25 June 2017

Open Letter to SNP MPs – Why do you join hands with the bigots of the DUP in support of Israel, the world’s most racist state?

SNP MPs sign John Mann's EDM defining support for the Palestinians as 'anti-Semitism'
The SNP's new flag

When I first went youth hostelling in the Scottish Highlands I got talking to a man in my dorm who was wearing a kilt.  I asked him if he was a supporter of the Scottish National Party.  ‘Och no’ he replied.  ‘They’re a bunch of Tartan Tories.’  I mention this because today the SNP tries to give the impression that it is a progressive, left-wing nationalist party, which is opposed to all things Tory.  In 2015 it attacked the Labour Party in the General Election and the execrable Blairite leader of Scottish Labour, Jim Murphy, as ‘red Tories’
Angus Robertson, the defeated leader of the SNP in London, was a strong supporter of Israel and the new IHRA
You would therefore expect a party that represents what, in their eyes, is an oppressed nation, the Scottish, to sympathise with and support the Palestinians.  It’s a no brainer.  Just as Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist party which represents the Catholics of Northern Ireland, have always supported the Palestinians and opposed Zionism. 

Hungary's Admiral Horthy with Hitler.  Horthy presided over the deportation of 437,000 Jews to Auschwitz in 1944.  Viktor Orban, Hungary's Prime Minister a strong supporter of the IHRA and Israel, is leading the campaign to rehabilitate Horthy as a nationalist symbol of Hungary's fascist past

As Ronald Storrs, the first Military Governor of Jerusalem wrote in his autobiography, Orientations, ‘A Jewish State will be for England a little, loyal Ulster in a sea of potentially hostile Arabism.’
Alex Salmond managed to combine verbal support for the Palestinians with backing Zionist Apartheid - a consummate bourgeois politician
It is therefore curious that the SNP gives every appearance, apart from the odd photo opportunity, of signing up to support Zionism and the Israeli state one hundred per cent.  In January John Mann MP, a rent a mouth thuggish Blairite who is fiercely hostile to Corbyn put down an Early Day Motion in support of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism. 
Wes Streeting another anti-Corbyn Labour MP who just loves the IHRA definition of 'anti-semitism'
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism consists of over 420 words and has a deliberately ambiguous and deceptive introduction which relies on 11 ‘examples’ of what anti-Semitism might be.   There is of course a very simple definition drawn up by a Fellow of Oxford University and a Jewish academic, Dr Brian Klug.  It is 21 words, doesn't mention Israel.
antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.’ 
The only problem with Klug's definition is that it doesn't mention Israel!
Another signatory to Mann's EDM is the Chair of Labour Friends of Israel, expenses champion Joan Ryan.  She made it clear at the General Election that she prefers Theresa May to Corbyn
Despite calling itself a ‘non-legal’ definition the IHRA is increasingly being used to shut down anti-Zionist and anti-Israel Apartheid events, to ban speakers and to infringe on free speech.

There are two very excellent analyses of the IHRA and its deficiencies by Hugh Tomlinson QC and by former Court of Appeal Judge Sir Stephen Sedley, who is himself Jewish.  Sedley wrote an article Defining Anti-Semitism in May’s London Review of Books on the IHRA.  It is well worth reading.  Sedley’s opening paragraph sums up our criticisms very well:
Ruth Smeeth the Blairite MP who disrupted the Chakrabarti press conference last year, portraying herself as a victim of 'anti-semitism'
Shorn of philosophical and political refinements, anti-Semitism is hostility towards Jews as Jews. Where it manifests itself in discriminatory acts or inflammatory speech it is generally illegal, lying beyond the bounds of freedom of speech and of action. By contrast, criticism (and equally defence) of Israel or of Zionism is not only generally lawful: it is affirmatively protected by law. Endeavours to conflate the two by characterising everything other than anodyne criticism of Israel as anti-Semitic are not new. What is new is the adoption by the UK government (and the Labour Party) of a definition of anti-Semitism which endorses the conflation

It is therefore bizarre that the SNP, which purports to be a progressive party should be allying itself with the DUP, the most bigoted, racist, homophobic and chauvinist party in the House of Commons.  Of the 59  MPs who signed John Mann’s January 2017 EDM, 10 were from the SNP and 5 from the DUP.  They included Angus Robertson, who sat on the Home Affairs Select Committee which originally endorsed the IHRA last October and Alex Salmond, who has made a career speaking out of both sides of his mouth.
Arlene Foster - the SNP's new Loyalist friend - hates gays, abortion and Catholics but just loves Israel and Zionism

