I am often asked about antisemitism on the Right when I am discussing the current trend of Left antisemitism. Isn’t there just as much if you look hard enough? Antisemitism is transitory. It exists all over the political spectrum, it ebbs and flows, currently it has found a home on the left.
For the doubters I would recommend examining the way Jewish matters are discussed in alternative left-wing media outlets. Take Mike Sivier, the author of Vox Political, one of the many pro-Corbyn blogs that sprung up or surged in popularity to compensate for Corbyn’s slaying at the hands of the mainstream media (MSM).
(Every time I type the letters MSM a little part of me dies)
In April Sivier announced that he was standing for Labour at the local elections. Sivier had written scores of articles defending Ken Livingstone. In fact he had penned pieces in defence of every high profile member of the Labour Party disciplined for alleged antisemitism. He had even posted links to far-right websites in defence of Livingstone and went as far as to claim that it wasn’t antisemitic to say that Tony Blair was “unduly influenced by a Jewish cabal” – six words so laden with antisemitism it would make George Galloway blush.
Eventually he was suspended pending investigation but refused to apologise, preferring instead to hold his ground and argue his case on the pages of his tawdry blog.
The problem here is manifest. It is not simply a few bad apples. This is a man with tens of thousands of readers. He has a voice that is influential in parts of the left. He tells his audience that Jews lie about their history, that they cry antisemitism for their own malicious ends. And now many thousands of left wingers can rest assured that claiming their most despised politician was so despicable because he was unduly influenced by a Jewish cabal is not in the slightest bit antisemitic.
So if this is happening just as much on the right, show me? Stop asking Jews to find it. Go and find articles outside of Neo-Nazi fanzines that are doing this.
Off your marks…
This is a 200ft antisemitic banner unfurled in Bristol by Labour members two days before the general election. It shows Theresa May wearing Star of David earrings. Our most powerful politician is at the service of the Jews. This is straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, something that twenty years ago you would most likely find in a vile Neo-Nazi cartoon.
That caption I have added is not sarcasm. It is what the banner is saying. The Many vs The Few. And behind the privileged few are the Jews. This is not criticism of Israel.
This is age-old antisemitism.
This is not about what people think about Jews in their hearts, (I am so tired of hearing “Yeah but he’s not actually antisemitic” as though that should somehow compensate for an antisemitic remark or deed) It’s about what people say, and do, who they endorse, what they write in their blogs and on social media. It is about their political actions and inactions.
Last night I chanced upon an article in Another Angry Voice (AAV) entitled, Theresa May’s gift to the pro-Israeli lobby. AAV is a widely read blog from Thomas G. Clarke who presumably – given his moniker – is full of righteous indignation for our unequal and divided society: and also it appears the working International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted by UK government, has provoked his ire.
A caveat: AAV is not one of the alt. Left media sites teeming with articles which downplay, deny and justify left-wing antisemitsm. It does not have an obsessional pre-occupation with ‘the Zionists’ plus Clarke appears to be smarter than most of his rival bloggers. Thus makes the manner in which he attempts to dismantle the IHRA definition of antisemitism belies a culture on the Left which treats Jewish concerns about antisemitism as though they are a bad joke.
Clarke declares it ‘reasonable’ that holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of a few and harming or killing them is antisemitic.
Well, it’s a start.
One of the items he describes as ‘unacceptable’ in the definition is “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.”
He describes Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as a ‘stain on humanity’
For the record I am not taking issue with that… so long as he treats Syria, Chad, Iran, Pakistan, Kashmir, Yemen, North Korea, China, Tibet, Eritrea, Burma, Cuba, Venezuela and all the other oppressive regimes and war-mongering governments in the same manner.
But of all those ‘humanitarian stains’, many of them far, far worse than Israel, Another Angry Voice would like to defend people’s right to choose the only conflict that involves Jewish people and reserve the right to invoke the Nazi metaphor.
This is 2017 on the British mainstream left, folks. Mr. Clarke should note that there are still Holocaust survivors alive whom one presumes would be horrified to hear a left-wing writer defending the right to call a Jew a Nazi in the name of anti-racism.
