Jeremy Corbyn Insists He’s an Anti-Racist. Perhaps So, but He’s Definitely an Anti-Semite

Oct. 10 2018

Considering British Jews’ reaction to the anti-Semitism that has seized hold of the British Labor party since it elected Jeremy Corbyn as its leader, the novelist Howard Jacobson is reminded of a favorite expression of his father’s: “take a shtum powder,” meaning “swallow a pill that will make you shut up.” Jacobson accuses some among the UK’s left-leaning Jews of making a tacit compact with Labor: the party will limit its anti-Semitism to anti-Zionism, and they won’t complain. But Corbyn and his acolytes haven’t held up their end of the bargain:

Anti-Zionism can be anti-Semitism-free, but its exponents need to keep their wits about them. There usually comes a moment when a little Jew-hatred starts leaking out. And it wasn’t long into Corbyn’s leadership before the bargain—that Labor could have anti-Zionism, so long as it remained strictly what it called itself—showed signs of fracturing. . . .

The standard Corbyn defense [to revelations of his animus toward Israel] of not remembering, not noticing, not being sure, was wheeled out to counter each of these new embarrassments in turn. When it transpired that he had defended a mural showing the world’s capitalists—all Jewish or Jewish-ish—playing Monopoly on the bent backs of naked slaves, he claimed not to have looked carefully enough to see anything offensive. Looked carefully enough! A person driving past that mural at a hundred miles an hour while checking his emails would have grasped its message. And if Corbyn hadn’t given the mural even that much attention, what was he doing defending it against the criticism of those who had?

To many, the game was up. Corbyn’s previous defense—that Zionists were the object of his ire, not Jews—no longer held water. The subject of the mural wasn’t Zionism, but Jewish exploitation of the world’s poor. If Corbyn didn’t notice any gross caricature of Jews in the mural, it could only have been because he carried an identical picture around in his head: a picture familiar to anyone schooled in Soviet anti-Semitism of the cold war, which held the Elders of Zion to be no less zealous than they had ever been in pursuit of world domination.

What it took for members of his own party finally to accuse Corbyn of racism was his unwillingness to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of anti-Semitism. The sticking point for Corbyn was one particular example of what constituted anti-Semitism—“Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavor.” Though this was not a good time to be picking a fight with Jews, not being able to call Israel a racist endeavor with impunity was a concession too far. . . .

And there’s the crux of the fatal disagreement between Corbyn’s Labor and the shtum-powder Jews. If the latter will not accept that Zionism is, from start to finish, a colonial adventure, . . . they’ll have to live with, indeed deserve, all the calumnies thrown at them. And if Corbyn is unwilling to understand the centrality of Zionism to the Jewish imagination, the yearning and the displacements that shaped it centuries ago, its poetry and idealism; if he cannot enter sympathetically into the life-or-death desperation that turned it into a necessity—if he will not, in short, answer the question: what else would you have had us do?—then Jews will not be shaken in their conviction that he has not only tolerated anti-Semitism in his party, he has encouraged it.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Jeremy Corbyn, Politics & Current Affairs, United Kingdom

 

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror