Corbyn faces demonstration against anti-semitism

It is extraordinary to see a leader of a political party suffer a demonstration that includes many of his own MPs.

This follows a letter (here, with Corbyn’s reply) from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, which says

There is literally not a single day in which Labour Party spaces, either online or in meetings, do not repeat the same fundamental anti-Semitic slanders against Jews. We are told that our concerns are faked, and done at the command of Israel and/or Zionism (whatever that means); that anti-Semitism is merely “criticism of Israel”; that we call any and all criticism of Israel “anti-Semitic”; that the Rothschilds run the world; that Isis terrorism is a fake front for Israel; that Zionists are the new Nazis; and that Zionists collaborate with Nazis.

Rightly or wrongly, Jeremy Corbyn is now the figurehead for an anti-Semitic political culture, based on obsessive hatred of Israel, conspiracy theories and fake news that is doing dreadful harm to British Jews and to the British Labour Party.

Now I agree with Tony Blair that Corbyn himself is not anti-Semitic, but that he doesn’t understand the seriousness of the problem. Specifically, I would say, to Corbyn, what matters is being anti-Western and anti-capitalist, and he will see potential allies in those terms, and if they are homophobic or anti-Semitic, well they’ve probably just been provoked into that by some dreadful action of the West.

And then we have “criticism of Israel”. Criticism of Israel is like talking about immigration. Most people do it, but many complain that they aren’t allowed to any more because they get called racist. Enthusiastic defenders of Israel and immigration are relatively hard to find. In both cases racists test the boundaries of reasonable criticism of Israel or immigration policy with coded language. Don’t say “Jews” when you mean “the Israeli government” because that makes you unfit to be a candidate for any non-racist party.

I will condemn with the best of us, Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, but I support Israel’s right to exist and to defend herself from aggression, and if that makes me a Zionist then I am a Zionist. Israel could do more to bring peace, but so could the Palestinian Authority, and so could the rest of the region. Policing in the Occupied Territories could be less heavy handed, but I doubt any democratic government would behave very much differently if beset by rocket attacks and with tunnels dug into its communities so that random teenagers can be kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

Corbyn, to his credit, admits many shortcomings, but signally fails to address key points of the Board’s letter. Corbyn:

Newer forms of anti-Semitism have been woven into criticism of Israeli governments. Criticism of Israel, particularly in relation to the continuing dispossession of the Palestinian people, cannot be avoided. Nevertheless, comparing Israel or the actions of Israeli governments to the Nazis, attributing criticisms of Israel to Jewish characteristics or to Jewish people in general… all constitute aspects of contemporary anti-Semitism.

This is true, but it is weak. There is no attempt to address the “obsessive hatred of Zionism”. Corbyn needs to show some understanding of why these aspects of contemporary anti-Semitism seem so appealing to parts of the left. What is wrong with the left wing collectivist ideology of assigning everyone based on group identity to the category of either oppressor or oppressed, and then seeking to oppress the oppressors on behalf of the oppressed? The infantile politics of class allies and class enemies actively promotes generalisation and therefore prejudice and Corbyn doesn’t get it. He is wrong about this because he is wrong at large.

* Joe Otten was the candidate for Sheffield Heeley in June 2017, is a councillor in Sheffield and is Tuesday editor of Liberal Democrat Voice.

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64 Comments

  • nvelope2003 27th Mar '18 - 1:08pm

    Concern about the situation of the Palestinians in the occupied territories is not anti Semitism any more than concern about the situation in Myanmar is anti Buddhism.
    Do the Israeli settlers and the Palestinians in the occupied territories have the right to vote in elections to the Knesset ? If not how can Israel claim to be a fully democratic state ?

  • Malcolm Todd 27th Mar '18 - 1:53pm

    “What is wrong with the left wing collectivist ideology of assigning everyone based on group identity to the category of either oppressor or oppressed, and then seeking to oppress the oppressors on behalf of the oppressed?”

    You mean apart from the fact that you’ve just made it up?

  • David Blake 27th Mar '18 - 1:56pm

    I almost felt sorry for Corbyn when watching the Commons debate on National Security and Russia yesterday. Given what he has and hasn’t said about Russia in the past month or so, he had to be careful what he said. The Tories were a disgrace, shouting their heads off and breaking parliamentary rules left right and centre. Mind you, my attention to his speech was distracted frequently by Diane Abbott, sat next to him, who was shouting “No, no, no” at the Tories. Sometimes her voice was almost as loud as his.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Mar '18 - 2:11pm

    The article is important because we as a party should celebrate our more open, warm, and moderate way in debate and viewpoint.

    As a political activist I was and am of the view that the issue of antisemitism is very worrying and as awful on the far left as on the far right, but more so for one reason.

