The Labour Party


#323

Well I never said that giving a group the right to self determine what defines abuse against that same group would be clean or easy. :arteta:

Joking aside, BDS is a great example of why things get grey. I described BDS in a very sterile way in my original post. Someone thinks the Israeli government is bad, they want to change it, BDS creates pressure through the citizenry to demand change and hey presto, change is achieved through the election of a new government.

But there are plenty of people in the Jewish community who view BDS as a way to single out Jews because Israel is an explicitly Jewish nation-State. There are some explicitly antisemitic elements within the BDS movement or rather, there are people who are explicit antisemites who believe in BDS as a means to an end.

Most of the time I hear people in the Community say BDS is antisemitic because it creates a standard for Israel that doesn’t exist for any other country and they believe the Israeli government is singled out because the government represents a country that is in theory for Jewish people. People also feel that such a standard is not applied to majority Muslim countries, for example.

But who is using it incorrectly? If we agree that the “in group” has the sole authority to define what abuse means than they can’t use the term incorrectly. What we end up with is a bell curve of what the Jewish community defines as acceptable and what they don’t.

And not that it was your intention but suggesting that the term gets diluted because people use it is exactly why a lot of Jews don’t say anything for fear of being labeled thin-skinned or pushy. We see it a lot in the US when white people complain about people of color bringing up slavery, Jim Crow, redlining or institutionalized racism in the criminal justice system. “Oh here they go again, bringing all this up.” It’s just an easy way to shut down the conversation down.


#324

Actions speak way louder than words IMO but words do create a sense of comfort in the interim. If Corbyn asked me I’d tell him that he should release a statement admitting that he’s been silent on the issue and he needs to do better.

Then, he actually needs to go out and do better.

This may be my US view of things but Judaism and Labour go hand in hand. Judaism as a religion and culture demands many of the things that your average Labour voter would want. Focus on the community, treating the poor with dignity, education and learning a trade, not fucking the environment up as a way to follow the imperative to make a better world for your children. That often takes the shape of what we in the US call safety net programs like WIC or MediCare, large civil rights bills like the … Civil Rights Act and beefing up agencies like the EPA.

Corbyn should stress that cross over. Jewish values are Labour’s values and Jews belong in the Labour party. I don’t think defaulting to Chakrabarti Inquiry Part II: The Electric Boogaloo will really help. He needs to be seen shutting down instances of antisemitism within the party.

Some backbench MP in Manchester make a FB post about Jews drinking blood? GFTO.

A student in a Young Labour program being denied an opportunity to stand for some office because people demand they go on record saying they support BDS? Sounds a little fishy. Maybe, get involved. Get some more information. Do all Young Labour candidates have to go on record about this? Was it just the Jewish candidate? If yes, than call it out.

The absolute last thing that Corbyn should do is listen to any advice that tells him the Jewish community should meet him halfway. This is his party and his problem and he needs to fix it.

And if he wants a lawyer to walk him through this. He can PM me on OA. We all know he lurks here, right?


#325

It’s not diluted because people use it. It’s diluted when it’s used inappropriately, like using it to shut down criticism of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians.

I speak as someone who has themselves been accused of being antisemitic.


#326

Gotcha. Yeah, I don’t know what you did or didn’t say to prompt said accusation. But I hope you can appreciate that since you aren’t Jewish (unless I missed something) that your line of what is appropriate may be very different to what is appropriate.

For example, critiquing the Israeli government is not antisemitic and saying so in order to shut down debate re: the Occupation is specious.

However, saying that Israelis are Nazis is in my opinion antisemitic. Saying that their treatment of Palestinians is Nazi-esque is antisemitic. Drawing that comparison isn’t cool.

It’s a minefield to be sure.


#327

This is one I’ve struggled with. Historically lazy, distasteful and almost certainly going to offend some people, absolutely. It’s not a comparison I’d draw, or an argument I’d use. Not only on the grounds of taste and accuracy, but even pragmatically, I don’t think it’s ever going to be an effective way of convincing someone generally supportive of Israel.

