Antisemitism in the Labour Party – what’s going on?

by Daniel on May 1, 2016

Readers may have noticed that the British Labour Party has gone kind of mad this week, and decided to make the question of whether Adolf Hitler was a Zionist a key issue in the local election campaign. I’ve written in the past on Crooked Timber about why I think it is that the general question of Israel and Palestine is so unfailingly nasty and full of toxic bullshit. But I think it’s also worth looking at why this is specifically a problem for left wing politics in the UK. Below the fold, a loooong attempt at a structural explanation of a persistent phenomenon.

1. Starting from the start – the basic facts.

There aren’t that many Jewish people in the UK; about 250,000 at the last census. That means that they’re somewhat less than half the proportion of the population as in Canada, a bit more than half the proportion as in France, almost exactly a quarter as much as the USA. The overwhelming majority of them live in London; there is still what might be described reasonably as a “Jewish community” in Manchester and (albeit to a declining extent) Leeds, but that’s about it. In Wales and Scotland it’s even more extreme – something like two-thirds of the Scottish Jewish community live in one parliamentary constituency (East Renfrewshire, a Glasgow suburb), and there are roughly 2000 Jews in the whole of Wales (there used to be a lot more in the days of coal and steel and they left behind some of the oldest and most architecturally significant synagogue buildings in Europe – they left because of long term economic decline rather than persecution).

So the general level of ignorance in the population is pretty high. Anyone who went to school in the old county of Gwynedd would have learned precisely one fact about the history of Israel, which was that the Welsh Division liberated Jerusalem from the Ottomans. This fact isn’t even necessarily true (a number of other army units make the same claim), and I suspect that people who went to school in places where it wasn’t on the local regiment’s battle honours wouldn’t even know that.

Given this, your average British leftist is an empty vessel into which information can be poured on this subject. Pause to consider the general quality of the information about Israel-Palestine which is generally available, and the considerable time and effort which goes into making it worse.

2. Picking sides – how the conflict looks to an outsider.

As I’ve mentioned in a number of contexts, people who are not very bright have this terrible tendency to pick a side in major intractable geopolitical conflicts, and support it as if it was a football team. Note that the phrase “as if it was a football team”, given the context is the UK, is potentially a little bit of foreshadowing on my part.

How do people pick sides in Israel/Palestine? Well, the first way is that if you had an existing interest in the Northern Irish conflict, then your side basically got picked for you. Lots of things in British politics which are otherwise incomprehensible, make sense when you realise they’re really about Northern Ireland. And the Israel/Palestine conflict was not a difficult mental exercise. The Israelis are a small tightly-knit community defined by religion, they’re outnumbered by a population generally less well-educated and prosperous, they got to where they are by a historical process which doesn’t make much sense, but they’ve got nowhere else to go and they’ve got an entirely legitimate fear of being pushed into the sea. Are they like Irish Catholics, or like Protestant Ulstermen?

Even if it weren’t the case that the Reverend Doctor Ian Paisley’s theological views implied very strong affinity with Israel (and he brought this one to American Protestantism, by the way, via Bob Jones), this wasn’t a difficult call to make. And partly out of oppositionism, partly out of the fact that the Palestinians are an oppressed people who feel like there’s an alien occupying force in their land (and the simple economic logistics of arms smuggling which kept on linking the PFLP with the IRA), the other side picked the Palestinians.

Nearly everyone on the British Left was basically convinced of the fairness of the Irish Republican cause, and a lot of them (Ken Livingstone was in the vanguard of this strain of idiocy) spent the 1970s and much of the 80s getting a lot of practice in making mealy mouthed apologia for terrorism.

Assuming that you were one of the people for whom it was not all about Northern Ireland, you got another chance to pick sides because … I know this is going to piss people off but I’m going to say it. The other big campaign of the British left for most of my life was a campaign against a state which gave systematic privileges to a particular ethnic group, kept a largish proportion of its population in nominally independent territories in unbelievable squalor, had an out of control law enforcement operation which was not only brutal in domestic policing but regularly attacked state enemies overseas, and so on. The similarities between Israeli policy and that of apartheid South Africa were well remarked at the time, and noted by leaders of both countries periodically. Frankly, I’m surprised that so few people have bothered to look at the multi-decade embarrassment which was Israeli-South African cooperation.

So, everyone picked a side, and the main stream of the British left tended to have fairly strong reasons to pick the Palestinian side. If you were a Briton of Pakistani descent, like Naz Shah it was even easier because you had a religious affiliation.

3. We All Agree, My Team Is Better Than Your Team – how people behave

Having picked their sides, how did people proceed to behave. As I mentioned before, the answer is generally “like a bunch of football supporters”. You only have to take a cursory look at football websites after a contentious game (or, God help us, in a week when a star player has been charged with aggravated or sexual assault) to see that sports partisanship can blind people to any hint of impropriety on the part of anyone on their own side, while giving them an all-seeing insight into errors on the other side. And when they believe themselves to be supporting their team, it is astonishing how low people will stoop in their attempts to taunt the other side. At the Liverpool/Everton derby last week, the week before the Hillsborough inquest reported, there were credible reports that Everton fans were making a “bars across face” gesture – in other words, a simulation of a person being crushed to death against fencing. This was, of course, as it always is, a small and unrepresentative minority[1]. But it’s the sort of thing that happens.

Politics – not exclusively British left wing politics, but that’s what I’m talking about here – can get this way too, and when it does, the partisanship tends to skew a lot more Glasgow Old Firm than Friendly Local Rivalry. When I was a lad, it was universally recognised that white South Africans were scum. The B-Side of “The Chicken Song” by Spitting Image was a ditty called “I’ve Never Met A Nice South African” and it was at number one for weeks (check out that link, by the way – it’s quite flabberghasting; borderline trigger warning stuff). Having a South African accent would definitely make it difficult to get served in a pub, and it was not at all unknown for them to be spat on a couple of times over the course of a night out. This was, of course, when you think about it, amazing bullshit even in its own terms, because white South Africans living in the UK in the 1980s were vastly likely to have left the country specifically because they couldn’t stand apartheid, and in many cases even to have left the country one step ahead of the Bureau Of State Security. But, when you’ve convinced yourself that you are acting in solidarity with a political cause that’s toweringly obvious in its justice and rightness, standards of behaviour tend to slip.

This is, I repeat, not a phenomenon exclusive to left wing or pro-Palestine politics and I’ll mention another important example below. But it does happen. Please don’t tell me it doesn’t.

4. The drip drip effect – why it is a problem that people don’t take seriously

(I am indebted for this point to Alex Harrowell). It is noticeable that the original Naz Shah Facebook post was an example of something that’s really quite difficult to make as big a deal of as was actually made (unless you’re the kind of skilled PR guy who can gussy up a dumb meme into the Final Solution). It was a dumb joke which had previously been made by Michael Moore (he claimed that the Jewish state should have been declared in Bavaria, so that the Germans had to give their land up rather than the Palestinians), and he is not the only person to have done so; suggesting that the State of Israel would be easier to defend if it was located somewhere other than Palestine is not advocating deportation or transportation, and I don’t really see how anyone could sincerely claim it was. To their credit, a lot of British Jewish organisations seem to have recognised this early on and accepted Ms Shah’s sincere apology; the continued outrage is being supported purely by the professionally enraged, as far as I can tell.

But conversely, although it was a joke, it’s a very bad mistake to say that it was “just” a joke, because the trouble with these Facebook memes and email forwards and all the like is that there are effing millions of them, and people keep producing more. People support their team, and they keep arguing with each other, and they won’t shut up about it. I won’t repeat my analysis of why this happens, but it does happen; I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve been in some meeting or other, plaintively insisting that the Israel/Palestine conflict is not one of the issues that the organisation in question is about.

And this must be just incredibly wearing for British Jewish people. It’s the “microaggressions” concept – each one of these “god the Israelis are really unfair to the Palestinians” memes and forwards is individually not particularly objectionable, but if you have to deal with a dozen of them every day it is going to be a burden. And of course actually, you deal with a dozen heavy-handed but not-malicious memes on a good day; on a bad day, you get one of the real idiots who has decided he wants to flex his muscles and say something that will ruin someone’s morning; the equivalent of a football fan who has just learned the words to a comedy song about a stadium disaster. Of course, British Muslims (and their supporters’ club) will say that they have to deal with half a dozen terrorist and Mohammed-was-a-paedophile memes per every Israel-is-like-the-Nazis meme they send out, but that is a shitty excuse. This is a bad thing, and it’s a problem and people should knock it off. And, once more, it happens.

5. The other push of the piston – the role of bad faith and PR

The trouble is, of course, that running a broad-based “people, knock it off” campaign based on a general realisation that harassment is shitty behaviour, is nothing like as fun as picking one of your existing political enemies and firing up the internet shame machine. A major contribution to the British Left’s problem with anti-Semitism is the way in which this genuine problem has been weaponised by the opponents of the Palestine Solidarity cause.

One claim that is regularly made in this whole debate is that “any critic of Israel gets called anti-Semitic”. This is usually said with a heavy tone of self-serving bullshit (ie, it’s usually said when someone has said something dodgy and is being called out for it), but this doesn’t change the fact that it is, broadly speaking, a fact that this happens[2]. The reason is the same one that I mentioned above – people act like football supporters, and they know that an accusation of anti-Semitism is a very serious charge that can get people fired from their jobs or severely damage their political careers. If you have access to a rhetorical weapon like that and you’re not very bright and you’ve got into a place where partisanship has blinded you to how far you’ve lowered your standards, why would you not over-use it? Particularly since if you’re a supporter of the State of Israel, you are pretty much locked into a four-year cycle in which periodically, you’re going to find yourself, like a supporter of a team which employs Luis Suarez or Joey Barton[3], in a position where you have to defend the indefensible.

It has the effect of entirely toxifying the debate, and causing people who would otherwise take anti-Semitism seriously to be less inclined to do so; nothing hardens minds faster than seeing a friend run out of a job over a bullshit scandal. In my assessment, a lot of the people involved in these sorts of campaigns are intelligent enough to have been very successful in their private life, intelligent enough to have done well in student politics, and even sometimes in national politics (although very rarely in elected office), but not quite bright enough to realise that it is amazingly toxic to your long term credibility if you a) very blatantly choose your targets and timing based on political convenience and b) don’t bother to pay even token lip-service to consistency and literally simultaneously campaign for the strictest sanctions on anti-Semitic gaffes while also campaigning for the free speech of quite virulent Islamophobes.

The role of the public relations industry in the Israel/Palestine debate is another key part of why there are so many problems in responding to genuine anti-Semitism. I don’t think one needs to postulate anything in particular about the media – just that a PR person for biscuits is capable of placing stories about biscuits in the press and a PR person for Israel is capable of placing stories too. The UK has one of the world’s biggest and best media industries and a lot of very good PR people. And so you regularly get launches of a somewhat odd kind of campaign, which has a four stage life cycle. First, it launches as a campaign about antiSemitism in British life. Second, it decides that the best use of its resources is to monitor the British media for antisemitic tropes. Third, it starts mission-drifting into straightforward defence of Israeli policy. Finally, it falls apart acrimoniously as Israel has just invaded somewhere and the members of the campaign disagree about the extent to which they are prepared to provide unconditional support to the resultant war crimes. In the mean time, at the same time as the official communications arms of the IDF are ramping up their efforts, their amateur hangers-on and wannabes are also taking to the keyboard[4], and it becomes inevitable that genuine complaints about anti-Semitism get linked in everyone’s mind with obvious attempts to provide apologia for war crimes (the phrase “singling out for criticism” seems to act as the bridge between the two; if you can find anyone who has ever been convinced by this rhetorical device, I’ll buy them a drink).

6. And so here we are …

And so here we are, in a situation where Jewish people in Britain have to put up with an unacceptable torrent of anti-Semitic crap, which the people generating it don’t take seriously because they don’t look at the cumulative effect. And in which it is far more difficult than it needs to be to get the British left to take anti-Semitism seriously, because it is much more difficult than it should be for sincere campaigners against bigotry to distinguish themselves from people trying to do fan-fiction propaganda.

That’s where this post ought to end. But it can’t end quite yet, because I need to explain why things have blown up right now … actually, what I really need to explain is:

7. Why it is specifically bullshit to try and tie this one on to Jeremy Corbyn.

It would have been a hell of a lot more convenient for a lot of people than it actually was if Jeremy Corbyn had ever said anything colourably anti-Semitic himself. A lot of people just presumed he had done, because he’s been on the left since forever, he’s spoken at more Palestine solidarity meetings than I’ve had cooked breakfasts, he’s on that team … he must have compared Israel to the Nazis one time, mustn’t he? And yet, the trawl through Corbyn’s back pages produced basically zip. I wasn’t surprised. Islington Constituency Labour Party is a North London borough and I would guess it’s in the top five most Jewish CLPs in Britain. Islington is also home to a lot of members of extreme left-wing parties (the phrase “a lot” being considerably contextualised by “members of extreme left wing parties” here), who as far as I can tell spend more time arguing about Israel on the internet than a really keen bird-watcher would spend birdwatching. Corbyn’s whole political career has been spent in a milieu where “doing Palestine solidarity without anti-Semitism” is a game being played at a very high level. The best they could come up with was a donation to a charity run by a man who later went mad and became a Holocaust denier.

The UK media then went through the back pages of everyone Corbyn had appeared with. They got one Palestinian representative, who had been invited to address a group of MPs by Corbyn and was later convicted under the incitement to racial hatred laws for a blood libel. The return on investment in terms of substance generated for the time and effort spent was lousy, and people were beginning to notice.

So now we have the third stage – finding stuff that Corbyn obviously isn’t responsible for and couldn’t reasonably have been expected to know about, like two year old Facebook posts and university Labour Club scandals from before he was leader, and then declare that he hasn’t acted fast enough, nudge nudge. He Just Doesn’t Take It Seriously Enough If You See What I Mean.

Of course, Corbyn has a very ramshackle media team, because the old machine built by Alastair Campbell won’t work with him. And he is very isolated with few friends in the party, most of whom are the constant subject of a shower of bullshit allegations of all sorts, mixed in with some legitimate ones. It’s basically impossible for him to react any faster than he did. What’s going on here is that Corbyn’s party enemies have made the party uncontrollable, then blamed him for not being able to control it. It’s fair enough – by which I mean it’s an absurdly crappy way to behave but politics isn’t whiffle ball – but we shouldn’t be confused ourselves about why this has blown up right now. The majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party think that Corbyn is an electoral disaster area, and they know that constantly doing and saying dodgy things in the service of being anti-Israel is a massive Achilles heel for his wing of the party. I would hope that they are very confident that any long term damage done to the party’s reputation will disappear as soon as they are in charge, and although there is never a wrong time to fight racism, I confess to being surprised that two-year-old Facebook posts were considered too urgent an issue to wait until after the local elections. But this is by no means even in the top ten worst party machinations that Labour has seen in my lifetime, and the problem is a genuine one which would have had to be addressed sooner or later.

7. Conclusions

So, I’m glad that the Labour Party is having a proper look at anti-Semitism. I’d be more glad if it was doing so because it’s the right thing to do, rather than as a pretty transparent way of fighting a leadership battle by proxy. I’d also be more glad if I thought I could remotely trust the people involved in the campaign to stick to the actual issue, rather than trying to push through policy victories with respect to support of the Israeli government’s actions. But there you go.

I think my view is a fundamentally hopeful one, though, and I think I can back this up with evidence. I don’t believe that the British population or the British left are fundamentally anti-Semitic. I think they’ve chosen a side, and that lots of them are too dumb to understand that their behaviour is not OK. Which means that if the actual underlying conflict reaches resolution one day, there will be no more problem on the British left. That’s what happened with respect to South Africans, after all – more or less overnight, the state of affairs which I described above came to an end, and people who had been in the habit of behaving extremely badly to white South Africans more or less forgot that this had ever been a thing. This isn’t about age old hatreds; it’s about an even more ancient bad habit, that of lowering your standards of behaviour while supporting a team.


[1] I’m a Blue myself. Don’t tell me that Everton fans don’t make Hillsborough jokes. You might as well try to convince me that it was a coincidence that they were the last team in the League to have a black player.

[2] See, for example, the Fraser tribunal case, an unmitigated fiasco in which formerly useful anti-boycott campaign ENGAGE wasted uncountable amounts of time, money and credibility in a doomed attempt to prove that the Universities and Colleges Union was institutionally anti-semitic.

[3] These names were selected from the whole grisly record of the Barclays Premier League on the objective criterion of me wanting to wind up Chris. What did I tell you, I said I was a Blue.

[4] The relationship between the state of Israel and its online wannabes is interesting, but not so interesting to me that I want to spend a lot of time on it. The facts about what happens are what they are. Other countries (Russia and China) also have similar online supporters.

{ 309 comments }

1

MilitantlyAardvark 05.01.16 at 11:09 am

“white South Africans living in the UK in the 1980s were vastly likely to have left the country specifically because they couldn’t stand apartheid…”

I have to point out that quite a number of white South Africans rather liked Thatcher precisely because she showed no interest in fighting apartheid, opposed sanctions vociferously and, in fact, went so far as to call the ANC terrorists. I encountered plenty of very obviously pro-apartheid white South Africans in British business circles in the 1980s and I would imagine that my experience was not untypical.

“lots of them are too dumb to understand that their behaviour is not OK”

The argument that low-information citizens say and do foolish things, especially in the tribal atmosphere of our current politics seems more credible than one that simply labels them “dumb”.

If, by the way, you want another illustration of anti-South African sentiment Tom Sharpe’s Riotous Assembly and Indecent Exposure published in 1971 and 1973 are memorable (and extremely funny, it must be said).

2

engels 05.01.16 at 11:37 am

For context, some links on mainstream antisemitism in Britain:

the Ed Miliband bacon sandwich bullshit
the Ed Miliband’s Dad hates Britain bullshit
the Ed is a secret Marxist bullshit
anti-semitism in Conservative party
anti-semitism in British public schools

But of course we won’t be talking about any of that because the British media are only interested in anti-semitism when it can be used as a smear against critics of Israel, and the Left

3

engels 05.01.16 at 11:45 am

4

Gareth Wilson 05.01.16 at 11:58 am

On the subject of Jews in Leeds, there was a British TV drama a while back with a Jewish protagonist. Set in London, I think. He was being blackmailed over something, and the blackmailer threatened to send the information to the chief rabbi of Leeds, much to the bewilderment of his victim. “Why Leeds?” I wish I could remember the title.

5

Ebenezer Scrooge 05.01.16 at 12:23 pm

Gee, Brett, while you’re at it, what explains the correlation between Jews and the left almost everywhere?
Please enlighten me.

6

The Dark Avenger 05.01.16 at 12:27 pm

Brett, you might want to explain about Pat Buchanan being a leftist, as he’s the only anti-Israeli commentator on this side of the Atlantic outside of the Stormfront and other RW groups.

Either that, or quit taking bong hits before you comment here again.

7

P O'Neill 05.01.16 at 12:34 pm

Just to add to Daniel’s list of causes and building on the point about South Africa, there’s an intergenerational element to it. You have the modern low-information trolling combining with Livingstone’s views apparently formed decades ago from his reading of Lenni Brenner (or so he says). And for that older generation, a lot of the other causes are gone. For example, the South Africa allegiances went along with support for Frelimo and the MPLA because of the way it lined up with the apartheid regime. But now keeping track of events in those countries requires getting immersed in the details of tuna bonds and linkages to Portugal’s banking crisis. It’s just not that satisfying any more. But I-P is still there that 70s-80s college cohort to vent about, and that validates the kids in their views on that issue, despite the numerous structural changes in international affairs since then. Everything thinks they’re coming at the issue with the same perspective, but they’re not.

8

Peter K. 05.01.16 at 12:53 pm

The BBC and rightwingers would rather discuss anti-Semitism and the left than any more salient issues and problems.

Interestingly in the U.S. the Bernie Sanders phenomenon is somewhat analogous to Corbyn. In the Brooklyn primary debate, Sanders, a Jew from Brooklyn, expressed some common sense views on Palestinians which were verboten in New York City, which Jesse Jackson once called “Hymietown.” Hillary of course wouldn’t say anything that would offend Netanyahu. Israel has a right to defend itself, period.

It’s kind of funny that comfortable American Jews are made uncomfortable by Trump who shows all of the signs of fascism minus the anti-Semitism. Put a wall up along the Mexican border. Ban all Muslims from entering the country. Bomb the terrorists’ families. Torture the hell out of anyone connected with terrorism.

But it seems to me that the Holocaust and historical anti-Semitism will mean less to millennials for whom it was a long time ago, and who support Corbyn and Sanders in large numbers because they appear more authentically interested in justice and fairness than other politicians.

9

Peter K. 05.01.16 at 12:59 pm

Think about the historical anti-Semitism in America, with the discrimination etc., and ponder how well Bernie Sanders, a Jew with a Brooklyn accent, did in the Presidential primary. He raised a record amount of money in small donations. (Corbyn should study what Sanders accomplished.)

He didn’t do well in the South but that’s partly because he wasn’t well known there and Hillary was more of a known quantity and had a reputation as a grand foe of the Republicans.

10

The Dark Avenger 05.01.16 at 1:06 pm

What aminus can you find against Israel in America, Brett? All the polls I’ve seen show support for Israel on all sides of the aisle in America.

Of course, you think it’s anti-Semitic to ask Israel to quit grinding the Palestinian people into the ground, then any Leftie concern like that is automatically associated by fools like you with wanting to start putting Jews in gas chambers again.

This is your mind on contemporary conservatism, folks.

Any questions?

11

Adam Roberts 05.01.16 at 1:15 pm

It’s about contexts. I get that for many people the only context that matters in this discussion is the world of shit in which Palestinians are currently living. But antisemitism has extremely deep and strong roots in British society and culture, and antisemitic libels don’t have to follow precisely the lineaments of a Der Stürmer cartoon for it to be more than a ‘microaggression’. Ed Miliband, a Jew, was ridiculed on all sides for the way he ate a fucking bacon sandwich. Everyone agreed, chuckling, that he was kinda funny looking. His face didn’t fit. His Dad’s military service during WW2 was discounted because he wasn’t really ‘one of us’. When Michael Howard was Tory leader (devout Catholic) Anne Widdecombe attacked him in the Commons because he had, she said, ‘something of the night about him’. Political satire routinely portrayed him as sinister, dracula-like, alien, inhuman. Might as well as have written JEW in large letters and pinned it to the back of his jacket. I appreciate that I’m talking about broader UK political culture, here, but the Labour party has its own particular problems in this respect. It’s been a long time since my personal experience of in-party Labour politics, but I remember the way people on the left talked about Mandelson when he still had the beard, before Labour came back into power and Blair brought him into government (never mind afterwards): he was a double target because he was both a Jew and gay. A lot of working class Labour and CP people used to be startlingly small-c conservative in social and cultural terms, and not only saw the world through a panoply of stereotypes but felt uninhibited about mocking and deriding people on these terms: women, foreigners, the Irish, Jews. Some of that culture persists in the modern Labour party. My sense is that part of this is more or less consciously informed by the old anti-semitic libel that Jews are all wealthy, that they dominate banking and the media and so on … they in some sense are the 1%. The gnomes of zurich.

But the more immediate context is Israel. Livingstone’s ‘Hitler was a Zionist before he went mad and decided to kill the Jews’ line was only of several things he said during that day of rolling interviews. He also said that Einstein himself had equated Zionism and Fascism, stressing that because a Jew had said this it inoculated the comment against the charge of antisemitism. And that was Ken’s message, as I read it: present-day Israel is morally equivalent to Nazi Germany because of the way it treats the Palestinians. It was ‘yes Hitler was bad, but Netanyahu is the real Hitler now’, which blurs uncomfortably, it seems to me, into ‘Jews are the true Nazis’, which is another way of saying that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust. There really is nothing ‘micro’ about such aggression.

12

harry b 05.01.16 at 1:24 pm

Let’s not have Brett, who started out by declaring that he knows nothing at all about the topic of the OP, derail this. Daniel has written an interesting and compelling analysis about a phenomenon in British (not American) politics, and it would be so so much more interesting to have a debate about his analysis — where is it going wrong, if it is; do readers have good objections to, or good additional support for, his analysis?

13

Lee A. Arnold 05.01.16 at 1:33 pm

Daniel, you are my favorite writer.

14

Adam Roberts 05.01.16 at 1:34 pm

Thinking back, actually, I don’t believe Mandelson ever had a beard. I mean the moustache. And what a tasche it was.

15

Hidari 05.01.16 at 1:42 pm

@12
Livingstone did not, in fact, say that Hitler was a Zionist. I know that’s what a lot of the right wing media (AKA ‘the media’) said he said. But he didn’t.

16

Z 05.01.16 at 1:45 pm

Daniel has written an interesting and compelling analysis about a phenomenon in British (not American) politics […] — where is it going wrong,

As I agree with 99,9% of the analysis (especially the link with leftist politics), I will be a good blog commenter and concentrate on the rest (but seriously good job, Daniel).

What I find problematic is quite well encapsulated in the line

And this must be just incredibly wearing for British Jewish people. It’s the “microaggressions” concept – each one of these “god the Israelis are really unfair to the Palestinians”

I find it problematic to state as if it were obvious that British Jewish people should (and actually do) feel some special connection to the way Israelis and the state of Israel behave. To me, that is exactly presupposing that British people should pick teams (exactly what the post rightly deplores), with Jewish people evidently choosing team Israel.

