Unprincipled, Opportunistic, War Mongering and Racist – The Green Party is NOT an Alternative to New Labour
The Decision to Reject Ken Livingstone Because of ‘Anti-Semitism’ is Out of Keir Starmer’s Playbook
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This morning Crispin Flintoft’s popular Not the Andrew Marr Show, which acts as a forum for those who have become disenchanted with the police state that Labour has become under Herr Stürmer, is going to discuss the Green Party and socialists attitude to it.
In a survey of 1,303 followers of the show, in response to the questions ‘Are people leaving Labour for the Greens? Is the Green Party the answer for progressives?’ 48% replied ‘Yes’ and 34 said ‘No’ with 18% undecided or ‘Other’ (whatever that means).
It is understandable that those who have become alienated by the suppression of free speech in the Labour Party, the bogus accusations of ‘anti-Semitism’, the rigging of the rules and the defiance of basic democracy, with a leader (if that’s the right term) who is as right-wing as the clown who currently occupies No. 10, should be looking for another party. However the Green Party is not that party.
The Green Party’s rejection of Ken Livingstone’s application to join the party should be proof positive of that fact.
When his bid to become a member of the GP was reported in January Ken was quoted as saying that their leadership ‘thought that if they brought me in they’d be accused of being antisemitic”.
Ken was right. The Green Party leadership has gone along with the McCarthyist witchhunt of anti-Zionists in the Labour Party.
At its recent conference the Green Party adopted both the IHRA misdefinition of anti-Semitism and the Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism which is incompatible with the IHRA.
The IHRA states that ‘Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis’ is an example of anti-Semitism. The JDA however states that:
Political speech does not have to be measured, proportional, tempered, or reasonable to be protected under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights … Criticism that some may see as excessive or contentious, or as reflecting a “double standard,” is not, in and of itself, antisemitic. In general, the line between antisemitic and non-antisemitic speech is different from the line between unreasonable and reasonable speech
The Green Party conference adopted 2 incompatible definitions of anti-Semitism. But it is clear that they have chosen to implement the IHRA not the JDA which is why Ken’s application has been rejected.
As most people know, Ken Livingstone pioneered support for anti-racist campaigning in local government. Because he also supported the Palestinians he came under persistent attack from the Zionist lobby and the Board of Deputies.
There was nothing anti-Semitic in Livingstone’s reference to Nazi support for the Zionist movement in Germany between 1933 and 1939. That is a conclusion that most academics, including Zionist historians, have reached. David Cesarani in his book ‘The Final Solution’ (p.96) wrote:
‘The efforts of the Gestapo are oriented to promoting Zionism as much as possible and lending support to its efforts to promote emigration.’
Of course it is embarrassing for Zionists to have the sordid history of their relations with the Nazis revealed, but it isn’t anti-Semitic. The Zionist movement at the time actually welcomed the rise of Hitler because they realised that it would help them achieve a Jewish State. In 1933 the founding of a ‘Jewish state’ was by no means a foregone conclusion, as they comprised no more than 20% of the population.
For example the Zionist national poet, Chaim Nahman Bialik wrote that ‘Hitlerism has perhaps saved German Jewry, which was being assimilated into annihilation.’ You can find that in Etan Bloom’s PhD thesis Arthur Ruppin and the Production of the Modern Hebrew Culture for Tel Aviv University. (p.417, fn. 351).
The world famous biographer and an ardent Zionist Emil Ludwig was even more enthusiastic:
Hitler will be forgotten in a few years, but he will have a beautiful monument in Palestine. You know, the coming of the Nazis was rather a welcome thing. … Thousands who seemed to be completely lost to Judaism were brought back to the fold by Hitler, and for that I am personally very grateful to him. (p.417, Bloom)
Nor were such sentiments confined to the Zionist fringe. Chaim Weizmann, President of the World Zionist Organisation and Israel’s first President, warned his own personal secretary, Louis Namier, that a Preface he was writing to a book by Arthur Ruppin, The Jews in the Modern World should ‘not to be so open in expressing their common toleration of Nazism’. (p.415 Bloom).
Both Ben Gurion, the Chair of the Jewish Agency and his deputy Berl Katznelson expressed similar sentiments. They foresaw that the turmoil created by Hitler in the world could only benefit them.
