Before I start I want to make clear, in case the sarcasm in my headline doesn’t come through clearly, that I consider anti-Zionism to be indeed antisemitism.
Following yesterday’s post on Labour’s woes with its anti-Zionist-not-antisemitic members, today too, two more Labour city councillors were suspended because of antisemitic Facebook posts, uncovered by the indefatigable Guido Fawkes and his blog Order Order:
Ilyas Aziz, a lawmaker in Nottingham in north-central England, was suspended hours after the Guido Fawkes website posted screenshots of his Facebook posts, including the one in July 2014 during the Israel-Hamas war calling for the relocation of Israeli Jews.
Other of Aziz’s posts shown on Guido Fawkes included one comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazis’ treatment of Jews and another perpetuating the blood libel myth that reads “Stop drinking Gaza’s blood.” Another post shows an Israeli flag with the words “God didn’t give you the land – the UK did … Illegally” superimposed on it.
Later on Monday, the former mayor of Blackburn in Lancashire, Salim Mulla, was suspended less than an hour after his anti-Israel posts were outed, also by Guido Fawkes.
Mulla, whose Twitter profile said he was born in India, charged in an August 2015 Facebook post that Israel is behind ISIS. A month earlier he posted a conspiracy theory video blaming Israel for the Sandy Hook elementary school murders in Connecticut, adding his own comment that “He is talking facts.” A June 2015 post s”Zionist Jews are a disgrace to humanity.”
Mulla told Guido Fawkes that “I don’t agree with Zionism at all. I have very, very many Jewish friends.”
Ah yes, the old get-out-of-jail-free card of “Some of my best friends are Jewish”.
Regarding the current scandal about antisemitism in the Labour Party, now playing out in the British media, Peter Hitchens in the Mail on Sunday asks a very pertinent question: Everyone howls at Ken Livingstone but they wouldn’t dare tackle Muslims about their antisemitism:
I am, as it happens, a keen Zionist, a confirmed supporter of Israel’s continued existence as an avowedly Jewish state. Anti-Semitism – or Judophobia as I call it – gives me the creeps. So does the extraordinarily selective criticism of Israel, which does many bad things, by people who never seem to notice the equally bad crimes of any other country. I ask them: ‘Why is this?’ They can never answer.
And as it happens I had on Wednesday evening taken Mr Livingstone to task (at a London public meeting) for the Left’s feebleness in face of Muslim Judophobia.
This is a sad fact. On visits to the Muslim world, from Egypt to Iran, Iraq and Jordan, via the Israeli-occupied West Bank, I have repeatedly met foul and bigoted opinions about Jews which people in this country would be ashamed to speak out loud.
I have no doubt that there are plenty of Muslims who do not harbour such views. But there are those who do, and British political parties which seek the support of Muslims have often been coy about challenging this. As for all these people who have suddenly got so exercised about Judophobia, and wildly worked up about Ken Livingstone’s batty views on Zionism (standard issue on the far Left for decades), I have some questions for them.
Are you prepared to put the same energy into challenging and denouncing Judophobia among the Palestinians you support abroad, and the British Muslims whose votes you seek here?
Excellent question Mr. Hitchens. I hope you publish any relevant answers you receive.
The hard question now arises, what on earth has happened to pleasant, kind, tolerant Britain? Where did this flood of antisemitism spring from? And what has possessed the Left, which used to stand for equal rights, tolerance, anti-racism and anti-bigotry?
Many people have tried to answer these questions and I bring here some food for thought to help us figure out the answer, or if indeed there is an answer.
Anschel Feffer in Haaretz asks why Britain’s Labour Party has suddenly become synonymous with antisemitism and frames the answer against a class-war background:
Perhaps the best way to understand how Labour found itself in this sorry state is to begin with the premise that when senior party members are capable of spouting vile anti-Jewish theories and at the same time insisting they are in no way anti-Semites, they are not lying, at least in the sense that they believe what they’re saying to be true. This is not just the classic “some of my best friends are Jews” self-deception (and the radical left always had and still has its Jews to prove that point), but part of a deeper logical multiple-car pileup which now forms the basis of the attitude towards both Israel and Jews in general on a growing margin of the ideological left.
The unspoken argument begins with the belief that Jews are no longer an endangered minority group and have involved instead in to a powerful “white” elite. It doesn’t matter that this sounds dangerously like classic anti-Semitism. As far as those whose world-views are informed by a Marxist class-warfare perspective think, Jews went over to the dark side when they were no longer persecuted and joined the middle and upper-classes in their societies.
Leading from this argument is the next one, which places Israel and Zionism on the wrong side of colonialism, and therefore relics of shameful racist Western history which has no moral justification.
And because the very existence of Israel and the entire Zionist ideal of establishing a Jewish state is considered inherently imperialistic and immoral, then when those who believe in these arguments say “being anti-Israel doesn’t mean you’re anti-Semitic”, what they actually mean is that “being anti-Israel can never be anti-Semitic.”
Read it all. Feffer makes some excellent points which certainly make sense in the current context.