    The far left are now in the Labour party more than years ago. Mainstream Labour members, never liked the far left, the hateful type of anti capitalism, anti Israel, the twin obsessions that are at the core of this nastiness. Unfortunately the change means whereas the far right are not in the Conservatives, or not yet unless they infiltrate, and unless that means a change in the right too. Breitbart, UKIP, they even, are not going to influence the sentiment of any party. But the hate on the far left is always a cause of division in Labour, but the increase means the scenes yesterday. It is one of the most terrible things I have seen, that the Jewish members and those who supported them, feel as they do. My view is that the Jewish community are the oldest significant religious, ethnic, and cultural minority in ths and many Europoean countries, and indeed is of massive significance in positive contribution in the United States.They have contributed more to the well being and benefit of our country and others, than is ever recognised. They are more peaceful in their efforts and activism than many angry at their treatment. hey are tarred with the brush of policies in a state miles away, in a way no other group is. They are tied in with hatred of a capitalism their community has actually contributed to in very beneficial ways. The loathing of , for example, the Rothschilds, is based on antisemitic lack of evidence and is pure ignorance. The bankers of that family have contributed to the econmy and charity in history, as did the great Montefiore family, Sir Moses was a much loved figure, whose hundredth birthday was celebrated.

    Capitalism is good and bad, so to are governments of Israel. The Jewish people are , here or anywhere, not responsible for either, anymore than anybody else of any faith or ethnicity or culture, are responsible collectively.

    As a Liberal, I see individuals, not a collective. But whether one or either, our those who are Jewish are my friends, my brothers, my sisters, and I and we should stand with them, with love.

  • nvelope2003 27th Mar '18 - 3:27pm

    Joe Otten: I am not suggesting that the Palestinian state is more democratic than Israel. clearly that is not so and of course Israel is more akin to a Western Parliamentary democracy than almost any country outside the Western sphere but they should not have taken Palestinian lands and they should certainly not be settling Israelis there if that is contrary to the wishes of the Palestinian inhabitants. When France and other nations such as Ireland were occupied the local people used terrorism to drive the occupiers out and those people were regarded as heroes despite sometimes committing the most horrifying outrages. I have never approved of that sort of thing and do not approve of Palestinian terrorism but it ill behoves those who do to criticise.

  • paul barker 27th Mar '18 - 4:05pm

    The big difference between us & The Authoritarian Left in general is that we see prejudice & stupid & immoral & something we all suffer from, a natural human failing that we all have to work to combat. The Authoritarian Left, which covers the whole spread of Labour “thinking” sees some prejudice as a good thing, if its on the part of The “Working Class” against The Ruling Class & their allies. From the mid 60s onwards, The “New Left” extended this doctrine to cover Women, Gays, Ethnic & religious minorities, Hippies, The Third World, Students etc. Under the “Third World” category even Right Wing Dictators can count as “Progressive” if they are “Fighting” The West.

    The new doctrine of “Privelege” allows anyone to become an oppressed minority with the Right (even the duty) to bully anyone else, its just a matter of Framing yourself the right way & picking up the correct language.

  • Will any of this Corbyn picking and mockery help the Lib Dems avoid a miserable set of results in Mays Local Elections…just asking?

  • Brando
    Probably not.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 27th Mar '18 - 6:16pm

    Brando and Glenn

    No mockery here, merely humane and by all accounts, needed analysis

  • It’s an easy stick to beat him with and there seems to be a lack of interest in giving him a fair trial. Should racism be made a political issue though? Pages and pages in the media but many of the strongest critics are pushing the issue because it’s Corbyn not because of anti-Semitism and this is stopping the left from an open conversation about it. Shouldn’t some things (NHS, for example) be above party politics?

  • Lorenzo
    I didn’t really see that much analyse, A little while back the lib dems had a similar problem. Really, we’re kind of skirting around the issue of anti-Semitism within community politics, coz it’s a touchy subject in both liberal and left wing circles. Personally, as someone with Jewish ancestry I think criticism of Israel often becomes very dodgy indeed. Oh, hell, I’ll say it. The basic problem is that some of the most vocal Muslim political activists dislike Jews, but tend not to be drawn to the Conservative Party and thus, IMO, too many left-wingers, as well a few too many liberals spend far too much time making excuses because it’s politically expedient to do so.

  • Labour is always going to be the party of hate because it is based ultimately on class politics – i.e. division. I am sure that Corbyn and most left wingers aren’t actually anti-semitic in the fact that they hate people who are Jewish by racial descent, but they do hate Israel and much of the banking dynasty and free enterprise, and many atheists and Christian socialists on the left can be unwittingly anti-semitic.

    It’s also concerning that Saudiphobic comments are considered completely acceptable amongst the left (as well as the UKIP strand of the right). Much of the language used against Saudi Arabia is very very hateful, but no one dares to point it out, as they will be deluged with insults and abuse.