But I’ve personally not been convinced that it is antisemitic. In the West (I honestly can’t speak for discourse elsewhere) things get compared to the Nazis all the time, it’s the go to example when talking about oppression, racism and authoritarianism. This seems to go double for the left, with many right wing people always complaining that the left call everything Nazi.

So I think we get that with Israel too. People with a poor knowledge of history, or people who are just lazy with their discourse, pull up Nazism as their immediate go to comparison, so I’ve not been sure that the accurate thing to do is to describe the people saying it as being antisemitic. But I accept that antisemitism doesn’t have to be intentional, and just because you don’t mean to be antisemitic or racist doesn’t mean that that’s not exactly what you are being. There are also certainly people who will be using the comparison when they are basically explicitly antisemitic, so I’m absolutely not waving it away and saying that anyone doing this is doing so innocently.

You know, I’ve also seen some Jewish people say that the comparison isn’t antisemitic necessarily. But as someone who doesn’t know many Jewish people, and isn’t knowledgeable or integrated in the Jewish community, it’s hard to know if these are opinions that should be viewed legitimately, or whether they are more like lone voices way out there on the fringes. For example, and this isn’t the greatest analogy, but if I saw a black American guy on twitter say that racism isn’t a problem in America, that’s not an opinion I’d give time or credence to, I feel more equipped to know which opinions are way out there on the fringe and not worth valuing. But I don’t find that as easy with matters relating to Jewish people and antisemitism. There are apparently 250k Jewish people in the UK, a very small figure for a nation of about 65 million people, its very easy to not be particularly aware of a lot of issues facing a community of that size. Which I guess is potentially partly the problem, until recently it’s been easy to sleep walk on the issue and not know a lot about it, because it’s not been seen as a major issue in this country in recent times. Which is something Labour seem to be struggling with right now.

But that’s why I want to listen to Jewish people, and generally let them define what is and what isn’t antisemitic as far as is possible (check me out, aren’t I a top bloke?)

I appreciate your posts here and entirely echo Leper’s fulsome praise of that particular post, it was really well written and very thought provoking. So thank you for taking the time to do that. I don’t expect you to be replying to my posts here for what it’s worth, I don’t expect you to take the time to educate me or act as any sort of representative or spokesman. It’s a fine line between wanting to listen to minorities and expecting them to sit down and take the time to school you, as if it’s something they owe you.


#328

That’s the comparison I used after I saw the IDF using white phosphorus gas to kill Palestinians.


#329

Interesting article, wonder what you guys think.


#330

I’d challenge you to examine why you made the comparison to Nazis and not to some other terrible entity like the Serbian military in the 1990s or the US military during Vietnam. Was it because you genuinely believe the Israeli government is similar to the Nazi regime or because you believe that such a comparison packs the biggest punch?

@JakeyBoy and @Leper thanks for the kind words. Yeah, minorities don’t owe members of the out-group anything when it comes to explaining things but if there’s one stereotype that rings true it’s that Jews love to talk.


#331

It wasn’t a direct parallel of course. But I find it nauseatingly symbolic that a group of people who had gas used as a weapon against them, would then themselves use gas against another group.


#332

I’d challenge you to examine why you think it’s so nauseatingly symbolic.

Nobody alive today making the decisions in the Israeli government was murdered by the Nazis because well…if you’ve been murdered that’s the end.

So the Israeli government is made up of people who haven’t had gas used against them personally. Instead, the government is made up of people who are part of a larger religion/culture which was once persecuted and as part of that persecution were systematically murdered.

One of the reasons people may find that parallel offensive is because it presumes that living members of a group who have not experienced something should act in a way because other members of that same group experienced something.

Like I’ve said, it’s definitely on the line for me. I personally don’t use that comparison. There are plenty of other war criminals throughout history to compare the Netanyahu government to.

On a separate note, I saw Corbyn published an op-ed attempting to address things. My biggest disappointment was that he cast himself as a passive observer. I wished he had framed things more in terms of his own failure to speak out sooner. It doesn’t sound like the op-ed went down well with a lot within the Jewish community and people want more action than talk.


#333

I think it’s pretty self evident mate.