Dr Noah Lucas, another Zionist historian wrote in The Modern History of Israel (pp. 187-8)
As the European holocaust erupted, Ben-Gurion saw it as a decisive opportunity for Zionism… In conditions of peace,… Zionism could not move the masses of world Jewry. The forces unleashed by Hitler in all their horror must be harnessed to the advantage of Zionism. … By the end of 1942… the struggle for a Jewish state became the primary concern of the movement.
In November 1935 Ben Gurion said that
‘To the disaster of German Jewry we must offer a Zionist response, namely, we must convert the disaster into a source for the upbuilding of Palestine. (p. 854 of the official biography of Ben Gurion by Shabtai Teveth, ‘The Burning Ground – 1886-1948’.
In rejecting Livingstone’s application the Green Party has demonstrated their contempt for free speech on Palestine/Zionism. Caroline Lucas was an early supporter of the IHRA. She runs a mile from any suggestion that Israel is an apartheid state.
Yet the facts are clear. Israel confines 20% of its population to 2% of the land because they are Palestinian Israelis. It continually seeks to evict Arab citizens from their homes in Jerusalem in order to allow settlers to move in, as it does in the Negev. Lucas followed this up by signing a letter from rabidly racist members of parliament, like Bob Blackman (who has retweeted fascists and who opposed making caste discrimination against the Untouchables illegal) and the fascist Baroness Cox. See my open letter to Lucas.
When Labour and the Tories on Brighton & Hove Council introduced a motion supporting the IHRA, all 12 Green councillors, led by Phelim Mac Cafferty, voted in favour. They issued a statement that ‘the Green Group does not view Green Party policy on the State of Israel as in conflict with the IHRA.’ If that was the case why do supporters of Israel insist on its adoption? 50 Black organisations in Brighton & Hove including the local Palestine Solidarity Campaign opposed the motion yet the Greens ignored them.
But it’s not just over Palestine that the Greens have been found wanting. Twice in the past decade the Greens have run Brighton & Hove Council. Their record has been abysmal. With the Tories in support they supported a white elephant costing some £36.2m called ‘i-360’ which they lent to a private consortium.
As I wrote at the time the ‘i360’ was ‘an overpriced elevator and nothing like the ‘heritage centre’ it describes itself as.’ I remarked that ‘the best laid plans of men and mice often go awry. What if demand is less than expected?’ Sure enough revenue has fallen far short. The ‘i-360 was supposed to make the Council £1m a year. Instead it has turned out to be a flop and council tax payers will have to foot the bill. The GP record on recycling is atrocious.
But it is the Green’s anti-working class politics that mark them out. Twice they have sought a confrontation with the refuse workers, causing them to strike and twice the Council have been defeated.
As Davy Jones, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Brighton Kemptown asked in 2013 concerning the first strike:
How is this possible with a Green-led council that has campaigned harder than any other council in the country against public sector austerity in general and for fairer pay for the low paid in particular?
Current leader Phelim Mac Cafferty became leader with a reputation as a ‘left’ Green. I knew him from the Institute of Employment Rights and Brighton PSC of which he was a member. Yet under this administration the Council provoked another strike. The Council hired scab workers in order to try and break the strike. Phelim Mac Cafferty has become the scab leader of a Council party to strike breaking.
Why? Because the Green Party eschews class politics. It has no objection to capitalism, it merely wants to ‘green’ it. The Green Party is a party of middle-class careerists. They want to become part of the Establishment and sit at the table. What they don’t want to do is overturn the table!
Internationally the situation is worse. In 1998 the Greens in Germany formed, a coalition government with the SPD.
You might think that Die Grunen, which had portrayed itself as an anti-war party, would have opposed the deployment of the German military abroad. Not a bit of it. They became part of the first German government since the Nazis to deploy German troops in a foreign war. As the New York Times reported:
Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer won the backing of his Greens party Saturday for sending German troops into the war on terrorism, averting the risk of a government collapse.
A national party conference passed a motion endorsing the troop pledge after an emotional plea for support by Fischer, who demanded solidarity with the United States…’
Die Grunen had hitched their wagon to US imperialism’s wars and NATO. Not only did German troops take part in the fighting in Afghanistan but they also took part in the bombing of Serbia, whose purpose was to establish NATO’s domination of the Balkans.