  • Stimpson: Saudi Arabia is an evil, theocratic, autocratic, terrorist-funding regime. I don’t see any problem at all with criticism of the Saudi regime and those who support it. What is cause for concern is how the Corbynista left happily criticise Saudi Arabia, but give a free pass to other theocratic dictatorships such as Iran, principally because the “West” gives its support to Saudi Arabia, while Iran is apparently anti-West.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Mar '18 - 12:04am

    Glenn

    Your points as regularly have substance, this party only has had a couple of loud and vociferous spokespeople who are now discredited and expelled, other than this , my experience is of a very congenial atmosphere and no hate for anyone. This party has pronounced views against hatred and in my opinion lives it and that is because it holds no truck with extremism.

  • nvelope2003
    “Concern about the situation of the Palestinians in the occupied territories is not anti Semitism”
    As for as the Palestinians who once lived in Kuwait were concerned all of them were anti-Semitic.
    I remember one man who was related to an attacker at Munich in 1972 saying the attack was successful. Jews were killed.

  • Tony Dawson 28th Mar '18 - 9:04am

    “I support Israel’s right to exist and to defend herself from aggression, and if that makes me a Zionist then I am a Zionist”.

    Actually, Joe, that alone does NOT ‘make you a Zionist’, however it is vague enough that one cannot tell whether you are one. Zionism is an aggressive racist creed entending on not just maintaining but enlarging an apartheid-based state founded upon religious supremacy stretching from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates. That is why many people of Jewish religion and/or ethnicity (these are substantially different) boldly stand against such a creed.

    Some of the most aggressive Zionists are nothing at all to do with Judaism. They are based in fundamentalist churches in the USA (and a very few in England) and seek Zionism as an essential step towards the ‘end of days’ (and the battle of Amageddon wiping out the material world) when everybody will either accept the second coming of the true Messaih – or face obliteration.

    These people are called ‘dispensationalists’. They are people with whom many Engish evangelical Christians would have no truck at all. They support the misogynist womanising Donald Trump because they think he WILL bring about the end of the earth. They want the Al Aqsa Mosque to be destroyed and Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

    In their commitment to keep Israel strong and moving in directions prophesied by the Bible, dispensationalists are supporting some of the most dangerous elements in Israeli society. They do so because such political and religious elements seem to conform to dispensationalist beliefs about what is coming next for Israel. By lending their support-both financial and spiritual-to such groups, dispensationalists are helping the future they envision come to pass.

    Throughout their history, dispensationalists have predicted that before the final events of the End Times can take place, the Temple must be rebuilt in Jerusalem. According to their scenario, half way through the Great Tribulation, Antichrist will enter the restored Temple and declare himself to be God.

    http://www.newsweek.com/trump-will-bring-about-end-worldevangelicals-end-times-779643

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-armageddon-bring-it-on-the-evangelical-force-behind-trump-s-jerusalem-speech-1.5628081

  • Tony Dawson 28th Mar '18 - 9:13am

    Although there IS some antiSemitism (as well as anti-Islam and probably some anti-Christianity) in various parts of the Labour Party (and probably other parties, too), this particular attack on Corbyn is almost entirely a proxy by Labour Party ‘moderates’ and Remainers who have hidden away, for the past year or so, biding their time waiting to have a tool drop into their laps that they would dare use to attack their ‘Leader’. And this is it.

  • Manfarang: I And why do you think they took that view ? What did the Irish think of being occupied by the British or the French, Poles etc being occupied by foreigners. Sadly some people can only see things from their own viewpoint.

    I utterly detest hatred for other peoples based on irrational prejudice.

  • Alex I cannot condone that awful attack and abuse of Saudi Arabia. You are right about the ultra far left hypocrisy over Iran, but that attack on the Saudis is exactly the sort of hate speech that I am on about.

  • Nvelope2003
    Except it isn’t just Palestinians is it? Lots of terrorists and defenders of anti-Semitisms also regularly trot out Palestine as an excuse even when they’re thousands of miles away have zero interaction with Israel.

  • Labour party moderates are by definition moderate. Which means support for the EU, free movement, market economics, privatisation, TTIP and of course foreign relations not only with Israel but also Saudi Arabia, Hillary Clinton, the Ukraine, China and The Commonwealth.

    Corbyn’s positions on all of the above are extremist – he is an arch protectionist who wants left wing autarky in Britain and anything which may oppose his “socialism in one country” is the enemy, whether it is the EU Commission, multinational corporations or whoever.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Mar '18 - 12:50pm

    Tony Dawson

    Your post is mean and extreme. There is a simple and old form of Zionism which is about heritage and community and homeland and is nothing at all like what you write here. And Israel within the border of Israel has nothing whatsoever to do with apartheid but is a democracy and like many has lousy governments.

    You comment on a state and a philosophy in ways unhelpful, and are completely one sided and unfair on the problem in the Labour party, where you or any would do better to look and listen , to Jewish members, hurt and bothered by it and colleagues concerned. By all means say Corbyn is not an antisemite, that is correct , fine, those attracted to a more extreme socialism have very prejudiced people who have joined and to not see this is to not have done the research or had experience.

