Posts Tagged ‘Haredi Jews’

The Jewish Establishment’s Extension of Control over 19th Century Eastern European Jewish Immigrants

September 26, 2019

There’s a very interesting section in Andrina Stile’s Religion, Society and Reform 1800-1914 (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1995) discussing the challenge the Sephardic Jewish establishment faced in the 19th century from the influx of Ashkenazi Jews fleeing persecution in eastern Europe. The British Jewish community was assimilated, and shocked by the poverty and lack of education of the new immigrants. They therefore tried to assist them and help them to integrate into British society. However, while this assistance was well-intentioned, they were also afraid of the immigrants’ political radicalism. Many of them were Socialists, and they challenged the Jewish religious establishment by setting up independent charities and prayer groups, the chevroth, that acted as alternatives to the established synagogues and centres of Jewish culture and learning. As a result, the Chief Rabbis began a campaign to centralise their power and authority, leading to the establishment of the United Synagogue.

Stiles’ writes

This great influx of immigrants completely destabilised Anglo-Jewry for a while, socially, economically and religiously. The majority of the newcomers were poor and uneducated, used to a life of violence and prone to riot. A campaign of education and training was begun by the Jewish elite, not in an attempt to keep down a potentially dangerous proletariat and maintain the social status quo, but to turn the newcomers into respectable citizens, wean them away from socialist politics and integrate them into existing society. Schools, hospitals and charitable institutions of all kinds were established and adult education was vigorously pursued in the hope of instilling bourgeois values; but the immigrant populations in London, Leeds and Manchester remained stubbornly unwilling to co-operate. Not only was the Hebrew Socialist Union formed in 1875 with the aim of organising workers in the East End of London, but there was also a sudden and spontaneous growth of religious confraternities, chevra. These chevra provided spiritual, social and material comfort for those in need. Groups of ‘poor foreigners’ who could not afford to attend the synagogues, where they were not made welcome, would combine to form the necessary quorum of ten men for worship. In any room they could borrow or rent cheaply they held their own services. However unsalubrious, crowded and uncomfortable, a chevroth ‘supplied them not only with their religion, but with their art and letters, their politics and their public amusements. It was their home as well as the Almighty’s’. The failure of the synagogues to provide for the poor probably explains why, according to the 1851 Religious Census, only 16 per5 cent of Jews attended the official Sabbath service.

The Jewish elite disliked these independent organisations for their religious extremism, their encouragement of class divisions and their radical politics and looked for a way to counter the influence of the chevra. They found it in the development of a strong, hierarchical and centralised religious government under the leadership of the Adler family. Father and son, the Adlers filled the office of Chief Rabbi for 66 years (1844-1911), during which time they gather into their hands complete control of all religious matters. Social affairs were co-ordinate in 1858 by the formation of the Jewish Board of Guardians and the process of centralisation was completed when hitherto autonomous religious congregations were brought together by the creation of the United Synagogue in 1870. (p. 143-44).

This seems to parallel some of the conflict with British, American and western Judaism today over the support for Israel. And it strongly appears to me that right-wing Zionist Jewish establishment in Britain isn’t just frightened about falling support for Israel and its vile colonialist programme of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. They also seem to be very much afraid that the great-grandchildren of the Jewish radicals of the 19th century are rediscovering their Socialist heritage.

David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group has described on his blog how the Board of Deputies of British Jews in the 1980s accused the GLC of anti-Semitism because Ken Livingstone dared to give them a small grant. The Board were infuriated because the JSG wasn’t affiliated to them. Rosenberg himself celebrates the tradition of the Bund, the 19th century eastern European Jewish party, which wished to create a socialist order while remaining in their traditional European homelands. Their motto, in Hebrew, translated as ‘Wherever we are, that’s our homeland’. They wished to be equal, fellow citizens with the gentile peoples with whom they lived. This was completely unacceptable to the Zionists, who were a minority among the eastern European Jewish masses.

