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Why the Left must stop talking about ‘Zionism’

Star of David, blue sky, zionismThere is every justification for talking about the rights of Palestinians, for campaigning against the profound injustice that has been done to them and for criticising the actions and policies of the Israeli government but there is no defence for antisemitism, whoever makes the accusation.

As the Jewish Socialists’ Group (JSG) has rightly argued, “accusations of antisemitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of antisemitism.” A group of Jews also wrote to the Guardian this week to add that:

The tiny number of cases of real antisemitism need to be dealt with, but we are proud that the Labour party historically has been in the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism.”

But one of them, David Rosenburg, a leading member of the JSG, also argued on the same day that in spite of efforts to “to deconstruct the ‘problem with antisemitism’“:

Ken Livingstone’s crass intervention yesterday was a massive setback for those efforts, and a free gift to those manipulating the issue for right wing purposes….

My plea to fellow anti-racist, anti-Zionist, socialist activists is: don’t waste any of your precious time today trying to rationalise, defend or explain away Livingstone’s comments, but concentrate on challenging the terms of the debate as set by the right-wing alliance that are exploiting this whole issue.

  • Concentrate on how to persuade and split off those who are genuinely worried about rising antisemitism from those exploiting the issues;
  • Concentrate on showing how the Left can demonstrate that the fight against antisemitism is tied up with the fight against all racism including Islamophobia;
  • Concentrate on exposing how those feigning sympathy for Jews are implicated in racism against others; and
  • Concentrate on ways to ensure free speech and rational debate about the realities of what Zionism and Israeli policy is enacting daily against the Palestinians.

So how do we achieve that? I would argue that it is time for the Left to start talking in a new language – one that expresses our views about Israel, about the policies and actions of its government and about the rights of Palestinians without alienating any of those who might agree with us. It is not necessary to abandon any non-racist criticisms of Israel, however robust they may be, in order to do so.

Why is a new language necessary: because British Jews, most of whom support a Palestinian state (71%), and see the expansion of settlements as a major obstacle to peace (75%) and feel a sense of despair when they are expanded (68%) generally see themselves as “Zionists” (59%) with more who also “possess some traditionally ‘Zionist’ attitudes“) – all figures from The Attitudes of British Jews towards Israel). Zionism takes many forms, and British Zionists (at least those who are Jewish) are a world apart from Israeli Zionists. In Israel, tragically, a plurality of Jews (48% versus 46%) believe “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel” and disagree that “a way can be found for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to coexist peacefully with each other” (45% to 43%) – data from Pew Research Center.

Like Didi Herman at Critical Legal Thinking, Professor of Law at Kent Law School and a Jew who used to describe herself as an anti-zionist but does no longer, I therefore think the Left should stop talking about “Zionism” or “Zionists”. As Herman argues:

Zionism has become a dirty word for many on the left. It has become synonymous with Israel itself, the racist practices of the Israeli state.”

Herman quotes Jacqueline Rose, a Professor of English Literature (whose views on Israel have – completely unreasonably – been described as an “anti-semitic anti-Zionism” by Avner Falk) arguing that “Zionism emerged out of the legitimate desire of a persecuted people for a homeland” and, in spite of her opposition to what she calls “the ‘blood and soil’ form that zionism eventually took in Israel” she also says:

I am not happy, to put it at its most simple, to treat Zionism as an insult. A dirty word”

There is, Herman argues, “a stark reluctance amongst left scholars… to take the history and psychology of Jewish communal survival seriously” and continues:

The identification of a generic Zionism with nothing but racist practice in Israel entrenches an understanding of zionism not just as a dirty word, but as a pariah form of thinking unrelated to any other (except apartheid thinking).”

Far better she says to “use ‘Israeli nationalists’ or ‘Israeli fundamentalists’ or better yet ‘Netanyahu’s regime’ “:

These alternatives won’t provide an easy shorthand in the way ‘Zionism’ does, for example, ‘Israeli nationalism = apartheid’ just doesn’t have the same ring to it, but I suppose that is my point — easy options often sacrifice understanding for rhetorical force.”

Abandoning use of the term “Zionist” will not be enough on its own. There needs to be clarity, guidance and even training about what is appropriate. Unfortunately, we will not be able to have a rational debate about how to change the terms of the current debate unless we are also able to open our minds to the possibility, regardless of who points it out or their motive for doing so, that people on the left may also demonstrate some prejudice of their own.

So consider this by John Rees of Stop the War whose comment was shared on the Young Jewish Left closed Facebook page — copied because “it needs some comment“:

Was rung up this evening by some semi-educated BBC producer asking if I’d come on and debate a troll on the issue of ‘Is the left anti-Semitic?‘ I said that as a follower of the most famous political Jew of the 19th century and the most famous political Jew of the 20th century, and as someone who learnt my anti-Zionist politics from a Palestinian Jew called Ygael Gluckstein, it was an insult to even ask me that question. And that as someone who has opposed the fascists, especially when their main target was Jews not, as it is now, Muslims I’m not participating in a debate whose purpose is to demonise the left.”

Julia Bard, another leading member of the JSG who signed the Guardian letter, commented:

I can see why he might not have wanted to participate in the debate on the terms offered, but to imply that being a follower of Karl Marx or Tony Cliff, who were Jewish, somehow immunises him against antisemitism, comes perilously close to “Some of my best friends are Jews.”

And to assert that because the Left is committed to anti-racism, no one within it is susceptible to a powerful racist ideology with centuries-long roots in European culture, would suggest that socialist movements (or at least those with the correct line) are populated by paragons of political virtue who have no need to think about or change their views on anything. Does anyone (including John Rees) actually think this? If so, we’ve got more of a problem than I thought.

Come on, comrades. You have nothing to lose but your counter-productive slogans.

Image Copyright: joruba / 123RF Stock Photo

113 Comments

  1. You mention training Jon. Who do you think should do it ? Koff.

  2. Oh and the guidance. I forgot about the guidance. Who do you think should do the guiding ?

    1. I guess Jon doesn’t want to tell us. It was a rhetorical question anyway.

  3. John Penney says:

    If the radical Left , as part of its Anti-imperialist, and Pro Palestinian posture and campaigning could at least stop using the ambiguous, and contaminated with so many dodgy alternative narratives, word, “Zionist” so casually and often inappropriately, would be a step forward towards political clarity. However cleaning up the language usage in itself isn’t going to crack this problem.

    Until the radical Left , in the Labour Party at least, adopts the Labour Party position that the state of Israel has at least the right to exist ( which in no way assumes the legitimacy of the current post 1967 War Occupation boundaries – or a huge range of other actions of past and present Israeli governments in the region or against the Palestinian People) , and clearly disassociates themselves from any association with quite unrepentedly anti-Jewish extreme Muslim fundamentalist groups at home and abroad , it will never escape the swamp of ambiguity over “anti-Zionism” and “Anti-Semitism” – which has provided the Labour Right and their Tory and pro Right wing Israeli “Likudist” allies such a field day in recent weeks.

    1. Horvitz says:

      There is no rational basis for the argument that criticism of the state of Israel and the political ideology of Zionism is anti-Semitic, just as it makes no sense to consider criticizing apartheid South Africa’s racist policies toward blacks as evidence of racism toward whites, or that criticism of Nazi policies toward the Jews should not be allowed because it is evidence of racism against Germans.

      Similarly, if you criticize American policy toward the Iraq war and torture at Abu Ghraib Prison, or the Jim Crow laws that institutionalized discrimination against blacks in the southern states, that you are racist against Americans. This argument is obviously absurd and should not even require a response.

      In a free society, one has a basic right to evaluate and criticize a political ideology or movement and to review and criticize a state’s policies. A critique should be evaluated on the basis of the truthfulness of the facts and the logic of the arguments presented. One also has a right to present alternative facts and engage in debate. When one side wants to avoid debate, divert the discussion or suppress the topic and launches personal attacks against its opponents, it is almost certain that it is hiding some uncomfortable truths.

      Palestinians are, however, charged with anti-Semitism if they complain about the destruction of their villages; the ethnic cleansing of their cities; the loss of their country and rights to citizenship, and then not being allowed to return to their homes in contravention of international law; or the discriminatory policies of the Jewish National Fund; the inequities of the Jewish Law of Return; house demolitions; discrimination against Muslims and Christian Palestinians; illegal Jewish-only settlements; the more than 600 Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank; the years of military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank; the well-documented cases of torture; the imprisonment of more than 11,000 Palestinians, including women and children, many held without charge under what is called Administrative Detention; or the recent slaughter in Gaza.

  4. David Pavett says:

    I strongly agree with the central idea of Jon Lansman’s article. I have argued the same thing myself several times on Left Futures. The word “Zionist” has now too many different meanings to too many different people for it to have any value in general debate. It is bound to cloud rather than clarify the issues. Without a clear context it has no analytic or descriptive value. It is a “boo” word and therefore slides easily into a term of abuse.

    Even if people self designate as Zionist it does not help to refer to them as such for the reasons given above. The word can only have value in a well defined context and if the context is well defined then the word can be dispensed with. Don’t rely on the label, deal with the specifics for which that labels is imagined to be a shorthand. There is nothing that can be expressed with the word ‘Zionist” that cannot be expressed without. Jon is right, let’s stop using it. Anyone who finds it difficult to do should discuss other issues instead until they know enough to avoid resort to using this entirely confusing word.

    1. Deborah says:

      “David, I’m replying here your comment: You assert that a two-state solution is not a viable project and imply that, by contrast, a single-state solution is viable. This remains, however, an assertion.

      We have moved off Jon Lansman’s central point in this sub-thread so this is perhaps not the place to push this a lot further but perhaps you could indicate with a reference where you think an adequate argument for your view can be found.

      P.S. I think that the word “apartheid” is unhelpful in this context. Different historical situations are difficult to compare and transferring the name of one to another is fraught with problems. It is better to describe the reality than to let a label do the work for you. It generally doesn’t work, especially in a context of great controversy. Let’s use words that invite people to focus on the realities rather than on the words used to refer to those realities.”

