Labour and Antisemitism

Eliane Glaser

I’m an opinionated Jew with a PhD in the history of antisemitism, but I find it daunting to weigh in on the debate about antisemitism in the Labour Party. To describe the accusations as disproportionate is to risk being branded an antisemite. But while genuine instances of antisemitism should be tackled, there is no more of it in Labour than in other parties. The sustained offensive by the Labour right and by Conservatives is not only unfairly damaging the party and the left in general, it also unthinkingly reinforces antisemitic motifs.

The populist right’s public enemy number one is the ‘liberal elite’. This phrase deliberately merges two very different entities: metropolitan intellectuals on the one hand, and global capitalism on the other. In her 2016 ‘citizens of nowhere’ speech, Theresa May declared that ‘liberalism and globalisation … have left people behind.’ The elision harnesses public anger at banks and multinational corporations and turns it onto members of the middle-class precariat: academics, journalists and left-wing MPs.

This scapegoating of a relatively powerless ‘elite’ echoes the antisemitic fantasy of the rootless cosmopolitan who is also part of an international financial network. The notion that prejudice is festering among the ‘chattering classes’ of North London unwittingly invokes an antisemitic stereotype. It also undermines qualities that are both vital and under threat in an age of philistine oligopoly: intellectualism, expertise, rationality.

Allegations of antisemitism employ a hermeneutics of suspicion, often uncovering examples recorded in meetings, or buried on social media, even from years ago. This replicates the classic dynamics of conspiracy theory, a common feature of traditional antisemitism. The language of the accusations, too, echoes that of antisemitism – a ‘stain’ or ‘scourge’ that has ‘infected’ the party and must be ‘rooted out’. I’m not arguing that centre-right and right-wing critics of antisemitism are antisemitic, but their campaign has a ferocious hygiene about it that carries unpleasant and ironic resonances, and leads to irrational outcomes. Attempts to reveal hidden hatred are a central feature of the asymmetrical identification of antisemitism with the left. Right-wing antisemitism is assumed to be more blatant, and therefore attracts less scrutiny. The left is held to a higher standard, and ‘gotcha’ moments trump statistical evidence.

On Monday, the Labour MP Siobhain Mcdonagh said on the Today programme that ‘it’s very much part of their politics, of hard-left politics, to be against capitalist and to see Jewish people as the financers of capital, ergo you are anti-Jewish people.’ ‘In other words to be anti-capitalist you have to be antisemitic,’ John Humphrys interrupted. ‘Yes,’ Mcdonagh said. ‘Not everybody but there’s a certain strand of it.’ I could hardly believe my ears, but she is not alone. In the New Statesman last year, Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts wrote about the ‘deep-seated theoretical underpinnings of left critiques of capitalism that have antisemitism as their logical consequence’.

Such commentators make associations that they would regard as antisemitic if articulated in reverse: the link between Jews and a version of capitalism that is about actors as well as systems. Similarly, they are keen to stress the distinction between Israel’s actions on the one hand and Jews on the other, yet at the same time frequently identify criticism of Israel as at least latently antisemitic.

Unlike political opposition, and because of the Holocaust, the charge of antisemitism has an absolute, unarguable quality, which is exploited by Jeremy Corbyn’s critics for a political end. It’s true that Corbyn and some of his allies are digging their heels in, creating a vicious circle, but many of the accusations are implacable because their aim is to undermine the left. On quitting Labour last month, Joan Ryan MP said antisemitism was ‘never’ a problem before Corbyn became leader: fifteen years ago I reviewed a volume of essays on the perceived rise of ‘a new antisemitism’ on the left.

What is new is Corbyn’s indictment of the financial greed hollowing out our society. An analysis of broader social and economic power was missing from British politics through the decades of New Labour, and is still absent on the right of the Labour Party. Corbyn’s message has resonated profoundly with many people. But it is being muted and drowned out by the antisemitism row.

Some conspiracies – not involving the Rothschilds – are real: the networks of offshore tax havens and shell companies, and the links between Russian money, Facebook, Cambridge Analytica, Trump and the Brexit campaign. Bolton and Pitts criticise Corbyn’s portrayal of ‘a parasitical “1 per cent” draining the vitality from the “real economy”’ and a ‘global elite’ who ‘do not produce anything tangible but merely make money out of money’. But that portrayal rings true.

Viewing power in perspective lays bare the vast and widening wealth gap, and a left that is at a low ebb compared to the neoliberal hegemony and the resurgent populist right. The antisemitism furore is undermining the left still further at a time when we need more than ever to challenge the real financial elites that are wrecking our world. Critics should not feel bullied into silence.


  • 8 March 2019 at 2:43pm
    stettiner says:
    Eliane Glaser may have lived in this country for a long time, probably all her life, but she doesn't want to study history and she doesn't understand the socialism of fools.

    • 8 March 2019 at 9:17pm
      Rod Miller says: @ stettiner
      Eliane Glaser has a PhD in the history of antisemitism, but stettiner somehow knows that she "doesn't want to study history". Hmmm. Nor does she "understand the socialism of fools". Whereas stettiner (1) knows what these words mean and (2) does understand it, by his own account at least.

    • 9 March 2019 at 2:20pm
      Reader says: @ stettiner
      What part of history do you think Elaine Glaser does not want to study? I would be interested to know, if indeed you had any specific meaning in mind when you wrote these words. And what evidence do you have that Dr Glaser has failed to study it, from the article that she wrote? If you cannot answer these questions then I would suggest that your response does not carry conviction.

    • 9 March 2019 at 9:31pm
      stettiner says: @ Reader
      Well, I’m just paraphrasing an innocent man without an antisemitic bone in his body. You don’t recognize these words? How ironic...

    • 10 March 2019 at 1:45am
      Jon says: @ stettiner
      So what have you proven with this gotcha? I can't help but notice no one accused you of being antisemitic on the basis of this response - they have simply disagreed with you.

    • 10 March 2019 at 5:02pm
      Reader says: @ stettiner
      Hands up to that, Stettiner, you got me! But we can't all be as well read as you. "Antisemitism is the socialism of fools" (August Bebel). Agreed, but to paraphrase another quote, citations do not an argument make. We already agree antisemites are fools.

      I would like to join your posse, Stettiner, but what holds me back is that I suspect I would have to be a "friend of Israel", and I can't support one small detail of their present system. Knesset Basic Law of 18.7.2018 formalises a two-tier citizenship structure, a.k.a. apartheid, so Israel is not a democratic entity as it claims.

      By the way it is OK to speak out about this and it doesn't make you an antisemite. I would like to see even the hasbara experts at the Ministry for Strategic Affairs try to argue otherwise. And I'll leave you with my made up quote for the day: "apartheid is the patriotism of fools".

