Saturday, 1 June 2019

Open Letter to the Guardian’s Gary Younge – Why the Double Standards Over Israeli Apartheid?


Why is it so difficult to understand that Labour’s ‘Anti-Semitism’ Crisis Has Nothing to do with anti-Semitism?





I have to admit that I was taken aback when I began reading Gary Younge’s article If you didn’t desert Labour over the Iraq war, why give up on it over Brexit? Younge described how in 2002 he accompanied Tony Benn on his lecture tour around Britain.

Although I was only half reading it my eye was caught by the remark:
The fudge on Brexit is most often mentioned, with the party’s ineptitude – or worse, complicity – over antisemitism coming second.’
Younge then went on to compare this ‘complicity’ with the Iraq war and the pauperisation of asylum seekers. I thought at first that maybe this was just badly phrased. 
When I continued reading it was clear that this was not simply clumsy wording but an attempt to link Labour’s appalling record of racism with the current allegations of anti-Semitism. 
when Jews do not feel welcome in the Labour party because they are Jews then that is a serious problem. This issue has been handled badly and at some point that shifts from a bureaucratic matter to an ethical one of institutional indifference. There are clear moral reasons why anyone, but particularly Jews, might abandon the party.
This mass-sensitisation to and mobilisation against prejudice both within the party and without is to be welcomed. I do, however, wonder where that sensitivity was when senior figures in the party were burqa-baiting, accusing the children of asylum seekers of “swamping” schools, celebrating the Empire and branding the Liberal Democrats as “on the side of failed asylum seekers” while Labour was on “your side” (a byelection campaign run by the deputy Labour leader, Tom Watson). The point here is not to change the subject but to contextualise it. Labour has a history of both fighting bigotry and harbouring and, at times, propagating it...  It is helpful to understand the issue of antisemitism in the party as part of a continuum ....
The Guardian has played a leading role in the fake ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign against Corbyn and the left in the Labour Party.
This must qualify as the one of the most moronic of Guardian headlines by this ex-editor of The Mirror
The Five Filters web site has compiled over 100 Guardian headlines attacking Corbyn and Labour ‘anti-Semitism’. A non-stop propaganda barrage. The Guardian’s attack, led by the ‘liberal’ racist Jonathan Freedland, has been part and parcel of its drift to the neo-liberal Right. My favourite was Roy Greenslade’s Yes, Jeremy Corbyn has suffered a bad press, but where's the harm?
This is Nick Cohen's bizarre verdict on Wikileaks giving the Guardian a scoop about how the US machine gunned from the air Iraqi civilians including 2 Reuter's reporters
The Guardian's shocking betrayal of Julian Assange

