Like many people in this country and elsewhere, I’ve been shocked and troubled by allegations of a ‘new anti-Semitism’ that are being used to smear anyone who speaks out against Israeli military aggression and settlement expansion and in defence of Palestinian rights.

In case you missed it, the storm started brewing a couple of months ago when an Oxford student who had worked for a pro-Israel PR outfit called BICOM announced that the university’s Labour club was anti-Semitic. But the drive to conflate criticism of Israel with this pernicious racism shifted into high gear a couple of weeks ago thanks to 2014 Facebook posts from the Labour MP Naz Shah and has remained there ever since.

Jonathan Freedland, from his powerful and exalted position as The Guardian‘s Comments Editor, has led the charge. Alongside Nick Cohen, Danny Cohen, the Labour MPs John Mann and Stella Creasey, the right wing blogger Guido Fawkes (aka Paul Staines) and many, many others, Freedland has exploited his platform and deployed his influence to advance the agenda of those who seek to discredit supporters of Palestinian rights, and to protect Israel’s entitlement to colonise Palestine.

I’m sure few would seriously dispute by now that the primary objective of this Blairite grandstanding is to topple Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour party. Palestinian rights and respect for international law are mere cannon fodder in this proxy war. Still, a wide range of interests has coalesced around this shock and awe offensive. From Zac Goldsmith who seeks to connect Sadiq Khan, his Labour rival for London mayor, with these ugly allegations, to the Prime Minister who supports his Old Etonian friend by repeating Goldsmith’s defamatory slurs under cover of parliamentary privilege; from the new Israeli Ambassador to the UK who seeks to shut down the burgeoning civil society movement demanding change from his government, to Sadiq Khan himself, scrambling to distance himself from Corbyn by condemning this same putative anti-Semitism whilst promising ‘Tel Aviv on the Thames’ if he’s elected, this squalid operation has produced some unlikely bedfellows.

Frankly, the sight of folks who have never defended the rights of minorities, the disempowered or the dispossessed in their shabby careers planting their flags on a mound of dross they declare the ‘moral high ground’ in order to malign those who have spent their lives speaking out against bigotry of all kinds is tough to stomach. ‘Disgraceful’ and ‘wretched’ are two adjectives I’ve stumbled upon in my admittedly meandering investigations, so I’ll borrow these for now.

For those of us who care about Palestinians enjoying the rights we hold to be universal, the moral and semantic contortions at play in this grotesque drama are especially creepy. After all, what’s happening here is that the historical racism that enabled one of the greatest horrors of modern times is being used deliberately and explicitly to to justify a colonial occupation that has lasted half a century and to whitewash international criminality. As I suggested here last week, the facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine – rarely reported at all in the mainstream media – stand no chance of breaching the defence shield of purposive hysteria this enterprise has manufactured.

You won’t know if it your reading and watching are confined to the usual suspects, however there has been some incisive and thoughtful commentary on these claims in the alternative and online media. Below I’ve gathered a few of the best pieces I’ve come across on the ‘new anti-Semitism’, with excerpts and links.

It’s probably worth noting that several of the writers are Jewish, but you’ll have to take my word for the fact that I did not deliberately seek out Jewish voices on this issue. These are people who have felt compelled to speak out for many reasons, including their own personal histories and perceptions, as several of them make clear in their comments.

Jamie Stern-Weiner and Norman Finkelstein: The American Jewish scholar behind Labour’s ‘antisemitism’ scandal breaks his silence

Jamie Stern-Weiner is an independent researcher based in Cambridge. A dual British-Israeli national, he has written about the Israel-Palestine conflict for The Nation, Jadaliyya, MERIP and Le Monde diplomatique (English edition).

JSW: [Labour MP Naz] Shah’s posting of that image has been presented as an endorsement by her of a ‘chilling “transportation” policy’, while John Mann MP has compared her to Eichmann.

NF: Frankly, I find that obscene. It’s doubtful these Holocaust-mongers have a clue what the deportations were, or of the horrors that attended them. I remember my late mother describing her deportation. She was in the Warsaw Ghetto. The survivors of the Ghetto Uprising, about 30,000 Jews, were deported to Maijdanek concentration camp. They were herded into railroad cars. My mother was sitting in the railroad car next to a woman who had her child. And the woman – I know it will shock you – the woman suffocated her infant child to death in front of my mother. She suffocated her child, rather than take her to where they were going. That’s what it meant to be deported. To compare that to someone posting a light-hearted, innocuous cartoon making a little joke about how Israel is in thrall to the U.S., or vice versa…it’s sick. What are they doing? Don’t they have any respect for the dead? All these desiccated Labour apparatchiks, dragging the Nazi holocaust through the mud for the sake of their petty jostling for power and position. Have they no shame?

Sam Kriss: The Naz Shah Scandal Shows that the Right Has an Anti-Semitism Problem

This piece appeared on Vice, but here’s the bio on Sam’s blog: I write (but I’m trying to quit) & live in the UK (but I’m trying to leave).

