31 March 2021

Why does Stand Up To Racism refuse to stand up to racism when it comes to Israeli Apartheid?

 Racism Came to Britain with the Empire -  Colonialism is the handmaiden of racial supremacy 

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When a member of the SWP proposed that Brighton & Hove Trades Council sponsor a meeting on UN anti-racism day I was naturally in favour. UN anti-racism day was originally established in 1966 as a commemoration for the 60 Black Africans killed by the Apartheid police in South Africa in 1960. 

It was particularly appropriate because on January 12th Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem had declared that Israel was an Apartheid state. What made this statement important is that B’Tselem is the quintessential liberal human rights organisation. Founded in 1989 as a liberal Zionist organisation this declaration represented a break from the view that Israel was a flawed Western-style democracy.  In B’Tselem’s own words:

The Israeli regime enacts in all the territory it controls (Israeli sovereign territory, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip) an apartheid regime. One organizing principle lies at the base of a wide array of Israeli policies: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.

The anti-racist and anti-fascist movement in this country had always opposed Apartheid in South Africa. How could SUTR not adopt the same attitude to Israeli Apartheid? What was different?

But to SUTR and the SWP it was different. A majority of Jews in this country support the Israeli state whereas South Africa had few expatriates to support it. Another difference is that whereas South Africa defended the Apartheid political system the Israeli state and its Zionist apologists have always denied that it was an apartheid state. Israel boasts for example that Israeli Arab citizens can vote. Many British socialists used to see Israel as a socialist oasis in the Middle East. Generations of Labour Party left-wingers had been ardent Zionists.

Nazis and Zionists gather together at Capitol Hill in support of Trump

It was only with the war in Lebanon in 1982 that the scales began to fall from peoples’ eyes. Tony Benn and Eric Heffer resigned from Labour Friends of Israel. The 1982 Labour Party conference passed an emergency motion calling for a democratic secular state. But till then Israel had been virtually immune from criticism and what criticism there was came from the Labour Right, people like Christopher Mayhew and David Watkins

The events of the past 5 years, in particular the false anti-Semitism campaign which was devised to demonise and destroy Jeremy Corbyn have represented a political setback. Support for Zionism and opposition to the Palestinians have become the trademark of the Labour Right. Unfortunately some on the left too, like Jon Lansman and Owen Jones, have also ended up in the Zionist camp.

Many trade unions like UNISON and even UNITE tried to square support for the Palestinians and support for Israel and Zionism. The unions have supported the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism uncritically. This campaign has also taken its toll on sections of the far-left, the SWP in particular.

Following the January meeting of Brighton & Hove trades council I attended two meetings of SUTR where I proposed that a meeting on UN Anti-Racism Day be devoted to Apartheid in Israel.

SUTR is, as most people know, a front for the SWP. It is owned, lock stock and barrel by them and is their main ‘front’ organisation today.  Despite this it often does good work and I have gone on their demonstrations and attended their meetings.

After I had made my proposal member after member of the SWP got up to propose that we do anything other than hold a meeting on Israeli Apartheid. Refugees were the favourite choice of topic yet no member of the SWP was honest enough to admit to why they were opposed to holding a meeting on Israeli Apartheid.

In response to this one of those in attendance, Aidan Pettit, sent an email to SUTR (which the SWP Secretary refused to distribute to other members) stating that

‘it's not logical to oppose the racism meted out to refugees when they're in the UK but not the racism that drives many of them here in the first place

At the following meeting I repeated my proposal. This time another SWP member, Jeremy, got up and explained that it was very ‘delicate’.

What Jeremy and other SWP members meant was that they didn’t want to offend or cut links with liberal Zionist like Rabbi Sarah (we have a gay rabbi in Brighton). The SWP calls itself a Marxist, indeed a revolutionary socialist organisation yet it wasn’t prepared to adopt a consistently anti-racist position for fear of offending a liberal racist.

A simple question arises. How can you fight racism if you are not prepared to confront racists and if necessary offend them? Rabbi Sarah may not want to face up to the implications of a ‘Jewish’ state for the Palestinian, a state that vaccinates half of the population (Jewish) and not the other half (Palestinian) but surely the point of a socialist organisation is that it doesn’t allow itself to be held back by the more reactionary, backward elements in society?

What happened in Brighton is not unique. In Scotland for 3 years the Confederation of Friends of Israel Scotland and Glasgow Friends of Israel, two far-Right Zionist organisations which have worked with fascists, have been allowed to take part in the annual SUTR march.

A wide variety of organisations such as Scotland Against Criminalising Communities condemned the SWP’s willingness to accede to the Zionist demands.

The reason for the SWP’s political cowardice was without doubt the ‘anti-Semitism’ campaign in the Labour Party and the involvement of trade union leaders who have gone along with the demands of the Zionists that they be protected from ‘anti-Semitism’. The SWP, which has never had a sophisticated understanding of how anti-Semitism has been weaponised ran a mile.

In London on Holocaust Memorial Day they actually withdrew an invitation to Glynn Secker of Jewish Voices for Labour to speak after the Board of Deputies sought and obtained from Tower Hamlets Council the cancellation of a meeting.

However Brighton & Hove Palestine Solidarity Campaign took the decision that we would not allow the SWP/SUTR’s cowardice to prevail.  We are therefore holding on April 5th a meeting with a variety of different speakers.