    • 11 March 2019 at 1:17pm
      stettiner says: @ Reader
      No, you don't have to be a friend of Israel. You can be a friend of Hamas and Hizbollah and an ardent supporter of the Arab State of Palestine with its official religion and Islamic Shari’a as its principal source of legislation. A home for many, not for the Jew.

    • 13 March 2019 at 5:05pm
      Reader says: @ stettiner
      So, if I may attempt to summarise your point Stettiner, I can either be a "friend of Israel" (ie a useful idiot who will support anything Netanyahu says or does), or a friend of Hamas and Hizballah. I can't be both (obviously), but I must choose one or the other. Is that an accurate summary of what you are saying? Forgive me if it is not, but you are not always very clear.

      This argument of course is an old friend to any students of political discourse. It is a variant of "you are either with us or against us".

      But, Stettiner, unfortunately I beg to differ: in fact, you could not be more wrong. It is quite possible to be neither a friend of Israel (in the sense of giving the sort of unconditional support that you appear to require), nor of Hamas, Hizballah etc.

      What I am a friend of, is a democratic state of Israel which respects the human rights of its citizens and treats them all equally. Unfortunately, such as state does not currently exist.

      I reserve the right to oppose Hamas, Hizballah and an apartheid-style Israeli government, as all manifestations of the same hostile, negative political forces which are seen in many other countries around the world today (not just in Israel by any means).

      And by the way I still support the existence of the right of return of Jews to a state which will forever grant them immunity to persecution in the world, should there ever be a repeat of the Nazi horror. So please don't try to 'straw-man' me into being a supporter of terrorism. The fact that you use this argument proves to me that you have no better response to my claim that the Basic Law of 18.7.18 makes Israel, as of now, an undemocratic state. Of course, that judgement could change at any time, provided Israel elects a leader who believes in democracy, which the present one clearly does not.

      But if you can find arguments to show me that I'm wrong, and that the discriminatory legislation in Israel does not prove what it appears to prove, then kindly present them. But do me the courtesy of answering my original point rather than deflecting attention from it by playing the old 'you love terrorists' card. Deal with the argument, not the person. Thank you.

    • 13 March 2019 at 7:22pm
      stettiner says: @ Reader
      Dear Reader. We were discussing antisemitism in the Labour Party, when you informed me that you can't possibly join us who oppose it, because that would mean you being friend of Israel and you are not. This is your original point.

      My grandfather was hated because of Jesus, my father because of żydokomuna and I'm because Israel "is not a democratic country"; it is easy to find a stick if you want to beat a dog, as they used to say in the old country.

    • 13 March 2019 at 11:05pm
      Rod Miller says: @ stettiner
      I've felt no need to post anything here because Reader has been stating my own view so well. It's true that Reader dragged Israel into the discussion, but it seems to me that this is where it's at in the Labour Party: a lot of Labourites have the temerity to speak the truth about Israel (as it actually exists) while also -- if they're serious, like Reader -- speaking the truth about Hamas and Hizbollah. Freeing oneself of the Black'n'White Prison in which the True Believers on both sides find themselves really isn't that hard.

      But I think that this justified criticism of Israel (which constantly parades as a Western-style democracy cherishing the rule of law) doesn't go down well with people who interpret that criticism as anti-Semitism pure and simple.

    • 14 March 2019 at 2:36pm
      Reader says: @ Rod Miller
      Well expressed, Rod Miller.

      I don't want to infest this blog with my views but there is something Stettiner says in his latest entry that demands a response.

      Nobody hates you, Stettiner, on account of the fact that Israel is not a democratic country (I would not use your scare quotes: it's a simple fact). Indeed, I don't hate you at all. I seem to find it curiously hard to hate people, and certainly not people I have never met; and yet others find it so easy. Perhaps I am autistic or something.

      The fact that Israel is undemocratic is not a reason to even dislike a person who (you make clear in your comments) identifies as Jewish, and that goes irrespective of whether you currently live in Britain or in Israel. I guess the latter, but perhaps I'm wrong. In any case, I do not hold any one ordinary Jewish person anywhere responsible for the drift to the fascist right in the governance of Israel. I would of course hold the political leadership there to account, including for their war crimes over the years, but that's another thing.

      You are not being "beaten" by the stick of Israel's lack of democracy. I am merely inviting you to agree that unconditional support for the state, as currently governed, is impossible given its undemocratic nature. That could of course change.

      The news is currently full of the Bloody Sunday massacre that happened nearly 50 years ago. 13 innocent civilians were killed. By comparison, daily killings of civilians by the IDF at the Gaza fence go unreported. Perhaps you would give me your views on how fair this is, and how Britain and Israel compare as civilized democracies?

      Israel is unfortunately the major unsolved problem in the Middle East, but Israel's various acts of external brutality and internal repression do not ever, ever justify antisemitism. Perhaps this discussion could be would up by agreeing that we can all join hands in hating one thing: racism in all its forms.

    • 14 March 2019 at 7:43pm
      stettiner says: @ Reader
      A Norwegian artist says "F***k the Jews" from the stage. Nothing hateful in this; just regular criticism of the state of Israel, states Norway's Attorney General.

      Two men try to torch a synagogue in a German town. Nothing hateful in that, German courts decide; just a regular contribution to the Middle East debate.

      The central mosque in Stockholm displays books and records calling for death of Jewish "sons of pigs and apes"; just politics, according to Sweden's highest lawyer, representing the state.

      The Dear Leader of Europe's biggest antisemitic party about some of his fellow-countrymen: they have "no sense of English irony despite having lived here all their lives" and they "need a lesson"; but Israel, but Israel, says Reader...

      For my part this particular discussion ends here.

    • 15 March 2019 at 4:47pm
      Reader says: @ stettiner
      The greatest satisfaction that a zoologist can experience is to discover a “hitherto unknown species”. I am therefore especially grateful to Stettiner to have introduced me to a member of the great phylum of logical fallacies of which I had not previously been aware. Up to then he had relied on the old standards (special pleading, false dichotomy, straw man, affirming the consequent etc.) but he seems to have come up with a genuinely new one in his last but one posting, something for which I didn’t give him suffient credit at the time. I have named it in his honour: “Stettiner’s reverse ad hominem”.

      It works like this. Attribute a motive of personal dislike to your opponent: suggest that she is only arguing against you because she hates you. This is especially effective if she appears to be winning the argument: in that case she is merely using it as a “stick to beat you with”. In this manner, you can avoid addressing the issue under debate, and can move it onto the plane of personal feelings, in which objective facts are irrelevant.