  • Glenn: It is characteristic of extremists, terrorists etc to justify their actions by whatever they deem appropriate and anti Zionism will be part of their armoury. I do not want Israel destroyed but they should comply with the UN resolutions and stop defying them.
    When Balfour made his declaration it stated that the position of the Palestinians should be respected. The Jewish politician Edward Montague was very concerned that this should be so. The Israelis have built a wonderful country and deserve our admiration but not everything is right and there are extremist amongst them.

  • Alex Macfie 28th Mar '18 - 1:05pm

    Stimpson: You’ve got to be joking. What I wrote is not “abuse” or “hate speech”, it’s the truth. I could have And it is an attack on the Saudi regime (and I call it a “regime” because of its tyrannical nature), not the Saudi people, about which I said nothing.

    We may have to have some sort of relations with the Saudi regime, but all dealings should be done at arm’s (pardon the pun) length. We should not be selling weapons to the Saudi regime; we should not be consulting with them on prison management, and we should not be inviting the country’s leaders on formal visits (Vince was absolutely right to boycott the Saudi King’s state visit to the UK in 2008).

  • nvelope2003 28th Mar '18 - 3:17pm

    Alex Macfie: Sadly we have to live in the real world and or little island, soon to be isolated from our friends in the EU, cannot afford to be choosy about who it trades with unless the voters really do not care if their living standards fall – I think that is unlikely despite what they say.

  • The Corbyn mockery continues…wonder if this approach is going to stop the rot in the polling booths come Mays Local Elections…I feel sorry for those who can’t see the decline and face up to it.

  • Joe, can I ask, do you think a Palestinian state has a right to exist?

  • Alex Macfie – the language used about Saudi Arabia is intemperate and insulting. Imagine the same language used about Jews and Israel and that is exactly what goes on in the Labour Party. Saudiphobia meanwhile seems to be tolerated as acceptable, and it is not.

    Also Roger Godsiff, Labour MP for Hall Green, has previously said he was “not a fan of the Church of Scientology, which is essentially a money-making cult”. So Labour yet again resort to abusing people’s religious beliefs.

  • Stimpson: It is not the same thing at all. I find your comparison deeply offensive. My criticism is directly solely at the Saudi regime, and not at all at the Saudi people. It is certainly not directed at Saudi dissidents, many of whom are being unjustly imprisoned, tortured and executed by the Saudi authorities. The problem of anti-semitism among the far left is caused by an inability among many of its number to distinguish the actions of the Israeli government (many of which are reprehensible but pale incomparison with the Saudi or Iranian regimes) from the Israeli or Jewish people, or a deliberate conflation of the three concepts. You seem to be doing the same thing, but from the other side.
    Criticism of the Saudi regime is NOT “Saudiphobia”, any more than criticism of the Putin regime is “Russophobic”. And I hesitate before using this example, but it is absolutely valid in the context: by your argument, we should not have fought the Nazis in WW2, because criticism of the Nazi regime was “Germanophobic”.
    Scientology *is* a money-making cult. Religious tolerance does not mean that anything that calls itself a religion must be cosidered beyond criticism. If it did, then we have to tolerate Daesh and the activities of those who act in its name, as to oppose it is “Islamophobic”.

  • nvelope2003 29th Mar '18 - 8:41pm

    Joe Otten: The German inhabitants of Prussia and almost all of Germany east of the Oder Neisse line were expelled by the Russians in the same cruel and brutal way the Germans dealt with the Russians, though whether women and children deserved it is debatable. The frontiers were confirmed by treaty. No, the Israelis did not do anything remotely like that but that does not make what they are doing right either.

  • nvelope2003 30th Mar '18 - 8:56pm

    Jo Otten: Re reading your last post I am amazed that you made the comment in the last paragraph. I suppose the best thing to be said about this issue is that many people expect better of Israel, just as they expected better of the Liberal Democrats when they joined a coalition with the Conservatives and are saddened because they feel let down.

    Your reference to Prussia was unfortunate as the Germans were driven out despite having been settled there for 500 years just as the British were driven out of Southern Ireland and will soon leave Northern Ireland after a much longer occupation.

  • OK so the reason I mentioned Germans in Prussia is that what happened there seems by any objective standard a greater injustice than what happened in the Occupied Territories. Yet it seems largely forgiven and forgotten. How did that happen? I suggest it happened, in short, because Germany surrendered and didn’t attempt an intifada to reclaim the lost land. There’s a lesson there.

    Palestinian people are suffering great injustice, but it is a mistake to lay all the blame for that on Israel, groups like Hamas must also take their share of the blame, along with whichever actors in the region are constantly trying to destabilise the area by, among other things, supplying rockets to be fired at Israel, whether by Hamas, or when they are on ceasefire, by independent terrorists.

