16 thoughts on “UK Labor Party Witch Hunt: “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been Anti-Zionist?” – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. MK Shah’s remarks are further proof that Britain’s Pakistanis have a ‘problem’ with the Jews.


    She was rightly suspended, and Ken Livingstone’s off topic remarks about Hitler and Zionism are just further proof , like Shah, he too is obsessed with Jews.

    Why wouldn’t Corbyn seek to distance himself from these two embarrassing Labour Party member ‘pop offs’.

  2. Ken is perhaps, rather, obsessed with freedom and justice for the Palestinian people wherein Israel comes into for criticism. Israel which is largely Jews and a state run by Israeli Jews for Israeli Jews — and even Jews who wish to live there from countries like America, but who mostly retain the privilege of two country’s passports — not Israeli Arabs, who are, despite Israel touting itself as the only democracy in the Middle East, or indeed the Magreb, afflicted by at least 50 discriminatory laws.

    In the UK, we can tell how far the {AntiA = AntiZ} project has moved into what can at the mild end of criticism be called disrepute, exemplify by this report of The Great Pickle’s answer to anti-semitism:

    An article by Eric Pickles, former secretary of state for communities and local government, chair of the Conservative Friends of Israel and, since September 2015, UK special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, entitled ‘A definition of antisemitism’ introduced the government’s ‘Combating Anti-Semitism: a British best practice guide’ just before the announcement of a short Home Affairs Committee inquiry into anti-Semitism. And in it, anti-Semitism, traditionally defined simply as ‘hostility to or discrimination against Jews’ (Concise Oxford Dictionary) was replaced by an enormously long definition which not only includes attacks (physical or verbal) on Jewish people and community institutions but also ‘manifestations … target[ing] the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity’, such as: ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg, by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour; applying double standards by requiring behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation … drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis …’

    The links missing in this quote can be found in the article from which it came:

    Anti-Semitism – thought or deed?

    Written by Frances Webber

    Institute for Race relations

    April 21, 2016


  3. The suspension of Tony Greenstein shows clearly what these zealots are after: stifling critique of Israel under the guise of acting against anti-Semitism. One is amazed that this old ploy still seems to work.

  4. There is one little detail missing from an excellent post: in the near future there are several elections in the UK. One of these is for the election of a new mayor for London. In a previous campaign Livingstone was heavily attacked by the Zionist Lobby and ended up losing the election.. This time the Labour candidate is a Muslim of Pakistani origin. The Conservatives have, already, been making Islamophobic innuendos against him. I think the leftist Labour leadership caught a “wobbly”.
    Yes, the Blairite wing of the Party would be delighted if Labour lost the elections and, then, Corbyn would be blamed.

  5. Imagine that at the time that apartheid-South Africa seemed to flourish Britain’s most liberal paper would have appointed an opinion editor who would have stated that his heart leapt up whenever he heard “Die Stem van Suid Afrika” or beheld the “Oranje,Blanje,Bleu” flag; who would have told us that the ethnic cleansing of the blacks was an unfortunate necessity so that the Afrikaners could live; who would have blithely related that he spent as much time as possible in the apartheid country and who would get out of his way to condemn critics of the place as suffering from vicious anti-Afrikanerism.

    One of the agitators behind the present witch hunt against supposed anti-Semites (a witch hunt that has even touched the Father of the House, Sir Gerald Kaufman, because he had used the term “Jewish money”) seems to be Jonathan Freedland, opinion editor of the Guardian. If one replaces the term South Africa with Israel one does get a fair idea of his attitude toward that country, according to a long article by Blake Alcott about him (in Counterpunch).


  6. Even though some anti-semites cleverly hide behind anti-Zionism, clearly the two are different things. Conflating the two is dishonest and a trick to squelch legitimate criticism.
    I only wish that you would apply the same intellectual rigor and honesty to distinguish between legitimate discussion of Islamist issues from “Islamaphobia” or ‘Arabaphobia’.
    The reason that liberals don’t do the latter, is that in progressive liberal ideology the concept of ‘other’ applies only to certain groups who are deemed to be disadvantaged or ‘challenged’; Muslims are in and Jews are out of this list.

    If you think that claims about Jewish power and support for Israel are not anti-semitic, than discussion about Arab refugee’s attitudes towards jihadism or democracy is not Islamophobia.
    Etc Etc

    1. @Yehuda = Agreed, so let’s apply the same intellectual rigor and honesty. Looking around me, most Arabs I know in the West are against (almost passionately) jihadism and pro-democracy. Most Jews I know in the West are Zionists and support the current Israeli government or subtle variants of the same. Of course it’s a small sample (though not insignificant) but the only one I have. And also of course, there are some very significant exceptions – this site’s owner for instance. But on the whole it seems to me that the jihadists are the exception in the Arab community in Western countries, and the anti-Zionists the exception in the Jewish community.