The Guardian has been guilty of a shocking betrayal of Julian Assange. The attack of Guardian journalists such as Suzanne Moore was described by John Pilger as ‘slow witted viciousness. The Guardian also supported Carl David Goette-Luciak a ‘journalist’ who was little more than an agent for Trump and the CIA in Nicaragua before he was deported.
Because Canary supported the deportation of this ‘journalist’ the Guardian, cancelled the annual Black History lecture on their premises by Canary editor, Kerry Ann-Mendoza, much to the delight of Tory blogger Guido Fawkes.  A decision that Younge supported.
Having been a reader for over 40 years I have a sentimental attachment to the Guardian of old but today you can count on the fingers of one hand, and still have some spare, the Guardian’s good journalists. I can only think of Aditya Chakrabortty and Amelia Gentleman. Even George Monbiot is little more than a Corporate Green. Owen Jones, their token leftist, reminds me of the line in Bob Dylan’s song that ‘You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.’ Jones is adept at reading the political winds.
Gone are the days when you had Ian Aitken, Jonathan Steele, John Palmer, Michael Adams, David Hirst, Hugo Young, Victor Zorza to name but a few. Now we have puffed up corporate liberals such as the pretentious Rafael Behr and Marina Hyde, who wanders all over the page in search of a snide remark.
Prior to reading his current article I would have included in this list Gary Younge. His ‘interview’ with Richard Spencer, the founder of the alt-Right in the United States, was journalism at his best. Younge has been one of the few Guardian journalists to take racism seriously.
How then to explain his take on ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party? At first sight it is baffling. There is no lack of Jewish opponents of this fake anti-Semitism drivel.  Noam Chomsky spoke of how
The charges of anti-Semitism against Corbyn are without merit, an underhanded contribution to the disgraceful efforts to fend off the threat that a political party might emerge that is led by an admirable and decent human being,
Norman Finkelstein explained that
The transparent motive behind this cynical campaign is to demonize Corbyn, not because he’s a “fucking anti-Semite,” but because he’s a principled champion of Palestinian rights.
Avi Shlaim, Professor of International Relations at St. Anthony’s Colletge summed it up in an interview with another Israeli professor:
Anti-Semitism is not a real phenomenon within the Labour Party ... There are anti-Semitic incidents but they are usually related to Israel’s behaviour, Israeli brutality.  So every time there is an Israeli attack on Gaza and there have been 3 in the last 7 years there is a rise in anti-Semitic episodes and incidents in Britain. Fundamentally Israel and the Israeli propaganda machine and Israel’s friends in England and the Israel lobby in Britain deliberately confuse or conflate, and I stress they do it deliberately, anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.  Anti-Semitism is hatred of the Jews as Jews.  Anti-Zionism is opposition to Israel as a colonial power and as an exclusive Jewish state.’
What is it that makes Younge ignore Jewish anti-racists in favour of Zionists like Tom Watson? Younge defines racism, not in terms of class or power relations but as prejudice. Prejudice can affect anyone, rich or poor, capitalist or worker, imperialist or colonised. By defining racism in this way Younge depoliticises it. It no longer has anything to do with society but is the product of the individual psyche. When racism is prejudice even the racist can become a victim.
Younge referenced a 2002 article Terms of abuse whose subheading was ‘If the left wants to win over the pro-Israeli lobby, it will have to start taking anti-semitism seriously’. Would Younge have written a similar article that if the left wanted to win over the pro-Apartheid lobby it must start taking anti-White racism seriously? What has anti-Semitism got to do with opposition to Zionism and Israel?
I don’t believe that this is simply ignorance. Nkosi Zwelivelile wrote only last year in the Guardian that ‘My grandfather Nelson Mandela fought apartheid. I see the parallels with Israel’ Perhaps Young missed it.  Did Younge also miss Desmond Tutu’s comments:
“I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces," he said in a statement. "Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government."
Perhaps Gary missed the article by Ronnie Kassrills, the Jewish founder of the ANC’s military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe ‘I fought South African apartheid. I see the same brutal policies in Israel’ Kassrills was recently banned from speaking by Vienna Council. Both the Green Party and the neo-Nazi Freedom Party voted to condemn his ‘anti-Semitism’. Gary would have been proud!
It takes a special kind of arrogance for Gary Younge to ignore the experiences of those who fought and suffered under Apartheid in South Africa in favour of colleagues such as Jonathan Freedland.
Factually Younge is simply wrong. Jews do not feel unwelcome in the Labour Party. Perhaps Zionists feel uncomfortable at support for the Palestinians or opposition to Zionism. Would Labour have welcomed those White South Africans who supported Apartheid?
What is most disturbing is where Younge links New Labour’s undoubted record of virulent racism with today’s accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’.  As he says
senior figures in the party were burqa-baiting, accusing the children of asylum seekers of “swamping” schools, celebrating the Empire and branding the Liberal Democrats as “on the side of failed asylum seekers” while Labour was on “your side” (a byelection campaign run by the deputy Labour leader, Tom Watson). The point here is not to change the subject but to contextualise it.’
Contextualisation is important but there is no silver thread running from ‘anti-Semitism’ to New Labour’s racism. It is because Younge is not stupid that his comments are even more perplexing.
It surely cannot have passed his notice that the people who are responsible for past racism in the Labour Party, and he mentions Tom Watson, are precisely the same people who are driving the fake anti-Semitism campaign?
Or put it another way. Why is it that the racist Tory press, from the Daily Mail to the Sun are so unanimous in condemning Labour ‘anti-Semitism’? The very same press that employed Katie Hopkins.
Who is it who is driving the allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ if not Tom Watson? Not only did he run the by-election Younge describes above but he openly supported the racist New Labour MP Phil Woolas who based his whole election campaign in 2010 on making the white folks angryand when the High Court removed Woolas Watson wrote that he had ‘lost sleep’ over ‘poor Phil’ See OPEN LETTER TO TOM WATSON - the Unlikely Anti-Racist who supported May’s ‘hostile environment’ policy and the Windrush deportations
Tom Watson even hounded Labour Councillor Yvonne Davies because she had opposed a BNP style St George’s Day parade in his constituency which was openly racist.  But here is the rub:
Steve Bell's censored cartoon
How is it that someone who is so concerned about ‘anti-Semitism’ demonises asylum seekers and supports an openly racist Labour MP? 
I can only assume that the Guardian’s atmosphere today is so febrile that apart from Steve Bell, it is taken for granted at the Guardian offices that Labour is anti-Semitic. Steve Bell too has been a victim of the fake anti-Semitism scares when his cartoon showing the murdered Razan al-Najar was censored by Kath Viner, the Guardian’s Editor.
I have written an Open Letter to Gary Younge. I don’t expect him to respond because my victims rarely do!  However the point is a serious one.  When one of the few Black anti-racist journalists in Britain feels that anti-Semitism, a minor prejudice at worst, is more important than state racism in Britain and when he ignores where this campaign has com from then there is a problem of political cowardice at best.
Gary Younge is not a Chuka Ummuna figure. Chuka is someone who just happens to be Black. Like his Zionist heroes he is an active participant in racism. He supported the 2014 Immigration Act and Theresa May’s hostile environment policy. No one could accuse Gary Younge of that and yet, in upholding the fake claims of ‘anti-Semitism’ he has given comfort to the racists of the Israel lobby.

