Brighton’s Labour Group Proposes IHRA Motion as part of its war on the Left and Corbyn and the Greens join in
In an interview with The Times of Israel it was reported that Israel’s Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, had stated that ‘he would instruct the IDF to shoot and kill any Palestinians who cross into the country from Gaza’. When questioned as to whether or not that would also apply to children Bennett responded ‘“They are not children — they are terrorists. We are fooling ourselves. I see the photos.” Bennett says IDF should shoot to kill Gazans who cross border [8.10.18]
The statement of Bennett, who is the leader of HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home), a religious settlers’ party, is that of a Nazi. It is reminiscent of Himmler’s speech to Nazi leaders in the Polish city of Posnan on October 6th 1943 when he explained why the killings had to include Jewish children: “I did not assume to have the right to exterminate the men… and have the avengers personified in the children to become adults for our children and grandchildren.”[Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, p.259]
Palestinian children to Bennett are no different from Jewish children to Himmler. To both they represent the devil in child form. That was why Israeli polymath and orthodox religious scholar, Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz described the settlers as Judeo-Nazis. Naftali Bennett is a prime example of a Judeo-Nazi. He subscribes to a racial philosophy of Jewish supremacism no different from Nazi ideology.
But under the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism ‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’ can be anti-Semitic even though Israelis regularly make such comparisons themselves. For example even Deputy Chief of Staff General Yair Golan at a Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration two years ago caused a storm when he stated that
‘If there's something that frightens me about Holocaust remembrance it's the recognition of the revolting processes that occurred in Europe in general, and particularly in Germany, back then – 70, 80 and 90 years ago – and finding signs of them here among us today in 2016. IDF Deputy Chief Likens 'Revolting Trends' in Israeli Society to pre-Holocaust Germany
|Education Minister Naftali Benneftt, a Judeo-Nazi|
Another member of Netanyahu’s Cabinet, Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman remarked that he would like nothing more than to see the drowning of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in the Dead Sea. Again the label Judeo Nazi would be apt. His Deputy as Defence Minister, Rabbi Eli Dahan is also no slouch. In a radio interview he explained that to him Palestinians ‘“are like animals, they aren’t human.” and that “A Jew always has a much higher soul than a gentile [non-Jew] , even if he is a homosexual,”
|Anti--Gypsy Signs in Barns Green, West Sussex|
To understand the full import of the above it is important to recognize that for Orthodox Jews being gay is an abomination which merits the death penalty, but even a gay Jew has a ‘much higher soul’ than a non-Jew. These are just some of the people who inhabit the present Israeli cabinet. Yet to call them what they are, Judeo-Nazis is anti-Semitic under the shabby, incoherent and contradictory collection of words that goes under the title of the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.
Yet amazingly enough, the IHRA ‘definition of anti-Semitism’ is what Phelim McCafferty and the Green Group on Brighton & Hove Council has signed up to. A defence of Israel which renders criticism of racists like Naftali Bennett antisemitic.
|The Latvian Waffen SS are lauded by the LNNK Party which the Tories are allied to in the European Parliament|
Next Thursday Brighton and Hove Council is set to be the latest right-wing Council to adopt the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. It is a definition whose main purpose is not to combat anti-Semitism but to demonise support for the Palestinians.
The arguments against the IHRA have been well rehearsed for example in my most recent Open Letter to Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion. Simply put there is a very simple definition of anti-Semitism. It is the OED: ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews.’ The IHRA is 500+ words because that is how much it needs in order to conflate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.
|Tony Janio - leader of the Tories professes opposition to antisemitism but has never criticised the link-up of the Tories in the European Parliament with antisemitic parties|
The actions of the Labour Group, which consists overwhelmingly of supporters of Progress and the Labour Right, in moving the IHRA have more to do with their opposition to Jeremy Corbyn than any concern about anti-Semitism. Likewise the Tories are supporting the motion, not because they are worried about anti-Semitism but for similar reasons to Labour. They too want to see an end to Jeremy Corbyn. What is surprising is that the Green Party Councillors are playing #me2.
