More than two weeks into the great row in Britain over Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism, and one thing becomes steadily more clear: Everyone is ignoring the elephant in the room.
The revelations of widespread anti-Semitism in the party have plunged it into an existential crisis. Moderate Labour members opposed to Corbyn—hard-left friend to Hamas and all left-wing revolutionary causes—are aghast.
Yet few grasp the real nature of this crisis, which extends far beyond the British Labour Party. And that’s because few on the left are prepared to acknowledge the principal driver behind today’s anti-Semitism.
The bare details are bad enough. Corbyn has been exposed as belonging to at least five Facebook groups that are cesspools of anti-Semitism. Members have claimed that the Jews were behind Isis and 9/11, or that the Rothschilds control the world’s finances and other such paranoid theories.
The backwash from this revealed a tsunami of anti-Jewish insults, smears and libels by Labour supporters. Two Jewish Labour members of a north London borough council resigned, saying that overwhelming anti-Semitic abuse had made it impossible to be a Jewish Labour councilor.
Horrified Labour moderates say the party should expel anti-Semites and embark on an education program.
None of this would address the problem. These moderates have only just woken up to something that’s been poisoning left-wing discourse for at least three decades. Yet still, they don’t get it. Still, they won’t ask the key question: What in left-wing thinking has given rise to this obscenity?
For they are behaving as if this anti-Semitism thing has arrived like a thunderbolt out of a clear blue sky.
They just can’t understand how what they call criticism of Israel could have produced this nightmare of thousands of supposedly anti-racist Labour supporters coming out with deranged Jewish conspiracy theory.
And that’s because they cannot admit that this derangement arises directly from the left’s attitude to Israel—an attitude shared by Labour moderates no less than the hard left.
They can’t see that their “criticism” of Israel is in fact an obsessional repudiation of reason and an embrace of murderous, colonialist propaganda.
The view of Israel predominant among “progressives” is based largely on libelous falsehoods used against no other people, country or cause. They turn the Israeli victim into the aggressor and vice versa.
They hold Israel to standards expected of no one else. They deny or ignore evidence that it actually meets those standards—as in the Israel Defense Forces’ unmatched record in safeguarding civilian lives—and accuse it instead of being a serial violator of human rights.
Above all, they support Palestinianism on the basis of the big lie that the “Palestinians” were dispossessed by the Jews. So these “progressives” relentlessly make the unhinged claim that the Jewish state is a uniquely malign global actor—and then they are shocked that some of them make the unhinged claim that the Jews are uniquely malign global actors.
They demand that those who support Holocaust denial should be expelled. Yet these shocked souls themselves support as a “moderate” Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who has a doctorate in Holocaust denial, explicitly venerates the wartime Palestinian Nazi-ally Haj Amin al Husseini and uses his media outlets to transmit Nazi-style demonization of the Jews.
Palestinian identity was constructed solely to destroy the Jews’ unique right to their own homeland. Supporting Palestinianism, the default position on the left, is inescapably to be anti-Jew.
This has been amplified by the extent to which anti-Western views have now spread from the far-left to the political mainstream. It is now generally agreed by the entire political class that the young have a point in their rage against capitalism.
But these young protesters talk in terms of a global conspiracy by powerful bankers. And these are code words for Jews.
There has been horror at a recent opinion poll that showed that most Labour members remain solidly behind Corbyn and think the anti-Semitism crisis has been exaggerated. What on earth did anyone expect, after decades of indoctrination by an education system pumping out a Marxist view of the world, which tells the young that the West is mired in racism and oppression?
The left believes it embodies virtue, and so it simply cannot be anti-Semitic. It thinks anti-Semitism, however, is directed only at Jews as people. Hence its shock at the Labour supporters’ tropes, which are all too familiar from the Nazi program to exterminate the Jewish people. What the left cannot grasp is that the new anti-Semitism uses almost identical tropes against Israel, the collective Jew.
British Jews themselves are unfortunately far too nervous to make this link with anti-Israelism. At the demonstration against anti-Semitism held last month outside Parliament, for example, the organizers didn’t allow any Israeli flags.
Failure to make this crucial link is enabling the most pernicious development of all—the way Jewish Israel-haters provide Corbyn and other facilitators of anti-Semitism with a human shield.
Last Monday, Corbyn attended a Passover Seder held by the virulently anti-Israel Jewish group Jewdas, to which The Times of London more accurately referred as a “far-left Passover satire.”
Jewdas had previously tweeted “Israel is itself a steaming pile of sewage which needs to be properly disposed of.” At its Seder, participants reflected on “how s**t the State of Israel is in general and particularly at the moment.” Corbyn read a short prayer titled “Elijah’s Cup,” which ended: “Fill this cup with the hope that socialism and revolution will be upon us soon.”
Charlotte Nichols, Young Labour’s Women’s Officer and a member of a Reform synagogue who took part in the Seder, says Jewdas has been “steadfast in addressing anti-Semitism on the left,” and that “all of us are proud of our Judaism, whatever we understand that to mean.”
Alas, such Jews on the left understand Judaism to mean hatred of Israel. Given this twisted attitude, they cannot begin to understand the part they themselves are playing in fomenting the anti-Semitism they tell themselves they are addressing. And that is a tragic and terrible threat for the Jewish people.
Labour will never rid itself of anti-Semitism while it supports Palestinianism. The choice it faces is said to be between Corbyn and the Jews. In fact, the choice is between Palestinianism and the Jews.
That’s a choice facing not just the British Labour Party, but Western progressives, including progressive Jews, everywhere.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a column for JNS every two weeks. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which is also publishing her first novel, “The Legacy,” on April 10. Her work can be found at her website, www.melaniephillips.com.