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(ReadWith) Labour2020 for stories of ongoing attempts to purge the left. And IdentityPoliticsIsKryptoniteToTheLeft

The UK LabourParty under JeremyCorbyn was accused of AntiSemitism because of, particularly Corbyn's, strong connection with Palestinian activists.

This was spun into a whole campaign accusing Labour of anti-semitism and racism.

DavidGraeber's interesting analysis:

Analysis :

"Neutral"-ish take :


The problem is that the accusation was such a successful attack on Labour, alienating it from many of its natural supporters, that half the party is desperate to just "accept it and move on". Even at the cost of absurdities like this :

Simon Maginn's critique

Transcluded from JonLansmanOnLabourAndIsrael

Historical Background

Some very useful historical background from JonLansman on LabourParty positions at the birth of Israel :

The state of Israel was born ... not because the Zionist movement won their argument with the US and Britain – both the US State Department and Britain’s Labour government remained actively opposed to it. It happened because of support of Stalin and the Soviet Union as meticulously explained in a recent book by Jeffrey Herf, Israel’s Moment: International Support and Opposition to Establishing the Jewish State, 1945-1949.

The truth is that the relationship between the Labour Party and Zionism was never ... simple and clear cut ... Antagonism to the Labour Government’s policy on Israel/Palestine was widespread within the party in that period because it was seen as insufficiently supportive of the Zionist cause – exemplified by the title of a 1946 pamphlet by Michael Foot and Richard Crossman – A Palestine Munich? – hardly a flattering comparison of the Attlee government with that of Chamberlain!

Back then, it was the left that supported Zionism more than the right: not just the Labour left but also the Communist Party, which then had a Jewish section as well as a Jewish MP. The Labour left remained pro-Zionist until the 1980s: Tony Benn, for example, recorded in his diary on 30 June 1980 that he was against PLO recognition “not because I am anti-Palestinian but because the annihilation of Israel is the PLO objective.”

His view like Labour attitudes began gradually to change with the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 with the election of Revisionist Zionists and former terrorists, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, as Prime Ministers of Israel. They turned an illegal occupation into creeping annexation, undermining or destroying everything positive that the Israeli Labour Party created.

At the last Israeli election, Meretz, our more left-wing Israeli sister party, lost its representation in the Knesset. Ha’avodah, the Israeli Labor Party, has just 4 but realistically cannot be expected to retain any at the next election unless it reaches and agreement with Meretz and perhaps also with Hadash, the Israeli Communist Party, whose Joint List is supported mainly by Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The Labour movement that created the Israeli state and dominated its politics has all but disappeared. The is no peace process nor any prospect of another Labour government anytime soon. Israel now has its first government that includes fascists but not its last. Annexation is now openly and brutally pursued and the current movement for “Democracy” in Israel is concerned exclusively with Jewish rights, not those of Palestinians, whether or not they are Israeli citizens.

Quora Answer : Is the Labour Party's antisemitism due to Jeremy Corbyn's link with Hammas?

Nov 7, 2019

The accusation is grounded in Jeremy Corbyn's links to pro-Palestinian activism, yes.

Jeremy Corbyn goes to a conference with a bunch of Palestinian leaders and activists. Goes with them to a cemetery and gets photographed at a commemoration of people killed in an airstrike. Then it turns out that also buried there is someone who might have been involved in the Munich massacre. Though this is still contentious (Atef Bseiso - Wikipedia)

So, of course, the headline is "Jeremy Corbyn laying a wreath to pay homage to a Jew murdering terrorist".

Put it this way. This is the equivalent of Jeremy Corbyn going to South Africa, meeting a bunch of old ANC activists, and immediately being accused of being a fellow traveller of the Azanian People's Liberation Army and a hater of the white race.

The moral of this story is that other people's wars are messy and ugly, and sometimes left-wing activists in the UK can get too close to people who might not be such innocent victims as you imagine.

And that might well be an issue. Fine. Call Corbyn out for that if you like. But call him out for that. Don't be fooled by people who who are trying to exaggerate the seriousness or importance of it for other political reasons.

Right now, in a West where there's real anti-Semitism going on - an upsurge in neo-Nazism, and other far-right white-supremacist inspired killings of Jews; groups like Atomwaffen and the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting etc. - the attempt to pin the root cause of anti-Semitism on Jeremy Corbyn and left-wing pro-Palestinian activists is not just unfair and misguided; it's dangerously obtuse and blind to the real dangers.

Boris Johnson is in bed with Steve Bannon, who created a media empire for the alt.right in Breitbart. Johnson was a friend and colleague of Taki Theodoracopulos who supports the Greek Golden Dawn and who in turn used to employ Richard B. Spencer, in his own far-right magazine. Boris Johnson is literally only two degrees of separation from, or a "friend of a friend of", the guy who led the tiki-torch waving Unite the Right rally where neo-Nazis chanted "Jews will not replace us".

But, of course, these connections are considered too tenuous for anyone to worry that Boris Johnson is an existential threat to, or source of fear for, British Jews.

