British Jews can be forgiven for feeling punch-drunk. Almost every day, it seems, brings yet another hallucinatory example of darkening antisemitism in the Labour party.
Item. Damien Enticott, a Labour local councillor, was suspended by the party after grossly antisemitic posts were found on his Facebook account. These included an image claiming that as part of a “Jewish ritual they drink blood” with the comment: “This is done only by Talmud Jews. Talmud Jews are parasites! They also believe any child over 3 years old that isn’t a Jew should be treated like a parasite, they believe it is okay to even rape that child because it’s is [sic] worthless. To treat a non Jew decently means that you are as bad as them. All Talmuds need executing!”
Another post said that “Hitler would have a solution to the Israel problem”. Endicott has claimed his Facebook account was hacked, saying: “The statement that was made wasn’t by myself. I don’t actually share antisemitic views at all.” But the Jewish Chronicle reports other grossly antisemitic post on his Facebook account in the past.
Item. A Scottish Labour Councillor, Mary Bain Lockhart, gave vent to off-the-wall Jewish conspiracy theory when she claimed that the Israeli intelligence service Mossad might be behind the allegations of antisemitism in the party. On a now-deleted post on Facebook, she wrote: “And if it is a Mossad assisted campaign to prevent the election of a Labour Government pledged to recognise Palestine as a State, it is unacceptable interference in the democracy of Britain…Israel is a racist State. And since the Palestinians are also Semites, it is an anti-Semitic State. It is time we stopped propitiating”.
Item. A video has surfaced of an interview Jeremy Corbyn gave in August 2012 on the Iranian propaganda channel Press TV. Asked for his thoughts on the attack that month by Islamic jihadists on an Egyptian army base in Sinai, in which 16 Egyptian soldiers were killed, Corbyn said that Israel would have an interest in increased violence in the Sinai and the destabilisation of the region. Asked whether Muslims would have carried out the attack, he replied:
“It seems a bit unlikely that that would happen during Ramadan – to put it mildly – and I suspect the hand of Israel in this whole process of destabilisation.”
The “hand of Israel”, eh. More anti-Jewish conspiracy theory, accusing Jews entirely falsely and in contravention of evidence and reason of conspiring to harm others.
Item. The Labour Party has started disciplinary procedures against Labour MP Ian Austin – whose adoptive father was Jewish and in 1939 escaped to the UK from Czechoslovakia on the Kindertransport – warning him he could be expelled from the party. Austin’s alleged crime? Berating party chairman Ian Lavery that Labour’s failure adequately to address antisemitism in its ranks was a “bloody disgrace” and that the party had become a “sewer.” A few days previously, Dame Margaret Hodge was similarly threatened with disciplinary action after she reportedly accused Corbyn of antisemitism to his face.
Item. The comedian Billy Bragg stated that the Jews had “work to do” to improve their relations with the Labour Party. In other words, the Jews were to blame for their own victimisation. To which, of course, he himself has thus now egregiously added.
The Jewish community leadership has repeatedly implored Labour to start dealing properly with the antisemitism in its midst and “return to being an anti-racist party”. The Jewish community leadership can’t possibly believe this is remotely an option. Even if the Corbynistas wanted to deal with this issue by expelling antisemites from the party, as the Jewish Chronicle observed it would have to expel hundreds if not thousands of its members.
In any event, it has no intention of facing up to the true nature of this problem. How could it? For the deranged, obsessive and malevolent animosity of so many of its members towards the Jews is symbiotically and inextricably bound up with the deranged, obsessive and malevolent animosity towards Israel.
And that poisonous stain spreads far beyond the Corbynistas and far beyond the Labour party. For pathological anti-Israelism is the leitmotif of progressive politics in general.
Most people – even many of those who are generally benignly disposed towards Israel, including some Jews – have absolutely no idea whatsoever of the extent to which the bad things they may believe about Israel are the the very opposite of the truth.
By definition, they have no idea of the particularly malign role played by the BBC – which furnishes the nation’s aural political wallpaper – in this systematic demonisation, week in, week out, and with no opposing voices given a platform to point out the falsehoods.
Last week, BBC radio broadcast a five-part serialisation of a book entitled “Where the Line is Drawn” by Raja Shehadeh. You can read about it here on the excellent BBC Watch website. Suffice to say it was five episodes of noxious bilge and bile about Israel.
The serialisation drove Rod Liddle – a former editor of BBC Radio’s Today programme – to observe in fury in the Sunday Times that the BBC will never balance such stuff by providing the other side of the argument. Liddle wrote:
“The BBC and Radio 4 in particular are in the grip of what the American author Tom Wolfe called radical chic attitudinising. In other words, they are naive middle-class liberals who believe the Palestinian cause is unequivocally just and there is no real argument about that. Which is why, when Hamas rains 200 rockets and mortars down upon Israel, you hear nothing on the BBC. You hear about it only when Israel responds.
“The question is, then: are Radio 4 and the BBC anti-semitic? When does a fashionable stupidity teeter into racial hatred? An important question, especially for those of you who think anti-semitism is a preserve of the neo-Nazi far right, elements of the Islamic world and, of course, the Labour Party.”
The BBC’s unchallenged demonisation of Israel, its depiction of Israel as the initiator of violence rather than (as always) seeking to defend itself against it, as the region’s principal violator of human rights and democracy rather than being in fact their sole defender, as the cavalier killers of civilians rather than in fact maintaining such a low civilian hit-rate in military action that no other country in the world comes close, and beyond all obscenity as wanton child-killers rather than going to such lengths to protect Arab children that again no other country would match – and under the onslaught to boot of sustained, psychotic, exterminatory attack that no other country in the world has to endure; all this makes the BBC absolutely complicit in inciting the population of Britain and indeed the world to hate, to demonise and to attack not just Israel but Jews too.
A notable blog post by Joe Glasman illustrates very well how the antisemitism thing is actually the anti-Israelism thing. He describes being in a group of Jews and non-Jews who were in the pub having attended a Campaign Against Antisemitism rally in Parliament Square. He writes:
Then, as if from no-where, a passer-by approached our group. He was white, stocky and middle-aged. His opening line, as reported by those closest to him, was “I know what you lot do to the Palestinians.”
Immediately, we were no longer in Westminster, but the West Bank. A conversation ensued, wherein it must have become obvious by accent and manner that we were British, but he persisted. An exchange started, and he was asked: “should Israel exist?”
“No” …you’re upsetting the equilibrium in the Middle East.
“Who do you mean by ‘you?”
“You Israelis … you’re all f**ing paranoid”
He was quizzed again about the “You”.
“Israelis!” he shouted.
Finger-jabbing, ugly, spoiling for a fight and hurling antisemitic abuse, he then invited one of us to “Come round the corner and sort it out”, a phrase he then kept repeating. Only violence, it seemed, would satisfy.
…The writer Ben Cohen distinguishes between quasi-intellectual ‘bistro’ and street-level ‘bierkeller’ antisemitism. What I realised on Thursday night is that this particular re-invention of antisemitism, the one favoured by Mr Corbyn and his coterie, has now passed its bistro phase. Street thugs are picking up on the latest fashion in the cyclical reinvention of Jew-hate, and it’s arriving in the bierkeller.
Where will all this end? This is uncharted territory.