IS THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY INSTITUTIONALLY ANTI-SEMITIC?
an historical background
A “Labour Affairs” pamphlet
Ernest Bevin Society
The magazine, ‘Labour Affairs,’ has been commenting on the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and a debate has taken place between a contributor, Mark Cowling, and others on the cause of this phenomenon. Mark has taken the view in his contributions that Labour and Corbyn have a case to answer. Others disagree. The issue lies essentially on the nature of the Israeli state today and its creation. But the issue is presented as a pure case of anti-Semitism that has been caused by Corbyn and his supporters since he took over. Nobody who knows anything about Corbyn and his political history could seriously consider him an anti-Semite but everybody knows of his support for the Palestinian cause. That is the issue behind the anti-Semitism charges.
The prospect of a British Prime Minister and his Foreign Minister at the UN supporting the Palestinian cause sent a shock wave through Israel and Zionists everywhere. It would be nothing short of a diplomatic disaster for them if it materialised.
The issue of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party has now reached “a tipping point” according to Margaret Hodge MP. She may be right but one tips or develops into something else and into what in this scenario? She did not specify but the destruction of Corbyn and his politics was a very specific requirement of hers.
But if successful this tipping point could well be the destruction of the Labour Party as a political force in British politics. And it is clear from Hodge and others that it is a price well worth paying if it happens. Therefore we could be seeing, to paraphrase George Dangerfield, the strange death of Labour England. It might be a slow death but a death nonetheless.
Supporters of this magazine have long experience in the British Labour Party and others. We have to rack our brains to recall examples of anti-Semitism in the party. Some of us have no problem recollecting examples of anti-Irish, anti-Muslim sentiments and other such expressions. The Labour Party being a representation of society reflected these attitudes and for the same reason made them a minority and insignificant factor in politics and they were countered in the normal course of political debate. But that is not allowed in the case of anti-Semitic utterances. The house must be brought down.
There are hundreds of real live members of the British Labour Party today who are not allowed to stand for any elections in their area of the UK. Could anything be more undemocratic and insulting to Party members but it is a fact? Do you hear much about it? They happen to live in Northern Ireland. They continue to seek to change this policy but their case is not even newsworthy to our political commentators and investigative journalists who piously preen themselves and natter on about the lack of democracy all over the world.
Can you imagine Jewish or any other Labour Party members being so insulted?
If Corbyn does not become Prime Minister the anti-Semitic charges against him will be taken, quite rightly, as a reason for it. Will that increase or decrease real anti-Semitism in the country and the Party? If he wins it means that the charges have no resonance in the electorate. Will that be a consolation to Jews in this country if the charges against him and the Party were really true? The people promoting the case against him are in a no win situation on the very issue of anti-Semitism itself.
The charges against Corbyn are nonsense but nonsense with a purpose. And the purpose is to normalise the unique actions of the Israeli government in today’s world of pursuing a ruthless colonial policy against the Palestinians.
This pamphlet sets out to explain why and how Israel exists and we invite Labour Party members to take a step back and consider its arguments in the context of the current climate in the Party.
IS THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY INSTITUTIONALLY ANTI-SEMITIC?
Mark Cowling began by suggesting that Corbyn, because of his association with the Palestinian Cause , left the Labour Party open to accusations by the Right that it was anti-Semitic. He has ended by saying, in effect, that Corbyn is an anti-Semite, and that, under his leadership, the Labour Party has become institutionally Anti-Semitic.
In the course of this transition he never says exactly what he thinks Anti-Semitism is. In that respect he is in agreement with Tom Watson.
Watson, representing the Tony Blair rearguard, has the ambition of taking over the leadership of the Labour Party. That was made clear by a Blair advisor in arecent Newsnight interview. His mission is to save the Party from Corbynism. And, if it is necessary to destroy the Party in order to save it, so be it. (The precedent was set by Washington in the Vietnam War, when it said that it was necessary to destroy a particular village in order to save it from the Vietcong).
Why has there been an upsurge in accusations of Anti-Semitism against the Labour Party during the past year?
Some of the views that are now being denounced as Anti-Semitic were held by many Party members long before Corbyn became leader. They were views that were held by Labour MPs who were Jews but who knew very well how the Jewish State had been imposed by Britain on the predominantly Arab population of Palestine.
If Gerald Kaufman was still about, Tom Watson would be keeping his mouth shut. And, while Gerald Kaufmann was still about, Dame Hodge did not seem to realise that her close comrade on the far-Left, Jeremy Corbyn, was an Anti-Semite, and she seemed to be entirely unaware that she herself was a Jew and that that was a fact of prime importance in British political life.