  • Corbyn is an unusual politician who formed some beliefs in his 20s, and stuck to them for 40 years. He was always a marginal figure in Labour, and therefore never had to challenge and hone his views and convictions in real positions of power, where adaptability and maturity become key survival skills. Societal trends and Momentum now brought him very late and quickly to the top. He probably views this as a vindication of his long held views, and is encouraged to stick to them. In a way, he never developed into a mature top-level politician, and is now too old to learn that. His anti-semitism blind-spot is just one symptom among many. His attitudes towards NATO, Russia, Venezuela, Trident, Sinn Fein, Hamas, the EU, bankers, etc. were also formed and frozen in the 1970s. The rigidity of all of this, not just his problem with anti-semitism, make him unfit to be PM, but I hesitantly regard him currently as the lesser evil. For better or worse, I am not sure this current issue represents a big electoral problem for him. It is to be hoped that his Government will have to rely on as many LibDem MPs as possible.

  • @ Joe Otten

    Just because more Germans lost their homes in Prussia and Silesia than in Palestine doesn’t make it a greater injustice. It is the same. It was morally wrong for Israel to confiscate the land of the Palestinians who left because of the wars (about 1 million people) since 1947. Their descendants (about 5 million) have some rights to these lands. It should never be forgotten that a minority population of about 31% of the population created their own homeland securing about 78% of the land in 1948. It was morally wrong to force partition on 69% of the population of Palestine.

    We are where we are today with just over 6.5 million Jews living in the area and 6.4 million Palestinians not including the 2.9 million Palestinians living in neighbouring countries. With population figures like this the land split should be closer to 50/50 and not 78% plus for Israel and less than 22% for Palestine.

  • Arnold Kiel 1st Apr '18 - 9:56am

    Martin,

    I fully agree with you. The UK is in a mess without a really good, realistic option. As a German, it physically pains me that I find myself in a position where I cannot outright reject a party with antisemitic undercurrents, so bad is the alternative.

  • Phil Beesley 1st Apr '18 - 3:08pm

    @John McHugo: “Joe Otten … In my last comment, I set out reasons why the Palestinian issue remains important today. You have not attempted to challenge what I wrote.”

    I am not Joe Otten but I will send a reply. This thread was not intended for a rational debate of the rights of Israeli and Palestinian people.

    This thread is about anti-semitism in UK culture.

    Mostly about anti-semitism in the Labour Party and how it affects other parties. It’s a Green and Lib Dem problem too.

    @John McHugo: “This discussion is taking place against the tragic backdrop of the shootings in Gaza.”

    It’s being conducted when people paint swastikas in Jewish cemeteries.

  • @ Lorenzo Cherin

    I think in your post of 28th March 12.50pm you might have be taken exception to Tony Dawson’s statement that Zionism calls for a “state founded upon religious (identity) stretching from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates” (slightly edited). According to Wikipedia Zionism is about having a Jewish homeland established in the lands which were once part of the Jewish kingdoms.

    They very helpfully provide a map setting out what the World Zionist Organisation in 1919 claimed as the extent of this Jewish country – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zionism#/media/File:Palestine_claimed_by_WZO_1919.png
    Please note it is larger than Palestine including parts of Lebanon, Syria, Jordon and Egypt.

    There might be some Zionists who claim all of the lands of the Kingdom of David
    http://www.bible-history.com/map-davids-kingdom/map-davids-kingdom_near_east.html
    Which do extend to the Euphrates.

    Some might claim the lands as set out in Genesis 15:18
    “On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphra’tes,”
    From the Nile to the Euphrates.

    Perhaps they might refer to more realistic maps of Israel and Judah
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Kingdoms_of_Israel_and_Judah_map_830.svg
    Which would mean the Palestinians should have Ashkelon and Ashdod and Acre as well as Gaza.

    However countries are discouraged from claiming the full extent of their borders at their greatest extent so maybe Zionists should only claim the “Kingdom” of Simon Maccabeus (142-135 BCE) with no Samaria or Galilee.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Thassi#/media/File:Judea_Simon_Makk.PNG
    Before the conquests of John Hyrcanus and the destruction of the Samaritan Temple c 110-111 BCE. Perhaps it shouldn’t even include Perea.
    Galilee was conquered in 104 BCE and the population forced to convert to Judaism.

    Basing a country’s claims on history as you can see is very problematic.

  • @ Joe Otten

    I think it is wrong generally to see anti-Semitism behind people calling for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and putting the moral blame on those people who thought it was good idea to have a Jewish country established in a country which had a population of only 83,790 (11%) Jewish people in 1922 (and about only 68,000 in 1919).

    Perhaps people don’t feel so moved about the injustice of 8 million Germans losing their homes after 1945 or 1.6 million Greeks and Turks losing theirs after 1923 because these nationalities had countries to move to, to take care of them and provide new homes for them. The Palestinians didn’t have a homeland to do this.

    Perhaps people think that it is not fair for a minority population of about 31% of the population to create their own homeland securing about 78% of the land in 1948. Perhaps they think it was morally wrong to try to force partition on 69% of the population of Palestine.