      Yes, my statement is an assertion, just as those who assert a two state solution is not past is. Both are speculative, although my argument rests on what I’ve witnessed-my scholarship is not on the one v. two state debate, so I can’t cite anything I’ve written, but there are many books on that topic. You’re right-this is off topic, but I think the criticism of the use of the word Zionism assumes that those who do so can only believe in a one state solution. There are other possibilities than either such as the Israeli state continuing with the status quo and calling it two states. That’s what some “liberal” Israeli politicians are calling for-unilateral separation. And that’s on a good day.

      While I agree with you that different historical situations are difficult to compare, comparisons are how language works and how we make our way through the world. Translation is essential to thought. What you call a “label,” I call a descriptive term. I do that not to incite anything, but because I think that IS the focusing word you are looking for.

      I think we may disagree with what that reality is.

      I think trying to placate people’s fears by not using a word like Zionism will not alleviate the fears of those who identify strongly with that word. It will reinforce them; it will convince them that they’re “right.” I say this, because I don’t think those fears are justified in this case. Edward Said once said that if Israel doesn’t feel secure by now it never will.

      I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Yes, I will agree to disagree. You claim that your belief that a one-state solution is viable is based on what you have “witnessed”. Your apparent inability to refer to any specific text that sets out the case you support means that the discussion get reduced to “I think X”, “No, I think Y”. To avoid the bareness of such an exchange I will sign off with a reference.

  5. Paul Barton says:

    Interesting. I believe that both Jews and Arabs have historic links to the land to the west of the Jordan. It can be shared, at least theoretically, in different ways – a single secular state or two states. To deny either the Arab or Jewish claim is racist. The role of the left is to bring about justice and peace …. and that requires change on both sides to weaken Hamas and Likud and their supporters. My problem with the focus on Zionism as the enemy is that we need to support and encourage the Israeli left, including many who describe themselves as Zionists. If we cannot distinguish between Likud and the supporters of a two state solution, we do nothing to help create the conditions for a just peace.

    1. David Pavett says:

      To deny either the Arab or Jewish claim is racist.

      I’m not so sure about that. I suggest that there are inherent problems in any claims to statehood based on ethnicity.

      Defining a modern state in terms of ethnicity is in conflict with the principles of liberal democracy (let alone those of socialism). Israel does it, Egypt does it, Jordan does it. Most, if not all, the states of the region do it. That should not mean that we give up our critical faculties.

      There is an inherent problem with ethnically defined states in that it clearly tells citizens of other ethnicities that it is not their state (e.g. Copts in Egypt, Berbers in Algeria, Arabs in Israel). It is certainly not racist to question this. On the contrary, one could argue that it is racist not to do so. The accusation of racism should be used with care if it is to preserve its value.

      The sad thing is that the critique of ethnic states has been around for a long time but it has not yet penetrated far into general discussion. An extraordinary example of this critique is Ernest Renan’s What Is A Nation? Speech of 1882 (reproduced in Shlomo Sand’s book On the Nation and the Jewish People).

      1. Paul Barton says:

        David I think that is probably true. I also have a difficulty with defining a state by ethnicity. The concept of a state where one ethnicity is privileged is a serious problem. You only have to think of the concept of Britain for the ethnic British, whoever they are, to illustrate the problem!

        But it’s not quite what I said. I said that there were two peoples with historic ties to the land and with legitimate claims to it and that denying either of those claims was racist. That doesn’t mean I support the concept of an exclusivist Jewish state and an exclusivist Palestinian state but it may be a bit late for that debate. To some extent we are where we are. The decision to establish a specifically Jewish state was made after WW2 and I think we have to recognize its legitimacy even if we are not sure it was right, or even if we think it was wrong. Whilst I have no in principle problem with a democratic secular state where Jews and Arabs live in harmony, I don’t believe it is achievable in the foreseeable future. You cannot bomb people into a single democratic secular state! A two state solution seems the only viable way forward to end the killing. I would love to see those two states learning to collaborate with each other to such an extent that one day people in both question the relevance of the border separating them. In the meantime a two state solution seems to be the only basis for a reasonably just peace – it may not be perfect but it is a major step forward that may one day open up other possibilities for both people to share the land which is theirs.

        1. David Pavett says:

          Paul, I agree with nearly all your points. In particular, I agree that whatever our preferences a single secular state is not a realistic goal for the forseeable future. We agree also about the inherent problems of ethnically defined states. There must therefore be room for pointing this out and therefore arguing that a state does not have unlimited legitimacy for whatever self-definition its people/leaders choose for it. That questioning should not be considered racist. In fact, it should be pointed out that racism is inherent in the idea of an ethnically defined state. While recognising current realities and possibilities, and I agree with you about that, we need to keep that critique of ethnic states alive.

          1. Paul Barton says:

            My difficulty is the short-term objective of a two-state solution may be set back even further by criticism of Israel as an ethnic state. To advance the two state objective we need to help the Left in Israel win a majority of Israelis. To win the argument within Israel about two states, I believe is possible. To start a debate about the problems with ethnically defined states at this time is to set back the two state solution and peace. The debate about ethnically defined states is a peace-time debate, it cannot be usefully had in the current climate because the hatred on both sides is too strong.

          2. David Pavett says:

            @Paul, May 4, 2016 at 10:30 am, I think that when things we have agreed are valid points become unsayable in any forum something has gone badly wrong.

            I did not say that the critique of ethnic states should occupy front stage politically. I did say that the critique must be kept alive because the other side of the coin with ethnic state on one side is racism on the other side. I do not think there should ever be a self-denying ordinance on saying that – even if it may be necessary to choose the right time and place for saying it.

          3. Paul Barton says:

            David. I think we are pretty much in agreement. I guess I put a huge emphasis on the need to bring about a major shift within Israeli opinion. That’s partly about international pressure, including from the Jewish diaspora, about BDS, and about Palestinian resistance. But it is also about us supporting the peace camp within Israel, and the diaspora too, and not sabotaging it even if we have some political differences with it. I don’t know if it’s possible to get that mix right but I suspect we both want to try.

          4. David Pavett says:

            Agreed.

          5. Deborah says:

            I’ve read your back and forth with great interest. As someone who does research in and has traveled to the Palestinian Territories and Israel many times, I think that advancing a two state solution is no longer a viable option for attaining justice and peace. I wish that weren’t the case. The problem is that there is a certain segment of the, what shall I call it, “Israeli apartheid-promoting”(?) political forces that will not be “not alienated” from pointing out the kind of realities you mention. The Israeli left is not deep in Israel, mainly because if you study its history, it was always the Zionist left-at least in critical mass and of course aided and abetted by the British. I’ve tried to explain to many people many times that the land is not real estate for any and all political parties in Israel/Palestine. This is another way of saying that I don’t think something like conflict resolution models will work in the ways that people imagine they will.

            By attitude here is not one of hopelessness or cynicism; it’s just “from the ground up.” The sooner people who want to see justice and peace let go of the idea that there will be two states and that this will constitution a solution to the Jewish and Palestinian question, the more alternatives that might work open up.

          6. David Pavett says:

            @Deborah (Deborah, May 4, 2016 at 6:15 pm). You assert that a two-state solution is not a viable project and imply that, by contrast, a single-state solution is viable. This remains, however, an assertion.

            We have moved off Jon Lansman’s central point in this sub-thread so this is perhaps not the place to push this a lot further but perhaps you could indicate with a reference where you think an adequate argument for your view can be found.

            P.S. I think that the word “apartheid” is unhelpful in this context. Different historical situations are difficult to compare and transferring the name of one to another is fraught with problems. It is better to describe the reality than to let a label do the work for you. It generally doesn’t work, especially in a context of great controversy. Let’s use words that invite people to focus on the realities rather than on the words used to refer to those realities.

  6. Owen Holland says:

    The atttempt to discredit Jacqueline Rose as anti-Semitic is nonsense. Have you read her 2005 book The Question of Zion, from which Didi Herman quotes? Presumbably you think it shouldn’t even have been written, given the advice to stop talking about Zionism?

    What about Judith Butler? Presumably, she shouldn’t have written Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism (2012)?

    http://cup.columbia.edu/book/parting-ways/9780231146104

    I find it very odd, indeed, that at precisely the moment when serious scholars and intellectuals are beginning to think through the possibility of a single, bi-national, secular state — which really does pose some very challenging questions to most strands of self-identified Zionist thinking — ultimatums and dictats are issued to stop talking about Zionism.

    1. Jon Lansman says:

      Owen – it was not my intention to give that description any credence and have now amended the piece to clarify that – thanks for alerting me to it. I wanted to quote the description only to underline that I was quoting her at least partly because she took a firm anti-zionist line in order to underline my view that you don’t need to sacrifice your political position by expressing yourself in ways that cause less offence. Of course that won’t stop people taking issue with your politics but it avoids unnecessary offence cause by inappropriate or ambiguous language which is what I think is main problem.

      1. Owen Holland says:

        Thank you for the clarification, Jon. I think we’re agreed then.

    2. John Penney says:

      So Owen, “…..serious scholars and intellectuals are beginning to think through the possibility of a single, bi-national, secular state….”. Well, super for these “scholars and intellectuals” for being so broad minded – about the fate of millions of Israeli Jews and other minorities within the state of Israel..

      Unfortunately, particularly in the light of the harsh real world in the Middle East today, where huge pogroms/massacres and enslavement of rival religious and ethnic communities by religion-based totalitarian fanatics, both within Islam (Shia/Alawite versus Sunni), and without ( eg, the Yazidi tragedy), is now rampant across the entire region, almost no Jewish Israeli (or Israeli Druze, or even most Israeli
      Arab Christians ) wants to give up their nation state to live in the, “single, bi-national, secular state ” proposed by the radical Left for many decades. Strange that isn’t it .

      Get your head out of the clouds of Left fantasy geopolitics, Owen. Those who deny the right of at least a radically reduced in size Israeli state to exist in the Middle East are doomed to end up in a unholy alliance with the non-apologetic, non ambiguously anti Jewish reactionary fundamentalist Islamic extremist groups that have snuggled up cynically to sections of the gullible radical Left for decades around the Palestinian issue.

