Lansman's support for Zionism & 'unconscious' antisemitism only helps Labour's Right and the supporters of Israeli Apartheid
To download transcript of talks click here
At the end of June I went on a speaking tour to Scotland on behalf of Labour Against the Witch-hunt. I recorded my speeches in Edinburgh and Glasgow. At the first meeting Mick Napier from Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign spoke alongside me. Unfortunately I didn’t record Mick’s talk although I did record his response to questions. At the second meeting I spoke with Professor Hillel Ticktin who is a retired Professor of Marxist Studies at Glasgow University. I did tape his speech.
|speaking in Edinburgh - Mick Napier of Scottish PSC is on the right - Ian Drummond chaired the meeting|
The theme of my speech was the anti-Semitism witch-hunt in the Labour Party, the background to it, what it really aims to do and how it goes about justifying itself. I predicted that the fake anti-Semitism campaign which we saw around the local elections would come back again.
Sure enough this week, with the publication of Labour’s Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct, a weak and anodyne document the campaign began again. According to the far-Right racist editor of the Jewish Chronicle, Stephen Pollard, Labour was institutionally anti-Semitic. Pollard started off his bilious article by comparing Jeremy Corbyn to Hitler and the Nazis! His argument being that the Labour Party had no right to define anti-Semitism, that was the task of Jews (by which they mean racist and Zionist Jews not me or Jewish Voice for Labour!).
What was the Zionists real complaint? Well Pollard was a model of honesty The problem was that
‘instead of adopting the definition as agreed by all these bodies, Labour has excised the parts which relate to Israel and how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic.’
Precisely. As my speeches make clear, the only purpose in the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism is to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. By removing two or three of the Israel illustrations Labour has defeated the whole purpose of the IHRA definition! Of course Corbyn and Formby are utterly stupid. The IHRA definition can’t be amended. It’s like believing you can water down a solution of cyanide and hoping you might survive. Why would you want to dilute a poison and the IHRA is a poison. The purpose of the definition is-to conflate Zionism and anti-Semitism, there are no half-way houses. You either are pregnant or you are not. You can’t be half pregnant and you can’t have a half decent IHRA.
I spent some considerable time in my speeches analysing why the IHRA is a poisonous excrescence. Corbyn should not have followed Theresa May in adopting this definition. If he hadn’t been so stupid he wouldn’t have had all of these problems. The answer to Pollard and the rest of the gutter press is to ditch the IHRA definition. As I point out in my talks, there are much better and much simpler definitions of anti-Semitism and Lord Bracadale in his Report on Hate Crimes in Scotland made it clear that you cannot make criticism of a state a hate offence. That would be an outrageous infringement on freedom of speech. The Israeli state is not a protected characteristic!
I know this will offend people but the idiocy of Corbyn and his advisers is at least partly responsible for his political problems. And speaking of idiots none come more readily to mind than Jon Lansman. Perhaps the most idiotic of all the statements during the recent bout of false anti-Semitism allegations concerning Corbyn’s mural was Lansman’s assertion that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party was ‘unconscious’.
Anyone who needs to resort to Freudian psychoanalysis in order to justify allegations of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party literally needs their head examining.
At a time when Black people from the Windrush generation have been deported, despite being British citizens, when Mosques are regularly firebombed, to concentrate on ‘unconscious’ anti-Semitism (i.e. it can’t be seen, heard or felt) is proof that what is involved is a spurious and fake.
Let us be quite clear that the Jewish community in Britain, a community which is being consciously used by the Right in its battle against Corbyn and the Left, is not oppressed. Anti-Semitism today is a marginal form of prejudice. Jews are not economically discriminated against, they don’t suffer from state racism. Even fascists concentrate most of their attention on Muslims not Jews. Indeed they now proclaim that they are not anti-Semitic in their desire to be seen as the most ardent supporters of Israel. Jews do not die in police custody nor are they in danger of being deported back to Poland or wherever they originated from. In short the whole anti-Semitism nonsense is contrived and bogus, designed to shore up support for the genocidally racist State of Israel. And in so far as anti-Semitism of the Jew not Israel hatred variety could return, then Zionism is an obstacle to any fight against genuine anti-Semitism.
The recordings did not pick up the contributions of all the questioners so I have not transcribed any contributions (bar 1!). However I am putting the tapes on line here in order that people can, if they desire, listen to the speeches including questions from the floor.
Edinburgh LAW Meeting 26th June 2018
|Richard Littlejohn - the most racist journalist on the British press (until Katie Hopkins came along) was a Scum journalist - he also opposes 'antisemitism' though|
|Even the Sun deplores 'antisemitism' in the Labour Party - the same Scum that employed Katie Hopkins and attacks asylum seekers|
Chair: Ian Drummond
Talking about your trial (when Mick Napier and 4 others from Scottish PSC were prosecuted for offences of racial hatred for disrupting the Jerusalem Quartet concert) in a way you were too modest because it was directly quoted by Lord Bracadale in his recent Opinion (Review of Hate Crime Legislation in Scotland see Israel Boycott is Not Hate Crime, Scottish Government-Commissioned Report Concludesagainst adopting the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism a few of us in this room supporting Labour Against the Witchhunt within Scottish Momentum had a pretty bruising debate a few months ago with a motion calling for the reinstatement of Tony and other comrades who’d been expelled and also condemning the IHRA definition, saying it should not be taken up. There’s a lot of misunderstanding out there. Somebody referred to it as a statement by a group of Holocaust survivors.
At the time it was called the EU Monitoring Committee Working Definition of Anti-Semitism until the EUMC got subsumed within the Fundamental Rights Agency which dropped it like a hot potato. It’s never been accepted in law, it was laughed out of court by Sheriff Scott (the trial of the 5 SPSC demonstrators), by Lord Bracadale who presided over the gaoling of Tommy Sheridan and the Libya case, the man of the law had to recommend against it and now we’ve seen Nicola Sturgeon going the other way and hopefully we can be better than that in the Labour Party.
|This is Israel's racism - marriage between a Jew and Arab isn't a religious offence it is treason i.e. betraying your race - and 75% of Israeli Jews oppose sharing an apartment with an Arab|
I was just finishing university at the time. I was at my last NUS Conference, presided over by Wes Streeting, an MP now who was retiring as President of NUS. The guillotine was coming down on support for the EUMC motion that they’d passed a few years before. He’d already made his valedictory speech, he got up and spoke from the floor and proposed we renew this policy in his last ever statement at NUS Conference. I got up and mentioned the trial that Mick had just won and said that we should not renew it and it went from what would have been unanimous to a very tense card vote. They still won at that time but the NUS has moved on quite a bit since. Without further ado, Tony Greenstein.
TG: Thank you comrades. LAW was formed in October 2017. It is the only organisation which has consistently opposed the witchhunt. I myself was expelled in February. Although I was expelled as part of the anti-Semitism witchhunt I wasn’t accused of anti-Semitism! Ironically all those who have been expelled aren’t actually accused of anti-Semitism because the Labour Party might face defamation proceedings. So it’s normally the catch-all charge of bringing the party into disrepute. I was also accused of abusing people like Louise Ellman MP. I called her the MP, not only for Liverpool Riverside but Tel Aviv South. That was considered to be abusive! I said she was a supporter of the abuse of Palestinian children. I was therefore guilty of trying to shame her. [During a debate on 6 January 2016 on Palestinian child prisoners Ellman had intervened 3 times to support the abuse of the Israeli army – see Time to Deselect Louise Ellman] I argued that she had no shame and that situation was therefore not possible. Nonetheless I was convicted by what I called Labour’s National Kangaroo Court.
|After the meeting a friendly meal with activists|
My trials began when I was suspended in March 2016. I had a letter from John Stolliday, the unlamented former head of the Compliance Unit, saying I was suspended because of remarks I was alleged to have made. No indication was given as to the nature of the remarks and it was only 2 weeks later that I got some indication when the Daily Telegraph and The Times ran a story that I had been suspended as part of the anti-Semitism witchhunt in the Labour Party. I got them to correct the allegation that I was anti-Semitic by giving them a legal warning. Nonetheless it was clear what the motivation for my suspension was.
|Citing this article led to my suspension|
|This is an extract from Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem - quoting it led to my suspension|
When it came to my investigation there were a number of things I was accused of. My first offence was drawing a comparison between Israel’s marriage laws, where if you are Jewish you can’t marry someone who is non-Jewish, and the Nuremburg Laws of 1935, the race laws of Nazi Germany. This was held to be anti-Semitic until I pointed out that Hannah Arendt, the greatest Jewish political philosopher of the last century and herself a refugee from Nazi Germany, had made just such a point in the Eichmann Trial, Eichmann in Jerusalem. So they dropped that one! The next accusation was accusing the Israeli government of wanting the Holocaust survivors to die in order that they could deny them welfare benefits. I pointed out that this allegation in fact was a quote from the front page of Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper and I assumed that they weren’t also being accused of anti-Semitism.
|The Daily Mail, which also opposes Labour 'antisemitism' supported Hitler in the 1930's and ran a campaign against the admittance of Jewish refugees from Hitler|
It was all a bit of a nonsense but we need to put it into context. Why has the whole anti-Semitism witch-hunt occurred. It really goes back to the election of Jeremy Corbyn in the summer of 2015. If you remember, even before Corbyn got elected, when people got wind of the fact that he might be elected, stories started circulating that he had associated with a holocaust denier called Paul Eisen. (Daily Mail, Jewish Chronicle). The reasons for this are quite simple. Anti-Semitism is used as a weapon, it is instrumentalised in the Labour Party. This happens for a very specific reason, if you think about it.
The Right does not attack Corbyn because he stands against Austerity. Support for Austerity is not particularly popular so they attack him on what they consider is his weakest position which is the so-called anti-Semitism that he has engendered.
|The Sun which is so opposed to 'anti-semitism' was happy to employ Katie Hopkins who compared asylum seekers to vermin|
(7.45) If you ask where this has come from, the whole nonsense about the Left and Corbyn being anti-Semitic is a testimony to the power of the mass media and mainstream narrative. This has gained a great deal of traction even though there is no foundation to it. If you think about it who are the people who are pushing most strongly for the idea that there is anti-Semitism in the Labour Party? It is the popular press – the Sun, the Daily Mail, the Express and all the rest of them. These are the same papers who have employed Richard Littlejohn and Katie Hopkins, some of the vilest racists are nonetheless completely devoted to the fight against anti-Semitism! That should give you an indication, some inkling of where this campaign has come from.
|The Board of Deputies, which has always opposed demonstrations against fascists, is always willing to organise demonstrations against antiracists and anti-Zionists|
This campaign has been pioneered by the representatives of the Israeli state such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews. In the 1930’s the Board of Deputies, when Oswald Moseley and the British Union of Fascists were marching through the East End of London, told Jews not to oppose the fascists. To stay indoors, keep their heads down and hope they go away.
However the Board of Deputies on March 26th held, for the first time in its history, an ‘anti-racist’ demonstration outside the House of Commons. Some of us, from Jewish Voice for Labour and Labour Against the Witchhunt held a counter-demonstration. If you think about it this must be the first anti-racist demonstration that Norman Tebbit has attended. If you remember Tebbit, he told the unemployed to get on their bikes. Not only Tebbit but members of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, Ian Paisley and company who are well known for their sectarian anti-Catholicism. They too joined in with this so-called anti-racist demonstration. Because of course this demonstration had nothing to do with anti-racism.