In Syria more people were killed in the first 18 months of that conflict than in all the Arab/Israeli wars in the last 100 years combined, and that includes Israeli deaths. Far more in fact. Bashar-Al-Assad’s regime is directly responsible for well over 90% of those needless deaths many of them through unspeakable torture.
So here’s an experiment you can do at home kids:
Type ‘Netenyahu Nazi’ into Google Images and compare that to ‘Bashar Al-Assad Nazi’
The Nazi metaphor is reserved almost exclusively for the Jewish state where other angry voices calibrate their condemnation to isolate and offend as many Jewish people as possible, including those who are hugely critical of the Israeli government.
The IHRA definition of antisemitism is not enshrined in law, it cannot be used to prosecute someone. But it is there to protect Jewish people from this…
To quote Owen Jones, “There are those who compare the occupation of Palestine to Nazi tyranny. This is an attempt to say to Jews — “look, you are now doing to Palestinians what Hitler did to you.” It is deeply offensive and wrong. The occupation of Palestine is bad enough on its own terms. It is oppressive and stifling and brutal. It does not represent — or even close — an attempt to physically exterminate an entire people.”
Clarke is concerned that anyone who compares a Jew to a Nazi would be labelled an anti-Jewish bigot.
Clarke is worried about the antisemite, not the Jew.
And anyway this is not the case. If it is explained to someone why that is unacceptable and they listen and (God forbid) apologise then that is a positive, not a negative. I would much rather open a dialogue about why that is unacceptable than to label someone an antisemite. Take my own Labour MP – Afzal Khan – who tweeted in 2014 that Israel was a Nazi state. He subsequently apologised. Sincerely. And I was happy to endorse him as the Labour candidate in my area.
It can be that simple. We are capable of showing each other that sort of respect and moving on. We are supposed to be ‘of the Left’ after all.
One of the most damning aspects of this current culture on the Left can be seen in an attitude whereby a complete insensitivity to the Holocaust has taken root and become commonplace
I spent 17 days on the largest Labour Party Forum (35000 members) around the time of the Livingstone verdict. The manner in which the Holocaust was discussed shocked and sickened me. You would hear more compassion on a UKIP forum. Jewish history booted around as though people were discussing Tory austerity. There is a growing culture of this on the left and on a personal note, I find this the most depressing aspect of the whole left-wing antisemitic enchilada.
The IHRA defines Holocaust denial as antisemitic thus:
“Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).”
What could possibly be wrong with that?
Please take to the stage Another Angry Voice who manages to find something to quibble with.
But first, I’d like again to draw on Owen Jones’ recent post, A Left Take on Israel, Palestinian Justice and Antisemitism.
This is what Jones says about the Holocaust in relation to Jews and antisemitism today. He calls for a recognition that:
“The Shoah is the biggest single crime in human history by virtue of intent and means. Human history is littered with terrible, terrible crimes: from British imperialism in India and Ireland, to King Leopold in the Congo, to Stalin’s gulags, to the slave trade. What makes the Shoah so unique is an industrialised, systematic, bureaucratic attempt to exterminate an entire people without trace.”
That’s how people should approach this topic. Compare that to Clarke’s piece and the manner in which he discusses denial of the Shoah as though it were an exercise in quantitative easing:
The big problem is the use of the word “scope” because it implies that the true scale of the Holocaust is a known quantity when it isn’t. In 1953 Gerald Reitlinger estimated the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust at 4.2 – 4.5 million; Raul Hilberg estimated the number of deaths to be 5.1 million; The Encycolpedia of the Holocaust estimated between 5.59 million and 5.86 million; Jacob Lestschinsky’s estimate was 5.9 million; and the Technical University of Berlin estimate is between 5.29 and 6.2 million.”
Clarke manages to assert that outright Holocaust denial is ‘extremely distasteful’ and goes further by suggesting it is ‘very often’ motivated by anti-Jewish hatred. So presumably he thinks it is occasionally motivated by philo-semitism.
But in the complete article there is no mention of what the Shoah actually was, nothing about the effect that Holocaust denial has on Jewish people, including survivors and he doesn’t even get round to saying Holocaust denial is an antisemitic act.
Here’s a tip for anti-racists: if you are obfuscating for the denial or minimisation of a race crime which killed approximately 6 million Jews try and approach it something like this:
“The intensity and ferocity of the Holocaust is unique in human history and thus the denial or minimisation of this most unspeakable of acts is to do nothing less than continue the crime. We must all stand together in fighting the denial or minimisation of this most heinous chapter in our shared human history. However should someone wish to draw on Gerard Reitlinger’s assertion, made in 1953, that between 4.2-4.5 million Jews were killed, this may not be classed as Holocaust denial/minimisation but only if they can justify why they are specifically choosing Reitlinger as opposed to virtually all of the subsequent historians who put the figure much higher – between 5.1 – 6.6 million.”
No one knows how many Jews died in WWII, it is an approximation based on available data. So if a person points to a figure decided in 1953 and ignores all the subsequent historian’s work which gives a higher figure, why are they doing it?
Are they consumed by the quest for the truth to find out exactly how many Jews died in WWII? Have they spent years sifting through the archives of the Third Reich?
Or is it something else?
Are they someone who seeks to delegitimise the Jewish need for a homeland after WWII by attempting to minimise the crime as much as possible to suit their political goals?
And the IHRA definition is not enshrined in law, despite what this dreadfully researched and immature article asserts. They are recommendations. To protect Jews.
Take this insidious comment on the largest Labour Party forum which I encountered only a few hours after joining – it was not the only comment I saw like this, far from it. Putting aside that a left-winger thinks there are two sides to the Holocaust. That Zionists – the people who wanted to escape to a safe place because they were being treated as a racial infection – were not as equally evil as the Nazis. (Gosh it’s the end of days isn’t it?) But the idea that ‘the Zionists’ have inflated the number of Jewish dead for their own malicious ends is an idea nurtured on the far-right. It is now not uncommon to hear this in the Labour Party.
Clarke gives this person an out. Couldn’t she reasonably say “Oh sorry I’m not in anyway denying the Holocaust I was just pointing to Reitlinger who ‘the Zionists’ are choosing to ignore?”
Clare is concerned about the antisemite not the Jew.
Jones’ article is damning in it’s criticism of the actions of the Israeli government in which he advocates for a boycott of settlement goods. Yet he is also damning of the current culture of left-wing antisemitism. They are not mutually exclusive. A person may hold both positions.
Let me as clear as possible: Alternative left-wing pro-Corbyn media outlets such as AAV, Evolve Politics, The Canary, Vox Political and many more… incite left-wingers to be antisemitic in exactly the same way the right-wing tabloids incite right-wingers against Muslims. Only the latter is more overt and crude. If you use the #DontBuyTheSun hashtag or criticise the Mail Online for its racism whilst sharing articles from the above alt. Left sites you are a hypocrite choosing which minority group it’s ok for publications to incite people against.
With two Kosher shops firebombed in Manchester in the past month and Jewish MP’s receiving death threats from people on the Left it’s high time lefty media outlets got a grip. They have a responsibility, just like the mainstream media has it’s responsibilities.
Clarke also describes this as ‘unacceptable’ in the definition:
“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour.”
Can someone order me a large slice of nuance please? Ta!
Whether Clarke has done this deliberately or not I do not know but his counter argument uniformly changes the word endeavour to state.
Saying Israel is a racist state is not defined as antisemitic. Personally I think Israel has a huge problem with racism with extremist elements creeping into the Knesset and I believe the Israeli government has policies which have a racist outcome for the Palestinian people. And don’t get me started on the Ethiopian Jews….
See? What’s antisemitic about that?
But to say Israel is a racist endeavour is a kettle of fish with an entirely different hue.
The endeavour came from a people who were the victims of racism, not racists themselves. The idea of a sanctuary for the Jewish people as a refuge from European antisemitism is the endeavour. The reality of 2017 in the occupied territories is wholly different to the 1897 idea.
