A Collection of Apologias for the British Labor Party’s Anti-Semitism Exposes the Depths of the Problem It Denies

March 23 2020

Published in December last year, Anti-Semitism and the Labor Party is a collection of essays meant to serve as “a sober examination of the strange events that have warped British politics since 2015,” combined with the personal testimonies of 21 party members. The “strange events” in question are not the public and private statements of influential Labor figures—starting with the party leader Jeremy Corbyn—about sinister Jewish influence and other fabricated outrages but the reactions to these statements on the part of the media, Jewish leaders, and some moderate Laborites. Reviewing the volume, Sarah Brown notes that some of the authors slip easily from defending against accusations of anti-Semitism to defending hatred of Jews on the merits:

[Take for example] the collection’s final chapter, “Stereotypes Should Be Discussed Not Sanctioned,” by Jamie Stern-Weiner (the volume’s editor) and Alan Maddison. The authors’ reasoning is convoluted, but they are anxious to demonstrate that harboring anti-Semitic views doesn’t necessarily constitute hatred of Jews. Here is a sample of their logic: “If I believe that Chinese people are good at math, or that Jews are smart, it does not mean I love the Chinese or the Jews. By the same token, if I believe that Jews are cheap, it does not mean I necessarily harbor hatred toward them.”

It doesn’t indicate hatred, precisely, to believe that blacks are inherently intellectually inferior to whites, or that women are only fitted to be mothers and homemakers. But most would have no difficulty acknowledging such views as racist and sexist—and that includes, I would guess, Stern-Weiner and Maddison. [But] when it comes to anti-Semitism, only the most active hatred is allowed to be worrisome.

However, the most disturbing piece in the whole collection is Norman Finkelstein’s “The Chimera of British Anti-Semitism (And How Not to Fight It If It Were Real).” He takes as his starting point some research carried out by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR), which made use of a series of anti-Semitic statements in a survey used to gauge the extent of racist views in the UK. . . . Finkelstein goes on to argue that nearly all of the stereotypical statements about Jews used in the JPR survey are not simply something we should be allowed to debate—but that they are in fact an accurate summary of Jews’ character and position in the world.

Rather than arguing that Jeremy Corbyn was falsely accused of anti-Semitism, Finkelstein and Stern-Weiner end up arguing that his anti-Semitism is wholly justifiable.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party (UK), United Kingdom

 

Europe-Israel Relations Have Been Transformed

On Monday, Israel and the EU held their first “association council” meeting since 2012, resuming what was once an annual event, equivalent to the meetings Brussels conducts with many other countries. Although the summit didn’t produce any major agreements or diplomatic breakthroughs, writes Shany Mor, it is a sign of a dramatic change that has occurred over the past decade. The very fact that the discussion focused on energy, counterterrorism, military technology, and the situation in Ukraine—rather than on the Israel-Palestinian conflict—is evidence of this change:

Israel is no longer the isolated and boycotted outpost in the Middle East that it was for most of its history. It has peace treaties with six Arab states now, four of which were signed since the last association council meeting. There are direct flights from Tel Aviv to major cities in the region and a burgeoning trade between Israel and Gulf monarchies, including those without official relations.

It is a player in the regional alliance systems of both the Gulf and the eastern Mediterranean, just as it has also become a net energy exporter due to the discovery of large gas deposits of its shoreline. None of this was the case at the last council meeting in 2012. [Moreover], Israel has cultivated deep ties with a number of new member states in the EU from Central and Eastern Europe, whose presence in Brussels bridges cultural ideological gaps that were once much wider.

Beyond the diplomatic shifts, however, is an even larger change that has happened in European-Israeli relations. The tiny Israel defined by its conflict with the Arabs that Europeans once knew is no more. When the first Cooperation Agreement [between Israel and the EU’s precursor] was signed in 1975, Israel, with its three million people, was smaller than all the European member states save Luxembourg. Sometime in the next two years, the Israeli population will cross the 10 million mark, making it significantly larger than Ireland, Denmark, Finland, and Austria (among others), and roughly equal in population to Greece, Portugal, and Sweden.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Abraham Accords, Europe and Israel, European Union, Israeli gas