The shape and direction of the latest attempted coup against Labour’s socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn are clear, writes Jewish Labour member Roland Rance. Corbyn is being set up to lose and, in the name of anti-Semitism, Jews are being set up to take the blame.
The plotters will not be satisfied with anything less than Corbyn’s removal and humiliation. The aim is clearly to force Corbyn out as Labour leader and, if that fails, then to cause Labour to lose the next election.
The increasingly strident charges of anti-Semitism within Labour, and the widening circle of targets, have by now departed from all reality. Corbyn is denounced for attending a meeting eight years ago at which an elderly Auschwitz survivor spoke. Labour Friends of Israel chair Louise Ellman is “shocked” to learn this — somehow forgetting that she too was at the meeting, and in fact stayed there longer than Corbyn.
Across the country, Labour Party members are intimidated from raising issues surrounding Israel and Palestine — precisely at a time when Israel’s Nation State Law explicitly turns the country into an apartheid state, further threatening the rights of its Palestinian subjects. Meanwhile, Israel’s growing friendship and alliance with elements of the new international far-right further undermines the struggle against anti-Semitism.
One worrying aspect of this is the reliance on Jewish people to raise these issues; I cannot be the only Labour Party member to have heard frequent comments on the lines of, “I can’t say this because I will be attacked as anti-Semitic. I think our Jewish comrades need to take the lead on this.”
In fact, as has been pointed out to some of the people taking this approach, Jewish members of the party are disproportionately targets of the witch-hunt. Our ethnic origin does not shield us.
Meanwhile, Palestinian members of the party have been expressing their anger and frustration at the suppression of their voices.
One, Chris Khamis, wrote: “As a British Palestinian Arab and member of the Labour Party I am beginning to feel there is a minority who do not want the Party to welcome people like me. And they sure don’t want to make the Labour Party a safe place for me.”
These are the voices that are being lost in this artificial controversy, and the voices that we must foreground in our resistance.
In our resistance to this coup, no compromise or appeasement will satisfy our opponents, and any abandonment of allies will only strengthen their resolve, while further weakening and demoralising us. They are out to get Corbyn no matter what he says or does. Any attempt at reasonable debate is now perceived as evidence of weakening, and only strengthens their resolve.
It is way beyond time to respond forcefully to this. We need to insist that the plethora of charges are for the most part fabrications and exaggerations, and that the people making them are our enemy. Even those masquerading as Labour MPs are effectively acting as agents of the British state in its determined attack on a potentially radical Labour government.
We can and must fight anti-Semitism while opposing Zionism (the ideology of a Jewish-only state in historic Palestine). We must not abandon either of these strands in the hope of short-term tactical gains.
Those who slander genuinely anti-racist opponents of Israel as anti-Semites are paving the way for the real anti-Semites who are gaining in strength and influence across Europe and in the US.
The abuse of this smear in the service of internal Labour struggles is itself an example of anti-Semitic behaviour. It is a far greater “existential threat to Jewish life in this country” than anything Corbyn or a Labour government could possibly do.
Fair-weather friends need to be reminded that in this struggle, there is no longer any middle ground. When our allies are smeared or attacked, we must defend them; throwing them to the wolves will only increase the savageness of the attack.
Palestinians and their allies speaking out against Israeli racism and in support of their rights are not anti-Semites. And any attempt to portray British Jews as a monolithic bloc united in support for the Israeli state and opposed to Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semitic lie.
[Abridged from Socialist Resistance.]