Why Starmer cannot succeed over antisemitism
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has now sent its report on Labour antisemitism to the party leadership so it can register its response before publication.
The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has said getting rid of the party’s Jew-hatred is his first priority. The big question, though, is whether he can do so even if he accepts all the commission’s conclusions.
He drew many plaudits for sacking from his front bench Rebecca Long-Bailey, after she tweeted a link to an interview voicing a Jewish conspiracy theory. But other actions suggest he doesn’t fully grasp the problem.
After he “took the knee” in support of the Black Lives Matter demonstrators, he tried to distance himself from the BLM aim of defunding the police. However, he bought into the movement’s racism by saying he would require his entire party to undergo “unconscious bias” training. Yet he has ignored the conscious anti-Jewish bias among these supposed anti-racist activists.
BLM UK trotted out Jewish conspiracy theory by claiming “mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism”. In the US, BLM demonstrators chanted that Israelis “murder children too” and referred to Israel as a “puppet master of continents”.
This gets to the real reason why it’s doubtful Starmer can acknowledge the true extent of Labour antisemitism.
For much of it concerns Israel. And among “progressives”, there’s a belief that their default animus against Israel constitutes not antisemitism but legitimate criticism.
Israel should be criticised like any other country. But no other country, people or cause is subjected to the same obsessional campaign of double standards, systemic falsehoods, blood libels, imputation of cosmic malice and air-brushing from their own history.
Boiler-plate accusations against Israel of illegality or systematic ill-treatment of the Palestinian Arabs are lies. Antisemitic claims regularly made by the Palestinians — that the Jews are a force for evil in the world, a global conspiracy controlling US policy and who imperil the world for their own purposes — are never countered. So why should anyone be surprised when those who support the Palestinians spew out the same antisemitic tropes?
The deranged misrepresentation of Israel is fuelling the antisemitism fire now raging throughout the world. It’s not just that it legitimises and normalises general Jew-bashing.
Worse, it follows that if Jews are denying Israel’s alleged crimes, their claim of antisemitism must be a lie. And if it is a lie, the Jews must be an evil, conniving conspiracy to defame those fine souls who stand up for the Palestinians and are now being accused of antisemitism.
The only way to begin to puncture this moral depravity is to tell some inconvenient truths about Israel. To say the only indigenous people of Israel are the Jews and that the Palestinian Arabs are the colonisers.
To say there is nothing illegal about extending Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, which on the contrary would uphold international law. To say Mahmoud Abbas is a Holocaust denier and his Palestinian Authority pumps out Nazi-style antisemitism.
Starmer won’t say any of this, not just because his party would turn on him but because he himself almost certainly runs away from these truths.
Nor, alas, will the Jewish community leadership say it. They won’t denounce black community or Palestinian antisemitism.
They won’t observe that the never-abrogated Mandate for Palestine gave the British a duty to settle the Jews throughout what is now Israel and the disputed territories. Nor, as the Israeli intelligence expert Yossi Kuperwasser points out in a pained open letter to Boris Johnson in Fathom, that the Mandate also stated that “no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of, any foreign power, namely other than the Jewish people”.
Community leaders instead equate antisemitism with other forms of “hate” or “racism” or “phobia”, standing in solidarity with all who claim to be victims of those attitudes.
But antisemitism is not merely another form of hatred or racism. It is uniquely pernicious because it is innately deranged, paranoid and murderous. Casting Jews as a force for evil in the world, it inescapably implies that the Jews should therefore be eradicated. The traducing of Israel thus puts Jews everywhere in active danger.
While even Jewish leaders refuse to spell out why antisemitism is uniquely evil, the chances of Sir Keir Starmer successfully purging it from his party are zero.