      Your own post makes a lazy, unexplained, and therefore highly ambiguous reference to “Zionist thinking”. This is exactly the sort of casual, unexplained, usage of the ,hugely laden with alternative toxic meanings, word “Zionism” , which Jon and David and other posters have been trying, without success apparently, to persuade self identifying Left wing Pro Palestinians but non anti-Semites, not to engage in .

      1. Owen Holland says:

        John, had you read what I had written, you would have seen that I wrote: “most strands of self-identified Zionist thinking”, a phrase which, I hope you’ll agree, allows for plurality and internal differentiation within a broader ideological formation of ethnic nationalism. Rose and Butler are concerned, precisely, with such plurality and in recovering lost — or suppressed — histories that don’t fit the contemporary hegemonic articulation. Are you suggesting that their work is not challenging to many self-identified strands of contemporary Zionist thinking (which is what I initially claimed)? If so, that simply suggests your ignorance of the debates generated by this work.

        If it’s definitions you’re after, try Michael Rosen’s comment article from 2006: https://socialistworker.co.uk/art/9475/Antisemitism+accusations+-+an+attempt+to+smear+anti-Zionists+into+silence (nb. this should not be taken as an endorsement of the venue of publication).

        Quickly, on the one-state/two-state position. It’s common to hear the one-state position dismissed as pie-in-the-sky utopian thinking. Two points: you might, first of all, recall the utopian origins of political Zionism in the work of Theodor Herzl, whose ideas were often dismissed as a cloudy geopolitical fantasy by his opponents. Given this particular aspect of the history of political Zionism, you would do well to avoid making assumptions that an idea will never be actualised simply because it seems unfeasible in present conditions. if you really thought that, why would you describe yourself as a socialist?

        Secondly, given present conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, it seems to me that the prospect of a one-state solution — i.e. a bi-national, secular, single state with equal rights for Jewish and Arab citizens — seems no less realistic a prospect than the one you outline. Which political forces in the Knesset do you think capable of arguing for, and winning, a withdrawal to pre-1967 borders (or would you go further than pre-’67 borders)? The clouds of Left fantasy geopolitics permeate your paragraphs as much as, if not more than, mine.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          A settlement should not be up to the Knesset.

          The UN should impose a settlement, forcefully if necessary, based on its own post-WWII partition plan.

        2. John Penney says:

          The sad thing is, Owen, that you don’t even seem to realise that you are , as the lead article warns yet again, simply using the word “Zionist” every time as a lazy, catch-all term to avoid having to explain what of the myriad very different meanings it has across the political spectrum, it encompasses in your particular case.

          It is noticeable that you seem afraid , or too lazy, to actually define what “Zionism” means in your argument – but leave it to articles from the usual suspects from the Far Left to argue the same old “Israel has no right to exist” position.

          And Yes , I’m happy to describe your (usual Far Left position) suggestion that there is any chance at all of a united single democratic Palestinian/Jewish state emerging in the current and likely far future Middle East of comprehensive multi state breakdown , mass sectarian murder and mayhem, as utter fantasy.

          As long as the Far Left refuses to acknowledge the right of the now well established ,unique , Hebrew speaking Israeli Jewish nation to exist in it’s its own state (it’s called the Right of Self Determination, Owen – just as for the Kurds), in a final form to be determined via a Two State negotiated solution with the Palestinian National People, the self-described “Pro Palestinian” Far Left will end up all too often on the Middle East tragedy issue getting into bed politically with the avowedly and unapologetically anti-Jewish (sorry “anti-Zionist”) totalitarian clerico-fascists of the Islamist Far Right – isolating itself from the mass of Labour supporters – and bringing discredit on the Party and Left politics.

          1. Eleanor Firman says:

            I’d be interested in your thoughts on the current Israeli Labor Party position to abandon the ‘Two state negotiated settlement’ and work towards unilateral separation. http://www.ameinu.net/blog/current-issues/labor-party-security-and-peace-plan/

          2. John Penney says:

            the current Israeli Labor Party position , in which they state:

            “We reiterate our commitment to the two-state solution, while ensuring security for Israel. We will strive towards the process that will eventually end the conflict and for the realization of a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians”

            Doesn’t openly abandon the “Two States negotiated Settlement” route at all , BUT then goes on to recommend the continued real world operational pursuit by Israel of what looks remarkably like a re-run of the South African Apartheid state’s failed “internal Settlement/ Bantustan creation” wheeze – in which the Whites got the lions share of all the best land, and the myriad of other ethnic/tribal groups (carefully categorised by the Apartheid state) were given tiny , unsustainable “Bantustan Homelands” to which they could supposedly return, after their stints as migrant workers across the south African Economy.

            So in reality the Israeli Labour Party has no more real commitment to a genuine Two State Settlement” with the Palestinians than Likud – but actually supports the cynical allocation of a myriad of unsustainable, fence-surrounded, areas for the Palestinians – ensuring they can never become a meaningful Palestinian state.

            No surprise here though surely ? I certainly have no expectation that a real, just, Two State Solution, will come about in Israel/Palestine, without unresistable pressure from Israel’s key allies and supporters , primarily the USA, and of course a continuing boycott and disinvestment campaign by the rest of the world (which did so much to end Apartheid in South Africa), as long as Israel fails to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians for a just territorial settlement, and continues its illegal occupation and settlement programme.

            No-one should be in any doubt about the extreme difficulty of bringing about a real “Two states Settlement” – but the alternative, the objective of the destruction of the Jewish State of Israel , and its replacement with a single, non-sectarian, democratic state of all ethnic and religious groups, is , in the present and far future Middle East reality, simply a totally impossible pipe-dream. (And of course an Israeli state facing military defeat would undoubtedly bring about a nuclear holocaust across the Middle East as a final act (the bombs were already on the planes ready to take out key capitals during the early stages of the Yom Kippur War).

            Unfortunately the idealistic “Single State Solution” of the Left is actually a fundamentally different one to that of the Extreme Islamicist groups that the gullible Left too often find themselves campaigning alongside in the “pro Palestinian” cause. For these extreme openly anti-Jewish Islamicist groups the “Single State Solution” actually means another holocaust for Israeli Jews. If there was any doubt of this in past years , the Left has no excuse for not recognising this from the reality of widespread sectarian mass murder and enslavement carried out by the likes of Islamic State and other groups against fellow Muslims as well as Christian and Yazidi minorities.

          3. Owen Holland says:

            Hi John,

            Thanks for your latest reply. You seem still to be hankering after a hard-and-fast definition, missing the earlier point about pluralistion. But let’s try again:

            “Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative.”

            .

            I think the statement quoted above does a reasonable job, given its concision, in contextualising political Zionism as an ideology that emerged in the late nineteenth century (cf. earlier comments on Herzl’s utopianism) that has been the subject of much contestation. One could make a case that the problem with the current ethnic-nationalist iterations that are hegemonic in contemporary Israel — and which animate the politics of the parties currently in power — is that this crowds out the emergence of other, more hospitable versions. Had you thought seriously about the work of Rose and Butler, you’d have realised that a reckoning on the need for cohabitation requires that far more time be given to consideration of a single, bi-national state than you seem ready to acknowledge, much as that poses challenges to ‘most strands of self-identified Zionist thinking’ (there’s that phrase you don’t like again). Is it that you don’t think the one-state solution poses serious challenges to many of the self-identified Zionist parties and organisations in contemporary Israel, or are you just being obtuse?

            You have your fixed mantra about ’67 borders, and that it very good for you. You did not, however, address the point about this being a fantasy. Again, you would do well to read Rose, as she has had a lot to say about fantasy over the years.

            In proposing a single, binational, secular state, is Judith Butler one of the far left’s usual suspects? You tell me. Bear in mind, though, that irascible anti-intellectualism is not a good look, before you start banging on about ivory towers.

            Any iteration of the Zionist idea of Jewish national self-determination must confront the problem of reckoning with the historical actualisation of that idea in 1948 — the Palestinian nakba — and consider ways of making good on the historical injustice perpetrated therein. Given your favoured two-state solution has been such a long time in coming, at what point will you want seriously to acknowledge that it belongs in the realm of fantasy?

          4. John Penney says:

            Do you really seriously think that :

            “Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative.”

            Is in any way at all a serious description of what Zionism as a political philosophy actually is ? You really don’t get this issue at all do you Owen ? you really are lost in the swamp of ultraleft obfuscation and superficial sloganizing.

          5. Owen Holland says:

            Thanks for your considered response Jon. I think I’ll leave it at that and let readers judge that for themselves. Enjoy your reading.

      2. Horvitz says:

        But there’s another way it could backfire, and this is the one that I fear: a revival of real anti-Semitism. Let us close with the words of Moshé Machover, an Israeli dissident and longstanding critic of Zionism:

        ‘… the Israeli propaganda machine cynically uses the accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ to deflect and denigrate the growing criticism against its actions. I should point out that, paradoxically, this mendacious propaganda itself has an anti-Semitic implication. By conflating Israel with the totality of Jews and claiming that hostility to Israel is hostility to that totality, this propaganda implies that Israel is acting in the name and on behalf of all Jews. But from this false proposition it would follow that all Jews are somehow complicit in the atrocities committed by Israel, that all Jews are to blame for what Israel is doing to the Palestinian Arabs. So anyone who hates what Israel is doing, but is stupid or naive enough to take seriously that claim of Israeli propaganda, may develop negative feelings against all Jews.’

  7. David Pavett says:

    You seem to miss Jon’s point that a lot of people self-designate as Zionist who are opposed to Israel’s expansionist policies and who want to see a viable Palestinian state created. By attacking “Zionists” instead of “the policies of the Israeli government” these people are unnecessarily alienated. It’s not smart.

    1. Chris says:

      Maybe in Israel. Not in the UK.

    2. Chris says:

      It’s like saying we can’t criticise conservatives because there are some good ones.

      Anyway, the lobby groups in the UK like BICOM are not part of the Israeli government. I rather suppose they do call themselves Zionists, so who am I to disagree.

      1. David Pavett says:

        “It’s like saying we can’t criticise conservatives because there are some good ones.”