What kind of political degeneracy and stupidity leads anyone on the Left to sign a motion against racism with the Tory Party? Phelim McCafferty comes from Southern Ireland. He knows full well the bloody record of the Tories in Ireland. The Tory Party is the party of the British Empire and racism is its bread and butter. Racism was the justification for Empire through the belief that those we conquered were less civilised than ourselves. Racism isn’t an illness you catch or some moral deficiency, it is the oil that makes the wheels of imperialism turn - from the Atlantic slave trade to the Amritsar massacre and the starvation of Bengal. What kind of moral turpitude and political opportunism is it that leads the Greens of Brighton to get into bed with a party for whom racism is second nature?
For sure the Tory party now has some Black and Asian MPs just as it now has some Jewish MPs. The British in India also relied on native collaborators to maintain the Raj but their rule was no less racist or bloody because of this. Today Sajid David presides over the Windrush scandal and the Tories ‘hostile environment policy’ towards migrants.
Most people think of the Green Party as some kind of anti-establishment party on the left of British politics but Brighton Greens when in power have shown a remarkable ability to adapt to the prevailing political ambience.
Up to 2015 the Green Party ran a minority administration in Brighton. Because that administration was widely seen as a disaster, their representation fell from 21 to 11in 2015 and the Council is now run by Labour. The Greens during their time in power came into conflict with the refuse workers and together with the Tories imposed the hideous Eyesore (I-360) on Brighton.
We were led to believe that with the replacement of the previous leader, Jason Kitcat by Phelim McCafferty, that the Deep Greens had been put to bed. By seconding the IHRA resolution to Council with the Tories the Greens have demonstrated their political shallowness.
Anyone serious about anti-racism would ask why it is that ‘anti-Semitism’ is being singled out. Jews may be a minority but they are not racially oppressed. According to the Pew Research Centre 7% of British people have unfavourable attitudes to Jews, compared to 26% and 50% with respect to Muslims and Roma respectively.
|Daniel Yates - right-wing leader of Brighton Labour Group|
There are no Windrush-style deportations of Jews. Jews are not stopped and searched on the street or likely to die in police custody nor do they suffer from racial attacks or economic discrimination. Jews are not overrepresented in prisons and under-represented in Parliament. Jews are a privileged part of the White population. The idea that passing the IHRA resolution has something to do with opposing racism against Jews is fanciful. It is about a political narrative concerned with Israel, Zionism and Jeremy Corbyn.
The mere fact that ‘anti-Semitism’ is being privileged above any other form of racism is itself racist. It is a slap in the face of those groups who really do suffer from racism.
The Tories are the traditional party of anti-Semitism. At the beginning of the 20th century they opposed the immigration of Jewish refugees from Czarist Russia and in 1905 under the ardent Zionist Arthur Balfour they introduced the Aliens Act to keep Jews out. In the 1930’s they opposed the immigration of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, supported by the Times, Telegraph, Mail and Express. The war-time government of Churchill adamantly refused to admit Jewish refugees who were able to escape Nazi occupied Europe because they were considered enemy aliens!
|An email from Jewish Green Party member Les Levidow to Phelim McCafferty|
|Message to Phelim McCafferty from Debbie Fink, a Jewish member of the Green Party|
Of course as the Jewish community has moved upward socially and politically to the Right the Tories have shed their overt anti-Semitism which resulted in someone like Michael Howard having to face over 40 selection contests before becoming an MP.
But although the Tories are ardently pro-Zionist and anti-Palestinian they have not shed all their attitudes. They are allied with the European Conservative and Reform Group in the European Parliament. This is a group consisting of a number of anti-Semitic parties such as the Swedish Democrats, Poland’s Law and Justice Party and Latvia’s LNNK/For Fatherland and Freedom. The LNNK for example has one MEP, Robert Zile, who on one Saturday every March demonstrates alongside veterans of Latvia’s Waffen SS.
Over 95% of Latvia’s Jews perished in the Holocaust, the second highest of any European country. Part of the reason was the hostility of the native population many of whom joined the Waffen SS, the section of the SS responsible for running the concentration camps. Yet the Tories, including ex-Conservative Friends of Israel Chair Eric Pickles ardently defend their tie up with overtly anti-Semitic parties.
