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Dare to call a smear a smear

Because Britain has fewer yearly recorded instances of anti-Semitism than any country in Europe, it is likely that few British gentiles will have had any experience of anti-Semitism outside of what they learnt when they studied 30s Germany in GCSE history class. That is until we saw the footage from Charlottesville, footage that shocked millions around the world.  Other than the images of the Nuremberg rallies, or say, the liberation of the death camps by American soldiers in 1945, I can think of no footage from the last 70 years that demonstrates the horror of anti-Semitism in such a visceral way.  This is the modern face of anti-Semitism:  tikki torch carrying neo-Nazis chanting, “Jews will not replace us”, raw footage of a protester’s murder.  Real life homegrown American Nazis on the march is a scary spectacle and it immediately entered the culture- a snapshot of the nasty politics of our age.  These images were strong, they are now seared in the public consciousness around the world and will live on on our screens and print media: when editors and filmmakers need to document anti-Semitism they’ll reach for the “Jews will not replace us” tikki torch Nazis.  Spike Lee, in order to drive home the message of Blackkklansman, ended his latest film with the footage of the tikki torch Nazis, the car driving through the crowd, and most shocking of all, Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn the anti-Semites.

If I was Jewish I’d expect my community to be up in arms about that, yet in Britain, the Board of Deputies, who the British mainstream media describe as representative of mainstream Jewish opinion, endorse Trump.  They think he’s great!  They endorse the person who refused to condemn the most widely broadcast public demonstration of anti-Semitism of the last 70 years.  You would be forgiven for thinking they don’t care about anti-Semitism, were it not for the fact that they are never off the television claiming that the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has an anti-Semitism crisis even though anti-Semitic attitudes have decreased in the Labour Party since Corbyn became leader, making anti-Semitism less prevalent in Labour than it is in other British political parties.  Corbyn’s been on more marches against anti-Semitism than probably every individual who is accusing him of being an anti-Semite.   So the Board of Deputies accuse the man who has been on countless demonstrations against anti-Semitism of being anti-Semitic, whilst endorsing the man who refuses to condemn the most memorable public demonstration of anti-Semitism of recent times.

Who are the real anti-Semites?

This goes beyond hypocrisy.  It makes no sense.  Are the Board of Deputies high? Don’t they realize that if neo-Nazis, like those at Charlottesville, tried that in an English town it would be the likes of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, who they are calling anti-Semites, putting their bodies on the line?  Or, as is entirely more plausible, they do realize that.  They don’t believe for a minute that Corbyn is an anti-Semite or that there’s an anti-Semitism problem in the Labour Party.    What they know is that global attitudes to Israel are changing, fast, and they’re on the defense.  They, the Board of Deputies, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and other groups who the mainstream media portray as representatives of mainstream Jewish opinion, are using the age-old Israeli tactic of branding those critical of the State of Israel as anti-Semites.  Trump can’t be anti-Semitic because he’s a friend of Israel, the President who moved the American embassy to Jerusalem.  Trump could prance around dressed as Shylock, reading passages from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, just as long as Netanyahu is still good buddies with Jared, Trump’s son-in-law, who is attempting to go down as the most staunched supporter of Israel in American political history.  Rabid anti-Semite Steve Bannon can waltz into Britain on his whistle stop tour of European fascists, meeting Boris and Gove, without a peep of protest from the Board of Deputies, before going to Hungary for a meeting with Europe’s primary anti-Semite Victor Orban.  Orban’s shocking anti-Semitism (a recent speech on George Soros was littered with anti-Semitic tropes that would have him in the dock here) is utterly disregarded in the face of the close ties between Hungary and Israel’s proto-fascist governments. The Board of Deputies have no qualms about the DUP either, most of whom are in the late Ian Paisley’s weird, cult-like evangelical Free Presbyterian Church who believe in the Jewish deicide- that the Jews killed Christ- and they all must return to Israel before being wiped out to usher in the second coming of Christ.  Anti-Semitic?  No, real stand up guys- Christian Zionists, good friends of Israel.   The DUP stood, shoulder to shoulder with the Board of Deputies, without irony, at a protest against anti-Semitism outside parliament.

Corbyn?  Well, he wears a keffiyeh.  Sorry, but that’s where he stands on Palestine.  That’s where Corbyn’s Labour Party stands on Palestine. Incidentally, the vast majority of the British public agree with him, as they do on most things.  Check the polling.  If I was someone who was politically motivated mainly by defending Israel’s reputation and image abroad, as groups like the dubiously named Campaign Against Anti-Semitism seem to be, I wouldn’t like Corbyn either.

Israeli Interference

It’s sorely obvious to everyone at this stage that this isn’t about anti-Semitism, it’s about getting rid of Corbyn, whether they’re scared to death of a genuine socialist becoming Prime Minister and the potential social democratic global contagion that may ensue, or, sometimes, it’s just about Israel.  Israel’s involvement in this is being shamefully overlooked.  The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs began targeting Corbyn as soon as he got his name on the ballot.  Of all leaders of all the mainstream political parties in the western world, Corbyn is most vocally committed to justice for Palestine, and therefore most likely, if elected, to put some much needed manners on our ally in the middle east.