        No, it is really not like that. First, if you really mean “conservatives” with a small c then its a general word which might even be said of many people in the Labour Party without the term sounding like abuse. We might talking of someone having a conservative approach to the school corriculum, for example. If you mean “Conservative” with a capital C then it refers to a specific political party with which people may associate or not. It might function like a term of abuse for a small minority rather than a description of an actual political party and its policies but that does not detract much from the meaning of the word in everyday life.

        I don’t think that there is not much of a parallel with the very different ways in which the word “Zionist” is used. Jon is not saying that we should condemn Zionists because there are some good ones. He is saying that we should use the word as if it were a part of political vocabulary with a clear and commonly accepted meaning. It is not.

  8. I completely disagree with Jon Lansman’s thesis and it represents a running away from those who are making all the false allegations of ‘anti-semitism’ directed at mainly Muslim members of the Labour Party.

    I say mainly Muslim members because I too have been suspended, even though I am Jewish and an anti-fascist of long standing.

    If Zionism is a term of abuse it is because Zionism is abusive. Zionism was a very specific meaning, a movement whose purpose was to establish a Jewish settler colonial state in Palestine. In the course of doing this it established a whole number of racist and Zionist organisations to fulfill these goals. The most important were the Jewish National Fund, which ‘redeem’s land for Jews and the Histadrut which followed a policy of Jewish Labour, Land and Produce.

    Israel could, theoretically, have abandoned Zionism having achieved statehood. Instead it took a clear decision to expel most Palestinians in order that it could have a massive Jewish majority and then it proceeded to a continuous process of colonisation internally which deprived those Arabs who remained of most of their land. Even today villages such as the Bedouin village in the Negev are demolished to make way for new, all Jewish towns.

    Zionism is very well understood inside Israel and all the Zionist institutions have become para-state organisations. Another is the Jewish Agency which funds settlement on the West Bank.

    The deprivation of rights of Palestinians, the apartheid nature of the Israeli state don’t come from nowhere. Just last week we learnt that Jewish women going into hospital have the right to go into maternity wards where there are no Arabs. Likewise Jewish students at Israel’s oldest university Technion have the right to choose dorms or accommodation which is Arabrein, free of Arabs.

    If this isn’t apartheid, virulent racism imagine a non-Jewish student in Britain being given the choice of not having to share with Jews.

    Sorry this is typical social democratic cowardice. It is a nasty campaign, probably run by spooks and intelligence operatives at the US and Israeli embassies. Because the primary goal is to remove Corbyn and who has an interest in that if not the US. The idea of the leader of Britain’s second major party being anti-Trident and anti-NATO is inconceivable. Britain is the US’s major ally in Europe, do people really think they will sit back and do nothing? In 30 years time those who are still alive will find out from FOI requests who did what in the long forgotten ‘anti-Semitism’ scares. THe wretched Guardian, if it hasn’t gone under, will no doubt run radical articles on what happened when the Labour Party was destabilised by American intelligence operatives.

    Momentum is paralysed as Lansman witters on about Zionism as if that is the problem. I despair at the stupidity of the soft and softer left around Lansman and Owen Jones.

    1. David Pavett says:

      I think your criticisms fail to engage with Jon Lansman’s central point. He argued that the left should stop using the word “Zionism” because it means many and very different things to different people and that therefore its use has an unclear target and is bound to confuse and unnecessarily alienate potential/actual allies.

      I think that in point of fact the media fire-power over alleged Labour anti-Semitism has not been directly at mainly Muslim members. The current cases involve Gerry Downing, Vicki Kirby, Beinazir Lasharie, Bob Campbell, Tony Greenstein, Scott Nelson, Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone which certainly does not look like mainly Muslim list.

      You say that “If Zionism is a term of abuse it is because Zionism is abusive”. That is like saying that the term “Nazi” can never be a term of abuse because the Nazis were abusive. It is not much of an argument.

      I don’t question the colonial, mainly European, and racist idea of the 19th century project to create a Jewish state. I have read Maxime Rodinson (Israel: A Colonial -Settler State?) and agree with his analysis. I agree further with your points about the racist (anti-Arab) provisions for Jewish citizens in Israel. It is also true that the founders of Israel were determined to achieve a clear Jewish majority by whatever means were required, including ethnic cleansing. All this is clearly established for anyone who wants to read the record.

      But none of this comes near dealing with Jon L’s point. Many Jews, and non-Jews, consider themselves to be Zionists without supporting the policies that you criticise. Your piece is therefore something of a non-argument. It doesn’t meet Jon’s point.

      It doesn’t help when such a non-argument is laced with abuse. Lansman and those who agree with him are said to be “running away from those who are making all the false allegations”. Not only that but “this is typical social democratic cowardice”. Jon L and those who agree with him are lending themselves to a “nasty campaign, probably run by spooks and intelligence operatives at the US and Israeli embassies” and “Lansman witters on about Zionism”. And because of all this you despair “the stupidity of the soft and softer left around Lansman and Owen Jones”.

      These columns have made a lot of headway recently in conducting comradely debates from differing points of view. Your aggressive line of debate is not likely to achieve meaningful engagement with those with whom you disagree.

      1. John Penney says:

        Excellent post, David.

    2. Terry Kelly says:

      I agree Tony, how do Livingstone’s attackers in the Labour Party feel about marching alongside the Tories, the SUN, the Daily Mail, Murdoch and the Laura Kuenssbergs and Andrew Neils of the BBC I have been suspended as well.

    3. Horvitz says:

      There are two related but distinct factors at play here. The main factor is the fight within the Labour Party: the right-wingers in the party are very narked that a left-winger, Jeremy Corbyn, has been elected as leader and that the left is growing within the party. They wish to remove the new leader and defeat the left and are not at all choosy as to the methods used. And their main method is accusing him and the whole Labour left of anti-Semitism. As the Labour right’s aims are shared by the Tories, the Lib-Dems and the majority of newspapers, they have all jumped on this bandwagon.

      The second, and secondary, factor is the Zionist lobby in Britain. It wants at all costs to discredit those — Jews and Goys alike — who reject Zionism and are critical of the conduct of the state of Israel, and does so by claiming that rejecting Zionism and criticising the state of Israel is by definition being anti-Jewish. They deliberately conflate the critique of a political philosophy and of a state with a prejudice against a national/religious group.

      As it is largely on the left that criticisms of Zionism and Israel are to be found, it is obvious that there is a community of interests between the Labour right and the Zionist lobby in discrediting the left by accusing it of ‘anti-Semitism’. The anti-Corbyn brigade are being fed information by the Zionist lobby, often via right-wing muckrakers such as the ‘Order Order’ website.

      It is true that the Labour right-wingers are predominantly pro-Zionist. This is mainly because they are neo-cons or at least Atlanticists, and Israel plays a key role in US foreign policy, which they support. Nevertheless, the driving factor in their anti-Corbyn campaign is not Zionism as such, but a much broader push to get him out and to defeat the left. It’s just that the question of Zionism is the convenient weapon of choice. And of course, the Labour left is not helped by a few crass and ignorant statements on the subject by some of its figures.

      It is possible that the hoo-ha about ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party might backfire. We all know of Orwell’s phrase that he who controls the past controls the future, but suspending a left-wing party member for a brief Facebook comment about her African and Jewish ancestors of several centuries back could well mark a turning point.

  9. Jon Lansman says:

    Chris: It’s true that “Israel’s defenders call themselves Zionists”. But so do some people who are critical of the occupation and abuses of human rights. So Benjamin Netanyahu is a Zionist but so is Zehava Gal-On, leader of the left wing Meretz party, Uri Avnery, leader of Gush Shalom So was Hannah Arendt, philosopher, political scientist and author of Eichman in Jerusalem who favored the creation of a Jewish-Arab federated state in Palestine, and Martin Buber, another philosopher and anthropologist, from 1902 the editor of the weekly newspaper Die Welt, the central organ of the Zionist movement, who from the 1920s advocated a binational Jewish-Arab state, stating that the Jewish people should proclaim “its desire to live in peace and brotherhood with the Arab people and to develop the common homeland into a republic in which both peoples will have the possibility of free development“. He later (after Israel’s establishment) advocated Israel’s participation in a federation of ‘Near East’ states wider than just Palestine. Zionism means very different things to different people and that’s why it offends many people when it is used as a term of abuse.

    And I’m not appeasing my enemies. I’m trying to educate and enlighten my comrades.

  10. Jenny Hardacre says:

    The BNC describe the establishment of Isreal as follows: ‘Israel was established by the Zionist movement over 60 years ago with the intention and effect of achieving the permanent removal en masse of the indigenous, predominantly Arab population of Palestine for the purpose of Jewish colonization and development of a “Jewish state.” This amounts to a policy of population transfer (ethnic cleansing)’ See this page for more: https://bdsmovement.net/apartheid-colonisation-occupation
    If we cannot use the term ‘Zionism’ to describe this project and those who support it as ‘Zionists,’ what terms is it OK to use?

    1. Jenny Hardacre says:

      Why is my comment still waiting to be moderated when other more recent one have gone up?

  11. David Pavett says:

    Perhaps the headline to this piece was not the most helpful. It is not clear what it means to stop talking about “Zionism”. I took it to mean that we should stop using that word but with no limitations on what we talk about (with all the usual provisos). It looks however as if some people are reading it as meaning we should not talk about the phenomenon referred to by the word “Zionism”. It’s confusing. It would have been better perhaps to say simply Why the left must stop using the word “Zionism”

  12. Karl Stewart says:

    For racists and anti-semites (not commentators on here, or people on the left, but real racists and real anti-semites on the right) the word ‘zionist’ has become a euphemism for ‘jew’.

    As an example, during the last election, I helped out a few times with the Labour campaign in Bermondsey and Old Southward and after one door-knocking session, our group went to a pub and a UKIP supporter started a conversation with us.

    At first this was a reasonable political disagreement, but he then started attacking Ed Miliband personally (again, nothing wrong in principle with criticism of EdM). But when he said EdM was ‘a zionist’ and then went on to say there was a ‘world zionist conspiracy’ we all knew exactly where he was coming from and the conversation came to an abrupt end.

