Labour’s Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct – Be careful of what you wish for
Labour’s Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct – Be careful of what you wish for
It’s time to go on the offensive and say it loud and clear ‘Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism’ and
it’s not anti-Semitic to criticise the Apartheid State of Israel
newly drawn up Anti-Semitism
Code of Conduct has set the cat amongst the Zionist pigeons. It has also caused confusion amongst those
who are our allies such as Jewish Voice for Labour who have given the code a fulsome
believe the reaction of JVL and others on the Left to the new Code is mistaken
and naive. It is based on the idea that
you can ignore the Code’s adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance
Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, a definition whose sole purpose is to
conflate anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism and nonetheless make a silk purse out
of a sow.
fake anti-Semitism smear campaign was not driven by a lack of an anti-Semitism
code or definition anti-Semitism. The expulsion of myself, Marc Wadsworth and
Cyril Chilsom was the consequence of a political campaign by the
representatives of the Israeli state inside
the Labour Party. This code of
conduct is not going to prevent the expulsion of Jackie Walker.
the contrary, Jennie Formby, Jeremy Corbyn and Jon Lansman are going to be
eager to demonstrate that even with this
code Jackie is going to be expelled.
The case of Jackie Walker is going to be a litmus test as to whether
this code rationalises false accusations of anti-Semitism.
who believe that this code marks the end of the false anti-Semitism campaign
are sadly mistaken. They are guilty of wishful thinking. People are choosing to
ignore the content of the Code and
instead are bowled over by vacuous
phrases about ‘civility of language.’
This code deserves a much more rigorous analysis.
fake ‘anti-Semitism’ attacks of the last 2 years have been about Israel,
despite the howls of anguish whenever such a suggestion is made, this is what
the leaders of British Zionism themselves say. In their Open Letter to Corbyn,
the Presidents of the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council,
Jonathans Arkush and Goldstein were quite open about this:
again’ they wrote,
‘Jeremy Corbyn has sided with
anti-Semites rather than Jews. At best, this derives from the far left’s
obsessive hatred of Zionism, Zionists and Israel’.
Goldstein framed the anti-Semitism attacks within the context of ‘the far-left’s obsessive hatred of Zionism’.
Arkush subsequently accused
Jewish group Jewdas, with whom Corbyn had shared a Seder
night of being a ‘source of virulent
anti-Semitism’. As a parting shot Arkush, who had effusively
welcomed Trump’s election together with his anti-semitic entourage, when
retiring as President of the Board of Deputies accused
Corbyn of being an anti-Semite. Nonetheless Arkush had no difficulty in demanding
that ‘Corbyn must ensure Labour branches
adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which some hard-left activists have
Katie Hopkins with war criminal Mark Regev – Israel’s Ambassador to the UK – apparently Regev tops Katie’s list of eligible bachelors – a marriage truly made in hell
have the Zionists demanded that Labour adopts the 250+ word IHRA definition of anti-Semitism? Well the events of the past few weeks in
Palestine supply the answer. There is a
very simple definition of anti-Semitism drawn up Dr Brian Klug, in a lecture ‘Echoes of Shattering Glass’ at the
Jewish Museum in Berlin in 2014. It consists of 21 words:
antisemitism is a form of
hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than
what they are.
even this is somewhat wordy. The Oxford
English Dictionary definition, ‘hostility
to or prejudice against Jews’ takes
up just 6 words. Why does the IHRA need
250+ words? Because that is what you
need in order to conflate anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Anyone who has any doubts should read the
intemperate and barely
literate attack on Labour’s Anti-Semitism Code by the editor of the Jewish
Chronicle, Stephen Pollard
adopting the definition as agreed by all these bodies, Labour has excised the
parts which relate to Israel and how criticism of Israel can be antisemitic.’
is the problem as far as Pollard and friends are concerned. The new anti-Semitism code doesn’t
specifically say that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism and therefore it is not
Van der Zyl, Arkush’s successor and Goldstein complained this week that “It is for Jews to determine for themselves
what antisemitism is. The UK Jewish community has adopted in full the
International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Definition of Antisemitism.’ What this means is that there is no rational
or objective basis to allegations of anti-Semitism. It is whatever Israel’s supporters say it is.
