Rebecca Long-Bailey is only the latest in a litany of figures on the Labour left to fall foul of the McCarthyite policing of criticism of Israel at the behest of an Israel lobby whose guiding objective is to elide Israel’s brutal apartheid character behind an iron wall of obfuscation, while extending itself in demonising and smearing as antisemitic those who would dare elicit more than the most tepid solidarity with the Palestinians.
On the actualite of Long-Bailey’s sacking by Sir Keir Starmer, the now former education secretary made the mistake of retweeting an interview in The Independent involving the actress and prominent left Labour voice, Maxine Peake, during which the latter claimed that the knee on the neck of George Floyd by racist white cop Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis a few weeks ago is a tactic that was learned from the Israelis. Long-Bailey was sacked despite posting a later Tweet stating that she did not agree with everything that Maxine Peake said in the interview, while Maxine Peake herself later retracted the claim that the murder of George Floyd had anything to do with Israeli policing tactics.
So far so very unusual in this censorious climate when it comes to dancing around the apartheid elephant in the room of Labour internal party politics.
Whether George Floyd perished as a result of Israeli policing tactics or not is really beside the point. Racist policing in the US, along with the lynching of black men whether at the hands of the police or the Klan (and increasingly the distinction between both becomes harder to discern), is not a product of Israel or any other external entity. On the contrary, it’s as American as apple pie – a symptom of the country’s white supremacist past and present which lies at the heart of the country’s dominant cultural values.
With this being said, though, writing in Middle East Eye recently, Sheren Khalel points out that though “The Israeli police force has tried to distance itself from any perceived similarities [between the manner of George Floyd’s death and its own methods], issuing statements denouncing what happened and stating that its officers are not trained to use knee-to-neck techniques…photographs taken as recently as March have shown Israeli forces using the same restraint on unarmed protesters just yards from the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City.”
Coincidence? People can make up their own mind.
Perhaps a more pertinent question to be asked is what exactly are the Israelis teaching various US police departments? And what is it, precisely, that US police departments believe they can learn from their Israeli counterpart that is applicable to the ethos of protecting and serving people in their own communities?
The sheer number of black victims of police violence across the United States is compatible with an ethos of internal repression rather policing. Along with the overweening militarisation of US police departments, it’s as if your average cop believes him and herself to be engaged in pest control when it comes to black America.
Here the parallel with Israeli security forces vis-à-vis the Palestinians is inarguable. And here we arrive at the proverbial heart of the matter. Black Lives Matter can only ever be anti-colonial in character. Blacks in America and to an extent also here in the UK are victims of domestic colonialism, while the Palestinians are victims of settler colonialism. This makes them natural allies in the same struggle against an apparatus of oppression that is underpinned by white supremacy, of which Zionism is but a species. And at this juncture, digressing for a moment in the interests of pointing out that white supremacy is as much an ideological construct as a racial one, the murals of George Floyd that have appeared on the Falls Road in Belfast in recent weeks are wholly in keeping with an Irish republican tradition that has been forged in resistance to the white supremacist reaction of Ulster loyalism in these here parts too.
In the end, the white supremacist knee that lay on the neck of George Floyd in Minneapolis recently is the same white supremacist knee that lies on the neck of the long suffering Palestinian people.
As for the Labour Party, it has under Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership proudly nailed its colours to the mast of apartheid.
The retreat from the truth in the face of the wrath of the Board of Deputies is akin to the disinterment of the corpse of Senator Joseph McCarthy.