John Mann reissued another EDM on 21st June in support of the IHRA.  It has already garnered 5 signatures .  Apart from Mann himself and uber Blairite Wes Streeting, there is Jim Shannon of the DUP and Christopher Stephens of the SNP. 
A short sample of Joan Ryan's expenses list
There have been repeated attempts to prosecute Scottish Palestine solidarity activists for the crime of racially aggravated hate.  In April 2010 5 activists were cleared by Sheriff James Scott [Activists who heckled Israeli quartet cleared of racism charge] who said on that occasion:

"If persons on a march designed to protest against and publicise alleged crimes committed by a state and its army are afraid to name that state for fear of being charged with racially aggravated behaviour, that would render worthless their Article 10 rights," he said

In August 2016 an Aberdeen Palestine solidarity supporter, Alister Coutts, was prosecuted for shouting ‘Viva Palestina’.  All the cases so far have led to acquittals but there is another case which is pending.  In Scotland, which has its own legal system, justice is a devolved matter.  It is the SNP who are in essence presiding over this legal witch hunt of Palestine supporters.

It would seem that when you scratch the SNP what you find is the old Tartan Tories.  Perhaps that is why in the last election, Scottish voters decided to vote for the genuine article in 13 constituencies?
Below is an open letter I wrote to the SNP MPs.

Tony Greenstein

John Mann haranguing Ken Livingstone last year for telling the truth that the Nazis supported Zionism up and until they started deporting Jews in 1941

Dear Member of Parliament,

In January 2017, John Mann put down an Early Day Motion in support of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of 'anti-semitism.  Today he is touting for signatures to a new EDM supporting the IHRA. I am asking you, as a Jewish supporter of the Palestinians not to sign it and I hope that Christopher Stephens will withdraw his signature.

Out of the 59 signatures who signed last time around, 10 of them were from the SNP.  Another 5 were from those dedicated opponents of racism, the Democratic Unionist Party.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the SNP today considers itself a progressive if not left nationalist party as opposed to the Tartan Tories of old?  Why then are you getting into bed with the bigots of the DUP and Blairite MPs like John Mann, Wes Streeting, Ruth Smeeth, Stephen Twigg, and of course the saintly Keith Vaz?  To say nothing of Joan Ryan, Blairite Chair of Labour Friends of Israel who holds the record for claiming parliamentary expenses and Louise Ellman, the Zionist MP who defended the Israeli military’s incarceration and beating of Palestinian children. 

John Mann is a non-Jewish MP who does very well out of 'anti-Semitism'.  Strangely enough he never raises his voice about any other forms of racism.  Perhaps it’s not as profitable. 

The IHRA definition of 'anti-Semitism' is a mere 420+ words.  It gives 11 examples of 'anti-Semitism', 7 of which relate to Israel, not Jews.  Israel is a state.  You can't be racist against a state.  The fact that a state calls itself Jewish doesn’t make it racist to criticise it anymore than it was racist to criticise Apartheid South Africa which called itself ‘Christian’.

States based on religion disappeared from Europe with the French Revolution over 200 years ago.  In its place the idea of separation of state from religion took root.  Israel is a throwback to medieval times.  As a colonial settler state it is the world’s most racist state. 

There is a very simple definition drawn up by a Fellow of Oxford University and a Jewish academic, Dr Brian Klug.  It is 21 words, doesn't mention Israel and is clear and simple.

antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.’

If you are genuinely opposed to anti-Semitism, the kind that fascists and holocaust deniers propagate, then you will understand that conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is immensely helpful to those who really do hate Jews, because it enables them to hide behind supporters of the Palestinians and opponents of Israeli Apartheid.  Equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism confuses people as to what anti-Semitism actually is.  It is the ‘boy cried wolf’ syndrome.  Shout ‘anti-Semitism’ everytime Israel is criticised and eventually people will be unable to discern genuine examples of anti-Semitism.

The IHRA is an alliance of 31 governments including the racist governments of Poland and Hungary.  Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is a strong supporter of both Israel and the IHRA definition. He is also a well known racist.  Today’s Times of Israel contains an article Jewish groups critical of Hungarian praise for Hitler ally.  Orban is currently trying to rehabilitate the war-time leader of Hungary, Admiral Horthy, who not only allied himself with Hitler throughout the war, but presided over the deportation to Auschwitz of some 437,000 Hungarian Jews.

Anti-Semites supporting Zionism is nothing new because both believe that the place of Jews is in Palestine, not the countries where they live.  That is why Orban supports the IHRA.  If you are genuinely opposed to anti-Semitism you will join the University College Union whose Conference has just come out in opposition to the IHRA and Caroline Lucas, who signed Mann’s original EDM.  She has changed her mind and now rejects this bogus definition of anti-Semitism.

Kind regards

Tony Greenstein
See my articles on Comment is Free Stop conflating anti-Zionism and anti-semitism

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