17

Adam Roberts 05.01.16 at 1:46 pm

@16 His actual words were that Hitler ‘was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews’. Happy to split hairs over the difference between being a Zionist and supporting Zionism.

18

Gabriel 05.01.16 at 1:52 pm

Adam says:

It was ‘yes Hitler was bad, but Netanyahu is the real Hitler now’, which blurs uncomfortably, it seems to me, into ‘Jews are the true Nazis’…

———–

Well, no. The original statement was obviously a poorly-worded and even-more-poorly-thought-out attempt to attack the notion that all Jews are Zionist and that to be Anti-Zionist is to be an anti-semite (A conflation that you dabble in a bit above. If Netanyahu is the new Hitler, then Likud are the Nazis: not Israelis, and certainly not ‘Jews’. ). Look, the dufus says, the most anti-semitic man in history was a Zionist!

I think it’s fair to call the statement tone-deaf. It’s also fair to say that it’s not exactly true. But the charge that people will read into a statement their own meanings into a statement always rings a little hollow to me. It’s for more productive, I think, to spend time attacking the conflation that Zionist = Jew = Israeli, a bit of illogic that thrills both racist and Zionist alike.

19

kent 05.01.16 at 2:04 pm

Thanks very much for writing this, Daniel. I had not heard about this particular case. It certainly is strange to hear about Hitler’s zionism being re-litigated! I mean, who cares, right? Good Lord people. On the other hand, I do think it’s super important that people remember certain facts about US policy toward blacks in the early 1900’s including redlining etc …. So I ask myself, Why is one set of historical facts so important and timely in this moment, and another is just pointless rehashing?

Maybe this is taking things in a too-boring direction, but …:

What would it look like, and how would we do it, if we resolved to try to stop being the kind of people who do this kind of thing? In other words, if we stopped seeing politics as akin to rooting for a football side?

What would a comments section in a blog post even look like, if someone like Brett Bellmore didn’t jump in trying to score points for his football team – and then others reply trying to score points against?

Not to say that I don’t know what team I’m on … and I find myself a little disturbed at how low my IQ seems to dip when contemplating offenses against my team and/or looking for reasons to commit offenses against the other team.

If we try to step back and not be quite such a mindless supporter of Team X, do we have any choice other than to be a technocratic centrist of some type? And once we’ve done that, how do we avoid making technocratic centrism our new team? Gah the very thought makes me bristle with anger with anger based on all the offenses that have been committed by the technocratic centrist team’s supporters!!

20

LizardBreath 05.01.16 at 2:44 pm

Interestingly in the U.S. the Bernie Sanders phenomenon is somewhat analogous to Corbyn. In the Brooklyn primary debate, Sanders, a Jew from Brooklyn, expressed some common sense views on Palestinians which were verboten in New York City, which Jesse Jackson once called “Hymietown.” Hillary of course wouldn’t say anything that would offend Netanyahu. Israel has a right to defend itself, period.

I had a fascinating interaction with a coworker right before the NY primary along these lines — she’s New York Jewish from Brooklyn, not far from Sanders’ age, and is both concerned about anti-Semitism and not hard-right on Israel/Palestine issues, in that she thinks Netanyahu is a maniac. Anyway, she was having trouble deciding which way she was going to vote between Clinton and Sanders, because Sanders was ‘appealing to anti-Semites’. And I pressed her a little on the issue, because I honestly hadn’t heard heard of him saying anything that I wouldn’t have thought she agreed with, generally, from stuff I’d heard her say about Israeli politics previously. Which left her sighing and saying “Yes, but I’m not running for office.”

I’m not quite sure what sense to make of the interaction (and I believe she did end up voting for Sanders), but it does seem related to the issues in this post.

21

The Dark Avenger 05.01.16 at 2:49 pm

The brilliant Nick Cohen in the WSJ…..

One of these things is not like the others
One of these things
Doesn’t belong.

22

Thomas 05.01.16 at 2:56 pm

@18 To complicate things Livingston quoted Nethanyahu as having said “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time. He wanted to expel the Jews,” Nethanyahys point was to blame Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, and he was sharply criticized in Israel, but he did say it. So can you call Livingstone an antisemite for saying essentially the same thing as the Israeli prime minister?

23

Ronan(rf) 05.01.16 at 3:27 pm

But was the support (from sections of) the British left for Irish nationalists in NI as much an outgrowth of general opposition to British imperialism and support for the anti imperial movements of the 50/60/70s? (I’m not saying one way or the other if that’s an accurate description of NI, just that was the frame) ‘Anti Imperialism’ also explains why the European left could sympathise with Israel up to roughly the 67 war, and then more towards Palestinians after. (Also worth noting this was true of the old IRA, afaicr, who had links with and helped inspire the Stern Gang. The shift towards support among Irish nationalists for Palestinians primarily came with the Provos etc)
All of this is to say that which conflict gains resonance is contingent. Why has the Palestinian conflict gained such notoriety? IMO because (like South Africa, and Ireland) it’s easy to frame (rightly, IMO) as a consequence of western colonialism. You have two highly politicised (and articulate) diasporas, and revolutionary movements led by a charismatic* leadership who explictly made it their goal to develop international solidarity. It’s happening in the Middle East, where western militaries are still involved, and is a conflict that is superficially easier to understand than most ethnic conflicts.
I don’t think this neccesarily contradicts anything in the OP, but perhaps it’s a slightly different angle. I think it goes deeper than ‘picking a football team’, anti Imperialsm has deep roots among the left, I think it tends to lead to bad decisions but it’s a consistent, morally supportable political tendency. The question then becomes why does one conflict become more prominent than another, and the answer to that (imo) is how easy it is to slot into (and understand through) domestic political categories, and the specifics of the conflict itself.

* This is true in NI where the Nationalist face became the articulate, urban young (nominally Marxist) revolutionaries rather than the Catholic, conservative rural demographic who were much less easy to sympathise with from a left perspective. True also In Israel/ Palestine, up until the rise of Hamas, where the opposition to Israel was much more superficially easy to sympathise with than the reactionaries looking to retain their dwindling privileges.
I would generally agree that rather than picking sides in a conflict it’s better to try ad understand it, and if you’re going to support anyone, support the majority of the population caught up in the maelstrom. A lot of the people at the coalface have less opportunities to ‘opt out’ of picking a side. The non involved have the option.

24

Alex 05.01.16 at 3:39 pm

Can I just check Dan, is your use of “mad” in this article a deliberate way to help some people see why what Livingstone said was so stupid?

25

dsquared 05.01.16 at 3:43 pm

Not really, it’s just a commonly used short English word meaning “acting in a way which doesn’t make sense, respect rational priorities and/or distinguish between fantasy and reality”.

26

Ronan(rf) 05.01.16 at 3:51 pm

I agree there’s a lot of anti semitism from the left, and within a number of Muslim communities in the west. The second part is shown by polling on the topic. This, afaict, is clearly a consequence of the conflict. It’s the result of instrumentalising anti semitism from some governments (and other political actors) particularly in Muslim majority countries, especially in the Arab world. The inverse, islamophobia, is also a result of the same dynamic, just from political actors in the west.
I don’t think it’s surprising that anti semitism should exist on the left. Left politics can just as much be driven by tribalism and hatred as the right. Just of a different sort.

27

Z 05.01.16 at 3:55 pm

Though there are of course significant overlaps between the categories, I wish we could distinguish sharply between 1) antisemitism 2) opposition to the policies of the state of Israel 3) opposition to the existence of the state of Israel and 4) denial or minimization of the Holocaust.

For instance, Netanyahu’s statement quoted upthread was neither antisemitic nor anti-zionist in itself. On the other hand, it was a rather outrageous instance of holocaust denialism. The extract of the Facebook meme I saw (I just clicked on it upthread) about relocating Israel in the US was an instance of 3), but not as far as I can tell of either 1) or 4).

28

DSKnight 05.01.16 at 3:58 pm

I agree with a few points but I do find it odd that the anti-Semitism within the Labour Party is being compared to tribalism of the Northern Ireland & football to show that it’s a case of “mirco-aggression”.

Northern Ireland and football sectarianism are far more serious & darker than that.

29

Alex 05.01.16 at 4:07 pm

Not really, it’s just a commonly used short English word meaning “acting in a way which doesn’t make sense, respect rational priorities and/or distinguish between fantasy and reality”.

Then I gotta say it seems unhelpful to describe things this way (why not just say “irrational”?), given that, yes, although the intention to call something “mad” is not to defame those with mental health problems, the word has obvious connotations which are intrinsically linked to mental health issues, and given that the whole big palaver that’s happened this week has been about comments of Livingstone’s about exactly when Hitler did/did not go “mad”. Similarly, I wouldn’t describe someone being stupid as “retarded” or something I don’t like as “gay” – or at least I try not to, these words were ingrained in me negatively as a child.

30

Alex 05.01.16 at 4:08 pm

Other than that though I thought this was a really great article.

31

Steve Marks 05.01.16 at 4:14 pm

Very thoughtful piece, although there are some things I don’t agree with and some things that I think need to be addressed. Here’s a few of them:

1.) Naz Shah has an incredible life story, and I believe her apology was sincere. However, it wasn’t just the “Israel in the US” thing, but also comments about “Jews rallying to the cause”, etc. etc. and other comments that suggest she’s not simply guilty of an isolated post, but a system of community thinking that’s a bit too prevalent in Bradford that’s generally hostile to Jews and, at least, makes us particularly wary. I’m glad she apologized, but the whole manner of thinking is particularly unpleasant.

2.) It’s not just about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. There is a systematic attempt within the “intersectional” movement (critical theorists, gender/queer/anti-racism activists/etc.) to downplay or even erase Jewish concerns. THat’s why, in the U.S., openly anti-Semitic professors have been elevated or praised (see people like Joy Karega, or Jasbir Puar), while those advocating for Jews are often ignored, mocked or even sometimes intimidated by aspects of the left [note: I’m on the left too, but I see a lot of this].

Same sort of things is going on with the NUS, and the election of Malia Bouattia. She may not personally “hate Jews”, as it were, but her language is openly hostile, and she invokes the “anti-Zionism” mantra to absolve herself of any responsibility at all while marginalizing Jewish people. She may not “hate Jews”, but her actions are most definitely anti-Semitic. They are also reflective of aspects of the Labour party and the hard left.

3.) Corbyn probably doesn’t have too much personal animosity towards Jews either, but the vigor and focus of anti-Zionist activism within his circles, and his–dodgy at best– associations with a number of people who are purely exterminationist in their rhetoric, certainly gives Jews cause for concern. While it’s true that the right-wing, and Blairites, are ALSO exploiting all of this to weaken him politically, it is also a legitimate concern.

Labour DOES have a problem. Obviously the Tories do as well, but that’s another hwole set of issues.

32

Salem 05.01.16 at 4:18 pm

I believe the Michael Howard stuff was more referring to his family coming from Transylvania than to his Jewish background, but I can see how you could interpret it that way. Otherwise I agree.

I also think the OP is kinda obtuse in saying this isn’t on Corbyn. Of course it’s on him. This is no surprise coming from Ken, and Corbyn has strongly associated himself with those people. It’s not that he didn’t suspend Ken quick enough, it’s that he tied himself to him in the first place. It will be very interesting to see how this affects Khan.

33

RobinM 05.01.16 at 4:37 pm

I imagine some of the commenters might find the following analysis of anti-semitism in Britain by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research interesting:

http://www.jpr.org.uk/documents/JPR.2015.Policy_Debate_-_Contemporary_Antisemitism.pdf

I came upon it embedded in a piece at opendemocracy by an author, Jamie Stern-Weiner, “a dual British-Israeli national,” which I think augments Daniel’s piece here:

https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jamie-stern-weiner/jeremy-corbyn-hasn-t-got-antisemitism-problem-his-opponents-do

34

Phil 05.01.16 at 5:02 pm

#34 – ‘microaggression’ is a term of art for ‘doing or saying something only very slightly offensive, which may be done or said with no conscious intention to offend, but which is still offensive (particularly when you’re having to deal with hundreds of them)’. Nothing to do with downplaying either the Irish conflict or football violence.

There have been some good pieces on this over the last couple of days, from Adam Ramsay and Richard Seymour as well as Jamie S-W. Anyone who wants to know more about what’s gone on at Oxford University Labour Club can find an informative account on a site called the Electronic Intifada; it’s worth a look for anyone who was wondering whether Phil Woolas had a son, and if so whether Woolas jr was following in his father’s footsteps. But the one I want to link to is this from Dave Renton, who’s a Jewish socialist. One thing that I think is very important, & that Dave does in the linked piece almost without thinking, is to distinguish between ‘you said X, which I believe is anti-semitic’ and ‘you said X, so I’m calling you an anti-semite’. The difference is, of course, that you can accept a good-faith apology for one but not the other.

In this case, I don’t believe it makes any sense in the world to call Ken Livingstone an anti-semite. But he plays dirty, and he’s never been above deliberately giving offence. (He also never apologises, which is particularly unfortunate.) And that’s clearly what he did here; what he said was arguable, just about, but it was also a tendentious simplification of a complex argument from a couple of books most people haven’t even heard of. It was a dick move, and I think it was guaranteed to offend Jews in particular, even anti-Zionist Jews. As such, was it specifically an anti-semitic dick move? In quieter conditions – a year or two from now – I suspect even he’d agree it was. The Left needs to do much better than this. (But it would be a hell of a lot easier to do the requisite soul-searching and taking a look at our collective selves without the background noise of high-volume namecalling from political enemies, opportunists and people who just fancy a scrap.)

35

DSKnight 05.01.16 at 5:11 pm

Again there’s nothing “slightly offensive” about Northern Ireland or football sectarianism.

As far as saying that it doesn’t make sense to call Ken Livingstone an anti-Semite how does that square with saying that Ken will eventually realise that he performed an “anti-Semitic dick move”?

36

Phil 05.01.16 at 5:25 pm

#40 – no, there’s nothing “slightly offensive” about Northern Ireland or football sectarianism. The reference to micro-aggressions in the OP wasn’t a reference to those things.

As for the difference between making an anti-semitic statement and being an anti-semite, I can’t put it better than I did in the comment you’ve just replied to.

37

Ed 05.01.16 at 5:39 pm

This is OT, but one thing I found out the other day is that Sanders lost the Jewish vote to Clinton in the New York Democratic primary, but has been beating her among Muslim voters everywhere quite handily.

One fairly obvious effect of Sanders’ ethnic background that he has felt comfortable doing things like skipping the AIPAC conference, which every gentile American politician seems to think is mandatory to attend.

38

Joshua Holmes 05.01.16 at 5:45 pm

Wait, wait, wait…Britons know what wiffle ball is?

39

Donald 05.01.16 at 5:50 pm

This seems about right to me. I know very little about politics in Britain, but based on what I see in comment sections on largely American sites, you see racism against Palestinians on the pro- Israel side, but also some dimwits and outright antisemites on the pro – Palestinian side. I had never heard of a Gilad Atzmon before I became a regular reader of comment threads on this subject. I was happier never having heard of Gilad Atzmon, who appears to be a genuine honest to goodness example of a self hating Jew. No links. You can google him for yourself.

On the US side of the Atlantic the antisemites are largely in the shadows, or mostly anonymous people in comment threads. Sometimes they can be insensitive college activists. But our mainstream form of bigotry, the one you see in politicians in both parties, is aimed at Palestinians. For example, when Hillary Clinton in her AIPAC speech implied that BDS supporters were part of a global tide of antisemitism just as Brett claimed. The idea being that if you wish to impose pressure on Israel, it can’t be that you think Palestinian rights matter or feel disgusted by US policy– you have to be an antisemite.

On the other hand there are even well meaning people who try to draw lines in the wrong places. See this piece in the Guardian, which so far as I can tell seems not too bad ( not as good as Daniel’s) until the paragraph where she condemns ethnic cleansing and then talks about Israel’s ” right to exist”.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/28/antisemitism-rocked-labour-self-belief

Israel’s ” right to exist” usually comes up in connection with a Palestinian right of return and Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. Whatever you think about the Palestinian ROR, it seems at best clueless to condemn ethnic cleansing and then write about Israel’s right to exist if you know what the argument is about.

40

Plume 05.01.16 at 6:07 pm

Brett B,

The vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East are Semitic. It doesn’t make too much sense to call them anti-Semitic.

Beyond that, if the modern state of Israel had never been (violently) imposed on the region, there is no conflict in the first place, and if Israel had not maintained a racist apartheid state, it may have eventually dissipated.

There appear to be few “good guys” on any side in this endless battle. But if we’re looking for first causes, it’s the violent, absurdist, insane creation of a modern state of Israel, against the wishes of the people who lived there prior to its establishment.

Now, one can argue about who forced this to happen — the Great Powers, various zionist groups, all of the above. But it’s really beyond argument that it was a world-historical mistake, given the methods and results — which were easily predicted.

41

BBA 05.01.16 at 6:08 pm

Of course Israel doesn’t have the “right to exist”. No country does, because countries don’t have rights.

People have rights. Countries infringe them.

42

Donald 05.01.16 at 6:18 pm

Plume–” antisemitism” as generally used means hatred of Jews and there is obviously a lot of that in the Middle East. There is also a lot of antiArab hatred in Israel and in its supporters. There is not much point in arguing that Arabs can’t hate Jews because of some semantic issue.

And arguing with Brett is a total waste of time. He only sees atrocities when he wants to see them and you can guess which set he sees when looking at the I-P conflict.

43

novakant 05.01.16 at 6:23 pm

Daniel forgot one aspect that explains most of this nonsense:

We’re voting for mayor next week and the Tories are playing dirty again.

44

Sandwichman 05.01.16 at 6:24 pm

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSCsEOk_DO4&w=560&h=315%5D

https://youtu.be/CSCsEOk_DO4

I was watching the news from Gaza
And I fell asleep on my chair
And when I awoke from my slumber
A young girl was standing there.

She said, “My name is Rivka
They killed me because I’m a Jew
I died in the ghetto of Vilna
In nineteen forty two.

The ghetto was like a prison
They wouldn’t allow us to leave
Some said they were going to kill us all
We didn’t know what to believe.

That day I wore my new red dress
My bubbe had made for me
And in that crowded ghetto
It made me feel proud and free.

I looked up at the soldier
I looked him in the eye
I forgot to bow my head down
And so I had to die.

He smashed my head with his rifle
Because I was too bold
I was killed in the Vilna ghetto
When I was seven years old.”

And then out of the darkness
A young boy’s gaze met mine
He said, “My name is Mohammed
My country is Palestine.

I’ve lived all my life in Gaza
And the only time I feel free
Is when I go down to the harbour
And feel the wind from the sea.

That day I went with my cousins
We ran down to the beach to play
Then the soldier fired a shell at me
And blew my life away.

They want to crush our spirits
They want us to be afraid
Locked up in the prison of Gaza
The prison that they have made.

To them our lives don’t matter
They force us to live in a cage
I was killed on the beach in Gaza
At eleven years of age.

They don’t think that we deserve freedom
Or belong to the human race.”
“Mohammed, my brother,” said Rivka,
“This world is a cold, cold place.

Mohammed, my friend, my brother,
Let us leave this world of war.”
Then each took the hand of the other
And then they were seen no more.

But I saw spokesmen and politicians
Lining up to speechify
And every word was a hypocrite
And every word was a lie.

I saw children still being slaughtered
The monster must have its fill
While the people with power sat on their hands
And supplied the weapons that kill.

I weep for the people of Gaza
And they are weeping still
And I curse the ones who do nothing
And enable the monster to kill.

45

Plume 05.01.16 at 6:34 pm

Donald,

Yes, I know that. I know how it is generally used. Just saying it doesn’t really make any sense in that situation, and that most people don’t know “Arabs” are Semitic, too.

(Then, again, Simone Weil was often accused of anti-Semitism. A Jew herself.)

The scare quotes are there because, of course, the Middle East is filled with far more than ethnic Arabs . . . . and “Muslims” encompass still more ethnicities, etc.

Your second comment is spot on.

46

Hidari 05.01.16 at 6:34 pm

I think another thing that our Atlantic cousins may not be aware of is that Corbyn literally has no friends in the media at all. As they say in Northern Ireland, even the dogs in the street know that head honchos at the Guardian do not like Corbyn very much as was demonstrated by the avalanche of abuse he faced in that paper when he was first elected. That has calmed down recently (presumably after reader pressure) but it’s noticeable that they are continuing to try to keep this storm in a teacup boiling (if you’ll pardon me mixing my metaphors). On the front page of its website at the moment there’s yet another story about the anti-semitism crisis and how it’s all awful and blah blah blah. That’s fine, in a sense, and of course one expects that sort of thing from the Murdoch press, but its the unanimity of the anti-Corbynism in the mainstream media that still surprises. So every time this ‘scandal’ looks like going away, the Times or the Daily Mail or the Guardian or someone will get it going again.

You have to turn to social media (and blogs such as this one) to get anything like a reasonable and fair description of this, perhaps, not terribly significant or important brouhaha.

Of course the other issue here is that Corbyn has no efficient media handling machine because, as noted in the OP, the team that was built up under Blair refuses to work with him.

47

Dipper 05.01.16 at 6:43 pm

Excellent OP. The link to football support is spot on. Too often left wing politics is about the good guys beating up the bad guys, as if it were that easy.

The Labour Party dynamics are interesting and relevant here. The threesome in charge of Labour are Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonell, and Ken Livingstone. Politicians, particularly ones who aspire to govern big countries, need to show they have got the basic skills to do the job, so being relentlessly hounded by the media is part of the testing process and applies to all politicians.

Corbyn is, as predicted, coming up short. He shows no awareness or interest in the part of his job which is about managing the story and handling the messaging. He looks for all the world like someone who wishes he could just go back to his old job of sitting in the corner moaning about the leadership.

Ken Livingston is looking like a maverick heading toward the exit. Who cares whether Ken Livingston is technically correct in what he says? He is not running a pub quiz team nor is he an entertainer who has encyclopaedic knowledge of interesting but irrelevant facts; he is a political who is meant to lead, inspire, motivate and organise, and recently he’s been scoring 0/4 in that department.

The really interesting one of the trio is John McDonnell. He dropped Naz Shah as his PPs extremely quickly, and has been saying all the right things. Since the Little Red Book fiasco he hasn’t put a foot wrong. He is deftly throwing Corbyn and Livingstone under a bus, and positioning himself as the leader who can take organise Labour to attack the conservatives at the next election. With a Tory collapse into infighting after the EU referendum no matter what the outcome quite possible, the odds being offered by of 33/1 for McDonnell to be the next PM look good value.

48

Dipper 05.01.16 at 6:46 pm

… still can’t get the href thing working. Its Paddy Power giving the odds.

http://www.paddypower.com/bet/politics/other-politics/uk-politics?ev_oc_grp_ids=366114

49

Ronan(rf) 05.01.16 at 6:47 pm

“I don’t believe that the British population or the British left are fundamentally anti-Semitic. I think they’ve chosen a side”

I think this is true, both in this case specifically and as as a more general rule. Too often our politics seems to start from the assumption that bigotry or prejudice are a societal or individual pathology, rather than a cleavage and ideology utilised for specific purposes by specific groups at specific times. (This is also true of its cousin, politicised “anti bigotry”)

” I think they’ve chosen a side, and that lots of them are too dumb to understand that their behaviour is not OK. Which means that if the actual underlying conflict reaches resolution one day, there will be no more problem on the British left. That’s what happened with respect to South Africans”

I guess this is really my only objection, if it’s even a meaningful one. I wouldn’t say dumb, and I don’t think (if it is the implication ) that “picking a side” was a thoughtless or simply tribal act. Afaict a lot of people(outside of the conflict) who picked sides in NI or south Africa genuinely believed in the cause, and knew a considerable amount about the situation. This is also true of Israel palestine, from what I can see anyway.
The fact that the rhetoric dissipates when the conflict comes to a resolution doesn’t necessarily imply (if it’s the implication) that their initial position wasn’t genuine or thought through. It’s more a consequence of the resolution, the politics changing from within the conflict, emotions tempering, etc
I guess I’m just not sure on the “picking a football team” analogy. If It implies triviality or , on the other hand, almost atavistic tribalism, I agree that can be the case, but generally isn’t.

“Well, the first way is that if you had an existing interest in the Northern Irish conflict, then your side basically got picked for you. Lots of things in British politics which are otherwise incomprehensible, make sense when you realise they’re really about Northern Ireland. “

But afaict a lot of the outside support on both sides in the I/P conflict comes from demographics who are too young and/or culturally removed from the NI conflict for it to have made much of an effect on them . A lot of them (admittedly not the individuals in the OP) made the decision with no prior commitment to either side in NI.

50

engels 05.01.16 at 6:50 pm

being relentlessly hounded by the media is part of the testing process and applies to all politicians

Bwahahahahaha

51

Stephen 05.01.16 at 6:54 pm

Ronan@29, 32: I do agree with you on (what I think you are saying about) the moral equivalence, and topical difference, of tribalism and hatred in left- and right-wing politics; and I think we would agree with Daniel’s original wise comments that “Lots of things in British politics which are otherwise incomprehensible, make sense when you realise they’re really about Northern Ireland”. Where there is also much tribalism, of course.