      I would not have missed this exchange for anything, tedious though it have been, I fear, for anyone following it. I have genuinely learned several valuable things from it. One is that Stettiner has no good arguments to oppose to the claim that the Israeli political system is undemocratic. If he had, he would have used them. His exclusive resort to fallacious reasoning tells me, therefore, that he does not.

      Second, he has given me a good reason to raise the issue of the governance of Israel, in the ongoing debate on antisemitism in the Labour Party. There is no doubt that antisemites exist in the party, if only for reasons of statistical probability. In any gathering of say 100 people, 3 or 4 will be sociopaths, and a similar number may be racists. And of these, some of them may well be critical of Israel for precisely the reasons of race-hatred that Stettiner attributes, wrongly, to myself. I can now argue within the party that the connection between antisemitism and criticism of Israel justifies an attempt to evaluate those criticisms impartially, and to arrive at a fact-based view of them. This will probably conclude that Israel is well above Syria, Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia on the human rights scale. This is not saying much, but it is something. And by the same token it will probably be assessed as on a par with South Africa under apartheid, a regime some people in that country are now looking back on with nostalgia.

      Those of us who suspect that some of the motivation behind the antisemitism accusations against Labour is to make a sensible debate on Israeli human rights violations impossible, will equally welcome the chance to have a clear examination of the facts regarding Israel. It seems to me that an inquest into Israeli behaviour is therefore essential. Thank you again, Stettiner, for your help in leading me to this conclusion.

    • 17 March 2019 at 5:32pm
      Rod Miller says: @ stettiner
      "For my part this particular discussion ends here."
      What a terribly convenient precaution, stettiner, for otherwise I would have demanded sources for your claims above (Norway, Germany, Sweden).
      But since you've bowed out, they'll just have to be tossed on the usual junk-heap of invention.

    • 17 March 2019 at 8:45pm
      stettiner says: @ Rod Miller

    • 19 March 2019 at 5:28pm
      Jon Cloke says: @ stettiner
      Golda Meier (among others) used to say there was no such thing as Palestinians, and until the Nakba she was quite right - it took the joint communal dispossession and ethnic cleansing of that event to weld Palestinians into a national force, rather than a set of disparate, squabbling communities, even though they plainly continue those traits.

      Similarly Hamas, carefully nurtured by the IDF as a rival to Fatah in the mid-1980s on the divide-and-rule principle, evolved into the armed resistance group it now is because of the failure of Arafat and Fatah and the Oslo Accords. The series of Intifadas by a desperate and oppressed people have acted to legitimize what Hamas does in the eyes of many Palestinians, as have the ongoing atrocities of the IDF and the illegal, murderous blockade.

      Lastly, as I hope we all know, "Hezbollah was founded by a small group of Lebanese Shiite clerics as a response to Israel's 1982 invasion of southern Lebanon." The terrorist acts of Hezbollah sprout from the seeds of Sabra and Shatila and for the Kahanist right they serve a very useful purpose in giving very real drive to the central Kahanist principles which echo Mussolini's definition of fascism - "No Jews outside Israel, nothing but Jews inside Israel, Israel a Jewish state".

      To those hard-core 'friends' of Israel for whom it is sufficient just to say 'Hamas' or 'antisemite' to justify the increasingly authoritarian turn in Israeli politics which is driving the attack on UK Labour, you just have to look at the birth of the Israeli state itself.

      The Irgun massacre at Deir Yassein, the Saliha massacre by the 7th Brigade, the Haganah bombing of the Semiramis Hotel, the better-known bombing of the King David Hotel, all accompanied by a call to purity of arms which is as much a lie (on both sides) today as it was in 1948: "weapons remain pure [and that] they are employed only in self-defence and [never] against innocent civilians and defenceless people".

      Hamas and Hezbollah, created as they were out of the ways in which the IDF was inflicted on their communities, are not behaving one iota differently than the Stern Gang, Haganah, Irgun, Palmach did in establishing Israel as an Apartheid State in the first place.

      Which of them is justified? None of them. Which act of terrorism is the worst? They are all equally appalling. But, you cannot compare the violence of the powerful with the violence of the weak, as the Jewish fighters in Warsaw would have affirmed - if the actions of the proto-groups that came to make up the IDF are justified, why are those of Hamas/Hezbollah any different?

      As can be seen throughout Europe and more recently in the US, true though they are these are not arguments that are acceptable to the right-wing of the Western liberal democracies and hence the campaigns to attack the BDS movement, which the antisemitism smear campaign against UK Labour is all about, as are the attacks on Ilhan Omar in the US.

      Pro-Palestinianism is increasingly the political belief that dare not speak its' name and the epithet 'antisemite' is being cheapened and degraded by those seeking to try and silence discussion of Apartheid Israel and rule it completely out of bounds.

      And in the background, the extremists in Hamas and Hezbollah gain ground just as the Kahanists do in Israel, each using the other's words and actions to justify more and worse atrocities.... this doesn't end well.

    • 19 March 2019 at 7:33pm
      Rod Miller says: @ stettiner
      Ah, stettiner, so you're back after all.
      Sorry, my Norwegian and Swedish ain't up to snuff. But my German is, and I did a bit of reading into this case.
      You wrote: "Two men try to torch a synagogue in a German town. Nothing hateful in that, German courts decide; just a regular contribution to the Middle East debate."

      They were three, not two (not that it matters, except it shows how you get your facts wrong). In truth, the court (singular) duly convicted the three Palestinian offenders and sentenced each to 200 hours community service.

      The attack on the synagogue occurred in the summer of 2014, during the the seven-week Israeli campaign in Gaza, which killed thousands of people. I'll translate a bit from an article published in the Berlin paper Tageszeitung in February 2015: "The Palestinians confessed to throwing molotov cocktails at the synagogue last summer in an attempt to draw attention to the Gaza conflict. The court believed the accused's protestations that it was not their intention to hurt anyone as it was the middle of the night and the synagogue was empty. The court also ruled that there was no evidence of an anti-Semitic act as such."

      So there's your "nothing-hateful-in-that-just-a-regular-contribution-to-the-Middle-East-debate", stettiner. The court *convicted* them. It simply did not judge it an anti-Semitic act.

  • 8 March 2019 at 2:57pm
    JoshKatz says:
    Hello Eliane,

    I found your piece interesting but i think it sidesteps one of the key issues around Labour's Antisemitism Crisis. I'm still yet to hear a justification for Jeremy Corbyn's defence of the Mural that was removed for being anti-simetic. This is important because the claim that anti-capitalism can occasionally veer in to anti-semitism is prefaced on corbyns support for the mural.

