The claims by the Community Security Trust of an alleged “engine of hate” within Labour Party supporters, the denunciation of Jeremy Corbyn by the Jewish Chronicle, the crowing by lawyer Adam Wagner at the campaign anonymously smearing left-leaning sites like The Canary and Novara Media, the dishonest attacks by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, all have one target, and one alone.
(c) Steve Bell 2016
That target is the Labour leadership, and the objective of all those players is to associate it - and no-one else - with accusations of anti-Semitism. This is despite all the evidence showing that anti-Semitism has a lower occurrence within Labour supporters than those of all other major parties. It is despite the clear and disturbing rise of the far right, popularised by unscrupulous politicians flirting with bigotry in order to gain electoral advantage.
The game being played by some who claim to represent the Jewish Community is frighteningly naive. The far right may be targeting Muslims, but as sure as night follows day, they will come for the Jews later. They always do. They have to have a minority to demonise, to “other”, to use as a way of distracting their followers and frightening them into line. It is this naivety that Shaun Lawson has now picked up on. Here are his thoughts.
“If we are now in a situation in which accusations of antisemitism are thrown around like confetti against seemingly anyone on the left, we're going to end up in a situation resembling The Boy Who Cried Wolf … Antisemitism is increasingly being stripped of all practicable meaning by the very people in place to protect British Jews... all at the same time as the far right rises and rises in the UK to an extent not seen since the 1930s”.
“Does the Jewish Chronicle highlight the rise of the far right? Scarcely at all. Do the Board of Deputies of British Jews do so? Nope. Instead, it's all out war on Corbyn: taking on the mosquito and ignoring the elephant in the room … The extent to which British politics has imploded over the last 3 years has stunned many. Well - where will we be in another 3 years? Or another three after that? Especially if No Deal Brexit comes about?”
There is more. “The only party which will have the power or even the will to rebuild and heal Britain is the Labour Party. Its defeat would allow the far right to run roughshod over the whole country: immediately imperilling Muslims and ultimately, imperilling Jews too … At times of economic crisis, people always move towards the extremes. Always. The way to stop extremism, racism and fascism gaining a foothold has always been economic prosperity for all. Not for a few; for all. That's what creates social cohesion”. Indeed.
Then the warning. “So with things steadily getting worse and worse for so many, what's happening? The one party which could actually do something positive to fix things is being openly demonised, while the enemy within - fascism - is ignored and indulged … Nigel Farage is a menace. Tommy Robinson is a menace. Steve Bannon is a menace. Their supporters are a menace. Boris Johnson's indulgence of them - and of his institutionally racist, wantonly Islamophobic party - is a menace”. Tory bigotry is presently being ignored.
So to the conclusion. “And after these monsters come for the Muslims, they'll come for the Jews. That's what fascists have always done and always will do. The entire UK Jewish community should be standing in solidarity with British Muslims against this hideous threat: starting with its leaders”. But some in that community are not.
The casually sick Iran-Iraq war jibes of JC editor Stephen Pollard come to mind. Lawson ends with the clear and obvious warning “To instead obsess seemingly forevermore with a microscopic fraction of Labour supporters isn't just absurd. It's quite recklessly dangerous. The consequences if it continues could be grimmer than anyone could imagine”.
And to those who excuse right-wing bigotry, telling us that Farage and his pals, and Stephen Yaxley Lennon, are only echoing the views of ordinary people and standing up for them, that they just want to protect their community, I would commend Michael Rosen’s musing, titled “Fascism: I sometimes fear …”. Every word of it.
“I sometimes fear that
people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
worn by grotesques and monsters
as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.
Fascism arrives as your friend.
It will restore your honour,
make you feel proud,
protect your house,
give you a job,
clean up the neighbourhood,
remind you of how great you once were,
clear out the venal and the corrupt,
remove anything you feel is unlike you...
It doesn't walk in saying,
‘Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.’”
Supposedly populist politicians may not want to go there, but they are, consciously or otherwise, enabling the conditions that will in turn enable fascism.
We spent decades encouraging resistance against Benito Mussolini, the Nazis, then the totalitarianism of the Eastern Bloc, the Greek junta, Francisco Franco, and António de Oliveira Salazar. There is no way we should be enabling it by the back door in the 21st Century, while so many are distracted by attacks on the Labour left.
But that is where we are heading right now. If we go there, this will not end well.
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