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Explaining the election of Malia Bouattia

What to make of the election of Malia Malia Bouattia to the presidency of the National Union of Students? Well, the political establishment are pretty clear about the opinions every right-thinking person should have. “Malia Bouattia’s election as NUS president proves deeply divisive“, says The Graun. “Disaffiliation threat could leave NUS facing a financial blackhole“, The HuffPo writes. And eager to stir things up, the increasingly tabloid Telegraph reckons Malia’s election “sends a dark message to Jewish students“. Sounds serious.

In my younger days, I was often of the view that if radicals succeeded in pissing off the centre left establishment, then it couldn’t be so bad. Specifically in the case of the NUS, I do recall a sliver of hysteria greeting the election of Kat Fletcher to the NUS president’s post in 2004. A position, in case we’ve forgotten, that has long been regarded the private property of wannabe Labour MPs in what passes for the students’ movement. Well, the sky didn’t fall in, Kat went on to become a Jez aide/handler, and after 2006 control returned to a succession of colourless and uninteresting mediocrities. And yes Wes, I include you in that number.

Malia is a different kettle of fish, so we are told. She has apparently denounced Birmingham University as a Zionist outpost, has claimed the media are under Zionist lock down, and she opposed a motion at a previous NUS gathering condemning ISIS. Small wonder the keepers of political hygiene are reaching for the disinfectant. Yet, when you look at matters more closely things are a little more complicated. On the matter of condemning ISIS, as this report from the AWL points out (no friend of Malia, incidentally), it appears the axis of her position hinged upon opposing the proposed bombing of targets in Syria. Because the motion contained a condemnation of ISIS it could be, and has been used to make it look like she’s soft on them. This is an old trick governments pull all the time in the Commons. Tie something nice to the passage of controversial legislation, and you can pretend your opponents are opposed to free money, fluffy kittens, or whatever.

The Zionist stuff, I’d wager, is more a matter of sloppy language than anti-semitic intent. Coming on top of the panic gripping sections of the media after a few dodgy but marginal“anti-Zionists” were caught spouting racist views, there is undoubtedly a concerted effort to tar as many on the left and in Momentum with this brush as possible. As I and plenty of others have argued before, some sections of the left who identify strongly with anti-imperialist views don’t help themselves when they court expressions that can easily be elided with the idiocies and conspiracies pedalled by the racist right. They open themselves to accusations of dog-whistling, for starters. It’s worth noting that Malia denies any suggestion of racism, arguing,

It seems I have been misrepresented. I am extremely uncomfortable with insinuations of anti-Semitism … I want to be clear that for me to take issue with Zionist politics is not me taking issue with being Jewish.”

She has also pledged to meet her critics face to face to talk through the issues they have with her. I’m inclined to take this on face value. If there was evidence of more than a couple of clumsy quotes in her record, then it would be time to think differently.

In the present febrile atmosphere, you can understand why this is getting a lot of attention. But again, there’s a sense history is repeating itself. Recall how prominent members of the PLP got shirty and made lots of noise after Jeremy’s election, in their indignation they didn’t think about why they lost. And they still haven’t given it any thought. Ditto with the NUS. As our AWL friends suggest, there has been a move to the left over a period of years within the organisation. It’s not indicative of a groundswell of combative militant students seeking to transform their union into a fighting organisation, or of concerted entryism on the part of one or more micro revolutionary outfits – and in this sense it is the mirror image of the movement that put Jeremy atop the Labour Party.

How then to explain this victory? As readers may or may not know, the NUS elects on the basis of a conference delegate vote, who are in turn elected by local unions when the annual sab elections come up. And among this layer, there has certainly been some radicalisation. But the key dynamic isn’t the awful policies of a government hell bent on making British HE the most expensive in the world (though these are important). I would, instead, suggest the occasional press attacks on this milieu has deepened their antipathy to establishment-friendly politics.