But I wonder whether there are not also a couple of aspects not mentioned in Daniel’s admirable analysis. One is the relatively minor Falklands factor. Many on the far left of British politics have never forgiven Thatcher for defeating the Argentines, who were fighting for the righteous subjugation of colonialists who had displaced the indigenous population; or at least not forgiven her for defeating the non-colonialist Argentines, well less said about that the better but they anyway deserved support for being um, er, not allied to the imperialist Americans, or …. Well, at least they were opposed to Thatcher! That being so, suggestions that the Falklands problem could best be solved by deporting the existing population to somewhere else (I have seen the Outer Hebrides mentioned) did become acceptable to some on the left: accept that for one case, it becomes acceptable for another. As in the solution proposed for NI protestants: learn to swim.

Much more important: left-wingers are, for a variety of reasons, inclined to support national borders being as open as possible, with as much immigration into the UK and other similar places as may be. In the UK, a great deal of immigration has been from Asian or African Muslim states. Many though of course not all such immigrants are profoundly anti-Jewish. Criticising their anti-Semitism is, from one left-wing point of view, unacceptable because it might give aid and comfort to The Enemy, who oppose immigration solely because it involves foreigners. The same argument, of course, also works against criticizing Muslim immigrants because some of them are are violently against homosexuals and equality for women. I do hope Labour will sort themselves out of this tangle.

52

Salem 05.01.16 at 6:54 pm

Yes, novokant this is all the Tories’ doing. Why, they hypnotised John Mann, I’m sure of it.

You’ll notice Sadiq Khan has been one of the chief flame-fanners too. No doubt also in an attempt to weaken Labour ‘s mayoral chances.

I for one refuse to believe that anyone could object to Livingstone ‘s comments for any other reason than hatred of the Dear Leader.

53

Watson Ladd 05.01.16 at 7:25 pm

Actually Plume terrorism against Israel started long before the Occupation of the territories. It was not until the 1990’s that suicide terrorism in Israel proper assumed the dimensions it did now, and that was due to the PLO signing the Oslo Accords, which were going to produce an independent Palestinian state. Hamas really does want to kill all the Jews: how many times do they need to say that, and act on it, before you will believe them?

54

steven johnson 05.01.16 at 7:39 pm

The OP proves once again that a reasonable tone of voice should not be confused with reason. Equating support for a murderous colonial enterprise like the Zionist state with supporting a team, and opposition to it to supporting another team, would be ridiculous were it not so convenient. It does make the case that “low information” means “not sufficiently propagandized,” instead of ignorant trash.

Adam Roberts, supporting, wrote: “And that was Ken’s message, as I read it: present-day Israel is morally equivalent to Nazi Germany because of the way it treats the Palestinians. It was ‘yes Hitler was bad, but Netanyahu is the real Hitler now’, which blurs uncomfortably, it seems to me, into ‘Jews are the true Nazis’, which is another way of saying that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust. There really is nothing ‘micro’ about such aggression.” The only way this “blurs” is if criticism of Zionism is not just equated to anti-Semitism but the Zionist state is mystically the incarnation of Judaism, not just now but seventy years ago and, presumably, forever. This is hateful and contemptible nonsense.

55

Donald 05.01.16 at 7:40 pm

Terrorism against Israel started before the occupation because there were atrocities on both sides long before 67. Palestinians engaged in pogroms in the 20’s and apparently on a small scale the earliest Zionists were engaged in racist violence in the 1890’s according to early Zionist Ahad Ha’am ( cited in Tom Segev in One Palestine Complete on page 104). Then in 1948 there were massacres and ethnic cleansing and according to Benny Morris, a few thousand mostly unarmed ( with some terrorist exceptions) Palestinians were killed trying to cross back into Israel in the years immediately following.

I sometimes see people pull Watson’s stunt of citing Palestinian terrorism before the occupation to ” prove” it was really antisemitism that was the real motivating problem , but you commonly see violence against civilians on both sides when outside Westerners try to take over a land which already has inhabitants.

As for Hamas, they are antisemites, just as the idea of a Jewish state in a land inhabited by Palestinians required many Zionists to be racists.

56

Igor Belanov 05.01.16 at 7:42 pm

One of the major features of this ridiculous issue is the insistence on the need for people who make ‘controversial’ statements to apologise AND be disciplined/banned/suspended/silenced.

Many people have pointed out the real reason for this row, which is to smear Corbyn’s leadership and damage the party’s chances at next week’s elections. This aim is common to Corbyn’s enemies within and outside the Labour Party. What people have tended to overlook in the assertion that the Labour Party is anti-Semitic is the way that this kind of row is being used to stifle points of view that go counter to establishment thinking. None of the statements is anti-Semitic, merely anti-Israel, and Livingstone was very clumsily but clearly trying to point out that the strict association of Israel with the whole of the world’s Jewry was effectively racist in itself, and suggested that the idea of a Jewish ‘national home’ implied that Jews belong in Israel but nowhere else.

Those criticising Corbyn for incompetence are only true up to a point. The man is practically on a hiding to nothing. His basic errors stem from his belief in a united party, victory in the next General Election, and the need to compromise with elements in the party and the media to achieve this. Unfortunately, this has been a rather naïve viewpoint, as his enemies are implacably opposed to everything he and his supporters stand for. To achieve anything he had to be willing to split the party and to strictly defend his own principles and stances in the media, as well as going on the attack. To do this would have been to damage Labour’s electoral chances in 2020 (which would have been no better with Kendall, Burnham or Cooper), but would have raised morale within the party and helped to achieve his goal of empowering the membership. In the end, his willingness to fruitlessly appease his enemies will be his downfall.

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Bloix 05.01.16 at 7:47 pm

Nice to see a little context in the last few comments. Livingtson, a former mayor of London, makes a statement in the midst of the campaign for the next mayor, who will be either a Muslim or a man of Jewish heritage. And what did he say? Blah-blah-blah-Hitler-blah-blah Zionist. “The Jews are the real Nazis” is a trope that’s been around for decades now. People who are parsing the literal meaning of his words are wasting their time. It was a whistle any dog could hear a mile away.

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Bloix 05.01.16 at 7:51 pm

#63 – “Livingstone was very clumsily but clearly trying”
If you find yourself a living, breathing example of Godwin’s law, you’re doing it wrong.

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novakant 05.01.16 at 8:09 pm

Context: the Naz Shah thing was leaked by rightwing blogger and Boris Johnson adviser Paul Staines days before the mayoral election in which the Tories candidate, who is Jewish, is lagging hopelessly behind. Shortly before the PM used question time to smear the Labour candidate, who is Muslim, as an associate of Islamist extremists. Livingstone makes a clumsy comment, that nevertheless not antisemitic and has a basis in historical fact and has been made before by none other than Netanyahu himself. As a result of this completely irrelevant gaffe a big discussion ensues about Labour and the left being antisemitic and how Corbin sucks as a leader. Lyndon Crosby collects his paycheck …

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Igor Belanov 05.01.16 at 8:18 pm

” Blah-blah-blah-Hitler-blah-blah Zionist. “The Jews are the real Nazis” is a trope that’s been around for decades now.”

As has the idea that all Jews are Zionists.

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nick s 05.01.16 at 8:18 pm

The overwhelming majority of them live in London; there is still what might be described reasonably as a “Jewish community” in Manchester and (albeit to a declining extent) Leeds, but that’s about it.

Tyneside’s an interesting example: Gosforth still has a small but significant Jewish community dating back a long time and very involved with local Labour politics (most notably Lord [Jeremy] Beecham, who’s still a Newcastle city councillor) while Gateshead has a Haredi community tied to the yeshiva, but no real involvement in politics or the broader local community.

Adam Roberts: A lot of working class Labour and CP people used to be startlingly small-c conservative in social and cultural terms, and not only saw the world through a panoply of stereotypes but felt uninhibited about mocking and deriding people on these terms: women, foreigners, the Irish, Jews.

Yeah, that’d be my dad. But he also grew up alongside Jewish tailors and jewellers and market traders, and was a happy customer of their businesses. While I’m not going to endorse a set of stereotypes that should have been buried in the 70s with The Comedians, that was the nature of working-class discourse: not necessarily ‘picking teams’ in direct competition, but ascribing and being ascribed social and cultural labels and either acting them out or rejecting them.

Hidari: another thing that our Atlantic cousins may not be aware of is that Corbyn literally has no friends in the media at all.

To put it another way, the London press has a template for ‘Labour civil war’ that it’s very eager to use because it involves not much work, and to be fair to the London press, plenty of those in the PLP who see Corbyn as an electoral liability are also eager for them to use it.

Stephen: Many on the far left of British politics have never forgiven Thatcher for defeating the Argentines, who were fighting for the righteous subjugation of colonialists who had displaced the indigenous population

[citation needed] [Dave Spart doesn’t count]

62

Sandwichman 05.01.16 at 8:35 pm

Instead of citing Lenni Brenner, perhaps it would have been more prudent for Livingstone to have cited Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem?

63

Bloix 05.01.16 at 8:43 pm

#66- Livingstone said: “When Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”

This is a false statement. Even if you replace “Israel” with “Mandatory Palestine” it’s a false statement. There was never any German “policy” to move Jews to Palestine. There was a deal that allowed a small number of Jews to emigrate to Palestine without confiscating 100% of their property, which is not remotely the same thing. So if by “has a basis in historical fact” you mean “is a gross distortion of historical fact,” we are in agreement.

He then doubled down, saying, “”I never regret saying something that is true.” And he claimed that “the Prime Minister of Israel said the same thing.” which is untrue. Netanyahu said that when he came to power, Hitler’s plan was to expel the Jews from Germany, which is a far cry from saying that Hitler supported Zionism.

So, “clumsy.” Yes, if by “clumsy” you mean “false.”

“the Naz Shah thing was leaked”
Leaked? It was a Facebook post. Facebook posts are state secrets now?

64

Phil 05.01.16 at 8:56 pm

Bloix – here’s a statement Ken Livingstone made in the middle of the mayoral election campaign:

Livingstone thinks this is the dirtiest campaign he has witnessed. “There’s been the occasional nasty stuff about immigration, but this makes Michael Howard’s campaign look uplifting and good-humoured.” What does he most fear in terms of consequences? “Some Muslim kids seeing this will think, ‘We’re looked at as not part of British society, and as a threat.’” The Tories are fighting a battle more suited to the early 20th century, he argues. “I always say, never forget the Daily Mail headline in 1906: ‘Jews bring crime and disease to Britain.’ And it’s been selling papers, and unprincipled politicians have been using fear, throughout time immemorial.”

Source

He was asked about politicians exploiting the racist vote, and the parallel he came up with was the (right-wing) Daily Mail exploiting the anti-semitic vote. Livingstone is many things, but no way in the world is he an anti-semite.

Dipper – the elected leaders of the Labour Party are Corbyn and his deputy Tom Watson. Livingstone isn’t even an MP; he has a seat (for now) on the party’s National Executive, but anything beyond that he owes to Corbyn’s patronage. Getting Livingstone on board seemed like a good idea – he can turn a good phrase, which is more than you can say of Corbyn – but throwing him overboard is easy and fairly cost-free.

(Tom who? I’m wondering that myself. I voted for him as Deputy having heard that he’d been a party whip, & thinking that Corbyn could do with somebody at his side who would impose a bit of discipline on the party. I still think he could.)

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Dipper 05.01.16 at 9:09 pm

I’ve been hearing for decades about the right-wing press and their underhand methods so surely no-one can be surprised at this.

I fully expect my latest Labour Hero John Mcdonnell is now, even as we casually surf the inter web, going through his own contacts and posts, and all those of his future cabinet, and compiling a list of possible attacks and constructing reposts. And when he’s done that he will start on the likely next leader and their cohorts and be preparing the lines of attack. Boris Johnson and Liverpool for a start – oh hang on, no votes in that. Scrap it.

Fail to prepare; prepare to fail.

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Sandwichman 05.01.16 at 9:16 pm

From that notorious leftist anti-semite, Hannah Arendt:

But quite apart from all slogans and ideological quarrels, it was in those years a fact of everyday life that only Zionists had any chance of negotiating with the German authorities, for the simple reason that their chief Jewish adversary, the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, to which ninety-five per cent of organized Jews in Germany then belonged, specified in its bylaws that its chief task was the “fight against anti-Semitism”; it had suddenly become by definition an organization “hostile to the State,” and would indeed have been persecuted—which it was not—if it had ever dared to do what it was supposed to do. During its first few years, Hitler’s rise to power appeared to the Zionists chiefly as “the decisive defeat of assimilationism.” Hence, the Zionists could, for a time, at least, engage in a certain amount of non-criminal cooperation with the Nazi authorities; the Zionists too believed that “dissimilation,” combined with the emigration to Palestine of Jewish youngsters and, they hoped, Jewish capitalists, could be a “mutually fair solution.” At the time. many German officials held this opinion, and this kind of talk seems to have been quite common up to the end. A letter from a survivor of Theresienstadt, a German Jew, relates that all leading positions in the Nazi- appointed Reichsvereinigung were held by Zionists (whereas the authentically Jewish Reichsvertretung had been composed of both Zionists and non- Zionists), because Zionists, according to the Nazis, were “the ‘decent’ Jews since they too thought in ‘national’ terms.” To be sure, no prominent Nazi ever spoke publicly in this vein; from beginning to end, Nazi propaganda was fiercely, unequivocally, uncompromisingly anti-Semitic, and eventually nothing counted but what people who were still without experience in the mysteries of totalitarian government dismissed as “mere propaganda.” There existed in those first years a mutually highly satisfactory agreement between the Nazi authorities and the Jewish Agency for Palestine—a Ha’avarah, or Transfer Agreement, which provided that an emigrant to Palestine could transfer his money there in German goods and exchange them for pounds upon arrival. It was soon the only legal way for a Jew to take his money with him (the alternative then being the establishment of a blocked account, which could be liquidated abroad only at a loss of between fifty and ninety-five per cent). The result was that ¡n the thirties, when American Jewry took great pains to organize a boycott of German merchandise, Palestine, of all places, was swamped with all kinds of goods “made in Germany.”

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Igor Belanov 05.01.16 at 9:28 pm

At root the whole problem is down the corruption of notions of universal human rights by the rise of identity politics and competitions over who is the most oppressed.

In one corner we have Israel, representative of the world’s original oppressed group. In the other, we have Palestinians and other Muslim populations, allegedly repressed by Western imperialism and its Israeli franchise. Israel has the upper hand in this unfortunate ideological battle, as it has the backing of influential establishment interests in many leading nations.

The ultimate victims in this row are individual Palestinians, who find themselves subject to restrictions on their civil rights in the occupied West Bank, subject to collective reprisals in Gaza, and exposed to use as expendable tools by genuinely anti-Semitic groups such as Hamas.

Ultimately all the talk over possession of land is another nationalist red herring, and a two-state solution merely leaves an enfeebled Palestinian nation-state open to the depredations of home-grown extremists and constant interference from a vastly more powerful Israel. Time for the Left to forget the futile chase for ‘self-determination’ and start supporting Palestinians by insisting that Israel incorporate the West Bank completely into its territory by giving all of its population full civil rights as Israeli citizens.

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Sebastian_H 05.01.16 at 9:34 pm

I obviously don’t know enough about anti-semitism in the UK to properly talk about it, and I appreciate Daniel’s discussion of it.

“Having picked their sides, how did people proceed to behave. As I mentioned before, the answer is generally “like a bunch of football supporters”.”

This is a good point about politics in general, and is worth expanding on a little. It is bad enough that we tend to attack people not on our side more easily than similarly situated people on our side. It is bad enough that we tend to defend people on our side more than we normally would. What makes those tendencies worse is that we seem to be self sorting into very totalizing sides. Why do we think that all of our sides have to have have opinions about everything that we have to defend as “our side”? Why do teacher’s unions need to have us vs. them opinions about the death penalty? Why does a chamber of commerce have us vs. them opinions on abortion? Why does a fireman’s union need to have an us vs. them opinion on immigration?

We have linked together a huge number of unrelated issues, divided them into two camps, and expect everyone who looks at them to agree with the whole bundle at once. So we have stupid discussions about what people who don’t like high taxes think about global warming and what people who are pro-choice on late term abortions think about GMOs as if the things are logically related.

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Bloix 05.01.16 at 9:43 pm

Phil – he was asked about Naz Shah without a historical reference in sight, and he blurted out, 1930s! Zionists! Hitler!
The only way to make sense of it is that he was spinning the “Zionists are the real Nazis” trope. Which in the context of his defense of Naz Shah (link to interview below) means that it wouldn’t be so bad if all the Jews of Israel were killed, because really, what else can you do with Nazis?
No, he didn’t quite say that. He hinted it. That’s how it’s done.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/labour-anti-semitism-row-full-transcript-of-ken-livingstones-interviews-a7005311.html

#67 – yes, we know. Advocating the extermination of the Jews of Israel isn’t anti-Semitic because that would only affect 45 percent of the world’s Jews, not all of them.

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Bloix 05.01.16 at 9:57 pm

“by insisting that Israel incorporate the West Bank completely into its territory by giving all of its population full civil rights as Israeli citizens.”

Good idea – Europeans should force antagonistic ethnic and religious nationalities in the Middle East into single states. That works so well – look at Syria! Look at Iraq!

Seriously, premise of this idea is that the murderous, racist, neo-Nazi Zionists are also 100% enlightened, EU-style secular democrats. It’s a mash-up of two wildly inconsistent stereotypes about Jews.

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milx 05.01.16 at 10:11 pm

As I see it good faith leftists have serious critiques lodged against Israel among a number of other States – Western and not – such as the US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Iran, Syria, Egypt, China, etc. But only one of those critiques has become magnified into a worldwide boycott + sanctions movement. Why? Because there are other actors who are antagonistic towards Israel for non-leftist reasons but who do not mind locking arms with leftists when the occasion is suitable. This is ultimately what the “singled out” argument amounts to in its iron man version – why Israel and not anywhere else? And the obvious answer is that the left can only marshall opposition when it comes to Israel. A self-critical and valuable left-wing recognizes this and calls out their own allies even when it’s not convenient. (This same dynamic occurs on the other side when one is calling out ISIS or Assad or Gaddafi or whomever where a ready surplus of Islamophobes are ready to jump onboard.)

Re Corbyn, he has moved fairly quickly to respond to these problems in his party and it is impossible to find Naz Shaw’s apology as anything but stellar. That said, he is not completely blameless – referring to Hamas as friends has been dismissed by Corbynites as slander but anyone else on the political spectrum recognizes that it was tasteless + indicative of at least ignorance if nothing else. Just ask yourself if he would say the same thing about Likud (or even invite them to the UK) and you’ll understand why it wasn’t just “diplomatic peace making” (or whatever other euphemism you prefer). (Though maybe it was anti-Western and not strictly anti-Semitic – the two cannot be entirely untangled, cf Judith Butler’s comment about Hamas + Hezbollah being members of the international Left. Antisemitism is the anti-colonialism of fools seems accurate here.)

“The vast majority of Muslims in the Middle East are Semitic. It doesn’t make too much sense to call them anti-Semitic.”

I can’t believe it’s 2016 and people are still making this argument. I really have to know – is it that you actually have not had it explained to you yet why this is a fallacy or do you feel like it has enough political value that it’s worth dragging it out again and again despite making you look like a fool?

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milx 05.01.16 at 10:15 pm

“Livingstone is many things, but no way in the world is he an anti-semite.”

He said that it was over-the-top to “think of anti-Semitism and racism as exactly the same thing.” You might argue that this is just an obvious statement of fact – one is bigotry expressed towards Jews and the other is bigotry on account of race. Or maybe one is bigotry expressed as an accusation of a hidden conspiracy on the part of powerful Jews and the other is bigotry expressed as a claim of racial subhumanity. But I don’t see how either make sense as a response to something being “over-the-top” and it only makes sense if you are minimizing antisemitism in contrast to racism. I don’t know if that makes him an antisemite but it makes him into someone minimizing antisemitism and afaic that is close enough.

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Strategist 05.01.16 at 10:20 pm

That’s where this post ought to end. But it can’t end quite yet, because I need to explain why things have blown up right now …

Great post, but from a London perspective, I don’t think it delivers on this explanation. It’s blown up now because there is an election for Mayor of London next week. If Labour loses unexpectedly, the Labour hard right will attempt to launch a leadership coup. If Labour wins, Corbyn’s position will be perceived to have been shored up. That is why this has blown up now. It’s real recklessness by the Labour nasties.

But this is by no means even in the top ten worst party machinations that Labour has seen in my lifetime

I’d like to see that top ten. I’ve seen Labour since the late 80s and it feels to me like this should be in the top ten. It’s just so cynical and has such disregard for people. (I don’t count lying to invade Iraq as a ‘machination’ – that was a war crime.)

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engels 05.01.16 at 10:22 pm

I don’t know if that makes him an antisemite but it makes him into someone minimizing antisemitism and afaic that is close enough.

What do you consider to be ‘minimising anti-semitism’? Would the view that in general Jews in Britain today face far lower levels of prejudice, discrimination and oppression than Muslims or black people qualify?

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Asteele 05.01.16 at 10:32 pm

Israel gets singled out because it’s a country founded by Europeans, and filled with Europeans and decendants if Europeans. It’s true that if it was an intra Africa conflict that created Israel it wouldn’t be nearly as big a deal in the west.

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milx 05.01.16 at 10:35 pm

Whether true or not the assertion that Jews in the UK face lower levels of oppression than other groups is inherently an attempt to minimize antisemitism. If you’re planning how best to assign funding to combat bigotry such a comparison may make sense but in Livingstone’s context it’s impossible to ignore that his comparison was designed to essentially say, “eh, what’s the big deal.” Even if the statistical rate showed that Jews experienced less bigotry than Muslims I imagine it’s still a big deal to the Jews who are victimized. According to a recent audit that number is far more than 0 (and growing) and in the US according to FBI statistics Jews are the most victimized religious group by hate crimes (and I think it’s much better to be a Jew in the US than in the UK).

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hate-crimes-against-jews-sharply-increasing-in-britain-audit-finds/

Re: “Israel gets singled out because it’s a country founded by Europeans, and filled with Europeans and decendants if Europeans.”

It’s also a country where a majority of its Jewish residents come from a Mizrahi background so this explanation is a bit disingenuous (even though its acceptance as CW in leftist circles is certainly prevalent – still one wonders why people hold onto beliefs that lack much currency in reality).

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milx 05.01.16 at 10:35 pm

(My block quote didn’t work so I’ll post it here:

“The National Antisemitic Crime Audit from the non-governmental group Campaign Against Antisemitism said that nearly 1,000 incidents were reported in 2015, representing a 25.7% increase in anti-Jewish crimes on 2014, and making it the worse year on record.

Data collected from all of the country’s police forces showed that during 2014, UK police forces recorded 746 anti-Semitic crimes; that figure rose to 938 in 2015.

Violent crime jumped to 196 incidents, a 50.8% rise, in 2015 and accounted for 20.3% all crime against Jews, compared to just 126 incidents representing 16.9% of violent crimes the year before.

However, “despite the growth in antisemitic crime, police forces charged 7.2% fewer cases in 2015 than in 2014, meaning that only 13.6% of cases resulted in charges being brought,” the CAA said. In total 138 charges were brought in 2014, but just 128 in 2015.”

http://www.timesofisrael.com/hate-crimes-against-jews-sharply-increasing-in-britain-audit-finds/

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Corey Robin 05.01.16 at 10:45 pm

Some more information on early Nazi policy regarding Jewish emigration to Palestine.

This is from Saul Friedlander, Nazi Germany and the Jews. Volume I: The Years of Persecution, 1933-1939. Friedlander, along with Yehuda Bauer, is considered the dean of Holocaust historians.

In addition, the material difficulty of emigrating was considerable, especially in a period of economic uncertainty; it entailed an immediate and heavy material loss….
In one instance only were the economic conditions of emigration somewhat facilitated. Not only did the regime encourage Zionist activities on the territory of the Reich, but concrete economic measures were taken to ease the departure of the Jews for Palestine. The so-called Haavarah (Hebrew: Transfer) Agreement, concluded on August 27, 1933, between the German Ministry of the Economy and Zionist representatives from Germany and Palestine, allowed Jewish emigrants indirect transfer of part of their assets and facilitated exports of goods from Nazi Germany to Palestine. As a result, some one hundred million Riechsmarks were transferred to Palestine, and most of the sixty thousand Germany Jews who arrived in that country during 1933-39 could thereby ensure a minimal basis for their material existence.

…About Zionism itself, moreover, Nazi ideology and Nazi policies were divided from the outset: while favoring, like all other European extreme anti-Semites, Zionism as a means of enticing the Jews to leave Europe, they also considered the Zionist organization established in Basel in 1987 as a key element of the Jewish world conspiracy….

Even before the conclusion of the Haavarah Agreement, such “cooperation” [between the Nazis and the Zionists] took bizarre forms. Thus, in early 1933, Baron Leopold Itz Edler von Mildenstein, a man who a few years later was to become chief of the Jewish section of the SD (the Sicherheitsdienst, or security service, the SS intelligence branch headed by Reinhard Heydrich), was invited along with his wife to tour Palestine and write a series of articles for Goebbels’s Der Angriff . And so it was that the Mildensteins, accompanied by Kurt Tuchler, a leading member of the Berlin Zionist Organization, and his wife, visited Jewish settlements in Eretz Israel. The highly positive articles, entitled “A Nazi Visits Palestine,” were duly published, and, to mark the occasion, a special medallion cast, with a swastika on one side and a Star of David on the other.

Zionist hopes were moderated by practical worries about excessive numbers of immigrants. “In order that the immigration not flood the existing settlement in Palestine like lava,” Ruppin declared at the Zionist Congress held in Prague in the summer of 1933, “it must be proportionate to a certain percentage of that settlement.” This remained the policy for several years to come, and well after the passage of the 1935 Nuremberg racial laws, both the German Zionists and the leader of the Yishuv were still envisaging an annual rate of fifteen to twenty thousand German-Jewish emigrants, extending over a period of twenty to thirty years.

