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Friday, 18 March 2016

Owen Jones’ Obsession with ‘anti-Semitism’

The Lacuna in Jones’ head
One despairs of Owen Jones.  The brain of the Guardian’s resident life-style leftist seems to turn to jelly whenever he approaches the issue of anti-Semitism.  Instead of anything in the way of an insight, still less meaningful analysis, all we get is a series of platitudes linked together by Jones’ urge to demonstrate how concerned and right-on he is.  [Antisemitism is a poison – the left must take leadership against it, Guardian 15th March]  It is as if Jones is so guilt-tripped by the legacy of anti-Semitism that he cannot think straight.
Owen Jones - the Guardian's Vacuous 'left' Columnist
Without anything in the way of substantiating, Jones asserts that 'this centuries-old sickness infects progressive circles'.  This reminds me of what Abram Leon, the leader of the Fourth International in Belgium, who died in Auschwitz, wrote in his classic book 'The Jewish Question - A Marxist Interpretation' p.247: ‘Zionism transposes modern anti-Semitism to all of history and saves itself the trouble of studying the various forms of anti-Semitism and their evolution.’  Anti-Semitism wasn’t a ‘sickness’ it was a political, economic and social phenomenon that changed in different eras.  Jews in Europe weren’t only persecuted at particular periods they were also oppressors of the peasantry for long periods.
The Zionist Community Security Trust, aided by the Home Office, tried to get Raed Salah deported for 'anti-Semitism'.  The case collapsed when the evidence was shown to be forged.  He has since been sentenced to 11 months imprisonment in Israel on trumped up charges whilst genuine Israeli racists get off scot free
When right-wing Labour MPs, led by John Mann, and assorted Zionists orchestrate a campaign about ‘anti-Semitism’ in order to destabilise the Corbyn leadership, Jones abandons what few critical faculties he possesses to write yet another slushy mushy article for the Guardian. 
Opposing Jewish settlers is anti-Semitic
In his latest article Jones complains that when people read his article they will say ‘ah, but what about Israel.  He complains that it’s not possible to raise the issue of anti-Semitism without people talking about Israel.  Indeed it is ‘victim-blaming (people are apparently being compelled to hate Jewish people by the actions of a foreign state)’ whereas it is the exact opposite.  Palestinians are accused of hating Jewish people by daring to protest at their treatment.
It doesn’t seem to occur to Jones that the reason Israel and ‘anti-Semitism’ are conflated is because this is a deliberate strategy of Israel’s supporters, who regularly and repeatedly accuse anti-Zionists of being anti-Semitic.  [See for example Anti-Zionism Always Equals Anti-Semitism
According to the Zionists this is automatically anti-Semitic
[Jewish News, January 13, 2016, New shadow minister:Boycotting Israel and not vile dictatorships is anti-Semitic  Hamilton ‘said boycotting the Jewish state without taking action against other countries is “simply anti-Semitic”.
Alex Chalmers - Oxford University Labour Club's Chairperson & Upper Class Twit who resigned when the Labour Club voted to support Israel Apartheid Week
As Brian Klug, one of the founders of Independent Jewish Voices and an Oxford don who has written extensively on anti-Semitism noted, ‘[W]hen anti-Semitism is everywhere, it is nowhere. And when every anti-Zionist is an anti-Semite, we no longer know how to recognize the real thing—the concept of anti-Semitism loses its significance’  Brian Klug, The Myth of theNew Anti-Semitism. The Nation, February 2, 2004 
Protesting about Israel's murder of Palestinian children in Gaza is 'anti-Semitic' according to Junk Academic David Hirsh 
Given the controversies over the now-defunct European Monitoring Committee Definition of anti-Semitism, you might have thought Jones would address some of the issues that were raised.  This was a definition drawn up by the Zionist movement, whose main purpose was to provide some legitimacy to accusations that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism.  It held that comparisons between Zionism and Israel’s behaviour with Nazi Germany were anti-Semitic and that someone who opposes the existence of the racist, apartheid State of Israel is anti-Semitic.  
It is anti-Semitic to protest about the murder of Palestinian children
What does Jones have to say about the EUMC or ‘new anti-Semitism’ which includes ‘singling out Israel for criticism’?  Nothing.  To be fair he probably isn’t even aware of these debates. 

I doubt if there is a single Palestine solidarity activist alive who hasn’t, at one time or the other, been accused of ‘anti-Semitism’.  When York University Palestine Society is accused of anti-Semitism because it showed Caryl Churchill’s 7 Jewish Children, then it should be obvious, even to an intellectual lightweight like Jones, that the issue of anti-Semitism cannot be separated from anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinians. [see Pro-Palestinian students perform 'antisemitic' playas part of Israel Apartheid Week, Jewish Chronicle 25.2.16.] 

7 Jewish Children is a short but quite moving and stimulating play, which is on the Guardian’s own web site.   It makes the connection between hiding a Jewish child in an unnamed Jewish ghetto under Nazi occupation and the death of her relatives and the bombardment of Gaza in 2008-9 during Operation Cast Lead.  According to the idiot Zionist novelist Howard Jacobson it is nothing more than “Jew-hating pure and simple Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is, Independent 18.2.09.

Oxford University Labour Club was recently accused of anti-Semitism when it voted to back the Israel Apartheid Week. [It’s time we acknowledged that Oxford’s student left is institutionally antisemitic]   Guardian Comment is Free, 18.2.16.  The only example of anti-Semitism was the fact that people sometimes used the term ‘Zio’ for Zionist. 