You remember the opinion pieces and comment about student activists refusing to share platforms with, and their protests against people they deem to be transphobic, such as Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer, and the resulting howls of outrage as the media pack descended upon these frightful upstarts. There is a sense among this milieu that they’re under attack, and the commentariat’s obsession with PC students is being interpreted as an attempt to weaken student unions ahead of their resistance to the next round government assault. The question from their point of view is who best to face up to this challenge – a steady-as-she-goes grey blur as per the outgoing president, or someone running on a programme of resistance who’s already received (and brushed off) hostile media scrutiny?

This article first appeared at All that is Solid

30 Comments

  1. This is all reminiscent of how the Labour Party came to be got.

    http://wp.me/p5W2a1-ng

    I hope Malia, when she says she will meet with her critics, doesn’t mean those she isn’t answerable to.

    Feeding the Hasbarafia is precisely NOT the way to get them off your back. The Labour Party is currently discovering this to its immense cost. I am afraid Jon is playing footsie in this process.

  2. Ray Visino says:

    It is shocking now that any criticism of Israel means you are anti-Semitic. I criticise Israel and I am Jewish – what does that mean?

  3. David Pavett says:

    One of the problems in debates like this is that the word “Zionist” has become unusable for purposes of careful debate. Like the term “multicultural” it has been used for so many purposes and with so many different meanings that it can no longer be used as part of a generally understood common language. It therefore seems to me that a big effort should be made to avoid the word altogether. There is nothing that can be said with it that cannot be said without it. It now clouds rather than clarifies discussion. It has become a badge for various political positions and has no analytical content.

    Malia Bouattia’s use if “Zionist” was bound to create all the problems of interpretation that she is now encountering. It is a pity that as a student of cultural studies and post-colonial theory she did not understand that.

    When words get in the way of clear communication rather than facilitating it then it is time to either avoid them or to be very careful to specify the exact meaning one wishes to attach to them.

    1. Would this mean the Zionist Federation, the World Zionist Organisation et al will have to change their names ? How would we deal with people telling us they are Zionists ? How would that work ?

      1. David Pavett says:

        It would not meaning denying that others use the word but refusing to talk as if it had a common and clear meaning. Therefore when the organisations describing themselves as “Zionist” do or say something it should be discussed in terms of what they actually say or do rather than on the basis that they self-designate as “Zionist”. In other words we would need to discuss the realities rather than to imagine that the labels that are attached to those realities can do the work for us.

        1. Yes David but Zionist is not alone among designating expressions in having a nebulous extension. How about Socialist ? Would you have us give that up on the same grounds ? Zionist is fairly well understood as referring to one or more of a basket of political attitudes and ideologies relating to a Jewish presence/sovereignty in the ” Holy Land “.

          1. David Pavett says:

            I agree that many words are problematic and I do think that their use should be avoided unless one takes the time to say what one understands by them. If someone who clearly knows little about it says to me “Are you a Marxist” I say “You tell me what you think a Marxist is and then I will tell you if I fit the description”.

            So yes, I don’t think that “socialist” is part of a lingua franca either. I use the word when I am fairly sure that those to whom I am talking are likely to have a broad sense of what I mean.

            But even socialist has not, in general, come to have the toxic connotations of various sorts associated with its use. Maybe its use is okay between people who have established a common understanding but for the purpose of debating political differences it is more liable to detract from, than contribute to, rational exchange.

    2. Mick Hall says:

      Far to many on the left changed the meaning of Language to accommodate neo liberalism as practiced by the Blairites, and look how that ended up. Zionism and antisemitism are different things, otherwise zionists would by anti semites, surely.

      If Malia is ruffling the feathers of rightwing and liberal media good for her. That is precisely what the NUS should be there for.

      Zionists, including those who are students, have every right to have a pop at her, it is what they do to all and everyone who speaks the truth about israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. But the NUS should never bow to their bully boy tactics.

      1. Would be nice if the Labour Party were a good example to the NUS and stopped bowing to their bully boy tactics.

      2. David Pavett says:

        I don’t see how this is a response to my point.