When we say that the ‘anti-Semitism’ witch-hunt in the Labour Party has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with Israel then we have this mock-horror reaction from the Zionists and their supporters in the Labour Party. Jon Lansman, the Dictator and Owner of Momentum and all the others who say there are ‘pockets’ of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Even if it is ‘unconscious’ anti-Semitism, which means no one knows if it exists. Adopting the psycho-analytical techniques of Freud he is convinced that we are all suffering from this malady. I am not a great fan of psycho-analysis.
|This right-wing Tory and Trump supporter accused Corbyn of 'antisemitism' i.e. support of the Palestinians|
We don’t have to speculate on the motives of people like Jonathan Arkush. He is a right-wing Tory and was, until recently, President of the Board of Deputies which is a Zionist organisation which is completely unrepresentative of secular Jewry. In his final speech he said ‘Corbyn holds anti-Semitic views which could drive Jewish people to leave Britain if he becomes Prime Minister.’ Arkush is quite clear, it is Corbyn himself who is anti-Semitic.
Arkush also wrote an Open Letter with Jonathan Goldstein of the Jewish Leadership Council just before the March 26th demonostration. He was quite clear. ‘Again and again, Jeremy Corbyn has sided with antisemites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel.’ He is making it very clear that anti-Semitism is conflated with support for the Palestinians anti-Zionism. He goes on to say that ‘ At worst, it suggests a conspiratorial worldview in which mainstream Jewish communities are believed to be a hostile entity, a class enemy.’
|Jonathan Arkush seen here speaking to a crowd including 2 demonstrators from the Jewish fascist Jewish Defence League (bottom left) - Roberta Moore and her (non-Jewish) boyfriend|
So it’s absolutely clear where Arkush is coming from. In case anyone has any illusions that Arkush believes that Corbyn is anti-Semitic it is also the same Jonathan Arkush who, when Donald Trump was elected sent him a message of congratulations! This is the same Donald Trump who came to power after the most anti-Semitic campaign in recent American history. Trump was supported wholeheartedly by the Alt-Right which was founded by the neo-Nazi Richard Spencer . You may recall the rally called shortly after Trump was elected where ‘Heil Trump’ was shouted by those giving the Hitler salute. Spencer is not only a neo-Nazi but he declares he is a White Zionist.
The reason why the neo-Nazi Richard Spencer is a White Zionist is because he admires Israel’s hostility to Muslims, Palestinians and people who are not White. Israel as people will know has recently been trying to expel 40,000 Black African refugees a) because they are not Jewish and b) because they are not White. To Spencer, the alt-Right and Steve Bannon, Trump’s former senior strategic adviser Israel is a model ethno-nationalist state. Indeed if you are a racist and a neo-Nazi then I have to ask, what is there not to like about the Israeli state? The policies of the Israeli state and its practices are precisely the ones that the White Supremacist movement, throughout Europe and America most admire.
So we have the position that we had at the local elections. If you cast your minds back to June last year Corbyn didn’t win the General Election but he did better than anyone, apart from my own blog (!), had imagined would be possible. He actually gained seats and achieved the biggest swing to Labour since 1945. This took many people by surprise. If anyone has seen the video of Stephen Kinnock, the fly-on-the-wall documentary you will remember that when the exit poll was announced he was literally speechless. The Right in the Labour Party had expected that come the General Election they would be shot of Jeremy Corbyn. They have had to recalibrate.
[15.00] The deployment of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a weapon in the last local elections. If you think about it we had a mural, long erased, six years ago, suddenly became an issue one and a half months before those local elections. This was proof that anti-Semitism existed in the Labour Party. I have to say it’s the weakness of the left in the Labour Party and also outside it that has actually bought into this nonsense. Corbyn’s response should have been that there is no anti-Semitism in the Labour Party as a generalised phenomenon.
A good friend of mine, Professor Moshe Machover, when he was asked about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party said yes, there are zebras in Norway. You can go to a zoo in Norway and you will undoubtedly find zebras! But there are not many of them in Norway. It’s not their natural habitat! You wouldn’t normally associate zebras with Norway but yes there will be one or two. If you have 600,000 members of the Labour Party then undoubtedly you will find one or two anti-Semites. There always have been anti-Semites and probably always will be but they don’t have any influence. For example I’m not aware that there has ever been a resolution passed by the Labour Party saying that Jews are somehow inferior to anyone else.
Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is a complete none issue but it is a ruling class narrative which has been used to challenge the Palestinian narrative and to undermine the Corbyn leadership. Nothing has chilled debate on Palestine more than the allegations of anti-Semitism. Jon Lansman and others, Chakrabarti included, have said you can’t even talk about Zionism anymore because that might be interpreted as referring to Jews. Of course Zionism is the founding ideology of the Israeli state. It is an ideology of Jewish supremacism. It is a settler colonial ideology. It explains why I can go to Israel because I’m Jewish and claim citizenship yet someone who is Palestinian, whose family came from there and who lived there for generations has no such right. Zionism explains why 93% of Israeli land is reserved for people who are Jewish whereas 3% of the land is occupied by Israeli Palestinians.
You cannot understand the structure and formation of Israel unless you understand what Zionism is. Incidentally Ken Livingstone, who was hauled over the coals for some of his comments, was correct. In the 1930’s the Zionist attitude to the rise of the Nazis was to exploit it to use what was happening in order to build their future settler state. Which was why, when it came to confronting Livingstone, he was accused of bringing the party into disrepute not anti-Semitism. Telling the truth cannot be anti-Semitic.
What we have though is an intimidation of people in the Labour Party. They are afraid to raise the issue of Palestine. Nowhere more so than with someone like Emily Thornberry. Although she condemned the Gaza massacres she also says that Israel is a democratic state. We have to bury this idea that Israel is a democratic state. It is a Jewish state. It is democratic for Jews and Jewish for Palestinians. You can’t have a Jewish state and a democratic state if it is inbuilt that Jews will always maintain their majority, their supremacy and their rights over the non-Jewish population. It is therefore an oxymoron to talk about a Jewish democratic state in Israel.
|According to the Zionist Board of Deputies, a Jewish group is a 'source of virulent antisemitism'|
One of the main demands of the Zionists is that the Labour Party should adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance [IHRA] definition of anti-Semitism that Mick Napier spoke about. I don’t know if people are aware of this or not but it is one of the main demands in the Open Letter from Arkush and Goldstein to Corbyn which was sent at the time of the March 26th demonstration setting out preconditions for even agreeing to meet with him. Of course if you remember after that demonstration Corbyn went to a Passover seder with Jewdas, a Jewish group of anarchists and dissidents. Arkush accused Jewdas, who are Jewish, of being a ‘source of virulent anti-Semitism’ which explains just about everything you need to understand about the nature of the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign.
The reaction to those comments, which were stupid even by the standards of Arkush and the Board of Deputies, meant that they had to drop their preconditions. Arkush said in his letter that ‘Corbyn must ensure Labour branches adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which some hard-left activists have lobbied against.’ So I really want to concentrate my remarks on the IHRA as it is clearly the main weapon of the Zionists.
The IHRA first saw light of day in 2003 as the EU Monitoring Committee’s Working Definition on Anti-Semitism. Then it was junked. It disappeared in 2013 as the EUMC’s successor body, the Fundamental Rights Agency took it off its website. We thought it had died a death but like the undead in a Dracula horror movie it has miraculously come to life again. We have to drive the stake through its heart once again!
The IHRA starts off with what might seem to be an innocuous definition. ‘Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.’ Firstly anti-Semitism isn’t just a perception. It can be a reality, a practice, discrimination and so on. A ‘certain perception’ doesn’t define anything. It begs the question, what perception. It says that anti-Semitism ‘may be expressed as hatred towards Jews.’ Well the question that arises is what else it may be expressed at. The answer to that would seem to be opposition to Zionism, Israel and support for the Palestinians. I should also add that in talking about ‘hatred’ rather than ‘hostility’ is raising the bar quite high before something is considered anti-Semitic.
The definition of anti-Semitism in the Oxford English Dictionary [OED] is hostility to Jews, which is a much lower hurdle. Dr Brian Klug, in a lecture ‘Echoes of Shattering Glass’ in a lecture at the Jewish Museum in Berlin in 2014 defined anti-Semitism in 21 words:
antisemitism is a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.
If you look at the IHRA definition it has 11 examples, 7 of which mention Israel. One of them is ‘drawing comparisons between contemporary Israeli policy with those of the Nazis.’ Now I’m not in favour of comparing everything that Israel does to those of the Nazis. However I think it can be quite useful on occasion. Professor Daniel Blatman, a Holocaust researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem makes exactly those comparisons. But there are other comparisons. For example last week there were demonstrations in the northern Israeli city of Afula. They were demonstrating against the fact that a Jewish person had sold their house to an Arab. Afula is a 100% Jewish city and in Israel this is unacceptable. In Israel most communities and towns are Jewish only.
The Knesset passed, a couple of years ago, the Admissions Committees Law which stipulates that any community of 500 or less can decide whether or not to admit someone to their community on any grounds they so choose – so if they are an Arab they will not be admitted. Incidentally if they are Black and Ethiopian Jews they also won’t be admitted.
[25.00] So the right to racially discriminate is written into Israeli law. In Afula, which is 50,000 strong, you don’t have Admission Committees. Therefore you have an unofficial policy which is enforced through organisations like the Jewish National Fund. Here you had someone selling their private house to someone who wasn’t Jewish and you had complete uproar, including the previous Mayor. This isn’t unique. Three years ago in the same city there were tenders put out for people to bid for houses. Half the people who won the bids were Arabs. So again you had demonstrations in this city against the sale of houses to Israeli Arabs. The Nazareth District Court cancelled the whole operation because the bidding process had gone wrong and it was diluting the racial composition of Afula.
I could spend an hour just detailing the racist discrimination in most areas of life in Israel. I’ve just done a blog on how in most Israeli hospitals if you are about to give birth, if you are Jewish, then you are put into a separate ward from Arab women. But if you compare those practices to Nazi Germany where also there were signs in villages and spa resorts in particular saying ‘Jews not Welcome’ that is apparently anti-Semitic. That is one example of ‘anti-Semitism’.
Another example of ‘anti-Semitism’ is holding Jews collectively responsible for the actions of Israel. I happen to agree. It is anti-Semitic if you say that someone who is Jewish is responsible for what Israel does. But then Israel calls itself a Jewish state and not only a Jewish state but a state of the Jews. It is written into Israeli law, for example the new Jewish Nation State Bill that Israel represents not only its own Jewish citizens but Jews wherever they may be found in the world. That is part of the Jerusalem Programme of the World Zionist Organisation.
There is no such thing as an Israeli nationality. There’s been two court cases George Tamarin v State of Israel in 1972 and Uzi Ornan in 2013. These were cases where Israeli Jews wanted to be classified as Israeli not Jewish nationals. The courts were quite clear. There cannot be an Israeli nationality because in Israel, there are something like 130 nationalities but only one of them matters – the Jewish nationality. The reason why is simple. In the words of Chief Judge Agranat in Tamarin ‘the desire to create an Israeli nation separate from the Jewish nation is not a legitimate aspiration.’ What this means is that Israel is a state of all Jews wherever they live and it purports to represent Jews worldwide. It’s not surprising then that some people blame Jews for what Israel does.
Then there is the wonderful illustration, this in a definition of anti-Semitism, denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination for example by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavour. It’s a complete non-sequitur for a start. It is quite possible to support the right of Jews to self-determination but you will still say that Israel is racist.
On the other hand denying someone the right to self-determination isn’t in itself racist. I know I’m speaking to a Scottish audience here but it is quite possible to say that Scottish people don’t have the right to self-determination without being called a racist. That is a political position. It has nothing to do with whether you are hostile to people because they are Scottish. This is the nonsense which has been introduced, or which they are attempting to introduce, as a definition of anti-Semitism.
The IHRA definition is 450 words long. You don’t need a definition of anti-Semitism which is 450 words. You should be able to make do with about 7 words. ‘Anti-Semitism is hostility to Jews as Jews.’ Yet the Zionist organisations – the Jewish Labour Movement, the Labour Friends of Israel etc. are pushing for this definition. The reason why is that it conflates support for the Palestinians, opposition to Zionism and anti-Semitism. That really is the fight that we have at the moment.
It’s very good that the University College Union has rejected the IHRA and Liberty, which was the National Council for Civil Liberties has rejected it on basic free speech grounds. People like Sir Stephen Sedley, who was a judge in the Court of Appeal who is himself Jewish has come out very strongly against the IHRA in an article Defining Anti-Semitism in the London Review of Books. Sedley said that the problem with the IHRA, apart from anything else, is that it is open-ended, it’s not a definition.
But of course in the Labour Party people are intimidated. Momentum has not taken up the question of anti-Semitism. I make a prediction. I don’t have a crystal ball but the anti-Semitism nonsense is going to be rerun again possibly at Labour Party conference and probably before the next local elections. It’s something which will run and run. The reason why is quite simple. When Corbyn was elected I imagine it induced panic, not only in the Israeli Embassy but also the American Embassy. Someone who was anti-NATO, opposed the war in Iraq, was seen as hostile to Western imperialist interests and was likely to become leader of the second major party in America’s closes ally in Europe. I have no hesitation in saying that this campaign is driven by political interests abroad, not least in the United States. If you think about it the USA invests hundreds of millions of dollars in its intelligence agencies to destabilise countries with whose politics they disagree. They have a record of this throughout Latin America but also in Europe, Cointelpro. There was a whole programme in the post-war period to finance and subsidise Atlantacist and pro-American organisations. That is what we are seeing now.
In 20-30 years some young journalist, maybe on the Guardian, if it still exists, or a researcher will discover via a freedom of information request files in the American embassy which show quite conclusively where and how this campaign was planned. I have no doubt that it did not arise spontaneously. [32:40]
Response to Questions from the audience
TG: The first question was about my record in the Labour Party. Well I was a member 20 odd years ago and I was suspended under the Neil Kinnock witchhunt in 1992-3. In fact the whole of Brighton Labour Party was suspended. Primarily because the Party disagreed with the councillors over things like prosecuting people who failed to pay the poll tax. They suspended the party and I was the editor of something called the Friends of Brighton Labour Party. I was hauled up before a panel, it wasn’t the National Constitutional Committee and Larry Whitty, who was then General Secretary, came down to Brighton specially to prosecute my case. There were about 30 of us so I was quite honoured. Sure enough. I was suspended for one year which was really quite a mild punishment. Others got expelled if they were in Militant. I joined the party after my one year suspension. I was living in Woodingdean, which is on the outskirts of Brighton. I got a local Labour newsletter through telling me about the campaign against the local gypsies who were occupying Happy Valley Park. I immediately wrote them a letter and told them I was resigning because I didn’t want to be part of a party that was engaging in racist attacks on Roma. Incidentally speaking of that, John Mann MP, who is one of the main proponents of the anti-Semitism witchhunt, is himself a vehement racist when it comes to Roma and Gypsies. [see John Mann MP’s opposition to ‘anti-Semitism’ doesn’t extend to Gypsies and Travellers] These people have no objection to racism, which is why we have the right-wing tabloid press, who on the one hand demonise anyone who is Muslim or Black or refugees but on the other hand are so concerned about anti-Semitism.
The Daily Mail, which campaigned against Jewish refugees in the 1930’s is resolutely opposed to anti-Semitism today. What advice do I give? The advice I always give. To stand and fight and not accept the narrative of our opponents that this has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. After all those of us who fought and opposed the fascists and National Front were also accused of racism. They had a campaign for Rights for Whites. We were anti-White. That is what the Apartheid regime in South Africa said. None of this is new but it didn’t gain any credence or traction at that time. Today ‘anti-Semitism’ is pushed even though it has nothing to do with anti-Semitism.
The third question is about responding to the media. We don’t control the media of course. I think one of the lessons from the general election last year is that despite the attacks of the media on Jeremy Corbyn we still did remarkably well. People were turned off by the vehemence of the attack. Instead of bowing down to people like Jonathan Arkush and the Jewish Labour Movement who attack Corbyn and Palestinian supporters as ‘anti-Semites’ stand up to them. Call them out. Say that ‘you’re not really concerned about anti-Semitism, it’s about Zionism.’
Zionism came about because, unlike every other Jewish current, it accepted the arguments of the anti-Semites. They said anti-Semitism was inevitable, you couldn’t fight it. That’s why their political programme was to set up a Jewish state in Palestine. As A B Yehoshua, a prominent left-Zionist novelist who holds to something called the ‘Negation of the Diaspora’. One of the founding principles of Zionism was its contempt for Jews who lived outside Palestine. They believed that Jews deserved the anti-Semitism they experienced because they had developed asocial characteristics as a result of not living on national land. It was very much blood and soil nationalism.
Yehoshua, in a lecture to the Union of Jewish Students (Jewish Chronicle 22.1.82) thought he would tell it to them straight because some of the Zionists actually do believe that we are anti-Semitic. He said ‘‘Anti-Zionism is not the product of the non-Jews. On the contrary, the Gentiles have always encouraged Zionism, hoping that it would help rid them of the Jews in their midst. Even today, in a perverse way, a real anti-Semite must be a Zionist.’ That’s right. If someone goes up to me in a pub and says you don’t belong here, you should go to Israel, they are either an anti-Semite or a Zionist or both.
Mick Napier: On the whole issue of BDS I have 2 passports. Palestinians usually have none. In the same week that the Canadian government passed legislation criminalising BDS dockers in Vancouver turned away an Israeli ship in support of the Palestinian call for Boycott.
The BDS call is a response to decades and decades of lobbying the authorities. It’s because they delivered nothing that BDS is a call to take action by dockers, by campaigners of every stripe. Things are reaching such an extreme that, as Tony said, we have been forbidden from saying things which are manifestly true. Of course governments lie. Anyone who denies that proposition is off their head but there are degrees of lying. When you see a couple of week ago snipers crumpling Palestinians to the ground, medical workers, people who already had both legs removed after a previous smash up and you hear Theresa May’s government say and by the way, the Tories since the last massacre have increased arms sales to Israel by a factor of 10. We now sell Israel sniper rifle parts to massacre people demonstrating for their rights, you hear Theresa May’s Ministers say Britain has the strongest legislative protection governing the use of arms that we sell in the whole world. It’s not possible for these sniper rifle parts to be used by snipers in Israel to kill the Palestinians. It’s manifestly nonsense, a lie and the glaring nature of the lie works in our favour.
I went to a marvellous series a couple of week ago called The World Against Apartheid. The BBC showed it. a 7 part series from the USA. You see that the struggle against Apartheid in some parts of the world, not just those who ran on the pitch in Murrayfield, you see that in some parts of the world like in New Zealand, it was semi-insurrectionary. It was a mass popular movement against that hostile government. The hostile government backed the Apartheid Rugby Tour and a massive section of the population was quite prepared to take very militant, determined action tearing down fences in order to bring that tour to a shuddering halt.
So the fact that we see a growth of reaction, we see institutions moving to a pro-Israel direction, doesn’t surprise me. The BDS movement doesn’t draw its strength from winning them over but from resisting them and learning the lessons of the anti-Apartheid struggle. I think the tremendous developments in America and elsewhere on the BDS front give great cause for hope.
The most Jewish university in America, the elite Barnard College in New York, has just had an overwhelming vote for BDS. So we are winning, we are many and they are few. They organise and we need to organise much better. In terms of the media of course we cannot control what goes into these sewer rags like the Sun and The Mail. People will be subject to those lies to a degree and to a greater degree if they are isolated and watching the TV and newspapers on their own. They will be prey to the lies. The more we are organised and come together and mutually criticise these lies then the greater the freedom and the greater we can resist the media. We have to make our own media as well but we have to come together, organise and discuss. [46.02]
[57:30] Ian Drummond: The speaker will come back in a second. There’s just one thing I would like to say. Most of the people who’ve been kicked out of the Labour Party over this or been suspended are actually Jewish like Tony or Black like Marc Wadsworth and it’s Black or Jewish anti-racists who have been targeted by this anti-racist witchhunt.
Mick Napier: I’m old enough to have been involved in the campaign against the war in Vietnam. Three million people were killed. The Americans invaded because Eisenhower said that if they had elections Ho Chi Minh was going to win. Therefore 3 million had to die to prevent elections. We were told at that time that Vietnam had invaded Vietnam and America was intervening to protect the Vietnamese from the Vietnamese. When you say it like that it sounds pretty mad and it is mad but that was the argument which was being carried to justify genocide. There’s never any escape from it. The arguments which will be used to crush the people of Kenya or Vietnam or Palestine will be bonkers. If you reflect on them for a moment they will not hold any water. There’s no escaping that. I think the strategy when you are accused of being an anti-Semite is to be bloody angry and to go on attack. To counter-attack. Not to sit down and say ‘well let’s discuss if I am an anti-Semite or not’. Tony alluded to some of the darkness of the anti-Semitism of Zionism. Lets just take one example. We could be here a week. The boulevard that runs around the Knesset is called Arthur Ruppin Boulevard. This is not a guy who was ranting in a pub, this was a major figure in Zionist history. He was a romantic German blood and soil nationalist. They kicked him out but he carried all the filth with him. This is where I lower my voice in case anyone thinks this is a BNP meeting.
Arthur Ruppin was a major figure in Zionist land colonisation. He wrote and he said that the ancient Jews were Aryans. We were corrupted by an infusion of Semitic genes that predisposed them to money lending and other degenerate behaviours and they could only overcome this Semitic genetic corruption by moving to Palestine and becoming hewers of wood and farmers and plumbers and good knows what. This racist filth saturates many strands of Zionism from the very beginning. I don’t think we should be defensive. We should go on the attack and we should say how on earth can the apartheid structures of Israel not be the product of an ever racist ideology and that’s what Zionism is. And if we stand our ground those people who are hurling the invective with no basis whatsoever, I don’t want to say that the truth always wins, it doesn’t, but if you stand your ground it’s a hell of an asset. So let’s go on the attack. It’s a very dangerous time. I was chilled to the bone a few days ago when the new fascist Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in Italy, Matteo Salvini, said they were going to cleanse Italy of Roma, street by street. That is Nazi talk. These are dangerous times. Italy's deputy PM Salvini called for 'mass cleansing, street by street, quarter by quarter', newly resurfaced footage reveals. These people are not always but very largely drawn to Israel as Tony pointed out earlier because they are attracted to a state which slaughters large numbers of brown-skinned people and non-Jews. So the lines are drawn, there is a major fight is coming up, the future of civilisation is hanging in there, we lost it in the 30’s and something is happening which is redrawing the lines. But when those lines are redrawn those who support human rights, those who support the Palestinian struggle for freedom and democracy will find themselves with progressive forces. Those who support Israel are going to be the like of those cleaning the streets of Italy street by street of Roma and they are dark, dark, fascist forces. I am absolutely confident that when we do fight we are going to win.
Ian Drummond It was Matteo Salvini who tried to lobby the Argentinian football team against their boycott of Israel.
[1.03:07] Tony Greenstein When Mick raised the figure of Arthur Ruppin, who was a major figure in Zionist history, who was known as the Father of Land Settlement and also the Father of Israeli Sociology I thought he was going to mention the incident where he went over to Nazi Germany in the summer of 1933 and he visited Hans Günther who was Professor of Social Anthropology and Racial Sciences of Jenna University. He had been put in Jenna University in May 1930 by Wilhelm Frick, who was the first Nazi State Minister (of Education) in Thuringia, Germany. Gunther was the ideological mentor of Heinrich Himmler, who as Head of the SS was the personal responsible for the implementation of the Final Solution.
According to Ruppin’s diaries, they both got on famously and largely agreed in their discussions about Aryans, Jews and the racial sciences. This meeting is omitted I believe by Alex Bein from the English and Hebrew translations of the diaries but included in the German version.