Jeremy Corbyn has been bitterly denounced as an anti-Semite for his support of equality and dignity for the Palestinians by the Conservative establishment, including the Blairite ‘moderates’ in Labour itself. And they’ve also accused him and his supporters of being Communists, Trotskyites and Stalinists because they stand for a return to the post-War social democratic consensus. A strong welfare state, a nationalised National Health Service that carries out its commitment to provide universal healthcare free at the point of delivery, and workers’ rights and effective trade unions, are too much for the right-wing establishment, Jewish, gentile or whatever, to tolerate. Among those on the receiving end of this campaign of smears and vilification have been left-wing, Corbyn-supporting Jews, like Jackie Walker. Corbyn has a proud tradition of supporting the Jewish community, as bloggers like Mike over at Vox Political, the Skwawkbox and very many others have shown. And he enjoys the respect and support of part of the Jewish community. This includes the ultra-Orthodox Haridi, whose campaign to preserve their burial ground he and Dianne Abbott supported when the local synagogue wanted to redevelop it. Within the Labour party Corbyn is supported by Jewish Voice for Labour, and he spent Passover with the radical Jewish group, Jewdas. Which sent the Board and the witch-hunters berserk once again. They howled ‘anti-Semitism!’, because he dared to celebrate a Jewish holiday with ‘the wrong sort of Jews’. You know, people who may have seen themselves as in the tradition of the Hebrew Socialist Union, rather than respectable business types.

The Conservative Jewish establishment seems to feel that its power is being challenged, both in terms of foreign policy – support for Israel – and domestically in that there are independent Jewish organisations following left-wing politics. And so these decent people are also smeared as ‘self-hating’, anti-Semitic and ‘the wrong kind of Jews’, just as the Israel lobby as a whole smears anybody, who decries Israeli ethnic cleansing.

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Anti-Semitism Witch-Hunter Margaret Hodge Accused of Anti-Semitism

July 24, 2019

This is a very interesting development in the anti-Semitism furore that has engulfed the Labour Party. Margaret Hodge, who so delights in accusing Corbyn supporters of anti-Semitism, and called Corbyn himself a ‘fucking anti-Semite’, has been accused herself of anti-Semitism. Her accusers is Shraga Stern, a Haredi Jew, a member and supporter of the Labour Party. Mr Stern met Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour MP Dan Carden at Portcullis House in Westminster. Where he was photographed by Hodge, who then tweeted the picture to one of Murdoch’s journalistic minions. She added the caption

Having lunch & wondering why Corbyn wants to be seen talking to an anti-LGBT activist who doesn’t represent the mainstream Jewish community yet chooses to sideline groups like Jewish Labour Movement.

Stern told the Jewish Chronicle that the picture’s appearance made him feel ‘quite intimidated’. He’s been the subject of recent claims that he’s against the LGBT community because of his activism in the area of sex education. However, Stern himself has replied to the accusation by saying that he isn’t against gays, but simply wants Orthodox children to be given their sex education at home, in accordance with their tradition. He was also offended at being described as a ‘non-mainstream Jew’. He therefore sent her an email objecting to her comments, and a formal complaint to the Labour Party. He states in his letter

The evidence proves the intention of the attack was for maintaining Jewish traditions.

It is ok, to be hurt and assaulted for simply living in the UK as a Charedi Jew? 

Is it acceptable for a party member to suffer from stress due to anti-Semitic assaults for being a Charedi Jew? 

Is it ok, for a Member of Parliament to assault a fellow Jew just for the reason that his external appearances are different? 

Last but not least, why is it wrong for Jeremy Corbyn to speak to a second-class Jew. (Your words).

In his complaint to the Labour Party, Stern complains that Hodge defamed him as an anti-LGBT activist. He states firmly that he is not, and that he is against all sex teaching in the classroom, as this should be done by the parents at home according to Charedi Jewish custom. He states that he made this clear throughout his campaign. He says

‘She is attacking me for continuing my religious Jewish tradition … This is pure religious anti-Semitism against me my religion and my rabbis.’

