Anti-Semitism and Labour's Hitler problem
Has anti-Semitism now entered the ideological bloodstream of the British left? Bizarrely, Adolf Hitler now seems the favorite reference of the left wingers in the Labour Party. Where will the lunacy end?
Did you know that the Jewish victims of the Holocaust were partners of Adolf Hitler who was a Zionist? A number of members of the British Labour Party have told us that this was the case. This is the most recent manifestation of the antisemitism that has reared its ugly head in Britain.
It evokes the thought that this disease may have entered the ideological bloodstream of the British left. There is a vital need for a strengthening of the political immune system before the infection worsens.
It is a particular cause for concern, though the fact is avoided, that the virus has recently appeared in Labour Party officials most of whom are Muslims who are highly critical of the State of Israel.
There is presently an intensive battle in Britain today: the skirmish for votes in the forthcoming referendum on June 23, 2016 between those who want the country to remain a member of the European Union and those who want Brexit. At the moment, there is a close division of opinion.
However, more vicious and unpleasant is the continuing civil war within the Labour Party over the outbursts of antisemitism by some of its officials and the denials of the significance or even the very existence of the disease of antisemitism by prominent members of the Party.
It comes as no surprise to read that the extreme left wing Diane Abbott, the opposition International Development Secretary in the House of Commons, and unrelenting, fierce critic of the State of Israel, has dismissed any problem of antisemitism within the Labour Party as “smears,” and asserted that the party was not “riddled” with it.
Neither was it surprising that Len McCluskey, General Secretary of Unite, the largest Trade Union and Labour’s biggest donor, said that Jeremy Corbyn , leader of the party, was the victim of a cynical attempt to manipulate antisemitism for political aims, presumably to depose Corbyn as leader.
Amazingly, the comments of Abbott and McCluskey came just two days after Corbyn, who had denied that the party is facing a crisis of antisemitism, was in essence forced by the more moderate members of his party, to launch an independent inquiry into the issue of antisemitism, and to act against its perpetrators.
No one is suggesting that the whole Labour Party is institutionally anti-Semitic, and Corbyn has declared there is no place for antisemitisn, or any form of racism, in the Labour Party or anywhere else in society. Yet, it is troubling that in the last four weeks seven members of the party have been suspended for allegations of antisemitism.
The most recent, disgraceful happening were incendiary remarks by Ken Livingstone, a prominent left wing member of the Party, former Mayor of London, and chair of a foreign policy commission for the Party. As a result of those remarks, 39 Labour MPS condemned him. John Mann MP called him to his face and in front of the cameras, a disgusting racist rewriting history, and a Nazi apologist.
Even more disgraceful are the consequences: Mann received specific threats of physical violence from left wingers in his own party; the supporters of Corbyn want to disciple Mann for bringing the party “into disrepute;” and Mann was summoned to the Chief Whip of the Party to explain his own actions in confronting Livingstone.
The more sensible members of the Party called on Corbyn to expel Livingstone but he refused. Only reluctantly did he agree to suspend Livingston. The tragedy is that some senior members of the party think their leader had a “point” in not expelling him.
Livingstone is no shrinking violet in his personal behavior, nor is he inhibited from making outrageous and insulting remarks. One need take just a few of his contributions to discussion.
In 2004 he invited the controversial Muslim cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, prominent within the intellectual leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, to London. In February 2005 he accused a Jewish reporter, Oliver Feingold, of behaving like a concentration camp guard for asking him a question
In 2006, while Mayor of London, he told two wealthy Jewish businessmen that they should “go back to Iran and try their luck with the ayatollahs.” For a few years in the 1980s, Livingstone was in charge of the extreme left wing paper Labour Herald that published cartoons of Menachem Begin wearing a Nazi uniform.
In the first place, Livingstone appears politically stone deaf and historically ludicrous. In his 47 years in the Party he said he never heard anybody make anti-Semitic remarks. His historical analysis is bizarre in claiming that the policy of Adolf Hitler in 1932 was in favor of moving German Jews to Israel (sic), 16 years before it was created. Hitler, he said was supporting Zionism before he went mad.
Hitler now seems the favorite reference of the left wingers in the Party. In April 2016 there were three instances. One was Vicki Kirby, former parliamentary candidate for Woking, who said that Britain invented Israel when saving the Jews from Hitler, who now seems to be the teacher of the Jews.
The second person was a Party Councilor in the town of Luton, Aysegul Gurbuz, who was suspended from the Party for referring to Hitler as the greatest man in history.
A third is local councilor Khadim Hussain, former Lord Mayor of Bradford, who informed us that the school system only tells you about Anne Frank and the six million Zionists (sic) that were killed by Hitler.
Perverse history, pertinent to Hitler, was related by another Labour MP, a Muslim woman Naseem (Naz) Shah representing Bradford West who, before she became an MP, had posted the solution to the Middle East conflict on Facebook. It had first been posted in August 2014 but only made public in April 2016.
It called for Jews in Israel to be sent to the United States. She compared Israel’s policies with those of Nazi Germany. Curiously, though Shah later apologized, Livingstone still supported her. He declared that Shah was a victim of a well-orchestrated campaign by the Israeli lobby to smear anybody who criticizes Israeli policy as an anti-Semite.
Lunacy continues. Most recently on May 2, 2016 two members were suspended from the Party. One was Salim Mulla, former mayor of Blackburn who suggested that Israel was funding ISIS regarding the attacks in Paris in November 2015. The other was Ilyas Aziz, a local councilor in Nottingham, whose fantasy involved an Israeli conspiracy for the Sandy Hook school shooting and a call, like that of Naz Shah, for Israel to be relocated to the US.
Once again Jews have been made the center of a political battlefield. The Labour leader was slow to suspend those guilty of outrageous behavior.
For the sake of the Party, as well as for human decency, Corbyn should do more. Offenders should be expelled from the Party. Cleansing is good for the soul.
Michael Curtis, author of "Jews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East", is Distinguished Professor Emeritus in political science at Rutgers University. Curtis is the author of 30 books, and in 2014 was awarded the French Legion d'Honneur
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