As the former Director of the Institute of Jewish Policy Research, Antony Lerman observed, the almost automatic accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ drains the term of all meaning. [Vetting in Practice, Guardian Comment is Free, 31.5.07. Tony GreensteinLike the boy who cried wolf, the repeated false accusations of anti-Semitism render people immune to the real thing.  That is the real problem, but it isn't one Jones is capable or able to address.

If Jones wants to find a real example of anti-Semitism it’s not the hapless Vicki Kirby, whose expressions owe more to clumsiness and stupidity, coupled with an inability to discern the difference between Zionism and being Jewish, than overt anti-Semitism.  A far more convincing target would be Aviv Bushinsky, a former aide to Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently described the American Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro, as a ‘little Jew boy’  [‘Former Netanyahu aide lambasts US ambassador in heated spat’]. 

Jones only alludes to it, but the last 8 months have been dominated by allegations of anti-Semitism surrounding Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.  Leading the charge against Corbyn has been the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, who ironically has a record of defending anti-Semites who are pro-Israel. [Poland's Kaminski is not an antisemite: he's a friend to Jews, Guardian, 9.10.09.]  Michal Kaminski is the reptile who opposed a national Polish apology for the burning alive of up to 900 Polish Jews by fellow Poles in the village of Jedwabne in his constituency.  He suggested that it was the few Polish Jews who weren’t exterminated by Hitler who owed the country an apology!  None of this prevented the Israeli state from feting this fascist and anti-Semitic MEP.

Contrary to Jones assertion, all the evidence is that anti-Semitism is not on the increase.  Even the avowedly Zionist Community Security Trust’s ‘Anti-Semitic Incidents Report 2015 recorded 924 anti-Semitic incidents in 2015, a fall of 22% from the 2014 level.  As the CST’s report admits, the two highest annual totals for anti-Semitic incidents occurred in 2009 and 2014 when there were ‘significant trigger events in the form of conflicts in Israel and Gaza’. 

Jews in Britain are living in a golden era of tolerance.  The same is not true in relation to racism against Muslims.  Arson and physical attacks, including murder, are at an incomparably higher level for Muslims than Jews, leaving aside the question as to how the CST define an anti-Semitic incident.  Anti-Semitism is not a form of state hatred.  Synagogues don’t have fascist goons demonstrating outside them unlike the East London Mosque on Whitechapel Road which has faced three demonstrations by Britain First in the past month.

The elephant in the room is the relationship of Zionism itself to anti-Semitism.  Zionism was founded on the belief that Jews did not belong in the Diaspora.  Negation of and contempt for the Diaspora was a fundamental part of Zionism’s founding ideology. 

It is the Zionist movement that has often found kindred spirits among anti-Semites.  The founder of Political Zionism, Theodor Herzl explained that ‘the anti-Semites will be our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries, our allies’. [Diaries, p.84]  Herzl himself had friendly relations with anti-Semites including the leader of the anti-Dreyfussards, Eduard Drumont. 

In his Diaries, Herzl relates how on a visit to the cousin of the German Kaiser, the Grand Duke of Baden, the latter explained how he supported Zionism as a means of weaning Jewish workers away from revolutionary politics but he was worried that if he openly supported the Zionist movement he might be accused of anti-Semitism.

Anyone acquainted with the writings of early Zionists know that they were full of anti-Semitic caricatures.  Israel’s first Justice Minister Pinhas Rosenbluth described Palestine as ‘an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin’.  [Joachim Doron, p.169, Classic Zionism and modern anti-Semitism: parallels and influences’ (1883-1914), Studies in Zionism 8, Autumn 1983].  An expression that would not have been out of place from the editor of the Nazi Der Sturmer, Julius Streicher.  Zionism began from an attitude of contempt for the Jewish Diaspora which was little different from mainstream European anti-Semitism.

Today in Europe some of the most racist and far-right parties are, at one and the same time, supporters of Israel.   They combine Islamaphobia, anti-Semitism and support for Israel.  This includes both the British National Party and the English Defence League.  As Ruth Smeed, spokesperson for the Board of Deputies admitted: ‘‘The BNP website is now one of the most Zionist on the web – it goes further than any of the mainstream parties in its support of Israel’. [BNP seeks to bury antisemitism and gain Jewish votes in Islamophobic campaign, The Guardian, April 10th 2008 .

As A B Yehoshua, one of Israel’s foremost novelists, explained in a lecture to the Union of Jewish Students

‘Anti-Zionism is not the product of the non-Jews. On the contrary, the Gentiles have always encouraged Zionism, hoping that it would help to rid them of the Jews in their midst. Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must be a Zionist.’ Jewish Chronicle 22.1.82.

But despite his attempt to get into the good books of Britain's Zionist lobby, Jones is savaged in this week's Jewish Chronicle (17.3.16).  David Hirsh, the junk Zionist academic from Goldsmiths College, argues in Jew hate and today’s Left 
'We remember the shoddiness, one-sidedness and the ferocity of Jones’ own condemnation of Israel at the time of the Gaza conflict; we remember his failure to speak out against the campaign to boycott Israel. ... Jones needs to take to heart that there is a relationship between hostility to Israel and antisemitism. Hostility to Israel is partly caused by antisemitism and is also itself a cause of further antisemitism.'
Whether he tries to avoid it or not, the fact is that the Zionist definition of anti-Semitism rests on support for Israel and opposition to Palestine solidarity.  This is not the first vacuous article Jones has written on anti-Semitism.  Nor I suspect will it be the last.

Tony Greenstein

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