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|From: Church & State: Editorials|
|Date: July, 2020|
Anti-Semitism And The Jewish State
The English obsession with Anti-Semitism has taken a strange turn. The newly elected Leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, has sacked his leadership rival, Rebecca Long Bailey, from her position in his Shadow Cabinet on the accusation of Anti-Semitism.
Her Anti-Semitism consists of the fact that she observed a similarity between United States policing methods and Israeli methods—the tactic of kneeling on the neck. She made no mention of Jews when noticing this similarity.
Her observation was made in the form of a tweet agreeing with a couple of sentences in an article by a television actress, Maxine Peake, published in the Independent newspaper:
"Systematic racism is a global issue. The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd's neck, that was learnt from seminars with the Israeli secret services".
Those sentences as published were followed by this sentence within brackets: "A spokesperson for the Israeli police has denied this, stating that 'there is no tactic or protocol that calls to put pressure on the neck or airway'".)
Whether or not there is a formal "tactic or protocol" recommending neck-kneeling in particular circumstances in manuals for police training in Israel, there is no doubt that it is a tactic used by Israeli police.
The Independent later issued this statement:
"This article has been amended to further clarify that the US police were taught tactics of 'neck-kneeling' by Israeli secret services is unfounded. The original version did carry a denial from Israeli police, however we are happy to further clarify the matter…"
In all of this there is no mention whatever of Jews. And anti-Semitism has to do exclusively with disparaging remarks made about Jews as a race—as if they were a race.
How did Sir Keir find Anti-Semitism in these sentences? He said that the article commented on favourably by Rebecca Long Bailey contained "conspiracy theories", and conspiracy theories are Anti-Semitic.
A statement issued on his behalf to the Guardian said:
"The article Rebecca shared earlier today contained an anti-Semitic theory. As leader of the Labour party, Keir has been clear that restoring trust with the Jewish community is a number one priority. Antisemitism takes many different forms and it is important that we are all vigilant against it."
He said in a television interview:
"I asked Rebecca Long-Bailey to step down from the shadow cabinet for sharing the article. I didn't do that because she is anti-semitic. I did it because she shared the article which has got, in my view, anti-semitic theories in it."
He did not specify what any of these "anti-Semitic theories" were.
The only semblance of any kind of theory we can find in Maxine Peake's comments is the assumption that neck-kneeling was discussed between Israel and the United States. It was not an unreasonable assumption in the light of the indisputable fact that the two states are closely aligned and that the neck-kneeling tactic is used by both.
Maxine Peake seems to have retracted her remark when Israel said it had not discussed the tactic with the USA. We don't know whether it had or not. She is a television actress, and therefore vulnerable, and she behaved with personal prudence. The position of elected legislators is different.
The Israeli statement is rather carefully phrased. But, if the assumption was false, and Israel and the USA happened to adopt the same tactic independently of each other, and the false but not unreasonable assumption is a conspiracy theory, how is it an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory?
(Unprovable assumptions are made all the time in politics where remarkable coincidences are observed. And the biggest conspiracy theory of all at present, held by the majority of right-thinking people in Western elites, is the belief in the assertion of the US Democratic Party that Putin rigged the Presidential Election against Hilary Clinton, who seemed to be intent on driving the USA towards war with Russia.)
"Antisemitism takes many different forms", Sir Keir says. In the present instance it takes the form of taking Israel to be a normal state and commenting adversely on its relations with another state. It takes the form of not mentioning Jews at all.
Last year a Jewish lobby group drew up a Jewish self-definition of Anti-Semitism. Rebecca Long-Bailey adopted it enthusiastically, and the Labour Party adopted it after some resistance, even though it characterised Palestinian resistance to Jewish oppression as Anti-Semitic.
It was denied emphatically by the advocates of the IHRA definition that it made criticism of the Israeli State Anti-Semitism. We were sceptical of this assurance, as the British Chief Rabbi had said repeatedly that, while criticism of Israel without being Anti-Semitic was theoretically possible, it was not possible in practice. Our scepticism was well founded.
Sir Keir clearly takes it that the State of Israel and Jewry are one and the same thing, and therefore adverse comment on Israel is Anti-Semitic.
There are some grounds for this, of course. Israel is not just a state formed by Jews. It is a Jewish state in a very different sense. It is a state of the Jews wherever they may live, and they have rights in it which are prior to the rights of non-Jews who happened to be living there when Britain, in order to turn the Jews against Germany, decided to construct a Jewish State in Palestine and facilitate the migration of Jews to Palestine for that purpose.