    The piece that you quote above from the New Statesman starts with the Mural. In your piece you say that " the link between Jews and a version of capitalism that is about actors as well as systems." The piece in the new statesman is trying to show how support for anti-capitalism can lead people to anti semitic actions - this is something that actually happened to the current leader of the labour party. Its not theoretical it actually happened. Why else would he defend that mural if he had not got anti-capitalism and anti-semitism confused?

    Im a history teacher and I have year 9 students that would tell you that mural was anti-simetic.

    I really appreciate a response to this query as i really want to understand why you chose to not include the mural in your piece about anti-semitism and anti-capitalism.

    thank you,

    Josh Katz

    • 8 March 2019 at 8:52pm
      freshborn says: @ JoshKatz
      I just looked up this old chestnut, he hardly "defended" it. He replied to a Facebook post saying it would be removed asking "Why?"

      I'm looking at the mural now and it doesn't seem immediately anti-semitic to me. I'm assuming the 6 capitalists at the table (whoever they are, if anyone in particular) are all Jewish, and that their noses have been exaggerated. But that's only because I am specifically looking for anti-semitism. I wouldn't look at that mural and think "those six people are Jews ", let alone "yes, the Jews are all rich and powerful aren't they". Nor would most people. I don't keep tabs on who is Jewish and who isn't and what they are supposed to look like.

      If I saw the mural without context and was told that it was being removed, I would also ask why, and assume it was for political reasons. Is that an "anti-semitic action"? Then I'm afraid I and the majority of the country would be anti-semitic. If, when informed of the reason, I made no further comment on its removal, would my remark constitute "defense of an anti-semitic mural"? I don't think being anti-semitic is such a trivial thing as you apparently do.

      There really are more important things in the world to worry about than this. Take your witch-hunting abilities and apply them where they might benefit the oppressed rather than the oppressors.

    • 9 March 2019 at 8:13am
      Higgs Boatswain says: @ JoshKatz
      I must admit, the first time I saw a picture of that mural, I didn't see why it should be at all controversial. It struck me as crude and politically unsophisticated, but it didn't immediately occur to me that it could be interpreted in antisemitic terms. On reflection, I can certainly understand that it might reasonably be construed in that way (whether that was the artist's intention I have no idea), but I can also understand why an unprejudiced observer might fail to make that connection.

      In a way that curious Gestalt image seems to stand for the whole antisemitism controversy in the Labour Party. For people who are looking for antisemitism, it appears to be everywhere; for those who aren't expecting to encounter it, it is nowhere to be seen.

      In this respect, I think Corbyn's innocence (and, I hope, mine) is actually proof against the charge of antisemitism. A person who looks at a mural showing a sinister cabal of crook-backed global capitalists and doesn't for an instant think 'Jew' is unlikely to be an antisemite. But they're also not very likely to be Jewish.

    • 9 March 2019 at 1:09pm
      Iain Crawford says: @ freshborn
      The argument for calling that Mural antisemitic has always seemed tenous to me.

      Apparently the figures depicted were 5 bankers "Rothschild", "Warburg", "Rockefeller", "Morgan", "Carnegie" and the antisemic satanist "Aleister Crowley" in a cartoonised style.
      Only "Rothschild" and "Warburg" were Jewish!

      The only semi-valid? justifications I have seen for claiming it was antisemitic was
      1) That it resembled anti-semitic Nazi propaganda.
      2) That some found it offensive as it depicted the Jewish philanthropists "Rothschild" and "Warburg" .

    • 9 March 2019 at 5:33pm
      viscapoum says: @ Iain Crawford
      "2) That some found it offensive as it depicted the Jewish philanthropists "Rothschild" and "Warburg" "

      It's more than that. The problem is not so much that it just depicted them, but it depicted them and in particular the figure on the far left (who I think is supposed to be Rothschild) in a manner similar to anti-Semitic caricatures of Jewish bankers/financiers (the combination of the long curly beard, the money and the nose - in particular given that Rothschild doesn't seem to have looked anything like that in real life). And that in a wider context of a mural the wider imagery of which - as you allude to with your first point about Nazi propaganda - is suspiciously similar to long-standing anti-Semitic tropes involving the New World Order, Jewish financiers and Freemasons together ruling the world (see here for a good write-up on this: I think there's a pretty strong case to be made that the mural does consciously stray well into anti-Semitic territory, as the artist appears to be familiar with this tradition and decided to replicate it in the piece.

      However it's a big jump from that to assume that Corbyn was deliberately condoning anti-Semitism in his facebook post. In the post, he asked why the mural was being taken down - probably a genuine question, as the post he was responding to didn't mention anti-Semitism - and then said that the artist was in good company as Rockefeller had torn down a mural by famous left-wing artist Diego Rivera. What that suggests is that he wasn't certain why it was being torn down, but assumed it was because of an ostensible left-wing message.

      In light of all that, and if you don't start from the premise that Corbyn is an anti-Semite (ie you don't beg the question here), and do start from the non-contentious premise that he is a left-wing politician, the most likely explanation is that he saw a story about an ostensibly left-wing/anti-capitalist mural being torn down, took a cursory look at it, and thought it was being torn down because it had a left-wing/anti-banking message.

      If you're familiar with a certain strain of anti-Semitic propaganda, and in particular if you take a good look at some of the figures in the mural, you would recognise that it at least flirts with anti-Semitic tropes. However none of us have any idea how familiar Corbyn is with this particular strain of propaganda, or how close a look he took at the mural before commenting. It's hardly stretching things to suggest that a busy left-wing MP who notices in passing a post about an ostensibly anti-capitalist mural being torn down with no mention of anti-Semitism might miss this, and again, Corbyn's question as to why it was being torn down and his reference to Rivera are pretty strong evidence that he had indeed missed the anti-Semitic nature of the mural and thought the row was about something else. He might be chastised for not looking into the story properly before commenting, and not being more sensitive to/aware of anti-Semitic tropes; indeed I think he is actually deserving of some criticism here. However to conclude with anything like certainty that he was deliberately condoning anti-semitism in his comment is an absolutely enormous stretch.

    • 10 March 2019 at 10:17am
      Anscombe says: @ JoshKatz
      When initially challenged about his "defence" of the mural--which consisted simply in replying "Why?" to a Facebook post saying that it was going to be removed--Corbyn's response was that he was "responding to concerns about the removal of public art on the grounds of freedom of speech". That very simple point has, for some reason, been lost in the resulting furore. It is possible to think that something is offensive, even racist, in both intent and effect, and think that the state ought not to proscribe it, so long as it does not constitute a form of incitement. That is an elementary point about freedom of speech. And for this reason, it is perfectly possible--and, I think, likely--that Corbyn both recognised that the mural was anti-Semitic, and thought that the state ought not be proscribe it. That would fit with a general commitment to a broadly libertarian position on freedom of speech that characterises the Labour left. This comes out, for example, in an early day motion that Corbyn proposed in 2015 in support of Charlie Hebdo, on the grounds of the "invaluable and historical right to freedom of speech and expression". Of course, Charlie Hebdo is notorious for publishing cartoons whose Islamophobic character is, if anything, even more obvious than the anti-Semitic character of the mural. But no one thinks that Corbyn is an Islamophobe for proposing this early day motion.

