In recent weeks there has been plenty of coverage of the difficulties the Labour Party has got itself into over anti-Semitism.
It primarily kicked off with the resignation and subsequent allegations made by Alex Chalmers, the former co-chair of the Oxford University Labour Club. He had claimed a large proportion of members “have some kind of problem with Jews”.
It has since been followed up with the debacle over the suspension, reinstatement and then suspension again of two senior Labour party members amid allegations of anti-Semitism.
Gerry Downing had tweeted an article last summer entitled ‘Why Marxists must address the Jewish question”. The article says: ““The role Zionists have played in the attempted witch-hunt against Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership campaign is glaringly obvious. Since the dawning of the period of neo-liberal capitalism in the 1970s, elements of the Jewish-Zionist bourgeoisie, from Milton Friedman to Henry Kissinger to the pro-Israel ideologues of the War on Terror, have played a vanguard role for the capitalist offensive against the workers.”
Meanwhile, Vicki Kirby is being investigated over a series of posts on Twitter in which she apparently suggested Adolf Hitler might be a “Zionist God” and Jews had “big noses”.
Her suspension led one Labour politician, Wes Streeting MP, to comment, “Better late than never.”
Such reporting has also led some politicians and commentators to speak of an inherent anti-Semitic problem on the left.
Chuka Umunna, Labour MP, and probably the next party leader, said: “I think there is a problem with anti-Semitism on the fringes of the left, there is no doubt about that; it would be completely disingenuous to deny that.”
Another Labour MP, Angela Smith said: “We need to be really robust about this, both in terms of how we operate our rule book and also about the culture of the party. We all have a responsibility to confront it and deal with it.
“This is not about the left or the right of the Labour Party; this is about basic human decency. Anti-Semitism is dangerous and it just can’t be tolerated.”
Meanwhile, at the weekend Labour MP, John Mann, said there is resurging problem with anti-Semitism within the party, which must be stamped out.
He said the recent growth of the party membership, sparked by left-winger Mr Corbyn’s leadership win, has brought with it some people with ‘out-dated and prejudiced’ views.
However, what no-one appears able or willing to say is what sits behind this issue? Yes, old-fashioned Jew hatred will form a part of it, it always will in any given political or social wing. We have too much experience in that regard to be naive about it. But the recent rise, insurgency if you will, is simply and plainly rooted in and derived from hatred of all matters Israel.
The most obvious evidence for this is seen on college and University campuses across the globe. The net effect of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and its associated acolytes (a term AntiSemitismWatch has coined to refer to such protests as Israeli Apartheid Week) has been widely recognised as creating a climate of fear and intimidation that has spread across university and college campuses towards Jewish students and organisations. It is the political left-wing that forms the ‘natural home’ of this ideology.
Before the chorus of uproar that follows this statement is heard; the same chorus that stops politicians from saying it, we have always maintained that it is absolutely possible to criticize or challenge the government and policies of Israel without straying into Anti-Semitic territory. Indeed, people have the rights and freedom to criticize any nation-state. The simple problem is that there is overwhelming evidence that the BDS movement does not tread that path. It, instead, is full of vile anti-Semitic rhetoric, debate and policy. BDS drives this, in part, through its lack of respect for the dignity of the individual and for the rights of others to hold and express different intellectual positions.
The BDS movement is systemically anti-Semitic. The political left is in danger of becoming similarly so, and so is the Labour Party.