The fact is that Gunther and Ruppin were at one over the Jewish Question. They both accepted that there were too many Jews in Germany. I realise that I will be accused of anti-Semitism for saying this but since the topic has come up, I should mention David Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel who was the key figure in the history of Zionism. The Zionist attitude before the world was quite simple. If the Jews were going to go anywhere, if they were to leave Germany, then they should only go to Palestine. It would be useless, worse than useless, for them to go to any other place because they would simply recreate the Jewish Question in those countries. After Krystallnacht, the Nazi pogrom against the Jews in November 1938, Britain agreed to take 10,000 children, the Kindertransport, although they wouldn’t take their parents, who mostly died in the Final Solution. But the Zionist movement was not happy about this at all. Ben Gurion, in a speech to the Central Committee of the Israeli Labour Party, Mapai, said:
Were I to know that the rescue of all German Jewish children could be achieved by their transfer to England and of only half their number by transfer to Palestine, I would opt for the latter, because our concern is not only the personal interests of these children, but the historic interests of the Jewish people." which can be found in Shabtai Teveth’s biography of Ben Gurion, The Burning Ground.
In other words, what mattered most was the building of a Jewish racial state not the actual rescue and safety of the Jewish children themselves.
You mentioned, Jonathan, how do we combat this ideology. Let me say first of all that my own experience is that for most people in Britain it is quite easy to make a distinction between hatred of Jews, i.e. anti-Semitism and hatred of what Israel does and Zionism. It’s not a difficult concept. The idea that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are one and the same thing is a ruling class narrative. It is a narrative of the yellow press and their journalists. For most people it’s not difficult to draw that distinction. I’m not as pessimistic as most people are that we can win that debate.
Of course in the Labour Party the right-wing have adopted the ‘anti-Semitism narrative’ not because they are anti-racist, quite the contrary. Because that is the best way of supporting the alliance with the United States. The main threat to that is Jeremy Corbyn. The tragedy is that instead of Corbyn and Momentum resisting that narrative, that anti-Semitism is a phenomenon in the Labour Party, they have gone along with it.
Momentum, which is led by Jon Lansman, who is himself a Zionist and a racist, is like one of those Mountain Trolls in Harry Potter’s Philosopher’s Stone. It is an enormous creature but unfortunately it doesn’t have very much of a brain. That is like Momentum. It has 40,000 members but it has no brain. It lumbers around from crisis to crisis, led by Lansman, who is the personal owner of Momentum Ltd. It has no internal democracy and therefore cannot change its policies because there is no forum or means with which to do so.
By accepting the ‘anti-Semitism narrative’ Momentum has accepted the attack of the Labour Right on Corbyn. It’s a battle he can never win because they are going to come back time and time again on the same theme that Labour is anti-Semitic. Corbyn will plead and promise to be the most militant fighter against a non-existent anti-Semitism yet he won’t be able to deliver because it’s not possible to deliver on something that doesn’t exist.
Corbyn said Labour has ‘pockets’ of anti-Semitism. So the Zionists held up a banner in their ‘anti-racist’ demonstration saying the pocket is Jeremy Corbyn. He can’t win on this and that’s why you have to stand up and say ‘no, we don’t accept this nonsense’.
The important thing at the moment is to build Labour Against the Witchhunt in Scotland and campaign on those politics. We have to reject the allegations of anti-Semitism. As Alex Sayle said: ‘most of the people who have been suspended from the Labour Party seem to have been Jewish.’
It’s not people who are anti-Semitic who are being expelled. Yes of course people make clumsy or silly remarks from time to time but one of the reasons that people sometimes do indulge in what is seen as anti-Semitic rhetoric or blame Jews rather than Zionists is precisely because Zionist organisations in this country do their best to associate British Jews with the massacres and war crimes in Gaza and all the other horrors that Israel is involved in. It’s not surprising that some people are fooled by that and do blame Jews. But that’s not anti-Semitism in the historically understood, traditional sense. It’s simply loose language that occurs as a consequence of deliberate political mystification. People are fooled into believing Israel is a Jewish state whereas there is nothing specifically Jewish about it.
|Amazingly enough, most Israeli Jews and Zionists do not see a system of reserving land for Jews only as racist|
How do we campaign? I think we should campaign on the real things. For example the Jewish National Fund which owns 13% and controls 93% of Israeli land. The JNF has a constitution which says that it can only lease or rent land. This came under challenge in 2000 when the High Court ruled in Kadaan, that it was no longer permissible to rent or refuse to sell land to Jews only. This led to the Jewish Chronicle in 2008 staging a debate "Is it racist to set aside Israeli land for Jews only?".I think that’s a no brainer! Clearly within the Zionist movement it isn’t.
In fact the Knesset, following Kadaan, then went on to pass legislation allowing Jews to continue discriminating against non-Jews when it came to the sale or renting of land.
I could give dozens of examples of racism, for example ‘Israel bans novel on Arab-Jewish romance in schools because it threatens Jewish identity.’ A novel Borderland by Israeli novelist Dorit Rabinyan described a romance between Jewish and Arab teenagers. It was banned from the high school English syllabus because it undermined the whole idea of Jewish identity.
Mixed marriages in Israel are frowned upon. My parents were always opposed to me marrying someone who is not Jewish. That was on religious grounds but in Israel it is considered a form of national treason. So very few people in Israel marry someone of another religion and you can’t do it in Israel. That was why the book was banned. It undermined the purity of the race.
The best way to undermine this nonsense is by pointing out the hypocrisy of the racists and Zionists who support these things. Labour Friends of Israel did itself no favours when it came out and blamed the Palestinians who were murdered in Gaza for their own deaths.
We also have to expose the hypocrites on the Labour left. The Labour left has become differentiated now. What was the pro-Corbyn movement has splintered between those who go along with the narrative of the Right and those like ourselves who oppose it.
We have to be quite clear that those who support the anti-Semitism attacks of the JLM/LFI are therefore supporting the Right in practice. That is why today Momentum nationally is so politically useless. [1.13.22]
[1:26:16] I just want to point out what we haven’t talked about, viz. that there is no witchhunt inside the SNP. The SNP has been cowed into silence and they know that. They are a much more disciplined and Stalinist organisation than the Labour Party. As a Scottish Palestine solidarity campaign some of our members are in the Labour Party, I was in the Labour Party, for two days in 1964, when Harold Wilson was elected and then the rot set in then. We come to different trajectories to the same challenges we face today. We can work as a Palestine solidarity campaign, which is not aligned with any political party at all and never will be in order to work with activists inside the Labour Party and inside the SNP as well.
A few years ago I spoke to Edinburgh South CLP and at Leith CLP and the majority of the people in the room were in agreement. We are willing to have speakers come to speak to political groups in order to carry this argument against false anti-Semitism.
There is a bright new sun that has arisen that is quite small but Jews Against Zionism have made their presence felt in Scotland over the last few weeks by challenging the narrative from the Zionist leaders of the Jewish community and there are excellent speakers in Jews Against Zionism that you can invite to come and speak to your branches and party as well. They are by and large socialist and can carry the argument. But the rot has set in. We saw a terrible situation here in Scotland where the march against racism last March organised by anti-racists in Scotland and so frightened were the organisers that they allowed Israeli flags to be flown there and they allowed a virulently racist organisation The Scottish Confederation of Friends of Israel to turn up with the intention of participating in that march. And when you spoke to the people who had organised it, they were terrified. The phrase that crops up time and time again ‘we are afraid to be seen to be anti-Semitic.’
To use the passive voice. Seen by whom? And I agree with Tony when you carry the argument to ordinary people it’s not difficult to win it. You can easily win it. And if anyone’s tempted by gloom look at the opinion polls. Over many many years, they haven’t even changed dramatically. Public opinion in this country and right across Europe is very hostile to the State of Israel. It tends to be very suspicious of what Israel is up to and tends to be very open to support the Palestinians.
The Jews have got it wrong. It is the Catholics who were chosen. I was told that at school by all the teachers! But I think that every religious denomination is taught that they are chosen and the rest are all ready for eternal damnation.
Friends it’s a very dangerous time. If we look at the situation in Palestine against the background of the carnage in the Middle East, the devastation of Iraq, the devastation of Libya, the dismantling of several states, the atrocious genocidal violence that has been visited upon the people of Yemen, with British weapon supplied to the Saudis, and when you look at Europe you see, once again the rise of the extreme Right. You have to see these things as a whole. The issue of Palestine remains a litmus test. Those people who support what is happening against the people of Palestine will tend to be the enemies of freedom, the enemies of socialism and they will align with the right-wing. It’s a contradictory process but as things develop you will find that Palestine is a litmus test. When you argue for Palestinian freedom, when you argue against the apartheid structures of the State of Israel, when you argue against the inherent virulent racism of Zionism, then you can carry a process of political education into politicala parties, Labour and I hope the SNP although that has got a much better carapace
Tony Greenstein: The best form of defence is attack. When they accuse us of anti-Semitism we should point out a few home truths. I was at a demonsration a couple of weeks, ago, the Al Quds demonstration, it was the day after 15,000 supporters of the Football Lads Alliance had been demonstrating in London and a few hundred of these fascists came to support the Zionist counter-demonstration to Al Quds.
There is a growing alliance between sections of the Zionist movement in this country and the far-Right. So for example Tommy Robinson, who’s been sentenced to 13 months in prison for contempt of court, they had a solidarity demonstration with him outside the British Embassy in Tel Aviv. Tommy Robinson might no like Muslims, he might not like Jews very much but he certainly loves Israel. In America where there is the second largest Jewish community in the world, which is different from the British Jewish community in that most of them are not Orthodox Jews, so there is a large cleavage between them and Israel. Amongst the most ardent advocates for BDS in America are young Jewish students. When Donald Trump was elected he was welcomed effusively in Israel by the Zionist movement, because he has moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem which he has recognised as Israel’s capital, he has made no secret of his hostility to the Palestinians, you had the main Jewish newspaper Forward with articles like this, The Disturbing Alliance Between Zionists and Anti-Semites by Susan Schneider or How Steve Bannon and Breitbart News can be pro-Israel and anti-Semitic at the same time by Naomi Zeveloff. There is no doubt that the alt-Right in America is anti-Semitic. Yet the Zionist Organisation of America invited as its guests of honour not only Steve Bannon, who is anti-Semitic but someone who is even worse, Sebastian Gorka who was also an adviser to Trump. Gorka was a member of Vitenzi Rend which is a Hungarian neo-Nazi group which was formed by Admiral Horthy in the second world war. Horthy was the pro-Nazi ruler who presided over the deportation of nearly half a million Hungarian Jews to Auschwitz
You see this throughout Europe where you have far-Right governments which almost invariably are enthusiastic supporters of Israel. Viktor Orban, the Prime Minister of Hungary, who I don’t think anyone needs any introduction to, has erected a fortress around Hungary and now made it a criminal offence to give aid, succour or food to refugees. He’s a strong supporter of Netanyahu and vice-versa. [It has just been announced that Netanyahu has just invited Orban to pay a state visit to Israel in July].
Orban however doesn’t like George Soros, the former Hungarian Jewish billionaire, who he portray and attacks as a traditional Jewish financier and manipulator but then neither does Netanyahu because he financed some Israeli human rights organisations. The Polish government has just passed a law criminalising mention of Polish complicity in the Holocaust. Or the Austrian Freedom Party under Heinz Christian Strache which began life as a neo-Nazi party and still contains many such creatures and which is now in government, is also pro-Israel. Or Geert Wilders in The Netherlands, head of the Freedom Party, which is the second major party in their parliament. Wilders is ardently pro-Israel but he is a fascist and he came to London to speak at the Free Tommy Robinson rally.
The reality in the world today is that if people are anti-Semitic and fascist then they will almost certainly be pro-Zionist. There is no dichotomy at all. You mentioned about philo-semitism which is where you are supposedly pro-Jewish. The best example was Owen Smith. You remember when he challenged Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership. When asked in a debate sponsored by the Jewish Labour Movement, what he most admired about Jews, he said that Jews are very good at business. (laughter) Well this is the typical stereotype of Jews! They are good at business. It is an anti-Semitic stereotype or trope. Philo-semitism and anti-Semitism are really two sides of the same coin – you attribute certain characteristics to Jews but you believe they are positive rather than negative.