See Monica Lowenberg’s Riga, Capital of European Culture: Waffen SS, Stags and Silence? for a description of the Tories friends in Latvia. If Tony Janio, the Tory leader in Brighton Council were sincere in his opposition to anti-Semitism then he would challenge his party’s membership of the ECHR group in the European parliament. Otherwise he is just being the normal Tory hypocrite.
For the Green Party to ally itself with right-wing Labour and the Tories use of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a stick to beat supporters of the Palestinians demonstrates how shallow their support for the Palestinians really is. Whenever the Greens gets their hands on the levers of power, they behave no different to their Labour/Tory counterparts.
It remains to be seen whether all 11 of the Green Party councillors follow the lead of Phelim McCafferty into the lobby with Warren Morgan and the Tories.
Let us be clear what this is about. The IHRA states that
"Manifestations [of antisemitism] might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. "
In other words if you criticise Israel because it is fundamentally different from a normal state, from an anti-Zionist perspective, because it is a state based on ethnic supremacy, then you are antisemitic. This is what the Green group and the Labour group have signed up for. This is anti-Palestinian racism, pure and simple. Tony Greenstein
Open Letter to Phelim McCafferty – Leader of Green Group on Brighton and Hove City Council
I wrote to you earlier today regarding the fact that you had jointly seconded, with Tony Janio of the Tories, the IHRA resolution that is going to the next meeting of Brighton and Hove Council. You have chosen not to respond.
I sent you and the Green Councillors over the weekend a letter explaining why the IHRA has nothing to with opposing anti-Semitism and everything to do with undermining support for the Palestinians. No one has yet explained why a ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism of 500+ words is required when the Oxford English Dictionary definition ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews’ consists of just 6. The fact that the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is based on ‘hatred’ rather than ‘hostility’ demonstrates it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
Even the IHRA’s principal author Kenneth Stern has criticised its use to chill free speech on campuses. The IHRA has been the subject of withering criticism by a variety of legal and academic figures, such as former Court of Appeal Judge Sir Stephen Sedley, Hugh Tomlinson QC and Geoffrey Robertson QC who has described it as ‘not fit for purpose.’
The reason why the Labour Group is proposing this pernicious statement owes more to their hostility to Jeremy Corbyn than any concern with racism against Jews or others. Hostility to Corbyn is also the prime motive of the Tory group. It is stretching credibility to believe that a Tory Party which has deported possibly hundreds of Black British Windrush Citizens under their ‘hostile environment policy’ is seriously concerned about racism against Jews.
A Tory Party which, when Jewish refugees were fleeing from the pogroms in Czarist Russia, introduced the 1905 Aliens Act and which also opposed the admission of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany is now apparently concerned about anti-Semitism. This is the same Tory Party which is in alliance with anti-Semitic parties in the European Parliament and whose MEP’s have just supported the racist Viktor Orban, Prime Minister of Hungary.
What makes this even more sordid is that you led people to believe that the Green group in the Council would not be supporting this wretched motion.
The only effect of adopting the IHRA will be to threaten the free speech of Council employees and others. For the Green Group to support such an anti-democratic resolution is shameful. The IHRA has been used to close down Israel Apartheid week on university campuses. A staff member of Hammersmith & Fulham Council was dismissed for contravening the IHRA. Clearly your support for civil liberties is skin deep.
This resolution is also racist. You have ignored the letter written to the Council by some 18 Black and migrant groups in this city opposing the IHRA. By what right do you privilege opposition to anti-Semitism, which is a marginal prejudice, compared to racism against Black people, Muslims and Gypsies? There is no state anti-Semitism in Britain and where it does exist, in Poland and Eastern Europe, the Zionist movement has nothing to say because these regimes are also the most ardently pro-Israel.
Racist attitudes to Roma in this country are over 7 times higher than that against Jews and anti-Muslim racism is over 3 times as high. It is clear that it wasn’t anti-racism which motivated this resolution.
Some people have fondly imagined that the Green Party and its councillors represent a break from the traditional two parties and their mode of operation. In supporting this racist resolution, not least in the way you led people to believe that you would be opposing the IHRA, it is clear that your real goal is for a greater share of the spoils rather than a desire for fundamental change in society. Some of us had hoped that the Green councillors had broken from the Jason Kitcat era. Clearly we were wrong.