In a poll conducted in 2015, 93% of British Jews say Israel forms part of their identity but only 60% say they’re Zionists. See that differential? Pass the nuance again. This endeavour is an intrinsic part of Jewish identity for 93% of British Jews (it would be weird if it wasn’t) within which there are a huge variety of views. To say the endeavour is racist is to indict the 93% as racists themselves. This makes Jews a target, specifically for the ‘anti-racist’ left.
The IHRA definition seeks to protect Jews becoming targets in that fashion so it specifically chooses the word endeavour which was specifically ignored by Another Angry Voice and changed to state.
Dishonest? I don’t know.
And finally… the prestige.
MP’s, including Corbyn, are “afraid of the backlash from the pro-Israel lobby” if they reject the IHRA definition.
The lobby, the lobby, the lobby.
It’s Jews, mate.
You mean Jews, bud.
It’s Jews who wish to define their own prejudice. It’s Jews who are asking for Nazi comparisons to be withheld from political discourse involving Jewish matters, It’s Jews who will remonstrate and provide the ‘backlash’ if the IHRA definition is rejected. We are not the pro-Israel lobby, we are Jews.
In this way Clarke delegitimises not only Jewish concerns but dehumanises Jews as a people. What we think about Holocaust denial, how it feels when a Jew is compared to a Nazi, what it means to indict most of us as racists are not the genuine concerns of a minority; to Clarke and those on the left who think like him, these concerns are the machinations of a powerful cabal of malevolent Jews covertly using this definition of antisemitism as a smoke-screen to advance their own malicious political goals.
And that, right there ^^^^^^^ my fine friends, is left-wing antisemitism.
Google any of these alt. Left publications along with the word ‘antisemitism’ and you will mostly find tawdry defences of left-wing antisemitism and counter-claims of malicious intent on the part of the accuser. So… only articles and posts about…
Bad stuff wot them Jews do
Just like The Daily Mail carries only negative narratives about Muslim people so alt. left media does the same with Jews.
If you wish to challenge this assertion then you must explain why there are virtually no positive articles about Jews or any admission that the left has a specific problem with antisemitism.
Why did no one cover (to my knowledge) the Jewish Labour Movement’s (JLM) campaign for the government to uphold the Dubs amendment? It was JLM who led the campaign and Lord Dubs was a Jew who came to Britain on the Kinder transport. When Owen Jones spoke at a JLM meeting – which represents over 95% of Jews in Labour -he received articles and tweets like this:
Where is the condemnation for filth like that in the alt. Left media?
In the run-up to the Union elections Gerard Coyne gave an interview to a Jewish newspaper. He received stuff like this:
When Coyne referred to this on Question Time and said that Labour had an antisemitism problem he was called ‘treacherous’ by Diane Abbott. This is how institutional antisemitism works.
Jewish MP’s, particularly Ruth Smeeth and Luciana Berger, have received tens of thousands of abusive and antisemitic messages, much of it from the Left. Ruth Smeeth in particular has faced death threats from people specifically on the left. Where are the articles saying “Guys we may disagree with Ruth Smeeth’s politics but this racist, misogynistic abuse has got to stop!”
Many MSM outlets wrote articles of that nature for Diane Abbot (and rightly so, the whiff of misogyny and racism around the abuse she gets is palpable) but for an alt. left media outlet to name and shame the perpetrators of left-wing antisemitism is seemingly beyond the call of their anti-racist duties. Why is that?
Occasionally right-wing tabloids do get held to account for their racism. But alt. left publications have no-one to answer to. An army of bloggers and would-be journalists with large audiences and a contempt for the mass of Jewish people is causing a great deal of damage.
Every article, every comment, every day a Jew deserts the left. Until it’s safe to return I’ll just be Another Angry Jew.**
*There are, of course, a small number of Jews who reject IHRA definition. These are anti-Zionist Jews and alt. Left publications will usually point to these Jews to uphold their arguments. The vast, vast majority of Jews endorse and support the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism – something Another Angry Voice thought superfluous to an article about the definition of anti-Jewish prejudice.
** See what I did there?