Zionism began from an acceptance that what anti-Semites said about Jews was basically correct. That because of their asocial characteristics, which the Zionists accepted, they did not belong in non-Jewish society. That’s why you had people like Ruppin and Pinhas Rosenbluth, the first Israeli Justice Minister, who said that Palestine was an ‘Institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin.’ Often when you listen to something said about Jews it could either be by an anti-Semite or a Zionist. You really wouldn’t know unless you had further information.
What is LAW doing? Well LAW will be holding a national conference in the autumn. So I hope people come to it. And yes we are planning for at least one fringe meeting at Labour Party conference. In addition Jackie Walker is likely to be coming up for a hearing for the National Kangaroo Committee. I don’t think there is any doubt that when she does come up she will be expelled. Obviously we will be planning a speaking tour for Jackie and other events. Jackie will no doubt be wanting to come and speak to meetings in Scotland.
The witchhunt is not going to go away. This is one of the main weapons of the Right in the party. We have to take it to the left, people in the Campaign for Socialism and Momentum and say that if you accept the witch hunt then you really are accepting the narrative of those who oppose Corbyn. Let’s be under no doubt the election results last year were a great disappointment to the Right. The Right had looked forward to seeing the end of Corbyn. They still have not become reconciled to him. That is why it is so disastrous that Corbyn has followed an appeasement strategy approach to the Right rather than going all out to deselect as many of the bastards as possible.
I have little doubt that if Corbyn is in the position to for a government, maybe with SNP support, 50-60 of the Labour Right will probably say that they will not support him under any circumstances. People like Joan Ryan, Louise Ellman, the MP for Hove Peter Kyle, would rather see the Conservatives in power than Jeremy Corbyn. That is something that Lansman, who is particular stupid and thick, does not get. These people will not be bought off.
The only way you can win is by defeating them politically. Momentum is not doing very well in terms of selection of parliamentary candidates precisely because it’s embarked on this appeasement strategy coupled with its complete lack of internal democracy.
Finally as regards the 2 states solution which Corbyn espouses. You are right. 2 states will never come about because Zionism does not claim sovereignty over part of Palestine. It claims sovereignty over all of Palestine. So the idea that it is going to grant Palestinian self-determination or any form of Palestinian state is for the birds. Our demand should be Palestine today is one state, a Greater Israel in which the Israeli Palestinians have limited democratic rights and the other 5 million or so have no democratic rights whatsoever and live under a permanent military occupation. So our demands are simple. One person, one vote and a state of all its citizens when Balad, the National Democratic League, which has 3 members of the Knesset, put a bill forward to that effect, they refused to even discuss it because the idea of one unitary democratic state is completely incompatible with a Jewish state. [see Jerusalem Post, 4 June 2018, [see Knesset refuses to put bill rejecting Jewish, democratic Israel to a vote].
2 States is a diversion. It plays into the hands of the Zionists. As long as you hold out the mirage of 2 states then Israel has the pretext for not granting any form of democratic rights to the 5-6 million Palestinians under occupation. That’s why Labour Friends of Israel support a 2 state solution. They know it will never come about and that’s why it’s equally wrong for Corbyn, stupid beyond measure, for him to adopt that. There should be one state, one democratic state as in South Africa. So thank you very much. [1.40.10.]
Glasgow LAW Meeting 27th June 2018
|Emeritus Professor of Marxist Studies at Glasgow University - Hillel Ticktin|
Ideological developments since the war make a kind of peculiar formation. The absurdity of calling an anti-Zionist an anti-Semite even if they are Jew has to be explained. It’s so nuts to be able to say anything like that there must be some explanation as to what lies behind it. On the exact formation I’m not going to speak. I’m just trying to explain what would be both the objective and ideological background which has formed over the last 70 years, since the war. Britain is in a peculiar position even among major capitalist powers. Obviously Brexit itself shows that but it’s more than that. The fact is that Britain was the imperial overlord until the end of the second world war. The British ruling class had decided and agreed with the American ruling class in a conference in 1922/3 that would conceded to the United States. At that time in the Soviet Union they were debating as to whether there would be a war between Britain and the United States. In fact they came to terms and Britain conceded the fact that they would be inferior and would take orders from the United States. That is what it boiled down to.
And indeed after the war that is what happened. The British Empire became, in effect, a part of the American Empire. But what that also meant was as we know the British Empire in that process either went over to the American sphere of influence or it effectively disintegrated and ceased to be, as in the case of Burma which seceded completely. Now the overall effect of that was the flow of money to Britain of course was more limited in other words the British exploitation of the world overall was more limited. Consequently the standard of living in Britain itself was less than it would have been if they had continued to have the same empire or imperial forms that had existed before.
That has been the process ever since with the disintegration of the empire. Although the colonies virtually ceased to exist by the end of the 60’s if they were there till then and the Dominions weren’t entirely self-governing. I remember how well that even in 1949 the Sterling Area where money earned by the South Africa economy had to remain in Britain.
Now that has been gradually going away and is part of the reason for the relative, not the absolute, decline of Britain itself. But of course, at a certain point, it becomes absolute, more important. At this point we see it in that for the first time we actually have a greater outflow of rent, dividends etc. from Britain than an inflow from outside. In other words formerly you had an inflow into Britain, now you have in effect there is more leaving than coming in.
This has only happened in the relatively recent period and is in large part the result of the overall global crisis. Let us say it has speeded up the process. It is partly a reflection also of the fact that a large proportion today of British investments is in the United States itself. We can see that in the USA the reverse is true. That is to say that today we have a peculiar position that although there is more foreign investment in the USA than US investments in other countries there is a bigger flow into the US than out of it. In other words the United States is living off the rest of the world. [5:31}
That isn’t happening to Britain anymore. It’s in a much more difficult position than it has been for a very long time. In one sense you could say, it goes back a 100 years or more. In other words Britain has a crisis which is additional to the overall global crisis. It’s something which is clear if you read the newspapers because they mention this sort of thing but they don’t put it in the context in which I’ve just put it.
Now the second point I’d make is what sort of policy has the bourgeoisie followed in this country. After the war they effectively conceded with the Labour Party and Conservative Party governments adopting a reformist policy. Even when the Labour Party lost in 1951 the same remained true, they had a progressive housing policy etc. If you remember MacMillan was Prime Minister from 1957 to 1964. In the 1980’s MacMillan stood up in the House of Lords and denounced Thatcher precisely for the reasons you might say. He said ‘for god’s sake these people fought in the War.’
The Tory was split in other words but the Thatcher element was crucial. In other words a section of the ruling class took a hard line, effectively saying ‘we’ve lost the Empire, we’re going into the EU and that’s going to help us but that’s not enough.’ We can’t continue with a policy of concessions and of nationalisation. We have to undo it. We have to reverse the entire policy. Which is what they’ve done.
The peculiarity in that was that the Labour Party accepted it. After 1984 when Michael Foot was effectively thrown out and Kinnock became leader the Labour Party shifted almost violently to the right. When Blair came in he himself had shifted from being an assistant to Tony Benn to being somebody on the right, going even further right without any stopping him.
So the Labour Party shifted really violently to the right although it wasn’t that left-wing even under Foot. The point is if you put it in other terms whereas previous governments before Thatcher came in had adopted a Keynesian policy. Now of course Keynes wasn’t left-wing but if you read Keyne’s work you are never sure where on earth he is. He was obviously with the bourgeoisie and helped the bourgeoisie in 1945 formulate a reformist policy.
Now one of the central tenets of that policy and one that has been denounced ever since and which the Cameron government consistently denounced and the present on continues to denounce, that is there is no such thing as a magical money tree. That sort of stuff.
[9.26] Now that statement is absolute rubbish. It’s got nothing to do with reality. What Thatcher did was to talk of Dickens and Micawber. You can only spend what you’ve got. If you spend £20.06 you are ruined. The amazing thing is that the Labour Party never denounced the Tory policy in those terms. If you listened to Miliband you couldn’t believe the way the guy was conceding. It’s simply nonsense. It’s not a question of a kind of sudden discovery of economics, it’s an obvious point that if you have the resources and you have unemployment, a downturn, a crisis then the obvious thing to do is to pour money into it. What on earth is money there for? All that it is is a means of exchange. Obviously you can pour money, as much as you can and you won’t get any inflation, there’s no problem. You can print as much as you like to get it going.
Now that’s so obvious you would think they would pick it up and agree with it, but they don’t. So obviously the reason they don’t doesn’t have to do with reality and it’s no fantastic invention of Keynes either as it is obviously true. So when Cameron came in and reversed in effect the Labour Party’s line under Gordon Brown, who amazingly took a line slightly to the left of his own cabinet on this, Cameron then adopted this policy of austerity and that led the world effectively into a permanent policy of austerity, which is simply a means of control.
This has two consequences. Britain had the most right-wing government since Castlereagh. That’s when Byron and Shelley wrote
Interjection by the Chair! ‘I met Murder on the way, he had a mask like Castereagh’ [The Mask of Anarchy]
HT: Exactly. I say Cameron and Castlereagh had the same policy. The policy they adopted was vicious. He didn’t have to adopt the policy. There was no fundamental reason in the Conservative rule book that you have to do it. They did it as a means of control. They knew what they were doing. They were afraid. Now the interesting thing is that the Labour Party under Blair had more or less followed the policy without saying so. When the crash came Brown had taken a step aside. But the Cameron government restored the actual position but under completely different circumstances making the actual position in Britain perilous.
Now I began by pointing out the troubles in the British economy itself. The crisis of course has made it very much worse. The government didn’t have to go that way. Another example of their what amounts to lying is talking about the huge government debt. True technically the government has a debt of 85-86% of GDP but one third of it is owned to the Bank of England. Now who owns the Bank? Is it owned by the United States? No its owned by Britain, by the government. So how can you owe yourself anything? So Britain owns 1/3 of its debt. In other words the real debt is about 50% of GDP. Which is very good compared to the position of other countries.
[14.00] That’s because of what I described before. The fact is that if you have unused resources and Britain does have a lot, a lot of people are unemployed to put it mildly although officially that’s not true. When the crisis took place there were bricks piled up. They were ruined afterwards. If they had used them they could have built but if you leave them lying around they case to exist. That’s more or less what’s been going on. The policy of austerity and the policy of control has meant large scale unemployment.
First obviously and then less obviously so today they are proud of the fact that there are very low levels of unemployment. Technically that’s true but it depends on how you count it. If you are employed half the time and you want to work full-time, if you are on zero hours contracts and some 2 million people are, if you are one of the 6-7 million people who technically own their own firms and are working for very low levels of pay and are exploiting themselves, then one has to say that what one has is a real level of unemployment compared to what would happen if there were really full employment. Very high levels of unemployment. Again as the Institute of Fiscal Studies pointed out that wages will only reach the levels of 2007 in 2022. Now they always underestimate how bad it is so the position for the majority of the population is worse than it was in 2007 and there doesn’t seem to be any solution to this.
So it’s not at all surprising that people would lash out to try to find an alternative. What’s happened is that not just in Britain but particularly in Britain you’ve got this attempt to find a scapegoat somewhere or other. That has been traditionally the way in which the Right acts. I’m not saying that David Cameron was looking for a scapegoat but nonetheless he didn’t stand out against it. They automatically get a scapegoat. A section of the Right begins to operate in that manner.
They do two things under these circumstances. It allows them to continue to rule. One is to find a reason for austerity but another is to whip up support for some kind of attack on whosoever. That can take 2 forms. One form is to find a scapegoat. You then can have a scapegoating ethos which can fall anyway and you don’t need to confine yourself to just one scapegoat. You can have two scapegoats. There’s nothing to say that there is a quota.
