Labour, anti-Semitism and Palestinian rights

LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn has done himself no favours by suspending or expelling a number of party members who have been accused of anti-Semitism before proper investigations have been done into what these people said and in what context.

Anti-Semitism is a very serious charge and there are real anti-Semites who are very nasty people and should be given no platform to spout their evil under any circumstances.

There is a whole cult of lies and distortions from the publication in Russia in 1903 of the The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion, which claims to is describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It was translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century. According to the claims made by some of its publishers, the Protocols are the minutes of a late 19th-century meeting where Jewish leaders discussed their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of gentiles, and by controlling the press and the world’s economies. Among its wild and ridiculous claims was that the Jews were behind the French revolution.

It was a book that Hitler and the Nazis took seriously, leading ultimately to the Nazi attempt to exterminate all Jews in Europe and the horrors of the Holocaust.

But there are still some echoes of its claims going about. One of the more pernicious recent rumours is that Jews were behind the Al Qaeda attack on 11th September 2001 in New York and Washington — put about be people who also believe that the real Arab perpetrators did not have the skills or capability for that outrage — another racist assumption. Jewish people have every reason and right to be on their guard against this sort of thing.

But it is an altogether different thing to criticise the Zionist government of Israel in its increasing and bloody repression of the people of Palestine. The Israeli government, with its compulsion to fill what remains of Palestinian land with it illegal settlements, leaving the people there with no land, no water, homes that have been bulldozed and no right to travel freely, is making a two-state solution to the Middle East more and more difficult.

Yet if there were a one-state solution the Jewish Israelis would be well outnumbered by the Arabs so the Israelis could not contemplate it being a normal democracy. They are already running the place as an apartheid state with the Jewish and Arab communities forcibly separated and no democratic rights for the Arabs.

Bishop Desmond Tutu, the noted civil rights leader who became the first black archbishop of Cape Town, compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the apartheid regime that discriminated against blacks in his native South Africa. He said: “I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces.

“Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government.”

He added: “In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime.”

And the global Boycott, Disinvest and Sanction (BDS) campaign in support of Palestinian rights is having a real impact on the Israeli government’s international standing and economy. Through the internet social media sites, news of the continuing atrocities against Palestinians cannot be kept secret in the way that the old colonial empires of Britain, France and Spain kept their appalling atrocities secret.

This is why the agencies of the Israeli state are doing their best to undermine and discredit supporters of BDS and Palestinian rights by tarnishing them as anti-Semites. And by conflating Jewishness, which is a very broad and complex ethnicity, with Zionism, which is an aggressive political stance — they are also insulting all Jews around the world who do not agree with them.

And there are some Zionist supporters — not all of whom are Jewish — within the right wing of the Labour Party who have still not reconciled themselves to Corbyn’s leadership and are trying to undermine it by splitting Corbyn from some of his longest and most loyal supporters with the taint of anti-Semitism.

To cave in to them is to invite them to come back again and again with new demands. Next there will be demands that Corbyn distance himself from supporters of Irish Republicanism, communism, trade unionism until there are no Corbyn supporters left.