Jeremy Corbyn Is a Symptom of Left-Wing Anti-Semitism, Not a Cause

Last week, the Equality and Human Rights Commission, an organ of the British government, issued its damning report on anti-Semitism in the Labor party. The report, based on a months-long investigation, accused the party of illegal discrimination and harassment and blamed the leadership’s “lack of willingness” to deal with the problem. To Alan Johnson, however, the report fails to reckon with the underlying cause: not the leadership of the fanatical Israel-hater Jeremy Corbyn—who has now not only lost his post as Labor leader, but has been suspended by his successor—but the anti-Semitism that has been part of socialist thinking since its 19th-century beginnings:

To the smelly old idea about capitalism being “Jewish,” a smelly new idea has been bolted on since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948: imperialism is now “Zionist,” wars are “Zionist,” politicians are “Zionist tools,” the media are “Zionist,” 9/11 was “Zionist,” “global finance” is “Zionist,” and the anti-Semitism “smear” against the Labor party was, yes, “Zionist.”

Anti-Semitic forms of anti-Zionism have roots in the UK far left going back decades. It is largely (but not solely) the new anti-Semitism, this anti-Semitism dressed up as anti-Zionism, with its roots in . . . two vicious reactionary [ideologies]—Islamism and Stalinism—that has destroyed Labor.

The left needs to learn that anti-Semitism is the most protean and changeable of hatreds and it has shape-shifted yet again. Yes, Labor was poisoned in part by the flourishing of “classic” anti-Jewish stereotypes and slurs in the party. . . . (There were even a few “Hitler was right” types, believe it or not.) But the heart of the problem was “anti-Zionism” of such an obsessive, conspiracist, and demonizing kind that it long ago left the terrain of “legitimate criticism of Israeli policy” and merged itself with an older set of classical anti-Semitic tropes, images, and assumptions to create anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.

It is right that Corbyn has been suspended. But it will be even more important to wage a battle of ideas against anti-Semitic anti-Zionism.

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Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Jeremy Corbyn, Labor Party (UK), Socialism

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy