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A Palestinian Perspective on Britain's "Anti-Semitic" Controversy

By       Message Ramzy Baroud     Permalink
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Reprinted from Palestine Chronicle

Jeremy Corbyn leading a July 2014 demonstration against the Israeli war on Gaza.
Jeremy Corbyn leading a July 2014 demonstration against the Israeli war on Gaza.
(Image by (Photo: RonF, via Flickr))
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There is a witch-hunt in the British Labour Party. Britain's Opposition party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is being hounded for not rooting out alleged anti-Semitism in his party. Those leading the charge are pro-Israel Zionists and their supporters within the party, members who are mostly allied with the former Prime Minister, the largely discredited pro-war Tony Blair. The Blairites are quite unhappy that Corbyn, who won the party's leadership election last September with a landslide victory is a non-elitist politician, with a deep-rooted grassroots activist past, and, yes, a strong stance for Palestinian rights.

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Corbyn has been subjected to all sorts of attacks and ridicule from his own party, many members of which have been busy plotting to push him out, but remained hesitant because of his popular appeal. The Labour party had, in fact, lost much of its credibility since the days of Blair's "New Labour" and following the US lead in waging an immoral and illegal war on Iraq. Blair's supporters changed the priorities of the party, which was "Labour" by name only. Corbyn's advent galvanized young people around fresh ideals, and renewed the shaky faith of the party's traditional supporters.

But since he became a leader, the man's agenda of anti-corruption and greater equality in Britain has been slowed down, or even entirely halted, by some most bizarre controversies. He was attacked over such things as his supposed poor sense of fashion, his alleged lack of patriotism, and more. The attacks have been so ridiculous, yet omnipresent, that they became the subject of popular memes and much satire.

And when it all failed, he was hit with another manufactured controversy, that of alleged anti-Semitism within his own party. The recent attacks have been the most organized, yet. They involve Israel supporters, British politicians, the media and other sources.

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The media has tried to paint him as an embattled leader who is not able to control the uncontainable Jewish hate oozing from his party members.

British Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, known for his strong support of Israel joined the fray, charging that the lid has been lifted on bigotry within Labour and that investigation into anti-Semitism must be more than a "sticker plaster."

The investigation and the preceding outcry of anti-Semitism, however, targeted those who were critical of Israel, not Jews, in general, or Judaism. Former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, who was suspended from Labour for suggesting links between the Nazi party and early Zionists, was not making any reference to Jews per se, and certainly not to Judaism. Arguably, if he was wrong, then it is a mere question of history, not race.

In its coverage of the controversy, even the BBC, delinks both concepts:

"Anti-Semitism is 'hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people', while "Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East."

Indeed, the first is a racist ideology, while the latter is an entirely political and historical question, especially since early Zionists were largely atheists. Israel's Zionist-Jewish contradiction was phrased skillfully by Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, when he wrote:

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"The secular Jews who founded the Zionist movement wanted paradoxically both to secularize Jewish life and to use the Bible as a justification for colonizing Palestine; in other words, they did not believe in God but He, nonetheless, promised them Palestine."

But the Rabbi, and many of those who unscrupulously joined the charge against Labour pretend that Zionism, a late 19th century political movement is the same as Judaism, a religion that dates back millennia.

However, there is nothing new here, and the manufactured "controversy" is hardly limited to Britain or the Labour Party.

The message that Israeli hasbara (propaganda) has been steadily sending to its critics since the establishment of Israel over the ruins of the Palestinian homeland in May 1948: if you are critical of Israel, however slightly, you are a certified anti-Semite. If it happens that you are Jewish, then you are a self-hating Jew, and if you are an Arab, you must abandon the idea that you are, yourself, Semitic and Arab, by merely opposing Israel's ethnic-cleansing of Palestinians who are all anti-Semites, anyway.

I doubt there is a self-respecting Palestinian intellectual who has not fended against accusations of being anti-Semitic for merely advocating Palestinian rights, and demanding accountability of Israeli violations of human rights and war crimes.

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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