Palestinians who were driven out to make way for a Jewish state in 1948 have no right of return to places where they, or their parents, were living in. Jews living anywhere in the world have a right of return after two thousand years of absence. That is the current situation.
Spokesmen for Israel explain that this is because of a deal made between Moses and God, which has precedence over all earthly laws, which are superficial and transient.
Jewish colonial nationalism in Palestine, put into effect by Britain, is the most extreme and the most purposefully irredentist nationalism in the world, and the most effective. The British statesmen who set it in motion knew very well that this was the case. Balfour himself agreed that it was a clear breach of all the rules for a new world order that Britain said it was establishing in the form of the League of Nations. And he caused the League to give Britain a Mandate to enact this breach of itself.
The reason he gave was that the Jews were an exceptional people and that exceptional arrangements must therefore be made for them. He also said that the Jews, living in dispersion amongst other peoples and states, were a source of radical disorder in the world and that they should be removed by being tidied away in a state of their own. In other words, he was a Zionist for Anti-Semitic reasons. So it was with Churchill. With Lloyd George it seems to have been partially because of the strain on Old Testament Christianism in his social background. And, within Jewry, there were some who supported the Zionist project as a means of normalising Jewish conditions of life by arranging for them to live in a state of their own.
The normalising was never likely to happen.
Britain, the World Empire after 1918, had a mixture of motives for everything it did. One reason for imposing a Jewish State on Palestine under Imperial hegemony was to acquire a base of operations against the Arab Middle East—which it had promised in 1916 to recognise as an Arab state if it joined it in the war against the Ottoman Empire. That promise was given when it seemed doubtful that it could conquer the Ottoman Middle East with its own resources. It never had the intention of holding to that promise.
One British writer, who was close to the centre of things, explained that the British purpose in setting in motion the formation of a Jewish State was to provide itself with a little loyal Jewish Ulster against the sea of Arabism in the Middle East.
Zionism in Britain was strongly supported by Gentiles in the Liberal Party, which had a strong element of Old Testament Christianity in its membership. The Manchester Guardian—now The Guardian—was particularly supportive of it. British Liberalism in that era was a strange mixture of Christianist fundamentalism and intellectual Enlightenmentism. In its intellectual dimension it had an acute historical insight, through which it was aware that the Jewish States in Roman times had behaved intolerably towards their neighbours and had given the Roman Empire sufficient reason to destroy them. If the Jews were such an exceptional people that they had maintained themselves with integrity for two thousands of years after losing their state, and the irredentist claims of some of their leaders were now to be recognised, what grounds were there to suppose that the restored state would not behave as the state recognised by the Roman Empire had behaved?
A Guardian journalist, Herbert Sidebotham, puzzled over this. He explained in a book, England And Palestine (1918) that the new Jewish State would be a colony of the British Empire, and would be broken in to British ways, and would be carefully monitored by the Empire.
There were eminent Jews at the time who were sceptical of this scenario. A member of the wealthy Montefiori family, who was British upper class without ceasing to be Jewish, published pamphlets against the Balfour Declaration arguing that the formation of a Jewish State in Palestine would impel a revival of fundamentalism.
The critical moment came in 1947. The United Nations General Assembly (representing a minute fraction of the world; e.g., Ireland was not then a member) authorised the Partition of Palestine and the setting up of a Jewish State in one part of it. More than half of the territory was awarded to the Jews, who were a small minority in Palestine; and, in the territory awarded for the Jewish State, they were a bare majority of 51% according to some estimates, and a minority according to others.
It was Britain's business to give effect after 1945 to the project it had set in motion in 1917. Giving effect to it would have required rigorous policing. Jewish terrorist groups launched a "War of Independence" against Britain. The British attempt to curb them in order to effect an orderly transition was condemned as Anti-Semitic.
In the Labour Government that took over in Britain in 1945, the Foreign Secretary was Ernest Bevin. Bevin was a powerful Trade Union boss in a Trade Union system in which he had been a dominant force in the 1930s. In 1940 he was appointed to Churchill's Government and became a Government Minister and a Member of Parliament, in that order. As Minister for Labour he organised the country for the war, and effectively ran the Government in domestic affairs.
In the first post-War Labour Government of 1945, he was removed by Labour leader Clement Attlee from the business of constructing the Welfare State, whose foundations he had laid, and was put in the Foreign Office, where he was surrounded by intellectuals.