Ronnie Kasrills is the Jewish former commander of the ANC’s military wing, Umkonto we Sizwe and a former government Minister under Nelson Mandela will be speaking as will Ramzy Baroud, a journalist, author and editor of the Palestine Chronicle.

Also speaking is well known Asian anti-racist and former Birmingham councillor, Salma Yaqoob. Salma has been the target of the Labour Right and former Labour MP Ian Austin in particular.

Rania Muhareb is another speaker. Rania is a legal researcher and advocacy officer with the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq. She is currently taking a PhD at the Irish Centre for Human Rights in Galway.

Rana Nazir, the Chair of the Kashmiri Womens Association, is also speaking. The situation in India under the Islamaphobic BJP Prime Minister Narendra Modi is fast becoming similar to that in Israel. Israel is India’s major arms supplier and Modi is a member of the RSS political group that is the core of the BJP. Founded by supporters of the Nazis, the RSS aspires for India to become like Israel, an ethno-nationalist state.

Recently India has promoted legislation that for example excludes the immigration of Muslim refugees.It has also repealed Article 370 of the constitution whereby Kashmir is granted autonomy. Instead India has recolonised Kashmir in a similar way to that of Israel on the West Bank.

It is particularly appropriate as the trial of Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s murderer, gets underway, that Kweku Martin Peprah of Brighton Black Lives Matter has agreed to speak.  BLM have organised a series of well attended marches in Brighton in protest against police racism.

And lastly I intend to say a few words on behalf of Brighton Palestine Solidarity Campaign. The meeting is sponsored by Brighton & Hove Trades Union Council and I hope that as many people as possible will be able to attend. (Register here)

One thing we should take away from the meeting is the idea that the fight against racism, be it in Kashmir, the United States, Britain or Israel is indivisible. Either you are opposed to racism or you are not. There are no special exceptions, no get out clauses which exempt people simply because they are Jewish or Hindu. Racism is a poisonous and pernicious evil, whose effect is to divide the oppressed. No socialist should, for one minute, turn a blind eye to racism simply because they see a sectarian advantage to doing so.

I hope to see you at the meeting.

Below is an Open Letter which I wrote to SUTR/SWP about what happened. It has been endorsed by Brighton & Hove PSC.

Tony Greenstein

Open Letter to Brighton & Hove Stand Up To Racism re UN Anti-Racism Day

Dear Nick,

I attended meetings of Brighton & Hove SUTR on January 20 and February 3rd in order to discuss plans for the UN’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The Day was established after the Sharpeville massacre on March 21 1960 when South Africa Police opened fire killing 69 Black demonstrators against the apartheid “pass laws”.

On 12 January 2021 the Israeli human rights group, B’tselem, which was founded in 1989 as a liberal Zionist organisation, issued a statement THIS IS APARTHEID – A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea.

The past 30 years have convinced Btselem that democracy and a Jewish state are incompatible. In a carefully worded statement Btselem stated that:

The Israeli regime enacts in all the territory it controls (Israeli sovereign territory, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip) an apartheid regime. One organizing principle lies at the base of a wide array of Israeli policies: advancing and perpetuating the supremacy of one group – Jews – over another – Palestinians.

Btselem is not alone. The foremost liberal American Zionist Pete Beinart reached much the same conclusion in an article in the NYT headed I No Longer Believe in a Jewish State.

When I proposed that SUTR hold a meeting on Israeli Apartheid to mark UN Anti-Racism Day it met with concerted opposition from members of the SWP. They suggested that refugee events be held instead. Such events can be held any day of the year. As Aidan Pettitt wrote in an email which you refused to distribute to other members:

‘it's not logical to oppose the racism meted out to refugees when they're in the UK but not the racism that drives many of them here in the first place

The real reason for the SWP’s opposition to making UN Anti-Racism Day into Israel Apartheid Day was made clear by Jeremy. The issue was, he said, ‘delicate’. I think we all know what he meant. SUTR is afraid of alienating liberal Zionists.

This is of a piece with Scottish SUTR’s decision to allow the far-Right Confederation of Friends of Israel to participate, with Israeli flags, on their demonstrations. As a Joint Statement from the Islamic Human Rights Commission and other organisations declared:

we are dismayed that Stand Up to Racism Scotland will be allowing organisations that actively support Israeli apartheid and racism to participate in its annual anti-racism march in Glasgow. We believe that their presence is incompatible with Stand Up to Racism’s intention of celebrating International Day Against Race Discrimination

In 2019 SUTR withdrew an invitation to a Jewish anti-Zionist, Glyn Secker, to speak at a meeting in Tower Hamlets on Holocaust Memorial Day, after a campaign by Zionist groups. There is a long history of SUTR refusing to oppose racism when perpetrated by Israel.

SUTR’s refusal to confront the issue of Zionism, Israeli Apartheid and its connections to British racism is because of a fear of being accused of ‘anti-Semitism’ Perhaps you will also refrain from opposition to the BJP’s anti-Muslim policies and its occupation of Kashmir for fear of being accused of ‘Hinduphobia’? SUTR is afraid that its Labour Party sponsors will abandon it if it takes a principled position.

SUTR appears incapable of recognising the connection between the Israeli state, Zionism and the far-Right today. Perhaps it has escaped your attention that on January 6th at Capitol Hill, amongst the Confederate flags and shirts bearing slogans such as 6MWE (6 million wasn’t enough) and Camp Auschwitz were Israeli flags.