76% of British Jews are allegedly terrified because Corbyn attended a couple of conferences on Palestine that were also attended by Hamas representatives, and think that this makes him utterly unsuitable for high-office. But those same 76% of Jews aren't worried at all about Boris Johnson's proximity to the far-right? Are you kidding me? Of course that's not a reflection of an accurate threat model. It's a reflection of the hype and spin in the right-wing media.

It will be Jeremy Corbyn and the British anti-fascist left who will be standing up with, and for, British Jews, against real anti-Semitism long after Boris Johnson has washed his hands of them.

Update : if you think I'm just spouting hot air here, have a read of this : Has the Labour left subjected Luciana Berger to hatespeak and death threats?

Luciana Berger has been subject to horrible anti-Semitic abuse over the years. But the most serious cases, all the cases where threats of violence were made, and where people have been put in prison for abusing her, have been from far-right neo-Nazi thugs. It seems that in the last few years, four people have been put in prison for harassing her. All of them with far-right / neo-Nazi connections.

In contrast, the two cases of left-wingers abusing her, one involved no anti-Semitism : she was called a ""vile useless Tory cunt". Ugly, but not anti-Semitic. And the one case of a Labour member abusing her with anti-Semitic language, wasn't put in jail because there was no threat of violence. And the abuser might well be Jewish. (Labour activist who said Jewish MPs use Judaism to smear Corbyn avoids jail)

None of this is acceptable or justifiable. BUT ... the facts are that almost all the violent anti-Semitic abuse Berger received was from the far-right, and the abuse she did receive from the left was mainly focused on her political stance against Corbyn, not focusing on her Jewishness. Or was considered mild enough and not sufficiently threatening to warrant locking the perpetrator up.

Now compare the number of articles and stories you've read in the media over the last few years. Often where Luciana Berger is the main exhibit as a Jewish MP suffering the rise in anti-Semitic abuse.

Think about the number of paragraphs you've read. Now tell me ... what proportion of all those hundreds or thousands of paragraphs implied that anti-Semitic abuse of MPs like Berger was a function of the rise of the far-right? And what proportion of all those hundreds or thousands of paragraphs implied that anti-Semitic abuse of MPs like Berger was a function of the radicalization of Labour under Corbyn?

I'll bet you read far, far more paragraphs attributing the rise in anti-Semitic abuse of MPs to Corbyn than you did attributing it to the rise of the far-right.

Now fine, there's a "man bites dog" aspect to this. We expect neo-Nazis to abuse Jews. And don't expect Labour supporters to. So it's more "newsworthy" when they do.

Nevertheless, this is gaslighting on a gargantuan scale.

The amount written about the terrible abuse from the left is totally disproportionate to the amount of abuse that comes from the left, as opposed to the amount that comes from the right. As a Jewish Labour MP a higher proportion of your anti-Semitic abuse is coming from right-wingers than from left-wingers. You are more in danger of violence or death from right-wingers than from left-wingers.

And yet, your media is telling you the opposite.

Quora Answer : Is Starmer right to remove Corbyn from the Labour Party because of his alleged anti-Semitism?

Oct 29

Starmer was elected leader by a lot of Corbyn supporters who believed him when he promised he could heal the rift between different factions of the Labour party, would continue the policy direction that Corbyn pointed the party in, and not purge the previous left leadership. (This kind of includes me, I mean I didn't vote for him because I'm not a member, but I supported his leadership bid on these grounds.)

He's getting dangerously close to having reneged on all those promises with this move. As long as Starmer didn't look like he was wilfully going after Corbyn, then people like me were still giving him the benefit of the doubt. Even as others on the left were attacking him. Now that's pretty much impossible.

I have no doubt that Starmer thinks that a clean cathartic break with the supporters of Corbyn is the best way for Labour to "move on" from the accusations of anti-Semitism. And that throwing Corbyn under the bus is a good way to do that and to signal to the rest of the country that he really has broken with Corbyn and rescued the Labour party from its leftward turn and become a different party.

He is almost certainly wrong about that. There are far more Corbyn supporters in the party and country than he imagines. And if he isn't careful, instead of healing Labour, he's now condemned it to another four years of infighting and to losing the next election.

This was entirely avoidable. Starmer could have brokered a peaceful resolution with Corbyn. Agreed to a form of words between them, responding to the EHRC report, which agreed to learn from past mistakes, apologise for genuine problems (as Corbyn did), while not accepting the full weight of the accusations.

Instead he seems to have rushed to embrace the anti-Corbyn narrative that this is the most shameful day in the history of Labour etc. And that this is all Corbyn's fault.

One thing I find interesting is that allegedly (Key findings of the EHRC inquiry into Labour antisemitism) the report doesn't mention Corbyn by name. That's hardly because they are trying to spare his feelings. It's because they couldn't find any actual "smoking gun" evidence where Corbyn specifically told anyone in any alleged act of "interference" to back off or to protect any anti-semite.