    Perhaps people think that if no more Jewish people had arrived in Palestine after 1918 often funded by Zionists then there would have been no need for partition and the Palestinians would have not got upset when Britain suggested giving northern Palestine to the Jews and forcing 225,000 Palestinians from the Jewish sector (Peel Plan 1937) after about 262,000 Jewish immigrates had arrived since 1919.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Apr '18 - 4:56pm

    Michael BG

    I very strongly object above, to the notion put by Tony Dawson that there is one Zionism, and that , as he says, it is racist.

    Zionism, as called, started in the nineteenth century, in response to racism, by the very many countries of Europe, and their treatment of Jewish , very small, very peaceful minorities.

    The great Emma Lazarus, famous mainly for her poem, The New Colossus, on the base of the Statue of Liberty, was an early thinker and activist. The Montifiores in the uk, similarly. It was a movement to protect and promote the community identity and human rights, of people victimised, persecuted, throughout the lands of many nations through much of post medieval eras. It was a liberation movement, particularly after the second world war. Frankly, notions of territorial rights are all fluid and historical, rather than definite or moral. The native Americans claim no rights to a separate homeland or state, yet the Quebecois, in Canada, often, do.

    The mass extermination of millions based on the ethnic and or religious status, was so vile, so outrageous, so contrary to all that is humane, that had the Jewish survivors demanded a land anywhere on earth, we all should see that as just, but they did not. They laid claim to a land they had once controlled part of, and had in small numbers lived in for centuries. The Palestinians, as we now call one group only, were all, Muslim, Arab, and Jewish or Christian, who lived, on that land, ruled by Ottoman empire, not free Palestinian s!

  • nvelope2003 2nd Apr '18 - 8:47pm

    May I suggest that those who are interested look up Irgun Zvai Leumi, Stern and Haganah when considering the actions of Palestinian Terrorists. Many British soldiers and officials were killed by these groups when our Government was trying to carry out the UK’s responsibilities in administering the British Mandate for Palestine, in addition to killing Palestinians. Haganah became the Army of Israel.

  • Malcolm Todd 3rd Apr '18 - 11:47am

    Joe Otten
    “whenever the topic is anti-Semitism, people feel compelled more than usual to talk about Israel, to the extent that anti-Semitism becomes difficult to discuss without discussion being derailed.”

    This is a good point, and a fair one. But looking at your article above, I can’t see anything in it except generic Corbyn-bashing and a lot of stuff about Israel and Zionism. Not a word about anti-Semitic activity in this country. So who actually derailed this discussion?

  • nvelope2003 3rd Apr '18 - 12:15pm

    I have no problem with Israel existing but unfortunately as long as the issue of the Palestinians exists some people will use it to justify their anti semitic views although Palestinians and other Arabs are also Semitic people so the word is a bit misleading.
    What really puzzles me is that many people in Britain cannot seem to understand the injustice suffered by the Palestinians and for that matter the Kurds who are being bombed by the Sultan of Turkey just for being themselves.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Apr '18 - 1:47pm

    John

    I see no reason to be sad about the comments made, what is the case in my view is that the word Palestinian, like their cause, is regarded too much as one thing . Palestine, or Israel is a place. Once, pre the state of Israel, Arabs and Jews, lived there, they were all ethnic and religious kinds of individuals and groups. People pretend or do not realise, this was not like the taking of land by white settlers in the land we call America, or Australia. This is partly that but far more akin to Canada, having different English and French communities with some in the latter thinking the solution is separation. The two state solution is because Arabs could and cannot tolerate one Jewish state amidst dozens of Arab states, otherwise Canada, with a majority British, minority French, regional autonomy and full democracy, could have been a model in the new Israel, for Palestinians and Israelie, as we call them now, or for Palestine Israel, a state for all, with a special clause allowing, yes, all Jews worldwide, a safe haven, why, because there was not a holocaust that systematically exterminated six million Arabs, which is why comparisons between Zionists and Nazis by racists today, is that, racism, not criticism.

    I agree with self determination , but it is not clear cut. Cornwall, and Catalonia are not nor have they ever been, independent states, or certainly not in ways easily identifiable.

    The Jews did once have a homeland in the land we argue about now, long before Roman invaders, Christian, so called, crusaders, and Ottoman empire builders, expelled, massacred, and subjugated them.

  • @ Lorenzo Cherin

    I am sorry I misunderstood your earlier post.

    Did you notice that the Jewish population of Palestine was only about 68,000 in 1919 and had risen to 83,790 (11%) in 1992 after only a couple of years of Jewish immigration. Since when has 11% of the population had the right to have its own state? It was very much like a huge number of settlers arriving from outside with a different culture to those already living there.

    Do you think it is morally right and “just” for the Assyrian people to have a country of their own where they are the majority population even if it means some Kurds and Iraqis have to be moved from where they are living now? The Assyrian people are an ancient Semitic people which have been persecuted during the problems in Iraq recently. They had their own state before the Romans.