Just when did it click with her that she was not really a Corbynite at all but was a Jew who was in great danger from Corbyn the Anti-Semite?
A FUNDAMENTALIST RESURGENCE
There has been a resurgence of nationalist ‘fundamentalism’ in Europe in recent years. Is there any reason for not treating Dame Hodge’s emergence as a strong Zionist as part of that development? “Rootless cosmopolitanism”, Ben Gurion’s term, is breaking down. Is that why there are no longer any Jewish MPs in Parliament who know how the Jewish State was constructed, and see that Britain owes a debt of responsibility to the Palestinians because of the way it treated them?
Melanie Phillips was a sensible right-wing commentator on British social affairs in the Daily Mail. In the radio programme, Any Questions, she was outed as a Jew by Will Self, also a Jew. She wrote an article for one of the Jewish magazines explaining that she was a Zionist, and that her prior loyalty was therefore to the Jewish State, Israel. It was inconceivable to her that there could ever be a conflict of interest between her two loyalties, Britain being the creator of the Jewish State, but if such a conflict did somehow arise, it would be Israel that she would be loyal too.
Alas for the good old days when such things could be said!
Melanie Phillips also felt free to describe London as Londonanistan. In these days, when the atmosphere was saturated with Watsonite/Blairite humbug, such things must not be said. But they do not cease to exist because they are unsayable.
The upsurge in accusations of Anti-Semitism was heightened after the Jewish Nation-State Basic Law was passed in July 2018, which prescribes the ethnic-religious identity of Israel to be exclusively Jewish. Of course there was (and still is) direct and indirect discrimination against Israeli Arabs in various statutes – 65 of them according to the Adalah organisation – see https://www.adalah.org/en/content/view/7771
The heightening of the anti-Semitic campaign of accusations became more urgent to divert the Labour Party with other issues. The Israeli Government would have been falling down on its job if it had not done so.
The Blairite rearguard had obvious reasons for supporting the accusation, and the Tories—in trouble over Brexit—had no reason to disagree.
If there had been an upsurge of Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, which would have posed an existential danger to Jews if Corbyn won the next election, we would have noticed. And, if we had failed to notice it, but it was real, evidence of it would have been presented on television with great publicity.
Mark Cowling does not seem to have discovered any evidence. What he has presented is tortuous apologetics depending on far-fetched deductions.
The only evidence is the accusations. This is the kind of reasoning that happened in the French Revolution, with its Law of Suspects, under which it was an offence to be suspected. It had the effect of encouraging the expression of mindless allegiance to the prevailing fashion then.
It has the same effect now.
HOW STATES ARE FORMED
Is it Anti-Semitic to describe the foundation of the Jewish State as having been accomplished through a process of conquest, colonisation and ethnic cleansing?
Mark Cowling apparently thinks it is.
Is it Anti-Semitic because it is false, or because it offends Zionist sensibilities in these later times to have the foundation of the state described factually?
If it was founded by conquest, colonisation and ethnic cleansing, that would not make it abnormal. In fact most progressive states have been founded in that way.
The states that make up the core of the Free World—a term now back in common usage—were almost all founded like that. And the major exception, Britain, was the coloniser.
The establishment of Palestine as a Jewish State by means of colonisation was set in motion by Britain as an anti-German measure at the height of the Great War on Germany in 1917.
There were some Jews in Palestine in 1917. They were not colonisers. The Ottoman State enabled the peoples of the Middle East to live in peace with one another. It did not allow colonisation. The Jews in Palestine were largely people from the busy world of commerce and war who, for sentimental reasons, wished to spend the close of their lives in Palestine, away from the rush of Progress. A State could not have been based on them.
Britain launched the Great War on Germany and Austria in 1914 under the slogan, “the rights of nations to self-determination”. It extended the war to the Turkish Empire for the purpose of establishing a continuous land Empire from India, through Persia, across Arabia, to Egypt. When it issued the Zionist “Balfour Declaration”, it was in breach of any normal understanding of the rights of nations. There was no Jewish nation in Palestine. The project was to bring Jews from the rest of the world to Palestine and constitute them into a nation which would be a colony of the British Empire. It was obvious that this could not be done without over-riding the rights of the actual inhabitants of Palestine, who would have to be cleared out of the way as an inferior people. (Churchill later compared them to the dog in the manger at The Peel Commission.)
Mark Cowling is apparently in denial of the fact that the Jewish State was founded by conquest and colonisation on the basis of Imperial right. He says:
“An important background point is that Jews generally have felt a connection to Israel going back to medieval times and beyond.”