  4. John P Reid says:

    No ones sYing criticism of Israel is anti Semitic, but her view that there’s a Zionist conspiracy,to control the media, means that these Jews who are controlling the media,are defending Israels terrible record, by smearing others as Anti Semitic/Racist

    But I am concerned about your dismissal of her views as sloppy,
    Their was taken out of context defence, allows people to get away with prejudice talk
    And Peter Tatchell isn’t Transphocbic, he has just defended, Julie binders right to have a phone opinion,of what he has said he disagrees with her, Bindel has pointed out trains people aren’t recognized in the law as being the gender they wish now to be , which is a fact,of course her view they shouldn’t be greeted socially as such, is something the law does now not recognize,as Trans people have the rights to go to prisons if their choice,if need be,or use certain changing rooms,
    But Tatchell defending Bindels view,without being censored,doesn’t means he’s encouraging it,

  5. Jim Denham says:

    Newly-elected NUS president Malia Bouattia claims to have been misunderstood and/or misrepresented regarding her comments about “Zionism”. She is now rowing back on what she said about Zionists controlling the media, amongst other things.

    If she is honestly and genuinely concerned about being misunderstood, she should read and learn from this:

    How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic:

    •If you’ve spent any time discussing or reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I guarantee you’ve heard some variation of this statement:

    OMG, Jews think any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic!

    In the interests of this post, I’m going to assume that the people who express such sentiments are acting in good faith and really don’t mean to cause pain to or problems for Diaspora Jewry. For those good-faith people, I present some guidelines for staying on the good side of that admittedly murky line, along with the reasoning why the actions I list are problematic. (And bad-faith people, you can no longer plead ignorance if you engage in any of these no-nos. Consider yourselves warned.) In no particular order:

    1.Don’t use the terms “bloodthirsty,” “lust for Palestinian blood,” or similar. Historically, Jews have been massacred in the belief that we use the blood of non-Jews (particularly of children) in our religious rituals. This belief still persists in large portions of the Arab world (largely because white Europeans deliberately spread the belief among Arabs) and even in parts of the Western world. Murderous, inhumane, cruel, vicious–fine. But blood…just don’t go there. Depicting Israel/Israelis/Israeli leaders eating children is also a no-no, for the same reason.

    2.Don’t use crucifixion imagery. Another huge, driving motivation behind anti-Semitism historically has been the belief that the Jews, rather than the Romans, crucified Jesus. As in #1, this belief still persists. There are plenty of other ways to depict suffering that don’t call back to ancient libels.

    3.Don’t demand that Jews publicly repudiate the actions of settlers and extremists. People who make this demand are assuming that Jews are terrible people or undeserving of being heard out unless they “prove” themselves acceptable by non-Jews’ standards. (It’s not okay to demand Palestinians publicly repudiate the actions of Hamas in order to be accepted/trusted, either.)

    4.Don’t say “the Jews” when you mean Israel. I think this should be pretty clear. The people in power in Israel are Jews, but not all Jews are Israelis (let alone Israeli leaders).

    5.Don’t say “Zionists” when you mean Israel. Zionism is no more a dirty word than feminism. It is simply the belief that the Jews should have a country in part of their ancestral homeland where they can take refuge from the anti-Semitism and persecution they face everywhere else. It does not mean a belief that Jews have a right to grab land from others, a belief that Jews are superior to non-Jews, or any other such tripe, any more than feminism means hating men. Unless you believe that Israel should entirely cease to exist, you are yourself Zionist. Furthermore, using “Zionists” in place of “Israelis” is inaccurate and harmful. The word “Zionists” includes Diasporan Jews as well (most of whom support a two-state solution and pretty much none of whom have any influence on Israel’s policies) and is used to justify anti-Semitic attacks outside Israel (i.e., they brought it on themselves by being Zionists). And many of the Jews IN Israel who are most violent against Palestinians are actually anti-Zionist–they believe that the modern state of Israel is an offense against God because it isn’t governed by halakha (traditional Jewish religious law). Be careful with the labels you use.

    6.Don’t call Jews you agree with “the good Jews.” Imposing your values on another group is not okay. Tokenizing is not okay. Appointing yourself the judge of what other groups can or should believe is not okay.

    7.Don’t use your Jewish friends or Jews who agree with you as shields. (AKA, “I can’t be anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends!” or “Well, Jew X agrees with me, so you’re wrong.”) Again, this behavior is tokenizing and essentially amounts to you as a non-Jew appointing yourself arbiter over what Jews can/should feel or believe. You don’t get to do that.