No, but their families were. Their parents and grandparents.

I find it a little strange how you can seem so blasé about the symbolism of the instrument which was used to kill millions of your own people. Whether it’s administered in a chamber, or fired from a tank, should be irrelevant.

It’s maliciously using gas to kill innocent people and I’m pretty sure that we agree that that is nauseous.


#334

That’s contradictory. Because some Jews have argued that criticism of Israeli policies is in itself anti-semetic. The argument being that the reason people criticise Israel is because it’s a Jewish state. The issue here is with giving credance to let someone dictate that any criticism equates to discrimination.

As for the mural, it was anti-semitic for sure. I very much doubt Corbyn saw it and I’m sure it was a very unfortunate oversight on his part.

Speaking of JEWDAS they make the accusation on their site that many of the prominent Jews who have spoken out against Corbyn and accused him and the party of anti-semitism have endorsed right wing anti semetic politicians who they are aligned to in economic policy. Make of that what you will.


#335

I think it’s a little out of order for you to presume to tell me how I seem about it. I think I’ve been pretty clear that the use of chemical weapons are straight up war crimes. What I’m saying is the reason Jewish people may be offended with the use of that particular comparison because it presumes that Jewish people should know better because of what happened in the past. It’s placing an extra set of expectations on people who were not personally involved in an event simply because people related to them or who share a religion/culture with them were part of an event. I also happen to think it’s not accurate. The Israeli government is verging on evil in my opinion, but having lived there and to the best of my knowledge they have yet to start operating death camps, performing medical experiments on Palestinians or ripping gold fillings out of dead bodies after mass executions.

That’s why I prefer comparing the Netanyahu government to the Apartheid South African government or the Jim Crow south in the United States because I think it more accurately captures the type of crimes being committed and focuses on the actual crimes without placing an emphasis on the particular connection between the Jewish community and the Nazi regime. If you’re looking to avoid accusations of antisemitism in the future, maybe offer Apartheid as a comparison instead?

I don’t know that I have to prove my feelings regarding the systematic slaughter of my community to a stranger on the Internet but the knowledge that entire branches of families were wiped out for absolutely no reason, that an entire subsets of Jewish culture in places like Italy and France were almost completely lost is terrifying. I hope that seems less blase to you.

@arsenescoatmaker I know that some members of the Jewish community have any criticism of Israel is antisemitic. I happen to disagree with that but it’s still up to the Jewish community as a whole to settle on a general definition of what is or isn’t antisemitism. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t matter. It creates a bell curve with people like myself on the more lenient end and conservative folks like Stephen Pollard on the other end.

JEWDAS makes no bones about the fact that they’re a left organization and they’ve made the decision which a lot of leftist Jews like myself have made to place a greater emphasis on pushing and pursuing leftist or socialist policies over getting bogged down in what Jeremy Corbyn did or didn’t do. But I want to just point out that it’s possible for Jews and Jewish organizations to gaslight other Jews. JEWDAS also appears to really delight in being outrageous on Twitter, calling Israel and open sewer that needs to be destroyed and etc. By the way that’s a good example of something that I don’t personally believe is antisemitic because they’re saying that the government has created something awful and the government/State should be dismantled.

JEWDAS is basically saying that if there’s criticism of Jeremy Corbyn from British Jews it’s all disingenuous bullshit being used by Jews who are backing Tory policies. That type of discourse is exactly how Labour ended up in this mess, having Jewish members say that they’ve got some legitimate concerns and Labour as a organization saying, yeahhh we don’t think there’s really a problem here, you guys are overreacting.


#336

This may be true, but that was the end game of Nazi rule, prior to that there was 9 years of Nazi rule where comparisons can be made, i.e. an ethno-state where a minority group is legally separated from spheres of life with an end goal of removal from the living space. That description does sadly echo the Israeli state, so the death camps etc. could potentially be the end game for the Palestinians on a long enough time frame. The comparison, I imagine, especially coming from holocaust survivors, is a warning. And surely no warning, no comparison, no matter how wrong can be construed in and of itself as racist. The contextual views are how you know if a person is racist.

