Ian McCulloch – Ready to Continue the Witch Hunt?

This is another piece about the deputy leadership hustings in Bristol, and about one of the contentious issues that was inevitably raised there – anti-Semitism. All the candidates made it clear that they were determined to stamp out racism and Jew-hatred in the party, but it was the comments by Ian McCulloch and, to a lesser extent, Rosena Allin-Khan, that gave me concern. McCulloch seemed absolutely ruthless about it, stating that he would do anything to crush it in the party.

These are dangerous words, as the amount of real anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has been massively exaggerated. It exists, but it’s vanishingly small. Less than one per cent of Labour Party members have been found to be anti-Semitic. It’s far smaller than the amount of racism, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism that’s very often openly displayed in the Tory party and among its supporters. The extent of anti-Semitism in Labour was played up purely for political reasons. The Tories, their media lackeys and the Blairites in Labour simply wanted to use it as a stick to beat and oust Corbyn. The Israel lobby, including the Jewish establishment – the Jewish papers, Board of Deputies, Chief Rabbis, Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, Jewish Labour Movement and so on, also wanted to overthrow Corbyn and purge the party of his supporters because they were afraid of the election of a national leader, who would genuinely defend the Palestinians. These organisations aren’t interested in defending Jews from real racial hatred. In their view, anti-Semitism is nearly synonymous with opposition to Israel. It was made very clear by Stephen Pollard, the editor of the Jewish Chronicle, who wrote a piece declaring that Michal Kaminski, a far-right Polish MEP, wasn’t anti-Semitic because he was a ‘good friend to Israel’. It’s shown in the way the Israeli state greets and welcomes genuine far right leaders and heads of states so long as they trade with Israel and buy their arms.

As a result of these political intrigues, many hundreds of entirely innocent individuals, including self-respecting Jews, have been purged from the party simply for voicing opinions on Israel’s barbarous treatment of the Palestinians. Opinions that the Thatcherite establishment and Israel lobby wish to suppress. Either that, or they’ve been thrown out simply for defending those, who’ve been libelled, suspended and expelled. The victims include Jackie Walker, Tony Greenstein, Marc Wadsworth, Cyril Chilson, Mike Sivier, Martin Odoni, Ken Livingstone and many others. As you can see from this brief list, many of them are Jewish, and all are absolutely convinced anti-racists. But because they are genuinely anti-racist and are not prepared to exclude Israel from criticism and are concerned with historical truth, they’ve been victimised and expelled.

As the leadership elections commenced, the Board of Deputies sent the candidates a list of pledges they demanded them to commit to. These pledges, as Mike has made clear on his blog, give the Board and its subsidiary organisations total control over who is to be judged an anti-Semite, and the processes by which they are judged and punished or expelled. This is unacceptable for several reasons. The Board has been one of the parties pushing the anti-Semitism smears, and so is hardly a disinterested, objective party. It is also an outside organisation, not a part of nor responsible to the members of the party. Its interference in the party’s affairs is unacceptable purely on that account. All of the leadership candidates signed their wretched piece of paper, which means that instead of drawing a line under the anti-Semitism controversy, it will almost certainly result in further interference, smears and fake accusations by the Board.

It’s a pity that the candidates weren’t taking questions directly from the audience about their answers. I would have liked to have challenged McCulloch about this, made the point that majority of accusations were false, and asked him what he was going to do to make sure any accusation and trial were just. But this was not permitted by the format. Instead, McCulloch got thunderous applause from those present.

I was also rather concerned by Rosena Allin-Khan’s statement about anti-Semitism. She wanted it cleaned out because she had Jewish friends, who were considering joining and standing for the party. But they had been put off, and wondered if there was a place for Jews in it. Now I don’t doubt that this is true. There are many Jews within and outside the Labour party, who do realise what is going on and that the accusations are false. But nevertheless, the Jewish establishment have done an excellent job of scaring Britain’s Jews into believing that Corbyn and the Labour Party really are anti-Semitic and an ‘existential threat to Jewish life in Britain’. I wanted to ask Allin-Khan what she had done to calm their fears. Had she tried to refute them, to show that the vast majority of accusations were false, that nearly all of them were purely political in motivation? And was she concerned about the vast numbers of Jews inside and outside the party, who were being smeared as ‘the wrong kind of Jews’ by the Zionist Jewish establishment? Did she know, had she told them, that the Jewish Labour Movement was at the time tiny, and that most of its members were gentiles and that many of them weren’t even members of Party, against Jewish Voice for Labour, which was much bigger and the majority of whose members were, through its constitution, very definitely Jewish? Didn’t she point out and defend the Jews, who had been falsely accused, smeared and then expelled or bullied into leaving, who very definitely weren’t self-hating, or anti-Semitic? Quite the opposite, in fact. Many Jews despise Israel and its treatment of the Paletinians because they are Jewish. They include Torah-observant Jews, such as the Haredi, who object to it because the Torah and Talmud state that Israel can only be restored by the Messiah and the hand of the Almighty. Or they see liberal values as the moral core of Judaism, and object to Israel because it’s the same kind of ethnic state that persecuted them. And one Jewish journalist has said that British Jews are afraid to speak out against the Israel lobby. This is really persecution, but as it’s done by the self-professed British Jewish establishment, it’s totally ignored. It’s victims really are the ‘wrong kind of Jews’, you see.

I couldn’t ask these question, but they do need to be asked. I realise the candidates have to be very careful in the answers they give, because any sign that they don’t back Israel 100 per cent or that they believe the anti-Semitism accusations to be grossly inflated will result in further smears and accusations against them. I want a Labour government back in power. But I also want a party genuinely committed to justice, and not dominated on this or any other issue by an outside party acting primarily in the interests of another nation. I believe this can be done, if the party is prepared to stand together to rebut the lies and libels.

And I definitely don’t want to elect a leader, who will continue the witch hunt and wreck decent peoples’ lives, Jewish and gentile, by seeing them smeared as anti-Semites when they are absolutely not.

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