    8.Don’t claim that Jews are ethnically European. Jews come in many colors–white is only one. Besides, the fact that many of us have some genetic mixing with the peoples who tried to force us to assimilate (be they German, Indian, Ethiopian, Italian…) doesn’t change the fact that all our common ancestral roots go back to Israel.

    9.Don’t claim that Jews “aren’t the TRUE/REAL Jews.” Enough said.

    10.Don’t claim that Jews have no real historical connection to Israel/the Temple Mount. Archaeology and the historical record both establish that this is false.

    11.Don’t accuse Diasporan Jews of dual loyalties or treason. This is another charge that historically has been used to justify persecution and murder of Jews. Having a connection to our ancestral homeland is natural. Having a connection to our co-religionists who live there is natural. It is no more treasonous for a Jew to consider the well-being of Israel when casting a vote than for a Muslim to consider the well-being of Islamic countries when voting. (Tangent: fuck drone strikes. End tangent.)

    12.Don’t claim that the Jews control the media/banks/country that isn’t Israel. Yet another historical anti-Semitic claim is that Jews as a group intend to control the world and try to achieve this aim through shadowy, sinister channels. There are many prominent Jews in the media and in the banking industry, yes, but they aren’t engaged in any kind of organized conspiracy to take over those industries, they simply work in those industries. The phrase “the Jews control” should never be heard in a debate/discussion of Israel.

    13.Don’t depict the Magen David (Star of David) as an equivalent to the Nazi swastika. The Magen David represents all Jews–not just Israelis, not just people who are violent against Palestinians, ALL JEWS. When you do this, you are painting all Jews as violent, genocidal racists. DON’T.

    14.Don’t use the Holocaust/Nazism/Hitler as a rhetorical prop. The Jews who were murdered didn’t set foot in what was then Palestine, let alone take part in Israeli politics or policies. It is wrong and appropriative to try to use their deaths to score political points. Genocide, racism, occupation, murder, extermination–go ahead and use those terms, but leave the Holocaust out of it.

    15.In visual depictions (i.e., political cartoons and such), don’t depict Israel/Israelis as Jewish stereotypes. Don’t show them in Chassidic, black-hat garb. Don’t show them with exaggerated noses or frizzled red hair or payus (earlocks). Don’t show them with horns or depict them as the Devil. Don’t show them cackling over/hoarding money. Don’t show them drinking blood or eating children (see #1). Don’t show them raping non-Jewish women. The Nazis didn’t invent the tropes they used in their propaganda–all of these have been anti-Semitic tropes going back centuries. (The red hair trope, for instance, goes back to early depictions of Judas Iscariot as a redhead, and the horns trope stems from the belief that Jews are the Devil’s children, sent to destroy the world as best we can for our “father.”)

    16.Don’t use the phrase “the chosen people” to deride or as proof of Jewish racism. When Jews say we are the chosen people, we don’t mean that we are biologically superior to others or that God loves us more than other groups. Judaism in fact teaches that everyone is capable of being a righteous, Godly person, that Jews have obligations to be ethical and decent to “the stranger in our midst,” and that non-Jews don’t get sent to some kind of damnation for believing in another faith. When we say we’re the chosen people, we mean that, according to our faith, God gave us extra responsibilities and codes of behavior that other groups aren’t burdened with, in the form of the Torah. That’s all it means.

    17.Don’t claim that anti-Semitism is eradicated or negligible. It isn’t. In fact, according to international watchdog groups, it’s sharply on the rise. (Which sadly isn’t surprising–anti-Semitism historically surges during economic downturns, thanks to the belief that Jews control the banks.) This sort of statement is extremely dismissive and accuses us of lying about our own experiences.

    18.Don’t say that since Palestinians are Semites, Jews/Israelis are anti-Semitic, too. You do not get to redefine the oppressions of others, nor do you get to police how they refer to that oppression. This also often ties into #8. Don’t do it. Anti-Semitism has exclusively meant anti-Jewish bigotry for a good century plus now. Coin your own word for anti-Palestinian oppression, or just call it what it is: racism mixed with Islamophobia.

