From 1981 until she was elected to Westminster in 1997 as Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside, Louise Ellman, who’s Jewish and a steadfast supporter of Israel, was leader of the Labour group on the Lancashire County Council. An October 1982 issue of “Red Ken” Livingstone’s Labour Herald (the paper in which, three years later, he disgustingly printed a cartoon depicting Begin as Eichmann – – carried a letter from her that observed:
“Your recent adoption of the Neturei Karta group of Jewish fundamentalist extremists as your allies (Labour Herald, 27 August) is beyond understanding. Fortunately for Jewry, they are an infinitesimal percentage of Jews … Their intensely reactionary views, particularly in questions of social progress, are alien to the views of mainstream Jewry…. In their view Israel should not be recognised because it was created by human beings in the absence of the Messiah and secondly because, in their view, modern Israel is a secular, rather than a religious, state. Is support for such a group consistent with Labour Herald’s supposed stand for a secular state for Jews, Christians and Moslems? The answer can only be ‘no’. Your unprincipled use of the tiny and unrepresentative reactionary Neturei Karta is a display of opportunism of which you should be ashamed.”
Fast forward to 2016, and the use of the Neturei Karta nuts by individuals and organisations hostile to Israel is commonplace, despite their still tiny unrepresentative numbers, and despite the attendance of members of their group at Holocaust Denial conferences in Teheran. One would have expected them to be treated as pariahs, and to be shunned as screwballs, but the hatred of Israel on the part of far too many of today’s leftists ensures that these men in black are treated as heroes and rapturously welcomed at Al Quds Day and other Israel-demonising fests in western cities.
Five years ago, during a discussion of antisemitism in the House of Commons (20 January 2011), Louise Ellman asked Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who’s also Jewish, and who outlined his perceptions of the types of antisemitism in contemporary Britain, whether he shared her “concern that the antisemitism that he describes is rarely opposed by those who declare themselves anti-racist?” He responded: “As always, the hon. Lady puts her finger on the button. She has a strong track record in dealing with those issues, and I agree with her completely.”
As British readers will recall, the murder on a London street of black teenager Stephen Lawrence led to an inquiry headed by Sir William McPherson, who in 1999 issued an eponymous report that adopted this definition of a racist incident: “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”. Controversial in many quarters, the definition was nevertheless welcomed with alacrity by most if not all on the political Left, and I believe that the McPherson definition was adopted in 2007 by the ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) General Policy Recommendation No. 11 on combating Racism and Racial Discrimination on Policing.
What a contrast to the political Left’s attitude towards antisemitism, as seen clearly in recent weeks, with the spotlight on the despicable comments of ex-London mayor Livingstone and others on Jeremy Corbyn’s wing of the Labour Party.
The Israel-hating Left that thinks it knows better than Jews the nature of antisemitism, and says so openly (choosing to legitimise only the views of dissenting as-a-Jews as unrepresentative of the Jewish mainstream as Neturei Karta are), has resisted the McPherson principle when it comes to Jew-hatred. In view of its own woeful attitude to Israel and Zionism, the Israel-hating Left and its as-a-Jew cohorts have always derided and denied those parts of the EUMC Working Definition of Antisemitism that address such attitudes:
‘…. “Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” In addition, such manifestations could also target the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits. Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to: Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion; Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions; Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews; 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); Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust; Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations; Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include; 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; Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis; Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel; However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic; Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries); Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews; Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.’
[Emphasis added. http://www.antisem.eu/projects/eumc-working-definition-of-antisemitism/]
The Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland can be infuriatingly naïve and even almost perverse and woefully ignorant regarding Israel and the Middle East, but in the course of a recent article – which in some ways confirmed as much – – he was absolutely spot-on in observing, with regard to antisemitism in the British Labour Party: ‘On the left, black people are usually allowed to define what’s racism; women can define sexism; Muslims are trusted to define Islamophobia. But when Jews call out something as antisemitic, leftist non-Jews feel curiously entitled to tell Jews they’re wrong, that they are exaggerating or lying or using it as a decoy tactic – and to then treat them to a long lecture on what anti-Jewish racism really is. The left would call it misogynist “mansplaining” if a man talked that way to a woman. They’d be mortified if they were caught doing that to LGBT people or Muslims. But to Jews, they feel no such restraint.’
As for whether anti-Zionism is antisemitism, the Oxford scholar Emanuel Ottolenghi put it exceedingly well back in 2003, when he observed, inter alia, in The Guardian
‘The fact that accusations of anti-semitism are dismissed as paranoia, even when anti-semitic imagery is at work, is a subterfuge. Israel deserves to be judged by the same standards adopted for others, not by the standards of utopia. Singling out Israel for an impossibly high standard not applied to any other country begs the question: why such different treatment?
Despite piqued disclaimers, some of Israel's critics use anti-semitic stereotypes. In fact, their disclaimers frequently offer a mask of respectability to otherwise socially unacceptable anti-semitism. Many equate Israel to Nazism, claiming that "yesterday's victims are today's perpetrators" … equation between victims and murderers denies the Holocaust. Worse still, it provides its retroactive justification: if Jews turned out to be so evil, perhaps they deserved what they got. Others speak of Zionist conspiracies to dominate the media, manipulate American foreign policy, rule the world and oppress the Arabs. By describing Israel as the root of all evil, they provide the linguistic mandate and the moral justification to destroy it. And by using anti-semitic instruments to achieve this goal, they give away their true anti-semitic face.
…. To oppose Zionism in its essence and to refuse to accept its political offspring, Israel, as a legitimate entity, entails more. Zionism comprises a belief that Jews are a nation, and as such are entitled to self-determination as all other nations are.
.... [N]egating Zionism … claiming that Zionism equals racism … denies the Jews the right to identify, understand and imagine themselves – and consequently behave as – a nation. Anti-Zionists deny Jews a right that they all too readily bestow on others, first of all Palestinians….
... Noam Chomsky and his imitators are the new heroes, their Jewish pride and identity expressed solely through their shame for Israel's existence. Zionist Jews earn no respect, sympathy or protection. It is their expression of Jewish identity through identification with Israel that is under attack.
The argument that it is Israel's behaviour, and Jewish support for it, that invite prejudice sounds hollow at best and sinister at worst. That argument means that sympathy for Jews is conditional on the political views they espouse. This is hardly an expression of tolerance. It singles Jews out. It is anti-semitism….
Israel errs like all other nations: it is normal. What anti-Zionists find so obscene is that Israel is neither martyr nor saint. Their outrage refuses legitimacy to a people's national liberation movement. Israel's stubborn refusal to comply with the invitation to commit national suicide and thereby regain a supposedly lost moral ground draws condemnation. Jews now have the right to self-determination, and that is what the anti-semite dislikes so much.’
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