Later in the book, Friedlander talks about a growing move in the mid to late 1930s against the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine among certain sectors of the Nazi Foreign Ministry. This led to increasing opposition to that Haavarah agreement, which was the Nazi policy for facilitating Jewish emigration to Palestine. But this is what Friedlander has to say about that growing opposition to the Haavarah agreement:

But no one [in the Nazi foreign ministry] dared to take any concrete measures against the agreement, as Hitler had not yet expressed his viewpoint. His decision announced at the end of January 1938, clearly implied maintenance of the Haavarah: Further Jewish emigration [to Palestine] by all possible means . The bureaucracy was left with only one choice: Comply. And so it did.

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nick s 05.01.16 at 10:46 pm

But only one of those critiques has become magnified into a worldwide boycott + sanctions movement. Why?

Because South Africa, that’s why. That should be a sufficiently obvious answer — even if you disagree with the comparison — to make your circuitous alternative seem perverse.

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Asteele 05.01.16 at 10:47 pm

If you prefer has a sizable proportion to “filled with” fine.

81

milx 05.01.16 at 10:48 pm

Because South Africa is not an answer but I do accept that the left has structured much of its opposition according to its success in ending Apartheid there. Saying that South Africa is the reason for traction in Israel (as opposed to South Africa being the reason for comparisons between Israel and South Africa) is putting the cart before the horse.

Re using the Haavarah agreement as apologetics for Livingstone’s argument (as he himself does), Timothy Synder is unimpressed: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36165298 And if you read what Hitler had to say in Mein Kampf about Zionism you wouldn’t be impressed either:

“While the Zionists try to make the rest of the World believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state, the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb Goyim. It doesn’t even enter their heads to build up a Jewish state in Palestine for the purpose of living there; all they want is a central organisation for their international world swindler, endowed with its own sovereign rights and removed from the intervention of other states: a haven for convicted scoundrels and a university for budding crooks.”

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Ronan(rf) 05.01.16 at 10:59 pm

It seems obvious enough (as mentioned above )that the comparisons between South Africa , Israel and Northern Ireland makes sense, as do the reasons these three conflicts would resonate so much with western leftists (seen as settler colonial states, politicised oppositions/diasporas, political systems understandable enough to western audience in a post civil rights era )
There are other socio cultural points of comparison

https://arielzellman.wordpress.com/2008/06/10/review-donald-akensons-gods-people-covenant-and-land-in-south-africa-israel-and-ulster/

I don’t see why this taking point always comes up. The concentration on these conflicts might be disproportionate , but it’s explainable . And it’s mostly due to leftist traditions of anti imperialism, and tendency to see and support foreign conflicts through the prism of domestic political battles .

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milx 05.01.16 at 11:02 pm

I think the confusing part to ppl like to me is that Jews went in 1938 from being a non-European cancer in the middle of Europe (even among many “Entente” nations) to being European in 1943 and the only thing that changed is that they left Europe. It’s like the Tuvia Tenenbom comment that graffiti that once read “Jews out of Europe” now reads “Jews out of Palestine.” It’s just a bit too convenient when the Jews meet the criteria of preexisting political villains.

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Ronan(rf) 05.01.16 at 11:05 pm

The western left supported Israel quite strongly up until 67. This would match with the story that their opposition is primarily based around the occupation of the west bank and Gaza and growing religious extremism in Israel.

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milx 05.01.16 at 11:06 pm

In which case the “they’re European colonizers” argument is a bit of a red herring, no? It’s something that seems like it has been applied post-facto (and is awfully convenient if you’re using Algeria or South Africa as successful models of resistance). Non-Europeans colonize too obviously.

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js. 05.01.16 at 11:08 pm

This is a brilliantly written piece. I will say I recoil a bit at the football analogy, and even more at the idea that the root of the problem is that a lot of poeple are just too dumb. Whatever it is, I don’t think it’s quite that. Not sure how much more to say about this right now, so I’ll leave it at that.

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Asteele 05.01.16 at 11:22 pm

What racists 80 years ago said as rhetoric isn’t terribly important to why Israel is a salient issue in the west. The Jews living in Europe were European, the fact that racists said otherwise is neither here nor there, here in the United States plenty of racists want to claim African-Americans aren’t real Americans, there wrong too.

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milx 05.01.16 at 11:28 pm

You may be right but no two things are alike so whenever you’re comparing one thing to another you’re ultimately folding in all the contextual decisions you’ve made beforehand. There may be a way to argue that Turkey’s occupation in Cyprus is also about European colonization (something something the Ottoman Empire, something something Atatürk, idk) but the pt here is that narratives are fluid so saying that people are so interested in something because it’s like Ireland, or because it’s like South Africa, you might as well be saying that people are interested in something because they’re interested in something. In any case I don’t think it’s controversial that there are critics of Israel that are not coming from a place of principled leftist opposition to human rights abuses. You don’t even need to say that a single critic is antisemitic (though such an assertion would defy belief) – Arab nationalists or pan-Islamists have their own ideological needs. The USSR saw in Israel an agent of the US. It can be useful when your human rights concerns line up with other ppl’s concerns bc then you get a much louder voice to use. But then sometimes Ken Livingstone says something really dumb and you have to act all shocked like I can’t believe there are people here for different reasons than I.

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Phil 05.01.16 at 11:28 pm

He said that it was over-the-top to “think of anti-Semitism and racism as exactly the same thing.”

No, he didn’t. Here’s the full quote, courtesy of Jamie Stern-Weiner

“Well, I mean, basically, you think of antisemitism and racism as exactly the same thing. And criticising the Government of South Africa, which is pretty unpleasant and corrupt, doesn’t make me a racist; and it doesn’t make me antisemitic when I criticise the brutal mistreatment by the Israeli government.”

What seems to have confused a few people is that he wasn’t answering the question (“what do you mean by ‘over the top’?”) but expanding on his previous point (“it was over the top but it wasn’t anti-semitic”). But then, this devious argumentative tactic is more or less unknown among British politicians, who are renowned for giving straight answers to every question an interviewer poses. (Smiley of some description goes here.)

I’ve listened to the audio of that first sentence, incidentally; it’s a bad line, and that ‘you’ could conceivably be ‘to’. But if it was it would make nonsense of the following sentence, which precisely equates antisemitism with (another form of) racism. So I think we can put this one to bed, alongside “she said what Hitler did was legal!” and “oh noes she said ‘transportation‘!”.

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Asteele 05.01.16 at 11:32 pm

91. The perception of European colonialism also radically changed in those 20 years.

91

KB Player 05.01.16 at 11:34 pm

I don’t really see the relevance of the supposed PR campaigns about antisemitism in the UK that the OP refers to has to do with this particular incident. Guido Fawkes dug up a Facebook posting and some other dodgy stuff by Naz Shah, the newspapers picked it up, she apologised (fully and reasonably in my opinion), then the matter could have been dropped, except for Livinstone’s arrogance, ignorance and obsessions. I’ve read a whole lot about the anti-Corbynistas are weaponising this, it’s a Blairite plot etc. But if it’s been weaponised, Livingstone supplied the parts.

It’s absolutely no surprise that anyone involved in the pro Pal movement should go off like that. Many an activist in my acquaintance is desperate to tell you about the Rothschilds being behind World War I and punt around memes which originate from the Ku Klux Klan. So if Livingstone starts on a strain, the next step of which is to go on about most deaths being by typhus, there’s nothing startling there. Nick Griffin has been defending him on Twitter.

Nor is it a surprise that Corbynistas, when hearing crap about the Haavarah agreement don’t go Yeucchh but immediately start nodding that this should be looked into further and posting links to wikipedia articles on the Haavarah agreement on Simon Schama’s timeline.

Livingstone launching into this rubbish was equivalent to a mosgynist telling a rape victim who didn’t struggle for fear of a beating or murder that she must have been complicit.

92

Bloix 05.01.16 at 11:38 pm

#83-
We are discussing an out-of-left field bizarre utterance by Ken Livingstone, entirely irrelevant to anything unless it is an anti-Semitic dog whistle, and Corey Robin jumps in to announce that in fact Livingstone was right and Zionists ARE Nazis!

The effect of the Livingstone remarks is that people who before now had never heard of the Haavara agreement, who can’t even pronounce it, and who have no clue of what it really did, will come away with the sense that, hey, maybe there really is something to this Zionists are Nazis thing. And people like Robin will help them reach that conclusion.

Professor Robin, meet your new friends:

http://newobserveronline.com/hitler-zionists-ken-livingstone/

93

LFC 05.01.16 at 11:50 pm

I’ve read most of the OP, not all of it, and not all of the thread.

I just want to point out that Corey Robin’s quotation from Friedlander, above, includes a part that Corey does not put in bold (I’m bolding it here):

About Zionism itself, moreover, Nazi ideology and Nazi policies were divided from the outset: while favoring, like all other European extreme anti-Semites, Zionism as a means of enticing the Jews to leave Europe, they also considered the Zionist organization established in Basel in 1987 [sic; should be 1897] as a key element of the Jewish world conspiracy….

Of course. “Favoring” Zionism because it was a means to “entice the Jews to leave Europe” did not make one a Zionist of any sort. It simply meant you favored anything that would get the Jews to leave Europe and were, at one point in time, willing to help facilitate the exit of some of them.

94

Phil 05.01.16 at 11:51 pm

Bloix, in the nicest possible way, don’t be a dick. Corey is doing nothing more nor less than explaining the background to Livingstone’s statements; when he said what he said, that’s what he was referring to. (And, of course, what he said wasn’t ‘Zionists are Nazis’, or ‘Nazis were Zionists’ for that matter. But I’ve got to assume you know that – you posted the link yourself, after all.)

95

SamChevre 05.01.16 at 11:52 pm

I like the “picking football teams” analogy (even though dsquared and I probably have entirely different games in mind).

One factor that adds confusion is that the opponents don’t seem quite clear “who exactly compose my team?”

Possible line-ups:
First teams: Jews/Israelis/the Israeli government/Likud and the smaller nationalist parties
Second teams: Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims

It’s sort of like trying to argue northern Ireland, but not being in agreement whether England had anything to do with the argument. Jews vs Palestinians gives very different estimates of relative power than Israelis vs Arabs.

96

LFC 05.02.16 at 12:04 am

@Phil
From an article in al-Jazeera:

During the course of the interview Livingstone made controversial comments about Israel, and made an obscure reference to Adolf Hitler “supporting Zionism before he went mad”. “When Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews,” Livingstone said.

Makes it sound as if Hitler went from carrying Herzl’s Der Judenstaadt in his briefcase to having some kind of psychotic break and carrying out the Holocaust. To say this is bad history would be a monumental understatement. Hitler’s views on the need for German expansion to the east and lebensraum (not to mention the alleged Jewish world conspiracy) are in Mein Kampf.

97

milx 05.02.16 at 12:07 am

“Corey is doing nothing more nor less than explaining the background to Livingstone’s statements.”

Maybe we understand Livingstone’s statements differently but my impression was he was trying to make an argument that you can be anti-Zionism without being antisemitic, and can be pro-Zionist and be antisemitic. What’s weird is that he picked an example (the Haavara agreement) which doesn’t fit either of these rubrics. In Haavara, Hitler is an example of an antisemitic anti-Zionist who happens to do something that benefits the Zionist cause. So people I think are rightly wondering what the hell he was trying to say since it makes no sense as a piece of evidence, only as a dog whistle.

98

Plume 05.02.16 at 12:09 am

Pedantically OT:

Immigrate to
Emigrate from

99

Phil 05.02.16 at 12:09 am

LFC @99 – it’s a bit more complicated than that, but it’s certainly true that the Nazis weren’t Zionists of any sort (nor has anyone claimed they were)*.

The complicated part is that I think it’s pretty clear that at least some of the Nazis, at least some of the time, wanted to send Jews to Palestine specifically. There’s that order from Hitler that Friedlander mentions, and Eichmann’s attitude to Zionism doesn’t seem to have been entirely cynical; he seems to have got quite misty-eyed about it when he was reminiscing in Jerusalem. This, of course, isn’t any kind of apologia for Hitler, and all it says about Eichmann is that he was a sentimental fraud as well as a mass murderer. But it does mean that we can’t really say that the Nazis consistently and exclusively wanted to destroy the Jewish people, or that that’s all they ever tried to do. Would that it were so simple.

*Incidentally, I’m getting quite tired of defending an irresponsible bomb-throwing dick against the charge of being an irresponsible bomb-throwing anti-semitic dick. Cheers, Ken!

100

Bloix 05.02.16 at 12:11 am

Phil – Robin is jumping into a thread on an extremely fraught and difficult subject – the degree to which decisions of Jewish groups in the 1930s, in hindsight, appear to be have appeasement or collaboration when the Final Solution could not even be imagined and the total victory of Hitler in Europe appeared not only possible but likely – and he is tendentiously bolding and using ellipses in a block quote to lead the reader to the conclusion that The Zionists Were Nazis.

Note the bolded insertion of “to Palestine” in the block quote. In fact, more Jews came to the US in 1938-39 than went to Palestine in the entire decade of the 1930s. But the US had quotas, as did Britain. Hitler was “in favor” of Jewish emigration to Palestine because he understood that the US and Britain did not want Jews, either.

The haavara agreement saved 60,000 Jewish lives, but because those Jews were permitted to take a portion of their assets out of Germany in the form of goods, it allowed the literally Nazi-loving Arendt to sneer that mandatory Palestine was full of German products. Better those Jews had died and their assets had been confiscated.

Maybe if Britain had opened the doors of Palestine to Jewish immigration instead of slamming them shut in May 1939, Hitler might have decided to exile the Jews of Europe instead of killing them. Implicit in Ken Livingstone’s statement is that that would have been a shame.

101

Plume 05.02.16 at 12:16 am

Bloix,

“and he is tendentiously bolding and using ellipses in a block quote to lead the reader to the conclusion that The Zionists Were Nazis.”

Absolutely wrong. He is showing how Zionist dreams of a Jewish state, if realized, would sync up with Nazi and other anti-Semitic groups who wished to see Jews gone from Europe. He in no way is trying to equate Zionists and Nazis, beyond the accidental Venn-diagram part of both wanting a Jewish exit from Europe.

Obviously, while they wanted the same thing, in that case, and only in that case, they wanted it for profoundly different reasons.

102

Phil 05.02.16 at 12:16 am

milx – yes, he was trying to make the argument that your actions can be anti-Zionist without you yourself being antisemitic, and your actions can be pro-Zionist even though you yourself are antisemitic; he was arguing that the Haavarah agreement fell into the second category.

LFC – you don’t have to rely on al-Jazeera, you can see a transcript of all(!) the interviews Livingstone gave on Thursday at the link Bloix posted. “He was supporting Zionism” – judging from the context, from Livingstone’s subsequent comments and from his references to Lenni Brenner – means precisely “his government’s actions were supporting Zionism”. Attempting to boil down a complex, controversial and little-known argument into a one-line gotcha was an idiotic thing to do, and it’s not surprising that it went horribly wrong. But there’s no reason to imagine he was saying any more than that.

103

David 05.02.16 at 12:17 am

You are projecting your own weirdly emotional meanings on to people, Bloix. Corey Robin is Jewish as well as passionate about the Palestinian situation, and accusing him of being some kind of raving anti-semite because this topic pushes your buttons is disgraceful.

104

David 05.02.16 at 12:20 am

As to the main topic at hand, this nontroversy is such a transparent attempt at collecting Corbyn’s head that even treating it as a “teachable moment” feels like ceding ground to cynical Labour Right opportunists.

105

NomadUK 05.02.16 at 12:21 am

Hitler might have decided to exile the Jews of Europe instead of killing them. Implicit in Ken Livingstone’s statement is that that would have been a shame.

Jesus. Ken Livingston’s a Nazi, Hannah Arendt’s a Nazi, Corey Robin’s a Nazi, the British and probably the Americans were Nazis — clearly everyone’s just a bunch of Nazis who can hardly wait to start shovelling Jews into the ovens again.

106

milx 05.02.16 at 12:22 am

“milx – yes, he was trying to make the argument that your actions can be anti-Zionist without you yourself being antisemitic, and your actions can be pro-Zionist even though you yourself are antisemitic; he was arguing that the Haavarah agreement fell into the second category.”

of course there’s a major fallacy here. you can try to do something harmful to someone and it turns out to their benefit. it would be a mistake to try and say that means something about what kinds of beliefs can coexist with one another.

107

js. 05.02.16 at 12:30 am

the literally Nazi-loving Arendt

Good god.

——

Anyway, as LFC suggested, I think the really highly unfortunate part of Livingstone’s comment is the “before he went mad”. Puts a rather distorted spin on things. And I say this as someone who, if he were picking football teams, would pick the other one. Luckily, it’s not what I’m doing.

108

Ben Alpers 05.02.16 at 12:37 am

I know that expecting good faith in reading others’ arguments is asking far too much when the topic is Israel / Palestine, but Corey did not say that the Nazis were Zionists (or vice versa), he merely quoted Saul Friedländer on the fact that the Zionists worked with the Nazis during the 1930s to facilitate Jewish emigration to Palestine. As Friedländer (and Corey) note, the Nazis believed that Zionism was a part of the imaginary Jewish world conspiracy against which they understood themselves to be fighting, so this was an uneasy relationship.

109

Ben Alpers 05.02.16 at 12:39 am

(Whoops….I should have refreshed my browser before posting that, as it’s essentially already been said.)

110

BBA 05.02.16 at 1:13 am

As a Jew, what pains me the most about Palestine is that for the first time in history, the antisemites are 100% right.

111

LFC 05.02.16 at 1:17 am

Phil @107
I wasn’t trying to suggest that the history is not complicated. Obviously it is. I am not an expert on this subject, but I’ve read enough about it to know that an attempt at a sound bite, which is apparently what Livingstone initially did before issuing further statements in an effort to clarify, was very likely going to go wrong (as you say).

112

Bloix 05.02.16 at 1:24 am

#115 – Arendt was literally the lover of a card-carrying Nazi. You can claim that what I wrote was “over the top,” to use Livingstone’s phrase, but unlike what Livingstone said, it has the virtue of being true.

And the “really unfortunate thing” about what Livingstone said is Hitler Hitler Hitler! Why was he talking about Hitler in the first place?

#116- there’s no virtue in according the presumption of good faith to people who are arguing in bad faith. Robin didn’t “merely” do anything, he intentionally took up Livingstone’s side, as if Livingstone were making a comment at a university seminar and not speaking on the BBC about an election campaign.

#113- no, Livingstone’s not a Nazi. He’s a bog-standard English anti-Semite. It’s a pretty common condition.

113

harry b 05.02.16 at 1:30 am

Livingstone is not anti-semitic, and if he were it is ridiculous to think that he is not smart or self-controlled enough to hide it (since if he were it would only harm him, and anyway he’s not). His comment is wry, and ironic — and he does have a history of saying wry, and ironic things. For reasons that Daniel gives it is ENTIRELY understandable why Jewish Britons (and Jews elsewhere) might not recognise the wryness and irony, and why, even if they do, they might entirely reasonably be offended and pissed off about it. And he shouldn’t have said it, and he should apologize. But his non-Jewish critics in the UK all understand exactly what he meant, and what he said, and their agenda has nothing to do with anti-anti-semitism or even anti-anti-Zionism, and everything to do with Corbyn, as Daniel explains.

114

js. 05.02.16 at 1:33 am

Bloix, no offense, but I know who Heidegger was. It’s not putting your slam on Arendt in a better light.

115

franck 05.02.16 at 1:38 am

Plume,

I’m surprised by your comment above that “if the modern state of Israel had never been (violently) imposed on the region, there is no conflict in the first place.” Let’s mention some pogroms that predate Western colonialism in the region:

1517 Safed
1660 Destruction of Safed
1834 Hebron Massacre
1834 Safed (again!)
1838 Safed (yet again!)

Jews were a majority of Jerusalem under the Ottomans in the late 19th century, and had in fact been trying to get back to Israel (despite being regularly forced out) for centuries.

I don’t understand how you think there was no animus or conflict before the state of Israel. If we take 1948 as the starting date, then you have to include the 1929 Hebron massacre as well.

I’m surprised that you think the creation of Israel is uniquely iniquitous. The creation of Pakistan, and then the creation of Bangladesh later (as a direct consequence of the creation of Pakistan), killed far more people (up to 1 million), and as a bonus, you get to blame the Brits for that one too. And to top it off, it’s one of the most dangerous places due to the real threat of nuclear annihilation.

So why are people clamoring for the one state solution in Israel/Palestine and not the one state solution in India/Pakistan/Bangladesh?

116

Bloix 05.02.16 at 1:41 am

#109-
Hitler in the 3os: We will rid Germany of the Jews!
Zionists: He means it, we need to get the Jews out! We will make deals with the devil to get Jews out of Germany!
Most German Jews: We are true Germans!

– Interregnum –

Arendt: The Zionists made deals with Hitler!
Livingstone: Hitler was a Zionist!
Robin: They’re both right!
Most German Jews: [crickets]

117

franck 05.02.16 at 1:42 am

Why do people think Ken Livingstone is acting in good faith? Couldn’t he just be trying to sandbag Sadiq Khan in the mayoral election so that he gets a chance the next time it comes around? One doesn’t need to decide on Livingstone’s moral character on Judaism one way or another.

Seems a far simpler and easier way to go for me. Ken Livingstone’s always about looking out for number one and has never shown party loyalty before.

118

franck 05.02.16 at 1:43 am

Sorry I forgot one more. There were attacks in Safed (yet again!) in 1929 as well.

119

Sandwichman 05.02.16 at 1:44 am

Ah, now I get it. It’s neo-Nazi white supremacists posing as Zionists, posting tactical anti-antisemitic comments so offensive as to give anti-semitism a good name. That clears it up once and for all!

120

Shylock Homeslice 05.02.16 at 1:47 am

Hey, Donald. So I was waiting for you to reference that bit out of that Segev book, because I’ve noticed that you do whenever this topic comes up. And now I’ve started playing around with Google Books, which has a preview of it (I actually have read the book, but it was like 15 years ago, and it was from the library. Anyway, I recall mainly finding it sort of confusing).

Anyway, the quote you reference is in the paragraph right after this one (which I include partly because it helps set up your quote, and partly because I’m going to link to the apparent source): https://books.google.com/books?id=XvT8CWv2DakC&q=Ahad+Ha%E2%80%99am#v=onepage&q=%22signs%20of%20an%20incipient%20arab%20national%20consciousness%22&f=false

Here are the citations for those 2 paragraphs (#7 & 8, respectively): https://books.google.com/books?id=XvT8CWv2DakC&q=Ahad+Ha%E2%80%99am#v=onepage&q=%22jewish%20settlement%20and%20the%20claim%22&f=false

The original source of the Ha’am quote doesn’t seem to be online anywhere, but this looks to be the approximate page in a translation of the source for that preceding paragraph: https://books.google.com/books?id=8Teb4dKHQcoC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q=%22during%20the%20period%20under%20discussion%22&f=false

What’s interesting to me about that is that it doesn’t mention any violence connected directly to the purchases by Jewish settlers, but the preceding section does talk about some of this land having been violently acquired by Bedouins.

You can believe me or not when I say I have no axe to grind here, but anyway you got me googling and this is what I found.

121

harry b 05.02.16 at 1:48 am

He’ll be 75 at the next mayoral election. The next year or two (or three, depending on when Corbyn gets overthrown) are his only chance for real influence. And Khan losing increases the likelihood of Corbyn being overthrown sooner.

122

nick s 05.02.16 at 1:55 am

Because South Africa is not an answer–

Ah, the self-appointed hall monitor has spoken.

I suppose another side-point is that the institutional left in Israel has been whittled away over the past 15-20 years by changing demographics and the ability of Bibi to cling onto power in various permutations against an unstable opposition. This means that there are increasingly few ideological ties that bind the elected UK centre-left to comparable Israeli politicians, because there aren’t many establishment centre-left Israeli politicians left.

Thus, per Daniel’s post, whenever the Israeli electorate’s choices again translate into a Netanyahu-led government that kicks the occupation question down the road, with one or two vocal anti-Palestinian bigots in charge of ministries, the most prominent Labour Friends of Israel have a hard time not looking like Friends of Bibi. Instead, the clearer ideological ties are now between the UK redder-left and the non-establishment activist left in Israel, which can sometimes get messy in its own way.

123

harry b 05.02.16 at 1:59 am

For what its worth, IF Zionists did work with the Nazis to facilitate Jewish emigration to Israel (and I am just going with Corey’s quote from Friedlander — I don’t know the history, so had no idea about this till now) it is very hard to think they did anything wrong. In the circumstances, what could be wrong with trying to get Jews out of Germany alive? It didn’t take a fortune teller to guess that things were likely to go pretty badly.

124

Bloix 05.02.16 at 2:00 am

Daniel:
“suggesting that the State of Israel would be easier to defend if it was located somewhere other than Palestine is not advocating deportation or transportation, and I don’t really see how anyone could sincerely claim it was.”

Naz Shah’s post: “The transportation cost will be less than three years of defense spending.”

125

franck 05.02.16 at 2:03 am

Yes, but if Sadiq Khan wins, he loses any influence at all. Why talk to the old gasbag has-been if you have a young telegenic mayor of London to chat with?