    • 11 March 2019 at 10:34am
      viscapoum says: @ Anscombe
      The point about Charlie Hebdo and Islamophobia is a very good one. And as you say, Corbyn's comment is likely in large part to have been motivated by concerns about free speech.

      However I think it's likely that he also didn't recognise the potential anti-Semitic nature of the mural. His comment about the artist being in the good company of Diego Rivera (a communist whose mural Man at the Crossroads was torn down by Rockefeller because of an apparent anti-capitalist message) suggests he read the mural, to the extent he looked at it at all, as having an anti-capitalist/left-wing message.

  • 9 March 2019 at 9:20am
    Charlie says:
    The best thing I've read on this. Thank you.

  • 9 March 2019 at 12:15pm
    Joe Morison says:
    It’s useful here to imagine our reaction to these cases if they had been perpetrated by our political foes as opposed to our allies. Imagine Rees-Mogg, if the ERG was being dogged by accusations of anti-Muslim behaviour, saying that he could not find a definition of Islamophobia that he could work with (which means, of course, no action against Islamophobes would be possible); imagine that it was Tommy Robinson defending that mural; that it had been Boris Johnson filmed at a Tory meeting being applauded for saying about Islamophobia “Because, in my opinion, we’ve backed off far too much, we’ve given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic.” I am sure most of the people defending Labour here would be outraged.

    I’d be surprised if there are more anti-Semites in the Labour Party than in the Tories, but Tory anti-Semites, who know they hate Jews, keep quiet about it in public; the anti-Semitism of the left does not see itself as such and its bile is as frequent on their comment boards as Muslim hatred is on right wing ones. Because of the centuries old conflation of Jews with money, anti-Semitism risks becoming part of the left wing narrative in a way that it doesn’t for pro-capitalists (it’s telling that Momentum recently felt the need to make a video explaining to its members that they should not believe the old myth that the Rothschilds secretly rule the world); add to that the behaviour of Israel towards the Palestinians, and the inability of too many to distinguish it from that of Jews in general, and we have a poisonous cocktail.

    The fact that some Corbyn opponents are using this as a way of undermining him does not mean that there is not a real problem, and the fact that other parties have similar problems is not a reason to excuse it in Labour.

    • 9 March 2019 at 1:14pm
      Dorothy O. says: @ Joe Morison
      This is silly sophistry. The fact that people are questioning the proportionality of these anti Semitism claims does not mean they're "excusing it."

      Swapping names or engaging in a childish "who's the racist" shell game doesn't create facts. But it's a fact that if you go on a witch hunt you'll find what you're looking for.

      What all of this has revealed to me is that the Labour party is riddled with unprincipled and careerist MPs with deep ambivalence about international law and the universality of human rights, and utter contempt for Palestinians (remember them?), whose defence is only conceivable as a stick to beat Jews with. When was the last time Chuka Umunna or Luciana Berger stuck their neck out for any other minority group or religion? What do they have to say about the shooting of children, medics and journalists at the Gaza border fence? Why are they silent on far right anti Semitism? Why was Joan Ryan conspiring and taking money from an operative from the Israeli embassy who was videotaped discussing 'bringing down' Sir Alan Duncan, a UK government minister critical of the Israeli settlements? Why did the Guardian not mention any of this when it reported that Ryan had joined the Independent Group? Are these anti Semitic questions?

      As for the mural, out of curiosity I read a bit about it. It depicts a group of bankers a few of whom are Jewish; others are not. It strikes me that we are in a very strange place if a critique of globalism and mind boggling inequality is now deemed to be anti Semitic. Cui bono?

    • 10 March 2019 at 10:17am
      Chris Turner says: @ Joe Morison
      The remark about not having heard a definition of anti-semitism that it was possible to work with was made at a specific training session organized by a specific group within the Labour party. It was made by a Jewish anti-racist campaigner. It did not have the implications that there was no possible way of defining - and therefore combatting - anti-semitism. Perhaps your point should be that if Jacob Rees-Mogg had simply argued for a more rigorous definition of Islamophobia at a Conservative event, he would not have been monstered by the media. Only last week Conservative MPs were falling over each other to argue they had no knowledge of Islamophobia in their party. We know what happens when a Labour party member makes similar statements with regard to anti-semitism.

    • 10 March 2019 at 11:53am
      Joe Morison says: @ Dorothy O.
      I’d like to know what’s sophistical, as opposed to you just disagreeing with, in what I wrote - but for those of us who believe that there is a problem, people like you in denial are excusing it. There no more blatant whitewashing of a problem than refusing to admit it exists.

      The fact that’s uncovered by name swapping is our own natural tendency to overlook faults in our allies that we denounce in our enemies - it’s something those Republicans who support Trump in things they would have excoriated in Obama are particularly guilty of but we are all prone to it, and I’ve not played a “who’s the racist” shell game. It’s a tautology to say that if you go on a witch-hunt you’ll find what you’re looking for; the question is, is this a witch-hunt? I think that although in part it obviously is, in part it equally obviously isn’t.

      The next part of your post is an irrelevant rant which rather proves my point: we all here agree, notwithstanding your sarcastic “[the] Palestinians (remember them?)”, that the Israeli government is behaving despicably; but that, apart from with regard to rather dim people who are led thereby to hatred of Jews, has absolutely nothing to do with anti-Semitism.

      As for the mural, what you have read is beside the point. Surreally, Iain Crawford above claims that it is questionably even a semi-valid reason to think the mural anti-Semitic because it resembles Nazi propaganda. That one can so easily imagine it as a product of Goebbels’ campaign to foster Jew hatred seems about as good proof as one could hope for of its poison.

      Your final question can be turned against you, who benefits from denying that there is a problem?

    • 10 March 2019 at 12:15pm
      Joe Morison says: @ Chris Turner
      You may be right, but one would have to read the transcript of the meeting to accept your point. It’s a perfectly reasonable thing to say in academic debate, but it’s very curious from someone in organization facing accusations of anti-Semitism. Because, like it or not, until you can identify a problem, you can nothing to eradicate it.

      As for the speaker being Jewish, that is totally irrelevant: it’s just a jumped-up version of the ‘some of my best friends’ defence. Think of all the virulently homophobic gay people there have been.

