The attack on Jeremy Corbyn for attending a Seder dinner marking the first night of the biblical Passover organised by the group Jewdas starkly confirms the real aim of the campaign to tar the Labour Party leader and his supporters as anti-Semites.
To coin a phrase: “It’s about anti-Zionism, stupid!”
After weeks of Corbyn being denounced for not reaching out and listening to the concerns of the “Jewish Community,” his critics rounded on him for the crime of mixing with the “wrong kind” of Jews—a satirical group of radicals and self-declared non-Zionists.
Jewdas has a public record of opposing fascism and anti-Semitism. But as well as denouncing Israel’s brutal suppression of the Palestinians, it has called the protests against Corbyn for failing to tackle anti-Semitism in the Labour Party “faux-outrage greased with hypocrisy and opportunism.”
The allegations of anti-Semitism were “the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party,” it wrote.
This was a reference to the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Jewish Leadership Council and the overwhelming preponderance of leading Blairites among the Labour MPs who have joined and spearheaded their campaign accusing Corbyn and “the left” of anti-Semitism.
Jewdas added, “It is a malicious ploy to remove the leader of the Opposition and put a stop to the possibility of a socialist government.”
The furore over Jewdas confirms that the now three-year-long campaign accusing Corbyn of tolerating rampant anti-Semitism is indeed part of an ongoing effort to discredit the entire left.
What this eventually leads to—removing him from leadership, sabotaging any prospect of Labour forming a government or possibly even splitting the party—depends upon circumstances. But no matter how this domestic political agenda develops, the campaign to portray anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism is also aimed at silencing all criticism of Israel’s brutal subjugation of the Palestinians and its regional warmongering in alliance with the United States.
The Daily Mail, which supported the fascists in the 1930s, responded with a front-page headline “How Low Can You Go, Mr Corbyn?”
It described Jewdas as a “militant Jewish group” that “mocks Judaism and made sickening attacks on [the] Queen.”
The Jewish Leadership Council, made up of Tories and right-wing Labourites, attacked Corbyn for “attending a dinner with people who are so hostile” to Israel.
The Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), dominated by the party’s right-wing, accused Corbyn of spending an evening “with an organization that said ‘F*** you’ to Jews.” Louise Ellman, a former parliamentary chairperson of JLM, added that it was a “gratuitous insult” to Britain’s Jews.
The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism described Corbyn’s attendance at the Seder dinner “a very clear two fingered salute at mainstream British Jewry.”
John Woodcock, a Labour MP and long-time opponent of Corbyn, called his attendance at the Jewdas event “irresponsible and dangerous” that was “deliberately baiting the mainstream Jewish community days after they pleaded with him to tackle anti-Semitism.”
Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews articulated most clearly the campaign’s right-wing agenda. His message was clear: You are not a Jew if you don’t support Israel and we will go after you too.
He branded Jewdas a “source of virulent anti-Semitism” and “a group that puts out racism.” Giving himself rabbinical powers to determine who is and is not a Jew, he declared that they “are not all Jewish.”
He added, “If Jeremy Corbyn goes to their event, how can we take his stated commitment to be an ally against anti-Semitism seriously?”
That Arkush is more concerned with supporting Israel than opposing anti-Semitism is demonstrated by the speed with which he rushed to congratulate Donald Trump on winning the US presidential election in November 2016, despite the fact Trump’s circle included neo-fascists, racists and anti-Semites.
Trump and his immediate circle, like the rest of the US political establishment, view Israel as their regional policeman in defending Washington’s geostrategic interests in the resource-rich Middle East.
Arkush et al are now putting their threat into action, trying to force a criminal investigation that also feeds into the campaign for censorship of the Internet and social media.
Lord Polak, the honorary president of the Conservative Friends of Israel, has written a letter, signed by a group of peers, to the Metropolitan Police alleging anti-Semitic abuse on Facebook pages purporting to back Jeremy Corbyn.
The letter claims that the messages “go well beyond what can reasonably be considered as free speech, and we believe those which incite violence should urgently be investigated to establish whether they were made with serious intent.” And for posing “a possible physical threat to the Jewish community.”
One of the signatories to the letter was Lord Alan Sugar, a former member of the Labour Party and donor until he left following the 2015 election, citing concerns about a shift to the left in the Labour Party. Sugar, who last week tweeted and then deleted a photo-shopped picture of Corbyn attending a Nazi rally, subsequently tweeted a derogatory poem about the Labour leader calling him a “dangerous fool who is anti-Semitic.”
Other signatories included Lady Deech, a former member of the Jewish Leadership Council, Labour’s Lord Turnberg and Lord Beecham, the former Liberal Democrat Lord Carlile, and Ros Altmann, the former Conservative pensions minister.
The vicious offensive waged by the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council in alliance with the Tories and right-wing Labourites is part of a broader international campaign on behalf of Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government.
Israel has increasingly open relations with some of the worst white supremacist anti-Semites, hosting among others Sebastian Gorka, a member of a Hungarian Nazi-allied group, Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria and the country’s vice chancellor, and the secretary-general of France’s far-right National Front.
The implications of the attempt to brand opposition to Israel by Jews as anti-Semitic was underscored by the Likud Minister of Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan’s attack on Gideon Levy’s opinion piece in the Ha’aretz daily paper, calling the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) “The Israel Massacre Forces.”
Levy wrote in response to the March 30 murder of 17 Palestinian protesters by the IDF on Gaza’s border, in a shooting spree that wounded 773 with live ammunition, injured 1,400 and left 20 in critical condition.
The massacre, Levy wrote, “shows once again that the killing of Palestinians is accepted in Israel more lightly than the killing of mosquitoes… there’s nothing cheaper in Israel than Palestinian blood.”
He rejected the IDF’s claims that Palestinians who returned fire on Israeli soldiers were “terrorists,” and accused Israelis of being brainwashed.
Erdan wrote to Ha’aretz publisher Amos Shocken, asking, “Are you not ashamed of [the headline], Mr. Shocken?” He accused Levy of adopting Hamas’ line and compared his column to the anti-Semitic blood libels of Jews during Passover.
Levy is a prize-winning Israeli journalist whose weekly columns in Ha’aretz oppose Israel’s acts of aggression against the Palestinians, its occupation of the Palestinian territories and wars against its neighbours. He famously called the construction of settlements on private Palestinian land as “the most criminal enterprise in [Israel’s] history.”
His sentiments are echoed all over the world by people who are quite justifiably horrified by the brutality and criminality of the Israeli government and its security forces. But as far as the Netanyahu government—and its supporters in Britain—are concerned, such conceptions are nothing short of anti-Semitic.
There is no doubt that had Levy been a member of Britain’s Labour Party or published his article in the British press, these self-appointed “leaders of the Jewish community” would be calling for his expulsion and criminal charges to be brought against him.