So if someone is accused of anti-Semitism then we can dispense with examining
such trifles as evidence and move to the sentence. Kafkaesque or what?
if someone suggests that the behaviour of the Israeli state in seeking to
ethnically cleanse the West Bank is no different in principle from that of the
Nazis then that is anti-Semitic if someone thinks it is. Of course although Van
der Zyl and Goldstein say it is for Jews to determine what anti-Semitism is,
there are some Jews, such as anti-racist or anti-Zionist Jews who don’t count. They are the ‘wrong sort of Jews’. It is the racist and chauvinist Jews who get
to decide. By allocating one single view
to the whole Jewish community Goldstein and Van der Zyl are unwittingly engaging
in the very anti-Semitism they decry!
Palestinian children going to the soon to be demolished school in Khan al-Amar
reasons for this obsession with definitions of anti-Semitism are not hard to
find. You don’t have to look very far. This week saw a violent
attack by Israel against the Palestinian village of Khan al-Amar, an
exercise in ethnic cleansing. Now that is real racism. We have only recently witnessed the murder of 120 unarmed
demonstrators by Israel in a clay pigeon shoot in Gaza, an action defended
by Labour Friends of Israel.
code is problematic because it is a continuation of the same muddled approach
to what is a very simple problem, which is the weaponisation of anti-Semitism
against critics of Israel and anti-Zionists.
Although in principle it concedes that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism
are separate and distinct, in practice it gives hostages to fortune. People are
in danger of being deceived by the Code’s vague and deceptive wording into
sacrificing agreed principles.
course the Code has led to the predictable denunciation by the apostles of
intolerance and bigotry, prime amongst them Stephen Pollard, the Editor of the
Jewish Chronicle. Anything other than a statement saying that anti-Semitism
equals anti-Zionism would be unacceptable to Pollard or the Board of Deputies.
in what even for him is a remarkably illiterate, angry article, Labour’s
new guidelines show it is institutionally antisemitic openly compares
Jeremy Corbyn to a Nazi. He says that‘you would not accept a
definition of antisemitism drawn up by Nazis. Ok, so who else would be on the
shortlist of the least suitable people to draw up a definition of antisemitism?
Perhaps you can tell where this is heading.’
Yes Stephen we do and ironically the comparison of people to Nazis is deemed anti-Semitic
by the very definition he defends.
Ivor Caplin, the new Chair of the Jewish
Labour Movement had a meeting with Jennie Formby and others this week, just
before the announcement of the code and he was more than happy with it. Not realising or understanding that one of
the objectives of the anti-Semitism witch-hunt is that it should never end he
declared himself quite happy with the Code.
One has to say of poor Mr Caplin, who got
it in the neck from fellow Zionists, that he clearly doesn’t understand
that the main target of the anti-Semitism smear campaign is Corbyn not
anti-Semitism, which means that you can never reach agreement about anything
other than the terms of surrender i.e. Corbyn’s resignation. Nothing else will suffice.
However if we were simply to take our guide
from the Zionist reaction then yes, we should support the new Anti-Semitism
Code of Conduct. However this would very foolish and I would summon in my
support Comrade Leon Trotsky. In a ‘Friendly Suggestion to Certain Ultra
Leftists’ entitled, appropriately ‘Learn to Think’ he wrote
policy of the proletariat is not at all automatically derived from the policy
of the bourgeoisie, bearing only the opposite sign – this would make every
sectarian a master strategist; no, the revolutionary party must each time
orient itself independently in the internal as
well as the external situation, arriving at those decisions which correspond
best to the interests of the proletariat. This rule applies just as much to the
war period as to the period of peace.
In other words, just because the Zionists
say they oppose the new Code of Conduct, that is no reason to support it. Their
argument is tactical. In fact Caplin is correct. The Zionists have got much
of what they want. However it suits them to pretend that the Code is awful
because in that way they can ensure that in its implementation it will be their
interpretation of the Code that prevails.
We should heed Trotsky’s advice and learn
to think andexamine the Code
from our perspective not theirs.
The Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct
The first thing to ask is whether or not
this Code is going to stop the expulsion of Jackie Walker and lead to the
reinstatement of those already expelled. If not then it is useless. The witch-hunt is not about words on a piece
of paper or abstract definitions of anti-Semitism but a state-driven
politically motivated attack by the supporters of imperialism and Zionism.