    • 11 March 2019 at 12:18pm
      Reader says: @ Dorothy O.
      Yes, it struck me as curious too. The Labour Party has been infested with antisemitism for years, it is claimed, and it just happens that this comes to a head just when Israeli soldiers have been committing war crimes at an unprecedented rate, illegal Israeli settlements are expanding faster than ever and the apartheid system has been formalised in the Basic Law of 18.7.18. And as you point out, this has all been lost sight of.

      I detest conspiracy theories, but it would not be too far-fetched to suggest a connection between the airing of antisemitism and the deterioration of Israeli behaviour.

      Correlation is not causation, but since Mark Regev's appointment as ambassador here I have noticed an increasingly aggressive style of hasbara being used in the UK.

  • 9 March 2019 at 12:45pm
    Biblio says:
    I note that the author does not attempt to engage with any of the concrete examples of antisemitism that lie behind this crisis, particularly those involving Corbyn himself. Not just the mural, but the associations with holocaust deniers, the support for Hamas and Hezbollah, the spurious claims that the 'hand of Israel' was behind an Egyptian terror attack, the hosting of a meeting in Parliament in which Gaza was compared with Auschwitz - on Holocaust Memorial Day no less! - , invitations to a man convicted of blood libel to tea on the House of Commons terrace etc etc. The author is entitled to reject the very possibility that an antisemitic form of anticapitalism might be behind this kind of behaviour, but she fails to give any other explanation for it.

    On the latter point, if the claim she's challenging is that all forms of anticapitalism are *necessarily* antisemitic, then that is indeed wrong. But noone is arguing that - neither McDonagh, nor the authors of the New Statesman article. The claim is that *some* forms of anticapitalism can potentially lead to antisemitism. This seems indisputable - there is a long history of leftwing critiques of such positions. And far be it for me to explain such things to the holder of a PhD on the topic, but readers might benefit from knowing about the existence of far-right forms of antisemitic anticapitalism, such as that promoted by the Gottfried Feder, a prominent Nazi economist in the 1920s. There are all sorts of ways in which one can be an 'anti-capitalist' - the term itself is no guarantee of progressive or anti-racist politics.

    The idea that pointing out that there has been a long history of antisemitic associations made between jewish people and money/banks/finance/capital is itself antisemitic seems to me completely unsubstantiated - never mind the fact that Glaser herself does so in the third paragraph.

    • 9 March 2019 at 4:05pm
      Rod Miller says: @ Biblio
      Biblio, I realize you spent considerable time writing your post. However, I'd be grateful if you would be good enough to supply some links for:
      -- Corbyn's associations with holocaust deniers;
      -- Corbyn's support for Hamas and Hezbollah;
      -- Corbyn's spurious claims that the 'hand of Israel' was behind an Egyptian terror attack (remember -- it has to be be spurious on its face: Israel *has* been behind some pretty strange stuff, not least Hamas itself).

      I too could hold a meeting in which something unacceptable is said. Couldn't you?

      And it seems to me that the opposition leader has to meet a pretty broad range of people, even some abhorred by a broad slice of society.


    • 9 March 2019 at 6:09pm
      Jon says: @ Biblio
      "I note that the author does not attempt to engage with any of the concrete examples of antisemitism that lie behind this crisis ..."

      That is presumably because there is a conspicuous failure to supply any. Almost every example proffered by critics in coverage of the 'crisis' is an example of either:

      1) A Labour official saying that the attacks on the party are not justified.
      2) A Labour official implying or highlighting a link to the Israel lobby as being behind the attacks on the party.
      3) A Labour official who has some tangential connection or past association with someone else who is said to be a known antisemite.

      None of these are examples of antisemitism and most amount to a circular argument, where denial of the problem is somehow in itself proof of the problem.

      I've followed up various accounts as rigorously as I'm able, and have indeed found cases of minor Labour officials making antisemitic remarks, but every case proved to be historical and to have led to either permanent suspension or resignation.

      There's a question mark over those propagating what are said to be anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, because most of those conspiracy theories are actually anti-Israel, and without being able to read people's minds it's hard to say for certain whether they're an antisemite using Israel as a convenient proxy, or simply anti-Israel.

    • 17 March 2019 at 5:37pm
      Rod Miller says: @ Biblio
      Well, Biblio, it has now been eight days since I asked you for sources documenting your accusations against Corbyn. Eight days of silence on your part. Nuttin'.
      The only reasonable conclusion is that they are as false as they look.

  • 9 March 2019 at 12:47pm
    Stephen Rowland says:
    Thank you, Eliane , for the good sense of your contribution to this debate. I fear the way charges of antisemitism are currently being thrown around serves only to increase the danger of actual antisemtism.

  • 9 March 2019 at 1:01pm
    BarryE says:
    Britain was an imperialist power and had discriminatory laws allowing slavery and stopping the advancement of anyone who was not a white Protestant male. Those laws have gone but the attitudes are deeply embedded in the British psyche. I had thought that levels of racism had been reducing but there is objective evidence of a large increase in all forms of hate crimes (including antisemitism and islamaphobia) since the 2016 referendum campaign and result. It is as if Brexit gave permission for deep rooted but suppressed feelings to be acted on. Organisations made up of large numbers of British people will include people who feel this way. These include the Labour Party and the Conservative Party.

    My own experience of Labour politics is that I have seen very little racism (including antisemitism and islamaphobia) since the split of the early 1980s. Those who knew some of the Labour councillors of that time were not surprised that a number of them were rejected as too corrupt and racist by the SDP. I suspect antisemites are not distributed evenly throughout the Labour Party but there may be places where pockets of antisemitism exist. This could explain how some people see a lot of antisemitism and others none.

    There would seem to be a very small number of people who claim to be Labour members and who share antisemitic views and material – they are not all in the party and those who are found to be members are currently being dealt with by the party.

    There appears to be a much larger group of people whose concern about the Israeli-Palestinian situation run the danger of their statements turning into antisemitic language. Talk of Zionism should be reserved for proper debate on ideology and the use of it and the crude ‘Zio’ should be otherwise unacceptable. We need an education programme for members on such matters.

    Where there is a problem there are those, left and right, who will ‘weaponise’ the problem for their own internal party political battles. I believe this has happened with antisemitism. Some people attribute any recent antisemitism within the Labour Party to the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader in September 2015 and if the rise had only happened within the Labour Party that might have been the reason. However, as I mentioned above, it also coincided with the explosion of all forms of hate crime reported across the whole country as a result of the Brexit campaign which suggests that that may be the true cause.