In this country the EDL, Britain First and other fascist groups have long displayed Israeli flags on demonstrations. Tommy Robinson has stated that he is a Zionist. The neo-Nazi founder of the alt-Right, Richard Spencer, openly declares that he is a ‘White Zionist’.

The far-Right admire and love Israel precisely because it is the kind of ethno-nationalist state that they aspire to create. Fascists and racists support Israel for the same reasons as they supported Apartheid in South Africa.

The admiration of the far-Right for Israel is not all one-way. There has long been a link-up between right-wing Zionists and the supporters of Tommy Robinson. People like Katie Hopkins, a guest at the Israeli Embassy, combine anti-Semitism with Zionism. In return she has been supported by many Zionists for her Islamaphobia.

We have racist regimes such as Orban’s Hungary, which combine support for Israel with anti-Semitism. The anti-racist movement in Britain never hesitated to oppose South African Apartheid but when it comes to Israeli Apartheid you look the other way. Why?

The reason is obvious. The Israeli state is supported by a majority of Jews in the West. If a quarter of a million White South African émigrés had lived in this country would you have said that the question of Apartheid in South Africa was a ‘delicate’ matter?

Millions of people have seen how Israel has vaccinated its Jewish population whilst denying the vaccine to 5 million Palestinians living under occupation. That is what racist regimes do and that is what the UN Day Against Racism is about.

It is for this reason that Brighton & Hove PSC have decided that it will go ahead and organise its own meeting on Israeli Apartheid. It is to be regretted that SUTR refuses to stand up to one of the main sources of racism and Islamaphobia in the world today for fear of upsetting the British Establishment and its Zionist outriders.

Click here to join

In Solidarity

Tony Greenstein

29 March 2021

Why We Should Critically Welcome The Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism [JDA]

 Unlike the IHRA Misdefinition of Anti-Semitism the JDA Makes a Clear Distinction Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism

The Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism, although flawed in parts and open to criticism, not least because of its unfortunate title, should be welcomed by all those concerned about seeing the fight against anti-Semitism being part of the fight against racism rather than being counterposed to it. 

The JDA should also be welcomed by those who are sick and tired of seeing ‘anti-Semitism’ weaponised on behalf of a ‘Jewish’ state that has just seen 2 Jewish Nazis elected to the Knesset, one of whom is likely to be made a government minister.

Unlike the IHRA which labelled opposition to Zionism and Israeli racism as anti-Semitism, the JDA makes a clear distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. The JDA states that the following are not anti-Semitic:

Criticizing or opposing Zionism as a form of nationalism, or arguing for a variety of constitutional arrangements for Jews and Palestinians in the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. It is not antisemitic to support arrangements that accord full equality to all inhabitants “between the river and the sea,” whether in two states, a binational state, uni-tary democratic state, federal state, or in whatever form.13.Evidence-based criticism of Israel as a state.

The difference between the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism and the JDA is the difference between night and day.

Of course the JDA should have been unnecessary. The idea that it is necessary to define anti-Semitism in order to oppose it would have been ludicrous but for the cynical attempt by racists and imperialists, anti-Semites included, to use the historic oppression of Jewish people in order to support not only the Israeli state but western imperialism and its wars in the Middle East.

It is no accident that some of the most virulent anti-Semites and White Supremacists, from Viktor Orban of Hungary, Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland and Donald Trump, have all supported the IHRA. Indeed no genuine anti-Semite could possibly take exception to the IHRA. What is there not to like about it if you are a racist?

Indeed one of the most vociferous campaigners in support of the IHRA, former Vice-Chair of the Zionist Federation Jonathan Hoffman, is a link person between the Zionist Right in Britain and fascist groups such as the EDL and Tommy Robinson's supporters. Hoffman is also one of the 'academics' who have signed the Zionist petition calling for the dismissal of Professor David Miller of Bristol University.

I remain of the same opinion as Justice Potter Stewart' in the 1964 case of Jacobellis v. Ohio that I don’t need a definition of anti-Semitism to recognise it when I see it. When my father and thousands of Jews like him took part in the Battle of Cable Street in order to prevent Moseley’s British Union of Fascists marching through the Jewish East End in October 1936, they did not need a definition of anti-Semitism in order to understand what they were fighting. However we are where we are and today the primary benefit of a genuine definition of anti-Semitism is that it can be used to replace the bogus and fraudulent IHRA definition.

Unlike the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism, the JDA is concerned with anti-Semitism not tarnishing the struggle of the Palestinians and opponents of Zionism as ‘anti-Semitic’.

What is truly frightening about the IHRA is how many people of sound mind, people who consider themselves intelligent and in the normal world are intelligent, have nevertheless subscribed to a definition of anti-Semitism that was intellectually bankrupt, the academic version of the 3 card trick. The IHRA is embarrassingly incoherent, dishonest and internally contradictory. Indeed the IHRA is itself, by its own definition anti-Semitic when it says on the one hand that Israel is the collective representation of all Jews and then says that it is anti-Semitic to associate all Jews with Israel’s crimes.

The slogan on a large demonstration in Tel Aviv in support of Israeli soldier Elor Azaria, who shot a unconscious Palestinian in Hebron in the head, murdering him. 'Kill them all' means kill all Palestinians.  According to the IHRA to describe this as Nazi-like is itself antisemitic!

