General Antisemitism

Labour antisemitism isn’t about the complaints process. It’s about ideology.


Israeli academic Shany Mor provided some clarity on a major element of the Labour antisemitism scandal that’s typically ignored, even by those who’ve been the most outspoken in their opposition to the rise of Jew hatred under Jeremy Corbyn.

The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism itself – which Corbyn tried unsuccessfully to resist – states clearly that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.

But, such regular criticism is not what Mor is referring to. 

He’s calling out, as central to the Corbyn ideology, the pathological, obsessive hatred of Israel, one which views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a binary story of good and evil, and which views the Jewish state – indeed any Jewish state – as inherently (indeed, irredeemably) racist, and morally beyond the pale.  It’s this ideology – or, as Mor put it, theology – which invariably leads to the conclusion that to identify with and defend the state (as most British Jews do) not only places you ‘on the wrong side of history’, but signifies, as one Guardian contributor framed it, that you lack “the ethical impulses of an ordinary human being”. 

In other words, even for those who avoid employing explicit classic antisemitic tropes while vilifying Israel, the acceptance of the view that the Jewish state isn’t merely a state that’s flawed as all states are, but, rather, represents, as the late Robert Wistrich phrased it, a singularly “organic obstacle to peace and progress”, necessarily vilifies Jews qua Jews.  Even leaving aside the racist beliefs and motives of its adherents, anti-Zionism, as a political force, inextricably leads to an antisemitic place. 

It’s this demonisation of Israel – on display day in and day out in publications like the Guardian – that drives and provides succor to the resurgent antisemitism in the UK, which is why, as Mor argued, the antisemitism crisis that’s engulfed Labour can’t be defeated by members being more careful with their language, or party officials implementing an improved complaint process.  It can only be defeated if the Labour Party, and, in fact, the nation as a whole, confronts this pathology, the atavistic worldview that ‘Israel is our misfortune’.

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63 replies »

  1. Some principles for consideration:

    About people and races:
    Hatred of – or anger with – a people as a race is racism.
    We can, however, hate – or just be angry with – individuals without hating or being angry with a race.

    About hatred and anger:
    People who hate are sad people, people can be justifiably angry.
    Hatred is never good for people. Hatred is an unhealthy emotion. Anger is not hatred.

    About reacting to hatred and anger:
    Even when people do hate (obsessively, or pathologically,) we have to let their hatred be exhibited (in speech or in action) before we condemn them as racist. Just guessing that someone might be racist is never enough.

    About races and states:
    Hatred of a state – or anger with a state – is not necessarily hatred of (or anger with) a people, even when expressed. It can be hatred of (or anger with) the way certain people connected with that state have behaved. Hatred of (or anger with) Israel, even when expressed, need not be hatred of Jewish people. Just guessing that it might be is never enough.

    Colin Davis

    • Reflexive anger is a manifestation of hatred.

      When that anger is reflexively directed at a particular ethnically defined group of people, it is racism.

      In many cases that hatred is indeed expressed through thought and action.

      When that anger is directed at a particular state based on particular criteria that are not applied to other states, it is irrational hatred.

      When that particular anger is directed at Israel and the same criteria are not applied to other states, it is anti-Semitism.

      This is a case of looking for excuses to justify and legitimize hatred.

  2. I never trusted Corbyn. He always seemed dodgy on the broader Israel/Palestine issue. And his comments about (British) “Zionists” not understanding English irony “despite having lived in this country for a very long time” are, well, positively Trumpesque, i.e. they are foreigners.

    It’s precisely those self-titled left-wingers in the blogosphere who e.g. cannot help but equate Gaza with the Warsaw ghetto who have been attracted to Corbyn as leader.

    • BRITISH means they are NOT foreigners,Pretz. Like the quartet are AMERICAN.

      People are attracted to Corbyn because he’s non-racist and cares for the people of the UK.

        • Someone told you that Corbyn is antisemitic? Hodge? Adam? Jerusalem Post? A liar?

          Isn’t Zionism a form of racism?

          • Corbyn’s own words and actions expose his anti-Semitism, calling Hezbollah a friend and not acting against anti-Semitism in Labour.

            Read Israel’s Declaration of Independence. It very clearly states that Arabs in Israel have full citizenship.

      • “BRITISH means they are NOT foreigners,Pretz. Like the quartet are AMERICAN.”

        Precisely my point – whereas Corbyn is suggesting that UK born & bred “Zionists” (whatever he means by that term) are not really British. Like Trump, he dismisses critics of an ethnic minority as foreigners. And by modern-day left-wing standards, that makes the both of them bigots. You seem to abide by different principles. Wake up.

  3. What does one call a European these days, who refuses to accept multiculturalism and demands a total ban on immigration into Europe from 3rd world countries? A racist, of course, and it is Muslims who will be the most violently vocal about such a stance. Open borders are demanded, with entry rights and benefits for all.

    But when the shoe is put on the other foot then it’s a whole different ballgame. Those very same Muslims who demand to be freely accepted in Western countries utterly refuse to accept the right of Jews to live alongside them in Israel. The entire Israeli-Arab conflict was caused by utterly xenophobic Arab racism against Jews.

    • The notion of Arab supremecism is foreign to so-called pro-Palestinian peace advocates. Then again, so is recent world history, i.e. the nation-state building process which re-drew the world map after World War I.

      Good times in 2019 on planet Earth.