    I believe all the above also applies to the Conservative Party and islamaphobia, possibly to a greater extent given the older age profile of their membership. I certainly think the EHRC should investigate the issues raised by Baroness Warsi, Lord Sheikh, the Conservative Muslim Forum and the Muslim Council of Great Britain.

    Perhaps the answer is for the EHRC to conduct a single large inquiry into racism in political parties including both Labour and the Conservatives.

  • 9 March 2019 at 2:07pm
    Reader says:
    An excellent article. But may I make a suggestion? Rather than discussing things which are essentially trivial, such as what exactly Corbyn said about some mural, can we ask what his policy is towards the state of Israel and its policies? The same question could be put to anyone wishing to comment on the issue. Many of those accusing Labour members on the left of antisemitism, claim that these people want to destroy Israel. I suspect that this is simply untrue for all but a tiny minority on the left but perhaps the issue can be aired?

    I increasingly have the impression that the discussion has moved away from bedrock issues such as this, towards secondary and tertiary issues such as who accuses whom of antisemitism and whether they have a hidden agenda, why someone thinks the accusations have gone too far, and whether those who accuse people who claim they have gone too far, have themselves gone too far. It is an example of the chattering classes examining their own navel fluff under increasingly higher magnifications.

    Rather, IMHO we should be asking questions such as: after the passage of the Basic Law by the Knesset on 18 July 2018, which formally enshrines a two-tier citizenship structure, can anyone any longer deny that Israel is an apartheid state? And if this is true, how can anyone claim that Israel is democratic? And in that case, what do we do about it?

    • 13 March 2019 at 1:56am
      Graucho says: @ Reader
      Quite. Back in the day Sharpeville (69 dead) and the later Soweto shootings (176 dead) caused outrage and protest in the Labour movement, but that of course was South Africa. What of the Gaza shootings (189 dead) ? This is what Labour friends of Israel had to say. All killings of unarmed demonstrators are reprehensible, but it appears that some are more reprehensible than others.

  • 10 March 2019 at 1:38am
    J K says:
    This is I think, the first sensible piece I've read on this debacle and it's a relief to read it. I'm surprised it doesn't name-check Arendt because her neat outlining of the hermeneutics of suspicion seems drawn from Origins of Totalitarianism(?)

    The hypocrisy of those leading the allegations, and their myriad supporters, has been gruesome. It has also revealed one of the most pernicious form of antisemitism in the labeling of dissenters as self-hating Jews - or more frequently simply the denial of Jewish identities at all for those involved (Jewish Voice for Labour, whose identity is surely pertinent to their actions, simply get glossed as 'an activist group' by most newspapers- so much for context and nuance).

    Siobhain Mcdonagh's gormlessness is typical, but its the drumbeat of the mainstream. [Take for another example - and I offer this one simply because I doubt its been about written about elsewhere, I just remember hearing it at the time and it stuck with me - The Times Red Box journalist Matt Chorley - in opening an episode of the paper's podcast in 2016 (shortly after the Labour MPs coup) describing Jeremy Corbyn as 'still clinging on - a cockroach who refuses to die' - [it's up on Soundcloud and probably iTunes if anyone wants to find it, I don't know the exact date]. At the time it struck me as repulsive metaphor - one that seemed to borrow directly from antisemitic tropes. Now of course his twitter feed is filled with guileless support for Ian Austin (an MP who claims to have resigned because of antisemitism - regardless of his own past remarks and subsequent reprimands). Chorley meanwhile presumably didn't think he was drawing from the well of antisemitic tropes any more than the mural artist did, but only the latter has been ostracised while Chorley's access to an audience of thousands goes on unchecked and unremarked on. But then I'm not the person who gets to decide whose subconscious intent actually matters. Apparently that's Tom Watson prerogative.]

    [I mean we've been here before haven't we? - Louise Mensch deciding that Theodore Herzl was antisemitic back in 2014 - which I've always taken as emblematic of the general ignorance of those who claim to be most outraged.]

    Incidentally as someone distantly related to the Warburg depicted in the mural my own feeling is one of near total ambivalence to the image; only maybe some vestigial pride that people remember the family, I mean it's not like we've done all that much recently].

    More to the point will critics engage with the argument? If Josh Katz's is anything to go by, probably not - passing over the substance of the article with no more than the remark that it's 'interesting' - in order to fixate on his mural hobbyhorse. Even if you take the artwork to be purposefully antisemitic (dubious) and that it was understood and celebrated as such (even more dubious, no matter the daunting expertise of your year 9s) - the most salient point surely is that Corbyn acknowledged the image was troubling and apologised. And exactly in the terms Mr Katz seems to require.

    ‘While the forms of anti-Semitism expressed on the far Right of politics are easily detectable, such as Holocaust denial, there needs to be a deeper understanding of what constitutes anti-Semitism in the labour movement. Sometimes this evil takes familiar forms – the east London mural which has caused such understandable controversy is an example. The idea of Jewish bankers and capitalists exploiting the workers of the world is an old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. This was long ago, and rightly, described as “the socialism of fools”. I am sorry for not having studied the content of the mural more closely before wrongly questioning its removal in 2012.’

    If that isn't the appropriate, proportionate response - well, what is?

  • 10 March 2019 at 6:56am
    Biblio says:
    So I see this thread has descended into a long line of people claiming that the mural wasn't antisemitic, and that it *was* in fact just a critique of capitalism, accompanied by others bellowing 'where's the evidence' about incidents that have been reported endlessly in all sorts of publications. And Eliane Glaser thinks there isn't a problem here...

    • 11 March 2019 at 12:27pm
      Graucho says: @ Biblio
      The hooha over this would may you think that he'd painted the damned thing.

    • 11 March 2019 at 3:35pm
      Graucho says: @ Graucho
      *make you think

  • 10 March 2019 at 10:32am
    woll says:
    No one has commented on the curious line in the first part of the original piece that ‘there is no more of it (anti-semitism) in Labour than in other parties’. No evidence is offered for this strange statement that we should consider the SNP, the Greens, the Libdems and others (on the Tories, well…) anti-semitic. There is a link to an excellent and detailed report on anti-semitism from 2017, but this is not concerned with political parties, but anti-semitism across the UK.
    Someone writing a phd should at least provide some evidence for opinions such as this.
    If the statement were remotely true:
    Why are jewish MP’s leaving the Labour party on the basis of anti-semitism, and not these other parties?
    Why have various jewish groups been debating whether to remain affiliated to the party?
    Why is it that only the leader of the Labour party, together with some of his colleagues, is seen as, at the very least, evasive on the subject. Just Tory propaganda – some maybe, but hardly all.
    And why would be this be any kind of excuse for the Labour party - claiming without evidence, that others are equally bad is a poor line of argument.
    Labour should be clearly leading the fight against such views.