The IHRA’s vagueness and obfuscation was itself demonstrably dishonest. It was deliberately opaque. Indeed a 500+ word statement cannot, by anyone’s imagination, be called a definition and, as Stephen Sedley wrote, the IHRA cannot be a definition because it is indefinite.

The 38 word IHRA definition, leaving out its 11 Israeli centred examples, is nothing if not slippery and vague. The IHRA was an exercise in intellectual dishonesty and it was eagerly grasped by racists such as the British representative to the IHRA, Lord Pickles, as a way of smearing and demonising anti-racists. Anyone who genuinely believed it was a definition of anti-Semitism can only be classed as intellectually bankrupt. And the IHRA rested on the assumption that the State of Israel was a normal, democratic state. As such the IHRA took sides in the battle between Jewish supremacy and Zionism on the one hand and anti-Zionism on the other.

The 38 word core definition of anti-Semitism at the beginning of the IHRA states that:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Although we are told that anti-Semitism is ‘a certain perception of Jews’ we are never told what that perception is. We are told that anti-Semitism ‘may be expressed as hatred toward Jews’ without saying what else it might be expressed as. In raising the bar of anti-Semitism to the level of hatred the IHRA missed out all sorts of examples of anti-Semitism which are hurtful or discriminatory but which are not derived from hatred.

It is perfectly possible for someone to inflict violence on someone because they are Jewish, not because they hate them but because they despise them or fear them. According to the IHRA they are not anti-Semitic! Likewise someone who objects to their son or daughter marrying a Jew, not because they hate them but because they believe Jews are dishonest and untrustworthy, to say nothing of being mean and stingy, is not anti-Semitic according to the IHRA. The IHRA has but one function.  To protect the Israeli state and Zionism not Jews.

The first advantage of the JDA is that it formulates a clear and easily understood definition of anti-Semitism: ‘Antisemitism is discrimination, prejudice, hostility or violence against Jews as Jews (or Jewish institutions as Jewish).’ The latter 5 words could have been omitted but based as it is on the Oxford English Dictionary definition ‘hostility to or prejudice against Jews’ it is infinitely preferable to the IHRA definition.

We now have a very clear and useful definition of anti-Semitism that clearly distinguishes between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. The JDA does not attempt to police political speech in the way that the IHRA did.  It does not for example suggest that if someone criticises Israel without at the same time criticising every other country that abuses human rights (‘double standards’) that they are anti-Semitic.

This slogan is daubed on the walls of Hebron's Shuhada Street by the Jewish settlers - the IHRA says it's 'anti-semitic' to mention this!

The JDA does not describe comparisons between the Israeli state and its policies and that of Nazi Germany as anti-Semitic. It is clear that there are many comparisons today between Israel and Nazi Germany as the walls of Shuhada Street in Hebron, which are daubed with settler slogans ‘Arabs to the gas chambers’ testify.

As Neve Gordon and Mark Levin point out, under the IHRA two of the greatest Jewish personalities of the 20th century, both of them refugees from Nazi Germany, Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt, have to be classified as anti-Semitic! In 1948 when Menachem Begin, the leader of Herut visited the United States they signed a letter with other Jewish personalities, to the New York Times claiming that Herut was:

“closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties.”

Another piece of graffiti on the walls of Hebron - this betrays the mentality of the religious Zionist settlers in Israel

In particular Guidelines 10-15 are welcome. They are a clear statement that support for BDS has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and everything to do with a non-violent protest against Israel. The statement that evidence based criticism of Israel cannot be anti-Semitic is to be welcomed. Similarly that support for a unitary state of Palestine (and by implication opposition to a Jewish state) is not anti-Semitic.

However there are many criticisms that can also be made of the JDA. Firstly it lacks any Palestinian perspective or input.  Given that the JDA came about as a result of the attempts of the IHRA to silence free speech on Palestine it should have been a given that Palestinians might have an input into the JDA. Unfortunately the drafting of the JDA was an all-Jewish affair despite the fact that it has a whole section B ‘Israel and Palestine: examples that, on the face of it, are antisemitic’.

Although it has been created in opposition to the IHRA the JDA focuses far too heavily on the Israeli narrative and concerns. Although, given the context, this is understandable, the authors fight shy of saying outright that the main threat from anti-Semitism comes from the far-Right and fascist groups, not from the Left. Perhaps this was too much for people like Professor Feldman of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism. He and Brian Klug, another member of the drafting committee see themselves as above divisions of left and right, occupying as they do the ivory towers of Birkbeck College and Oxford University!  However we need to say it loud and clear that the main threat to Jews today comes from people like Donald Trump and his White Supremacist neo-Nazi supporters.  Historically the left has always fought anti-Semitism. In Nazi Germany the opposition to anti-Semitism and Nazism came almost exclusively from the left.

This is especially pertinent since the so-called Campaign Against Anti-Semitism  includes the statement that ‘In 2019, Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics had surpassed that of the far-right.’ This was based on fraudulent ‘research’ carried out by Dr Daniel Allington of King’s College and others.

The CAA’s 2019 Anti-Semitism Barometer introduced 6 absurd new questions about anti-Semitic attitudes which were based solely on one’s attitude to Israel and Zionism. This redefinition of what constitutes anti-Semitic statements had but one purpose – to brand opponents of Zionism and the Israeli state as anti-Semitic. From now on Israeli zealots could claim that the real enemy of Jews was not their neo-Nazi friends but those on the Left.