    @ Joe Otten

    I think you are wrong, people are constrained from criticising Israel for fear of being considered anti-Semitic and you yourself have stated why when you wrote, “antisemitism surely is a big cheerleader for both of these curious phenomena (“elevating the Israel/Palestine injustices” and “people seek(ing) to place the entire blame for the conflict on Israel”).

    You wrote, “the streets of Israel would be full of Israeli children throwing rocks at and getting shot by British soldiers”. The assumption behind this is that there is not a state of Israel and so there wouldn’t be any Israeli children. Wasn’t it the Jewish terrorism after the Second World War and the USA’s failure to support the policy agreed by the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry (including sending American troops to “maintain order”) which made the UK decide they wanted to get out of Palestine as soon as possible? If instead of partition one state had been established then the Jewish population of that area would be a lot smaller than it is today. If a secular democratic country had been established where religion had no place in law making then it is possible that there would be peace. However, you are right in one aspect there would have been lots of conflict to establish that peace but not just involving British troops but also American troops, but maybe not as many people would have lost their homes as happened.

  • Phil Beesley 3rd Apr '18 - 3:23pm

    @John McHugo: “The problem is that false accusations of anti-Semitism are sometimes used to deter people from speaking out on behalf of the Palestinians. This can be very distressing and intimidating. There is a need to clarify this issue, and I am sad that you do not seem to wish to engage in a discussion of it.”

    Current debate about UK anti-semitism has discussed a mural by an artist called Mear One and social media comments which deny or trivialise the Jewish holocaust — and which diminish the killing of others of faith or no faith across the world. Web links to the tin foil hat internet are part of the consideration. Emphasis has been made on statements made by Labour Party election candidates or party officials (paid and unpaid). Lib Dems and Greens have also taken action about anti-semitic behaviour by members.

    The anti-semitic behaviour which created current debate is overt — internet graffiti and internet pub “jokes”. And real life attacks on Jewish property, intimidation of Jews.

    It has never seemed difficult to me that “cartoons” portraying Jews with big noses and wads of money are offensive. If confronted by that nonsense, I’d say what I think and leave. I’ll say that again: I’d say what I think and leave.

    When introducing a Hamas politician to a meeting, I’d talk about “our guest”. Corbyn has talked about “my friend”.

    If you want to support Palestine, stay away from Jew haters. Identify and bar them yourselves.

  • Phil Beesley 3rd Apr '18 - 6:01pm

    @Michael BG: “Did you notice that the Jewish population of Palestine was only about 68,000 in 1919 and had risen to 83,790 (11%) in 1992 after only a couple of years of Jewish immigration. Since when has 11% of the population had the right to have its own state?”

    This is an irrelevant comment. It is not pertinent to UK anti-semitism.

    And it’s nasty regarding identity politics.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Apr '18 - 7:48pm

    Michael BG

    Because I support, the right of the state of Israel to exist, means I am more, not less likely, to support the rights of Kurds and Palestinians, but not independence for Catalonia, Quebec or Cornwall, ie real need in the midst of adversity.

    The Jewish people, however, because of the centuries of persecution and the holocaust, are in a unique position, because that persecution and holocaust was by many countries, and was more hideous than can be dealt with in any way other than to say, there is your refuge, there you know you are welcome, there we support your rights, and we do so here, in the Diaspora, for the minorities, who are Jewish, just as we do as Liberals or should with all who are persecuted, but the Jewish people , especially, as their numbers are few, there travails have been many.

    You are mistaken to look at numbers of dwellers based on the ethnic make up in the years immediately before the state was founded. We might also look at the reason the numbers of Jews were fewer than once, in the land they had before, known as there own, home. Expulsion, massacre, subjection!!!

    And the desire of Jews, yes, the initial Zionists, fleeing tyranny, as a result of pogroms, to relocate to that land, Israel, in the nineteenth century and up till the second world war, was thwarted by poverty,alienation, exclusion.

    How many in the midst of Nazi rumblings were avowed enthusiasts to leave their own European lifestyles, their languages and cultures to do so, few. The tripe Livingson and his chums talk is just that, tripe. And once they were aware of the level of horror,those victims of hatred, how many were given safe haven, to exit and enter, from one land to the other, promised, no, hardly! The desire for a homeland for the Jewish people was so just and is, I am surprised so few speak so very softly about it, who are not Jewish but are humanitarians too.

    Liberals should be friends of Israel, on a mass scale, even as not friends of recent terrible governments of Israel. I am delighted most ,in our party, share my views on this more than those few who, though not prejudiced, and concerned for the Palestinians in Gaza, rightly, so often seem to not understand, what I as a graduate of history and a student of life, do, reality.

    The outrages in recent years by a state towards a minority are not to be equated with what took place decades ago. That was on a scale unimaginable but undeniable.