This is a better description undoubtedly, but honestly, I know people who use that comparison and they too are accused of antisemitism for it. Even a year or two back when I first joined the Labour party if I wanted to discuss Israel I literally had to do it in a whisper for fear of being branded an anti-Semite and kicked out of the party, that’s genuinely how bad it was even then. You literally have to whisper your point of view, even to say something that doesn’t even come in a hundred yards of stupid fucking Nazi comparisons.

Indeed this is a problem, but a bigger problem is Labour non-Jews calling actual Jews anti-Semitic and kicking them out of the party, or Jewish members using anti-Semitism as a political weapon. This is clear as day and far more common than anti-Semitism coming out of the hard left. As a member of Momentum I recall one Jewish member standing up to explain to members how sad he was when we fail to notice the anti-Semitism and how hurtful it is when friends and comrades accidentally slip into it, and when someone asked him how often he felt that happened to him, he said 2-3 times - and he was referring to a timeframe of many years. Now those 2-3 times are obviously too many, but it’s not much over a lifetime of political activity.

So even though I do accept that some antisemitism exists on the left, I refuse on grounds of common sense to make a huge deal out of it, because the moment you register something small as incredibly significant, then those spurious weaponised attacks will become shriller and shriller and appear to hold weight when really they hold very little.

The irony in all of this is that while these ceaseless attacks on the supposed anti-Semitic left take place, the likes of Steve Bannon, an actual Jew-hater in the classic Nazi sense, is normalised on our tv and radio, and meets with the Tories and all is hunky dory. Of course he supports the state of Israel as a model of a good ethno-state in practice, so that’s clearly what it mostly comes down to - if you support Israel even if you’re an actual anti-Semite that’s cool, but if you don’t support Israel then you’re an anti-Semite piece of shit. Until we unlock this problem any sensible discussion on the topic, at least in the media, is essentially pointless.


#337

It’s nice that you have the luxury to not make a big deal out of it. It’s not my job to change anyone’s mind on this subject but I’d disagree with your entire approach to this.

Sure, the Jewish Momentum member you cited may have only experienced antisemitism 2-3 times over decades of political activism but at the risk of being obvious, it doesn’t feel good even if it is only 2-3 times. Instead of “not making a big deal” out of it, maybe listen to the people who are actually raising concerns? Is it possible that some people within the left would use baseless accusations of antisemitism to further their own political agendas? Sure it is, some people suck. But it appears that you’re willing to shut yourself off from the possibility that something “small” to borrow your word is actually very significant to the people who are part of that minority group. Again, it’s not about you. It’s the Jewish community’s job to define antisemitism.

As far as what’s going on in other political wings like the far right that type of argument (i.e.: the right is way more antisemitic than the left) is a classic derailing tactic that people use which prevent an actual debate on antisemitism within Labour and the left from taking place. Is it true that antisemitism on the right is worse? Maybe. Is it more visible? Hell yes. Is it important to address? Absolutely. Is it what the Jewish community is talking about right now? No.


#338

Obviously I’d be a fool to ignore anti-Semitism, that isn’t exactly what I meant by ‘not making a big deal out of it.’ My poorly expressed meaning there was essentially let’s not turn it into a big public outcry because it’s counter-productive to do so.

Let me illustrate my point in a way I hope you don’t find melodramatic. The extreme right is probably at it’s highest point now since the end of World War 2. When the neo-Nazi’s march in the streets or lets say use their thuggery against anyone, Jews or otherwise, who is it that blocks their path, risking injury, to stop them? It isn’t the currently outraged centrists, the Lib Dems, the Tories or any of these types - the last line of defence against the real Jew-haters is the real left; they will be there at a drop of a hat to take them on; stop them, including the very people currently accused of anti-Semitism for criticising Israel. At the end of the day it’s people like Jezza who would stand there and stop them where and when it counts. Therefore turning this whole anti-Semitism debate into a furore, which could potentially at least defeat Corbyn and the left, which is clearly the aim, only serves to empower the Alt-right, and generally weaken any chance of a more hopeful, transformed country.

