A World to Win News Service for 21 August 2018 contains one article. It may be reproduced or used in any way, in whole or in part, as long as it is credited.
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UK: Labour leader Corbyn, Zionist racism and Europe’s lurch to the right
21 August 2018. A World to Win News Service. Is it anti-Semitism to oppose Zionism (the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine) or to compare Israel’s policies with those of the Nazis?
As the Labour Party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn bid for a chance to govern the UK, both their rivals, the currently ruling Tories (Conservative Party), and many of their friends, anxious to demonstrate Labour’s fitness to rule, have been relentlessly hammering Corbyn in the mass media for Labour’s reluctance to answer yes to both questions and adopt these definitions as official party policy, and to drive out those who refuse to accept them. The intensity of this effort reflects in part growing concern that the current government led by Theresa May is hanging on by its fingernails as negotiations over the UK’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) provoke intensifying infighting in British power circles, with Corbyn and Labour lurking in the wings.
These formulations on anti-Semitism come from the fraudulently-named International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a grouping of pro-Israel countries led by the U.S., formed to counteract UN resolutions condemning Israel and grass-roots international movements to isolate it. This is not mainly a free speech issue. It’s a response to the growing moral stench surrounding Israel – as a result of its indiscriminate murder of Palestinians and other atrocities – by declaring that opposition to the Zionist state is out of bounds and potentially illegal.
To forbid people from “claiming that the existence of the state of Israel is a racist endeavour” means forbidding people to tell the truth. Israel came into existence by driving out about 80 percent of the Palestinians who lived there and confiscating about half the land owned by the 20 percent who stayed and making them second-class citizens at best. The meaning of a “Jewish state“ – one whose “self-determination” means that only Jews can have full rights – was further clarified by the July 2018 Israeli law that dropped the hypocrisy about equality in Israel’s founding constitution. Since the beginning, anyone with a Jewish parent anywhere in the world can claim Israeli citizenship, while millions of Palestinian refugees and their children and grandchildren are forbidden to enter the country, let alone reclaim their family homes. What can justify this other than arguments whose essence is racist, the systematic subjugation of a particular ethnic group? Israel’s brutal occupation of the West Bank and its atrocious attempts to crush Gaza – murdering people of all ages simply for approaching the border and demanding the right of return to their homeland – are crimes committed to enforce the results of the original crime.
As for comparison to the Nazis, while sometimes this is done with reactionary intent (implying that the Jews are responsible for their own persecution), Israel has no right to be indignant. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called some neo-Nazis “true friends” largely because they support Israel. This is what he recently called Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who considers himself the heir to the country’s World War 2-era leader, a Nazi collaborator and oppressor of Jews in his own right. Orban, whom US fascist theoretician Steve Bannon deemed “Trump before Trump”, repeats Nazi propaganda in frenzied campaigns against Jewish opponents and Jews in general. Israel also recently welcomed the head of the Austrian government, Sebastian Kurz, who governs in coalition with a party founded by ex-Nazi SS officers, again justified by Austria’s support for Israel. If you don’t want to be compared to the Nazis, don’t embrace their successors. And don’t act like Nazis, either.
This “anti-Semitism crisis” in the Labour Party has been manufactured, if not out of whole cloth then at least a very thin one. The statements Corbyn is being assailed for were made years ago, long before anyone thought he had a real chance of becoming Prime Minister. Now Labour’s foes and friends alike are putting demands on him that under current circumstances he may accept, as he did by dropping his opposition to nuclear weapons – a stance that had made him popular with a significant section of the public, especially the youth, but unacceptable to the British ruling class as a potential prime minister.
In the context of the rightward lurch in the UK and the world, it is not hard to understand why many progressive people have been looking to Corbyn – but any idea that Corbyn will stop this rightward lurch is a deadly illusion. Again and again, in an effort to make Labour “electable” – i.e. acceptable to a major section of the British ruling class – Corbyn has ditched one after another remnant of the policies that made him popular in the first place while standing firm on the core points that have made Labour one of the two main governing parties in imperialist Britain for a century now – not least Labour’s commitments to NATO and Britain’s “leading position” in the world (atop the imperialist food chain) and to British military power and the Trident nuclear submarine force to enforce that position.
Some people might defend Corbyn’s defensiveness, his refusal to stand up to the most reactionary arguments of his assailants. They may think he has to do that to get elected, and, all in all, better Corbyn than the Tories. But Labour is going along with a raging reactionary current, not against it. In fact, Corbyn’s statements and his repeated conciliation with regard to Britain’s imperialist position in the world, and the acceptance of the imperialist order that implies, including Israel’s unchallenged position in the Middle East, ultimately give a left cover to an increasingly reactionary discourse. The Corbyn illusion pulls countless youth into the electoral arena, where the machinery of parliamentary democracy renders their discontent toothless at best, and at worst further legitimates the existing order. This dynamic also constantly cedes ground to fascist forces, whose numbers have been rising in Britain. The invective piled against Corbyn in the false name of eradicating anti-Semitism, and the almost unanimous acceptance of his critics’ assumptions even by Labour and Corbyn himself, are two sides of a single phenomenon: a sharp shift to the right.
This assault against a significant section of informed public opinion and the truth itself, within the specific context of British political life, also has to be seen within the broader context of Trump’s domestic and international efforts to politically isolate the Palestinians and those who support them, in preparation for crimes that could match the Nazis in scale as well as moral content. No matter what happens to Corbyn’s political ambitions, he is playing a dishonourable part in the overall process of the rightward lurch in Europe and a darkening world – a prospect that urgently calls for a revolutionary alternative that rouses people from below to fight this rightward lurch and avoiding a return to “normal” liberal imperialist governance and preparing to overthrow the entire capitalist-imperialist system that underpins it.
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