Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth - www.jonathan-cook.net

Israel lobby confects another Labour racism row

It is difficult to ignore the shared agenda of the Blairites and Israel’s uncritical supporters in the Labour party as they seek to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership at every turn. The confected anti-semitism “row” – claiming that the Labour party became a hotbed of anti-Jewish hatred the moment Corbyn took over – would look preposterous if it had not been continuously fuelled by a conniving UK media.

One of the early victims of this anti-semitism witch hunt was Jackie Walker, who has Jewish and African ancestry. She was tarred and feathered – and suspended from the party – for pointing out that the slave trade was an “African holocaust”. I wrote about that here. She and the other members purged from Labour were saved only because the Chakrabarti inquiry refuted the claims that the party actually had an anti-semitism problem.

Now after Corbyn’s re-election, it looks like it is starting up again – and Walker finds herself in the hot seat again too. One has to raise one’s eyes to the heavens to believe what the Guardian, among many others, is getting its knickers in a twist about this time. Here is Walker’s supposedly offensive comment at an “anti-semitism training event” dominated by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) at Labour’s annual conference:

In terms of Holocaust day, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Holocaust day was open to all people who experienced holocaust?

Walker was appealing for Holocaust Day to be treated, in line with its original aim, as a universal event that includes holocausts like the one in Africa.

No matter. The Guardian claims she then compounded her crime by stating: “I was looking for information and I still haven’t heard a definition of antisemitism that I can work with.”

One can understand why the Jewish Labour Movement and the many Labour MPs who include themselves as Friends of Israel are upset. They have worked hard both to redefine antisemitism so that it forbids almost all criticism of Israel, and to rebrand Holocaust Day so as to eclipse other groups, including Europe’s Romany population, who were also victims of this industrialised genocide.

A group of Jewish Labour activists issued a defence of Walker, noting: “The way Jackie has been treated demonstrates the unfitness of the JLM to deliver training on antisemitism.”

There can be little doubt that the JLM is trying to instrumentalise Jewish suffering to make it harder to criticise Israel’s oppression of Palestinians. It is probably not surprising that Israel loyalists want to corrupt the public discourse – and undermine concern about real racism towards Jews and the important, universal lessons of the Holocaust – by politicising these issues. But that is no excuse for either the Blairites or supposedly liberal media like the Guardian to jump on their bandwagon simply because it offers a quick path to damaging Corbyn.

Sadly, as Corbyn tries to reframe the discussion about Israel and the Palestinians to make sure Palestinians are viewed as human too, we can expect much more of this kind of nonsense.

UPDATE:

Sadly, and rather confirming the worst fears expressed in this piece, Jewish Voice, one of the more progressive, if still Zionist, factions in Labour, took to Twitter to denounce this article as “anti-semitic”. Questioned why, they claimed it was unfair to the JLM, which, they say, criticises some Israeli policies (but, of course, wholeheartedly supports Israel as a state conferring special citizenship privileges on Jews).

My criticism of the JLM – for repeatedly seeking to undermine Corbyn and supporters like Jackie Walker – was apparently proof that I was “targeting Jews”. Jewish Voice has insisted that I apologise for my “offensive” article.


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