Open Letter to Gary Younge
Dear Gary,
I read with interest your recent articleIf you didn’t desert Labour over the Iraq war, why give up on it over Brexit?’ In it you stated that:

when Jews do not feel welcome in the Labour party because they are Jews then that is a serious problem.

Of course this would be a problem if it were true. It is anti-Zionist Jews such as myself and Jackie Walker who have not been made welcome.  Indeed we have been expelled at the behest of Zionist groups such as the misnamed Jewish Labour Movement.
It is not, of course, just Jews who have been expelled.  Black and Muslim members have also been targeted if they have ‘misspoke’ about Israel.

Only today Pete Willsman has been suspended for stating the obvious, namely that the Israeli Embassy is behind this pernicious campaign. Chris Williamson MP has also been suspended for doubting the fake anti-Semitism allegations.

You cannot be unaware of the expulsion of Marc Wadsworth, a long-standing anti-racist activist, who was accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ by Ruth Smeeth MP, who is a ‘protected’ asset of the United States. About all of this you have nothing to say.
What surprised me was you that you drew a link between the false anti-Semitism campaign and the very real racism of New Labour and its predecessors.  A racism going back to the 1968 Kenya Asian Immigration Act.

You spoke of how a ‘mass-sensitisation to and mobilisation against prejudice both within the party and without is to be welcomed.’and then wondered ‘where that sensitivity was when senior figures in the party were burqa-baiting, accusing the children of asylum seekers of “swamping” schools...’ in the course of which you mentioned the role of Tom Watson in a race baiting campaign.

In fact you were too kind. You will no doubt remember the unlamented former Immigration Minister Phil Woolas who based his whole election campaign in 2010 on making the white folks angry’. Far from Tom Watson condemning him for his campaign when the High Court removed Woolas Watson wrote that he had lost sleep’ over ‘poor Phil’

You seem to see a contradiction between the concern over the concern over ‘anti-Semitism’ and New Labour’s racist record. There is only a contradiction if the concern about anti-Semitism is genuine. I suggest it is anything but.

I find it difficult to believe that you are so naive.  It is completely consistent that those who are using ‘anti-Semitism’ as a weapon against Corbyn and the Left are the same people who demonised, pauperised and removed legal aid from asylum seekers.

Tom Watson, Ian Austin and the Labour Right aren’t in the slightest concerned about genuine racism or anti-Semitism. What concerns them is opposition to Israel. That is why they campaigned so vociferously for the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism which conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Has it never occurred to you to ask why it is that the same papers who employed Katie Hopkins have been the ones alleging ‘anti-Semitism’? It was the Daily Mail which kicked this all off in 2015 when it alleged that Corbyn was associated with holocaust deniers.

Let me help you. In the words of Israeli novelist A B Yehoshua, ‘even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must be a Zionist.’ That is why Israel’s best friends are Viktor Orban and the anti-Semitic Polish regime.  It is why the main supporter of the Apartheid regime in South Africa was also Israel.

You referred in your article to Terms of abuse where, quite shockingly you stated, ‘If the left wants to win over the pro-Israeli lobby, it will have to start taking anti-semitism seriously’.  Would you have said the same with respect to the Apartheid regime in South Africa?  That we shouldn’t be anti-White?

You may respond that Zionism and the State of Israel is not like Apartheid South Africa. Presumably the fact that Israel has maintained a military occupation over 5 million Palestinians for 52 years, because to give them civil and political rights would mean an end to a Jewish ethnic state, is not apartheid? Even within Israel does not segregated education and land not remind you of something?  93% of Israeli land is Jewish national land. Half the Arab villages are ‘unrecognised’ i.e. are liable for demolition and where, as in Afula last year, hundreds of Israeli Jews demonstrated against the sale of a house to an Arab.

When Israeli actress, Rotem Sala, at the last General Election askedWhen the hell will someone in this government convey to the public that Israel is a state of all its citizens... and that even the Arabs and the Druze ... are human." Prime Minister Netanyahu responded that ‘Israel is not a country of all its citizens. According to the nation-state law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish nation,”
Netanyahu was right. As a Jew I have the right to Israeli citizenship anytime I want unlike a Palestinian who was born there.  What has opposition to this got to do with anti-Semitism?

It isn’t me but Anti-Apartheid veterans in South Africa who see the parallels between Israel and South Africa. I’m surprised that you are so blind.

Nkosi Zwelivelile wrote only last year in the Guardian that ‘My grandfather Nelson Mandela fought apartheid. I see the parallels with Israel’ Perhaps you missed it?  Did you also miss Desmond Tutu’s comments that:

“I have witnessed the systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the Israeli security forces. Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security forces of the apartheid government."

Perhaps you missed the article by Ronnie Kassrills, the Jewish founder of the ANC’s military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe in April’s Guardian: ‘I fought South African apartheid. I see the same brutal policies in Israel’

My question to you Gary is when you are going to stop being an apologist for Israeli Apartheid? Anti-Semitism is hatred of Jews not hatred of Jewish racism.
Regards

Tony Greenstein

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