  • Sorry 1992 should have been 1922 – “Did you notice that the Jewish population of Palestine was only about 68,000 in 1919 and had risen to 83,790 (11%) in 1922 after only a couple of years of Jewish immigration”.

    @ Phil Beesley
    Do you dispute my figures?
    Are you really saying that when a minority population reaches 11% it has the right to setup itself up as a separate country?

    @ Lorenzo Cherin

    As a student of history I am surprised you don’t know about the independent Cornish kingdom of Kernow (577-875 and perhaps back to 410) or about the principality of Barcelona (897-1164 when Queen Petronilla of Aragon abdicated in favour of her son Raymond Berengar Count of Barcelona who became King of Aragon as Alfonso II [Aragonese is a separate language now only spoken in northern Aragon]). I am sure you are aware of the union of the crowns of Aragon and Castile c. 1516.

    I understand why the Jewish people wanted their own country after centuries of persecution, however it was problematic to find somewhere suitable. According to Wikipedia other places were considered outside of Palestine, Uganda (1903) and Argentina (c. 1891).

    I am glad you accept that the Palestinians should have their own state. Considering the populations involved (over 6.5 million Jews and 6.4 million Palestinians living in the area and a further the 2.9 million Palestinians living in neighbouring countries) do you think a near 50/50 split of the land between the separate states of Israel and Palestine would be fair?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Apr '18 - 11:45pm

    Michael

    I said

    Real need in the midst of adversity

    The Jews after the war needed that safety

    Do not compare it to Cornwall, Quebec and Catalonia , there’s is not the same need !

    I know about the areas fluidity and mentioned it here, my obviously misunderstood or ignored view is there is no comparison, anywhere with the holocaust in modern era of the Jewish people’s treatment.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Apr '18 - 11:53pm

    And as for the where, Michael, for the Jewish homeland, that areas were considered so absurd, when it was obvious that Israel was the choice, shows how blinkered thinking was and is. The independence movements in no countries have ever been in areas where those peoples have had such horrors visited upon them to that extent, the three I mention are self indulgence compared.

    As for what land is given up by Israel or other countries, for the state of Palestine to be developed, this would not be for me or any of us , but for discussion , negotiation, of the peoples involved.

  • Mick Taylor 4th Apr '18 - 8:31am

    The problems of Israel and Palestine will only ever be solved by both sides sitting together round the table and talking until peace is established and a just settlement agreed. This is always true of any conflict. It is especially difficult in this case because both Israelis and Palestinians have historical claims on the area covered by the Israel/Palestine conflict.
    The particular problem with this conflict is that too many people have a vested interest in keeping it going. Both sides have financial backers who for various different reasons find it expedient for the conflict to continue.
    As long as both sides continue to lob bombs and rockets at each other and lay down impossible conditions for talks there will be no solution. In those conditions extremists rise to the top and war continues.
    As for anti-semitism it is widespread and pernicious, but other forms of racism are similarly appalling. That some Jewish organisations have spoken up against Labour is significant and the failure to address this may well be the beginning of the end of the Corbyn leadership.
    In our party the problems of statements made by Jenny Tonge and David Ward were never about anti-semitism but a question of poor judgement and wholly inappropriate language which gave the impression of anti-semitism. Many people in the LibDems oppose the current policies of the government of Israel, often with considerable vehemence, but never confuse that government with Jews as a whole.
    All forms of racism are on the increase in the UK and must be fought.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Apr '18 - 9:30am

    “other places were considered outside of Palestine” The UK did not need to agree with Hitler who said “The British Empire has 40 million square kilometres … Germany 600,000. It is quite clear who desires to conquer the world”.
    Please also see Winston Churchill’s post war speeches, not just a huge “I told you so” Hitler could and should have been stopped in 1936. Churchill’s proposals for Palestine were more generous for Jewish immigration than the policy of the Conservative government or the League of Nations mandate.
    Chamberlain had promised that if Germany invaded Poland Britain and France would invade Germany IMMEDIATELY. We did not, there was a period known as the Phoney War during which the UK worked on rearmament, as Chamberlain did one of the biggest U-turns of all time. When Churchill became PM he proposed to launch floating mines into the Rhine from an area where France and Germany had a border, but the French refused for fear that Germany would attack them. When Italy declared war she was immediately attacked by the Royal Navy.
    https://www.bing.com/search?q=exodus+film+paul+newman&form=WNSGPH&qs=SW&cvid=4982d7f3735142d380364dae288096f3&pq=exodus+film+paul+newman&cc=GB&setlang=en-US&nclid=D19A84F13F0AA22DEE7AE50DDCF460A0&ts=1522829724029

  • nvelope2003 4th Apr '18 - 1:01pm

    Most Palestinians are the descendants of those who did not leave their land during the Roman Occupation and of the Caananites. Some of the leaders were killed but most remained to till the land and do the work that people normally do for themselves and for the ruling elite, as is the case wherever lands have been conquered. Most adopted the religion of the conquerors but some did not.

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