For example if you are not comfortable spending time with Zionists then that makes you an anti-Semite! I confess I didn’t find the company of supporters of Apartheid in South Africa  particularly congenial but I never considered that that made me a racist! Below are the 6 new ‘anti-Semitic’ statements that Allington, Hirsh and company devised:

1.      “Israel and its supporters are a bad influence on our democracy.

2.      “Israel can get away with anything because its supporters control the media.”

3.      “Israel treats the Palestinians like the Nazis treated theJews.

4.      I am comfortable spending time with people who openly support Israel.”

5.      “Israel makes a positive contribution to the world.”

6.      “Israel is right to defend itself against those who want to destroy it.

What are the problems with the JDA?

However the JDA is not unproblematic and should not be seen as the final word on what is and is not anti-Semitic. For example Guideline No. 5:

‘Denying or minimizing the Holocaust by claiming that the deliberate Nazi genocide of the Jews did not take place, or that there were no extermination camps or gas chambers, or that the number of victims was a fraction of the actual total, is antisemitic.’

is no longer true. When in 1974 the National Front pamphlet Did Six Million Really Die by Richard Verall came out then it was possible to say that holocaust denial was anti-Semitic in itself and inspired by neo-Nazis who wished to deny that which they desired to repeat.

However one of the achievements of Zionism and the State of Israel has been to harness the memory of the Jewish victims of the holocaust to the Zionist chariot. So much so that many people, especially in the underdeveloped world, think that if they deny the holocaust they will deny Israel’s legitimacy. They are of course wrong but their intention is not to repeat the holocaust like neo-Nazis but to undermine the Israeli state. That is stupidity not anti-Semitism.

More problematic are the examples under B ‘Israel and Palestine: examples that, on the face of it, are antisemitic’

Guideline No. 6, ‘Applying the symbols, images and negative stereotypes of classical antisemitism to the State of Israel’ is closely allied to the IHRA’s 9th illustration : ‘Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.’

The logical fallacy here is to substitute ‘Israel or Israelis’ for Jews. Israel is not a Jew.

One of the traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews in medieval Europe was poisoning the wells of non-Jews. Another was the murder of non-Jewish children in order to bake Passover bread. These are undoubtedly anti-Semitic.

However these examples refer to Jews not Israel. It is a fact, confirmed by archival evidence, that Israel poisoned the water supply of Acre in the 1948 war of expulsion. It is also a fact that Israeli settlers have regularly poisoned the water and wells of Palestinians in the West Bank. This is what settlers do to the indigenous population, regardless of the religion of the settlers or their victims. It cannot be right to characterise factual assertions, based on evidence, as anti-Semitic. Nor can it be right to associate traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes of Jews with a racist state which treats Palestinians as the Untermenschen.

Israel has tested poisoned gas and chemical weapons on Palestinians. It is not anti-Semitic to state this. It is a fact that Israel has harvested stolen body parts of Palestinians. The Chinese government uses the body parts of those executed. Such an accusation is not racist.

Guideline No. 8 ‘Requiring people, because they are Jewish, publicly to condemn Israel or Zionism (for example, at a political meeting).’ is also not anti-Semitic. It is understandable, given that the Zionist movement makes the claim that they speak on behalf of all Jews (except us self-haters!) which reinforces peoples’ confusion between being Jewish and being a Zionist.

It cannot be anti-Semitic for non-Jewish people to fall for Zionist propaganda and further it is reasonable for a Palestinian to ask that Jewish people distance themselves from the Israeli/Zionist assertion that to be Jewish is to support the oppression of Palestinians. If there is any anti-Semitism it is on the part of the Zionists.

I also find Guideline 10 problematic:

‘Denying the right of Jews in the State of Israel to exist and flourish, collectively and individually, as Jews, in accordance with the principle of equality.’

I acknowledge the right of Israeli Jews to live in Palestine/Israel. However I do not acknowledge that they have any collective rights as settlers and oppressors. The settlers are not oppressed and therefore the rights we should recognise are individual rights. I would therefore strike out the words ‘collectively and individually’.

However, apart from Guideline No. 6 these are minor disagreements.  The JDA is an overwhelmingly positive contribution to detoxifying the debate over anti-Semitism and the dishonest attempts of Israel’s anti-Semitic supporters to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. It should therefore be welcomed as a wholly positive contribution to demystifying the question of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

We should therefore feel free to use this definition and to propose that trade unions, universities and labour parties be encouraged to ditch the IHRA in favour of the JDA. We should be open and explicit.  The IHRA is a definition that anti-Semites support. The JDA is a definition for opponents of anti-Semitism.

We should ask hypocrites like Caroline Lucas MP, who professes to support the Palestinians, to put her money where her mouth is. If Lucas supports the Palestinians then we need to keep asking her why she is supporting a definition of anti-Semitism which defines the Palestinian struggle as anti-Semitic. 

We know that racists like John Mann, Keir Starmer and Eric Pickles will cling to the IHRA as their main purpose is to sanctify western support for Israel and legitimise imperialism’s operations in the region. However we should demand that members of the Socialist Campaign Group adopt and endorse the JDA.  Likewise Momentum should abandon the IHRA and adopt the JDA. If these groups refuse to break with the racist and imperialist consensus over Zionism then they should be ostracised as enemies of the Palestine liberation struggle and as racists.

