Saturday, 30 April 2016

Labour and anti-Semitism

It's been a bit interesting watching the current shit storm in Britain.

It reeks of right-wing desperation.  Are they really reduced to trawling through the pre-parliamentary twitter feeds and online wibblings of Labour MPs to find anything that can be spun as dicreditable.

I refer, of course, to the fuss about Naz Shah's comments - made two years ago, before she became an MP - about relocating Israel to the USA as a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem.

In subsequent events, Labour veteran loudmouth Ken Livingstone may finally have gone too far and be forced to retire in disgrace, a sad end to a career in politics that has been amusing, infuriating and only sometimes offensive.

First, Ms Shah.  Yeah, she made some thoughtless comments on Twitter.  Were they anti-Semitic?  I wouldn't have thought so.  Just a bit crass, and only anti-Semitic if you are one of these people who conflate Israel with all Jews.

It was interesting watching how this story was reported.

The Mail's first few paragraphs is a masterclass in disingenuous reporting, making it sound like she did it recently, while in her role as an MP:
A Labour MP today has resigned as an aide to John McDonnell after sharing a graphic on social media that appeared to say Israel should be 'relocated' to America.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah shared an image that showed an outline of Israel superimposed on to a map of the USA.

The headline on the image said: 'Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict - Relocate Israel into United States.'
Note 'A Labour MP today has resigned as an aide to John McDonnell after sharing a graphic' - yeah, almost 2 years afterwards she shared it, and a year after becoming an MP. And 'Bradford West MP Naz Shah shared an image' - the Bradford MP Naz Shah did nothing of the kind, Naz Shah, did, before she became the MP for Bradford West.

Clever, though disheartening stuff.

Whereas Shah's action was not clever, and also disheartening.

Ken Livingstone's intervention is more problematic.  In fact, he should be banished from the party and should be sacked and thrown in the Thames. Not because of what he said, as much as the stupidity of opening his mouth and turning an annoyance into a crisis. Government looking useless and divided, the first polls showing Labour in the lead, a bit of a hint of Corbyn starting to impinge on the public consciousness as something more than a bizarre situationist prank, and then Livingstone goes and shoots his mouth off.

He's actually managed to make things much worse for Shah. Her silliness - two years ago, before parliament - would have been forgotten and after an 'investigation' and a stern talking to she could have been re-admitted. But Livingstone - who should know better, given he's been around for a colossally long time and presumably knows a few things about the right wing media works - should have anticipated what would happen if he started shooting his mouth off.

Now there will be far more swivel eyed attention paid to Shah's case, and it is possible she won't be back in at.

It's monumentally depressing.

Almost as depressing as this extremely depressing article by George Eaton in New Statesman, puffing up a bunch of rumours and snipes from the Labour right.  Not exactly fair, balanced coverage there, George.

The central contention is that Jermey Corbyn is not up to tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Only, he has been.

Post Options Post by lala on 26 minutes ago People are screaming and running around like idiots as if this is a new thing, and Corbyn et al are fumbling to make a response to the scorching searchlight now being shone on them ... When Labour has actually been addressing the issue of anti-Semites and racists in the party before it became a Meja sensayshun:
A Labour councillor has been suspended from the party over anti-Semitic comments on her Twitter account. 
A message on Luton councillor Aysegul Gurbuz's Twitter feed claimed Hitler was the "greatest man in history". 
Another tweet on Ms Gurbaz's account suggested Iran could develop a nuclear weapon to "wipe Israel off the map". 
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said anyone who makes anti-Semitic remarks is "auto-excluded from the party" pending an inquiry.
Note that this story is dated the 10th of April, well before the Mail et al became hypocritically excited about anti-Semitism.  But Corbyn's position is quite clear.  Anti-Semitism is not tolerated.  Suspension pending investigation.

Yet still the right wing of his party - more interested in destablizing him, still afflicted by the deranged idea that he can be overthrown, are trying to stir up trouble and make out that he is dithering and is not trying to address the problem.

1 comment:

swordfish said...

Very good post, lurgee. There's a significant overlap, of course, between the Blairite Right and the Labour Friends of Israel brigade (membership of which was virtually a must for any ambitious Labour backbencher during the Blair/Brown era). And a close relationship with a UK Israel Lobby only too happy to smear principled critics of Israel's long brutal Occupation with anti-Semitism. What a stunning co-incidence: Labour begin to pull ahead of the Tories in the polls, Local Elections imminent (with their potentially important implications for the future of the Corbyn leadership) and suddenly Labour's Right discover that the Party is supposedly awash with vile anti-Semitism.

Livingstone's comments were certainly politically inept - he should have had the good sense to concede that while Shah's comments were silly, the reaction to them has been little short of hysteria and that leading politically progressive members of the Jewish community who know her have stated emphatically that she is not an anti-Semite - but the viciousness of the attacks on London's former Mayor are something to behold. Real McCarthyite Witch-Hunt territory.

Livingstone's relatively close to Corbyn, of course, and clearly the Blairites and Brownites and their fellow travellers are heading in for the kill.

400,000 members of the UK Labour Party. And on the basis of (1) a few relatively ambiguous tweets (in some cases, doctored and quoted out of context by Right-Wing Blogger Guido Fawkes) and (2) a bit of hearsay from a former Israel Lobby (BICOM) intern - all involving a grand total of 8 - that's right, just 8 !!! - Labour Party members (one of whom, incidentally, is Jewish and a prominent opponent of anti-Semitism and simply made remarks critical of Zionism) - we're supposed to believe that the Party is deeply, irretrievably anti-Semitic. Extraordinary.