He then says, “None of this should be assumed to indicate particular entitlements to the land of Israel”. But clearly it is designed to indicate entitlement. Why is it there otherwise? It is the ground on which the accusation of Anti-Semitism is laid against those who describe the establishment of the Jewish State as a process of conquest and colonisation.
Netanyahu regularly asserts the Jewish right to Judea etc. on the ground of ancestry. He is never challenged by “Free World” interviewers for whom all of that is superstitious nonsense. By their silence they accept what he says. On what other ground can conquest and colonisation be denied.
Imperial Britain began the construction of the Jewish State in Palestine in 1919, and involved the newly-formed League of Nations in it. But the League had no effective existence of its own. In the matter of Palestine, it was only a front for the British Empire, which, with the destruction of Germany, the withdrawal of the USA, and the exhaustion of France, was the world Super-State of the period.
RIVAL NATIONALISMS CREATED BY BRITAIN
Britain opened Palestine to colonising immigration and gave the Jewish Agency a political role under its administration. But it had to proceed cautiously and deviously because it had stirred up an Arab nationalism in 1916 to be an ally in its war on Turkey. For this purpose it had procured a declaration of Jihad against Turkey from the Muslim authorities in what is now the western region of Saudi Arabia, and it had promised that, when Turkey was defeated, it would recognise an Arab State in the Middle East. The Balfour Declaration cut across this agreement, as did an agreement to share the Middle East with France.
As it set about laying the foundation of a Jewish nation-state within the Colonial structures of the Empire in 1919, Britain had to crush the Arab nationalism that it had deliberately stirred up a few years earlier. France shared this task with it. Instead of the promised Arab State, there was a Balkanisation of the Middle East into a series of British and French dependencies.
If Britain had conquered the Middle East with its own forces, and had governed it as an extension of the Indian Empire, without stirring up the Arab masses with nationalist ideals—as it began to do—the implantation of a Jewish Colony in Palestine might have been a relatively peaceful affair. But, in the circumstances brought about by Britain, with its raising up of a Jihadist nationalism against Turkey, and then its crushing of it once Turkey was defeated, that could not be.
The stirred-up Arabs of Palestine saw what was afoot, and they resented it.
In the late 1920s a weak Labour Government tried to have second thoughts about the Palestine project. It argued that national rights could only be the rights of the inhabitants of a territory. But the Zionist authorities would have none of this. The Jewish right to Palestine was not based on the common or garden rights of the people in the territory. It was an Imperial right—a right founded on the will of the British Empire. And so it was. Who could deny it?
The Jews of the world, constituted into a nation by the Balfour Declaration, had national rights in Palestine on the authority of the British Empire, and these rights were prior to any claims that might be made by the Arab majority in Palestine.
The Empire blundered its way through the 1920s and 1930s. In 1939 it launched another World War. In 1945 it emerged from that War a bankrupt and demoralised dependency of the United States. The Labour Government was faced with a rebellion of its Jewish Colony in Palestine. It threw in its hand and handed the matter over to the United Nations.
The United Nations, unlike the League, had an Executive body that was theoretically capable of forcefully implementing a policy. Britain was a member of it. But it would not allow the Security Council to deal with Palestine, because it could still be held responsible, as a Vetoist member of the Council, for what it did. So the matter was transferred to the General Assembly.
The Great Powers—the USA and Russia—whipped their client states into adopting a Resolution to divide Palestine into two states, Jewish and Arab, with the Jewish minority getting the greater part.
The Security Council did not undertake to put the General Assembly Resolution into effect.
There was an actual Jewish state structure in Palestine. It possessed what was the basic institution of state in the circumstances, an Army. That Army was at war with the British administration, waging war by unrestrained terrorist methods. And that was why Britain threw in its hand, instead of policing the implementation of the project that it had set in motion in 1917.
There was also a degree of civil structure of a Jewish State, developed under the British Mandate.
There was no semblance of an Arab State. It was never more than a pretence on the part of the Mandate that there should be. The British concern with the Arabs was to fob them off.
The Jewish propaganda characterised Britain as “Arabist”, because it did not act openly as a Zionist force out of concern for its wider Imperial interests in the Middle East. But there can be no reasonable doubt that, through all the twists and turns of foreign policy, Britain acted as the founder of the Jewish State. There would have been no Jewish State without it.
Jewish nationalism could not possibly have established a State by its own resources. And it must be considered doubtful whether Zionism, if it had not been adopted by the British Empire, would even have established a substantial degree of hegemony over world Jewry.
Part Two will appear in the October Labour Affairs