    People on the left who use this term need to realise that it is being increasingly used by the racist and anti-semitic hard right, by fascists and nazis basically, as a euphemism for the word ‘jew’.

    So bear that in mind please.

    We should condemn Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank, and the illegal settlements and encroachments on the Palestinians’ land, and demand that the world community takes serious action to enforce the establishment of a viable Palestinian nation state.

    But we can and we need to support this struggle without using terminology that is also being used increasingly by real anti-semites and racists.

  13. sheila douglas says:

    I agree with the central idea of Jon Lansman’s article and would hope and expect that the main points it makes will be listened to and be part of the whole discussion of recent events. The fate of Ken Livingstone within the Labour Party will presumably be decided, at least for now, by the internal inquiry that will be headed up by the very capable Shami Chakrabarti until recently, Director of Liberty; she is an inspired choice to consider and balance the issues of justice, the rights of all parties and the very important issue of freedom of speech (we don’t want a situation again like Rotherham where terrible abuse of vulnerable disadvantaged girls went unchallenged for so long because people were afraid to speak the truth for fear of the serious repercussions of being labelled “racist”). I think we should trust Shami and move on with fighting the full-on attack by a determined group within the Labour party itself who are undoubtedly and, with the aid of a right wing media that has smelt blood, very successfully indeed “weaponising” antisemitism to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party and to depose its leader who was democratically elected by an overwhelming majority and, on the ground, is one of the most popular politicians around. I have, however, to say also, without denying that frustration got the better of Ken’s judgement in recent interviews, that more than most Ken Livingstone has, over a very long career, tirelessly and effectively fought for and believed passionately in the rights of every and any discriminated or oppressed group and has himself endured smear campaigns, vilification and attempts to oust him. He does need to reflect and not make the same mistakes again, but he doesn’t deserve to be uncritically chucked to the lions and his very long and considerable contribution to the Left nullified.

    1. This discussion is surreal.

      It is a testament to the low level of political consciousnes that abounds which is part of the reason for the failure of the Left to mobilise to defend Corbyn or to help develop the politics of the new left leadership.

      Progress and the right-wing media have made all the running here and what happens? Momentum, Jon Lansman and contributors here are effectively running away, conceding the territory.

      Yes of course fascists use Zionist and Jew interchangeably. They always have done. The Chief Rabbi’s article in the Telegraph says much the same – being Jewish and Zionist are much the same. Indeed Jonathan Freedland has been arguing that since 93% of Jewry (wrongly in my opinion) identify with Israel it is therefore anti-Semitic to criticise Zionism – ergo being Jewish and Zionism are interchangeable.

      Anti-Zionists have always been crystal clear. Zionism is a political movement. Being Jewish is a religion, that may indeed for some take on a Zionist identity – because religion is not fixed or essentialist – it changes with time and circumstances but the two, are nonetheless different categories.

      It is a non-issue. A complete diversion. The Right in the party will still say that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic. The Zionists will continue to say this because it suits them to do so. Far easier to justify locking up 12 year old girls and torturing them by accusing your critics of ‘anti-Semitism’ than dealing with the original abuse.

  14. Jim Denham says:

    The latter part of this article is good. But much of the article – inconsistently with the latter part – seems to suggest no more than a change of language (don’t say Zionist – say Israeli nationalist).

    The problem with that becomes clear when Jon quotes Jacqueline Rose’s suggestion that instead of saying Zionism equals apartheid, people should say: Israeli nationalism equals apartheid. Would it be acceptable, by analogy, to say: German nationalism (necessarily) equals the Holocaust?

    And the upshot of ‘Israeli nationalism equals apartheid’ is no different from the upshot of ‘Zionism equals apartheid’, i.e. boycott Israel.

    Rose was one of the instigators of the academic boycott. There’s a lot of articles explaining what’s wrong with her politics on the Engage website.

    Jon also buys into the Rose/Lerman line of drawing a distinction between good (or potentially good) diaspora Jewry and bad Israeli Jewry. Hence his claim that “British Zionists are a world apart from Israeli Zionists”. But still, it’s a thoughtful article that reaches at least one correct conclusion: the left should stop using the word “Zionism” as a pejorative.

    1. Are there any other political attitudes/leanings we may not speak pejoratively of or just this one ?

      1. Jim Denham says:

        I can’t think of any others that give rise to so much confusion and misunderstanding.

        1. I am not confused. How did you get to be so confused ?

          1. Jim Denham says:

            Thinking.: you should try it, Stephen.

    2. I didn’t realise that Jacqueline Rose was one of the instigators of the academic boycott. She has gone up in my estimation. She has always struck me as a sensitive and intelligent person.

      If Denham knew anything about Zionism, other than what passes from the lips of his guru Sean Matgamna, he would know that one of the original founding concepts of Zionism was the ‘negation of the diaspora’ this involved contempt for the Galut (exile) i.e. the Diaspora.

      In Pinhas Rosenbluth’s words, Palestine was an Institute 4 fumigating Jewish vermin from the diaspora. Rosenbluth was israel’s liberal first Justice Minister.

      I don’t agree that there is a great deal of difference between Zionists here and in Israel and Jon is wrong on that.

    1. Jim Denham says:

      People who don’t believe there’s such a thing as “left” anti-Semitism should read that Finkelstein interview: An absolutely revolting interview crammed with (almost certainly deliberate) antisemitic tropes and images!

      “How dare the Israel lobby instrumentalise the Holocaust?!”, he shrieks, before going on to gratuitously instrumentalise his own status as the son of a Holocaust survivor.

      Anyone who can’t see that this *isn’t” anti-Semitic really does have a problem.

      Finkelstein is a self-promoting controversy merchant.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        Sorry: the penultimate sentence should read “Anyone who can’t see that this *is* anti-Semitic really does have a problem.”

      2. If he was self promoting he would still have academic tenure. Go lie down a while Jim you know it makes sense.

        1. Haa once again the projection on to others of having a problem. I do agree though that everyone should read the interview especially Jon and Owen Jones.

  15. Bazza says:

    I have just looked at the interview and felt it was excellent.
    I have also been thinking about an excellent article by Dr Rowan Williams in last weeks New Statesman magazine in which he argued we perhaps be prepared to call out the absurd in modern politics.
    A good point also by Norman Finkelstein too on how we should perhaps not forget about the role of humour too.
    I remember going for my job 40 years ago (I am short, fat, and ugly) the job is as a human cannon and I got it (it was a big cannon and I was the shortest) but I have certainly seen a lot of the World!
    But seriously I may try to come to some of these issues with hopefully attempted fresh thinking but I will always stand with the oppressed of the World wherever you/we are – warning I am a left wing democratic socialist!
    Love, peace & international solidarity!

    1. Bazza says:

      Ooops! Fancy forgetting the title of a job you have been doing for 40 years – I am a human cannonball! But of course I was being absurd about the absurd claims of anti-Semitism against the Left.
      But I used Finklestein’s examples of things which may hinder your chances of getting a job (which perhaps are likely to to be based on research).
      But there was an excellent piece in the Guardian recently on how being prejudiced against overweight people still seems acceptable in society when much of the cause for many it was argued is in the genes.
      For others perhaps we need to legislate re fat levels etc. in food as well as promoting exercise, healthy diets, cutting fizzy drinks etc. – just another issue to address!
      Have to go – up early in morning!

  16. stephen marks says:

    ‘Israeli nationalism’ is not an adequate substitute for ‘Zionism’ because Israel itself denies the existence of an Israeli nation. Israeli citizens seeking to have their nationality officially described as ‘Israeli’ rather than ‘Jewish’ or ‘Arab’ have been denied by the Supreme Court on the grounds that there is no ‘Israeli nation’ only a Jewish nation [which lives throughout the world] and an Arab nation. Of course the idea that there is a ‘Jewish nation’ which has a right to the land of Palestine equal to or greater than that of the Arabs of Palestine and regardless of their wishes, and which is entitled to preserve its artificial majority by removing 80% of the original population and denying them the right of return while granting it to any Jew anywhere in the world is to say the least highly contentious. It is an ideology unlike any other nationalism I know of, and it has a name; Zionism.

    1. Jim Denham says:

      Carry on, Stephen: you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

      1. Shirley Knott says:

        Jim, in case you don’t know, there are over 100 different “citizenships” in Israel, but only ONE nationality -Jewish. The 20+% of citizens who cannot claim that nationality do not have the same set of rights as those who can, by virtue of religion/religious background. Palestinians are also not permitted to convert to Judaism.
        Therefore Israeli Nationalism is a thoroughly inadequate term.

  17. Richard Tiffin says:

    Whilst not wishing to belittle the racism experienced by Jews I must admit to being somewhat annoyed that the Labour Party have become puppets in this debate and done little to combat a worse problem if one looks at numbers and extent.
    Dispatches showed how the Israeli government through lobbying puts pressure on media outlets and governmment in order to further their aims. No surprise, interest groups do that.
    Part of this agenda has been the goal of making criticism of Israel an anti Semitic behaviour and this debate above is an attempt to make the use of the word Zionist a thing of the past because using it MAY be viewed as anti Semitic. Again, fair enough, lobbyists have every right to persue their aims and no point alienating folk if there are alternative ways to criticise Israeli governments, expansionist settlers, murdering IDF soldiers, Apathied policies and so on.
    What I find appalling though is how Muslim has become a dirty word and used commonly as a proxy for race, most often Pakastani by the right, and they are getting away with it. Just read comments in forums or below the line even here and change the word Muslim for Jew and see what you think.
    If we as a party are going to react as we have against this issue of anti Semitism then Muslims in our society will have every right to criticise the party for our apparently partial response. They have every right to ask why the response is so different. Why is it that secular lefties, rightfully critical of all ‘sky fairies’ treat Jewish people with kid gloves but Muslims are fair game?
    I work in a school with 70% visible ethnic minoities, the vast majority from Pakastani Muslim families, who already suffer racism because of the colour of their skin, but they see Muslin is a proxy for race and they see little being done to change it.
    Over the coming days I will see what they think of the current reaction, my guess is they are not going to be impressed. Let’s stamp out anti Semitism, but let’s not stop there.