The second is to go for war. Since 1914 the capitalist class has used war as a means of staying in power. In fact, if you think about it, the world has been in a war-like atmosphere since 1914. In 1914 the war took place precisely because the capitalist system was in a crisis. It was predicted and it happened. People often say, oh well it was talked about but nobody knew whether it would take place and there was no reason why it necessarily had to take place. Read the history of the time. Germany was preparing for war, the British ruling class knew this why was it that from the 1890’s Britain insisted on having a fleet twice the size of the next two fleets? Obviously because of the possibility of war. War was going to come. That was obvious to many people at the time.
You will remember in 1907 that Lenin and Luxembourg moved a resolution in the Socialist International calling on the left, the trade unions to go on a General Strike in the event of war. In other words seven years before the war they were demanding they should not go to war. The point is that war-like atmosphere has been essential to capitalism in its crisis phase. That is true today. We’ve just seen Theresa May trying to invent a war with Russia. Ok one could say that there was a reason to be critical of Russia and of course there is. The nature of that society is awful, that is absolutely true. But that doesn’t mean to say that it’s just about to attack Britain.
Russia today is not the Soviet Union. It’s a weak power, a very weak power. The only thing it does have is an atomic bomb but what on earth is it going to do. If it drops the atomic bomb anywhere else it is itself then finished. It would be a stupid act. So the idea that one has to a means of defence against Russia is just unbelievable. There is no reason not to denounce Russia but regardless to say it is a power one has to build up more and more arms for is just stupid.
[20:20] The point being that what we are witnessing is the build up of an atmosphere of mistrust, an attempt at a war-like atmosphere that seems to have failed up to now. The final point I want to make is about ideology. The ideologies that have been involved really have been what Marxists term a false consciousness. There was no reason for war - there was no reason even for the Cold War. Both sides wanted a Cold War but there was no real reason for it. If you think about it the Soviet Union was a Stalinist country which didn’t want to invade any other country. When Zhkov wanted to march to the Atlantic Ocean Stalin stopped him. The Soviet Union was itself relatively weak. They could easily done a deal with them but they didn’t want to do a deal.
So there wasn’t a reality to the Cold War which apparently they were broadcasting. It wasn’t real in that sense. I’m not the only person saying that by the way. Lord ??? said the same thing. It’s clearly obvious. One doesn’t have to like it to realise that it wasn’t that strong. You could say that they were worried that the Soviet Union would cause a revolution in Britain. How could they be worried? How many members of the Communist Party were there here? A trivial number. Who really supported it? Almost nobody. Very few people did. It’s true that in France and Italy it was somewhat different.
But Stalin had signed a document saying they were not going to have an uprising and they didn’t. The Italian Communist Party probably could have taken power. But they didn’t. The French party maybe also could have taken power but they didn’t. Of course the western politicians and theoreticians knew all of this. What I’m saying is that if you look at the background it was largely ideological. It was a conscious means of control. If you read the actual literature of various people who were right-wing who were sensible or honest then you will see that that is implied in what is being said.
The point I’m trying to make here is that to a large degree the propaganda or statements that are coming out from governments and for that matter from the Right as a whole have simply been untrue to a very large degree. To a large degree it is even a fantasy. So it’s not surprising that they could invent another fantasy as a means of control. That is a belief, somehow or another, that people who are anti-Zionist are automatically anti-Semites. It is a fantastic step and a complete nonsense. But that they could do it is not surprising. If you get this kind of peculiar atmosphere where black is white and white is black. Thank you.
[24:20] Tony Greenstein: I’m here to represent Labour Against the Witch-hunt. I myself was expelled from the Labour Party earlier this year. I was originally suspended in March 2016 when the head of the Compliance Unit John Stolliday wrote to me and said that I was suspended because of remarks I was alleged to have made. He gave no indication as to what those remarks were. ..... When it came to an investigation meeting, which was held towards the end of May 2016 there were a whole series of what you might call ideological talking points. .....
I also said that Israel’s marriage laws bore a remarkable similarity to the Nuremburg Laws of Nazi Germany of 1935. For those who are students of history they were the race laws. They stripped German Jews of citizenship and treated them as aliens in their own country and one of the consequences of that was that a Jew could not marry a non-Jew or an Aryan. As Hannah Arendt, perhaps the greatest Jewish political philosopher of the last century wrote in her book Eichmann in Jerusalem she noted how the prosecution in the Eichmann trial in 1961, Eichmann was the person who organised and implemented the Final Solution, whereby 3 million Jews died in the extermination camps and up to another 3 million at the hands of the killing squads (Einsatzgruppen) and in other ways. She noted the irony that the Prosecutor, Gideon Hausner, had denounced the Nuremburg Laws, this lethal instrument which led to the deprivation of all political and civil liberties and then to the deportation and murder of German Jewry. She noted the irony that he denounced the Nuremburg Laws which did not allow Jews and non-Jews to marry and yet in Israel itself it was impossible for someone who is Jewish to marry a non-Jew because in Israel there is no civil marriage.
That is a question of race not religion. Only today or yesterday the new Chair of the Jewish Agency, which is one of the main apartheid institutions in Israel, Isaac Herzog, bemoaned the terrible rate of marriage among American Jews. Over 50% of young American Jews are what they call marrying out, that is marrying someone because they love them rather than because they are of the right ethnic category. In Israel, where being Jewish is a question of whether you belong to the superior or inferior race, intermarriage is something which cannot be tolerated and is a social taboo. I was suspended for all of these ideological reasons.
Yet when I was investigated there was no rebuttal to what I was saying. You can read the transcript on my blog. For two years I remained suspended until I was expelled in February of this year.
My expulsion is unimportant. What was important is that as a result of Labour under Ed Miliband supporting the austerity programme of the Tory/Lib-Dem Coalition there was a mass reaction after the 2015 General Election which led to the election of Jeremy Corbyn. If you remember Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t even get enough nominations within the PLP he had to go around getting members of the Right to give him a nomination in order that the Left would have a voice. No one believed he would be anything other than a token candidate and it was expected someone else could win. Andy Burnham was the favourite.
Miraculously not only the Labour Party membership but the new Registered Supporters supported Corbyn. If you remember there was a brainwave by Ed Miliband and those around him, that they would stop the unions having a block vote in the Labour Party leadership elections, in future it would be one person one vote. Not only one person one vote but emulating the Democratic Party in America where just about anyone can vote in a primary, you could become a registered supporter. That, it was thought, would permanently dilute the influence of the left. How badly they miscalculated!
Thousands of people, including myself, became and about 7 out of 10 voted to support Corbyn. As did incidentally the existing membership of the Labour Party. But almost as soon as Corbyn came in you suddenly found that there was an outbreak of anti-Semitism such as we’d never before seen in the Labour Party! ....... Gerald Kaufman, a Jewish MP, who strongly supported the Palestinians, he’s now dead, he was deemed anti-Semitic. There was a whole fake affair at Oxford University where the Chair, Alex Chalmers, resigned. We later found out that he was a former intern at the British Israel Communications & Research Centre (BICOM) – the main Israeli propaganda organisation in Britain.
It continued with Ken Livingstone who made the comment that Hitler had supported Zionism. It wasn’t completely accurate, we don’t know what Hitler thought as an individual, but basically it was true, that the Nazis and the Zionists collaborated and worked together. The Zionists were a political movement who wanted to establish a Jewish state in Palestine. That was their overriding goal, not the safety of existing Jewish communities. And so, when the vast majority of Jews supported the Boycott of Nazi Germany, that is you didn’t buy anything made in Germany, a Boycott which was remarkably successful in reducing German trade in the first part of 1933, it was the Zionist movement, together with the Jewish bourgeoisie, which set its face against that Boycott. The Jewish Agency concluded Ha'avara, a trade agreement with Nazi Germany.
|The Board of Deputies told Jews in the 1930's NOT to oppose Sir Oswald Moseley's British Union of Fascists - they did the same with the National Front in the 1970's - but when it comes to opponents of Israel they are happy to organise demonstrations|
So what Ken said was basically accurate but he was called anti-Semitic. Now Ken may have been right or wrong but he certainly wasn’t anti-Semitic. This ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign is a remarkable thing. It ebbs and it flows. You remember the last local elections in May where we found out that Corbyn had supported a mural which was later erased, 6 years previously, a mural with 6 bankers dining on top of sweated Black labour. In my view it wasn’t anti-Semitic but the main thing was this was hauled out of the depths of some vault and made into a completely false issue as a stick with which to beat Corbyn and the Labour leadership. That was done primarily by the Board of Deputies of British Jews headed by a right-wing Tory Jonathan Arkush.... The Board of Deputies is an old and venerable institution. It was established by George III in 1760. It is a very tame, loyal, bourgeois institution. My father was involved, like most Jews in the East End of London in the Battle Against Cable Street when the British Union of Fascists attempted to march through the East End. It was stopped Jewish and non-Jewish workers, including Catholic dockers. The Board of Deputies advice in the Jewish Chronicle to Jews was to stay at home and off the streets. They ignored that advice. On March 26th 2018 the Board of Deputies for the first time ever they called what they said was an anti-racist demonstration. All the right-wing Labour MPs, Wes Streeting, John Mann etc. attended.... Another attendee was Norman Tebbit. Yes that’s right he had a cricket test. He said these people who come from Pakistan and India although they are British legally the way to tell if they are really loyal to this country is to ask who do they support when it comes to the Indian team playing against Britain. If they support India it means that they are not really British....
This is not unusual. When we Donald Trump today supporting the Israeli state and moving the Israeli Embassy to Jerusalem who is his main backer in the United States? It’s not the Jewish community, which is extremely worried by Trump and his anti-Semitic backers like Steve Bannon. ....
Zionism grew up in the late 19th century in reaction to the pogroms in Czarist Russia. But it was a reaction of a very different kind to most Jewish political currents. Most Jews joined the Bund or the Communist Party. The Zionists were different. They adopted the framework of the anti-Semites. They said that they agreed that Jews do not belong in non-Jewish society. They accepted that Jews needed their own state.
The founder of Political Zionism was Theodor Herzl. He wrote a pamphlet the Jewish State. He wrote it, at the time of the Dreyfus Affair in France, when the old clericalist and monarchist elements, backed by the army were in conflict with the republicans. The Dreyfus Affair consisted of the framing of a Jewish officer, Captain Dreyfus, for treason. Herzl wrote at this time in his Diaries (page 6):
In Paris... I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognise the emptiness and futility of trying to 'combat' anti-Semitism.
You can go through Herzl’s diaries, all 4 volumes of them and there are similar comments. He talks about anti-Semitism being the ‘divine will to good’. The idea grew up among the Zionists that if a Jewish State was the main objective then obviously anti-Semitism was of benefit because it encouraged Jews to emigrate. Without that they would stay where they were and there would be no Jewish state.
That’s why the whole anti-Semitism campaign in the Labour Party is fake and false. The right-wing who use anti-Semitism, shout and scream when they are told that they are not really concerned about anti-Semitism it’s about something else. They say, ‘of course not, you should not accuse Jews of faking anti-Semitism’. Of course it’s only some Jews. Other Jews such as myself do not count of course.....
When we see the anti-Semitic witch-hunt, which is primarily using anti-Semitism as a stick to beat people. For example the other day I was contacted by a woman, Marianne Tellier who had compared the Department of Work and Pensions and their policies in respect of claimants, she said they should adopt the slogan Arbeit Macht Frei, Work Makes You Free. If you remember the concentration camps had this slogan across the entrances. I saw it at both Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen camps when I visited them. That is the slogan in essence of the Tories. Their justification for Universal Credit is that that puts people in work and that frees them from poverty, apparently. She has been suspended on the basis of making that comparison.
The main thing I’m saying is that the witchhunt has nothing to do with anti-Semitism. It has everything to do with destabilising, undermining and eventually removing Jeremy Corbyn. We saw that in the way that the anti-Semitism campaign burst into flame in March. Not only because of the local elections but also because of the replacement of Iain McNicol. You remember the hated General Secretary of the Labour Party was replaced by Jennie Formby and then Christine Shawcroft became Chair of the Disputes Committee. That’s when the Zionists moved into action. That’s when the anti-Semitism witchhunt started up again. I have no doubt that we will see in the months ahead, that at particular times, maybe at Labour Party conference, almost certainly the next local elections and whenever they think it is opportune, the false anti-Semitism narrative will rear its head.