    19.Don’t blow off Jews telling you that what you’re saying is anti-Semitic with some variant of the statement at the top of this post. Not all anti-Israel speech is anti-Semitic (a lot of it is valid, much-deserved criticism), but some certainly is. Actually give the accusation your consideration and hear the accuser out. If they fail to convince you, that’s fine. But at least hear them out (without talking over them) before you decide that.

    I’m sure this isn’t a comprehensive list, but it covers all the hard-and-fast rules I can think of. (I welcome input for improving it.)

    But wait! Why should I care about any of this? I’m standing up for people who are suffering!

    You should care because nonsense like the above makes Jews sympathetic to the Palestinian plight wary and afraid of joining your cause. You should care because, unfortunately, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has correlated to an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks around the world, attacks on Jews who have no say in Israeli politics, and this kind of behavior merely aggravates that, whether you intend it to or not.

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a real minefield in that it’s a clash between oppressed people of color and an ethnoreligious group that is dominant in Israel but marginalized and brutalized elsewhere (often nowadays on the exact grounds that they share ethnoreligious ties with the people of Israel), so it’s damned hard to toe the line of being socially aware and sensitive to both groups. I get that. But I think it is possible to toe that line, and I hope this post helps with that. (And if a Palestinian makes a similar list of problematic arguments they hear targeted at them, I’d be happy to reblog it, too.)

    So, Malia:
    1.Do go ahead and criticize Israel.
    2.Don’t use anti-Semitic stereotypes or tropes.
    3.Don’t use overly expansive language that covers Jews as a whole and not just Israel.
    4.Don’t use lies to boost your claims.
    5.Do engage Jews in conversation on the issues of Israel and of anti-Semitism, rather than simply shutting them down for disagreeing.
    6.Do try to be sensitive to the fact that, fair or not, many people take verbal or violent revenge for the actions of Israelis on Diasporan Jews, and Diasporan Jews are understandably frightened and upset by this.

    May there be peace in our days.

    1. Jim do you employ such voluble verbiage in order to scramble people’s heads to the extent that response to you is impossible ? Are you the same Jim that runs the neocon site shiraz socialist in homage to Waffling Norm ?

      Your closing prayer is very touching I must admit.

      1. Jim Denham says:

        Stephen: of you think Shiraz Socialist is “neocon” you need your head examined, and/or to learn a bit about politics.

    2. David Pavett says:

      Jim, The implication of your advice to Malia Bouattia seems to imply that she has said the things you advise against. If so shouldn’t you give references? If not then why the advice? I found this confusing because, although I think she has said some questionable things, I am fairly sure that they have not been as objectionable as some of the things you advise against.

      1. Look this is not brain surgery. Narcissistic Jim is here to educate us on the blinding bleeding obvious. How to criticise Israel without being anti-Semitic.

        Well first you start off by not being anti-Semitic. Then you say whatever the fuck you want about Israel, Russia, North Korea or anybody else.

        Why are we even taking this BS seriously ?

        1. Jim Denham says:

          “Why are we even taking this BS seriously ?”

          Because, Stephen, anti-Semitism *is* a problem on the left: or do you not think so?

          1. No I have not quit beating my wife.

            Jim anti-Semitism on the left is not such as to justify treating it as a kind of separate discipline. Take the Labour Party. Antisemitism in the Labour Party is way less prevalent than in the general population, where it is not very prevalent anyway. If the Labour Party were a food label anti-Semitism would be marked trace. Certainly way less than in the Tory Party. But because the Tory leadership is deemed to be ” sound” on Israel, nobody cares.

            The Zionist ultra organisations set their volunteer army of hundreds of diggers to work, trawling through who knows how many thousands of social media postings and dig out a number of head bangers that you only just need your second hand to count. Plus a couple of people whose alleged misdeeds don’t seem like much in the way of misdeeds to me.

            In consequence the highly secretive Stasi like Compliance Unit suspend people without telling them who their accusers are, what the accusation is, and what the evidence is. While at the same time feeding the information to the Tory Press.

