The stakes in UK debate on Jew-hatred in
BY JONATHAN SILBERMAN
LONDON — A rise of Jew-hatred as the capitalist crisis deepens, combined with years of the left’s repetition of anti-Semitic slander — often under the guise of supporting the Palestinian struggle — is fueling turmoil in the British Labour Party.
Ken Livingstone — a member of the party’s executive and former London mayor — was suspended from Labour April 28 for “bringing the party into disrepute” through anti-Semitic remarks. Also suspended is Labour MP Naz Shah. Some 50 Labour members have been disciplined, according to press reports.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn declared that his party opposes “tolerating anti-Semitism in any form.” He has set up an investigation, but claims there is no crisis. Len McCluskey, leader of the Unite trade union, agreed, attacking what he called a “cynical attempt to manipulate anti-Semitism for political aims.” Left-wing papers, including Morning Star, Socialist Worker and Socialist, have joined the denial chorus.
“Ever since Jeremy Corbyn got elected,” Livingstone said April 28, “the media whip up all these issues, which are side-issues.”
Corbyn’s political opponents, both inside the Labour Party and in other bourgeois parties, are taking this opportunity to go after him. And Jew-hatred within the ruling class in Britain is not confined to the Labour Party.
But anti-Semitism is no “side issue.” And Labour’s turmoil is not the product of a smear campaign, but of its toleration over years of anti-Semitic slanders and the promotion of open Jew-haters, along with demonization of Israel and campaigns for Israel’s destruction.
Shah shared a Facebook posting in 2014 that read, “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict — Relocate Israel into United States.” The posting stated the “transportation cost” would be less than three years’ worth of Washington’s support for Israeli defense spending.
Shah was a victim of a “well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby,” Livingstone claimed. While saying the Facebook post was “over the top,” he added that “a real anti-Semite doesn’t just hate the Jews in Israel, they hate their Jewish neighbors” in London.
‘Jewish money’ slander
Last October, Labour MP Gerald Kaufman said that “Jewish money, Jewish donations” were responsible for the UK government’s Israel policy. And prominent left Labour MP Tam Dalyell claimed in 2003 that the UK’s leading role in the Iraq war was due to the influence of a “Jewish cabal” over the government.
The association of Jews and money and alleged Jewish conspiracies are the stock-in-trade slander of anti-Semites.
The anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign reinforces that lie today — regardless of the intentions of those who participate in it — through its protests targeting stores whose owners are Jewish, allegedly for their support of Israel. To cover their anti-Semitism they often say “Zionist” and “Zio” when what they really mean is “Jew.”
Labour Party leaders like Corbyn have often embraced leaders of Hamas, who claim to speak in the name of the Palestinian people. The Hamas government of Gaza calls for the destruction of Israel, a stance echoed by much of the left.
“Anyone who has a knife, a club, a weapon, or a car, yet does not use it to run over a Jew or a settler, and does not use it to kill dozens of Zionists, does not belong to Palestine,” declared Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum in August 2014.
Anti-Semitism under the pretext of support to the Palestinian struggle undermines the Palestinian fight for national rights, including the fight for a viable and contiguous Palestine.
‘Anti-Zionist’: code for anti-Jew
Livingstone says he is not anti-Semitic but “anti-Zionist.” He told the BBC anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitic because Hitler “was supporting Zionism … before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews.”
The Holocaust was not the result of Hitler going mad, but of calculated moves to scapegoat the Jews for the crisis of capitalism and to destroy the workers movement in Germany.
Equating “Zionists” with Nazis has been a feature of Livingstone’s politics. When mayor of London he told a Jewish reporter that he was acting like a “concentration camp guard.” When he was leader of the Greater London Council in 1981 and editor of Labour Herald, the publication carried a cartoon depicting Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin as a Nazi.
Jew hatred is a product of capitalism in decay. Its ultimate purpose is to divert workers from a united militant struggle by promoting the poisonous lie that the problem is not capitalism, but evil Jewish capitalists. And it goes hand in hand with fascism, which proclaims that the solution is not internationalism and workers taking power and replacing the dictatorship of capital through revolutionary struggle, but “national socialism,” the polar opposite of the course fought for by communists since the time of Marx and Engels.
As the worldwide capitalist crisis deepens, Jew-hatred will continue to erupt. Class-conscious workers must oppose it everywhere it rears its head.