    2. @ Yehuda:

      I only wish that you would apply the same intellectual rigor and honesty to distinguish between legitimate discussion of Islamist issues

      First, there are thousands of sources which denounce intolerant versions of Islamism (like ISIS) when it is justified. Muslims themselves do so. The notion that the left gives a pass to Islamist fundamentalism is absolutely false. Not even Muslims give it a pass. You simply don’t know enough about the issue to know this. Which establishes how poorly informed you are.

      Also, the level of support for jihadism and Islamist terrorism among Muslims is infinitesimal. Did you know this? Of course not. But I wonder why you didn’t.

      1. @Richard
        I know what you know. I think Ari Shavit know as least as much as you. So does Benny Morris.
        And herein lies the impossible trap in these kinds of political discussions-confirmation bias. I will bring sources to support my approach (and so will you). Then you will claim my sources are not credible (and I might do the same for yours). Even a simple fact, such as some action that Israel does, will be interpreted in opposite ways. For you, if Israel does something “bad”, it’s just more proof what an evil regime it is. If it does something “good” , its just misleading, propaganda and “hasbarah”, and promoting legitimacy to the Zionist regime. (Like your post about helping Gazans getting medical care, or the arrest of Jewish militants).

        The underlying differences in our attitudes are philosophical, moral, and emotional. From there we just pile on the “facts” to prove it. We probably agree on 90%+ of the “facts”, we are both reasonably well informed. We have access to basically the same information But we differ greatly in the meaning.

        Nonetheless I would like to find points of convergence.

        So I propose, if you agree, rather than discussing this or that fact, we get to the heart of the disagreement– your underlying view of morality and how Israel fits into that (or doesn’t).

        You mentioned that your attitudes are infused with Judaism as well. But you know as well as I, that classically, Judaism was very particularist, “tribal”, and very definitely not universalist. I personally sympathize with modern liberal streams of Judaism, but I would like to know what is uniquely “Jewish” (as opposed to humanist or liberal) about your program.

        1. @ Yehuda:

          I know what you know. I think Ari Shavit know as least as much as you. So does Benny Morris.

          You have no idea what I “know.” And what Ari Shavit “knows” is irrelevant to whether he is right. You may know a great deal and still completely misunderstand the world & reality. Ari Shavit doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does. I’ve eviscerated some of his work here, a post you should read before you try to boast about Shavit’s “knowledge.” As for Benny Morris, he is an even more extreme example. He knows some things & uses those things to come to completely immoral conclusions. WHen you say Morris’ knows things, do you mean that all of his worthwhile past research into the Nakba justifies his advocating using nuclear weapons to bomb Iran, as he did? Or that it justifies expelling ALL the Palestinians from Israel, as he has advocated.

          “Confirmation bias” is one of those phrases that sounds scientific, but is nothing more than empty jargon to be used in opposition to anything spoken by someone you don’t agree with.

          The only empirical way to prove someone wrong is by bringing more or better facts & sources to disprove them. You can’t mount sources to disprove my research so you accuse me of confirmation bias. It’s a sad, pathetic ploy.

          If Israel does something “good”…

          There is one major good thing Israel can do. It can withdraw to 67 borders, share Jerusalem, recognize Palestine and welcome home the exiles (not just the Jewish ones, you know what I mean…). If it did that I would sing Israel’s praises to the rooftops. I guarantee it. I’d sing it so loud & long that even you would get tired of it & tell me to tone it down.

          From there we just pile on the “facts” to prove it.

          “Pile on facts?” I wasn’t aware you were piling on facts. Were you? If so, I missed them. And you don’t have access to the same information I do unless you have sources in the Israeli media and security apparatus.

          So I propose, if you agree, rather than discussing this or that fact, we get to the heart of the disagreement– your underlying view of morality

          I’m not about to do an Immanuel Kant & discourse on the nature of morality. That I leave for PhDs & philosophy professors.

          you know as well as I, that classically, Judaism was very particularist, “tribal”, and very definitely not universalist.

          Judaism certainly was and is & has always been universalist going all the way back to the Bible. If you don’t know or acknowledge this then your Judaic education is sorely lacking. I can quote you 2 or 3 sources confirming this for every source you can quote saying the opposite. The beauty of the religion is that there is no Pope, no central authority determining whether we are a tribe or a light unto the nations. And any Jew who argues as you do for consensus or uniformity will only be disappointed. That is one reason why I detest settlers or die-hard Orthodox extremists (not all Orthodox, btw) who sit on high ground & tell all the rest of us we aren’t Jews. It is they who are the idol worshipers.

          1. @Richard:
            “The beauty of the religion is that there is no Pope, no central authority determining whether we are a tribe or a light unto the nations. And any Jew who argues as you do for consensus or uniformity will only be disappointed. ”
            I agree with these statements and I think you misunderstood me. I certainly am not arguing for uniformity or consensus, or the Orthodox view.
            My question is what in your ideology is uniquely Jewish. Jewish diversity is relatively modern, in the past few hundred years, during which Judaism adopted many values from the secular humanist or Christian world (which I’m glad we did). But I wouldn’t call these values specifically Jewish, any more than bagels or black hats are Jewish.

          2. @ Yehuda:

            what in your ideology is uniquely Jewish

            Nope, not goin’ there. I’ve written millions of words here since 2003, many of which express my Jewish identity quite clearly. If you can’t parse my Jewish identity in this blog, then you’re either dense or haven’t done enough reading. I don’t defend or explain my Jewishness to people who question it, deny it, or tell me I need to explain it. It’s there in everything I do and right. I have a blog Category called “Jews & Judaism.” Start there if you must.

            “Jewish diversity”is NOT “relatively modern.” Jewish diversity goes back at least to Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai, if not earlier.

            The argument that the Jewish left is “secular” or “humanist,” but not Jewish is one made over decades by those like Meir Kahane and rightist settlers. You sound suspiciously like them, which alarms me.

            If you don’t hear the universalist message in Jewish tradition & sacred texts, like I said earlier, you haven’t read enough. Now, like Hillel said: “Go and study.”

  7. I find it hard to understand why the Israel lobby in Britain is carrying out this campaign against the left wing of the Labor Party. Let us imagine that they succeed and drive out Corbyn from his leadership. This is going to result in many millions of Britons being very angry at the lobby. Is that what they really want? Is that going to help Israel?

    This is similar to Netanyahu coming to the US, joining forces with right Republicans and attacking Obama’s Iranian policies. That act has certainly weakened support for Israel in the US. There is still real anger against American Israel lobby. It hasn’t, yet, led to the critical mass needed to reverse US policy towards Israel but the number of people who want the US to cut its ties to Israel has increased. It is going to happen in England as well.

    1. I think this is right. The display of “Jewish power” — and it is incredible here — will confirm suspicions that “Jews control everything.” There will be blow back but I hope it rises to the level of questioning Israel’s propaganda because it did not in the US, despite Bibi ridiculous show in front o f the Congress.

  8. @Yehuda

    “I know what you know. I think Ari Shavit know as least as much as you. So does Benny Morris.”

    In my view the debate is really only about Israel in a tangential way.
    There are more important things at stake here than the fate of that tiny country. The main question is what in the “decent opinion of mankind” is deemed acceptable interpersonal and intergroup behaviour in this day and age.

    There is, in the West, no lack of consensus about Darfur or I
    SIS, East Timor (as it was) or Papua. There is about Israel. Zionist apologists, who are exceedingly vocal and numerous, continuously try to shove criteria about acceptable behaviour down our throat that are flagrantly at odds with that “decent opinion” and in this fashion mockingly draw mankind back in its attempt to emerge from barbarity (Neumann). This requires to be argued against and when it is there are complaints about “selective indignation” and “anti-semitism”.

    We argue against a lowering of standards.

    The lowering of standards is noticeable in Israel. There is, for instance, a notorious 2004- interview (that originally appeared in Haaretz) by Ari Shavit with Benny Morris (you seemed to mention both those people as guides) in which Morris argued that in 1948 Ben Gurion had not gone far enough in ethnic cleansing and said about Palestinian society among other things this:

    “ “We have to try to heal the Palestinians. Maybe over the years the establishment of a Palestinian state will help in the healing process. But in the meantime, until the medicine is found, they have to be contained so that they will not succeed in murdering us.” “

    “To fence them in? To place them under closure?”

    “Something like a cage has to be built for them. I know that sounds terrible. It is really cruel. But there is no choice. There is a wild animal there that has to be locked up in one way or another.”


    Throughout that interview Shavit shows himself to be appalled by the things Morris is saying. I think he no longer is. He has come around to Morris’ eliminationist logic (now also shared by Freedland of the Guardian).

    Is Morris sure of his own opinions? I don’t believe he is. He indulged in the loud mouthed rhetoric of the colonialist settler because it is politically opportune and makes him popular with people such as you, Yehuda.

    His behaviour in this debate with Norman Finkelstein where he tried to drown out what Norman was saying and filibustered against him, especially at the end, was not that of a man who believes that he has reasonable and defensible opinions:


  9. Taking a look at the LBC interview it is clear that this is part of the Witch Hunt and the protagonists don’t even realise it. Livingstone hardly gets a word in edgeways as he’s badgered to ‘apologise.’ He must apologise ‘cos that’s it, that’s what they want. That’s why they have embraced Naz Shah, it’s because she gave them what they wanted. Before he gets another sentence out Livingstone must apologize.
    Take a look, also, at the interview with Marr on the Marr show on the BBC.. This is more subjective but I can say I have never seen Marr so vociferous, he may have been at some point but I have never seen it.
    It’s a Witch Hunt that is following its own crazy path. It’s a Witch Hunt put into full gear by a Labour leader who is the most socialist we have had in decades. Let me quote his statement from a few days ago:
    “Anyone who is ACCUSED of making any antisemitic remarks or antisemitic behaviour is immediately suspended… .”
    Solely on the basis of being accused.
    This madness is not over. And when the calm eventually comes, we may find that it is not the friends of Israel, or the right of his own party or the right beyond that is his downfall but Mr Corbyn himself.

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