The report is long on "we think the party could have done more" but no specifics of how. And long on complaints from people getting into ugly rows with other people in Labour, and who "didn't feel the leadership had their back". But no actual cases of "Corbyn sent this email telling people to not expel Joe Bloggs after he had posted anti-semitic memes on Facebook".

I mean, if I'm wrong on this, point out one of the specific cases. But I don't think I'm wrong. If there were real examples, they would be being trumpeted loudly now. Instead it's just more insinuation and generalities to "paint a picture". No particular pieces of evidence of Corbyn specifically saying or doing anything.

Note that the biggest examples are from anti-Corbyn members who infer from their interpretation of Corbyn's other actions. Take this example in The Guardian :

Mason and Langleben said they had initially tried to work with the then Labour leadership and be a bridge between the party and the Jewish community. However, they described losing faith in the leadership's ability to take antisemitism seriously after Jeremy Corbyn's defence of an antisemitic mural was revealed in 2018, leading to a protest by members of the Jewish community outside parliament.

Mason said he was visiting the attraction Thorpe Park, watching a video on his phone of an apology by Corbyn that he felt he could not accept, when he decided to change tack. "I knew any attempt to try to win them over to the argument that the community was making was just over," he said.

The guys who were working with Corbyn in 2018, decided they didn't like something Corbyn had said and done several years earlier, or Corbyn's apology, and that therefore they couldn't work with Corbyn. Fine. But this unilateral decision not to work with Corbyn is being presented as an example of Corbyn's refusal to work with them. Which is obviously misleading.

There is an awful lot of such insinuation.

So I think there was room for Starmer to have responded with genuine regret and commitment to learning and doing better without siding overtly with the anti-Corbynite faction in Labour by holding Corbyn personally responsible.

The fact he didn't do so suggests he really doesn't care about the breaking the implicit contract he made with Corbyn supporters during the leadership campaign. And that is almost certainly a bad move. For Labour, and for the country.

Transcluded from IdentityPoliticsIsKryptoniteToTheLeft

The 'back of mind' antisemitism accusation against Corbyn


Watching the clip here I'm thinking how frustrating and sad this whole debacle is.

And why this kind of IdentityPolitics critique is so dangerously effective against the left.

If someone said : ''Of course X has UnconsciousBias against black people. Look at his actions. Now he doesn't necessarily realize it or feel explicit animosity. But could certainly use some unconscious bias training'' this would probably pass almost unnoticed on the anti-racist left. For whom ideas like unconscious bias are well established shibboleths. (ThePyramidOfHate again).

And ''unconscious bias'', like ''original sin'' is something which is almost impossible to refute or deny the accusation of. It is there in our society and upbringing. Of course we all need to be better aware of it. And of course we should strive harder to purge ourselves of it.

Now if Baddiel had phrased his critique of JeremyCorbyn in those terms, then I think almost no-one on the left would or could have objected to it.

However if Baddiel had phrased his critique in those terms, it would have had little traction with the anti-Corbyn right who don't really subscribe to concepts like 'unconscious bias'.

Because if it were put in those terms, in good faith, it would immediately become obvious that it was not a specific problem of Jeremy Corbyn but part of general societal failure. It would not even be focussing on Jeremy Corbyn, given the context of all the other things he's said and done and from which you could triangulate a better idea of his real 'back of mind' beliefs.

The reason Baddiel's attack looks (to people like me) in bad faith, and part of the proverbial 'witch hunt' is that it's not aimed at exploring and fixing the general problem of unconscious bias of anti-semitism in society. It's targeted at an implied individual failing of Jeremy Corbyn. Note how Baddiel concocts a sui generis vocabulary of 'front-of-mind' / 'back-of-mind' distinction to avoid using the terms 'conscious' and 'unconscious', which simultaneously might trigger the right-wing. But also has no great shaming potential for the liberal centre. 'Who of us,' the average Guardian reader might ask, 'doesn't need to top up on a bit of extra unconscious bias training from time to time?'

But no. Corbyn's alleged antisemitism must be of a different type : a personal and individual crime of an order of magnitude which is out of the ordinary. Beyond the pale. Well outside the Overton Window of ordinary politicians in the UK. It must be greatest shame that the Labour Party has ever known. Otherwise it won't serve it's purpose.

But the bigger picture here is that, it's true, that the left pioneered this kind of appeal to 'unconscious' racism etc. So it's hard for the left to defend itself against accusations of it. Because to do so implicitly negates a framework which it usually supports, and which is part of the justifications for much of its own critique.

Now don't think that the right hasn't noticed this and isn't gearing up to use it again and again to attack progressives with. The right-wing are going to gleefully keep using this kind of attack on the left. Turning the tactics of appeal to unconscious prejudice against it. The anti-trans witch-hunt grabs as much feminist discourse as it can. Because it wins either way. If the TERF-talk convinces people to support the right, they win. If TERF-talk ultimately discredits much feminist discourse they ALSO win.

(See also ThroughTheLookingGlass)