Myself, Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth are just collateral damage. The target is Corbyn and the Left, whether he realises it or not. Thank you.
Replying to Questions:
TG: I think the first thing to say about anti-Semitism is that if the Right wanted to attack Corbyn for the real reasons, his position on the alliance with America, if you remember Hilary Benn’s speech in the House of Commons during the vote on whether to bomb Syria, they are not particularly attractive methods of attack. Trident even. Still less austerity, so anti-Semitism seems to ally with what is perceived to be the historical anti-racist roots of the Labour Party for example its opposition to Apartheid. Israel is a Jewish state and the association of Jews with the Holocaust etc. I wrote over 20 years ago saying that anti-Semitism was the false anti-racism of the Right. That the Right has effectively used anti-Semitism and the language of anti-racism against those who attack privilege and wealth in society. In reality it is a method of defending American foreign policy in its alliance with Israel. Israel is the armed racist rottweiller of US foreign policy. It’s not totally subordinate. Israel has its own measure of independence but nonetheless the two work very closely together.
As regards the JVL. Yes Jewish Voices for Labour and Free Speech on Israel have supported me but they are relatively weak of course. The main so-called Jewish organisation in the Labour Party is the Jewish Labour Movement, ex Poale Zion. One of the demands of Arkush was that Corbyn and the Labour Party doesn’t recognise fringe Jewish groups.
You remember when Corbyn went to the Passover seder with Jewdas. Arkush again accused them of ‘virulent anti-Semitism’. Apparently some of them aren’t even Jewish. It’s quite clear in their minds that anti-Semitism as hostility to Israel and Zionism go hand in hand. I should say that the majority of people in the Labour Party don’t buy into the anti-Semitism narrative. This is a ruling class narrative. If you ask most people on the street what anti-Semitism is they will tell you. It’s someone who doesn’t like Jews very much. There’s nothing magical or mysterious about it. That’s what all forms of racism are. Islamaphobia or anti-Muslim racism is someone who doesn’t like Muslims very much. This IHRA definition is a way of controlling speech. Clamping down on free speech. It’s about opposition to the United States and its favourite satellite in the Middle East. It’s got nothing to do with anti-racism as such.
As for Private Eye. Yes I’ve written to them and threatened them with a defamation action. Whether I go ahead or not remains to be seen. They accused me of ‘relentless harassment’ of a right-wing councillor in Brighton. Perish the thought. It’s not true and she has been forced to stand down anyway. At the moment my priority is a libel action against the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism which is a much nastier Zionist organisation which has been defaming large numbers of anti-Zionists, most of them Jewish. So there’s a limit to the number of actions I can take on! Private Eye used to be seen, in the days when I read it in the early 1970’s as a radical magazine which came out with a lot of good stories on people like John Poulson, a corrupt associate of the then Home Secretary Reginald Maudling, which had Paul Foot writing for it, today it is a right-wing rag. The person who wrote that goes by the name of rat biter, which is Nick Cohen who is a journalist on The Observer who is obsessed by Islam and who was a supporter of the Iraq war.
The third question was why does Jeremy Corbyn not take on the anti-Semitism nonsense. I think he feels very uncomfortable with it. You remember at the end of March when he was being accused of this anti-Semitism stuff he said to Arkush and the Board of Deputies meet me and we’ll talk about it. They came back and said we won’t meet you without a series of preconditions. Then Arkush overstepped himself and accused Jewdas of being a ‘source of virulent anti-Semitism’. He was widely ridiculed for that stupid statement. He did sit down with Corbyn and one of his main demands was that for the IHRA to be adopted by Labour in full and for the witchhunt to be put in control of the Zionists.
It was absurd. Corbyn should subcontract out to his political enemies control of the witchhunt, especially in the light of Jennie Formby’s succession. Which Corbyn didn’t agree with. The problem with Corbyn are that his instincts are in the right place but he’s not theoretical or ideological. He’s not a Marxist in any sense. He doesn’t. The other problem is that he and John McDonnell have a strategy, which of course Jon Lansman is a part of, which is of rapprochement with and appeasement of the Right. Therefore to come out against the anti-Semitism smears means confronting the right wing in the Parliamentary Labour Party and he’s unwilling to do that because his base of support is probably 50 MPs.
Unless you are going to engage in a consistent programme of deselection and reselection of the Labour Right, which is what you should do, then you have a problem. Unfortunately going along with the anti-Semitism nonsense is part of that strategy. That’s why he doesn’t do what is obvious to us which is that this is the political equivalent of fake news.
People like Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth are collateral damage. The main target of this witch-hunt is Jeremy Corbyn and the left. People like Luciana Berger MP are quite clear that the sooner Corbyn goes the better. They had hoped after the General Election, they’d all counted on the fact that Corbyn was going to suffer this defeat. Nick Cohen in the Observer was withering. He said ‘Will there be 150, 125, 100 Labour MPs by the end of the flaying? My advice is to think of a number then halve it.’ .... Iain McNicol, so I understand, he’d actually cancelled the passes of Corbyn and his aides on election night because the coup was supposed to go into operation so they couldn’t actually get in the Labour Party headquarters in Southside. This was one of the things they got McNicol on in the end, the fact that he had tried to mount a coup against Corbyn. The Right had been prepared for the day after, when what they thought would be a repetition of Michael Foot in 1983. They thought that the Manifesto which Corbyn had stood on, which was leaked by the Right but not to much good effect, the papers made things like rail nationalisation the headlines, which most people thought was a good idea. So the Right got it absolutely wrong as they did with Owen Smith. They haven’t played their cards well.
Anti-Semitism has been one of the key, underlying narratives of the Right and that’s why people need to be vigilant. It’s not about Jews, it’s about the Palestinians. It’s about the racist, apartheid society in Israel.... So for example in the city of Safed the Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, son of the Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, had issued an edict forbidding Jews renting a flat or apartment to an Arab. Eliyahu is a state official. If an Arab had said this then they would have been locked up. Hundreds of rabbis joined in and said they supported Eliyahu. I an continue to give you hundreds of examples of the endemic racism in Israeli society.
One of our best retorts to the Zionists is to say what you are really defending is the State of Israel. We know why you are doing that.
The question of Corbyn is somewhat more complex. If you listened to him today in Parliament supporting big business you would wonder whether he was somewhere near the right, the business right. At Prime Minister’s question time May replied to him by saying in effect, that you would be far more credible if you didn’t denounce capitalism. He’s obviously caught in this situation that if you are going to fight on Brexit you have to talk about what is here and now and you can’t talk of a socialist solution now. You then end up supporting the least worst solution, which is what he is trying to do.
Incidentally I invited Corbyn to speak a Critique conference about 20 years ago and he refused. I also happened to walk into a conference at the same time as Tony Benn and showed him a copy of Critique and he did his best to ignore me. So I think it is pretty clear that these guys are not on the far left. Nonetheless I agree with everything that has been said. I also think that if Corbyn were elected, in other words if the Labour Party was elected with a Corbyn like Cabinet the ruling class think that would be dangerous. Not that he in himself would be dangerous but given the situation that I outlined the crisis in Britain within a global capitalist crisis he might be forced to move to the left and further left.
(audience member) it would raise expectations in the working class.
HT: it is quite likely to happen, in other words it is entirely possible and the ruling class knows that and understands it. The ruling class isn’t stupid in all of this although the government appears to be. You notice the way the government is fighting itself.
The Financial Times had an article discussing the Foreign Minister who had this wonderful slogan ‘Fuck Business’. He actually said that. The comment in the Financial Times was ‘never was the Brexit manifesto more succinct.’ Boris Johnson’s impromptu aside. As slogans go it has everything. The point is that is the government. Theresa May is clearly not a strong leader. She also doesn’t understand what she is doing. Her role as we now see as Home Secretary was appalling. You really could compare her to some of the worst people in history the way she ran policy towards people coming to Britain.
The government is clearly split but it’s more than that. The ruling class as a whole is split. It doesn’t have a global enemy. As long as Stalinism was there it was extremely useful to the ruling class and they knew it and they used it for all they could to keep themselves together. And they did keep together. And they did have a ruling class line. And it did work and it’s not there now. They have no open enemy.
I was asked a question about what happened after 1979 effectively. There is no great difference between the policy of austerity and Margaret Thatcher’s policy. It is a continuation of the same policy but more strongly. Undoubtedly in the 1970’s, not just in Britain, but globally the ruling class was worried that it was losing power. It was. In Germany there were mass strikes. There were mass strikes here and elsewhere in the world. It did look as if they couldn’t hold the fort. Remember they had conceded in Britain. A large percentage of industry was actually nationalised. The Economist wrote an article which said it didn’t see what wasn’t nationalised. The ruling class took a clear decision that enough was enough. The concessions that they had made after 1945 had to end. They ended.
As we know, 3 million lost their jobs between the period 1979-83. Blair continued that exact policy. More people lost their jobs under Blair than under Thatcher. That’s the nature of the Labour Party which the Right in the Labour Party would continue if they could. That’s its ideology in effect.
So Corbyn is different in that respect and the ruling class is worried about him. Austerity is for control, it is. Marxist understanding of control within capitalism is given by the fetishisation of commodity production. In other words the worker has to sell his or her labour power in order to survive. The market rules in the sale of labour power. There is no alternative to that. If you nationalise firms and the conditions of work then become slightly easier with pensions and so forth you are changing those conditions. The conditions of control. It becomes easier for people to work in their jobs so they won’t necessarily obey orders in quite the same way as when they know they will be dismissed if they don’t obey orders. You can no longer control the working class in the same way.
They’ve clearly changed the relations today. In Britain today only 6 million people are actually in unions. So if you can no longer control workers in the original way as it were, if you can’t control them in the particular forms, with a memory of the war and going back to mass unemployment, depression and so forth and the possibility of maybe another war, perhaps fascism, if that is no longer there why shouldn’t they strike? Why should they obey orders? Once you interfere with, and of course they had to interfere after the war, once they started to introduce measures to protect labour under Lloyd George in particular after 1906, they were interfering with the mode of control over labour power of the workforce. The whole point about Thatcher’s changes was to restore control by capital itself. But under Cameron, under conditions where you really had extensive unemployment where considerable parts of the labour force were on zero hours contracts or god knows what contract, workers could not organise in the same way as before. The possibility that they had for the future was effectively doomed. It meant the control was much greater.
One can see what the effect is, even in voting as a result. One can see what the overall effect has been there in standing where we are. They’ve changed even Education. Gove’s reforms in Education are appalling. I have to say that when I came to this country I couldn’t believe the teaching of history. That seems to get progressively worse. I couldn’t believe when I came in 1965. Imagineit in South Africa I was doing History. It was far more left-wing than what people were taught here. We discussed the French Revolution, the Revolution in America, discussed revolution, the meaning of it. You just don’t get it here.
When I came to the History Department in Glasgow University it was the most reactionary department in the University. Unbelievable. In Cape Town University the engineers were the most reactionary. But in History there’s an ideological control. They needed to reinforce the ideological control which is what they are trying to do. The whole point of muddling up, fetishising the budget and not telling the truth about it is as a means of control.
If people believe that there is no money, that they can’t be given higher salaries then they’ll go to work and not strike for it. They won’t have the ideological tools to fight the government. They’ve been quite successful in doing that. I’m not suggesting that everyone believes it but it’s been relatively successful. I wouldn’t have believed that they got as far as they did under Cameron.
What’s now happening is that the ruling class has recognised they’ve gone as far as they can go. It can’t continue like this even if some people believe that they should vote for the Conservative Party or that capitalism will last forever and that they must worship their superiors. Probably the majority do not.