He also passed on a dossier of information relating to her time as leader of Islington council, which he believes indicates a negative attitude towards Orthodox Jews. This is reproduced in the Skwawkbox article about the incident. They seem to relate to the plans by West London Synagogue to redevelop the Jewish cemetery for housing and a playground. This was strongly opposed by Orthodox Jews, although the scheme was supported by the council. The protesters, however, had the support of Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn, whom the Orthodox community publicly thanked for their stance.

See: https://skwawkbox.org/2019/07/23/hodge-subject-of-formal-antisemitism-complaint-by-orthodox-jewish-labour-member/

The Skwawkbox notes that there are about 67,000 Charedi Jews in the UK, who make up a quarter of the Jewish population. This is expected to increase to half within fifteen years.

Mike in his article about this says that it will test the Labour Party’s complaints team, who try to protect all party representatives like Hodge from all complaints against them. He wonders whether they will try to sweep her anti-Semitic attack – one that appears to be part of a series going back decades – under the carpet. He also observes that this shows the highly partisan nature of the lamestream media that it hasn’t been widely reported in the national press. He illustrates this point with a tweet from the Prole Star, which accurately points out that if a Corbyn ally had been accused instead, it would be on every news outlet for weeks. The tweets states

Their silence is pretty strange considering they love to talk about anti-Semitism so much. The mainstream media have proven they don’t really care about racism. It’s just a weapon to smear their opponents. Absolutely disgusting.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/07/24/witch-hunter-accused-of-anti-semitic-attack-isnt-it-odd-that-the-mass-media-

Absolutely right. The French Philosophical Feline, Guy Debord’s Cat, showed this very clearly in a post from the 7th of this month responding to Gordon Brown’s comments about the anti-Semitism accusations. Brown supported them, so the Cat pointed out the various racist incidents in the Labour Party against Blacks and Asians that Brown chose to ignore, not to mention that against Roma and other Travellers. He then went on to state, absolutely correctly, that there is a hierarchy of racism in this country and that the racism Blacks experience comes a very distant second, third or fourth place behind the anti-Semitism smears. And that even real anti-Semitic incidents are ignored instead of the smears. He showed this very clearly with a report about a Far Right terrorist, Tristan Morgan, who had been sentenced to be locked up in hospital indefinitely. Morgan had tried to burn down an 18th century synagogue in Exeter, Devon, on the 18th July 2018, a day commemorating the Holocaust. Morgan himself laughed when he committed the attack, though he was put on fire by the blast from the fire he started.

See: https://buddyhell.wordpress.com/2019/07/07/gordon-browns-selective-anti-racism/

I’m not surprised that Hodge targeted Mr Stern with this nasty sneer. Stern’s a very staunch supporter of Corbyn. I believe he was among the people, who met the Labour leader when he visited a London mosque a few months ago, whose members had been victims of a White Islamophobic terrorist attack. I also recall that he was involved with a letter sent by a number of Haredi rabbis to the papers defending Corbyn, and stating that he has been a good friend to British Jews to the papers, as well as other efforts showing that Corbyn actually has widespread support amongst British Jews. Which the Jewish Chronicle has tried its very best to invalidate through quibbles about the right of some of those, who signed to be credited as proper representatives of British Jewry. But it does seem that Diane Abbott and Corbyn are genuinely held in high regard by the Orthodox community for their support over Islington council’s plan to redevelop the community’s cemetery.

And it’s more than a little rich for Hodge to accuse Mr Stern of not being a mainstream Jew, when the Jewish Labour Movement can in truth be accurately described as a fringe organisation. Jewish bloggers have pointed out that it seems to have less than 200 members, that over half of these aren’t Jewish. Unlike Jewish Voice for Labour, which appears to be a genuinely Jewish organisation. But Jewish Voice for Labour is ignored or vilified by the lamestream media and the Jewish establishment in this country as they’re pro-Corbyn, and so don’t count as ‘proper’ Jews. Which is very definitely an anti-Semitic stance.

Hodge herself has also been massively indifferent to the rise of very real racism. When Derek Beacon and his storm troopers in the BNP got elected on Tower Hamlets council, they rewarded Hodge for her lack of efforts to oppose them by sending her a bouquet. As an MP she was so lackadaisical and unimpressive that the Jewish Chronicle was calling on her to resign. But now she’s screaming that she’s terribly concerned about anti-Semitism in the Labour party, of which she is a victim, despite all evidence to the contrary.