Tony Greenstein

26 March 2021

What is Zionism – Talk by Tony Greenstein in 5 parts

The Israeli elections have now resulted in the election of at least 2 Jewish Nazis to the Knesset  this is the end result of Zionism


I am giving a series of talks on Zionism as part of the Labour Left Alliance education programme. An introduction to Zionism, Zionism and anti-Semitism, labour or socialist Zionism, Zionism during the holocaust and Zionism and what it means in respect of today’s Israel.

These talks were supposed to start 2 weeks ago but unfortunately Her Majesty insisted that I stay in her accommodation in Birmingham, which to be frank wasn’t up to that much!! All I’d done was try and redecorate one of Elbit’s many factories of death in Britain.

At least the election of Jewish Nazis will demonstrate just where Israel is heading

Why Zionism you may ask.  Well Zionism is the ideology and movement that led to today’s Israel.  If you are one of the useless bureaucrats that runs Palestine Solidarity Campaign then Zionism, the ideology of Jewish Supremacy that led to the State of Israel and today’s Apartheid State is irrelevant. 

Itamar Gvir - former member of Jewish Nazi party Kach - he has on his wall a picture of Baruch Goldstein who massacred 29 Palestinian worshippers in the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron

For  these people why Israel does what it does is irrelevant. All that matters is that the Palestinians are a suitable human rights cause and provide the opportunity for jobs and a living.  Because to some Palestine solidarity is no more than a job.

However to socialists and anti-imperialists Zionism, the movement that created the State of Israel, is the key to understanding everything.  When everyone welcomed the Oslo Accords in 1993 as leading to a Palestinian state I stood out as the perpetual Jeremiah, the Old Testament Prophet who was always crying ‘woe, woe’. But if you look at my article in October 1993 (misdated 1983!) in a debate with Julia Bard of the Jewish Socialist Group it’s not hard to work out who was right and who got it wrong.

Avi Maoz

Today the Israeli elections have elected not one but two Jewish Nazis as part of the Religious Zionism party. Itamar Gvir of Ozma Yehudit and Avi Maoz of the virulently anti-gay Noam party. Not only this but they will be part of Netanyahu’s governing coalition. Gvir is slated to become an Israeli Government Minister.

This is the end result of Zionism. Jewish Nazis as Israeli government ministers. But in one sense Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Nazi Kach party was right.  Israel can be a democratic state or it can be a Jewish state.  It can’t be both.

If your not doing anything tomorrow night at 6 pm please tune in. The link is

https://tinyurl.com/5xnp2p5f or click on Facebook Events here

Tony Greenstein

25 March 2021

The Shameful Refusal of Palestine Solidarity Campaign to Defend Bristol University Professor David Miller is an Act of Treachery

As the Union of Jewish Students and the British Establishment Witchhunts anti-Zionist Academics PSC flies the White Flag of Surrender

Whatever you are doing, please join this demonstration in Bristol next Wednesday

If I Were the Treasurer of the Board of Deputies I would put the Director of PSC, Ben Jamal, on the payroll. And if I were a Zionist with an ounce of gratitude then I would get on my hands and knees and thank god for PSC. Never in my wildest dreams is it possible to imagine a more cowardly, timorous and treacherous leadership than that which presently runs PSC.

If the Zionist Federation, as part of a break-out session for young volunteers, set as an exercise in creative thinking, the task of imagining their ideal political opponent, then no one, even in their wildest dreams could imagine an organisation so accommodating and deferential as PSC. An organisation which takes every Zionist attack at face value, never doubting their sincerity whilst consistently undermining its own activists and supporters.

Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign is as close as you can get to a pro-Palestinian organisation adopting a Zionist perspective. I feel a sense of shame since I was one of 15 people responsible for founding PSC back in 1982. Never in my wildest imagination could I imagine an organisation that attacks its own supporters, undermines independent initiatives such as that of Palestine Action, whilst dancing to the Zionist mood music.

Politically PSC clings in practice to the Apartheid ‘solution’ of 2 states. But even its past support for the Oslo Accords pales in comparison with PSC’s record in the past 5 years. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party the Zionists have waged an ‘anti-Semitism’ offensive. In April 2016 I wrote an Open Letter to Ben Soffa, PSC Secretary urging them to take the campaign seriously. I wrote:

 I know that PSC is renowned for its caution and timidity but there must be some limits to this…. The ceaseless political attack by the Zionists on support for the Palestinians in the LP cannot simply be ignored.  They will not go away because their campaign is linked with the determination of the Right in the LP to remove Corbyn.  ‘Anti-Semitism’ is their weapon of choice.

The reply, 9 days later, oozed with complacency. Soffa wrote:

I make no apology for the fact that we do not engage in every debate some would wish to involve us in.

PSC would, in other words, get on with its routine work and it wouldn’t allow the Zionists to distract it.  Soffa was clear:

We must not fall into the trap of allowing our opponents to set our agenda

The problem was that the Zionists did set the agenda whereas PSC had no agenda. Instead of responding to the attacks PSC gave them an open goal. What PSC proved was that you cannot claim to support the Palestinians if you are not prepared to oppose Zionism, the movement and ideology that drove them from their land

Among the 'academics' signing a letter hostile to David Miller is Jonathan Hoffman, the link person between the Zionist Right and openly fascist organisations

In 1993 I resigned from PSC because of its support for the Oslo Accords. Oslo turned out, as I predicted (see my article in Labour Briefing October 1993). As everyone bar PSC will agree today, the Oslo Accords were the biggest disaster to hit the Palestinians since the Nakba. Voluntarily the PLO agreed to become Israel’s security subcontractor in return for endless humiliation..