Labour Conferences had adopted Zionist resolutions as a matter of course in the 1930s, without giving the matter any thought. On a couple of occasions a gesture was made towards considering what implementation of the Balfour Declaration involved in practice, which were stifled by condemnation.
When Bevin saw what he was expected to do as Foreign Secretary he was appalled. What had they fought the War for, if this was the first thing they were going to do after it?
His Junior Minister was Richard Crossman, a Leftish philosophy lecturer. Crossman, instead of helping Bevin to find a way around the problem, became a fanatical Zionist. He told the Zionist leader, Weizmann, that he was an anti-Semite because he was a Gentile, and all Gentiles had the bacillus of anti-Semitism in them. Weizmann did not disagree.
If you are not a Jew, and are therefore anti-Semitic as a fact of nature, and if it is a bad thing to be anti-Semitic, and if there is no remedy, what can you do about it? Crossman's answer was to facilitate Zionism in any way you can. He said that the British should have cleared the Arabs out of the way, so that the Jews would not have needed to do it for themselves in their new State.
What the Labour Government did with the Palestine problem it had created was to wash its hands of it. It made no attempt to implement the Balfour Declaration in accordance with its terms, or to implement the League Mandate. It gave up the matter to the United Nations but not to the Security Council—which had Executive power. It could not have washed its hands of it, on the Security Council, because it had the Veto. The General Assembly was given exceptional authority to decide what should be done, but it could not supervise the doing of it because it had no Executive power.
And so there was the Nakba. Uninhibited Zionist power reduced the Arab population in the territory awarded to it by the General Assembly, and expanded beyond that territory, until Britain belatedly deployed its Jordan Arab Legion into action so that it would not be entirely discredited in the eyes of the Arab states which were located over oil-wells.
At the same time the Labour Government "gave India its independence".
A few years earlier a Labour delegation had gone to India on behalf of Churchill's Government. The Indian leaders, who knew them well from their time together at LSE, were expecting a deal under which they would get independence in return for supporting the War. But they found that independence was out of the question. They found that they were expected to support the War for the sake of Empire and civilisation. They declared neutrality, as De Valera did. But they were not in power, as De Valera was. India was in the War anyway. And it got the Churchill Famine in which a million or two died. And Britain lost Burma to the Japanese because of supporting an American ultimatum to Japan, which was in effect a declaration of war. And the Japanese fostered a Burmese national movement which Britain could not suppress after the War. And the Burmese example was widely followed in India, its leader in India becoming a major national figure, Subhas Chandra Bose.
After 1945 Britain had no option but to leave India. But what it done in India in the course of the war meant that there could be no orderly withdrawal, as a Muslim separatist movement had been generated. Britain made a mess of India, washed its hands of it, and withdrew amid scenes of mass carnage.
(Charles James O'Donnell of Donegal was educated for the Indian Civil Service, was active in it for what he believed was the cause of civilisation, came to the conclusion that, under Lord Curzon's rule around 1900, things were being done which would result in sectarian Partition, retired and won a London seat in Parliament, in order to warn the English people about what was being done in its name. The English people paid no heed. It was perhaps naïve of him to suppose that the English people saw the Empire as anything other than a profit-cow, a market and source of cheap provisions.
What O'Donnell predicted about Bengal came about, but no notice has been taken of O'Donnell by Irish academics who have written on India.
He published a book about the 1st World War which agreed in substance with what Connolly and Casement said. It was re-published by Athol Books.
When he died, O'Donnell left money to UCD to fund an Annual Lecture in his name. We could find no report of it ever being held.)
With regard to the Jewish State, it did not become a medium in which Jewish life was normalised. Most Jews chose not to go there. It never seemed likely that they would. Seventy years after its establishment, it remains a colonising state without Borders. The Borders allocated by the General Assembly were discarded long ago and no new ultimate Borders have been asserted.
It is a state in which all of the Jews of the world have citizens' rights. And its continuation is dependent on Jews in the Diaspora exerting considerable influence on the states in which they live.
The campaign in Britain to brand Jeremy Corbyn as an Anti-Semite coincided with race laws being enacted in Israel. The branding of Rebecca Long-Bailey coincides with the Israeli decision to annex the territories it conquered and have the annexation recognised by the United States, thus blowing away the only point on which the United Nations retains a shred of credibility.