Ken Livingstone isn’t a fool. He has to have known what gasoline he was pouring on which fire. Sadiq Khan has been fairly clear that this is killing him.

126

harry b 05.02.16 at 2:08 am

The reason to talk to the old gasbag is that he has been your friend for 40 years. I agree that Livingstone is out for himself (unlike Corbyn and McDonnell, and, of course, REALLY unlike Blair, Brown, Burnham… ok, they don’t belong in the same parenthesis as Corbyn and McDonnell), but I don’t agree that Khan is any sort of rival to him: and doubt that even he wants to, or thinks he could, be London mayor at the age of 79.

127

Corey Robin 05.02.16 at 2:12 am

Bloix: You’ve claimed here that I said that the Zionists are Nazis and that the Nazis were Zionists. That is an outrageous lie. You’re officially banned from commenting on any of my threads. I’m also going to give you one chance here to retract your statement and apologize to me. If you don’t, I’m going to move to have the CT collective ban you entirely from the blog. You’ve completely crossed a line with this one.

From our comments policy: “If your comments are blatantly racist, sexist or homophobic we will delete them and ban you from the site. The same goes for comments which are personally defamatory or insulting or which seek to derail a thread through provocation of one kind or another.”

128

Sancho 05.02.16 at 2:13 am

Very surprised to see CT posters and commenters supporting the notion that criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic by default.

I don’t care for either side and would happily watch Palestine and Israel bulldozed all together into the sea to make way for a Disneyland or something, but human rights abuses are abuses no matter who is carrying them out.

129

Adam 05.02.16 at 2:53 am

“the phrase “singling out for criticism” seems to act as the bridge between the two; if you can find anyone who has ever been convinced by this rhetorical device, I’ll buy them a drink”

Oxford debate did. You owe me a drink.
https://youtu.be/5jqXEzplxeo

130

weaver 05.02.16 at 2:56 am

Bloix is a glorious example of the knots people will tie themselves in to defend ethno-nationalism, a noble creed unfairly tainted by the ethno-nationalist excesses committed by those dastardly Nazis.

131

edwke 05.02.16 at 3:00 am

dark avenger @13
I assume you are not American ?
And therefore don’t understand how socially there is a lot of antisemitism, widesrpread across the country (I’ve never been able to find a source for the quote from President JFK’s mother, “when will the good people of boston let us (irish) into the clubs ?)
and at the serious Foreign Policy level there is support for Israel and at the extreme protestant edge there is support (apparently, the fruitcakes think the state of Israel is necessary precondition for the rapture or some such BS)

132

Bloix 05.02.16 at 3:16 am

#134-
I haven’t commented on your posts for what, six months now. I don’t do it because it upsets my digestion. I was happily participating in this thread when you showed up. I’m perfectly willing to debate you in a thread, but when you threaten to expel me from your class – well, what can I say but I’m not in your class?

But if you’re going to pull strings to get me expelled from the CT seminar for arguing with you too loudly, which would be a shame as there are people here I learn from, let me leave the rest of the class with this thought: in my years of debating with him, I’ve shown that Robin was wrong about Thomas Jefferson, wrong about Hannah Arendt, wrong about Adolf Eichmann, wrong about Clarence Thomas, wrong about Steven Salaita, and now he’s wrong about the pre-war Zionists. Oh, and he was wrong about the etymology of the word “tip.” Not a record to be proud of.

133

Sandwichman 05.02.16 at 3:22 am

“for arguing with you too loudly”

It wasn’t “loudness,” Bloix. It was LIES.

134

Henry 05.02.16 at 3:27 am

Bloix – this is unacceptable behavior. You’ve been offered a chance to apologize for making a pretty nasty slur. If you don’t take this opportunity, as far as my threads are concerned, you’re out.

135

Tabasco 05.02.16 at 3:37 am

an out-of-left field bizarre utterance by Ken Livingstone,

Is there any other kind?

Why it is specifically bullshit to try and tie this one on to Jeremy Corbyn

It’s reasonable to assume that Corbyn has nothing against Jews. Indeed a man of his age and background is probably very friendly with many left-wing Jews.

On the other hand, he employed and continues to employ Seumas Milne as his spin doctor-in-chief, who has publicly praised Hamas, an organisation that dislikes Jews.

From its charter:

“The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslim, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”

It’s not quite true that Corbyn is his own worst enemy, but it is almost true.

136

Bloix 05.02.16 at 3:48 am

Sandwichman, about that grotesque bit of doggerel at 45: the resistance movement (the FPO) in Vilna was organized and led by the Zionist Hashomer Hatzair movement, and particularly by its charismatic and heroic head, Abba Kovner, who fought the Nazis inside and outside the ghetto walls. Kovner and many others escaped the liquidation of the ghetto by crawling through sewers. After the war he brought Holocaust survivors to Palestine, fought in the Israel War for Independence, and became an honored poet.

Here’s what I say to you: you have no clue how offensive you are being by invoking the Nazi murder of a Jewish girl to attack Israel’s war in Gaza. Say whatever you want about Gaza, but leave little dead girls from the Vilna Ghetto out of it.

137

BBA 05.02.16 at 4:00 am

Hamas is unspeakably awful. Unfortunately it’s also the closest thing to a legitimately elected government anywhere west of the Jordan.

138

Shylock Homeslice 05.02.16 at 4:03 am

139

Sandwichman 05.02.16 at 4:17 am

An interview with Leon Rosselson about the song Bloix @136 calls a “grotesque bit of doggerel”:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/writingfromtheedge/2016/02/comparing-nazis-to-jews-leon-rosselson-explains-the-ballad-of-rivka-mohammed/

Cohen: Your song about Rivka & Mohammed draws an equivalence between Gaza today and the Vilna ghetto in 1942. Is it the individual suffering or the political circumstances that you’re comparing, or both?

Rosselson: I am not the only one to see parallels between Jews in the ghettos of Warsaw and Vilna and Palestinians in the ghetto of Gaza. There’s a youtube video of photos of the destruction in the Warsaw Ghetto alongside photos of the destruction in Gaza with Paul Robeson singing the Vilna Ghetto song & a quote from a Nazi chief-of-staff to the effect that ‘Jewish terrorists’ are to blame for the death & destruction in the Warsaw ghetto alongside a quote from an Israeli functionary that ‘Hamas terrorists’ are to blame for the destruction in Gaza.

The racism of the Nazis, dehumanising Jews (and so making them disposable), is matched by the racism of prominent Israelis and government spokesman dehumanising Palestinians, calling them ‘little snakes’, ‘two-legged beasts’, ‘drugged cockroaches’ and suggesting – as in an article in The Times of Israel – that there are times when genocide is permissible.

That’s the background. But the song is a story about two children who share a common humanity and a common fate. The key line, for me, is ‘Then each took the hand of the other’. Given the contempt in which Zionism and Israelis hold the Jews of Eastern Europe for going passively into the gas chambers (as the myth has it), it’s not a stretch to show that this Jewish child sees – not an Israeli child – but this Palestinian child as her friend, her brother.

So the song is both personal and political.

Cohen: You must have known the song would be provocative and controversial, even outrageous, for some listeners. Was that your intention from the start or just where the creative process took you?

Rosselson: I don’t write songs to be controversial or provocative. Any song that implies criticism of Israel is going to be seen by Israeli supporters as provocative so that really doesn’t enter my consciousness.

I wanted to express my anger and dismay at what Israel was doing in this attack on Gaza, what those who called themselves Jewish were doing to another people. I don’t think that saying directly what I think, what I feel makes for a very good song so I looked for a story that would carry what I wanted to say. When I’d calmed down a bit, I changed the ending, omitting the curse.

Cohen: Does the ‘monster’ only represent Israel?

Rosselson: It seemed to me that it was an appropriate word for a state that uses its immense military power to crush a defenceless people. Doubtless there are other monsters in the world.

Cohen: What reactions have you had to the song as a recording and in performance?

Rosselson: I haven’t so far had any hostile response, probably because Jewish supporters of Israel don’t usually come to my concerts. Sometimes they do, particularly in America. Mostly audiences are moved by the song. My daughter can’t listen to it without crying and it took me time to be able to sing it without openly showing emotion. It is, after all, desperately sad.

Cohen: What for you would be a good outcome for Israel/Palestine?

Rosselson: I think now there is no 2-state solution however desirable some, like Uri Avnery and, of course, mainstream politicians think it would be. It’s not going to happen. It wouldn’t anyway solve the problem (the ‘demographic’ problem, as Israelis see it) of what rights Palestinians – 1 in 5 of the population – would have in a Jewish state.

I’m against a Jewish state as I’m against an Islamic state or any state that excludes, by definition, a minority of its population. So one state with equal rights for all its citizens would be the best solution. So no Palestinian state either. Until that happens,far off into the future, the conflict will continue.

140

Garrulous 05.02.16 at 4:19 am

As a footnote to the long Saul Friedlander quote above, there is an interesting (if at times frustrating) Israeli documentary film entitled “The Flat,” from 2011, about the relationship between the Mildensteins and the Tuchlers, made by one of the Tuchler’s grandson.

Astonishingly, and for difficult and highly over-determined reasons on both sides, the friendship of the two couples actually continued after the war.

Not suggesting anything on the substantial questions debated here. Just saying the film is worth seeing.

141

Bloix 05.02.16 at 4:23 am

#134 – Henry, well, I’m sorry about that. I don’t see that anything I said is beyond the scope of vigorous argument. I said that Robin was arguing in bad faith, and I explained why. I said that his comment was made in tacit support of a statement by Ken Livingstone that can only have been intended as an anti-Semitic dog whistle, and I believe that to be true.

I believe that anti-Zionism is a legitimate intellectual and political position that understandably attracts anti-Semites who can hide their beliefs behind the fig-leaf replacement of Jew with Zionist, and I think that that is a self-evident proposition. And I believe that many anti-Zionists find themselves in league with more or less “respectable” anti-Semites and wind up making excuses for them, and that Robin is just such an anti-Zionist.

I think he’s done that here. I think that Livingstone is a perfectly ordinary casual anti-Semite who knows that you can call Zionists “Nazis” and get away with it, and that Robin jumped in to cover for him.

On top of all this is Robin’s way of being incisively, definitively, aggressively wrong about everything he lays his hands on. Not just about Jews. Jefferson the Fascist. Clarence Thomas the Black Panther.

But I do take you seriously, Harry, so let’s look at the accusation. I am accused of saying that Robin “said that the Zionists are Nazis and that the Nazis were Zionists.”

Note that I am not accused of calling Robin an anti-Semite, which I certainly don’t believe. And I can’t see why he thinks that saying he called Zionists “Nazis” is beyond the pale. Hell, Steven Salaita called an IDF spokesman “Goebbels” and said that Israeli independence is based on Hitlerian “eugenics” (i.e. Zionists are genocidal murderers) and Robin led his defense. So I don’t genuinely believe in his indignation. He could have said I was mistaken, but the idea that I have defamed him is ridiculous.

What I do believe is that (1) Livingstone was dog-whistling, (2) what he was saying was a grossly distorted version of historical fact, and (3) Robin did not just quote a text, he excerpted and intensified sections of it to make Livingstone’s statement appear reasonable.

So when I said that Robin himself said that Zionists are Nazis, I was exaggerating for emphasis. What he was doing was knowingly supporting a person who intentionally implied that Zionists are Nazis. It was clever and it was disgusting and he deserved to be called out for it.

I’m not going to apologize, and I will miss Crooked Timber. Bye, all.

142

J-D 05.02.16 at 4:24 am

Sancho @129

‘I don’t care for either side and would happily watch Palestine and Israel bulldozed all together into the sea to make way for a Disneyland or something, but human rights abuses are abuses no matter who is carrying them out.’

Would you regard the bulldozing into the sea of fourteen million people as a human rights abuse?

143

Sebastian H 05.02.16 at 4:26 am

One think that might help these types of discussions, when you quote someone at length you might hint what you think the purpose of the quote is, and whether or not you agree with it.

144

derrida derider 05.02.16 at 4:42 am

Jeez, Corey, don’t ban Bloix. It is always enlightening to see what a paranoid idiot who on his own admission starts from the assumption that the poster and commenters are all crypto-Nazis, can come up with. Much better to have a simple DNFTT approach.

145

Plume 05.02.16 at 4:48 am

Franck @117,

“I’m surprised that you think the creation of Israel is uniquely iniquitous.”

This kind of grotesque misreading is what happens when people bring all kinds of baggage into a new conversation and forget it’s new.

I never said it was uniquely iniquitous. I never implied it was uniquely iniquitous. I don’t believe it was, either. But it’s never a very effective form of defense/debate to claim that “other people do it too.” As if this might work at court when you go before a judge and say, “Your honor, I’m not the only person who breaks the speed limit!!” You would be better off acknowledging the old “two wrongs don’t make a right,” as simplistic as it may be.

It was a world-historical mistake, and intensely wrong, immoral and illegitimate to violently force the Jewish state into existence, and it has obviously made Jews far less safe than they would have been if they had immigrated to, say, the United States instead. Not only was it categorically wrong to impose that state on the unwilling; it was an abject failure if its aim was to offer a safe refuge for Jews fleeing from oppression elsewhere.

The violent conflict over the proposed Jewish state in Palestine goes back more than a century now, and it shows no sign of abating. All of this was preventable. No Jewish state there, no endless conflict between peoples fighting over that land. Period. End of story.

146

Bloix 05.02.16 at 4:51 am

Oh, sorry to be so hard to get rid of –

This is from an old Robin post:

“she compared the Zionists to the Nazis, arguing that both movements assumed that the Jews were “totally foreign” to other peoples based on their “inalterable substance.” …

He was writing, of course, about Hannah Arendt, one of his intellectual idols.

http://crookedtimber.org/2013/02/04/the-question-of-palestine-at-brooklyn-college-then-and-now/

And here is Robin describing Arendt in the London Review of Books:

“few of the protagonists in the struggle over Palestine so reminded her of the Nazis as the Zionists themselves”

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n01/corey-robin/dragon-slayers

Perhaps after you ban me, you can ban Robin for accusing Arendt of saying precisely what I accused him of saying.

147

J-D 05.02.16 at 5:46 am

I just read the earlier post (from December 2013) that you linked to earlier, about ‘The biggest game in town’.

An excellent point. I never thought of that before. And it’s being exemplified, right here right now — isn’t it just?

148

MilitantlyAardvark 05.02.16 at 6:25 am

@42 BBA

“Of course Israel doesn’t have the “right to exist”. No country does, because countries don’t have rights.

People have rights”

If you see a “country” as a purely geographical construct, your take makes some sense. However, when you consider a “country” as an agglomeration of persons, it’s much harder to argue that a group of people has no rights.

149

novakant 05.02.16 at 7:36 am

It’s blown up now because there is an election for Mayor of London next week. If Labour loses unexpectedly, the Labour hard right will attempt to launch a leadership coup. If Labour wins, Corbyn’s position will be perceived to have been shored up. That is why this has blown up now. It’s real recklessness by the Labour nasties.

Correct.

Let’s also not forget that the current mayor, Boris Johnson, made blatantly racist remarks about Obama when he came to visit – but apparently nobody really cared:

Boris Johnson suggests ‘part-Kenyan’ Obama may have ‘ancestral dislike’ of UK

150

Peter T 05.02.16 at 8:20 am

What’s wrong with an ancestral dislike of the UK? I have one, inherited from Irish-stock mother and grandmother. Reinforced by working in London for the clueless English upper classes (the workers are fine – they are just the ones who were unlucky enough not to escape).

151

Bloix 05.02.16 at 8:43 am

Not that anyone else cares, but after reflection I conclude that perhaps I’m coming at this the wrong way. Perhaps Robin is genuinely offended that anyone could think that he believes that Zionism is like Nazism. But I do think that before I apologize, it should be clear that an apology is owed.

So if Prof. Robin will say:
“It is defamatory to say that I believe that Zionism is akin to Nazism. No decent person could hold that view.”

Then I will say,
“I am astonished and delighted, Prof. Robin. You have my full and unreserved apology.”

152

levi9909 05.02.16 at 8:55 am

Excusing the Zionists for simply trying to get Jews out of Germany by finding a common interest with the Nazis who wanted to do the same is disingenuous. The fact is Hitler must have approved a scheme, the Ha’avara agreement, which made it easier for German Jews to go to Palestine than to anywhere else at a time when getting into Palestine was otherwise no easier than getting into certain other countries. We know why the Zionists wanted Jews in Palestine. The question is, why was Hitler so keen on the idea on Palestine and nowhere else?

There must have been many Jews who felt they could not avail of the Ha’avara agreement and they could have been (that is, they were) trapped in Germany because of that. Many must have lost their lives because of the Palestine focus of the agreement.

Zionists are now reluctantly admitting to the Ha’avara agreement by way of the Jews escaping Germany argument and then nitpicking over whether Hitler’s agreement with Zionism at that time could be described as “Hitler supported Zionism…” For this argument they are aided by Hitler’s stated hostility to Zionism in Mein Kampf which was published in 1925. Be that as it may but the fact is, the mainstream of the Zionist movement in Germany (a minority among German Jews) supported Hitler when he came to power and the deal they did with him very possibly (that is, probably) cost some German Jews their lives.

153

Igor Belanov 05.02.16 at 9:12 am

Bloix @ 72

“Good idea – Europeans should force antagonistic ethnic and religious nationalities in the Middle East into single states. That works so well – look at Syria! Look at Iraq!

Seriously, premise of this idea is that the murderous, racist, neo-Nazi Zionists are also 100% enlightened, EU-style secular democrats. It’s a mash-up of two wildly inconsistent stereotypes about Jews.”

Where did I say that I thought that Israelis are ‘murderous, racist, neo-Nazi Zionists’? They seem to be able to allow Palestinians within Israel ‘proper’ to enjoy more or less equal rights, why shouldn’t they be able to extend this to the West Bank or Gaza? There is no contradiction between states that are liberal democratic at home and yet deny human rights to populations outside their official borders. Western countries have employed these double standards for years. What I’m suggesting is that Israel is capable of treating the Palestinian population more fairly, but it is going to need some pressure, from other countries but mainly from the Palestinians, to do this.

154

Hidari 05.02.16 at 9:16 am

Bloix mate, the Zionists wanted a Jewish nation state. The Nazis (after about 1939/1940) wanted to exterminate every Jew in Europe. The Zionists were clearly not Nazis, and vice versa and no serious person thinks they are.

The question is, out of, not ideology but realpolitik, did the Zionists make short term rapprochements with the Nazi regime, arrangements that with hindsight now seem more than slightly morally questionable? *

It should be pointed out that if they did they were scarcely alone in this. The British after all had numerous high up figures in their political establishment, who were, shall we say, at the very least, ambivalent about the Nazi regime (and not a few who were outright fans). As is rather well known, the British connived with the Germans to dismember Czechoslovakia at a ‘peace conference’ to which the Czechs weren’t invited. The Russians signed the Nazi-Soviet pact. In the States you had FDR putting a stop to the real nonsense but you still had German American Bund, you had the KKK, you had Father Coughlin, you had Lindbergh.

It’s hardly hysterical or god help us ‘anti-semitic’ to point out that in hindsight all these deals do not look terribly good either morally or politically. Doesn’t mean that anyone is claiming that Ben-Gurion was literally a Nazi.

*The really major moral exception is the Stern Gang who attempted to cut a deal with the Nazis as the Holocaust was actually ongoing. But the Stern Gang were bug eyed terrorist nutjobs.

155

Igor Belanov 05.02.16 at 9:26 am

@ derrida derider

“Jeez, Corey, don’t ban Bloix. It is always enlightening to see what a paranoid idiot who on his own admission starts from the assumption that the poster and commenters are all crypto-Nazis, can come up with. Much better to have a simple DNFTT approach.”

Quite right. The topic of this very thread has its roots in the fact that people have demanded that other people be suspended/banned/silenced/forced to apologise for making ‘controversial’ statements. If you don’t like what someone says it’s much better to criticise rather than demand that they be shut up.

156

R. N. England 05.02.16 at 9:35 am

Jews have contributed greatly to my culture, the international one which got going with the European Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries. Spinoza to Einstein and beyond are among its greatest benefactors. Probably none of them took religious practice seriously, but I take my hat off to the culture that produced them. That doesn’t mean I have to support Zionism to be consistent. In fact I think Israel was a mistake, and predictably so. I don’t see anything wrong with what I have read of statements from Livingstone & Co., and I think people who have attacked those statements are either ignorant or dishonest. My attitude to Netanyahu is similar to Einstein’s visceral loathing for Begin.

157

Dipper 05.02.16 at 9:53 am

so yet again the foes of Labour up to their usual dirty tricks of quoting back words politicians have actually said or posted, and pointing out who politicians actually associate with.

Why not just be careful what you say in public and who you share platforms with? Why not have answers that deal with what you said/did and use the opportunity to put pressure on the opposition?

If something keeps happening to you (i.e. nasty press running a campaign against you), is it because subconsciously you want it to keep happening to you?

158

Dipper 05.02.16 at 9:58 am

So Netanyahu is a nasty piece of work who pursues policies that many people take strong objection to. Well so is Erdogan, but I haven’t heard many people saying that Erdogan’s policies call into question the right of the Turkish state to exist.

If every time a Turkish president did something that people in the west found objectionable they called into question the existence of the Turkish state, I might think that perhaps they had an agenda other than criticising the policies implemented by that particular government?

159

Sasha Clarkson 05.02.16 at 10:10 am

“Given this, your average British leftist is an empty vessel into which information can be poured on this subject.”

I stopped taking this article seriously here.

160

Sam Wraith 05.02.16 at 10:14 am

Nice piece Daniel. Even before I read you were a Blue.

161

weaver 05.02.16 at 11:17 am

If every time a Turkish president did something that people in the west found objectionable they called into question the existence of the Turkish state…

Great analogy, Sparky.

162

Donald 05.02.16 at 11:20 am

Dipper–

By Israel’s right to exist, do you mean that Palestinians have no right to return to the land from where they were expelled? Because the phrase “Israel’s right to exist” is often used as a way of denying a basic human right of Palestinians without being honest about it.

163

weaver 05.02.16 at 11:38 am

When ever anyone asks you if you believe in Israel’s right to exist, the appropriate response is to look at them silently but with clear expectation. When they ask you if you intend to answer them, point out you’re waiting from them to finish asking the question, and help them out with the next word (of the four remaining), which is “as”.

Alternatively you can ask in response: Do you believe in Israel’s right to exist – as an Israeli state?

164

Collin Street 05.02.16 at 11:39 am

Well so is Erdogan, but I haven’t heard many people saying that Erdogan’s policies call into question the right of the Turkish state to exist.

That’s because Turkey did paperwork that Israel didn’t. Israel’s not unique in being a country with dubious sovereignty — Taiwan today, and in the past West Germany, ireland, Bhutan, South Africa, a fair few others — but most other countries in that position keep themselves out of international trouble until the paperwork gets sorted.

If Ireland had spent the war years putting protestants into ghettos I’m pretty sure the unholy clusterfuck state of the free state’s foundation documents would have been a regular topic of discussion. But it didn’t so it didn’t.

On the other hand, Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa, which both had dubious foundation documents and put people into gulags, sure, the dubious status of the foundation documents came up all the time.

165

franck 05.02.16 at 11:42 am

Plume,

You make a number of assertions. Since we know that violence against Jews in Palestine goes back far longer than a century, what makes you think that the conflict wouldn’t be a factor today even wihout the founding of Israel. Without the founding of Israel there would still be Jews there.

Immigrating to the US wasn’t an option of course, due to the attitudes of the US government in the 30s and 40s. though it is interesting that lifespan estimates in Israel are actually significantly longer in Israel than in the US.

I also don’t understand why other countries with forced partitions at the same time aren’t relevant. Why isn’t Indian Partition relevant. Turkey as mentioned above is also interesting, what with the genocide of the Armenians, expulsion of the Greeks, and continued persecution of non-Turks.

166

franck 05.02.16 at 11:43 am

What paperwork did Turkey do? Particularly on the Armenian genocide?

167

franck 05.02.16 at 11:45 am

Can people point out successful use of the right of return without the refugees or their supporters winning a protracted war?

The EU accepted the Benes decrees after all, despite them being a textbook rejection of the right of return.l

168

Sancho 05.02.16 at 11:50 am

“If every time a Turkish president did something that people in the west found objectionable they called into question the existence of the Turkish state, I might think that perhaps they had an agenda other than criticising the policies implemented by that particular government?

It’s rather the opposite: when an Arab leader does something atrocious, it’s recognised as atrocious across the developed world. When an Israeli leader does the same thing, millions of apologists insist it was a necessary act of self-defence.

Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

Regarding the right of return, in Australia at least, the people who insist that Jews have an inalienable right to reclaim their ancestral lands because they lived on them a thousand years ago are the same people who insist that Australian aboriginals have no such right to lands they lived on two hundred years ago. Because superior invader, ours-by-conquest, waffle-waffle.

Consistency doesn’t seem to be much of a concern for Zionist gentiles.

169

LFC 05.02.16 at 11:52 am

levi9909 @154
There must have been many Jews who felt they could not avail of the Ha’avara agreement and they could have been (that is, they were) trapped in Germany because of that. Many must have lost their lives because of the Palestine focus of the agreement.

I don’t quite understand this statement. As was pointed out upthread, some (or at least two) of the main potential ‘receiving’ countries were tightening controls/quotas on Jewish immigration in the late 30s.

I also don’t see how the Haavara agreement, based on the description here, was esp. morally dubious — see harry b’s (sensible, I think) comment @125.