My view is that we need to look at the bigger picture. I advocate tolerating what I consider a very small minority view.

If Labour allows itself to define anti-Semitism as criticism of Israel then not only does that undermine the Palestinian cause and the right to free-speech, it also simultaneously empowers the ridiculous Jewish conspiracy theory, and opens the flood gates for further shrill calls for Corbyn to resign. It’s a mistake IMO to appease a politicised spurious attack just because a small minority of idiots cannot distinguish between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism. Sadly we don’t live in a climate at the moment where it can be dealt with intelligently and sensibly in the public arena without it being hijacked and manipulated. I listened to James O Brian yesterday, a liberal, certainly no fascist, who argued that Corbyn didn’t accept that one definition of anti-Semitism because if he did he would be guilty of it and therefore would need to resign. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happens the moment he / we accept that definition. It’s curtains. For the good of all people, ethnicities and faiths we need to be strategic in how we approach this or we end up capitulating to the Tommy Robinson’s of this world.


#339

If you’re cool tolerating a minority view that believes I’m prone to drinking the blood of Christian babies or I’m part of a global capitalist conspiracy getting rich as hell off arms trafficking and the deliberate spread of HIV because it gives Labour a better shot at winning elections I guess I’d just have to tip my hat and say that you’re a hard core pragmatist. As a Millennial I’m conditioned to want my cake and to eat it too. I really don’t think I should have to allow bigotry like that to fester in order to build a coalition to take out right wing governments.

As far as the specific point you made regarding Labour failing to adopt a particular definition of anti-Semitism, the problem with Labour goes beyond it. Yes, it’s getting a lot of headlines right now because of the unusually unified front the Jewish community has showed regarding that definition but I don’t know that the adopted definition of anti-semitism was that far off. It did eliminate some language regarding accusing Jews of dual loyalty but I’m pretty sure it was addressed somewhere else.

Overall I think the issue with Labour not immediately accepting the proposed definition was a bit of a last straw for some people. It became less about that actual disagreement and more about Corbyn’s overall silence. Personally I don’t think Labour had to adopt the proposed definition and certainly don’t think Corbyn would have to resign if Labour did adopt it. Corbyn’s op-ed wasn’t what I hoped it would be, it struck too passive of a tone. Hopefully he’s doing the hard work away from the cameras, trying to mend fences with prominent Jewish members of the party.


#340

I still don’t understand how criticizing Israel’s government antisemitism is that not conflating it with actual antisemitism. If that’s the definition people want why don’t we apply that to all nations. Saying bad about Zimbabwe should be riacism against black Africans by that logic. Saying something bad about the Chinese government means you are riacist to Chinese people. That’s the problem with that definition and I’m happy Corbyn is not taking this up.


#341

I tried to break that down for people a few posts up. Sorry if it doesn’t make sense. I’m not going to rehash it.


#342

It’s not that I’m cool with it. Where someone is accused of anti-Semitism it should be dealt with internally through the correct channels as is already the case. I think the Labour Party has what - 0.5% anti-Semitism according to data, which is probably an incorrectly inflated figure given that it includes those who will be acquitted. So the figure is below the national average. If it’s below national average then it’s not overly a Party issue - deal with it yes, but express it as a feature of the left no. The fact that it’s below national average is rather straight forward proof that this is a campaign to defeat the left project. It’s despicable. I cannot imagine the legitimate fear a Jew must have for signs of anti-Semitism because it wasn’t very long ago that such attitudes led to an attempt to industrially kill the Jewish population of Europe, so for Jews and non-Jews alike to use this as a proxy war against Corbyn is appalling. And if it wasn’t being used this way, if the discussion about anti-Semitism on the left was fair, balanced, weighed appropriately against national figures and juxtaposed with racism in other parties, you know, talked about in a non-frenzied adult fashion I would happily support the scrutiny. As is though, I genuinely feel its wiser to adopt the hardcore pragmatist approach you speak of - essentially I feel Jewish people are better served that way. Obviously if I am wrong, and anti-Semitism grows within the Labour Party etc. then I would be accountable for that - I just don’t see that happening.