One way out appeared to be Brexit. It was a fetishised way of trying to change things. The ruling class understood it. That is what Johnson is saying now. Johnson obviously supports business. But what he is doing is something like fascism would have said. He is saying we’ll stand up for the small person. We’ll fight business and get you a deal kind of thing. That is where he is. He is prepared to go far in destroying part of the controls of the capitalist system. We can see that the government today is making concessions of a kind which I usually associate with the far-Right. Making concessions which appear to be left-wing but are not left-wing. It’s in those circumstances that you have a Labour Party which has to decide where it is going.
What one section of the ruling class wants is for the right-wing of the Labour Party to join with the left-wing of the Conservative Party. That is quite clear. We’ve seen the left-wing of the Conservative Party acting, it’s too the left of the right-wing of the Labour Party. Several times there’s been attempts to merge them. That’s its logic for one section. Another section is quite clearly taking a very strong line and that’s more associated with the United States. That’s where Liam Fox is. Liam Fox is associated with various right-wing groups in the United States. He seems to be a complete idiot. He’s useful to them in that position.
The third group clearly want to make concessions. There’s probably more groups than that. We have in other words a series of different groupings within the ruling class who haven’t yet worked out how they can maintain power in those conditions. What I described in the beginning was the way the economy of Britain has changed for the worse and what the alternatives would be for the ruling class itself. So it’s split in that way. It doesn’t have an enemy to unite it yet although it does see the working class acting as its enemy but it doesn’t actually see it in action.
I don’t think it’s a more intelligent wing doesn’t understand Corbyn. It understands him perfectly well. It understands that if he comes in he’s not going to do anything great for the working class. It’ll be a shift to the left up to a point. It’s only if he is forced to go further that he will go further. They understand that perfectly well, which is why they are not going to mount a revolution against him. They understand and probably think that they will control him and might control him but they are worried that they can’t control him and that’s how I understand it.
On the question of Israel, the Jews and so forth. There is a real problem in that there’s no question of the oppression of Israel over the Palestinians but there is no solution provided. The obvious statement that one has to make is that in one territory there should be equal rights for all. That’s clearly not going to happen. The only solution is in fact socialism. We cannot immediately imagine any force which is going to do anything else. That’s an enormous problem. I don’t see any way out of it. One always has to oppose the oppression of one by the other. That doesn’t end the question. The question remains all throughout. There’s no question that the Israeli government is right-wing and Zionism in itself is right-wing and the section which was an claimed to be left-wing has virtually ceased to exist. That is also true.
Tony Greenstein It’s worse than that. The Zionist left historically were the worst racists. There was never a left-wing as we understand the term. They were never socialists.
Hillel-Ticktin In the Warsaw Ghetto....
Tony Greenstein In the Warsaw Ghetto they weren’t in reality Zionists. They had abandoned Zionism, the Hashomer Hatzair. But I’m talking about the Labour Zionists in Palestine. If you read Professor Zeev Sternhell’s book (The Founding Myths of Israel) on the Zionist labour movement in Palestine. Stermhell is a Holocaust survivor who was at the Hebrew University, who was also the victim of a right-wing Zionist terrorist attack he has done the most comprehensive study of the Zionist labour movement in Palestine.
His conclusion is that it was never ever socialist. Indeed the formation of Mapai, the Israeli Labour Party, was on the basis of opposition to socialism.
Hillel Ticktin well Mapai yes but I’m talking about Hashomer Hatzair.
Tony Greenstein we can debate about them too! let me give you an example
Hillel Ticktin: I’m not arguing with you. I’m not supporting Zionism I’m just saying that... Even a kibbutz isn’t left-wing. So there’s nothing there in that sense.
Tony Greenstein Well the kibbutz came about as an institution because it was the most effective method of colonisation. It was, from the start, Jewish only. It never had an Arab member. I think there’s been one Arab member in its whole history. It was funded by the bourgeois Zionists as the most effective method. It was collective colonialism. But these are apart from the myths of socialist Zionism and there were many myths.
Hillel Ticktin Ok why did they learn Marxism in their home countries which were not Israel?
Tony Greenstein Well there was a divergence. The World Union of Poale Zion split in I think 1919. There was a divergence between diaspora Zionism and Palestinian Zionism. Certainly in the diaspora, this is an interesting debate. Within diaspora Zionism there was always a contradiction within socialist Zionism between the socialism, which means universalism working with non-Jews and workers like the Bund did in Poland, it was never Zionist and the idea that Jews had more in common with each other and their main goal was to establish a state in Palestine. In Poland that reached a peak when again around 1920 Poale Zion split into a left Poale Zion and a right Poale Zion. And the right Poale Zion virtually disappeared. It was useless because it didn’t relate to the Jewish working class. The main problem in Poland was anti-Semitism. It was a viciously anti-Semitic country. So left Poale Zion, which overlapped with Hashomer Hatzair certainly fought in the Warsaw Ghetto but Mordechai Anielwicz who commanded the Warsaw Ghetto Resistance said basically we wasted our time doing political Zionist work for 2-3 years when we should have been building the resistance.
Hillel-Ticktin I agree and it is obviously, I am anti-Zionist but the point is that you have to look at it and see what was there. They were contradictory and clearly shouldn’t have had Zionism or nationalism of any kind. Clearly that is true. The problem is, though, the present day. I can’t see any solution except socialism.
Question and contributions from the audience
Hillel-Ticktin I will sum up but I want to reply to her (Fiona). It’s very important what she said. I understand everything you said and in principle I would agree but I am a socialist and I don’t see socialism in 100 years time or even in 20 years time. I see it much quicker than that. If we take the line that you take then we are plodding on and hoping for the best. We may or may not succeed in that struggle. But it’s a fact that it’s not a lie towards the Palestinians at the present time at all. So all we’ll be doing and it may be a lot that we are doing, we’ll be bringing the attention of the world to the oppression of the Palestinians but they will continue to be oppressed. We don’t want that. We want the regime to be overthrown. I’m saying this because of the history of South Africa. I opposed the Boycott of South Africa because I knew it would lead to a government which is bourgeois democratic aligned with the West. And the result has been a disaster. It’s a disaster today South Africa for the ordinary person. That’s the problem. We don’t want it to be worse. We want it to be a high standard of living for ordinary Palestinians. Higher than it is in Israel today. But how do we get there? What you are describing is a process, I don’t know if it will ever happen in a world that is not socialist.
Fiona I’m a socialist but for Palestinians I don’t think it’s for us to say. Ultimately yes socialism for everyone is what we want. But I think that Palestinians would appreciate an end to the Occupation, an end to the ethnic cleansing.
Tony Greenstein One of the main differences between South Africa, which was a settler state and Israel is that in South Africa the settler colonials exploited the indigenous labour whereas in Israel they want to exclude it from the territory altogether. That was what Labour Zionism was about so there is a qualitative difference in the political economy of the two states. However the question which was raised is how you overthrow Zionism. I don’t think it is sufficient to say socialism because that is posing socialism in the abstract. How concretely are you going to overthrow Zionism? Now it’s clear to me that the Jewish working class in Israel is not an agent for revolutionary change because it’s been bought off. It sees its identity as being bound up with Zionism, i.e. Jewish supremacy. Just as the White working class in South Africa was not a revolutionary class. The problem is that the Palestinians do not fulfil the same role as the Black working class in South Africa. So it seems clear to me that the only way that Zionism going to be overthrown is in a regional context.
Israel is there to safeguard the interests of imperialism in the Arab East. America doesn’t give it $4-5 billion a year because it feels generous and soft-hearted. It does it because Israel forms alliances with the most reactionary Arab regimes, it destabilises those who aren’t willing to do the West’s bidding. Its done that for the last 70 years so any struggle to overthrow Zionism inevitably means the overthrow of the Arab regimes by Arab working class. I don’t see it can possibly take place in any other context. I don’t have a crystal ball, I don’t know when that’s going to happen, I don’t think it is going to happen quickly but who knows? Revolutionary change can sometimes be very quick.
On one or two other things on the history of left of Labour Zionism I can only recommend the article I wrote recently for Weekly Worker and my blog and it’s also on the Mondoweiss site. Unfortunately I don’t have time to go into it further.
Someone mentioned Mort Klein, who is the head of the Zionist Organisation of America. I can remind for those who don’t remember When Trump came into power an invitation was extended, as it was last year, to Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka who is a neo-Nazi who was in the Trump organisation, to attend the ZOA’s annual gala dinner which is held in November every year, as distinguished guests and speakers. (see above)
People have to shed their blinkers about Israel, especially in the Labour Party. Increasingly American Jews are divorcing from Israel. I think that is a historic tendency. You will see the Jewish diaspora moving apart from the Israeli state and what is a settler nation. Zionism as the founding ideology of Israel is a form of Jewish supremacy. It is based upon the idea of racial superiority. Although it has been disguised historically that is the reality of what it stands for. Jews right or wrong.
The final think I will say is this is a meeting of Labour Against the Witchhunt. I think it is important when there is a political battle in the Labour Party and also outside it in the trade unions that LAW, which is the only organisation on the left which is fighting the witchhunt, that people do help to build it. I hope that as a result of my tour that we will see LAW branches formed and that you will also go into the universities. There is work to be done and as Fiona said, at the end of the day our support is for the Palestinians.
It is interesting that in the last few weeks, when the attacks on Gaza were happening Labour Friends of Israel came out with a statement which blamed the Palestinians for having engineered their own deaths. There was a mass reaction in the Labour Party to that. So the Zionists don’t have the sway. People dissociated themselves from them. That is their weak point and that is when they come out with 2 states, which is a call for 2 racist, apartheid states.
Partition has always been a weapon of imperialism, it has been an imperialist solution throughout the world and that is what they argue for. I don’t think we should be downhearted. I say that because Jackie Walker will also be coming up shortly to fight expulsion. We have a battle on and obviously there are large forces raised against us but I’m confident that in the end we will win that battle. Thank you comrades.
Hillel Ticktin In relation to the overall question to a degree we disagree. As a revolutionary socialist, as a Marxist I don’t believe that I have to wait another lifetime. I may have myself 3-4 years or something, presumably it won’t be in my lifetime, but I would expect it to be soon. Remember the Revolution was in 1917. It has taken place. We are not living in the same epoch as before 1917. We are living in a transitional epoch.
We are not living in simple capitalism anymore. The alternative really is a continued decline of capitalism with periods which are better and some periods which are catastrophic. We can hope they will not be catastrophuic again. This is a period when we have to fight for socialism now not tomorrow. When we are struggling for anything we are struggling first and foremost for socialism. Not socialism step by step, a view which was overthrown in 1917, that is what we stand for. And the people wherever they are in Venezuela, the Palestinian lands, or wherever else have a right to a life wherever they are, and they have a right to it now. We must struggle for socialism today. Our aim is not step by step socialism. You can’t get socialism that way. You have to overthrow the system.
The system cannot be overthrown in one country. We’ve learnt that time and time again. It has to be in the developed countries in the first instance and that will be the basis for overthrowing the forms of oppression that exist including the forms of oppression in the Palestinian lands. There is no other way that it can be done.
Of course we have totry and alleviate the conditions of people, wherever they live, but we are not in power, it is extremely difficult. We must expect what has happened will happen again. Unfortunately we are not in power and we don’t have the arms to do it. Not that we want to take up arms in itself. What is happening in the Labour Party is part of the struggle and it may appear to be a relatively small thing but it’s not. Because what is happening in Britain is crucial for the world as a whole.
Unfortunately if the same thing happens as in South Africa it won’t have that much impact. It will have an impact but in Britain it is one of the most crucial capitalist countries. What happens here will effect the world as a whole including the areas of the Middle East, most particularly the Middle East in fact. So we have to fight here and now and it will help people in other areas of the world. We cannot do it any other way. To have a real success it must be a success in which there is an overthrow of nationalism in general and Zionism in particular. It has to be a universal success otherwise it cannot be a success at all. Thank you.