In Greens back Nato amid uproar the Guardian noted that
Germany’s co-governing Green party last night rallied to the support of its leader, the foreign minister Joschka Fischer, in his backing for Nato’s bombing campaign against Serbia after a day of high drama and violence at a watershed congress in the party’s 20-year history.
The Greens voted by 444 to 318 to support Mr Fischer and defeat a motion demanding an immediate and unconditional end to the Nato bombing.
The German Greens have, even more than their British cousins, become overt Zionists. Indeed they voted, alongside the neo-Nazi Alternative for Germany to condemn BDS as ‘anti-Semitic’. The irony of voting with neo-Nazis to condemn anti-Semitism has clearly been lost on Germany’s Greens.
Volker Beck, a member of the Bundestag for Die Grüne was particularly outspoken in condemning a festival at the Berlin Weißensee Academy of Art titled “School for Unlearning Zionism”. Its home page was deleted and the organisers had their funding withdrawn. Beck called it a “propagandistic outrage”. What was the anti-Semitism? The Berliner Zeitung reported that:
one theme stands out: several contributors portray the state of Israel as a de facto colonial power, whose ideological principles – as the title says – have to be “unlearned”. This postcolonial perspective is also clear through the preamble announcing the lecture series. The titles of these include “Mizrachi’s struggle as part of decolonisation?” or “Zionism as settler-colonialism”
Remarkably, the group behind the “School for Unlearning Zionism” has scarcely been mentioned amidst the criticism of the project. They are a group of Jewish Israelis who have been grappling with their own Zionist historical narrative for just over a year, using varying formats.
So what Die Grunen was condemning, alongside neo-Nazis, was an exhibition by anti-Zionist Jewish Israelis. You couldn’t make it up.
In short the world’s most powerful Green Party is nothing but a poodle for US imperialism and its racist Rottweiler, the Israeli state. Israel is an apartheid state. But even if one disagrees with that analysis (and 25% of Israelis accept that it is an apartheid state, as do 25% of American Jews (a figure which shoots up to 38% of American Jews under 40) what has that got to do with anti-Semitism?
In the past year 3 major human rights organisations have class Israel as an Apartheid state and a Jewish supremacist state – B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
In Ireland, at the last General Election, in February 2020, there was a shock result as Sinn Fein came first with 24.5%. The 2 conservative parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil who had been in coalition lost their majority. They had no need to worry as the Green Party came to the rescue. As Oliver Eagleton wrote in Ireland’s Green Party Is Ready to Help the Right Stay in Power:
Leo Varadkar’s caretaker government… is now counting on the Greens to keep the center-right parties in power as a recession looms.
The Greens have always been a middle-class grouping, geared exclusively toward electoral politics, whose support is largely confined to affluent parts of south Dublin….
Its environmentalism favors technocratic fixes (“introduce smart grids,” “retrofit buildings”) over political transformation, as demonstrated by its strikingly ineffectual participation in the FF-led coalition government between 2007 and 2011. David Landy and Oisín McGarrity have documented the party’s succession of U-turns during this period: allowing the US military to land at Shannon Airport, building new motorways on top of historical landmarks, and supporting Shell’s establishment of ecologically destructive gas refineries…
The Greens also helped Fianna Fáil push through the EU-IMF bailout package that ushered in years of fiscal austerity, with Eamon Ryan appearing regularly on broadcast media to defend deep cuts to social welfare and public services. When asked by a BBC journalist whether the bankers who caused the crisis should help to pay for it, Ryan replied that this was “not a realistic solution.”
There you have it. Challenging capitalism is ‘not a realistic solution’.
The Green Party has been in turmoil over the question of trans-rights and gender critical policies. Shahrar Ali, its one Black spokesperson, has been removed from his position. Shahrar, a fervent critic of the IHRA, has been forced to crowdfund in order to begin legal proceedings against the Green Party. Ali was:
subjected to unrelenting abuse, harassment and detriment” for expressing “gender critical views.
My advice for socialists looking for a new political space is that whatever else it is the Green Party is it is not a left-wing, still less a socialist party. It is a neo-liberal party masquerading as progressive. For those who have been burnt in the ‘anti-Semitism’ witchhunt joining the Green Party is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.