Naturally Katie Hopkins was a guest at the Zionist Federation’s annual dinner – she must have felt at home for once
The second thing to ask is why
anti-Semitism? Why should there be a
separate definition of anti-Semitism? This focus on a form of racism which is a
marginal form of prejudice is itself racist.
It is the victims of the Windrush scandal, the targets of mosque
bombings and racial attacks, the hounding of Roma by
vicious racists like John Mann MP and the police and state racism against
Black and Asian people which should be the subject of Labour Party codes. The focus on a privileged white group which
suffers not at all from state racism is in itself racist. If there was a real
problem of anti-Semitism today why would the very tabloid press which employed
Katie Hopkins and Richard Littlejohn
stand opposed to anti-Jewish racism? The
fact that the Sun and the Mail oppose ‘anti-Semitism’ (whilst not hesitating to
attack George Soros as an alien Jewish financier) should suggest what the real
Thirdly the Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct,
instead of rejecting outright the bogus IHRA definition of Anti-Semitism takes
it as its starting point. Yes it negates
its most offensive examples but the fact is that it nonetheless adopts the
definition, including many examples. It is unfortunate that the JVL and others
didn’t reread the Opinion
of Hugh Tomlinson QC:
‘The IHRA Definition does not purport to provide a
legal definition of antisemitism. It does not have the clarity which would be
required from such a definition.’
Sedley said in Defining Anti-Semitismthe
IHRA ‘fails the first test of any
definition: it is indefinite.’ Not
only that but it is ‘protean in character
and as open-ended’.
‘The use of language is unusual
and therefore potentially confusing. The phrase “a certain perception” is vague
and unclear in the context of a definition. The use of the word “may” is also
confusing. If it is understood in its usual sense of “possibility” then the
definition is of little value: antisemitism “may be expressed as hatred towards
Jews but may also be expressed in other (unspecified) ways”. This does not work
as a definition.
The apparent confining of
antisemitism to an attitude which is “expressed” as a hatred of Jews seems too
narrow and not to capture conduct which, though not expressed as hatred of Jews
is clearly a manifestation of antisemitism. It does not, for example, include
discriminatory social and institutional practices.
goes on to argue that because it ‘lacks clarity and comprehensiveness’ it has a
chilling effect on public bodies which, in the absence of definitional clarity,
may seek to sanction or prohibit any conduct which has been labelled by third
parties as antisemitic without applying any clear criterion of assessment.’
third criticism revolves around the structure of the IHRA. Because the actual
definition itself speaks of ‘hatred’ all the illustrative examples ‘must be regarded as examples of activity
which can properly be regarded as manifesting “hatred towards Jews”.
the Code of Conduct
Code begins with a lie in Para. 5: ‘Labour is an anti-racist party.’ This is
not true. For most of the time that
South Africa Apartheid was in existence Labour gave support to the white
settlers. Labour was historically as much a party of Empire as the
Conservatives. It was in this spirit that Poale Zion, the workers of Zion, who
campaigned for a Boycott of Arab Labour were affiliated to the Labour Party in
1921. This lie is best demonstrated by
the Windrush scandal. This was a consequence of the 2013 Immigration Act which
all but 8 Labour MPs supported (they abstained but when an Opposition abstains
that can be treated as support). All
those ‘anti-Semitism’ activists, Ruth Smeeth, Luciana Berger, John Mann, Wes
Streeting – all of them sat on their haunches and supported Theresa May’s
‘hostile environment policy.’
The Code says of the 38 word IHRA definition:
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews,
which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical
manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish
individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and
that ‘The IHRA definition captures the idea of hostile conduct towards
individuals and institutions on the ground that they are Jewish.’ This is unmitigated
rubbish. A lie. The definition doesn’t even
mention ‘hostile conduct’ – it defines anti-Semitism in terms of hatred not
hostility – thus raising the bar to actual anti-Semitism.
Secondly you cannot be racist
against institutions. The inclusion of
‘Jewish community institutions’ is itself absurd as well as non-Jewish
3. Although it is welcome
that Para. 7 accepts that ‘the expression
of even contentious views in this area will not be treated as antisemitism
unless accompanied by specific antisemitic content (such as the use of
antisemitic tropes) or by other evidence of antisemitic intent.’ It begs the question as to what ‘anti-Semitic
tropes’ mean in practice since
experience so far is that anything can count as an anti-Semitic trope. One only has to remember the way Joan Ryan,
Chair of Labour Friends of Israel tried to set
up Jean Fitzpatrick at the Labour Party conference two years ago to realise
Louise Ellman MP for Liverpool Riverside and Tel Aviv South
The National Constitutional
Committee took exception to my statement
that Louise Ellman MP was a supporter of Israeli abuse of Palestinian children
despite her having intervened three times in a debate on Palestinian child
prisoners to support the Israeli military’s treatment of these children. I was
guilty of ‘incivility’ a concept that
lies at the heart of this code. There
are times when people rightly get angry at those who support torture and abuse
of children, as I was but according to this Code of Conduct my expulsion was
justified and Ellman was innocent.
The Code of conduct quotes
approvingly the examples that the IHRA definition gives of anti-Semitism. For
example ‘Calling for, aiding, or
justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or
an extremist view of religion.’ Now one cannot dispute that calling for the
killing or harming of Jews is anti-Semitic.
But why add ‘in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of
religion’? Would it be ok if it was in
the name of a conservative ideology or a mainstream view of religion? This formulation plays into the hands of
Islamaphobes who contend that Islam is a murderous religion.
think that the example ‘Making
mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews
as such or the power of Jews as collective’ was uncontroversial but the
reference to ‘Jews as a collective’ is
a reference to Israel. Israel is a
nuclear state, a regional superpower. So
referring to Israel’s military might could be termed ‘anti-Semitic’ even though
it is true. There has been much talk of the Jewish vote in places like Barnet
recently. Is this anti-Semitic since it
refers to Jews collectively or is it only when supporters of Palestine refer to
Jewish support for Israel that it is anti-Semitic?
Likewise ‘Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as
a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.’ Why mention the
Israeli state? Isn’t it enough simply to define Holocaust denial as an example
of anti-Semitism? Given the way Zionists use word association, referring to the
blood that Palestinians shed is quickly likened
to the medieval blood libel. Is it too much to expect that references to
Israel’ s use of the Holocaust as a propaganda weapon might also come under
is the example ‘Holding Jews
collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’. Yes this is anti-Semitic but Israel calls itself a Jewish state so that is precisely what it
is doing – claiming that Jews throughout the world support its war crimes.
12 is particularly problematic because it states that ‘the Party is
clear that the Jewish people have the same right to self-determination as any
other people. To deny that right is to treat the Jewish people unequally and is
therefore a form of antisemitism.’ Historically the idea of a
Jewish state would have been held to be anti-Semitic.
a leading member of the Board of Deputies and the Conjoint Committee, its Foreign Secretary before
the first world war, noting that the
Zionists claimed that ‘all the Jews as forming at the present
moment a separate
and dispossessed nationality’ , commented
have spent most of my life in combating these very doctrines, when presented to me in the form ofanti-Semitism, and I can only regard them as the more dangerouswhen they come to me in the guise of Zionism.’
In short if
the ‘Party is clear’ that Jewish people form a nation, which is
what the right to self-determination means, then it is adopting an anti-Semitic
position! Only anti-Semites maintain
that Jews are a nation apart rather than a member of the nations amongst whom
they live. Let us be charitable and
assign this to political ignorance, it is nonetheless unacceptable that in a
document supposedly devoted to combating anti-Semitism, at its heart lies an
anti-Semitic postulate. The whole basis
of the world Jewish conspiracy theory rests on the idea that Jews are a nation
apart. Of course the Zionists agree with
this because Zionism is a form of Jewish anti-Semitism. As the founder of Political Zionism Theodor
Herzl, who is buried in a grave on Mount Herzl in Israel, explained at the
height of the Dreyfus Affair:
Paris… I achieved a freer attitude towards anti-Semitism, which I now began
to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognise the emptiness
and futility of trying to ‘combat’ anti-Semitism.’
instead point out that far from anti-Zionism equalling anti-Semitism the exact
opposite is the case. Zionism shares
with anti-Semites the belief that Jews do not belong in the diaspora. Historically Zionism accepted most of the
anti-Semitic libels against Jews, that they were asocial, absorbed in money and
allied trades because they lacked a homeland.
Zionism was a movement of blood and soil nationalism. It is a movement that never fought
anti-Semitism, which is why the current crop of allegations of anti-Semitism
are so comical.