            Worse, the Party allows itself to be led by the nose by someone like Jeremy Newmak ( lets not go there) to a disastrous rule change, that is a witch hunters charter. A change that will cause mayhem. The Party machinery will have time for nothing else except dealing with demands for expulsions.

            Back to Malia………The greatest of her crimes seems to have been to calling Birmingham Uni a Zionist outpost. What if she had said Socialist or Tory outpost ? Why is Zionism singled out for impunity ? Why are we forbidden to speak pejoratively about Zionism but are free to talk pejoratively about any other political leaning ?

            So no I don’t think anti-Semitism is a problem on the left beyond the fact that one anti-Semite is one too many.

      2. Jim Denham says:

        “she should read and learn from this”: and so should you, David.

      3. Jim Denham says:

        No: I’m just giving advice (and the benefit of the doubt) to someone whose on the record comments about Israel and Zionism sound very like anti-Semitism.

      4. James Martin says:

        Yes, well done David, you have managed very clearly to expose the dishonest nastiness of Jim Denham with that simple question. Of course Bouattia has not said any of theses things, but Denham with his Zionist cut and paste comments attempts clumsily to smear her nevertheless.

  6. Bazza says:

    With Malia is seems to be the same old story; left winger elected, left winger attacked by right wing media, things perhaps distorted and exaggerated.
    Perhaps we should give Malia a chance but I must admit if I was elected to such a position I would feel more comfortable if it had been by OMOV instead of perhaps delegates at a confrence taking power for themselves which some of us on the grassroots, bottom up, participatory, democratic left are trying to change.
    But perhaps a picture says a thousand words and Malia holding a banner saying “Standing up to racism!” (which includes against Jewish people) perhaps also says it all.
    And once again we have more of this drip, drip, narrative from some right wing Jewish Tories (some on the unrepresentative British Board of Deputies, and in the Jewish Chronicle) attacking some on the left as anti-semetic.
    Perhaps they have a dual strategy: attempt to weaken Jeremy Corbyn and to also cower the Left/Labour members from criticising a Right Wing Israeli Govt.
    I am supportive of Palestinian rights but have no time for right wing Hamas (who craftily got in with sections of the poor through aid to win hearts and minds).
    Some call me niaive but I just hope left wing democratic socialists on all sides can work out a peaceful solution which just may be a one state solution?
    To address David’s point ‘Zionism’ is a belief system and if you stop using the term the belief system will not disappear.
    I have always felt Zionism to be delusional; it is almost like some Millwall football fans – everyone (they think) hates them but they believe they are special but of course Jewish people are equal to all other human beings; no better and no worse.
    And don’t forget Labour throughout the years (and trade unions) owe much to Jewish members (and others like the Irish and other BME groups) and still do today.
    And of course it cannot be denied that some of the greatest socialist writers were Jewish from Marx to Rosa Luxemburg who I believe was one of socialism’s finest thinkers particularly for calling for us all to bring to the table our independent critical thinking.
    Finally on Palestine I am with an elderly Palestinian man (who has lived through it all) when he said, “We need to learn how to share the land and live together in peace.”

  7. Chris says:

    The NUS is surely one of the worst organisations in the world – totally dominated by 20-going on-40 future ministers and overrepresented religious groups. Don’t even get me started on the brain-meltingly illiberal political correctness. They should No Platform themselves.

    That said Malia Bouattia is blatantly no anti-semite.

    We all know the game, don’t we? Likud apologists call everyone anti-semitic as a political ploy.

    1. Jim Denham says:

      …errr: no: conspiracy theories about the “Zionist controlled media”, statements about how “Zionists” deserve physical attack … this person needs to explain herself.

      1. You seem well versed in what other peoples needs are Jim. Explain herself to who ? You ? She is answerable only to her constituency. Hopefully she will restrict herself to that. If she engages with the wolves beyond that she will end up in very big trouble indeed.

      2. Chris says:

        The media doesn’t support Zionism?

        Of course they do. It’s not a conspiracy.

  8. Chris says:

    Just seen her on Channel 4 New and she really is the epitome of a whining, identity politics-addled social justice warrior.