    1. Jim Denham says:

      “the Labour Party have become puppets in this debate”…

      …oh dear, oh dear, oh dear …

      1. Richard Tiffin says:

        Not sure how I deal with a debating response like that, but here goes.

        First, I have no wish to deny that anti Semitism is clearly a problem. Evidence http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/14/uk-jewish-antisemitism-rise-yougov-poll

        The question is, how much of a problem is it in the Labour Party. Certainly not one that warrants the current furore given the history of the Labour Party from Cable Street and all of the other anti racist work carried out by the party. Evidence of the few examples of anti Semitism in the party here https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jamie-stern-weiner/jeremy-corbyn-hasn-t-got-antisemitism-problem-his-opponents-do

        Some of the examples of alleged anti Semitism have even been completely fabricated and/or exaggerated/unsubstantiated. Evidence here https://electronicintifada.net/content/how-israel-lobby-manufactured-uk-labour-partys-anti-semitism-crisis/16481

        This political fabrication of a problem has disturbed Jewish comrades to the extent that are worried that the term anti Semitism is becoming devalued. Evidence here http://www.jewishsocialist.org.uk/news/item/statement-on-labours-problem-with-antisemitism-from-the-jewish-socialists-g

        What is more, if one compares it to the complete absence of a furore when The Oxford University Conservative Association were evidenced singing
        “Dashing through the Reich…killing lots of kike (Jews)” on a number of occasions then we have to wonder why Labour is living through the storm? Evidence from 2011
        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/universityeducation/8870909/Oxford-Tories-nights-of-port-and-Nazi-songs.html
        and here from 2009 where they detail the anti-Semitism way back to 2000
        http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/jun/12/oxford-university-conservative-association-racist

        Clearly, there are five powerful interest group who have an interest keeping this story going, even an interest in toppling Corbyn:
        1) The political right. From the daily Mail to to the far right
        2) The ruling classes or elites (pick your term) who will do whatever they can to ensure that a radical left wing government in the form of a Corbyn led Labour government will not be something they are forced to contend with.
        3) A conservative party intent on deflecting attention from the crisis they are currently in.
        4) The Labour Party right wing intent on regaining the power of the leadership wrestled from them by an historical opportunity followed by the poor judgment and consequent procedural error they made allowing Corbyn on to the ballot paper.
        5) The lobbyists, the supporters and the apologists (three different groups) of the actions and policies of the State of Israel, often condemned by the UN and many others. These groups are concerned that the leader of the Labour Party is sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians in Israel and beyond.

        To summarise. If the furore is disproportionate to the problem and worse examples of anti-Semitism went politically unchallenged then it is reasonable to ask what is going on?

        Some in the leadership are asking what is going on, though Livingstone clearly did so in a way that caused more harm than good and Abbot tried unsuccessfully, we are none the less being played in this by the powerful interest groups I identified. Hence my conclusion that the Labour Party are currently ‘puppets’.

        What is the alternative you might ask? Every time I get an email or a facebook post from momentum or the party I should be receiving links like those above, though there are many more, fighting this shitstorm rather then bowing down to it and singing their tune that makes us look guilty, makes us puppets.

  18. Eleanor Firman says:

    Is it my imagination that the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign) is being effective and we are witnessing the counter-campaign response of the Israeli elite and their allies?

    1. Jim Denham says:

      No, Eleanor: what you are witnessing is the response of those who support the right of Palestinians to their own state alongside Israel, reacting against anti-Semites who deny the right of Israel to exist at all.

      1. Jim how do you feel about the dozen or so Labour MP’s Shadow Cabinet members, ex ministers that sit on the Muslim baiting HJS Policy Council, Douglas Murray and all that? Do you think they should be kicked out ?

        1. Jim Denham says:

          The Henry Jackson Society does not insult or racially abuse Muslims.

          1. Richard Tiffin says:

            Really? So what do you make of this? My view is it would not be out of place on the Britain First website.
            Even the title of the article, Welcome to Britainistan is insulting. I wonder what you would make of a similar article made of settler communities in Israel, which clearly has ‘extermism’ in their midst.
            http://henryjacksonsociety.org/2016/04/18/the-view-from-britainistan/

      2. Eleanor Firman says:

        But the Labour Friends of Israel do not support the right of Palestinians to their own state alongside Israel as they voted down the motion proposed by Corbyn, Grahame Morris and Caroline Lucas in Oct 2014 and it is they who calling Livingstone and Naz Shah anti-Semites.
        http://www.lfi.org.uk/unilateral-recognition-of-palestinian-statehood-is-not-the-quickest-route-to-peace-by-jennifer-gerber/

        1. Jim Denham says:

          I think you’ll find that Labour Friends of Israel (for whom I hold no brief, btw) support a two states solution.

          1. Eleanor Firman says:

            Jim, that was my understanding also. But we can ask LFI to clarify their position on the new resolution proposing unilateral separation by Israel by the Israeli Labour Party, ie without negotiation.

          2. David Pavett says:

            No need to ask for clarification. Just look at the LFI website. The banner heading says “Labour Friends of Israel – working towards a two-state solution”.

    2. John Penney says:

      No David the “foundational impulse” of political Zionism was actually centuries of discrimination, and periodic mass expulsions and pogroms right across Europe – and the WW2 European holocaust in which 6 million men, women and children were murdered.

      There is no evidence whatsoever that the Israeli state , accepting its long history of violence towards ,and land seizure from, the Palestinian People, has any “impulse towards genocide”. Only in your fevered rhetoric. Clerico-fascist anti-Semitic Islamist groups like Daesh however make no bones about their determination to kill all the Jews in the Middle East – along with every other minority like the Yazidis , or Christians, or even other Muslim sects.

      So spare us your overheated , barely concealed, anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism, nonsense, Ellis.

    3. Deborah says:

      Yes, that is part of the context. What’s interesting is to see how despite intimidation campaigns, attempts in “democracies” to outlaw political speech with which politicians disagree, increasing numbers of students have advocated for and pass BDS resolutions. This is changing what is thinkable, knowable, and sayable about Israel and the Palestinians. A monopoly on speech about the relationship between the two by organized Zionist lobbying groups is being challenged, and thus accusations of anti-Semitism are spreading. It’s like McCarthyism.

      1. David Pavett says:

        Deborah, what you say is part of the truth but in a debate as intense as this we need the whole picture.

        It is clear, as you say, that groups supporting the politics of the Israeli government are trying to control what can and can’t be said in public about Israeli politics. That has to be resisted. The part of the truth that you do not mention is that all too often these organisations are able to pick crude statements by left-wingers (Ken Livingstone’s is just the latest) as the butt of their arguments.

        The point of Jon Lansman’s article is to say that the debate will become more reasoned if we stop talking in terms of labels (which have no common meaning) and directly describe the things those labels are presumed to be a shorthand for.

        Some on the left have got used to relying on the emotive force of the labels rather than engaging with sincere voices which see things in a different light. I don’t think that the left has a problem with anti-Semitism but I do think that it has a problem with a truncated style of thinking in which words are allowed to replace thinking rather than being a means by which it is carried out. (Of course the right has the same problem but it is one they can afford to have and one which will always act against the left.)

  19. Zippstar says:

    “…don’t waste any of your precious time today trying to rationalise, defend or explain away Livingstone’s comments…”
    £ack of knowledge has cause this problem. Aye, Ken gave ammunition but was he at fault? What is clear to me is that none of the official commentators heard the interview in full, or in context. I did some digging to find out what Naz Shah had written and posted and had to dig a little harder to find the interview, so that I could hear what Ken said, in context. If you googled it, you were given only snippets out of context. The Express claimed to offer “the full clip leading to suspension,” which is probably true, because it is that lack of context that led to the suspension. Even The Independent’s “interview transcripts in full” were edited in such a way as to present them out of context and in fact, gave a negative spin. As a result, people, in their droves, having seen John Mann’s tirade, took to social media, the press, television and radio to denounce Ken £ivingstone’s comments as disgusting and anti-Semitic, without having obtained the facts of the case. Ineptitude, willful misrepresentation and over-eagerness to disassociate themselves from anti-Semitism, regardless of the truth, has caused this and it is shameful.
    The big point that most people find repugnant is the invocation of [A.H.] in the interview. Everybody is asking why Ken brought him up. He DIDN’T. If anybody had bothered to listen to the interview (2. a meeting or conversation in which a writer or reporter asks questions of one or more persons from whom material is sought for a newspaper story, television broadcast, etc.; definition courtesy of dictionary.com), they would realise that Ken was in fact answering a question.
    There were two questions. The relevant part of the first question, in a list of accusations, was put thus, “she talked about what Hitler did being legal…” which, in itself was a distortion of the post that Naz Shah had shared. The second came thus, “How… how could it be, therefore, that… that you would think that it was all right for Naz Shah to mention Hitler at all? I mean, if her… if her… if her comments were… were anti… Zionist, or anti-Israeli, Foreign Policy, why… why would that be part of the argument? Why would Hitler’s name even come into it?” to which Ken began, “I don’t think she should have done that.” Ignorance on both of their parts.
    The programme, Vanessa Feltz’s Breakfast Show, [http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03qxjj1] was discussing Naz Shah so, one would expect Vanessa to know what Naz Shah posted and wrote, to what it was referring and it’s context. Equally, one would expect the same of Ken £ivingstone, given that he was on the programme to defend those writings and posts. Naz Shah had shared a post with the heading “Apartheid Israel” which was above a picture of Dr. Martin £uther King with a quotation from his letter from Birmingham Jail; “never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal.” [http://www.thejc.com/files/imagecache/body_portrait/NazShahMartinLutherKing1.jpg], the whole letter can be found here: http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/undecided/630416-019.pdf (paragraph 3, page 9 (page 10 of the .pdf)). The fact that neither Vanessa, nor Ken seemed to be aware of this is astonishing. The quotation is famous; I have used it. Had either one of them known this, none of this would have happened. I cannot believe that Vanessa would maliciously distort this quotation therefore, I must conclude ignorance on her part.
    How is it that a quotation, from Dr. King, about legal injustice has been used to create further injustice? Naz Shah was using the quotation to highlight what she saw as the unjust treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. At no point did Naz Shah say, or imply that what [A.H.] did was right, rather that she was saying that what was happening to the Palestinians was wrong. Is this really anti-Semitism? Yet this one post has caused more outrage than anything else that was said. It has been called disgusting, offensive and unacceptable.
    I listened to Ken’s subsequent interview on LBC, during which he was pressed to apologise for talking about [A.H.]. He tried, many times to explain why he did, even in response to a direct question but at every attempt, he was talked over. You can hear the man, clearly, trying to say, “I was being questioned…”
    If people [in general] had known the origin of the quotation, there would not have been this storm. If people had understood the context in which it had been used, Naz Shah most likely would not have been suspended and Ken’s interview would not have taken place. If either Vanessa, or Ken had known the origin of the quotation, or had even seen the post, that particular discussion would not have lived beyond the interview. Had any of the official commentators listened to the interview in full and in context, Ken would not have been suspended, John Mann would not have created a media storm, I would not be writing this and would probably not even have listened to the interview. Dr. King was saying that we should fight injustice, wherever we find it. So, tell me, again, why we shouldn’t “waste any of [our] precious time today trying to rationalise, defend or explain away Livingstone’s comments”?

  20. Zippstar says:

    “…don’t waste any of your precious time today trying to rationalise, defend or explain away Livingstone’s comments…”
    £ack of knowledge has cause this problem. Aye, Ken gave ammunition but was he at fault? What is clear to me is that none of the official commentators heard the interview in full, or in context. I did some digging to find out what Naz Shah had written and posted and had to dig a little harder to find the interview, so that I could hear what Ken said, in context. If you googled it, you were given only snippets out of context. The Express claimed to offer “the full clip leading to suspension,” which is probably true, because it is that lack of context that led to the suspension. Even The Independent’s “interview transcripts in full” were edited in such a way as to present them out of context and in fact, gave a negative spin. As a result, people, in their droves, having seen John Mann’s tirade, took to social media, the press, television and radio to denounce Ken £ivingstone’s comments as disgusting and anti-Semitic, without having obtained the facts of the case. Ineptitude, willful misrepresentation and over-eagerness to disassociate themselves from anti-Semitism, regardless of the truth, has caused this and it is shameful.
    The big point that most people find repugnant is the invocation of [A.H.] in the interview. Everybody is asking why Ken brought him up. He DIDN’T. If anybody had bothered to listen to the interview (2. a meeting or conversation in which a writer or reporter asks questions of one or more persons from whom material is sought for a newspaper story, television broadcast, etc.; definition courtesy of dictionary.com), they would realise that Ken was in fact answering a question.
    There were two questions. The relevant part of the first question, in a list of accusations, was put thus, “she talked about what Hitler did being legal…” which, in itself was a distortion of the post that Naz Shah had shared. The second came thus, “How… how could it be, therefore, that… that you would think that it was all right for Naz Shah to mention Hitler at all? I mean, if her… if her… if her comments were… were anti… Zionist, or anti-Israeli, Foreign Policy, why… why would that be part of the argument? Why would Hitler’s name even come into it?” to which Ken began, “I don’t think she should have done that.” Ignorance on both of their parts.
    The programme, Vanessa Feltz’s Breakfast Show, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03qxjj1 was discussing Naz Shah so, one would expect Vanessa to know what Naz Shah posted and wrote, to what it was referring and it’s context. Equally, one would expect the same of Ken £ivingstone, given that he was on the programme to defend those writings and posts. Naz Shah had shared a post with the heading “Apartheid Israel” which was above a picture of Dr. Martin £uther King with a quotation from his letter from Birmingham Jail; “never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal.” http://www.thejc.com/files/imagecache/body_portrait/NazShahMartinLutherKing1.jpg , the whole letter can be found here: http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/undecided/630416-019.pdf (paragraph 3, page 9 (page 10 of the .pdf)). The fact that neither Vanessa, nor Ken seemed to be aware of this is astonishing. The quotation is famous; I have used it. Had either one of them known this, none of this would have happened. I cannot believe that Vanessa would maliciously distort this quotation therefore, I must conclude ignorance on her part.
    How is it that a quotation, from Dr. King, about legal injustice has been used to create further injustice? Naz Shah was using the quotation to highlight what she saw as the unjust treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. At no point did Naz Shah say, or imply that what [A.H.] did was right, rather that she was saying that what was happening to the Palestinians was wrong. Is this really anti-Semitism? Yet this one post has caused more outrage than anything else that was said. It has been called disgusting, offensive and unacceptable.
    I listened to Ken’s subsequent interview on LBC, during which he was pressed to apologise for talking about [A.H.]. He tried, many times to explain why he did, even in response to a direct question but at every attempt, he was talked over. You can hear the man, clearly, trying to say, “I was being questioned…”
    If people [in general] had known the origin of the quotation, there would not have been this storm. If people had understood the context in which it had been used, Naz Shah most likely would not have been suspended and Ken’s interview would not have taken place. If either Vanessa, or Ken had known the origin of the quotation, or had even seen the post, that particular discussion would not have lived beyond the interview. Had any of the official commentators listened to the interview in full and in context, Ken would not have been suspended, John Mann would not have created a media storm, I would not be writing this and would probably not even have listened to the interview. Dr. King was saying that we should fight injustice, wherever we find it. So, tell me, again, why we shouldn’t “waste any of [our] precious time today trying to rationalise, defend or explain away Livingstone’s comments”?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      I also didn’t know Martin Luther King had claimed Hitler was acting legally.

      If he did make that claim, then he was wrong.

      Everything Hitler did was illegal.

      It was illegal to attempt to seize power in Munich in 1923.
      It was illegal to organise a paramilitary force of street-fighting thugs to beat up and kill jews and political opponents.
      It was illegal to organise groups to smash up jewish shops and businesses, and opposing political newspaper premises, meetings and activities.
      It was illegal to set the Reichstag building on fire.
      It was illegal to round up communists and torture them and kill them.
      It was illegal to send stromtroopers to guard polling stations in order to prevent opposing candidates being voted for and elected.
      It was illegal to ban all opposition parties and put their leaders and representatives in prison.
      It was illegal to ban jews from working in public employment.
      It was illegal to force members of the army to swear personal loyalty to him.
      It was illegal to round up and torture and kill all of his political opponents within his own party.
      It was illegal to ban all trade unions.
      It was illegal to occupy the Rhineland.
      It was illegal to take over Austria.
      It was illegal to introduce military conscription.
      It was illegal to create an air force.
      It was illegal to invade Chekoslavakia.
      It was illegal to invade Poland, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium, Holland, France, Greece, and Yugoslavia.
      It was illegal to bomb England.
      It was illegal to invade Russia.
      It was illegal to kill 20 million Russians.
      It was illegal to gas to death six million jews.

      And even his final act – of self murder – was also illegal.

      May he burn in hell forever.

      I’d suggest some of those points would be more appropriate to make in response to someone asking about Hitler’s actions being ‘legal’ or not.

      1. Richard Tiffin says:

        I think you are missing or obscuring the point deliberately with the inclusion of detail here.

        Martin Luther King was pointing out the legality of Jim Crow Laws and how this legally oppressed and segregated black people in the USA and then comparing these laws to the anti Jewish legislation Hitler introduced. This might not be ‘everything’ Hitler did, but language is rarely used as tightly as we would wish.

        You might be pedantic and argue the Nazi legislation was illegal because his government was illegal in the way it gained power, but that would be obscurantism.

        The analogy was good and used to make a powerful point. Namely, how government can use law to oppress people and those who argue that ‘law and order’ must be upheld put shackles on those fighting oppression. If the law is what is oppressing people then the law can justifiably be broken and must be repealed (see poll tax).

        Clearly, to use the same analogy in relation to Israel is unwise at the very least for very obvious reasons. Why not use the Aparthied legislation as your analogy as there is a great deal of evidence if you were to adopt that stance and you avoid any risk of accusations of crassness or anti Semitism drowning out the point you are making. But I think the accusation of anti Semitism would be wrong. Pointing out that successive Israeli governments have used law to oppress Palestinians by analogy is not anti Semitic, it is crass but true.

        Ps. Before the barrage of responses that argue that Israel is democratic and not Aparthied flow in please read this. A two part Guardian piece that the government of Israel took action against, and the article was upheld as fair and factual. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/feb/06/southafrica.israel.

  21. Paul Barton says:

    First, I didn’t accuse anyone of antisemitism. I said it was getting too close for my comfort. But what a surprise – we are back to the usual Trot stuff about betrayals. We are about making the world better, not preaching about perfection and achieving nothing. If that’s betrayal, I am proud to be a traitor!

  22. Bazza says:

    Perhaps we need to stop beating ourselves up brothers and sisters and feeding the Right’s machine (inside Labour and out).
    It is being dealt with and we need to move on to focus on the most callous Tory Government many of us have witnessed in our lifetime.
    Labour could explore having something like a yellow card/red card system (with a right to defend yourself) which could be something like 3 yellow cards and you are out!
    But I must admit after reading Norman Finkelstein’s piece if I was Ken (with perhaps a bit more humility) or Naz I think I would be pouring over this.
    (Just Google ‘Norman Finkelstein interview Ken Livingstone’ on Open Democracy).
    Norman also argues that Anti-Semitism in the UK has been 7% (7% too high) consistently for years now.
    So what was it James sang: “Those of you who believe in justice sit down next to me” to paraphrase The Stones: “It’s time to move on.”
    P.S. Vote Labour on Thursday!

    1. Deborah says:

      I’m in the US, but I still say in response to this comment “right on.”

    2. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

      I entirely agree with your sentiments Bazza, but I feel certain elements are deliberately whipping up this debate triangulating that somehow the left of the party are anti-Semites.

      It was also the deliberate tactic by Cameron to try and smear Jeremy in the House of Commons today, Whilst I would love to see the debate move on there are those who appear to have the same agenda as Cameron on here and no amount of evidence will stop them.

      What is clear to me is the right is trying to influence the left, in the only way they know; by insinuation and distortion.

  23. John Penney says:

    “A shady bunch of Zionist gatekeepers ” WTF ?