It will be very interesting to see how the Labour complaints team handle this, and I wish Mr Stern every success.

Haredi Jews Send Letter of Support to Diane Abbott

April 5, 2019

This is another fascinating piece refuting the allegations that the Labour party is institutionally anti-Semitic. On the 29th March 2019 Skwawkbox posted an article reporting that the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations – UOHC – wrote a letter supporting Diane Abbott.

The letter was written as a riposte to attacks on Abbott for not intervening when her local party passed a motion denying that Labour is institutionally anti-Semitic. Supposedly some Jewish members left in tears. The Skwawkbox notes that most of the media accounts did not mention that the motion was brought and supported by Jewish party members. As for Abbott herself, Labour party rules specifically prohibit MPs from interfering in motions by the constituency parties.

The UOHC is the umbrella organisation for Haredi – ultra-Orthodox – Jews, who are not represented by the Board of Deputies, along with secular members of the Jewish community. The good rabbis write

We are aware that you often spend much time and trouble to assist constituents and others with their personal and other problems, and that the ethnicity and religion etc., of those that you assist makes not an iota of difference to the assistance that you generously provide.  We hope and trust that you will continue your battle against racism, and your other endeavours for the general population of this country for many years.

Shraga Stern, an activist in Hackney’s Haredi community, welcomed the letter and mentioned that when Jeremy Corbyn signed an early day motion in 2010 calling for the relocation of Yemeni Jews to Britain, Diane Abbott had been the second to sign it and had done so without a moment’s hesitation. Stern also said

While it is sad that the UOHC letter had to be written at all, I am delighted at this instance of public Jewish support for Ms Abbott, whom I regard as a true friend of the Jewish people.

https://skwawkbox.org/2019/03/29/orthodox-jewish-union-issues-letter-of-strong-support-for-diane-abbott/

Abbott is the most vilified female MP in parliament, a fact the media neglected to mention when they were falling over themselves to cover the misogynistic and anti-Semitic abuse directed at Blairite female MPs like Luciana Berger. Berger has suffered real, horrific abuse, but this has been covered by the press and media simply to discredit Corbyn, despite the fact that it has no connection to him at all. And the biased media have absolutely no interest in upsetting this story by giving the same amount of coverage to left-wing Labour MPs, who suffer the same abuse.

Stern was also one of the members of the Jewish community, who attended Finsbury Park mosque when Jeremy Corbyn visited it. I think he may also have suffered attacks from the Jewish Chronicle, which is absolutely outraged that any Jew should support Corbyn, and which has been trying to discredit those who do. One of their latest victims is a Holocaust survivor, who also signed a letter by twelve other members of the Haredi community supporting Corbyn. They have tried to suggest that this person couldn’t really be a survivor of the Shoah, as they left in 1939, before the Final Solution got underway in 1942. However, the Holocaust Memorial Centre in Israel defines a Holocaust survivor as any Jew, who lived through the Nazi era. The Nazis got into power in 1933, and the concentration camps were opened that same year. And from the start the regime was persecuting the Jews horrifically before the official deportations started. So the JC’s allegations simply won’t wash. They prove instead what a vile, mendacious rag the Chronicle is.

As for Abbott’s unswerving support of the Jewish community in her constituency and elsewhere, I can believe that very easily. She has always been a dedicated campaigner against racism and discrimination, most obviously for the Black community but also for other ethnic groups. It’s her utter opposition to racism that has led to her demonisation by the right-wing media, and the vile hate messages she has to endure.

Corbyn and Abbott have never been anti-Semites and, like the very many others falsely smeared, have enjoyed the confidence and support of large sections of Britain’s diverse Jewish community for the care and work they have done on their behalf, and that of all the ethnic groups in Britain. 