    Still not an anti-semite though. You’d have to be paid to believe that.

  9. David Pavett says:

    Is Malia Bouattia an antisemite i.e. a racist? Frankly, I don’t know in which case it is better to give her the benefit of the doubt. What is generally agreed is that if she is not then her language is at the very least “sloppy” as Phil BC puts it.

    I was prepared to consider her remarks about “Zionist outposts”, large “Jewish societies” and the like as being a case of extremely ill-advised language. I am less inclined to do so after listening to the talk she gave to the Islamophobia Conference in 2015.

    This talk is an example of the worst sort of exclusive anti-racism in which fighting racism is only seen as acceptable if it is organised and lead by those suffering from it with others treated at best as sympathetic supporters who should only be involved insofar as they agree with and accept whatever that leadership says. Thus she condemns “traditional anti-racist groups have faltered and failed”. Which “traditional groups”? No clues are given in this talk which remains resolutely at a totally abstract level criticising all and sundry without ever mentioning a specific person, group or text.

    We are told that those in the know (like MB) understand that “Islamophobia doesn’t lend itself well to a simple cause and effect formula”. We are not told what this means (I have no idea) and whether the problem is resolved by dumping cause and effect altogether or by opting for a less simple cause and effect. This has all he hallmarks of post-modernist claptrap.

    Then we move on to a sweeping dismissal of the “border anti-racist movement” (whatever that is) which we are told “has long remain fractured over how to address Islamophobia” and has failed to understand that “Islamobphobia is systemic and woven into the fabric of Western civilisation” which is treated as some kind of homogeneous block. I prefer the view that civilisations are complex and contradictory entities with different people and groups pulling in different directions. That is the only basis on which the pernicious doctrine of the clash of civilisations can be countered.

    The government is criticised for its “clash of civilisations style of language” and yet this same language flows thick and fast in this talk. MB says that when European politicians (again treated as a homogeneous block) “let slip their sound bites it only really betrays what has been their intentions all along”. What?

    Black anti-racist groups faltered when they failed to Muslims support organising “away from the secular framework they operated in” in response to the Rushdie affair. I would really like to know what this is supposed to mean. Could it mean that they failed to support demands for Rushdie’s book to be banned, or even burned?

    And as to “these white non_Muslims” they provide the “intellectual covering for Islamophobia”. So that’s white non-Muslims dealt with.

    And then there are those Muslims who “went down the more conventional route of joining mainstream politics found themselves condemned to repeat the endless cycle of reformism which involved investing in the state who are most responsible for their oppression and getting Muslim MPs to obscure the deep structural inequalities”. Not much encouragement then for Muslims to get involved in the Labour or any other party.

    The whole talk is full of much more of this dreary, divisive stuff.

    So, Is Malia Bouattia an antisemite? I don’t know and therefore prefer to assume that she is not. However, if she isn’t is does she have the subtlety of understanding that would enable her to negotiate the choppy waters of dealing with this and other similar issues? On the evidence of this talk I doubt it.

  10. Bazza says:

    Re racism against Jewish people.
    It seems like the whole of the Labour Party is now under attack because of the stupidity of very tiny number (perhaps 20 to 30 including the university labour club?) out of 400,000! (0.000075%).
    My view as a left wing, white, working class, democratic socialist is, in our movement you should love Black people, love Hindus, love Muslims, love Sikhs, love Jewish people, love the Chinese, love the Irish, love ethnic majorities, love the oppressed globally, love LGBT people, love disabled people, love ethnic majorities and anyone I may have forgotten (as I am only human).
    And if you don’t you are not a socialist.
    But I can’t help thinking the drip, drip is coming from a group somewhere who as we speak may be trawling through social media etc. on Labour MPs, activists, in their dual campaign of trying to undermine Jeremy Corbyn whilst attempting to cower all criticism of the Right Wing Israeli Government.
    So all of the above -Jewish people, Black people, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Chinese, White working class, ethic majority, LGBT, disabled – join Labour and together we can transform the World!

    1. Why do you include the Oxford University Labour Club ? That business is as transparent a scam as I can ever recall.

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