170

levi9909 05.02.16 at 12:00 pm

Palestine had tightening controls during that same time. The question remains, why was so Hitler so keen to direct Jews to Palestine? Jews were certainly encouraged to leave but it was only their path to Palestine that was smoothed by the capital they could take.

Suppose a Jew wanted to go to Kenya instead of Palestine (as an aunt of mine did). Do you suppose Hitler would have said, ok you can go to Kenya but you’d better not take much money with you unless they don’t let you in, try Palestine instead and I’ll personally intervene to let you take more money. It doesn’t stack up.

171

franck 05.02.16 at 12:11 pm

Sancho,

Prove it. You’re telling me that there are no leftist Zionists in Australia that support enforcement of Aboriginal treaty rights. I don’t believe you.

172

franck 05.02.16 at 12:13 pm

Sancho,

Also, Turkey regularly denies the Armenian genocide at Turkish and Muslim conferences and gets no pushback. See Erdogan saying “never been a Muslim committed genocide” and the like.

173

LFC 05.02.16 at 12:14 pm

Collin Street @167
In terms of the way ‘sovereignty’ norms work, Israel does not have “dubious sovereignty.” No country that is recognized as a sovereign state by most or all other countries in the world has dubious sovereignty. Thus in the past West Germany did not have dubious sovereignty, nor did South Africa.

Taiwan, on the other hand, is recognized as sovereign by only a minority of countries. Different situation.

All this has basically nothing to do w the morality or legality of a particular country’s (or govt’s) policies, which is a separate question.

p.s. Although sometimes a distinction is drawn betw. empirical and juridical sovereignty, in terms of your comment and this one we’re talking about juridical sovereignty, i.e., it is a legal status determined mainly by the norms of mutual recognition.

174

Sancho 05.02.16 at 12:43 pm

@174
There are leftist Zionists in Australia? Name some, because Zionism as an issue is claimed lock, stock and barrel by the right.

If pro-Mabo, pro-Israel Australians exist, their numbers are vanishingly small and dwarfed by the hordes of Murdochian Zionists who’d cut their own throats before recognising any right of return for aboriginals under the exact same terms.

@175
Why reach back decades prior to Israel’s existence for an example? Is that because there’s nothing comparable in the modern era? Can you think of anything similar to Israel’s expansionism and treatment of the Palestinians that’s been carried out by other states and been similarly excused or defended abroad?

175

franck 05.02.16 at 12:59 pm

Because Turkish persecution of Armenians is ongoing? Ever hear of Hrant Dink?

There are many comparable things in the modern era.

Pakistan’s treatment of Ahmadis, Christians, and Hindus. Regular pogroms, forced conversions, and clear second class treatment under the law.

Rohingya in Myanmar.

Chinese treatment of Tibetans and Uighers.

Syrian and Turkish treatment of Kurds, including wholesale denial of citizenship.

After WWII, we can look at the mass expulsion of the Germans from Eastern Europe. And the expulsion of Poles westward from the Soviet Union (Belarus and Lithuania).

Mass expulsion of Jews from Arab countries in the 50s and 60s.

Mass expulsion of South Asians from Uganda.

The wars in Yugoslavia, and particularly pro-Serb commentators in the West who excused ethnic cleansing.

Apologists for the Khmer Rouge both in the West and China.

Enough for you, or should I keep going?

As for Australia, Doesn’t Ameinu exist in Australia?

176

Tabasco 05.02.16 at 1:01 pm

Partially on topic, wasn’t there also a Nazi plan to send European Jews to Madagascar?

177

J-D 05.02.16 at 1:16 pm

Sancho @171

‘Regarding the right of return, in Australia at least, the people who insist that Jews have an inalienable right to reclaim their ancestral lands because they lived on them a thousand years ago are the same people who insist that Australian aboriginals have no such right to lands they lived on two hundred years ago.’

I’m not clear on which people you’re referring to. Can you name them?

178

weaver 05.02.16 at 1:17 pm

Also, Turkey regularly denies the Armenian genocide at Turkish and Muslim conferences and gets no pushback

Prior to the attack on the Mavi Marmara flotilla, that wasn’t the only place they didn’t get pushback.

Sorry, are we not playing a quick round of what-aboutism? My mistake.

179

Tom Bach 05.02.16 at 1:23 pm

Yes there was a “plan” to send the Jews to Madagascar. It aped or mirrored 18th and 19th century German anti-Semites plans to send the Jews to some island somewhere.

180

JHW 05.02.16 at 1:39 pm

Two things:

1. Most people on this thread seem to agree that Zionism and Nazism had completely different ideological commitments and any collaboration between particular Zionists and the Nazi government was a purely tactical, instrumental arrangement done for wildly different purposes on each side. If that’s true (and it is), then I don’t see how it even partially excuses what Ken Livingstone said, at all. Livingstone was trying to attack Zionism by associating it with Nazis. He stumbled into minimizing Hitler’s early anti-Semitism in the process, which is one problem in its own right, but he also was suggesting that the Zionist aspiration for Jews (Jewish power and self-determination in their own land) was somehow akin to the Nazi aspiration for Jews (Jews were a cancer to be gotten rid of, and, at minimum, deprived of as much power as possible). The Haavara agreement doesn’t get you there, not even remotely.

It’s important to see why this is so wrongful, and not just hot-headed or over-the-top. One part is that suggesting that Jews (even particular Jews) are akin to Nazis is just inherently a repugnant and extremely offensive thing to do (with the possible exception of a case where it is *literally true* and not just thought rhetorically effective by a particular speaker). But the other part is that it erases the very real and legitimate Jewish stake in the Zionist project. It is one thing to say, “I understand why Jews might want a state of their own to provide for their self-determination and self-protection, but Zionism nonetheless was an unwise, and/or a morally illegitimate, way of going about this”–and to take responsibility for what that means insofar as ensuring that Jews can be safe to live their lives in peace in some other way. It is quite another to say, “Zionism is really just European anti-Semitism internalized by Jews” (a view advanced even more explicitly by Joseph Massad a few years back), conveniently enabling the speaker to not have to worry about any Jewish interests or Jewish lives that may be at stake.

2. Much more narrowly, about the Haavara Agreement. levi9909 at #173 and earlier suggests that the Haavara Agreement wasn’t about increasing emigration so much as it was specifically about easing Jewish emigration to Palestine specifically. It’s certainly true that some Nazis did see Jewish concentration in Palestine as useful for their plans. (One argument against Zionism, in a similar vein but from opposite moral commitments, is precisely that Jewish concentration anywhere is dangerous for Jews.) But another, I think more important element is that Britain was more permissive of immigration to Palestine on the part of Jews who took some capital with them, and that was enabled by the agreement. As to why Palestine and not some other place with similar immigration rules, presumably in those other places there were not Jewish organizations doing the logistical and administrative work necessary for an arrangement like the Haavara Agreement. I think it is most likely that the Agreement saved lives, as working with oppressors sometimes does. Whether it was worth the price (in legitimizing the Nazi regime and breaking the boycott) is another question.

181

Collin Street 05.02.16 at 1:50 pm

The problem I have is that you basically can’t discuss zionism. You can only discuss Israel, and there’s not a lot to be said about israel, virtually none of it positive.

I’d like to be able to discuss potential jewish states and what forms they might take and how they could be engineered to avoid current-israel’s problems, but there’s no counterparty: all you’ve got is the israeli apologists, who seem unshakably convinced that it’s innate in the nature of judaism that the only sort of state jewish people could build is one that resembles Israel, and then call you an anti-semite for saying you thought jewish people could do better than that.

I mean, I know that there are people out there who are just itching for a chance to build a jewish state so fucking nice it’s a terror, but they’ve largely withdrawn from the debate and honestly I don’t blame them.

[maybe it’s the politician’s syllogism: “I support a jewish state / israel is a jewish state / therefore I must support israel”. With something similar for the anti-zionists who do the same thing, that I’m too tired to write formally]

182

franck 05.02.16 at 2:10 pm

weaver,

Absolutely true. Israel has been noticeably soft on the whole Armenian genocide question to avoid annoying the Turks. Now that the Turks and Israelis have both decided to blow up the relationship, it isn’t as big a deal now.

183

franck 05.02.16 at 2:15 pm

Couple more come to mind.

Fijian treatment of Indian Fijians.

Soviet treatment of Crimean Tatars and Caucasians, with increased repression and forced deportation now that Russia is in control of Crimea again. You can bet that Crimean Tatars won’t be able to return from Uzbekistan to Crimea now.

184

Hidari 05.02.16 at 2:16 pm

One point that is rarely made is that most Zionists aren’t Jews. The leaders of almost all ‘Western’ countries are either de facto or de jure Zionists, but they aren’t Jews.And it’s not just leaders but the whole ‘political class’. It’s noticeable that John Mann, who kicked all this off, isn’t Jewish. Needless to say, the owners/editors of the newspapers desperate to keep this ‘controversy’ going are also not Jewish on the whole.

185

franck 05.02.16 at 2:25 pm

Collin Street,

Why isn’t this just counter-factual history? Sure, it would have been great if the US and other countries had accepted Jewish refugees in the 30s and the Arab states hadn’t expelled all their Jews after decolonization, but that’s not the world we live in.

Maybe the best thing to do is just deal with the world we have and make it better. There are a ton of simple things that could be done now that would improve the lives of many, many people even without “solving the conflict”.

186

Gator90 05.02.16 at 2:31 pm

Corey Robin @129

It was interesting to see how angry you were at the suggestion you equated Zionism to Nazism. Some of Israel’s critics routinely make such comparisons. I’ve seen it many times and assume you have as well. Does it offend you?

187

Phil 05.02.16 at 2:33 pm

JHW: Most people on this thread seem to agree that Zionism and Nazism had completely different ideological commitments and any collaboration between particular Zionists and the Nazi government was a purely tactical, instrumental arrangement done for wildly different purposes on each side. If that’s true (and it is), then I don’t see how it even partially excuses what Ken Livingstone said, at all.

I think it explains what Livingstone said; his point was precisely that you can’t infer the absence of anti-semitism from support for Zionism, or anti-semitism from opposition to Zionism. (Which is also true. Surprised nobody’s mentioned the Bundists yet.)

I’ve got no desire to excuse what he said, though. I don’t think it’s remotely arguable that the man’s an anti-semite (see this article from 2012), or that he said what he did in a weirdly misguided attempt to engage in anti-semitic dogwhistle politics. Nevertheless, nobody made him say what he did on Thursday, and it was entirely predictable that what he said would be offensive to Jews. He’s become a liability, and a good long period of silence on his part would be welcome.

188

Plume 05.02.16 at 2:34 pm

Franck@168,

Why aren’t those other situations relevant? Because they don’t change the fact that the Jewish state never should have happened. It doesn’t matter if there were dozens or even hundreds of similar situations. Hell, America isn’t legitimate, either, given how it was formed, given slavery and genocide, etc. etc. here. But that just means that Israel joins a long list of world-historical wrongs. It doesn’t negate it as a mistake when other wrongs exist as well.

And the topic concerns modern Israel. It doesn’t concern modern Pakistan, for instance.

You’re just trying to shut down criticism of Israel by bringing up the Pakistans of this world, and it’s pretty obvious. Again, it’s just more of the same “But, your honor, a lot of other people speed, too!!”

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franck 05.02.16 at 2:43 pm

Plume,

No, I’m trying to understand why we should care whether Israel was a “mistake” if most other countries in the world are “mistakes” as well. Who cares? Why bring it up? It’s exactly the same as your weird “Anti-Semitism” comment, which everyone on this thread has seen a hundred times before.

I maintain that Israel isn’t any more of a mistake than many other messy post-colonial partitions, the most notable one being India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, which has caused and likely will continue to cause many more deaths and larger scale suffering. I blame the British (and others) for being total incompetents at leaving their colonies, as we see over and over again.

What’s your point, beyond not liking Israel?

190

Layman 05.02.16 at 2:55 pm

franck @ 188: ‘There are a ton of simple things that could be done now that would improve the lives of many, many people even without “solving the conflict”.’

Do you have a list handy?

191

Igor Belanov 05.02.16 at 2:57 pm

All nation-states are a ‘mistake’ from a certain point of view. It is indeed one of the problems with ideas of national-self-determination that two nations should argue over the same area of land, and it is more unfortunate for the people of one of those nations when they have so little power compared to the other. But that doesn’t make Israel unique as there are a myriad other examples.

192

levi9909 05.02.16 at 2:57 pm

JHW – there were other Jewish organisations helping Jews migrate to other countries. The Nazis only dealt with the Zionists and not only in matters of emigration. Zionists were a minority of Jews throughout Nazi occupied Europe and yet the Judenraten, the ghetto police and even the concentration camp kapos were drawn disproportionately from the Zionist organisations.

Much of your comment relies on you presuming so and so did this for that and so and so did that for this. We only know what we know. Zionists wanted and still want a state in Palestine specially for the world’s Jews. Their attitude to diaspora Jews was one of disdain, not concern for safety, except where Jews could be “good human material” and not “human dust” as many Zionist ideologues described both diaspora Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

We further know that Hitler supported the Ha’avara agreement which directed Jews to Palestine. It sometimes cost Germany more than it got in return and it definitely trapped some Jews in Germany.

Now we can all speculate as to what Hitler was trying to achieve but what you have done is ignore what we know and fill gaps with assumptions that exonerate the Zionists of any wrong doing.

Why you do this becomes clear when you describe the Zionist aspiration to specifically Jewish statehood as legitimate. A state based on on-going colonial settlement, ethnic cleansing and segregationist laws cannot be legitimate.

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Richard M 05.02.16 at 2:58 pm

> Yes there was a “plan” to send the Jews to Madagascar.

One thing I hadn’t really realized prior to the current controversy was that the plan with Madagascar was very much _not_ to help them to set up a settler state ruling the locals. It was more to ship them there, put them in camps, and _then_ kill them.

That way, they would not be murdering citizens, but just following the well-established customary international law for dealing with imperial subjects.

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franck 05.02.16 at 2:59 pm

Layman,

Sure, immediate birth citizenship to all Palestinian descendents of refugees in the country they reside in, for one. Recognition of Gaza as an independent country or incorporation of it into Egypt, along with granting of citizenship to all its inhabitants.

195

JHW 05.02.16 at 2:59 pm

Plume: “I think it explains what Livingstone said; his point was precisely that you can’t infer the absence of anti-semitism from support for Zionism, or anti-semitism from opposition to Zionism. (Which is also true. Surprised nobody’s mentioned the Bundists yet.)”

It doesn’t even “explain[]” it on this level, because working instrumentally with Zionists for your own reasons doesn’t constitute “support for Zionism.” The Nazi regime worked instrumentally with lots of people who wanted to save Jewish lives, when it made sense for it to do so in specific circumstances. That doesn’t tell us very much about the Nazi regime’s ideological commitments. Any argument trying to infer anything about the relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism from the premise that “Hitler supported Zionism” is wrong-headed and repulsive from the start.

Bundism is a much better example to make the abstract point. The problem with Bundism is, as admirable as it was (and I say that not sardonically but as someone whose basic politics share a lot with Bundism), its actual plan for the Jews of Eastern Europe was a miserable failure. Almost all of the Bundists were murdered by Hitler and Stalin between them and the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe were destroyed first by Nazi Germany and then (what was left of them) by decades of Soviet persecution. That wouldn’t have happened if Israel had existed in 1933 instead of not until 1948. These are the kinds of historical experiences that have led the vast majority of the organized Jewish community to support Zionism, a level of consensus that certainly did not exist in the 1920s and 1930s. That’s not to say that anti-Zionism is inherently anti-Semitic: it’s not. But that’s a history that has to be taken seriously, not ignored in a political game of gotcha.

As far as Ken Livingstone, I cannot see into his heart, but the fact that he is willing to utter generically positive platitudes about Jews while running for office is neither here nor there on the issue of whether he is an anti-Semite.

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Igor Belanov 05.02.16 at 3:11 pm

‘Nevertheless, nobody made him say what he did on Thursday, and it was entirely predictable that what he said would be offensive to Jews. He’s become a liability, and a good long period of silence on his part would be welcome.’

Livingstone’s mistake was to rejoin the Labour Party. He won two Mayoral elections as an independent, a status that suits someone who is deliberately outspoken and such a loose cannon. As soon as he rejoined Labour he lost in 2008, at least partly due to saddling his own fortunes with those of an increasingly unpopular government.

It would probably suit him to be allowed to speak out without people whining that he is compromising the fortunes of the party. This is especially the case now that the idea of offensiveness is getting way out of control and for some groups of people taking offence is almost a hobby.

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Layman 05.02.16 at 3:16 pm

@ franck, yes, that’s more or less what I thought you’d say.

198

JHW 05.02.16 at 3:17 pm

levi9909: Of course, numerous resistance leaders were also Zionists (as you presumably know), including Mordechai Anielewicz, the leader of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. A lot of the politically active and civically engaged Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe were Zionists and they made a wide variety of different choices about the moral legitimacy of collaborating with the Nazis. Obviously, one reason people chose to collaborate was out of a hope to save Jewish lives. There is not a shred of historical evidence for what I take to be the subtext of your comment, that there was a Zionist conspiracy to support the Nazi regime’s persecution of Jews so as to bring about Jewish emigration to Palestine.

Re: the Haavara Agreement, you’ve repeatedly said that it endangered the lives of Jews in Germany but have yet to give any reason why, and your suggestion that a similar arrangement could easily have occurred to get Jews to emigrate elsewhere, but for Nazi desire to get them to emigrate specifically to Palestine, is similarly empty of details.

You accuse me of having ideological commitments about Zionism that are distorting my view of the historical record, but I think it is the other way around. You have no idea what my general view of Zionism is (you are reading way too much into my banal comment that Jews have some legitimate reasons for wanting a state).

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Plume 05.02.16 at 3:23 pm

franck @192,

Israel is unique in this way: It was not a partition of an already existing nation. It was not a breakaway portion of an already existing nation. It was an external imposition, for the most bizarre reasons imaginable. That a widely scattered ethnic group, gone for nearly 2000 years, dispersed into dozens and dozens of nations, should have the right of return to its supposed former homeland — which most historians contest was their homeland in the first place. As in, there is no real evidence to support Zionist claims to that part of the world, even if we concede the premise that the nearly 2000-year-absence shouldn’t matter.

Most historians believe Israeli tribes lost, or migrated from, or were expelled from, lost again and again, any claim to the area of Palestine more than 2000 years ago. That they were frequently defeated in ancient times, and never were remotely as powerful, at any time in history, as their bible would suggest. As in, their claim to that area of the world has no legitimate backing beyond myth and legend. And because of the mad desire to return to their mythic origins, hundreds of thousands of people have died and will continue to die, including Jews. It was a massive mistake for them as well, and it’s made them far more existentially vulnerable.

(And, yes, I know, Jews have lived in that region for well over two thousand years. But, so have all kinds of other ethnic groups, and they don’t get to have their own nations, etc.)

That said, it’s a done deal. So from this point on, what matters is that the Jewish state end its occupation, its oppression toward the Palestinians, return to pre-war (1967) borders, and do whatever it can to make the “two-state solution” happen. It must end racial apartheid and accept full human rights for all citizens. Palestinians and the larger Arab world must, in return for this, live in peace with Israel, accept them as a neighbor, etc.

As to the abject silliness of “What’s your point, beyond not liking Israel?” I don’t like any of the governments in that region, frankly, franck. I can’t find much of anything to like about any of them, and see them all as “the bad guys.” That, of course, is quite different from saying one doesn’t like the people there. I’m talking about states, not “the people.”

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Plume 05.02.16 at 3:25 pm

JHW @198,

Please don’t attach my name to quotes I never made. You’ve got the wrong poster.

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e abrams 05.02.16 at 3:27 pm

CR @129
I’m curious: in the age of unlimited instant free email addresses, how do you ban someone ?

you can ban an “identity” – eg, Bloix as Bloix, but surely if Bloix cared a whit, he or she could find other identities ?

seems like there should be an xkcd on this, or that old meme from slashdot, your idea for banning spam wont’ work (check all that apply)
followed by a check list of maybe, iirc, 15 items

202

JHW 05.02.16 at 3:29 pm

Plume: You’re right, I apologize (I mixed up “P” names.) My comment was directed at Phil at #190.

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Metatone 05.02.16 at 3:41 pm

I think the OP is full of sense.
I’d add in a couple of bits of context:

1) British society has made great strides regarding all forms of racism in my lifetime, but there are still older people who are very resistant to change. And they influence younger people who they have other things in common with. One might think of a Jim Davidson (comedian), or Nigel Farage or a Ken Livingstone who all tend to run to dog-whistle territory (or worse) now and then. (In passing part of the oddity is that outlets like the Mail on Sunday will print stuff from Davidson with a nod and a wink, every now and then.) So there’s anti-semitism and racism lurking in all sorts of communities.

2) This is probably inflammatory whataboutery, but as a brown person (who isn’t Muslim, but kind of looks a bit stereotypically like one) there do seem to be asymmetries. It’s apparently not a big deal for Theresa May’s goon squad to stop me at Stratford station and demand to see my passport, to prove I’m British, because I look like an immigrant. (Brown skin, scraggly beard, not very expensive M&S suit that day). And be pretty physically forceful about it. (Luckily for a very random banking reason I happened to have my passport with me.)

Yet some vile words (some stupid, some apparently intentional) can dominate the national debate for days.

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Watson Ladd 05.02.16 at 3:55 pm

Plume, that’s exactly what Rabin was attempting to do in the Oslo accords and later agreements. But what happened was a wave of suicide bombing: it should be no surprise that Israel moved to the right. The bizarre fact is that you consider the position of Labor, which you in fact hold, as necessitating expression of some wish to unmake the Jewish state.

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franck 05.02.16 at 4:01 pm

Plume,

I think you are overstating the case quite strongly. Jews had been a majority in Jerusalem since at least 1845. There were consistent efforts to return to Palestine by Jews throughout the Middle Ages, despite common efforts by both Muslims and Christians to expel them. There definitely was a Jewish community there in the early part of the 20th century, before Western colonialism had control of the country.

I absolutely do think it was a partition of two extant peoples, who were both living in the same land, engineered by the British. Do you think the Protestants in Northern Ireland are a foreign imposition on Ireland, for example? How long must a group live in a place and successive generations be born there, before they gain any native rights?

You don’t think biblical Jews lived in Jerusalem, or had a kingdom there, or exercised control over the area at any time? I don’t understand your point here.

I don’t believe the Israel/Palestine issue is really that unique or special, and I don’t see why people insist on seeing it as a sui generis thing.

206

Donald Johnson 05.02.16 at 4:10 pm

“Plume, that’s exactly what Rabin was attempting to do in the Oslo accords and later agreements. But what happened was a wave of suicide bombing: it should be no surprise that Israel moved to the right. “

Rabin was assassinated by a Jewish extremist. We also don’t know if he truly favored a 2ss along the 67 lines or mere autonomy for Palestinians in a smaller space.

Without wishing to deny the Palestinian share of the blame, there is a constant effort on the part of people like Watson to rewrite the history in a way that leaves out the parts where the Zionist side is at fault, as in upthread, where Watson pretends not to know any reason for Palestinian terrorism before the 67 war. In some cases this might be genuine ignorance, but in many cases it’s probably bad faith.

And incidentally, it is up to the Palestinians what they wish to accept, not Plume or me or anyone else. It would be convenient if they were willing to accept a 2SS along the 67 lines, but there’s no morally compelling reason why ordinary Palestinians should care what Westerners think about this.

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franck 05.02.16 at 4:12 pm

Metatone,

Unfortunately, the Conservative party is quite clearly happy to put up with discriminatory treatment of ethnic minorities when it suits their purposes or their inner views.

The Labour party is the one who is supposed to be above this, along with the Liberal Democrats (theoretically). The problem is that for some Labour voters, casual anti-Semitism is just fine around the dinner table. For other Labour voters, casual anti-immigrant feeling is also there, though many of them are starting to vote UKIP.

One reason people should be concerned is that it is a delicate dance to appeal to the casual anti-semitism of Muslim Britons in one district and appeal to casual anti-immigrant sentiments in another district and still get enough votes to win control of Parliament. Better to go the high road on both sides.

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Philip 05.02.16 at 4:14 pm

Metatone I agree with your first point and I think there is something specific about Jews and DD alluded to it in the OP. As Nick S at 63 points out there is a Jewish community in the Northeast around Tyneside. There used to be a Jewish community in Sunderland that was established in the mid 18th century but has now all but gone and the community in Gosforth is only a fraction of it used to be. As far as I am aware Jews in the Northeast worked mainly in the professions and left the area during deindustrialisation as there was no longer a strong economy to support professional jobs. This means that people of my parent’s generation remember a time when there were strong Jewish communities and at school Jews and Catholics would be excused from attending an Anglican based assembly. So views about Jews from the 1970s and earlier are especially persistent.

The Northeast is one of the whitest region of England but there has been relatively a lot of immigration since 2000 with EU migration, overseas students, and refugees. So although views are changing I am not sure if they are with Jews. This is probably a pattern that is repeated across other post industrial regions. There is still the Haresi community in Gateshead but as far as I am aware there are some tensions with the white community and I am not sure that the two integrate much with each other.

209

Philip 05.02.16 at 4:15 pm

Sorry for the typo that should be Haredi.

210

franck 05.02.16 at 4:18 pm

Donald Johnson,

You are correct that it is up to the Palestinians what they wish to accept. It is up to us what we are willing to support them on. It is nowhere written that outsiders need to support one side or the other’s maximalist demands. Political and military failure have consequences, both for the Israelis and Palestinians.