  • 10 March 2019 at 8:35pm says:
    Why neither the author nor any of the commentators have noticed the elephant in the room: Corbyn's promise to recognize the State of Palestine the moment he takes power after the next elections?

  • 11 March 2019 at 11:08am
    Peter Goldsmith says:
    I do not quite understand this article.

    It is quite understood that there is (for want of a better word) an ‘elite’ that could not care less about anyone else and which by any means seeks to accrue personal wealth. It has ever been so, and as part of the human family no doubt there will be found Jews amongst them, just as there have been Jewish saints and criminals.

    But to say “The antisemitism furore is undermining the left still further at a time when we need more than ever to challenge the real financial elites that are wrecking our world. Critics should not feel bullied into silence.” is surely to miss what stares any dispassionate observer in the face. Bullying of Jewish MPs – and their disposition to the existence of the state of Israel or its government if those are different dispositions in any given case – is being objected to. They are not, I think I can safely say, bullying their critics into silence. They are complaining about what is called discrimination.

    Equally, such incidents have arisen, broadly, on one side of the political spectrum only, whatever the secret views may be attributed to the other. We are invited not to take those exposed incidents as antisemitism, but – as what? Ignorance? Displaced agitation? Singling out Jews for the sins of alleged elitist capitalism and equally hard right nationalism for neither of which those bullied have been responsible, while many other incidents of either across the world are ignored? What is this but classical anti-semitism in new garb to which Nelsonian blind eyes are turned?

    The roots of anti-semitism are deep in history as exemplified by The Devil and the Jews by Joshua Trachtenberg which shows we are dealing with psychic states rather than rational analysis. It is this that is worrying when the left, which has in the past prided itself on a scientific approach to social and economic problems begins to abandon rationality in favour of what needs rather the psychoanalyst’s skills. We can see this as needed in the subconscious of some on the right, particularly those who feel dispossessed, but there is no sense of shock in the article in seeing it emerge into the open on the left, rather an attempt, seemingly, to mute criticism of this development.

  • 11 March 2019 at 12:40pm
    Graucho says:
    What really worries me about this whole affair is how it reflects on Corbin as a potential Prime Minister. He really has shown poor judgement.
    a) In getting mixed up in the minefield Middle East politics in the first place. You are only going to be vilified by at least one party in the dispute if not all. If you want to get to number 10, focus on the issues that affect the majority of U.K. citizens and don't side tracked.
    b) In apologising. Once you do that the pack will smell blood and redouble their efforts.
    Just as he failed to round on his critics on this issue, he has also buckled on the demands for a people's vote. Being a critic is a fine quality in an opposition leader, and he has it, but standing up to criticism is what is required in a P.M. and he has proved wanting.

    • 11 March 2019 at 3:36pm
      Graucho says: @ Graucho
      *and don't get sidetracked.

  • 12 March 2019 at 5:38pm
    stevecoh1 says:
    Such endless tossing of this topic leads me to the conclusion that so many of us (Jews) are massively neurotic. One is reminded of the Woody Allen character, who upon hearing "I don't know, d'you?" couldn't help wondering if his remark had anti-semitic intent. Even though just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you, I think we ought to be able to let go of some of this. Back then, we could laugh at this. Why can't we now? As a student of history, I can't help wondering whether forgetting some of this shit wouldn't actually be more helpful than remembering it. Given all the catastrophes running amok in the world, I think we should be able to let some of this slide off our backs, secure in the knowledge that not every cartoonist portraying a vaguely stereotype-Jewish banker is HItler.

    Of course I know that this is being pushed by people who are aiming to stimulate this type of paranoia for their own political ends, but we don't have to keep falling for it.

  • 18 March 2019 at 6:49pm
    Michael Collins says:
    What's the central argument of this piece in plain language? I realise this is not a commodity to be encouraged in this space but humour an

  • 18 March 2019 at 7:02pm
    Michael Collins says:
    ... fat thumbs again... an apprentice in this enterprise.

    The author seems to wish to clear Corbyn of antisemitism for ideological reasons. The gleaming socialist vision enshrined in his demagoguery is being tarnished by baser,

  • 18 March 2019 at 7:26pm
    Michael Collins says:
    You really should move that Post button further away from the screen... by baser, more atavistic tribal hostilities, which have had brutal outcomes in European history.

    Because the argument is couched within the linguistic and philosophical parameters of the "North London chattering classes" (something the author is too keen to disavow) we end up with precisely the stripped-pine babble evident in the comments, arguments more about semantics than semitism, where disingenuous distractions such as the precise import of a blatantly antisemitic mural assume more significance than the real issue.

    Corbyn and his disciples (if we insist on hermeneutics) have a case to answer here.

    They hate Jews, just as the working class Irish who lived on the northern side of Stamford Hill 1920s-1960s mostly did the Hasidic community.

    The real difference is that those earlier North Londoners did not attempt to disguise their hostility beneath labyrinthine arguments that effectively operate as a cover-up.

    I do not know which species of hatred is more insidious, more dangerous. The lumpen clodhoppers of Crowland Road, for example, or the zealot from the luxuriously appointed Yew Tree Farm.

  • 19 March 2019 at 5:26pm
    footy1 says:
    Even if ALL the current backlog of complaints about anti-semitism in the Labour Party turn out to be true, and to be connected to Labour Party Members (which is extremely unlikely) these will account for 0.07% of the entire membership. 0.07%! Yet we have been subjected to a media assault concerning an 'anti-semitic' crisis in the Party over an entire year, with front page news items (including in the Daily Mail of all places) on a number of occasions, and a split from the party around this very issue (it is claimed). The question here is why something which is serious - any anti-semite in the party is one too many - has been made into the biggest news story in Britain for an entire year (after Brexit)?

  • 19 March 2019 at 6:14pm
    Rory O'Kelly says:
    Siobhain Mcdonagh's comments are derived in essence from characters like Jonah Goldberg on the lunatic fringe of the American Right who have argued that Das Kapital is really a coded anti-semitic text and that whenever Marx says 'capitalism' or 'capitalist ' he really means 'Jew'. From this people like Mcdonagh conclude that any political strategy which is socialistic or even vaguely egalitarian is inherently anti-semitic.

    The problem with this is that it only makes sense on the assumption that all Jews really are capitalists and all capitalists Jews.

  • 23 March 2019 at 9:04am
    gracelyn7 says:
    The new hunters of anti-semitism have found a very convenient stick with which to beat the left and its critique of Israel (which is of course one of their main concerns together with subverting Corbyn), and the populist smear tactics are reminiscent of MacCarthysm. The irony is that many of the victims of anti-communist smears of the 1940's and 50's were jewish.

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