The Palestinians are not, as PSC believe, a human rights issue. At its heart the Palestinian Question is a political question. Of course Israel commits numerous human rights issues but there is a reason for this – Zionism, the desire for Jewish racial purity.

What Shami Chakrabarti advised in her Report, PSC has been putting into practice. Chakrabarti wrote:

surely it is better to use the modern universal language of human rights, be it of dispossession, discrimination, segregation, occupation or persecution and to leave Hitler, the Nazisand the Holocaust out of it?

The problem with this argument is that although we may leave the Nazi and Zionism out of it the Zionists won’t. Similarly even if we ignore the question of ‘anti-Semitism’, as Ben Soffa suggested, it was clear that the Zionists wouldn’t be taking a vow of abstinence.

Supporting the Palestinians whilst having no critique or understanding of Zionism is like opposing human rights abuses in South Africa 30 years ago whilst having nothing to say about Apartheid.

On 22nd February I wrote an email to Ben Jamal, PSC Director and Ben Soffa:

Professor David Miller of Bristol University is subject to a concerted attempt by a host of Zionist organisations to have him dismissed.

I hope that PSC is not going to repeat the errors of the past and simply turn a blind eye to what is going on. The reasons that the Board of Deputies, CAA et al are behaving in this way is to do with changing the discourse from the rights of Palestinians to those of Jewish students.

I hope therefore that PSC will write to the Vice-Chancellor of Bristol University, in addition to issuing a press statement. It would also be helpful if a petition I have launched in defence of David Miller could be publicised on PSC's social media as a matter of some urgency.

Ben Jamal replied telling me that

PSC has had discussions with a range of key partners in past 2 days. We have put out a statement today which addresses the broad context of the attempts to delegitimise activism and puts the attack on David Miller in that context. It also reflects the conversations we have had with partners. You can find it here

A strange thing happened - I got into a conversation with AJ Solomon, Vice Chair of Bristol Jewish Society. We got talking about Zionism and the attack on David Miller. Solomon told me that it was antisemitic to blame Jews for Israel's actions. I agreed but asked by then does Israel continue to call itself a Jewish state, thus perpetuating that idea. Losing the argument Solomon 'unsent' his 5 or so messages!

Whilst most of the long-winded statement was unexceptional, it failed in one key respect. To offer unconditional or indeed any support to David. The Board of Deputies and the Zionists were alleging that by focusing his criticism on the Union of Jewish Students [UJS], an Israeli funded student group which marginalizes and ostracises non-Zionist Jewish students, David Miller was making Bristol University an ‘unsafe’ environment for Jewish students.

UJS, which is leading the attack on Miller, is an Israeli funded Zionist student group. Its constitution commits it to ‘inspiring Jewish students to make an enduring commitment to Israel.

In Vetting in practice for Comment is Free I described what happened when Emma Clyne, the non-Zionist Chair of SOAS Jewish Society organised a meeting with speakers such as Sir Geoffrey Bindman QC:

posters for a meeting the society put on were repeatedly torn down. Ms Clyne told a meeting of Independent Jewish Voices on May 15 that she had to put new ones up every day.

A clue as to the reason for its silence might lie in an article in the Jewish Chronicle of April 27 ("Students in censorship row over IJV debate").

The Chair of UJS, Mitch Simmons, made clear‘"It is the view of the UJS that certain views are not acceptable under free speech."

PSC’s statement acknowledges the attack on pro-Palestinian and anti-Zionist academics first began in the United States. This attack uses the ‘vulnerability’ of Jewish students (but never anti-Zionist Jewish students) in order to portray supporters of Israeli Apartheid as its victims, is just a form of identity politics which has long been used against American academics such as Joseph Massad and Norman Finkelstein.

In short PSC and Ben Jamal as its representative had bought into the Zionist narrative that a political response to the Zionist UJS would endanger the lives of Jewish students.

PSC’s statement accepted that the Board of Deputies, Community Security Trust and other Zionist organisations were ‘mirroring tactics already used in the US targeting students and academics on campus’ but what was their response?  Did they extend the hand of solidarity to David who was under attack? Not a bit of it. Instead PSC issued a statement mirroring the Zionists’ criticisms.

When addressing such issues, it is crucial to apply depth, context, and clarity, and to avoid narratives that oversimplify the interlinks between groups which oppose actions in support of Palestinian rights, and Israeli state actors. Doing so obscures our understanding of the way political actors’ function. At worst, it can risk drawing on anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish power.

Whilst some have criticised Professor Miller for lacking such depth and clarity in the way he has couched his remarks,...’

It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines. This was a none too veiled attack on Professor Miller for failing to ‘apply depth, context, and clarity’ and for ‘oversimplify(ing) the interlinks between groups which oppose actions in support of Palestinian rights, and Israeli state actors.’ This statement is like crossing a picket line. It is scabbing. PSC has no expertise on the question of links between Zionist groups.  Professor Miller is an international expert.

