The Labour leadership’s mistaken capitulation to ‘sacred figures’ like Margaret Hodge only serves to embolden the entire Friends of Israel lobby.As the media manufactured ‘crisis’ of antisemitism within Labour reaches ‘fever pitch’, it really is time for Jeremy Corbyn to end the futile appeasement and confront those determined to break him.
An entire herd media have now converted what should be a manageable ‘problem’ for Labour into a ‘major issue’, turned it into a ‘political furore’, and helped elevate it to an ‘existential crisis’.
In typical ‘concerned’ pose, Toby Helm at the Observer/Guardian ‘laments’ Labour’s ‘failure to be getting on with the important issues’:
Instead, the past week has seen Labour monopolise the headlines for all the wrong reasons. The only issue on which it has made waves is the interminable and increasingly tortuous row over antisemitism in its own ranks, and the resulting near-total breakdown in its relations with the British Jewish community.
In effect, the media create, generate and hype the headlines, then blame Corbyn for ‘monopolising’ them.
This, in turn, encourages even more shrill headlines, readily fed by the coup-makers, such as Tom Watson with his fatuous claim that the party is about to “disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment.” All too dutifully, the Guardian continue reporting this cringing hyperbole without question.
Lamentably, much of the media onslaught against Corbyn has been given added impetus by a ‘woke left’ supposedly there to defend him. Leading this element is Owen Jones. Following Corbyn’s deeply-mistaken Guardian article, apparently intended to reassure his detractors, Jones rushed to laud him:
Corbyn telling the anti-Semitic fringe where to go. And as he says: “Anyone who denies that this has surfaced within our party is clearly actually wrong and contributing to the problem.”
In truth, it’s people like Jones who are contributing to the problem for Corbyn, by giving the charges against him and Labour even more undue airing and ‘significance’. All of which only helps in distracting attention from the associated aim of the Corbyn-destroying lobby: protecting Israel and negating Palestinian rights.
As Ali Abunimah responds to Jones:
Everyone can agree that racist “fringe” is not welcome in party like @UKLabour. But target of Israel lobby’s fake anti-Semitism smear is not a fringe that was always already marginal but rather mainstream support for Palestinian rights/opposition to Israeli racism and apartheid
Echoing Jones, Aaron Bastani and others, Barnaby Raine employs similar seemingly well meaning, yet deeply problematic, language in talking-up the “battle” and “war” against antisemitism inside Labour and the wider society. We can, Raine insists, criticize Israel/support Palestine, while ‘tackling the scourge’ of antisemitism.
In a searing response (39:19 into video), Norman Finkelstein dismisses Raine’s ‘walking and chewing gum at the same time’ line. And Finkelstein is, indeed, correct here in refusing to accept the very premise of Labour’s ‘deep problem’ with antisemitism, and the language of ‘battle’ and ‘war’ being used to ‘eradicate’ and ‘stamp it out’.
This kind of vocabulary only gives added weight and encouragement to those making such contrived claims of an ‘endemic problem’ and ‘crisis’ within Labour. And it’s all to no avail in helping to protect Corbyn. As Finkelstein knows all too well, these pro-Israel organisations and lobby groups will never be satisfied. They want nothing less than Corbyn’s political scalp. For Finkelstein, Corbyn should simply tell the truth, say what’s right, and face them down, rather than engage in the utterly mistaken appeasement he turned to in his Guardian piece.
Today, other than another article bemoaning a situation of the party’s own making, nothing has changed. There is no trust left. We find ourselves asking once again for action, not words.
Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle, also joined the immediate condemnation:
So Corbyn’s great move is a piece in the Guardian saying our worries are overheated rhetoric and all would be well if only we could just talk. And not a word of contrition about anything except process. He really is shameless
As Iain Macwhirter concluded, in response to Pollard’s brutal dismissal:
This confirms that there is nothing that Corbyn could conceivably say that would satisfy his pro-Israeli critics. Any concession will be seen as a confirmation of anti-semitic perfidy. [You] can’t appease a smear campaign.
Likewise, the party’s mistaken capitulation to ‘sacred figures’ like Margaret Hodge only serves to embolden the entire Friends of Israel lobby.
Rather than the kind of useless political ‘triangulation’ urged by Jones and the Momentum playmakers, and in assertive resistance to the unforgiving plotters around the Jewish Labour Movement, Corbyn should adopt the more direct and progressive guidance of Jewish Voice for Labour.
In a brilliant stand-your-ground article, taking apart the entire liberal-posturing narrative and craven media compliance, Manchester Jewish Action for Palestine also articulate the central issues here:
As Jewish people in Manchester, England, we resent the despicable racism shown towards the Palestinians by Guardian stalwarts such as Jonathan Freedland, Polly Toynbee, Jessica Elgott, Eddie Izzard, Nick Cohen, Marina Hyde and Gaby Hinsliff among others, all saturating comment sections on mainstream news websites with attacks designed to bring down the UK Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, and to protect Israel from accountability.
The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Anti-Semitism definition guidelines the Labour Party are correctly omitting, are designed by Israeli propagandists to aid their many mass lobby attempts to stop international solidarity with the Palestinians and to deny Palestinians the right to express the nature of Israel’s 70 years of violence and racism towards them.
We call on everyone to see that creating a largely-mythical anti-Semitism ‘crisis’ in the Labour Party is one of the few tools left to ailing and desperate establishment hacks wanting to smear Corbyn and maintain UK support for Israel, no matter how many Palestinians the Israeli army slaughters, or how many houses, schools, and hospitals Israeli jets destroy in Gaza. In the face of this, Zionist groups with a history of uncritical support for Israel claim that Corbyn presents an existential threat to British Jews? This is obscene, hypocritical scaremongering.
I urge everyone to read this full, exemplary piece. In similar vein, I commend the superb, and timely-titled, article by Lindsey German: There’s only one way to stop the witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn – stand up to it.
John Hilley blogs regularly at Zenpolitics
Are you a Labour Party member? Use this lobby tool to contact every Labour NEC member to ask that they defend free speech on Israel and Palestine. It takes less than a minute to complete.