Sunday, October 15, 2017

Jonathon Cook: As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’

Anti-Palestinian-ism is rife in the British Labour Party, but non Zionist Jews are fighting back.

Over the past 18 months the British Labour party has been beset by a moral panic. According to pro-Israel activists in Labour, there has been a surge of anti-semitism in the party since Jeremy Corbyn became leader two years ago. Corbyn has broken with decades of party policy by placing a much stronger emphasis on the need to end Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians.

As we will show, these activists’ concerns are much less about anti-semitism than about Corbyn and the trend he represents. Pro-Israel groups, who have strong backing among the party establishment opposed to Corbyn, fear he is changing the nature of the British political discourse about Israel and the Palestinians. Beyond this, they are worried that should Corbyn, or someone else from his wing of the Labour party, reach power, they will put the Palestinians at the heart of a Labour government’s foreign policy. Much is at stake.

A strange, if largely obscured feature of the supposed anti-semitism crisis – set out at length in my first Mondoweiss article – is that so many of those accused and convicted in Labour of this hate crime are Jews. The latest person accused by the party of anti-semitism – and this week expelled – is Moshe Machover, a mathematician and philosophy professor at the University of London. He was born and raised in Israel.

Machover appears to be among the first Labour members to be netted by a rule change on anti-semitism introduced at the party conference last week. Activists in a new group called Jewish Voice for Labour, launched at the conference, had warned that the change in wording would allow the party bureaucracy to expel members for “thought crimes”.

As previously explained, the rule change was pushed hard by a powerful pressure group in Labour called the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), which is the sister organisation of Israel’s own Labour party. The JLM helped create Labour Friends of Israel, which has traditionally been a key pro-Israel lobbying group among Labour members of parliament.

Both organisations have clandestine ties to the Israeli government through Israel’s London embassy, as was revealed earlier this year by an Al Jazeera undercover investigation. It secretly filmed this collusion in action, as pro-Israel Labour activists plotted to subvert Corbyn’s leadership, even at the cost of irreparably damaging the party.

Professor expelled

In decrying an “anti-semitism plague” in Labour, the JLM and its supporters have claimed that they are not conflating anti-semitism with anti-Zionism. But Machover’s case clearly illustrates that they are precisely doing that.

Machover received a letter from Labour head office this week alleging that he had breached the party’s anti-semitism rules with an article (PDF), paradoxically titled “Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism”, in the newsletter of the Labour Party Marxists group.

In it, Machover pointed out the widespread opposition of most Jews to the ideas propagated by the Zionist movement before the rise of Hitler, and the problematic ideological affinites between Zionists and anti-semites. He wrote: “The founder of political Zionism, Theodor Herzl, had pointed out that anti-Semitic regimes would be allies, because they wanted to get rid of the Jews, while the Zionists wanted to rid them of the Jews. That was the common interest.”

For this reason, observed Machover, quoting Zionist and Nazi leaders of the time, some Zionists welcomed the early policies of the Nazis, including even the notorious Nuremberg Laws of 1935. This was before the Nazis switched to a policy of extermination in the death camps. Both anti-semites and Zionists wanted Jews and non-Jews separated, and both rejected miscegenation. A similar argument, expressed more clumsily, led to the suspension of Ken Livingstone, a former London mayor, earlier this year.

It is notable that the Labour party accused Machover of anti-semitism on the grounds that his article was likely to “cause offence to Jewish people”. It begged the question: which Jewish people?

That issue had, in fact, become a battleground at the conference. Jewish Labour party activists had set up a new group, Jewish Voice for Labour, to act as a countervailing force against the traditional dominance of the JLM in influencing the party’s policies towards Israel and the Palestinians and against its accusations of anti-semitism by Corbyn supporters. Jewish Voice for Labour represents a broad range of Jews who have until now been marginalised in the Labour party, including trenchant critics of the occupation, anti-Zionists and supporters of BDS, the boycott movement. For the first time they have a collective voice within the party.

As Machover observed, pro-Israel groups are in trouble in Labour and elsewhere. “They are losing credibility on the arena of what could be called international opinion, but – more importantly – they are losing the Jewish public outside Israel, especially those under 30. There is a clear generational shift in opinion. These people are becoming very critical of Israel and its colonisation project.”

Above excerpt from part 2

Part 1:

New group challenges role of Israel lobby inside Labour Party as effort to undermine Corbyn continues

Part 2:

As battle rages in UK Labour Party, Moshe Machover expelled after asserting ‘Anti-Zionism does not equal anti-Semitism’


Matt Franko said...

I think technically "semites" are descendants in the line of Shem one of Noah's 3 sons...

So the Israelites are "shemitic" and perhaps the Palestinians are shemitic also thru Abraham who was in the line of Shem also.. Abraham is perhaps their common ancestor...

So to be anti-shemitic you'd have to be against both Israelites and Palestinians... i.e. against anyone in the line of Shem...

So maybe this assertion that anti-Zionism is not equivalent to antisemitism is true ...

Tom Hickey said...

Semites spoke and still speak Semitic languages natively. These languages are geographically related historically, although they have since spread to other areas through migrations and conquest.

/Semitic languages

/Proto-Semitic language

Tom Hickey said...

Anti-Semitism is an ethnic prejudice. while Anti-Semitism has come to mean anti-Jewish, the actual sociology and anthropology of this bias is much wider, including other ethnicities of the region. There is an anti-Arab bias in the West, for example. Interestingly, Iranians (Persians) are often included in this but Iranians and their language Farsi (Persian) are Indic aka Aryan. "Iran" is a modification of "Aryan." See Persian language. Farsi script is a modification of Arabic, so this sometime results in confusion about ethnicity.

Anti-Zionism is a political opposition based on two major factors.

1. Anti-Zionists don't accept the argument that the Jewish people have ah eternal right to possession of Palestine based on theology. That argument has no standing in international law. Nor does the Holocaust gives Jews some right of to a homeland, especially one involving others's longstanding rights. This was only possible through imposition by Western power and has a similar basis and effect as Sykes-Picot.

2. Israel as a "Jewish state" is form of apartheid and the actions of the authorities are confirmatory evidence. This is complicated by the fact that other states in the region are also theologically based and practice a form of apartheid, too, so Israel's "democracy" appears liberal in contrast to them.

In short, anti-Semitism is a form of prejudice while anti-Zionism is a political attitude demanding justice and fairness for the displaced Palestinian people, on one hand, and on the other, reduced political influence of Israel in US and other Western countries politics in favor of Israeli domination of the region. In the US, anti-Zionism intersects with anti-neoconservatism and anti-liberal interventionism.