Anti-Semitism and the Criticism of Corbyn for Meeting Jewdas

Last Monday, Jeremy Corbyn attended a Passover seder with Jewdas, a left-wing Jewish organisation. Jewdas’ members are religious, observant Jews, who combine their faith with left-wing politics and activism. They were glad of the Labour leader’s presence, and the opportunity it gave them to discuss with him topics of importance to them and Britain’s Jewish community.

This was, however, too much for the Tory press, and the very Tory Jewish establishment. The Board of Deputies of British Jews and one of the other organisations repeating the same smears of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and his supporters, immediately went berserk along with the Blairites and started making renewed accusations of anti-Semitism. According to John Woodcock, Corbyn was being anti-Semitic again because this was an insult to Britain’s mainstream Jews, who were being sidelined. This did not go down at all well with Corbyn’s Jewish supporters, who thought that Woodcock had a cheek as a non-Jew telling Jews what was, and what wasn’t, anti-Semitic.

Corbyn’s attendance at the meeting was a private affair, until it was leaked to the press. Corbyn’s left-wing, but not far left, and so it makes perfect sense for him to seek the company and opinions of those with whom he already is in broad agreement. The Board’s complaint that he was sidelining mainstream Jews is another piece of camouflage, designed to disguise their real complaint. They have been trying to undermine Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party almost from the day he took office, repeating the lie that he and his supporters are anti-Semitic. He and they aren’t. But he is pro-Palestinian. And as the Board and the other parts of the Israel lobby have decided that criticism of Israel equals anti-Semitism, they use the accusation to smear him and his supporters.

It’s questionable who the Board represents. The Board is very Tory in composition. Jonathan Arkush, its president, is a member of the Tory party. He sent a message of congratulation to Donald Trump on Trump’s election as US president. This is despite the vocal support for the Orange Fascist from real White supremacists, anti-Semites, Nazis and the Alt Right. But this doesn’t faze the Israel lobby. Steve Bannon, Trump’s former aide and another member of the Alt Right, has been invited to Israel to attend major state events. Richard Spencer, the founder of the Alt Right, has also appeared on Israeli TV. Spencer declares himself to be a ‘White Zionist’, and looks to Israel as the model of the kind of ethno-state he wants to create in America exclusively for Whites, just as Israel is the Jewish state. For members of the Israel lobby to accuse Corbyn of anti-Semitism after this is not only false, it’s also grotesquely hypocritical.

There are a number of Jewish groups and individuals, who have come out in support of Corbyn, who has a proud record of campaigning against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism. Which is in sharp contrast to the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, which made a racist statement that Muslims were more likely to be anti-Semites than the rest of the British population. As for the Board’s claim that ‘mainstream’ Jews were being sidelined, this seems to me to mean the Conservative-voting, establishment, business types they represent, rather than the ‘mainstream’ in the sense of the vast majority of ordinary Jewish people.

And Mike has also pointed out how the Blairite’s and the press’ attack on Corbyn for meeting Jewdas is based on a distinction between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Jews, something which is itself anti-Semitic.

Mike’s not wrong there. Several of the works of the conspiracy theorists I’ve come across make this distinction. Since the 1980s there have been a stream of books from the American conspiracy fringe arguing that the global corporate elite are active trying to set up a world-wide, one world Communist state. This will remove all our freedoms and effectively reduce everyone to slavery. It’s the classic stuff of the nonsense Alex Jones spouts on Infowars about the evil globalists. The main villains in this pernicious fantasy are the elite bankers, like the Rothschilds, who set up, or helped to set up, international organisations like the United Nations, the IMF and the World Bank. You can see the similarities to the vile Nazi fantasies about the Jewish banking conspiracy.

Many of these books also draw a distinction between ‘good’ Jews and ‘bad’ Jews. Rothschilds did lend money to Nazi Germany, even when they were persecuting the Jews. It’s a genuine crime, and the books have a point in this criticism of the Rothschilds and the other bankers, who also gave financial support and aid to Hitler and his murderers. They also make the point that millions of Jews weren’t involved in these schemes, and were murdered by the Nazis. Which is also true. They carefully make a distinction between ‘good’ Jews – the ordinary folks persecuted and murdered by the Nazis – and the ‘bad’ Jews – the Rothschilds and other bankers – who financed the Nazis. And the same kind of distinction is also made by others on the conspiracy fringe, who also promote these conspiracy theories. I believe there have been accusations of this kind aimed very squarely at David Icke.

In fact, the Rothschilds’ Jewishness is irrelevant to their dealings with Nazi Germany. They were bankers acting purely in self-interest, just like the various other big American corporations, like IBM, who also dealt with them. At the same time, there is much to criticise the IMF and World Bank for. They do act as the international representatives and enforcers of American corporate interests. Whenever a failing state in the Developing World is forced to go to them for a loan, they nearly always advise a programme of benefit cuts and privatisation, in which the companies being sold off are given to American multinationals. But this is a reflection of American capitalism, and does not come from some kind of secret Jewish conspiracy like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And the same is true of the bankers’ support for the UN and so on. This definitely isn’t part of a plot to create the one-world global dictatorship that keeps Alex Jones hollering into his microphone.

I’ve given these examples to show how the real conspiracy theorists do make the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Jews, just as Mike stated in his articles about this. It’s a distinction the Board and similar organisations are also making when they attack Corbyn for meeting Jewdas. Such distinctions have their basis in anti-Semitism, and show how the Board, the Tories and the press are quite prepared to ignore such concerns when it suits them.

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