Jewish Labour Supporters Attack the Anti-Semitism Witch-Hunters

March 18, 2019

Oh ho! Mike today posted a very interesting article about two letters written by Jewish supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, which the anti-Semitism witch-hunters will definitely not like.

One was written to the Groaniad by 200 Jewish ladies, who were angered by the formerly left-wing newspaper’s unqualified support of Margaret Hodge. Hodge was disappointed that so few people have been charged with anti-Semitism, as she personally had denounced 200 people. They pointed out that of 111 people she had accused, only 20 were actually members of the Labour party. The other 91 were nothing to do with the party’s disciplinary procedure and her complaints against them were a waste of the party’s time.

They also said that her other claims – that the party should shut down those branches which had expressed loyalty to Chris Williamson, or refused to adopt the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism should be similarly treated as suspect. They supported Williamson’s statement that the party had been too apologetic in its treatment of the anti-Semitism accusations, and stated that the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism had been shredded by two QCS and the Jewish human rights specialist, Sir Geoffrey Bindman, and the Jewish retired appealed court judge, Stephen Sedley. Their letter concludes

All signatories to this letter grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. We know we must maintain eternal vigilance against antisemitic resurgence. But we also celebrate our Jewishness, especially the disputatiousness (pace our aphorism: two Jews three opinions) central to Jewish identity. We are terrified by Margaret Hodge’s attempt to hijack our history and rewrite our identity and by unwillingness to investigate, fact check and challenge her allegations.

The Groaniad refused to print the letter, on the grounds that it didn’t say anything new. So two Jewish Labour ladies, Naomi Wayner and Leah Levane, one of whom was a signatory to the letter, published an article about it and the text  of the letter in the Prole Star.

See: https://www.prole-star.co.uk/single-post/2019/03/15/Jewish-Labour-Women-The-Voices-The-Guardian-Wants-To-Silence

Mike comments that this means that probably more people will see it and read it than if it had been published by the paper.

The Sunday Times, when of the offenders in the media smears of decent people as anti-Semites, also printed a letter by 12 Holocaust survivors. They state that they don’t believe the party is perpetrating any hostility or prejudice towards Jews, and if it is, it is minimal, and no more prevalent than in any other party. And rather than considering Jeremy Corbyn a threat, they say he has been over backwards for Jews.

They also state

Media attention on the Labour Party in general, and on Corbyn in particular, is being generated by anti-Labour and anti-Corbyn mischief makers, who unfortunately are over-represented within the so-called Anglo-Jewish leadership — a leadership whose legitimacy is not recognised by the mainstream Haredi (strictly Orthodox) Jews.

The Jewish Chronicle, a paper with a proud future behind it, has criticised the letter, and in particularly claimed that the authors or somehow connected to Shraga Stern, the Orthodox Jew, who appeared in a photo with Corbyn during his visit to Finsbury Park mosque. The paper also claimed that the rabbis who signed an earlier letter of support for Corbyn didn’t know what they were signing. According to the Skwawkbox, both claims have been thoroughly refuted. See:

https://skwawkbox.org/2019/03/17/jewish-chronicle-pushes-fake-news-to-discredit-pro-corbyn-letter/

Mike also notes that the film Witchhunt, about the persecution of anti-Zionists and Corbyn supporters within the Labour party, has just been released. He hasn’t seen it yet, but encourages everyone to do so. He ends his article

The mainstream – the ‘establishment’ – will try hard to regain the initiative; we have seen one attempt already in the response of the Jewish Chronicle. The best advice you can take is to use your own intelligence and make up your own mind, based on the evidence available and the reliability of those providing it.