“A decent respect for the opinions of mankind” is always a good idea. You can bet both sides in the 40s had a very strong and obsessive focus on what outsiders thought of Palestine. One of the reasons Netanyahu is a terrible leader is that he doesn’t seem to care about the opinion of outsiders outside of a very narrow group, and it is going to cost him. Hamas has exactly the same problem. It might not be a morally compelling reason, but it is a very practical reason.

211

Plume 05.02.16 at 4:32 pm

Franck @207,

Jews were a minority in the region when Zionists first starting pushing for the Jewish state. They were a minority in the region from the beginning of “Great Powers” calls for that state, right up through the actual establishment by force and ethnic cleansing.

And I never said Jews didn’t live in Jerusalem, in ancient or modern times. I said they were never as remotely powerful or dominant as their legends and myths would have us believe, and that they had no (legitimate) claim to the region, given how often they were defeated in battle, expelled, relocated, or emigrated from, etc. etc. Given the long history of myriad nomadic peoples there, coming and going, voluntarily or forced to flee, etc.

In short, I can’t think of another incidence in history — though I may be missing it — where an ethnic group was given the keys to a new kingdom, after (majority) absence for nearly two thousand years . . . . or when this was done, at least in part, because of ancient texts recounting myths and legends about that region. This is akin to, say, rounding up Romano-Celts from around the world and handing them the British Empire, because Arthurian legend.

Of course, the Holocaust added urgency to all of this, and I fully understand that. It added something beyond words, inexpressible, a tragedy almost beyond comprehension, to previous Zionist dreams of a homeland. But, again, it made no sense to place this homeland in the Middle East, given the obvious reactions to this, given that other ethnicities had their own long-standing claims. A far better course (IMO) would have been the United States opening up its borders to Jews, embracing them as refugees, doing everything they could to save them. It might (also) have been a good idea to find an area of land, perhaps part United States, part Canada, which had so few inhabitants that they would willingly accept a new nation in their midst. Put it up for a vote. Get the world on board. Part of Montana, North Dakota, say. Part of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, perhaps.

No place would have been safer for Jews. It’s quite possible that, in 1948, no place was more dangerous for them than the Middle East.

212

Donald Johnson 05.02.16 at 4:36 pm

Franck–I’m not talking about Hamas. I despise Hamas, personally. What I particularly hate is that every time there is a terror attack on a civilian some Hamas spokesman praises it.

I’m talking about Palestinians who see no reason whatsoever why they had to be forced out of their homes in 1948 and not allowed back. Now one could make a pragmatic argument about this, which in past years I would have made myself. The argument is that the 2SS is widely accepted by the international community, you can’t always right past wrongs, and most important (because the first two points are not moral arguments at all, just political) is that maybe the attempt at a 1SS would soon turn into sectarian warfare.

That last argument makes sense. But a 2SS also depends on good will on both sides–it’s almost as vulnerable to fanaticism or bad faith as a 1ss. As for maximalist demands, equal rights for everyone is actually a reasonable moderate demand. It’s seen as extremist because of the extremists on both sides who don’t want that.

213

Plume 05.02.16 at 4:37 pm

Donald Johnson @208,

Definitely agree. It’s not up to us. It’s up to them — the Palestinian people. An important point, obviously. And most of this could have been avoided in the first place if we hadn’t thought it was up to us, the West, the “Great Powers,” etc. etc., going back to the early 20th century and beyond.

214

T 05.02.16 at 4:37 pm

Shasha @151

Yep. You pointed out only one shaky predicate to his argument. It’s hard to buy into conclusions requiring a full out Rube Goldberg device to get us there…

215

Phil 05.02.16 at 4:42 pm

JHW

working instrumentally with Zionists for your own reasons doesn’t constitute “support for Zionism.”

It does, if by ‘support for Zionism’ you mean ‘doing things which further the goals of Zionist organisations’, which (if you read the transcript) it’s pretty clear is what Livingstone meant. I believe in not accusing people of worse things than there is actually evidence for, and I think if he’d meant ‘ideological support’ (over and above practical ditto) it’d be possible to identify some sign of it.

As far as Ken Livingstone, I cannot see into his heart, but the fact that he is willing to utter generically positive platitudes about Jews while running for office is neither here nor there on the issue of whether he is an anti-Semite.

This is unnecessarily ungenerous. Here’s Livingstone on his own record as Mayor in that article:

We can view my record through press cuttings or we can judge it through what I did as mayor: developing a housing policy to address the issues of the Charedi community; publication of the Jewish London Guide; the Chanucah menorah lighting on Trafalgar Square; marking Holocaust Memorial Day; delivering Simcha in the Square, since abolished by Boris Johnson; working to make the North London Eruv possible; changing the day of London’s “Rise” anti-racist festival so that Jewish people could play their part; opposing the academic boycott of Israel; regular Jewish community events and meetings.

But he may have been lying about all that, I dunno.

216

JHW 05.02.16 at 5:05 pm

Phil: “It does, if by ‘support for Zionism’ you mean ‘doing things which further the goals of Zionist organisations’, which (if you read the transcript) it’s pretty clear is what Livingstone meant.”

This is what Livingstone said, straight from the transcript:

“It’s completely over the top but it’s not antisemitism. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

I think it’s pretty clear that the meaning you attribute to him is not what he meant. Indeed, I’m pretty mystified as to why he would bother saying it if his only point was that one thing the Nazi regime did at one stage of its persecution of Jews was done in cooperation with Zionist organizations. It certainly doesn’t establish anything at all about the relationship between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. (Even anti-Zionists–which, after all, the Nazis ultimately were–can do things that happen to “further the goals of Zionist organizations.”)

It’s nice that Livingstone did some things as mayor that helped Jews, and I take back my accusation that he was exclusively appealing to positive platitudes, but it’s still a pretty serious mistake to think that means he can’t be an anti-Semite. Anti-Semitism, like other kinds of racism and prejudice, comes in a wide variety of forms, and can be accompanied by instances of support for Jewish interests in particular contexts. A person is not immunized from the accusation simply because they sometimes behave decently toward Jews.

217

levi9909 05.02.16 at 5:28 pm

JHW 201

Clearly you’re too in denial to reason with. If youre truly interested in the evidence scroll up to Corey Robin’s comments. Google key words and expressions like “negation of the diaspora”. Compare the Zionist attitude to the holocaust with how Golda Meir dealt with Poland in the throes of an antisemitic campaign in the 1960s. She requested that they stop sending elderly or infirm Jews over. Subscribe to Haaretz. They run stories on these things from time to time. But above all, gather the facts together before you make your mind up. Don’t make your mind up and then fit the facts or fill the gaps to fit your prejudice.

218

franck 05.02.16 at 5:29 pm

Donald Johnson,

What are you going to do for all the people in Israel who were forced from their homes? Lots of Baghdadi and Syrian and Polish Jews didn’t want to leave either.

But it is up to us. It’s clear that the parties are unable to come to an agreement by themselves. So what you are suggesting is forcing a 1 state solution. Why do you think international pressure to force that solution, up to and including punishing sanctions and military force is a good idea.

I don’t see why we should fetishize the right of return, for example. Palestinian groups claim a right of return for all descendents to the end of time, which has always struck me as ridiculous. No other group gets that. Compensate them, give them citizenship, whatever.

219

franck 05.02.16 at 5:37 pm

Plume,

You’d be surprised how tenuous most nations are when founded. The Czech people (as a group with an independent language and culture) almost died out in the 19th century and only survived through deliberate language and cultural creation. Slovenian nationalists were even worse off.

Again, I suggest that you continue to put Israel into some special category that is not justified. All nation-states are constructed and most of them have ugly histories, written in blood.

220

Plume 05.02.16 at 5:38 pm

franck @220,

“Palestinian groups claim a right of return for all descendents to the end of time, which has always struck me as ridiculous. No other group gets that. Compensate them, give them citizenship, whatever.”

First off, you’re exaggerating Palestinian claims. Second, you said “right of return” is ridiculous, but that’s essentially the same claim Zionists made/make, and it’s the basis of the Jewish state to begin with. “No other group gets that” except for Jews, ironically.

221

Plume 05.02.16 at 5:45 pm

franck @222,

Please deal with the elements of the Jewish state, which you keep avoiding. Again, I can’t think of a single nation in history that was formed for remotely similar reasons, or with such an immense gap in time. Nothing comes close — not in rationale, circumstance or method.

Yes, it is unique. Not unique in the violence used to create nation-states . . . . which is virtually always a grotesquely bloody affair. But unique in the circumstances leading up to it, the external players involved, the myths and legends used to claim the right to a new nation, the massive gap in time. It’s sui generis.

222

franck 05.02.16 at 5:45 pm

Plume,

You’re wrong about the right of return to Israel. It only applies to the grandchildren of Jews. The Palestinian right of return claim is for every descendent of every refugee, with no time limit. That is, any descendent of any Palestinian refugee can claim a right of return until the end of time.

I asked up thread if anyone could think of an example where people exercised their right of return successfully without winning a war. Can you think of any?

223

Ronan(rf) 05.02.16 at 5:47 pm

Palestinian negotiators have long given up on The right of return as a meaningful expectation. What they want is primarily a symbolic gesture, a recognition of the dispossession and the return of a tiny group. The rest of the refugees would be dealt with through international (not solely regional) repatriation, or movement into the be *Palestinian* state.

224

franck 05.02.16 at 5:48 pm

Plume,

I don’t understand why you put together extremely unlikely counterfactuals about rJewish refugees going to US/Canada before, during, or after WWII. The fact remains that those countries didn’t want to take sizable numbers of Jewish refugees, and cracked down on the numbers as the need grew. Something very similar is happening now with Syrian refugees.

Who cares if in your carefully created world, thing might have worked out better? I might even agree with you, but it doesn’t matter. We have the world we have now, with two distinct national groups, who have their own national consciousness. Why do you think this is worth repeating endlessly?

225

Ronan(rf) 05.02.16 at 5:48 pm

Sorry repatriation isn’t the word. But you get the idea.

226

Plume 05.02.16 at 5:53 pm

Franck @224,

Modern Israel is open to all Jews, and as long as it remains a nation-state, all Jews are welcome to settle there — until the end of time. Right? How does that differ from the Palestinian “right of return” idea, other than rhetorically?

227

Watson Ladd 05.02.16 at 5:54 pm

No Plume, the right Israelis (who are distinct nationality) have to reside in Israel is the right of conquest. This is exactly how every other country in the world exists. And yet, the legitimacy of this right is constantly question for Israel. We do not endlessly rehearse the history of colonialism in the Sinhalese vs. Tamil question in Sri Lanka. Malaysian discrimination against Chinese is never discussed as justice against interlopers except by the Malay racists. I have never heard settlements in North Cyprus raise more than an eyebrow.

Why is Israel so different? Why must the existence of an Israeli nationality, and its right to reside where it now resides, be questioned in ways that no other country is?

228

franck 05.02.16 at 5:58 pm

Plume,

I suggest you lack imagination. Let’s take the creation of many of the eastern European states. Slovenia, for example. Almost no written documents, very little national consciousness, largely bilingual and multicultural population. Their cultural sense was manufactured by nationalist Slovenes in the 19th century and manipulated to create a Slovene state.

Similar thing in Bohemia. Possible a majority (if barely) in ethnic terms, largely illiterate in Czech, the language and culture were revived from nothing by Czech nationalists and used to create a country after WWI, with rampant ethnic cleansing. Finished the job after WWII by expelling minority groups.

That’s just two examples. Other cases include places like Cuba, or Argentina, or Chile, or the United States.

Guyana or Trinidad and Tobago are places that are largely settled by people who were not indigenous but also not the colonial power.

I also don’t understand why you think there weren’t Jews in Palestine for the whole two millennia. They didn’t hold political or military power, but they were there. Their populations only declined because other groups killed or drove them out. Like many other national groups, their consciousness was elevated and focused by nationalist agitators and their population grew and attached itself to their ancestral language, much like the role of Gaelic for the Irish, just more successfully.

I think you lack an historical or comparative view of nationalism in the 19th century, and that explains your inability to draw comparisons with other nationalisms of the period.

I also don’t think I can convince you. So there isn’t much point in talking further.

229

Layman 05.02.16 at 5:59 pm

franck makes his perspective clear in 197: Palestinians should live somewhere else, be citizens of some other country. If they insist on more, he says, they can have Gaza, but better if they just become Egyptians. Arguing with him is a waste of time.

230

franck 05.02.16 at 6:00 pm

Plume,

Because not all descendents of Jews can settle in Israel until the end of time. If your great-grandfather converted to Catholicism and you aren’t Jewish, you don’t get to go to Israel. There have been several court cases about this in Israel. I encourage you to look them up.

231

Plume 05.02.16 at 6:06 pm

Watson @229,

Be honest. Without American backing, Israel wouldn’t have “won” a single war with its Arab neighbors. Without the “Great Powers,” the Jewish state never would have been established in the first place. Without American support, the Jewish state couldn’t be sustained until quite recently. It now has overwhelming military superiority in the region, and likely more than 200 nuclear warheads. But this doesn’t happen without endless American aid which now totals more than 3 billion a year — which certain Congress critters now say still isn’t enough.

In essence, key Western nations ganged up against much weaker, smaller nations and imposed their will on them. Forced them to eat dirt. Forced them to accept a new nation in their midst. I blame the West for this, far more than Jewish dreamers after Zion, and it’s just one more case where we should have minded our own business. That, of course, also means we shouldn’t have forced our own conception of Arab nation-states in the region, either, like Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

None of this is defensible.

232

franck 05.02.16 at 6:06 pm

Layman,

Don’t pretend like you are even trying to understand my position.

Descendents of Palestinian refugees do live somewhere else. Millions of them live all over the world. Those who have citizenship do reasonably well. Those who don’t, the many who live in Arab countries (besides Jordan), are treated as subhumans. The fastest way to improve conditions for large numbers of the descendents of Palestinian refugees is to give them citizenship in the only countries they have ever known.

In most other cases, refugees from other countries get citizenship. In Indian Partition, the expulsion of Jews from Arab countries, the expulsion of Germans from Eastern Europe, the expulsion of Poles, Finns, etc. from Eastern Europe, they got citizenship.

The cases where refugees get citizenship, a lot of human suffering is reduced. They cases where they don’t, like the Rohingya, it isn’t.

At this point, it is straight cruelty on the part of these governments.

As for Gaza, it is an easier knot to untangle than Jerusalem. Borders are clear. Recognize it as an independent state.

233

JHW 05.02.16 at 6:08 pm

Plume, re “right of return”: I think it depends on the Zionist. Some people do appeal to what happened in the first and second centuries (or even earlier). But others are happy to rest the claim on modern, secular justifications: Jews needed a place to exercise self-determination, and for a variety of cultural and historical reasons, Palestine was the best choice. This is a separate question from the specific issue as to whether Jews are a foreign implant into the region, which is false for the reasons franck has given even if you think it matters (I’m skeptical that it does).

There is no doubt that Israel bears a large share of the responsibility for the Palestinian refugee problem, and as much as it will rankle, if the conflict is ever to be resolved it is likely it will have to admit this. But the existence of a wrong does not dictate the shape of the remedy, here as in many other cases. Probably the most workable proposal is for Israel to admit some relatively small number of Palestinian refugees (maybe in the tens of thousands) and to compensate the others, who would of course be entitled to live in the Palestinian state.

234

Igor Belanov 05.02.16 at 6:11 pm

@210

“There used to be a Jewish community in Sunderland that was established in the mid 18th century but has now all but gone”

We must have seen the ‘all but’ walking round the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens yesterday!

235

franck 05.02.16 at 6:12 pm

Plume,

Israel didn’t have significant American backing until the 67 war and after. Early wars were fought with some French support – that’s why the Israeli Air Force used Mirages. In fact, Israel definitely did not have significant military backing from the US in 1948. Have you actually read any histories of the period?

I’ll also mention that the Arab states had significant Soviet support (who were officially anti-Zionist and often anti-Semitic). Jordan had a lot of British support in the creation of the Arab legion, which was the most effective Arab military unit in the War of 48.

I’ll also mention that the power in Palestine before the British was the Ottoman Empire, which specialized in ganging up against much weaker, smaller nations and imposing their will on them, like the tribes of Arabia, Greece, Bulgaria, Egypt, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, the Kurds, etc.

236

Plume 05.02.16 at 6:16 pm

Franck,

Again, you give examples of ethnic groups already there, fighting to create a nation state. An internal struggle for control and “national autonomy.”

The establishment of Modern Israel was primarily about the Jewish diaspora’s return to a land they didn’t even control in ancient times — except in their book of myths and legends. Yes, Jews lived there for centuries prior to the establishment of the Jewish state, but not in sufficient numbers to matter, when it came to “national autonomy”. And, unlike the examples you list, they needed massive outside help to force out much larger ethnic populations, and couldn’t have done it on their own.

Again, it’s sui generis and a world-historical mistake. But it’s done. The key reason, however, why it’s so important to deal honestly with the immense immorality of its original establishment is pretty obvious. The insistence that its origins were somehow righteous and legitimate — they weren’t — makes it next to impossible to resolve the conflict.

237

Igor Belanov 05.02.16 at 6:18 pm

“It’s not up to us. It’s up to them — the Palestinian people.”

Ah, well this is where I depart. People really need to think more about this kind of simplistic national self-determination. I can completely support the civil rights of Palestinians, but I can hardly back them if a majority decide they want to drive Israel into the sea or wipe out the Jews. Self-determination is also very difficult when you consider that over a million Palestinians actually live within the pre-1967 borders of Israel. You are either looking at ‘self-determination’ for some Palestinians or a programme of ethnic cleansing.

238

Layman 05.02.16 at 6:27 pm

@ franck,

In your two responses to me, you’ve avoided any mention of the West Bank. Even when you write

“Millions of them live all over the world. Those who have citizenship do reasonably well. Those who don’t, the many who live in Arab countries (besides Jordan), are treated as subhumans.”

…you manage to avoid the question of how Palestinians in the West Bank are treated, by Israel, as subhumans. Your suggestions for improvement boil down to having Pakestinians go somewhere else and be citizens there, leaving the West Bank for Greater Israel. If that isn’t right, then clarify.

239

Plume 05.02.16 at 6:28 pm

Yes, it was a case of a “foreign implant into the region.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_Palestine

According to Ottoman statistics studied by Justin McCarthy, the population of Palestine in the early 19th century was 350,000, in 1860 it was 411,000 and in 1900 about 600,000 of which 94% were Arabs. In 1914 Palestine had a population of 657,000 Muslim Arabs, 81,000 Christian Arabs, and 59,000 Jews.

Jews last held majority status in Palestine in the 1st century.

240

franck 05.02.16 at 6:28 pm

Plume,

You don’t think any Jews were in Palestine in the 19th century? How precisely are you deciding on what level of numbers matter for national autonomy? It’s nice to know that you believe there is some level below which national minorities don’t matter.

You don’t think the Czechs and Slovenes needed massive outside help to get their countries? Every hear of WWI and WWII? Were those internal Czech and Slovene power struggles?

Who exactly are you arguing with here? It’s not with me. I never said the founding of Israel was righteous and legitimate. I find it hard to think of a nation-state founding that is cleanly righteous and legitimate, since they basically all involve protracted violence. You still claim it’s a world-historical mistake. Bigger than the Partition of India?

241

franck 05.02.16 at 6:30 pm

Layman,

I haven’t said anything about how to solve the problem of the West Bank. Because it is hard! I don’t have any good ideas beyond the bog-standard ones. What’s your solution?

I was asked to provide a list of immediate things that would improve the situation without solving the whole problem. I gave them. What’s your response?

242

JHW 05.02.16 at 6:31 pm

Plume: “And, unlike the examples you list, they needed massive outside help to force out much larger ethnic populations, and couldn’t have done it on their own.” This isn’t really accurate. Once it became clear the British Mandate would end, there was a civil war in Palestine, primarily because the Arab residents were not interested in there being a Jewish state (for some legitimate reasons and some not-so-legitimate reasons). The outside help came overwhelmingly on the other side, from the Arab nations that intervened once it became clear the Arab residents of Palestine were losing. The nascent state of Israel got some outside help (more from the East than the West, incidentally–they got some important armaments from Czechoslovakia) but the picture you’re painting is wrong. I suppose you could claim, more accurately, that if Palestine had been an independent country during the Mandate period, there would have been a whole lot less Jewish immigration, but I’m not sure what that gets you. (The same fact, of course, would have meant more dead Jews in the Holocaust.)

243

Layman 05.02.16 at 6:34 pm

@ franck, I think it’s pretty fucking obvious that the way you solve the problem of a foreign military occupation, backed by the importation of settlers to displace the existing indigenous population, is to get the foreign military occupiers and the settlements out. Over to you.

244

franck 05.02.16 at 6:35 pm

Plume,

Why are you cherry-picking statistics from the early 19th century, when the more relevant time is the end of the 19th century? Also, why is a majority required? At the founding of the state, many of the areas claimed were majority Jewish, and had been for a while.

Again, I don’t understand why you seem to think that Israel is unique, and again, why it matters so much. The creation of a national consciousness in Israel among both Israelis and Palestinians is a done deal. You don’t get to go back. So why are you trying this hard?

245

franck 05.02.16 at 6:37 pm

Layman,

And how are you going to do that? How many people are you going to kill or deport, and with what army? And why start with Israel? Much of North America, western Turkey, eastern Turkey, parts of Burma, etc. would seem to be reasonable candidates.

246

Layman 05.02.16 at 6:38 pm

Don’t be obtuse, I’m talking about the West Bank, not Israel.

247

franck 05.02.16 at 6:39 pm

Plume,

I’d encourage you to actually read some of the history of the period. Almost everything you’ve said about the founding of Israel and the War of 1948 is wrong in the details.

248

Plume 05.02.16 at 6:39 pm

Franck @246,

The stats I quoted list 19th century, all the way up through the early 20th. And if you click on the link, you’ll notice that in all periods mentioned, there is no Jewish majority after the 1st century. Even today.

And Layman is correct in #245. Can you address that, please?

249

franck 05.02.16 at 6:42 pm

Layman,

Ok, so what are you going to do in the West Bank precisely? Are you going to create a Palestinian state there, create some kind of land corridor to Gaza, join it to Jordan? What about the descendents of refugees in camps in the West Bank? Are you going to follow the Arab peace plan for recognition of Israel? What’s the status of Jerusalem? What are the borders of the West Bank?

And with what enforcement, and how are you going to force the parties to terms? With what army?

250

Plume 05.02.16 at 6:49 pm

franck @249,

Histories of that period are fraught with all kinds of (hand-waving and other forms of) bias, on all sides. It’s easily one of the most contentious (scholarly) battlegrounds I’ve ever encountered. Finding sufficiently objective sources is most difficult. In other arenas of study, I’ve managed to do so. When it comes to the formation of Israel, I haven’t. I’ve found a host of competing claims instead.

If you know of any (neutral to the degree possible) helpful cites/sites, please post them.

251

franck 05.02.16 at 6:49 pm

Plume,

I agree that Jews were not a majority in Palestine in 1948. So? Hungarians weren’t a majority in the lands of St Stephen in the late 19th century. The French language wasn’t a majority spoken language in France until the 19th century.

Again, why does it matter, and why do you insist that Israel is unique. How do you explain the founding of Guyana, for example? Or the creation of the Burmese national state?

252

Layman 05.02.16 at 6:50 pm

@franck, wow, in the face of such an argument, I’m wholly convinced, Israel should continue with the annexation of the West Bank, displacing the existing Palestinian population and bulldozing their towns to make Israeli suburbs. Those Palestinians who aren’t killed in this process should all movers Basel and become Swiss. Because, in your calculus, any solution short of a comprehensive solution involves only Palestinians, not Israelis, giving up their objectives. Put another way, I was right about your perspective, and that it was a waste of time arguing with you.

253

franck 05.02.16 at 6:51 pm

There aren’t any neutral sources. You just have to read different ones.

The reason I mention it, is that you seem to believe that Israel had significant American military support in the War of 1948, which they did not. That the Palestinians did not have significant outside military support, when they did.

That suggests to me you haven’t read any histories of 1948, or didn’t remember what you read. So it doesn’t really matter what you read, as long as it is factually based.

254

franck 05.02.16 at 6:54 pm

Layman,

You decided that before I said anything. What is your solution? Feel free to state it succintly. Do you want a land border between Gaza and the West Bank? Yes or no?

I’m not trying to convince you of anything. I’m answering your questions. You asked. So what is your solution to the West Bank?

255

Layman 05.02.16 at 7:05 pm

“You decided that before I said anything.”

This is a false statement. Your responses demonstrate your biases quite clearly. As just one example: you say other countries must grant citizenship to resident Palestinians without considering ‘what army’ can be employed to enforce that suggestion, but reject that Israel should abandon settlements in the West Bank because ‘what army’ could be employed to enforce that suggestion. All your suggestions involve concessions by other parties, none by Israel. Is that not so?

You offered, you said, suggestions short of a comprehensive solution. But when I suggest the obvious step you somehow left out, you reject it because, you say, it isn’t a comprehensive solution. If that’s an objection, then none of your one-sided suggestions are viable, because none of them represent comprehensive solutions.

256

KB Player 05.02.16 at 7:13 pm

This really is flabbergasting.

A scenario. Tory MP called Nadine Shaw makes a kind of joke about sending Jamaicans back to Africa. She apologises.

