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Friday, 24 August 2018

Zionism Does Not Equal Judaism

Such is the appetite of many in the right-leaning press, along with many more in the Tory Party who cannot believe their luck, and even some within Labour whose motives remain unclear, to root out the Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semitism “Gotcha” they have convinced themselves is out there, that they have all got rather a long way ahead of themselves.
This has culminated in many papers finding themselves on the wrong end of a complaint to alleged press regulator IPSO from the Labour leadership, followed by a story which is already unravelling - the Mail’s attempt to conflate Judaism and Zionism.

This is what the Mail had to say. “Jeremy Corbyn  accused British 'Zionists' of having 'no sense of English irony' despite having 'lived in Britain all of their lives', in comments that have been slammed by Jewish groups as anti-Semitic … The remarks were made in 2013, when Corbyn was giving a speech alongside prominent British extremists, at a London conference promoted by the propaganda website of terror group Hamas”.
And the reaction? “[Stephen] Pollard added that he believed the Labour leader 'used the word ‘Zionist’ obviously to mean “Jews" … Jonathan Sacerdoti, who was a founding trustee of the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, and who is now an anti-racism campaigner, said: 'The idea that British Jews somehow haven't absorbed British values is outrageous’”. The assumption is that “Zionists” means “Jews”.

Except it didn’t, although at least the Mail is honest as to its objective: “The explosive revelations will increase the pressure on Corbyn to resign as he struggles to contain the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing his party”. The idea is to get rid of Jezza.
As for the meeting on which the Mail has reported, albeit five years after the fact, what the paper has missed out is that Jezza was commenting on reaction to a speech by the then Palestinian ambassador (his name is given in the article, but his status, strangely, is not). A group present at the meeting had sat through the speech, but had berated the ambassador afterwards. They were a pro-Israel group.
It was this group which Corbyn had described asZionist”, not on any religious or ethnic basis, but because of their fervent support for Israel. So while some commentators who might be thought to know better are claiming he was using “Zionist” as a direct equivalent for “Jew”, he was not. It is not a difficult point to grasp.

Moreover, as Michael Rosen points out, “Zionism is a political idea. It was dreamed up by Christians as much as Jews. Some of the first serious critics of Zionism were leading Victorian and Edwardian Jews who were well established here. There are also some major anti-Semitic Zionists eg Chtistian Zionists”. A political idea is not an ethnicity.
Rosen also muses “What interests me is that yes, sure pro-Zionists attack anti-Zionists but why do British pro-Zionists keep schtum about these anti-Semitic Christian Zionists? Why aren’t they appalled by them?”. But that is not the idea, which I suspect he knows.

The idea is not to understand Zionism. The idea is to use yet more circular logic to pretend Corbyn is a racist and thus get rid of him. Good of the Mail to own up at last.
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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

If ‘Zionist’ means ‘Jews’ to an accepted right wing shit stirring rag with previous for Nazi associations itself, should ‘right wing shit stirring rag with previous for Nazi associations’ mean ‘Daily Mail’?

Anonymous said...

This demonstrates just how stupidly evil is the Daily Heil mindset.

With their previous public record of far right xenophobia and racism you would think they would have learned something by now. Instead, the 1930s lunacy STILL prevails.

Come back Christopher Isherwood - you'll find the same crackpot fodder inside the M25 ghetto!

Gonzoland said...

Guardian features writer agrees with the Daily Mail.
"I gave Corbyn the benefit of the doubt on antisemitism. I can’t any more"
"The Labour leader’s comments about ‘Zionists’ in a 2013 speech were unquestionably antisemitic"
Simon Hattenstone, The Guardian. 24 August 2018.

IMO: A shoddy opinion piece that is no better than the Daily Mail offering.

Sam Best said...

There are 17 parties represented in the Knesset with policies ranging from "anti-Zionist", "pro-Zionist" to "post-Zionism" among all their other policies about fixing potholed roads and social security benefits etc. These parties & their Zionist political policies no more define the Israeli or Jewish people than Conservatism, Labour, UKIP, "left-wing" or "right-wing" define the British people although, those political parties are full of British people. It's so insulting to infer Zionism=Jewishness when some of Israel's most Orthodox sects and parties wholly reject Zionism.
If Corbyn had said "Tories have no grasp on the cost of living for the average working class person" would that mean he insulted the British people as a race because every Conservative Party member is British?.
I however detect this conflated "outrage" is becoming tiresome to the vast majority of Brits because in the comments section of the gutter tabloids where the people rage away, those attacking Corbyn's alleged antisemitism draw a handful of comments. It's going the same way as the "Corbyn is a Red Spy" meme.

Anonymous said...

@Gonzoland
Just came to make the same point. Hattenstone, like the rest, relies on a fallacy: anti-Semites make anti-Zionist comments, therefore all those opposed to even extreme Zionism must be anti-Semetic. Sad that the Guardian has come to this.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

However, Jeremy Corbyn said his piece at a gathering under the auspices of the Palestine Return Centre, a front for Hamas:
[British Zionists] clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either.

Since history tells me that the Arab-Israeli War of 1948 began with a military coalition of Arab states to drive Jews into the sea, with various re-matches since, and Hamas was founded to establish an Islamic state across modern Israel and Palestine, I’m not sure Jeremy Corbyn’s interpretation of ‘history’ should stand unchallenged.

Elsewhere I found myself wondering why Jeremy Corbyn's 2013 outing was less racist or culturalist or ├╝ber-nationalist than Norman Tebbit’s 1990 “cricket test”. Perhaps some present here may be able to assist me.

Gonzoland said...

@ Malcolm Redfellow
The article is about the latest attempt by the Daily Mail to attack Jeremy Corbyn. On the latest occasion, the Mail uses an edited clip from 2013.
Corbyn has made a statement that he used the term 'Zionists' as the political movement rather than a code for all Jews. Corbyn has stated that he would not use the word 'Zionist' in future comments because the term has been hijacked by anti-Semites.
I think that your references to the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, Hamas objective to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and Norman Tebbit's 'cricket test' would be best dealt with as issues separate from what is or isn't anti-Semitic.

Anonymous said...

Confusing Norman Tebbitt with Jeremy Corbyn takes some doing.

Deliberate or not.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

@ Gonzoland: are you assuring us that 'Zionist' had not been hi-jacked back in 2013? If so, it's not a usage some of us, perhaps more linguistically-adept, would have made, even then.

As for 1948, Hamas, and all that, the thought that anti-semitism wasn't involved wouldn't leap to my mind.

Meanwhile, what Corbyn proposed to a Hamas-front invited audience was an 'irony-test'. If you, and others, don't like the comparison with the Chingford skinhead, be careful how you walk the walk, talk the talk. Context is all — and I believe I've correctly contextualised both persons/

Gonzoland said...

@ Malcolm Redfellow
Anti-Semitism is the stick that the Daily Mail and others are currently trying to beat J Corbyn with and they've decided that because Corbyn used the term 'Zionists' it follows that Corbyn must be an Anti-Semite.

Corbyn has said that he used the Zionist label for a group of people who support the actions of the Israeli Government and Israeli Defence Force. Corbyn has stated that some of the people he described as Zionist who attended the meeting are not Jewish.

I suggested to you earlier that the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 and the aims of Hamas are matters separate from the accusation that Corbyn is anti-Semitic.
As for the Tebbit comparison, good luck with that.