It is the Zionist movement which argues that Jews should be loyal to Israel and Zionism and accuses anti-Zionists of being ‘traitors’
is politically incoherent. It states that ‘It
is also wrong to accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to
the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own
nations.’ In paragraph 12 Jews formed a separate nation of their own and
two paragraphs later they are members ‘of
their own nations.’ Furthermore it
entirely reverses the dual loyalty principle. It is Zionism which holds that Jews should be more loyal to Israel than
their own nations. One of the most repeated forms of abuse levelled at
Jewish anti-Zionists is that they are ‘traitors’. How can one be a traitor unless one’s first loyalty
is to Israel? It is Zionism which
demands a dual loyalty. That is why in
October 2013 the American Embassy distributed to American Jews a Questionnaire asking
them ‘to indicate where their allegiance
would lie if there was a crisis between the two countries.’
Code states, quite correctly that it ‘is not permissible to use
“Zionist” … as a code word for “Jew”.
Which is true but in that case why is the Jewish Labour Movement allowed
to call itself Jewish when it only represents Zionist Jews (&
non-Jews)? It is this hypocrisy and
double standard that runs throughout this politically incoherent code.
suggestion that the term ‘Zio’ ‘should have no place
in Labour Party discourse’ is another concession to the Zionist narrative. ‘Zio’ is short for Zionist. To suggest that
it is anti-Semitic means that Labour is effectively saying that Zionist is
equal to Jew, the very thing paragraph 15 warns against!
16’s statement that ‘It is not antisemitism to
criticise the conduct or policies of the Israeli state by reference to such
examples unless there is evidence of antisemitic intent.’ is welcome
but it is immediately contradicted by the reference to Chakrabarti’s comment
that ‘Labour members should resist the
use of Hitler, Nazi and Holocaust metaphors, distortions and comparisons in
debates about Israel-Palestine’ because they are ‘incendiary’.
contrary people should feel free to make comparisons between Israel’s policy of
ethnic cleansing and the Nazi practice in this regard. If only to bring Israelis face to face with
the consequence of their own policies and politics. Israeli politicians never
hesitate to accuse their victims of being Nazis. Why should we not compare e.g. the
demonstration last week in Afula against the sale of a house to an Arab in a
‘Jewish city’ to when it was the policy of Nazi Germany that Jews should not
live in ‘Aryan’ towns and villages?
Many on the
Left will be tempted to welcome this document as being better than might be
expected. Perhaps it is, but
unfortunately it goes down the road of confusing and conflating anti-Semitism
and anti-Zionism. We should be stating that
today the advocates of Zionism are to be found holding hands with the far-Right
including anti-Semitic politicians.
Netanyahu’s closest ally in Europe, Viktor Orban, wants to rehabilitate the pro-Nazi ruler who sent 437,000 Jews to Auschwitz
It is no
accident that the Israeli government has just reached an accord with the Polish
government over a Holocaust law which renders it an offence to publish books on
Polish complicity in the crimes of the Nazi occupiers and on occasion it was
Polish nationalists who initiated the attacks on Jews as was the case in Jedwabne
in 1941 when villagers herded up to 1600 Jews into a barn which they then set
alight. Netanyahu has invited
over, on a state visit in the summer, Viktor Orban of Hungary who not only
waged an overtly anti-Semitic campaign against George Soros, but he has described
the pro-Nazi dictator of Hungary during the war, Admiral Horthy, who presided
over the deportation of nearly half a million Jews to Auschwitz, as an ‘outstanding statesman’. When Ken
Livingstone pointed to the support of the Nazis for Zionism he forgot to say
that this support was reciprocated.
assumption running throughout this Code of Conduct is that there is a thin line
dividing anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and that anti-Zionism is often a cover
for anti-Semitism. Although this does
occasionally happen what is far more frequent today is the reverse – it is
anti-Semites who use support for Israel and Zionism as a cover for
anti-Semitism. No better example is
there than Tommy Robinson, the British fascist who combines support for Israel with befriending
anti-Semites and holocaust deniers.
The Anti-Semitism Code of Conduct is not the
panacea that many people are hoping it will be.
By avoiding the topic of weaponisation of anti-Semitism my prediction is
that it is going to prove all but useless in the battle against the false