Senior Tory drunken oaf called Kendal Living-Stone then goes on to the telly to say, oh, Wilberforce’s measurements of slave ships was wrong, or slaves lived longer than freemen or those never enslaved. He’d read a book about it once.

Others in their masses then start discussing whether there’s a merit to the argument about the dimensions of slave ships and the longevity of non slaves. They send links to wikipedia articles. They mob twitter. They defend Kendal Living-Stone, and when another Tory calls him a racist shit, demand this guy be sacked. The leadership of the Tories, a particularly thick no-nothing who hasn’t learned anything since 1974, has him reprimanded.

You can see what Livingstone’s ploy was – to minimise an appalling crime done against one particular people. It gave maximum offence – and the reaction to it has caused fear.

It’s been a foul disgusting affair.

257

franck 05.02.16 at 7:14 pm

Layman,

What precise step are you suggesting? Return to the 1967 border and forced removal of all the Jewish settlers? How about you spell it out clearly. You still haven’t done that.

258

LFC 05.02.16 at 7:18 pm

franck @243
I haven’t said anything about how to solve the problem of the West Bank. Because it is hard!

It’s only “hard” b/c the necessary political will on both sides has been lacking. Most of the main issues have solutions the basic outlines of which have been known for years. It’s become harder as successive Israel govts have encouraged settlement on the West Bank, but the basic issues are quite soluble if the political will to compromise, required for almost any successful negotiation, were there. It isn’t there. And neither side has been subjected to effective outside pressure or leverage to come to an agreement. The problem is mostly political will in other words, rather than the inherently difficult ‘substance’ of the issues.

259

franck 05.02.16 at 7:19 pm

Layman,

Independence for Gaza is very much a concession by Israel, by the way. Israel would lose control of the sea borders with Gaza, lose overflight rights, etc. Israel would no longer be able to control access to Gaza, and military intervention in Gaza by Israel would be an act of war against a neighboring state, which has much higher costs for the Israeli government.

260

franck 05.02.16 at 7:21 pm

LLC,

I basically agree with you. There are some questions about the status of Jerusalem, access to holy places, land bridges between the West Bank and Gaza, but in general you are right. But how precisely are you going to apply enough pressure to the principals to get them to agree? Many governments have tried, and yet they haven’t succeeded. Many people claim that these were disingenuous, or didn’t apply enough pressure. So what pressure should be applied? It’s an open question.

261

LFC 05.02.16 at 7:22 pm

franck:
Return to the 1967 border and forced removal of all the Jewish settlers?

Not exactly. Return to an approximation of the 67 border w/ land swaps so that certain of the most built-up and established settlements wd not be dismantled. In return the new Palestinian state wd get some compensating territory. This solution has been on the table for years. Unfortunately, neither side at present thinks it serves its interests sufficiently to reach an agreement on and implement.

262

LFC 05.02.16 at 7:24 pm

@franck
What pressure should be applied? The US has plenty of leverage it cd apply to Israel, but it never has. And the EU and other parties, e.g. the Arab League, cd apply pressure on the PA. And they haven’t.

263

Layman 05.02.16 at 7:26 pm

@franck: Really, this is childish of you.

1) of course I mean return to the 1967 borders and evacuate the settlements,

2) Israel concedes nothing in Gazan independence, because everyone knows that Israel will disregard Gazan independence whenever and however they see fit, in violation of any international norms, and we know this because it is what they do right fucking now.

Good grief.

264

franck 05.02.16 at 7:27 pm

LFC,

Are you and Layman the same person? Because you are replying to a question for him.

Agree about the pressure. But saying they haven’t applied the pressure doesn’t say what level and kind of pressure would be enough. And really high levels of pressure, like punitive sanctions and/or military intervention, are often counterproductive and generate deep resentment.

It’s easy to say, apply pressure. Much harder to decide what to do and then do it.

265

franck 05.02.16 at 7:29 pm

Layman,

You keep talking to me like we’ve talked before, I understand your position clearly, and we are just reiterating what was said before. I have no idea who you are, what your priors are, or what you believe. Stop saying “don’t be obtuse”, or “Of course”. Spell it out clearly.

Conceding Gazan independence would be a big step. I disagree with you strongly on this, and I think the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority would as well.

Let’s stop here. You can have the last word.

266

Layman 05.02.16 at 7:37 pm

@franck, it is a courtesy that I say you’re being obtuse. The alternative characterization – that you are deliberately quibbling in order to avoid the substantial point – is much worse.

For Egypt to adopt Gaza (and its Palestinans) would be a huge concession on the part of both Egyptians and Palestinians, yet you think it is an easy, simple step. But for Israel and Israelis to stop stealing Palestinans’ homes, towns, land, and water in the West Bank, and return what they’ve already stolen there? Oh my, that’s complicated. What can be meant by that suggestion? Oh, it’s too vague, we can’t consider it without more explanation.

267

Collin Street 05.02.16 at 8:38 pm

Like I said, you can’t discuss zionism; you can only discuss israel, and there’s nothing interesting to say about israel.

I mean

Why isn’t this just counter-factual history? Sure, it would have been great if the US and other countries had accepted Jewish refugees in the 30s and the Arab states hadn’t expelled all their Jews after decolonization, but that’s not the world we live in.

Franck here can only frame alternative zionisms in terms of alternate histories; alternate zionisms going forward, israels that, say, don’t have a JNF or the legally-entrenched racial discrimination that that represents are beyond his conception. He can’t conceive of any different forms of zionism as anything beyond an arcane theoretical exercise and we’re supposed to discuss zionism with him? How? what’s there to say?

268

franck 05.02.16 at 8:53 pm

Counterfactual histories aren’t that interesting. Rerunning the 30s isn’t going to happen. Alternate Zionisms exist right now, in places like Tekoa that are willing to accept Palestinian governance. The Haredis have their own Zionism though they would shudder to call it that.

Collin, why do you think I can’t conceive of alternative zionisms? I can’t go back in time, so how is an alternative zionism of the 30s relevant? An alternative zionism of today is very relevant.

269

franck 05.02.16 at 8:55 pm

Here’s one interesting alternative Zionism. The Israeli government allowing Israeli nationality on ID cards. Almost happened in the 60s with the Canaanite movement. Could still happen today.

270

bazza 05.02.16 at 9:35 pm

“It is noticeable that the original Naz Shah Facebook post was an example of something that’s really quite difficult to make as big a deal of as was actually made (unless you’re the kind of skilled PR guy who can gussy up a dumb meme into the Final Solution). It was a dumb joke which had previously been made by Michael Moore (he claimed that the Jewish state should have been declared in Bavaria, so that the Germans had to give their land up rather than the Palestinians), and he is not the only person to have done so; suggesting that the State of Israel would be easier to defend if it was located somewhere other than Palestine is not advocating deportation or transportation, and I don’t really see how anyone could sincerely claim it was.”

Not Michael More but Norman Finkelstein: http://normanfinkelstein.com/2014/08/04/solution-for-israel-palestine-conflict%E2%80%8F/

271

LFC 05.02.16 at 9:44 pm

@franck
Are you and Layman the same person? Because you are replying to a question for him.

Well, that sometimes happens here — someone may ask someone else a question and a third person may decide to respond, if that person has something s/he thinks is responsive to say. It’s not that unusual on a comment thread.

272

engels 05.02.16 at 9:58 pm

This has evidently all been well-received in Israel at any rate:

Erdan said that while all anti-Semitism is deplorable, the fact that it’s opposed strongly and publicly is positive.

It’s good that there’s a counter-discourse that connects being anti-Israel to anti-Semitism, because that is a central claim of ours against [the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement], that they’re not human rights activists,” he stated.

Concern for human rights is the “big lie” of BDS, Erdan explained.

273

Moz of Yarramulla 05.02.16 at 10:02 pm

Sancho @ 177: there has been at least one leftist, Zionist, pro-Mabo Australian because I know her. At the risk of outing her somewhat, she’s one of the Stolen Generations who converted on marriage and when I stopped speaking to her had become a vehement Zionist (and prone to the “criticism of Israel is anti-semitism” fallacy). I expect she supports Mabo, but if not it’s because she’s on the “bah, treaty or GTFO” side of it (I’m a New Zealander, you can guess where I stand on that issue). I found it hard to understand how she reconciled “a land without people…” and “Terra nullius” but she seemed to have done so. I found it impossible to deal with, so I don’t see her any more.

For me, a lot of it comes down to the claims that Israel is a modern pluralistic democracy. Most Israelis apparently *want* to be held to a higher standard than other middle eastern countries, and consider themselves white/European not arab/middle eastern. But then we get “one in three people in Israel are not allowed to vote” (and those people are overwhelmingly Palestinian), and so on.

The labelling and politics are what puts me right off this whole debate. But I’m learning some interesting things by reading the thread. (Sorry for the late reply, not camping the thread 24/7)

274

J-D 05.02.16 at 10:06 pm

Igor Belanov @199

‘This is especially the case now that the idea of offensiveness is getting way out of control and for some groups of people taking offence is almost a hobby.’

The idea of offensiveness is not getting out of control, and there is no group of people for whom taking offence is almost a hobby.

275

George Mason 05.02.16 at 10:25 pm

@note[1] in OP. Probably irrelevant trivia. An Australian Aboriginal, Charles Perkins, trained with Everton in 1957.

276

franck 05.02.16 at 11:12 pm

By the way, dsquared, I thought your original article starting the thread was quite good and well thought out. I apologize if I derailed the thread.

277

Asteele 05.02.16 at 11:15 pm

I do enjoy what it turns out is the utterly limited, to one country, right for a religious minority to expel everyone else into stateless refugees and then have no one try to address the ongoing human-rights catastrophe it created without first having some totally consistent theory of the ethics of state formation. I mean don’t you know about what happened in Burma?

278

The Temporary Name 05.02.16 at 11:23 pm

Further OT: Brian Eno on Michael Young: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04vdzyh

279

engels 05.02.16 at 11:48 pm

there is no group of people for whom taking offence is almost a hobby.

Stuff White People Like: #101 Being Offended

[..] Naturally, white people do not get offended by statements directed at white people. In fact, they don’t even have a problem making offensive statements about other white people (ask a white person about “flyover states”). As a rule, white people strongly prefer to get offended on behalf of other people. …

280

Jim Buck 05.03.16 at 12:35 am

@258

Senior Tory drunken oaf called Kendal Living-Stone then goes on to the telly to say, oh, Wilberforce’s measurements of slave ships was wrong, or slaves lived longer than freemen or those never enslaved. He’d read a book about it once.

No, it would be a mischievous truth, such as: ” An African elite was somewhat complicit in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.”

281

J-D 05.03.16 at 12:59 am

engels @282

The statement ‘As a rule, white people strongly prefer to get offended on behalf of other people’ is not true.

282

JHW 05.03.16 at 1:01 am

Jim Buck: What would you say about people who insist on bringing up such “mischievous truths” whenever we talk about racism?

283

J-D 05.03.16 at 1:21 am

I don’t know which measures are most likely to produce improvements in the current situation, but one thing I do know is that one measure that is guaranteed not to produce improvements is public debate about the allocation of blame for the situation. That can only inflame the sense of grievance on both sides and thereby make the situation even less tractable.

284

Jim Buck 05.03.16 at 1:58 am

@285. I would say that whichever football shirt they are wearing, it is towards the racist goal they have kicked the ball.

285

heckblazer 05.03.16 at 3:32 am

JHW @ 285:

I’d go with a quote by the SF author John Scalzi: “The failure mode of clever is ‘asshole’.”

286

John 05.03.16 at 9:07 am

“So can you call Livingstone an antisemite for saying essentially the same thing as the Israeli prime minister?”

what is supposed to be the contradiction here? I found this one of the more bizarre memes. Why shouldn’t people (Jewish and non-Jewish) be offended both by what Livingstone said and by what Netenyahu said?

THAT seems to me precisely a conflation of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

287

Budgie Barnett 05.03.16 at 1:48 pm

While I might quibble about some points earlier on in the piece, the author makes a lot of very good points.

However, and quite appropriately, considering the title of one section, that section is unfettered bullshit of the highest order.

Jeremy Corbyn may well have – hell, I’ll admit that he has – a reputation throughout his career of fighting racism. Odd then that there doesn’t seem to be much record of him criticising anti-semitism throughout that long career Fyrther, there doesn’t seem to be any record of him criticising an individual or organisation for their anti-semitism. Any criticism has been of ‘anti-semitism’ only ever in the abstract. At no point has he criticised anyone as an anti-Semite. How odd. It’s as if he thinks anti-semitism exists in and of itself without there being any anti-Semites. (That’s entirely alone of course from how some choose to define the term.)

I have severe doubts he’d criticise someone as an anti-Semite if they killed someone in front of him while screaming “kill the Jews!”

I ask people to consider the following hypothetical:

A right-wing MP, proud to be on the hard right of the Conservative Party never makes a racist statement himself, but platform shares with known racists, hosts them in parliament, says it’s his “pleasure and honour” to host his “friends” and that it’s a pity the government banned other white pride racists (he thinks that a big mistake). He gives tv interviews to affiliates of white power organisations, and defends white pride people as “honoured citizens” who are “dedicated to peace and justice”.

This man on the hard right of the Tory party makes statements against racism, but only in the abstract, condemning lynchings but never criticising those who carry them out. The closest he comes is saying in interviews that he doesn’t always agree with them.

This right wing Tory MP says a man who wrote that “blacks are racially inferior & want to take over the white race” is an honourable man and he looks forward to having him for tea at the Commons.

What would you say of this right wing Tory? Racist or no?

288

sillybill 05.03.16 at 2:53 pm

Daniel/CT Mods,
I like this blog and try to read it as much as I can, but there is one CT moderator habit that is absolutely maddening and it is the deletion of comments without any notice being given to the readers.
It’s not maddening because of the deletion but because the numbering system readjusts and all comments that reply to a numbered comment after the first erasure become mis-numbered. It’s almost always worse than just a single deletion. This post in particular has seen many deletions. And unless you are ‘camped out’ on the post and notice them all in real time it’s very hard to follow.
From responding comments it’s easy to figure out that Brett got deleted (surprise!), but who else and when?
I suspect that most of your readers are not regular commenters (or you only have a few dozen readers) and come to a post after it has a large number of comments, or perhaps revisit the comments after reading the OP a couple days before. In order to follow the arguments one must ‘go back’ upthread to see exactly what X said about Y which is being contested by Z. If the numbers are all buggered up it makes it much harder.
I know that it is much easier to just delete the whole comment, but the education of the masses is at stake!

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Lynne 05.03.16 at 3:05 pm

@290 I agree! I wish if comments were deleted, a blank was left, with the commenter’s handle. Without a thread tree, it’s quite hard to follow conversations here at the best of times, no need to aggravate the situation.

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engels 05.03.16 at 3:10 pm

291

engels 05.03.16 at 3:11 pm

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casmilus 05.03.16 at 4:19 pm

I’ve seen a few people citing the Mail’s attempt to smear Ralph Miliband as the “man who hated Britain”. For context, we should note that that campaign didn’t go well for them, it made them look cheap and Ed M himself came out looking dignified. As quite a few Tories agreed.

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JHW 05.03.16 at 5:18 pm

I can’t make up my mind on how I feel about the “but the Right is worse!” response. A few scattered thoughts.

If the point is to keep people from voting for the Conservative Party, that’s a worthy cause. And I do understand that that’s an important part of the political context in which this is occurring. It’s also true that anti-Semitism is in some ways more at home in the basic instincts of the Right than in the basic instincts of the Left. To be sure, the Left has a long history of problems with anti-Semitism, which can be tricky for leftists to get. But right-wing ideas about nationhood, religion, and cultural difference can often be pushed fairly straightforwardly into overt anti-Semitism.

But then there’s the whiff of whataboutery to it. I accept that sometimes whataboutery is necessary. But the impression you get from some people is not just, oh, the media is biased against Corbyn so they’re portraying anti-Semitism as exclusively a feature of the Labour left rather than being widespread throughout British society. It’s also: this isn’t a real problem, it’s a fake controversy being ginned up by the media and by people who think Israel can do no wrong. And that idea, I think, is dangerously wrong. The simple fact of the matter is that the anti-Zionist left, in the UK and elsewhere, is full of anti-Semitism. That’s not because “anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism” or any such formalistic equivalence. It is perfectly possible to be anti-Zionist and not anti-Semitic. It’s because each attract the other in many of their present forms, and the two can be mutually reinforcing. What to do about that, if you think that opposition to Zionism is morally required by support for the rights of the Palestinians (a reasonable but not inevitable inference), is a genuinely tricky question. But the answer surely isn’t pooh-poohing it.

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chris y 05.03.16 at 5:40 pm

@bazza, 273:

Finkelstein discusses the gag in this contexthere. Needless to say, he is dismissive of the idea that it’s antisemitic.

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JHW 05.03.16 at 6:15 pm

Finkelstein is a serious scholar and sometimes has thoughtful things to say, and he is less susceptible to the sort of political tribalism the OP discusses than many other people. That said, his particular blinders, especially excessive fondness for rhetorical bomb-throwing and an instinctive opposition to certain kinds of invocations of anti-Semitism, are very much on display in that interview.

Like many images and many jokes, the meaning of this one is filtered through context, and the further it travels beyond its original context, the less its social meaning is controllable. If you and I both know that “Jews out of Palestine” is practically impossible and morally execrable, totally nonviable and off the table, and we both know the other knows this, etc., then me sending you the image is exactly the kind of benign joke Finkelstein describes. It’s not literally about moving Israeli Jews to the US (lol who would take that seriously?), it’s just making fun of the US-Israeli relationship. But take it out of that narrow context and put it into a broader public context where there are lots of people who do really think that the Jews in Israel-Palestine should just go “back” to Europe or the United States, who fantasize about destroying Israel by force of arms, and so on, and the “joke” (which never was that funny or clever to begin with) looks a lot less benign.

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Suzanne 05.03.16 at 7:03 pm

“It now has overwhelming military superiority in the region, and likely more than 200 nuclear warheads. But this doesn’t happen without endless American aid which now totals more than 3 billion a year — which certain Congress critters now say still isn’t enough.”

@234: I take your larger point, but while the U.S. can be blamed for a lot, it didn’t jump-start the Israeli nuclear weapons program, which can be “credited” mainly to France and Britain.

@101: Perhaps the Nazis were thinking that it would be helpful to have many Jews concentrated conveniently in one small country…..

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Hidari 05.03.16 at 8:35 pm

I doubt anyone will care (I mean who wants to know what they have to say, right?) but here’s a view on the ‘crisis’ from a Palestinian.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/02/a-palestinian-view-on-the-antisemitism-row

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Jim Buck 05.03.16 at 9:22 pm

@291. What would you say of this right wing Tory? Racist or no?

I don’t know about you fictitious Tory. However, my wife (whose ancestry is Sephardi) was on snogging terms with Jeremy Corbyn back in the day. She says: if he’s antisemitic then so are you.

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Douglas Knight 05.03.16 at 9:27 pm

Yes, sometimes people pick sides for arbitrary reasons. But Britain’s pattern of the left siding with Palestine and the right with Israel is the same pattern across all of Europe. A large phenomenon probably has a common cause and not a particular cause. Thus I reject Northern Ireland as an explanation. South Africa is more plausible, but I still don’t find it very likely.

(I didn’t read the whole thread, but I tried to look for others making the same point. Ronan@24 was the closest.)

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Guano 05.03.16 at 10:05 pm

Given that the Chilcot report is due to be published in a few weeks’ time, I suspect that those who voted for the disastrous invasion of Iraq (ie the Conservative Party and allies of Tony Blair) would like there to be an enormous distracting row going on about something else.

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Hidari 05.04.16 at 6:30 am

I think the reason that the Israel-Palestine war (let’s not be coy and call it a conflict) gets so much attention was clearly stated in the OP:
‘The role of the public relations industry in the Israel/Palestine debate is another key part of why there are so many problems in responding to genuine anti-Semitism. I don’t think one needs to postulate anything in particular about the media – just that a PR person for biscuits is capable of placing stories about biscuits in the press and a PR person for Israel is capable of placing stories too. The UK has one of the world’s biggest and best media industries and a lot of very good PR people. And so you regularly get launches of a somewhat odd kind of campaign, which has a four stage life cycle. First, it launches as a campaign about antiSemitism in British life. Second, it decides that the best use of its resources is to monitor the British media for antisemitic tropes. Third, it starts mission-drifting into straightforward defence of Israeli policy. Finally, it falls apart acrimoniously as Israel has just invaded somewhere and the members of the campaign disagree about the extent to which they are prepared to provide unconditional support to the resultant war crimes.’

It may (or may not be) true that countries other than Israel have worse human rights records. But what is unquestionably true is that there is no other country on Earth where such human rights violations as there are gets so violently defended (not even the human rights violations of the United States or the UK). I can attack the human rights record of Saudi Arabia, or North Korea, or China. But no one is going to accuse me of being an anti-Arab racist, or an anti-Korean racist, or an anti-Chinese racist for so doing, even though anti-Arabic and anti-Chinese racism undoubtedbly do play a part in why people ‘single out’ these countries for criticism.

Likewise I may criticise Saudi Arabia and North Korea, in such a way that I question these countries ‘right to exist’ (and most people clearly do question or deny this) but no one is going to accuse me of that, using that phrase.

Similarly, most people dislike, or at least find questionable, Chinese behaviour in Tibet (which is probably the closest analogy to what Israel is doing in the West Bank). Or I might like it, or whatever. But no one proposes that it would be a good idea to have a fund raiser for the Chinese military featuring Grade A Hollywood stars (as happened recently) nor does the United States given billions of dollars of ‘aid’ to (de facto) assist China in its colonisation programme.

Nor does the British media give such decontextualised reporting of the foreign policies of other countries from self-appointed interested parties. For example, in the Guardian today we get this:

‘“Zionism is a movement celebrated by people right across the political spectrum, all over the world….

“But to those people who have nevertheless sought to redefine Zionism, who vilify and delegitimise it, be under no illusions – you are deeply insulting not only the Jewish community but countless others who instinctively reject the politics of distortion and demonisation.”

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/03/labour-antisemitism-inquiry-chief-rabbi-ephraim-mirvis-

Again, the Chinese actually have arguments as to why Tibet is ‘obviously’ part of China (you won’t know them as they never get reported in the Western media). But they would never get reported with no comment or context in the Western media, assuming they were reported at all, which, generally speaking, they aren’t.

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novakant 05.04.16 at 9:57 am

The chief rabbi of the UK and Ireland has today equated Zionism with Judaism and in turn critics of Zionism with anti-semites – nice to have it spelled out at least, but outrageous nonetheless:

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/blog/live/2016/may/04/labours-antisemitism-review-must-be-more-than-political-posturing-says-chief-rabbi-politics-live?page=with:block-5729a694e4b02046f02ec8af#block-5729a694e4b02046f02ec8af

Mirvis argues that attacking Zionism amounts to antisemitism.

Zionism is a belief in the right to Jewish self-determination in a land that has been at the centre of the Jewish world for more than 3,000 years. One can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.

Open a Jewish daily prayer book used in any part of the world and Zionism will leap out at you. The innumerable references to the land of Israel are inescapable and demonstrative …

Zionism is a movement celebrated by people right across the political spectrum, all over the world, and requires no endorsement or otherwise of the particular policies of any Israeli Government at any time.

But to those people who have nevertheless sought to redefine Zionism, who vilify and delegitimize it, I say: Be under no illusions – you are deeply insulting not only the Jewish community but countless others who instinctively reject the politics of distortion and demonisation.

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Metatone 05.04.16 at 8:59 pm

To continue with my outrageous whataboutery:

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/04/bill-forcing-people-to-prove-nationality-slammed-as-discriminatory

“Government measures making people prove their nationality or face prosecution risk damaging community relations and are discriminatory, critics have warned.

The Conservatives want to give police and immigration officers the power to order people who have been arrested to state their nationality and require those believed to be foreign nationals to produce their nationality documents, such as a passport.

Failure to do so within 72 hours would become a criminal offence under the policing and crime bill currently going through parliament.”

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Jim Buck 05.04.16 at 9:06 pm

Love the Zionist but condemn the evil actions of an Israeli government.

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Hal 05.04.16 at 11:54 pm

@306,

One man’s “outrageous” is another’s “obvious”. I might quibble with some of Mirvis’ language but his’ first sentence seems incontrovertible. And the one about requiring no endorsement of Israeli politics.

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Peter T 05.05.16 at 12:43 am

Getting back to the o/p, one thought that occurs is that ethical traditions ask that you first examine your own conscience before you judge others. Liberals frequently practice this to the point where the agency – sometimes even the participation – of the others is near invisible (see John Quiggin on the First World War). Since the right-wing position is almost invariably “it didn’t happen/they made us do it/meh”, a high degree of friction is inevitable.

Israel/Palestine is seen as one of our sins, along with the slave trade, colonialism, imperialism and beating up the Irish. Myanmar and Tibet do not call for so much soul-searching.

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engels 05.05.16 at 10:14 am

One can no more separate it from Judaism than separate the City of London from Great Britain.

If there isn’t already a Facebook meme showing the City of London relocated in Panama there needs to be.

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Jim Buck 05.05.16 at 1:18 pm

An IDF general goes Corbynite:

https://t.co/Y43SKfCo5i

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J-D 05.05.16 at 9:29 pm

Jim Buck @312

‘ “We very much believe in the justice of our cause, but not everything we do is just,” Golan said. ‘

So, is he a Zionist? is he an anti-Zionist?

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