The British Labour party, it is becoming clear, is now indulging in all-out McCarthyism against the most outspoken critics of Israel in its ranks. And almost no one seems to have the guts to call out this dangerous farce.
It has been widely reported that the Labour party has suspended (at the latest count) 19 activists – a tiny fraction of its more than 400,000 members. But aside from Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone (see my observations about their treatment here) there has been almost no serious coverage of who these people are and what they have supposedly done wrong.
One of the earliest casualties was Tony Greenstein, a Jewish anti-Zionist who, as well as being a fervent supporter of Palestinian rights, has been a vociferous campaigner against Holocaust denial and anti-semitism. He has not even been told the grounds for his suspension.
The latest victims include David Watson for calling Zionism a “racist ideology” – the official position of the UN General Assembly from 1975 to 1991, when the US was able to exert pressure to overturn the resolution following the fall of the Soviet Union.
Even more ludicrous is the suspension this week of Jackie Walker, who is not only black but has Jewish ancestry. Her offence was to talk about her own Jewish forebears’ involvement in the slave and sugar trades, and point out that an exclusive focus on the Holocaust (of Jews) marginalised another terrible holocaust by Europe – of Africans.
It is quite astounding for those of us who have been fighting to ensure that anti-Zionism and anti-semitism are not conflated to discover that this distinction has been effectively conceded by a Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn. Now, says Labour, criticising Israel is anti-Semitism – Netanyahu’s wet dream has come true!
We have also reached a point where the only major British political party with even a pretence of opposing imperialism and colonialism is creating taboos around the very issues needed to understand the colonial past of Britain and Europe.
This is little better than book-burning – and if it does not stop soon, Corbyn will have no more claim to leading a party of social justice than Tony Blair.