The Morning Star has published an editorial on the issues for the left raised by last Sunday’s March Against Antisemitism. It begins with this premise: “It is catastrophic for the left, which has always led the anti-racist struggle, if Jewish communities do not trust it to defend them against antisemitism.” And concludes: “It means rebuilding a mass anti-racist movement with prominent Jewish voices alongside those of black and other oppressed minorities.”
Unfortunately the Morning Star does not address why so many British Jewish people, who have a history of standing against oppression and injustice, are now so closely aligned with the establishment. This did not begin on 7th October and it predates the manufactured “crisis of antisemitism” that was deliberately used to undermine Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party.
A survey by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) in 1995 found that voting intentions slightly favoured Conservatives over Labour at a time when the population as a whole was overwhelmingly anti-Tory, as shown by Blair’s landslide victory in 1997. Another survey by JPR in 2010 showed little change, with Labour slightly ahead of the Conservatives. Israel was not an issue that influenced votes.
Things changed dramatically when polling by the Jewish Chronicle before the 2015 general election revealed a massive shift to the Conservatives by Jewish voters: 69% as against 22% for Labour. The reason given was Ed Miliband’s support for a Palestinian state and condemnation of Israeli military tactics in Gaza. Prior to this every Labour leader since 1947 had supported Israel. Miliband was followed by Jeremy Corbyn, who defied his critics in a shock result that denied Theresa May her expected clear victory . He actually got 26% of the Jewish vote.
The orchestrated smear campaign against Corbyn was not working, so organisations like the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA), which led last Sunday’s demo, played a leading role in the scam to smear the Labour Party and persuade people that criticism of Israel and support for Palestine were evidence that Labour was institutionally antisemitic and that the left under Corbyn was to blame.
In 1995 JPR had reported that most British Jewish people felt a significant attachment to Israel, had close friends or family in Israel and had visited there. The majority supported Israel’s approach to the peace process (59%) and 69% agreed that Israel should give up some territory in exchange for peace. (The two-state solution)
The problem with the two-state solution has always been that it legitimises the Nakba of 1948 and lets the left pretend that we can achieve peace in the Middle East without confronting Zionism. But Netanyahu and his Likud party have been stepping up the illegal settlements in the occupied territories and increasing the oppression, until even the UN have described Israel as an apartheid state. And since 7th October the murderous retaliation in Gaza has revealed Israel as a genocidal state.
The Morning Star acknowledges that Gideon Falter, a senior figure in CAA, is as bad as Suella Braverman when he describes the Palestine solidarity demos in these terms: “We have witnessed mass criminality, including glorification of terrorism, support for banned terrorist organisations such as Hamas…”
Last Sunday’s demonstration was not called to oppose antisemitism. With placards that read “For Israel Against Antisemitism” It was a cynical attempt to deflect from Israel’s war crimes. The size of the demonstration shows how far the Zionist leadership has succeeded in persuading British Jewish people that the mass demonstrations for a ceasefire are fuelling antisemitism in the UK. But how much of this antisemitism is misplaced anger at the massacre of the innocents by the IDF in Gaza?
The Morning Star describes the march as a catastrophe for the left, when in fact it is a catastrophe for those Jewish organisations promoting the idea that a racist like Boris Johnson, who was welcomed onto the march, is an ally in the fight against antisemitism because he supports Israel.
We will not win the trust of Jewish people by pandering to these arguments. We have to win the argument instead. However distant it seems at present, the only answer is for Israelis and Palestinians to enjoy equal rights in a single, secular, democratic state. And, as for rebuilding the anti-racist movement, it is alive and well and already includes prominent Jewish voices who have mobilised thousands of fellow Jewish people to reject the hierarchy of racism and show their solidarity with Palestine.
The Morning Star may be well intentioned. But its nostrums will lead to little more than an attempt to appease the Zionists, instead of challenging them. Socialists have nothing to apologise for in our defence of Palestine. Our politics stand against the pious remarks in the Morning Star.
Life long socialist. Now retired, I have been an office junior, a bookseller, a docker and a teacher. I write a lot and read a lot more. Committed member of the Society of Authors, English PEN and the National Education Union. Never voting Labour again.