that to continue, and by presenting as the community's best defenders is they way they're going to do it. Even if it means amplifying threats and dubbing events antisemitic when they clearly are not. And Israel, particularly the wing of the Likud establishment Hotovely embodies, want more of the diaspora to "come home" to power its expansionism further.

The usual cynical rubbish, in other words. And then the Labour leadership got involved. Lyin' Lisa Nandy condemned "the appalling treatment of the Israeli ambassador", adding "any attempt to silence or intimidate those we disagree with should never be tolerated." A reminder, if it was needed, that Nandy is to honesty what Geoffrey Cox is to probity. Apologists for murder, Labour Friends of Israel tweeted a string of drivel from the shadow cabinet. Keir Starmer wibbled that intimidation is not acceptable. The usually invisible Nick Thomas-Symonds wrote that "antisemitism has no place in our society", while the LFI's vice chair, Diana Johnson, tweeted "I hope arrests are made." For what? Booing too loudly?

It's all so synthetic and see-through, but they've allowed Labour's official positioning on matters Israel/Palestine be hijacked entirely by the same extremism that fuels Hotovely's far right politics, a position now determined by the foaming bullshit of Jewish Chronicle editorials. It's a story of cowardice and factional convenience. We know the story about Jeremy Corbyn's suspension from the Parliamentary Labour Party, and how Starmer reneged on the deal done to readmit him after Margaret Hodge and her mates threw their toys out of the proverbial. Rather than challenge her small and unrepresentative clique, and how she might torpedo his efforts at undoing the damage the inflated and exaggerated antisemitism crisis did the Labour Party, Starmer caved in. But, happily for his leadership, having Hodge, the JLM, and self-appointed gentile guardians of what can and can't be said about the occupation of Palestine onside meant the party would no longer be vulnerable to dishonest Tory and press attacks. Yet this meant only one position was tenable - an ever-increasing philosemitism. As friendly visits to synagogues are unlikely to make headlines in the Jewish or the national press, ostentatiously eliding penance with apologism for and the white washing of Israel could be the only outcome. Their condemnations of antisemitism are neither genuine nor heartfelt, they're a ritual, a must-do to try and secure the Labour right's grip on a diminishing and increasingly cash-strapped party.

Starmer will be happy with today's posturing. No press attacks, not even the smidgen of a suggestion that he's soft on the critics of Israel. His comfort zone is the space of non-punishment the Tory papers reserve for the establishment's most loyal lackeys, and the shadcab's lying about the LSE protest is good for a few more warm baths yet. And, bonus, the right people on the left are upset, with a few thousand more tearing up their membership cards up in disgust. So what if Israel is emboldened to imprison, shoot, bomb more Palestinians because politicians from both UK parties flatter its brutality and ethnic cleansing efforts? It's not their business, and they've made it clear they're happy for it not to be.

Image Credit


Phil said...

Yet this meant only one position was tenable - an ever-increasing philosemitism.

That's not it. When has Starmer - or Nandy, or Thomas-Symonds - said anything about the interests of Jews as Jews? When has any of that crowd acted in the interests of actually-existing British Jews, say for instance by protesting against the bulldozing of a Jewish cemetery? What we're seeing isn't philosemitism in the slightest - just philo-Israelism; just Zionism. (And the liberal Zionists of the British Jewish establishment are holding the line against the Revisionists about as well as they usually do.)

Anonymous said...

I must admit that my first reaction to Kieth’s statement was that he was largely driven by his fear of Nandy.

Anonymous said...

I doubt that this episode will have any effect on Israel's behaviour towards the colonised Palestinians or anyone else in the Middle East. It seems to me to be all about building a culture of right-wing compliance within British politics in general and Labour politics in particular. So your assessment is correct (and the protesters were correct) but unfortunately, under current circumstances nothing positive can be accomplished.

Anonymous said...

Hotovely is the ambassador of Israel to the Courth of St James. Presumably everything she says represents the position of the government of Israel. She says that land outside the internationally-recognised boundaries of Israel belongs to Israel, so presumably that is the position of the government of Israel. That presents a challenge to people and organisations who claim to be friends of Israel because they, nominally, support a two-state solution and thus support a diplomatic process that begins with a mutual recognition of Israel's pre-1967 borders. (Hotovely had an argument with the Board of Deputies because it nominally supports a two-state solution and she said that it should not take that position.)

They get around that challenge by making a fuss about people who criticise Hotovely. But if they really support a two-state solution, shouldn't they be protesting against Hotovely? It isn't normal to stay silent about a a country's claims to territory beyind its internationally-recognised borders. That applies particularly to our political parties. Labour once again demonstrates that it has lost sight of basic guiding principles like international law.


Blissex said...

On a related side note I have observed that since Corbyn was eliminated "The Guardian" has been publishing several pro-Palestine and even anti-Likud articles, even by Freedland. That is very strange, I wonder what is going on,

BCFG said...

Calling this anti semitism is just another version of woke hysteria.

This is how and why woke is amplified by certain sections of the ruling class. Woke is a perfect way of sugar coating its authoritarianism.

Woke is the liberal accompaniment to the neo feudal system that is currently being constructed, or in other words woke facilitates the top down solutions to current world problems.

I would say that, as things stand, the 'left' are far more dangerous than the right, which is saying something. And in this regard, it matters not one jot that the 'left' are generally more rational, logical and materialist than the right.

(When I say left in the above sense I really mean centrists like Denham, PhilBc, Lord Boffy, Biden, Clinton, Blair, Cooper et al. But centrists have the political power so are the only ones who can be considered)

JN said...


The Guardian is the epitome of "Love me, love me, love me; I'm a Liberal"-ism. It's written primarily by and for people who want to see themselves as 'progressive' but who, when it comes down to it, are closer to the Tories than they are to the Labour-left. And let's be clear about this: the Labour-left represent moderate social-democratic reformism; nothing particularly extreme or revolutionary.

Anonymous said...

The Guardian is the daily manifesto for bourgeois revolutionaries of the 'all that is solid, melts' variety. It (and much of the left in general) avoidance of class (articles on race, gender, class only as a basket of competing and equal issues) speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

@JN - spot on. Its for a middle class audience.

@anon13:28 - they treat class as if its purely just another identity marker.

Blissex said...

«they treat class as if its purely just another identity marker»

Some do, but it is quite rare and directly opposite to the purpose of identity politics, which is to replace the notion of conflicts of interest among classes, where some classes exploit other classes, with the notion of discrimination among identities, where one identity discriminates against all others despite the markets being fair and just.

* One view is that "society" is divided in a few (sometimes overlapping) classes whose interactions are defined by people's role in production, and their conflict of interest is about dividing the output of the production process, and one/two classes, business and land rentiers, exploit the others. In this view social relationships are inherently biased in favour business and land rentiers by the internal logic of the production process.

* Another view is that people are defined by many racial, several sexual, and many gender identities, "intersectionally", so someone may be an asian queer ciswoman, and someone else may be a mixed asexual transman; interactions among individuals are mediated by the markets, that are fair and just, but for the discrimination by white hetero cismen against every other identity group, which establishes a hierarchy at the top of are only white hetero cismen.

In the second view the economic role of people and their roles in production and the conflicts of interests about the division of the output is simply irrelevant, because the markets are fair and just, except for discrimination by white hetero cismen.

The second is the Corey Robin-style view, where politics are about the reaction of white hetero cismen against the struggle for emancipation from discrimination by all other identity groups.

Some people add some notion of class to "intersectionality", but that is not what it is all about.