Antisemitism and Zionism: a reply to Jon Lansman

Star of David, blue sky, zionismJohn Rees, co-founder of the Stop the War Coalition, responds to Jon Lansman’s post, Why the Left must stop talking about ‘Zionism’

My previous relationship with Jon Lansman has been perfectly comradely. So it’s a little surprising that he should choose to attack me as part of an article devoted to trying to convince the left to abandon the term Zionism, at least in the UK. I have made no comment on this idea and so my inclusion as the only named opponent in the article is even more surprising. I have no wish to debate the issue here, mainly because there is no chance the mainstream pro-Palestine and anti-war movement will ever relinquish the hard won right to accurately criticise the state of Israel which this terminological shift would represent.

But I do want to refute one direct lie and a number of misrepresentations of my views. Jon’s entire reason for attacking me is a Facebook post of 116 words. Here is the post in full: Continue reading

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: Continue reading

Putting “Labour’s problem with antisemitism” into context

ib-logo2The following statement has been issued by the Jewish Socialist’s Group:

Antisemitism exists and must be exposed and fought against in the same way as other forms of racism by all who are concerned with combating racism and fascism.

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. 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. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews. Continue reading

Theresa May’s leadership bid

Theresa_May copyAs the EU referendum battle gets nasty and Tory tears lumps out of Tory, spare a thought for the chancellor and the London mayor. At times these last six months, both men have had reason to believe their careers are sloping upwards. Number 10 has conceivably been in reach, but their grip on political gravity has loosened and its possible their rise will be accompanied by a death plunge. And now, threatening to hasten their fall has appeared Theresa May, the one oft-overlooked as Osborne and Johnson tussle for the prize.

Her intervention on Tuesday in the EU debate was pretty disgusting. Far from lecturing her party on its nastiness, May scraped up the foul-smelling discards of her “celebrated” 2002 conference speech and tried transmuting them into political gold. And, unfortunately – talking about it with @catherinebuca last night – it could just work. She trotted out the basic argument that leaving the EU would weaken the British economy, which is Remain’s strongest suit. Sticking with the economic theme, she passed directly over into the crudest economism and said the European Convention on Human Rights “adds nothing to our prosperity.” Continue reading

A Sikh perspective on antisemitism and Zionism

star of david memorial antisemitismSpeaking as a Sikh woman and also as an academic who has written, studied, and campaigned for racial equality and social justice, it has been somewhat troubling to hear the Labour Party standing accused of antisemitism. It has been particularly surprising that Jeremy Corbyn has been associated with the alleged rise of antisemitism, this despite his life long campaigns against all forms of oppression. Apparently it appears Corbyn’s leadership has opened the floodgates to closet or out-and-out antisemites. Continue reading