Kevin Williamson in the National Review makes a similar point to Anschel Feffer but asserts that it is not just the British Left, but the Left worldwide, in which antisemitism is consistent with their worldview:
Before the end of World War II, there was no Pakistan, and to the extent that there was an “India,” it was a geographical rather than a political term, much like “Palestine.” There was no independent Ireland until the 1920s and no Republic of Ireland until 1948. There was no People’s Republic of China until 1949. There was no Zimbabwe until 1980, no Czech Republic until 1993, and no modern Democratic Republic of the Congo until 1997. Israel is an ancient state compared with geopolitical newcomers such as the 30-odd countries created since 1990.
Yet it is the Jewish state, and the Jewish state alone, that is permanently marked for extermination. No one is throwing a fit about Timor-Leste or Serbia.
…The Jews can be whatever their enemies need them to be. For Henry Ford and more than a few on the modern left, the Jews are the international bankers secretly pulling the strings of the global economy.…For those who learned at the feet of that old fraud Edward Said, the Jews are the colonialists, the European modernists inflicting capitalism and technology upon the noble savages of their imaginations. The Israeli Jews commit the double crime of insisting upon being Jews and refusing to be sacrificial victims. They were okay, in the Left’s estimate, for about five minutes, back when Israel’s future was assumed to be one of low-impact kibbutz socialism. History went in a different direction, and today Israel has one of the world’s most sophisticated economies.
For the Jew-hater, this is maddening: Throw the Jews out of Spain, and they thrive abroad. Send them to the poorest slums in New York, and those slums stop being slums. Keep them out of the Ivy League and watch NYU become a world-class institution inspired by men such as Jonas Salk, son of largely uneducated Polish immigrants. Put the Jewish state in a desert wasteland and watch it bloom, first with produce and then with technology. […]
The economy under Palestinian management? Olives and handicrafts, and a GDP per capita that barely exceeds that of Sudan.
The Arab–Israeli conflict is a bitter and ugly one. My own view of it is that the Palestinian Arabs have some legitimate grievances, and that I stopped caring about them when they started blowing up children in pizza shops. You can thank the courageous heroes of the Battle of Sbarro for that. Israel isn’t my country, but it is my country’s ally, and it is impossible for a liberty-loving American to fail to admire what the Jewish state has done. And that, of course, is why the Left wants to see the Jewish state exterminated.
Jerusalem Post columnist Seth Frantzman, at his own blog, resignedly comments that Jew-hatred is simply endemic everywhere:
But why is there such surprise. Europe bred hatred for two thousand years. Anti-Jewish laws, pogroms, expulsions, massacres, were an integral part of European culture. Most European countries and people collaborated with the Nazi Holocaust. The Nazis were not the exception, but a natural progression of European history.
In some ways the hatred of Israel and Zionism in Europe is a way for Europeans to transfer ingrained anti-semitsm into a new more acceptable kind of hate. There is no country in the world subjected to the kind of zealous hatred as Israel is in these European circles. Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has sent 11 million people into refugee life, and slaughtered hundreds of thousands, but no European politician suggests dismantling Syria and “transferring” Syria to America, as one European politician suggested be done with Israel. […] Only with the Jewish people is the people’s existence considered an acceptable discussion in these European circles.
Why did so many Europeans hate Jews? What did the Jews do to them? Very few Europeans truly seek this answer today.
Here Frantzman answers with a very similar view to Williamson in the NRO quoted above:
They hate Zionism. But why did Zionism come into being? Because France persecuted Dreyfus which led Theodor Herzl to see that assimilation would not work. […]
At the precise point when many Europeans abandoned Christianity, which had been their excuse for hating Jews who were accused of “killing Christ”, Europeans now decided Jews were a separate “alien” and “parasitical” race. Secularism informed them of race theory and social Darwinism and Jews were at the bottom of that ladder. Anti-semitism, the hatred of Jews as being semitic and thus non-white, non-European, became the new reason to hate Jews. In each generation in Europe the reason for hating Jews took on a new logic. Grandfather hated them for being non-Christian. Dad hated them for “racially scientific reasons”, for being semites. And the current generation hates them for being nationalist and having a state.
European nationalism and extremism led directly to Zionism, for which Jews were then blamed by Europeans for being nationalist.
In each case, whatever Jews did as a reaction, they were then blamed for having done it. Communism was labelled a “Jewish” movement, and the reason to hate Soviet Russia, “because it is Jewish.” Jews became capitalists and were then hated as “harming the workers.” Today many people, including academics, will post online stories about the “Rothschilds control the world” or “no war for the Rothschilds.” Whatever is the ‘other’, becomes Jewish in the European imagination. If they are left wing, then the Jews are right wing, if they are right wing then they blame Jews for being cosmopolitan. Jews are said to be ethnocentric and anti-Arab, and at the same time said to support multi-culturalism and immigration to Europe.
Frantzman concludes with a harsh damning indictment of Europe and the West, with which I sadly agree:
It’s extraordinary that such a small group of people in the world, who only make up some 12 million or so out of 7 billion, are always the object of this European obsession. It isn’t enough they put 6 million in gas chambers. Nothing satisfies the anger and visceral obsessive, pathological hatred in these European minds but the disappearance of the Jewish people. In Norway, France, the UK, so many politicians, academics and others obsess over Jews. They don’t obsess over Sikhs or Albanians, they aren’t concerned with Burma or Zimbabwe, only with Jews and Israel.