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/03/18/at-long-last-the-voices-of-opponents-of-the-anti-semitism-witch-hunt-are-being-heard/#comments

I’m surprised that the Sunset Times published the article by Holocaust survivors, but perhaps they were afraid of the bad press they’d get if they didn’t. As Jewish bloggers like Tony Greenstein, Martin Odoni and David Rosenberg have pointed out, Orthodox Jews are not represented by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and don’t recognise the Chief Rabbi. And I suspect that Haredi Judaism of some of the signatories may well also be embarrassing to some of the witchhunters. According to a recent article by Shaun Lawson, a liberal Zionist, witchhunter Jonathan Hoffman tried to shut down Jewish supporters of Corbyn with a questionnaire asking them about how Jewish they were in terms of synagogue attendance, activity within the Jewish community, adherence to the Jewish purity laws and Torah, and so on. He had to abandon this approach. From what I gather, the Haredi are a Jewish revival movement, who call Orthodox Jews into a full observance of the Mosaic Law. Which means that there can be absolutely no question about their Jewishness, not that Hoffman’s wretched questionnaire could ever quantify that and the merest suggestion that it could is ridiculous. The Jewish community is divided in its adherence to the Law, from the very strict – the Orthodox and the Haredi, to the less so, like Reform Jews. But all of them view themselves as devout Jews, just as I’ve no doubt the third of the community that is secular also do not deny or are ashamed of their heritage.

As for Shraga Stern, who the Jewish Chronicle seems to believe was somehow involved in persuading the Holocaust survivors to write their letter, he has also received a threatening message because of his appearance with Corbyn, just like Mrs Manson. Is the Jewish Chronicle trying to stir up more hatred against him through its article?

I’m sure Mike’s right that further attacks will come, especially as Survation has put Labour five points ahead of the Tories. But with claims like anti-Semitism, you do have to exercise proper scepticism and critical thinking. You have to ask what the issues really are behind the article, who is writing it, and what they are not telling you. 

 

‘I’ Newspaper Smears Corbyn’s Labour as Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorists: Conclusion

March 10, 2019

Verber ends his strange concoction of fact, insinuation and outright lie with the paragraph ‘What Labour should do now’. This runs

A hallmark of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis is that the argument that if someone is anti-racist, they cannot be anti-Semitic. Many socialists – and Marxists in particular – view Jews not through the prism of race or religion, but through that of class. Jews, in their eyes, are a white, rich, powerful elite, unworthy of the solidarity or protection normally afforded to ethnic minorities. This is not just racist, it is also false: there are many Jews of colour, and there are many Jews who live below the poverty line. But it also swallows, hook, line and sinker, the conspiracy theories that I have laid out here.

To conquer the crisis, the Labour leadership needs to educate itself to understand what these conspiracy theories are, and why they’re so pervasive; it needs to disavow them publicly; and its needs to educate Labour members to spot these pernicious stereotypes and call them out when they appear.

Let’s start taking this apart. Firstly, it is massively hypocritical for any Zionist to start talking about the conditions of Jews of colour. Jackie Walker, whom the Israel lobby has foully smeared, is very much a Jewish woman of colour, who has fought against racism, including anti-Semitism, all her life. In Israel also Black Jews from Ethiopia and elsewhere are also suffering prejudice and often violent persecution, because they, like Walker, are not seen as Jewish because of their skin colour. Also, in Britain, as Tony Greenstein has pointed out, Jews are not persecuted. They are largely upper middle class and don’t suffer the same level as violence, prejudice and state discrimination as other ethnicities. No-one has forcibly put them on to planes to deport them, as they did the Windrush migrants and their children. Nor has anyone in any part demanded that there should be more prejudice against them, as Rod Liddle has with the Tories and Muslims. The anti-Semitic abuse and attacks are largely directed against Orthodox and Haredi Jews, because of their distinctive dress and lifestyle. Only 7 per cent of the British public hold anti-Semitic views. That’s too much, but it’s small, especially to the vicious hatred directed against Blacks, Asians and Muslims. Greenstein and those like them aren’t anti-Semites by any stretch of the imagination. But they are against hack propagandists like Verber grotesquely inflating the level of prejudice against Jews in order to justify smearing critics of Israel as anti-Semites, holocaust deniers and conspiracy theories.

Far from apologising for anti-Semitism that doesn’t exist in the Labour party, I think Williamson was right. It’s time to take a robust approach and defend the innocents, who have been smeared by people like Verber, the CAA and JLM, and publicly make the point that there is a real smear campaign against Israel’s critics by the Israel lobby, just as Peter Oborne and al-Jazeera have.