The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs, a governmental department dedicated to the global fight against those who seek to “delegitimize” Israel, have developed a $570,000 App called Act.Il.  which issues “missions” to its legions of users worldwide who then flood social media with propaganda.  In July an urgent “mission” was released on Corbyn.

Israeli state interference in British democracy shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who have seen the brilliant 3-part Al- Jazeera documentary “The Lobby” which exposed the Israeli government “dirty tricks” machine at work within the Labour Party itself.  Were it a Russian agent caught offering to politically ruin MPs who they saw as state enemies, would our media be as sanguine in their response?  If China put out a propaganda mission to an army of computer trolls to smear the democratically elected leader of Her Majesty’s opposition, would we have nothing to say about it?  How come it’s fine when Israel does it?  Why are we so relaxed about a foreign power telling us who we can or can’t have as our leader?  When is there going to be a proper investigation into Israeli interference in our democracy?

Something smelt funny when the “wreath” exclusive became the most recent addition to the Daily Mail’s ancient gallery of shameful front pages.  The photo of Corbyn holding a wreath beside some PLO members didn’t come from any British newspaper archive, but instead from an old Palestinian Facebook page, one that a British journalist would probably be unlikely to be browsing, but a page that I’m sure the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs monitor closely.  Even if we assume the Daily Mail dug it up by themselves, Netanyahu arrives suspiciously on cue, as he did just before leaking a non-story about alleged Israeli intelligence on Iran’s nuclear programme.  Thankfully he didn’t give a television presentation about all the ways Corbyn is an anti-Semite, instead taking to twitter to unload with both barrels of the same false accusations spread by the Daily Mail. Corbyn hit back, refuting the claims that he compared Israel to the Nazis (he didn’t) and laid a wreath on the graves of terrorists (he didn’t).  Corbyn goes on to effectively call Netanyahu a child killer, and with characteristic dignity, succeeds in metaphorically slapping the taste out of the Israeli Prime Minister’s lying mouth.   It looked, at last, like there was going to be some sense, some honesty injected into this pantomime of a never-ending “anti-Semitism crisis”.  Sadly it was not to be.

Let’s fight back

The crisis continued to be a crisis because offering endless olive branches to an enemy whose modus operandi is nothing short of your complete destruction is not a tactic with much chance of success.  It is testament to the decency of a man who is genuinely bothered by the thought of 85% of British Jews hating him because they think he is an anti-Semite.  But those 85% of British Jews vote Tory no matter what; they wouldn’t even vote Labour when there was a prospect of putting the first Jew in number 10.   Jeremy Corbyn’s attempts at assuring them that he isn’t an anti-Semite would be as effective as, to paraphrase Norman Finklestein, assuring the people of Salem that they don’t need to be concerned about witches.  There is most definitely a crisis in the Labour Party but it is not a crisis of anti-Semitism.  That isn’t real.  There I said it.  There are Jew-hating nutcases everywhere, always have been, always will be, but there are fewer in the Labour Party than in other political parties because the Labour Party is the natural home of people who don’t have those kinds of prejudices, but instead are concerned about the plight of the oppressed, like the Palestinians.  To claim that the Labour Party is anti-Semitic is a lie.  The real crisis of the Labour Party is the lack of will to stand up to those who peddle these lies?

When Marc Wadsworth, a well-loved anti-racist activist and Labour Party veteran called Ruth Smeeth out on giving stories to the right-wing press (The Telegraph) she accused him of anti-Semitism (apparently even though he didn’t know she was Jewish at the time, he was supposedly referencing  a conspiracy about Jews controlling the media- I know, wtf?!).  Wadsworth was expelled from the party and is having great difficulty raising the costs to fight the court case.   Thousands of party members have been suspended or expelled under similar circumstances.  The number of people expelled from the Labour Party on its own, would comprise one of the biggest political parties in the country!  A failure to defend these members from the same Blairite witch-hunters who prevented huge numbers from voting in the second leadership election is what poses the threat of a real crisis.

When potty-mouthed Holocaust weaponiser Margaret Hodge falsely, loudly and publicly struck a hate-filled dischordant note in the House of Commons when she accused Corbyn of being “a fucking anti-Semite and a racist”, the quiet dignity of Corbyn’s response highlighted why he should be leader and she should be gone: “I’m sorry you feel that way”.  The disciplinary that she should have had to face (she shamelessly claimed, on the BBC news, that this made her feel persecuted like German Jews in 30s Germany) was dropped in the face of threats from the Blairites.  Again, allowing MPs like Hodge to run amok is why the party is facing crisis.  It’s difficult, of course, when Hodge’s own daughter is deputy editor of the 6 and 10 o’clock BBC news, where she got to spout her guff, emboldened and unchallenged. But the anti-Corbynites are never more emboldened than when he allows himself to be smeared so easily.  To live your life by the platitudes “Sticks and stones…and if you don’t have anything nice to say, then…” can sometimes be folly, certainly when up against utterly ruthless, Machiavellian liars.  What can truly galvanize people, however, is when they see someone who they have faith in take a principled stand against someone or something that is clearly wrong.  Corbyn’s done that before and he can do that again, he’s good at that.  If he takes a stand against anti-Semitism lies, and refuses to back down on the IHRA definition, people will rally to his side, regardless of how the BBC try and spin it.  It’s time to come out swinging.