But more importantly. Instead of allowing the Zionists to frame the issue, PSC should have launched a full-scale defence of David Miller’s right to conduct his research without let or hindrance. People are free to criticise David Miller’s work what they should not be free to do is to call for his dismissal.

When PSC organised a tour for the Israeli Palestinian cleric Sheikh Raed Salah, in 2011, he was detained shortly after arriving in Britain. The Home Office used material that the Zionist Community Security Trust had given them, including a doctored poem, in which the words ‘we Jews’ had been inserted, as well as other ‘evidence’ in its attempt to deport Saleh. However the Upper Immigration Tribunal rejected the Home Office’s case and Professor Miller’s expert evidence played a key role in showing that the CST had submitted false evidence.

Unlike PSC’s apparatchiks, the Zionists have long memories. Ever since then the Israel lobby– from the Board of Deputies to the UJS – have waged a war to discredit David Miller. UJS in particular, which is affiliated to the World Zionist Organisation, which has a ‘land theft division’ (Palestinian land of course!) has done its best to get David Miller dismissed.

The 100+ MPs includes a number of overt racists including Bob Blackman MP and Baroness Cox - Caroline Lucas is happy to be seen in such company

The campaign to dismiss David Miller has been one which has been waged by the political Establishment, Tory to Green. Out and out racists like Baroness Cox, Bob Blackman and Ian Paisley signed a letter from over a 100 MPs demanding Miller’s dismissal. [See Meet Caroline Lucas’s Racist Friends]. In the Lords yesterday there were a series of questions, all demanding Miller’s dismissal, from Labour’s Lord Bassam to the racist Tory Lord Pickles.

Electronic Intifada, the world’s premier Palestinian news site had no qualms about supporting David Miller. As soon as the Zionist attack began they printed an article by David and three days later followed it up with an article by Asa Winstanley ‘Israel lobby demands firing of professor who opposes Zionism’. On 3 March they printed an article describing how the Israeli state is co-ordinating the attack on Miller via online trolls. On 6 October EI described how support for David Miller was growing with a petition signed by 315 academics. One name missing from the petition was Professor Kamel Hawwash of Birmingham University, PSC’s utterly useless Chairperson.

Middle East Monitor has carried 4 articles (here, here, here and here) supporting Miller. Al Jazeera ran an article, A war is being waged against academic freedom in Britain, by Malia Bouattia, the former NUS President.

But from PSC not a dickie bird. Total silence. It was only 6 weeks ago that UJS and other racist students were attempting to prevent Ken Loach from giving a lecture at his old college, St. Peters in Oxford. Then too the personal safety of the young Zionist snowflakes was threatened by an 84 year old film producer.

If anyone has any doubts as to what is afoot, Professor Ray Bush of Leeds University is also under attack by Zionism’s McCarthyists. In all these cases PSC has said nothing. As the Zionists sharpen their knives, PSC and Director Ben Jamal prefer to avert their eyes.

The original calculation of PSC that the attack on Jeremy Corbyn was going to be confined to the Labour Party was, as I predicted mistaken. What began in the Labour Party has spread to every party with Caroline Lucas leading the Zionist charge inside the Green Party.

It is difficult to get understand the mentality of the clique that runs PSC. Allegations of ‘anti-Semitism’ have chilled debate within and without the Labour Party. Mere mention of Palestine is now grounds for expulsion from Starmer’s Labour. A climate of fear has grown up.

If PSC had used its trade union affiliates to oppose the IHRA then the Zionists could have been stopped in the Labour Party. But trade unions affiliate to PSC on the basis of support for the apartheid 2 states solution and on a human rights, not a political, basis. Because anti-Zionism is not part of PSC’s political perspective it has never opposed on principle a Jewish supremacist state.

The Jewish Chronicles Lies Are Remiscent of Goebbel's Der Angriff

The Jewish Chronicle has led the charge against Miller. Articles such as Bristol does not want its Jewish students to be safe and accusing Bristol University of an “absolute failure of their duty of care” have adorned its pages. Yet PSC, like the 3 wise monkeys, sees, says and hears nothing. It opposes the abuse of Palestinian human rights but it hasn’t a clue as to why those rights are abused.

We are seeing a massive national movement against government attacks on free speech and the right to protest. PSC is completely absent from this campaign. This is despite the fact that the first groups likely to be a casualty of state repression are pro-Palestinian groups. Instead of joining forces with women and Black Lives Matter PSC Executive, under the influence of Socialist Action does absolutely nothing  in its splendid isolation from reality.

A demonstration has been called in Bristol for March 31 against the victimisation of David Miller, who has been forbidden to speak out in his own defence whilst he is attacked by the State and the Zionists. It has been called by the Labour Campaign for Free Speech. It will be a minor miracle if PSC deigns to publicise it.

The whole Zionist spectrum, including Israel’s Ha’aretz, is supporting the attack on David Miller with articles by Professor David Feldman and Nicole Lampert. I have previously blogged about Feldman, The Academic as an Establishment Whore.

With its latest act of political cowardice the question is whether PSC is fast becoming an obstacle to effective Palestine solidarity. Its refusal to support David Miller comes hot on the heels of its attack on Palestine Action for its actions against the Israeli Arms factories of Elbit. PSC prefers demonstrations that achieve nothing as opposed to direct action that provides a focus for a mass campaign.

Tony Greenstein