2019 03 – Jews on Zionism & Socialism

Jewish Comments on Zionism & Socialism

Over 200 Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party sign a letter urging that anyone seeking an end to bigotry and racism should back Labour and Corbyn

You report (19 February) that a number of implacably anti-Corbyn MPs have left the Labour party alleging a failed “approach to dealing with antisemitism”, with Luciana Berger criticising Labour for becoming “sickeningly institutionally racist”.

We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party concerned about the current rise of reactionary ideologies, including antisemitism, in Britain and elsewhere across Europe.

We note the worrying growth of populist rightwing parties, encouraging racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism. In Britain the far right is whipping up these prejudices, a threat that requires a resolute and energetic response. But instead we have seen a disproportionate focus on antisemitism on the left, which is abhorrent but relatively rare

We believe that the Labour party under the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is a crucial ally in the fight against bigotry and reaction. His lifetime record of campaigning for equality and human rights, including consistent support for initiatives against antisemitism, is formidable. His involvement strengthens this struggle.

Labour governments introduced both the anti-racist and human rights legislation of the 20th century and the 2010 Equalities Act. A Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn will be a powerful force to fight against racism, Islamophobia and antisemitism.

It is in this context that we welcome the Labour party’s endorsement of freedom of expression on Israel and on the rights of Palestinians. Labour is correct to recognise that while prejudice against Jewish people is deplorable, criticism of Israel’s government and policies can and must be made.

We urge all who wish to see an end to bigotry and racism, and who seek a more just society, to give their support to the Labour party.[1]

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David Rosenberg, posting on the Facebook page of the Jewish Socialists’ Group, said the following:

“I would not be exaggerating in the least if I were to say that, observing Zionist politics in recent years, one frequently gets the impression that these people have simply gone out of their minds…

“The leaders of the Zionist movement have, in fact, openly began to play the antisemitic card. The incredible thought is stumbling around in their heads today of helping to form a bloc of countries with antisemitic regimes as allies of Zionism…

“Zionism has all along been a Siamese twin of antisemitism and every kind of nationalist chauvinism. Zionism has always regarded the law of force, of nationalist reaction, as the normal law of history, and on this law it has built its interpretations of Jewish life.”

When was this said? And by whom?

It was actually Henryk Erlich, one of the leaders of the Bund (Jewish socialist movement) in Poland in 1938, in an exchange he was having with the Jewish historian/sociologist professor Simon Dubnow in 1938 about whether zionism was a liberating and democratic movement.

I couldn’t help thinking of it as I read what should have been the unbelievable words spoken in the Knesset a few days ago by Anat Berko, one of Netanyahu’s Likud Party MKs. Only they are, now, all too believable.

She was defending a summit that Netanyahu was holding with leaders of central European nations all of whom with form for antisemitism, Islamophobia, anti-Roma, and anti-migrant/refugee prejudice. Netanyahu had chosen Holocaust Memorial Day, 27th January (the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz) on which to extend the invitations to these leaders.

Berko said: “They might be antisemites, but they are on our side”. Just let that sink in.

 

Morning Star On-Line had the following

Labour suspended Chris Williamson today pending an investigation after he had said that the party had been “too apologetic” over claims of anti-semitism…

The row blew up after video footage emerged of the MP addressing a Momentum meeting in Sheffield in the wake of last week’s resignation of eight Labour MPs to join the Independent Group.

It shows him receiving an applause as he said that the party had “given too much ground” to its critics who had “demonised [it] as a racist, bigoted party.”

Condemning the suspension, Jewish Voice for Labour representative Mike Cushman said: “This is madness, he’s suspended for saying the party is doing much to combat anti-semitism and should stop apologising, and it’s the parties that have done nothing that have something to answer for.”

Mr Williamson said in his apology: “I reject racism ethically and morally. It has no place in the Labour Party or in our country.

“It pains me greatly, therefore, that anyone should believe that it is my intention to minimise the cancerous and pernicious nature of anti-semitism.

“I deeply regret, and apologise for, my recent choice of words when speaking about how the Labour Party has responded to the ongoing fight against anti-semitism inside of our party. I was trying to stress how much the party has done to tackle anti-semitism.”

Morning Star editor Ben Chacko denounced the suspension. “The left needs to understand that unless we hang together we will hang separately.

“Chris Williamson is an outstanding Labour MP. The party and movement will be the poorer if MPs who couldn’t care less whether their party is elected succeed in turfing him out.”

Since the footage came to light, a screening of a documentary film called Witchhunt, which makers say explores the background to accusations of anti-semitism in Labour Party, has been cancelled.

The film by Jon Pullman, which has been praised by leading Jewish film-makers Mike Leigh and Peter Kosminsky, was due to be screened in the Commons on Monday with Mr Williamson’s assistance.[2]

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/feb/20/jeremy-corbyn-labour-party-crucial-ally-in-fight-against-antisemitism

[2] https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/b/labour-suspension-of-chris-williamson-branded-madness