    Note to moderators ; How long is David Ellis going to be allowed back on this site after his quite correct earlier banning , to pollute it with comments like this ?

  24. Andrew says:

    Finally someone speaks some sense

  25. Owen Holland says:

    Interesting comment on Jon’s article from Tony Greenstein:

    .

  26. Things are getting difficult already. We Believe in Israel, Luke Akehurst et al, are promoting Zionism Month. Obviously Jon didn’t succeed in getting through to them.

  27. That is nonsense. The problem is that some people influential in Momentum want to give the Zionists as much as they can in this situation, on the assumption that that will be the end of it.

    They mean well but don’t seem to understand that they are appeasing people engaged in a zero sum game. Whatever, they give them it will only be the beginning. Danegeld.

    Ask the Church of England, The Church of Scotland, the Methodist Church, The University of Southampton, The University of Exeter.

    The University of Middlesex and the Quakers refused to give them anything and they find themselves now left in peace.

    In a sense this seeming Zionist power is illusory. They can’t really hurt you unless you set yourself up as a volunteer.

    1. John Penney says:

      What a repulsive post ! You really are making the Labour right’s argument for them with this dreadful stuff.

      1. Repulsive is in the eye of the beholder.

        All true though.

        1. And if you think the present witch hunt is scary you aint seen nothing yet.

          Wait until they get their rule change, and wait until it is decreed that the pejorative use of Zionist is incompatable with LP membership. All hell is going to break loose. The Party machinery won’t have time for anything except dealing with demands for expulsions.

          It will be mayhem. AmnestyUK narrowly avoided falling into the trap. The LP is sleep walking into it.

          And no John ( and Jon) it is not me but you that is making it easy for the LP right.

          1. John Penney says:

            Don’t forget to wear your tinfoil hat in bed , Stephen, in case that “Zionist power ” infiltrates you mind. Scary indeed.

  28. John Penney says:

    Carry on making the Labour Right’s argument for them, Ellis, with this frankly bonkers nonsense.

  29. Oh being patronised by the likes of yourself is no hardship John. Water off a ducks back.

    yyyyaaaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnn

  30. Chris says:

    Oh, so I see you’ve removed Ken Livingstone’s picture from the CLGA candidates advert.

    What happened to solidarity in the face of an assault by our enemies?

    1. Karl Stewart says:

      It’s good to see the photo of Livingstone has been removed from the list of candidates.

      How truly sad to witness the utter degeneration of someone who was once such a beacon of hope to so many people during the dark years of Thatcherism.

      But sad though it is to those of us who remember how great he once was, don’t make excuses for him now. He made some truly nauseating comments and he’s absolutely got to be expelled.

      1. Chris says:

        What are you talking about?

        You have been utterly brainwashed by the Tories.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          Hitler didn’t win an election, the nazis siezed power.
          Israel didn’t exist in 1932.
          Hitler always believed in the extermination of the Jews.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            And Hitler didn’t ‘go mad’ he was evil.

          2. Jim Denham says:

            Good for you, Karl!

  31. Bazza says:

    Many years ago when I worked in adult education I was lucky enough to go to a radical international adult education conference in Tunisia.
    And for a working class kid from the inner-city (the first in my family to go to university) this was exciting, and to our surprise the guest speaker was Yasser Arafat.
    I was in my 30’s and still learning but I was always a good observer.
    I noticed the first 2 rows had been filled by PLO /Fatah big wigs and their wives who were dripping in oppulance and I thought of the Palestinians who were living in poor conditions in camps and I felt uncomfortable.
    As some of us delegates talked about grassroots empowerment and the likes of Paulo Freire I don’t think we were aware that some in the audience may have been Hamas (and Right Wing Hamas were to get in with some poor Palestinians through aid to win hearts and minds).
    Interestingly I was photographed (like some of the other delegates) individually with Arafat but as he was quite small I was able to position my body at an angle so I blocked out his gun and holster; and I got the peaceful photograph I wanted.
    Sadly I have always thought that Arab Nationalists may have been badly influenced by the bourgeois top down socialists of the USSR but equally I have no time for the Right Wing Government in Israel.
    We all witnessed the horror of the bombing of Gaza and some rockets going the other way but I always remember a tiny news item (sorry don’t have the source, it hapened so briefly) but apparently a very small group of brave (perhaps too brave) Palestinians in a Hamas controlled area went onto the streets with banners calling for peace and for a cessation on both sides and were promptly shot by Hamas and along with the small Left and some trade unionists in Israel at the time protesting for peace in a very hostile environment perhaps we may have glimpsed a flicker of hope.
    So in Israel/Palestine we may have two brutalised Right Wing leaderships on both sides and a significant number of citizens on both sides potentially brutalised but I do wonder if bottom up, grassroots, left wing democratic socialists on both sides could possibly explore a possible peaceful solution through one state?
    Or for ever and ever will diverse working people in the region be unable share one space?
    And here’s the revolutionary thing, I am not certain.
    Yours as ever in international love & peace!

  32. […] alleged anti-Semitism, of whom Ken Livingstone is the most famous. Members might be interested in this article by Jon Lansman and this statement by the Jewish Socialist […]

    1. David Pavett says:

      I am not clear as to the point of this post. The material referenced covers many issues. There is a brief passage (44 words) on the anti-Semitism debate which references an article and a reproduced statement both on Left Futures. No additional points are made to what has appeared here on LF.

      1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

        LEFT FUTURES PLEASE REINSTATE Ken Livingstone’s photo on the recommended list for the NEC.

        You have at stroke achieved what this smear campaign is trying to do.

        1. Doesn’t look that is going to happen does it ?

          1. Mervyn Hyde (@mjh0421) says:

            This doesn’t fill me with any confidence of LEFT FUTURES.

  33. Rob Bab says:

    @Jon
    Just following on from your heads-up from the other thread.
    Bear with me on this one because I feel it has to be tested, I’m talking about the sacrosanct status of the word “anti-Semitism”.
    You argue in this article, using quotes from fellow Jews, that usage of the word “Zionism” is unhelpful in the fight against Zionism.
    David Rosenburg suggests we challenge the terms set by the right-wing alliance(the Zionists) that are exploiting this whole issue. He gives us 4 points on what we should concentrate are attention on.
    Here are my rebuttals;
    1. There is no rising anti-Semitism ie Jew-hatred. Those who claim there is are Zionists.
    2. Why would the Left want to show how anti-Semitism is tied up with racism when it’s not.
    Jews can be any race. Just take a look at the Black Ethiopian Jews who were incarcerated at the Givon immigration detention centre in 2009 with Congress woman Cynthia McKinney when she was arrested for bringing Medical supplies to the people of Gaza.
    Islamophobia is not racism, Muslims can be any race.
    Palestinians are a Semitic people. Some Jews are a Semitic people. Let’s reclaim the true meaning of who’s Semitic and who isn’t.
    3. No, let’s concentrate on racist Jews for a change. Name some high up racist Jews David, to show us that you can appreciate that there is Jewish racism in the upper echelons.
    4. Well there was free speech until the Zionists started closing down any criticism of Israel and playing the anti-Semitism/Racist card if anyone dare mention the word Jew in relation to Israeli crimes against humanity. Israel defines itself as the Jewish State for Christ’s sake!
    http://www.jcpa.org/dje/articles2/isrjewstate.htm
    No David, plea again but this time don’t conflate anti-Zionist with whatever you had in mind when you tried to be helpful.

    Jon said;
    “It is not necessary to abandon any non-racist criticisms of Israel, however robust they may be, in order to do so.”
    Well, Zionist, Zio, Apartheid, Occupiers, War Criminals etc. are non-racist and accurate so let’s not abandon them, why should we? Because Zionists don’t like them?
    Have you any suggestions Jon for some new words or is this a game of ‘you go first’? 🙂
    Here’s some reality checks on your stats;
    “British Jews, most of whom support a Palestinian state (71%)”
    British Jews, most of whom support a very small Palestinian state (71%)

    “see the expansion of settlements as a major obstacle to peace (75%)”
    see the expansion of settlements as a worthy investment (75%)

    “feel a sense of despair when they are expanded (68%)
    Oh puleeeeese, are you serious?

    “generally see themselves as “Zionists” (59%)
    generally see themselves as supporters of Israel (95%)

    “British Zionists (at least those who are Jewish) are a world apart from Israeli Zionists.”
    But they have an inter galactic pass to go to live there, with extras, any time they like, no?

    “In Israel, tragically, a plurality of Jews (48% versus 46%) believe “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel”
    And what do the 46% think? That the Palestinians can remain but continue living in the shit poverty with random mass attacks killing hundreds of their children?
    Btw ‘transferred from Israel’ Who’s the anti-Semite now?

    Didi Herman who is Jewish doesn’t call herself an anti-Zionist any more. Well so what. She ain’t living in Gaza is he? She ain’t got nothing to lose all snugly in Kent with her well paid job.
    She says;
    “Zionism has become a dirty word for many on the left. It has become synonymous with Israel itself, the racist practices of the Israeli state…
    …I am not happy, to put it at its most simple, to treat Zionism as an insult. A dirty word”
    Tough titty Didi, Zionists should have thought about that before they started killing and hacking people up in numerous places like Dier Yassin etc. Zionism was a dirty word right from the off when it entered Palestine.
    So Didi takes the first step and offers up a new word for us. She says it’s far better to use,
    “Israeli Nationalists” ?!?!
    Hang on Jon, time out, let’s have a breather… Are you seriously backing “Israeli Nationalists”?!?!
    Can’t you see it? They’re gonna get called Israeli Nazi’s!!!
    Surely that’s going to get called you know what?
    No, the enemy don’t choose what they get called.

    “There needs to be clarity, guidance and even training about what is appropriate.”
    And who’s going to do that, Didi and her friends?

    “Come on, comrades. You have nothing to lose but your counter-productive slogans.”
    It stills feels like you should go first Jon with the slogans so we know what the parameters are. Ok since Didi went first on the ‘new word’ I’ll have a go at the slogan;
    One one, one two three
    Listen up to Didi
    She’s got words and they’re snazzy
    No more Zionist just Israel Nazi 🙂

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