I doubt I’m the only British Jew who has encountered this phenomenon: being accosted by some smiling and well-meaning philosemite, so eager to tell you how much they love our people and how much they love Israel – and when you mention that, actually, you don’t see much to love in murderous tinpot regime committing atrocities in your name, everything sours, and you’re treated to the strange spectacle of someone who’s never held a Torah in their life accusing you of being insufficiently Jewish, of being a self-hating Jew, of not understanding your own religion. It’s the same when I’m told by newspapers and politicians that as a Jew I’m required to feel threatened by any anti-Israel sentiment. It might be paternalistic and condescending rather than exterminationist, but there’s a word for this attitude: it’s anti-Semitism…

In almost every supposed scandal over left-wing anti-Semitism – from Corbyn himself, from Naz Shah, from NUS President Malia Bouattia – it turns out that the offending statement is just a strongly worded outcry against the violence of the Israeli state. Very little of it is victimising me. But, as all those who are shocked and furious on my behalf never stop reminding me, my opinion here doesn’t really matter.

Jamie Stern-Weiner: New accusations of antisemitism thrown at the left are flimsy

[D]espite the almost comical paucity of supporting evidence, the notion that antisemitism is a growing problem on the Labour left is rapidly congealing into conventional wisdom. Labour rightists and pro-Israel activists have seized the opportunity afforded by the febrile atmosphere to prosecute petty vendettas, wage factional warfare and advance long-held political objectives. The smear campaign against Malia Bouattia, who was last week elected the first black Muslim woman president of the National Union of Students (NUS), must be understood in this context. She is the latest victim of this juggernaut.

Charles B. Anthony: UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn Doesn’t Have an Anti-Semitism Problem. But His Accusers Do.

Charles B. Anthony is a writer, filmmaker, columnist, producer/host of Middle East Eye’s Blink News and researcher for Will Self.

Cries of anti-Semitism to nobble an anti-racist leader concerned with militarised racism in Palestine are as disingenuous as they are disgusting because they manipulate a very real form of suffering to score political points; either to regain political relevance or to attack a defender of Palestinian human rights in high office. Anti-Semitism is abhorrent and should always be challenged where it rears its ugly head, but to use it as a proxy to defend state oppression is wholly disingenuous to the pursuit of tackling racism…

Linking anti-Semitism to earnest criticism of the state of Israel not only insults the very real Jewish victims of anti-Semitism, both past and present, but gives ugly cover to state supremacy, illegal occupation, dehumanisation, racism and gross violations of human rights.

The UKPMHN and the ‘new anti-Semitism’

This is from the UK Palestine Mental Health Network Steering Committee: Teresa Bailey, Chris van Duuren, Martin Kemp, Mohammed Mukhaimar, Eliana Pinto, Cathy Troupp, Adrian Worrall

We are confirmed in our determined opposition to racism in all its forms. We see racism as a psycho-social pathology, responsible for immense suffering to all touched by it. To tolerate ideas or behaviours that discriminate on the grounds of ‘race’ or ethnicity is to abandon the universalism which resides in the conviction that we belong to a single human family. This universalism informs our professional ethics, anti-racist practice, and our hopes for a more civilised future not least in Israel/Palestine itself.

The struggle for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine has long been a focus in the fight against racism. The Palestine solidarity movement, working for peace and justice, encompasses people of conscience from every ethnic and faith group.

We hold that any political ideology, institution, law or policy that works to block the peoples of Israel/Palestine from enjoying equally their basic rights and protections must be open to public critique.

Craig Murray: The New McCarthyism – The ‘Anti-Semitism’ Hysteria Gripping the UK

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

I frankly find it very difficult to believe that anti-Semitism is rife in Oxford University, and find the prominence given to the unsubstantiated claims of one single extreme pro-Israel activist rather extraordinary. The attack on new NUS President Malia Bouattia is a truly horrible piece of witch-hunting. But it is useful in one thing; it makes the witch-hunt’s primary method, the conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, absolutely explicit…

The idea that the religious belief of entitlement to the land of the Palestinians, is such that it is racist to deny the land to those who hold that belief, is frankly crazy. But that is the entire intellectual basis of the current witch-hunt, which operates solely on conflating the anti-Zionism of Tony Greenstein with anti-Semitism. It is a constant theme in the media, led of course by the Blairite cheerleaders at the Guardian. I called out Nick Cohen on his hate speech a few weeks ago.

Open Letter Refutes Anti-Semitism Claims

This letter is signed by 40 Jewish members and supporters of the UK Labour party

We do not accept that antisemitism is “rife” in the Labour party. Of the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported inaccurately, some are trivial, and a very few may be genuine examples of antisemitism. The tiny number of cases of real antisemitism need to be dealt with, but we are proud that the Labour Party historically has been in the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism. We, personally, have not experienced any antisemitic prejudice in our dealings with Labour Party colleagues…

As Jews, we are appalled that a serious issue is being used in this cynical and manipulative way, diverting attention from much more widespread examples of Islamaphobia and xenophobia in the Conservative and other parties.

And finally, here’s a bone The Guardian threw to supporters of Palestine on its letters page a few days ago, after aggressively propagating anti-Semitism half-truths and innuendo for weeks. (It’s worth remembering that The Guardian was the only UK paper willing to publish the mendacious ‘human shields’ advertisement by Elie Wiesel et al.)

Kamel Hawwash: A Palestinian view on the antisemitism row

Even closer to home, Balfour had more right to promise Wales to the Zionists than Palestine – with my apologies to the Welsh people. Had he done so and had Israel been created in Wales, had Cardiff been occupied and declared the united capital of Israel, and had Swansea been under siege for 10 years because it reacted to Israel’s illegal occupation, would the Welsh have simply accepted this and behaved as a model occupied people?

I remind all who are interested in peace in historic Palestine that we Palestinians did not choose our occupiers. They chose Palestine knowing it was not an empty land but one that had a people, my people, the Palestinians that have paid with their land, lives and rights.

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