Antisemitism: what does that even mean?

28 Jun
this post also features in offguardian

It pains and embarrasses me that I used to admire Dame Margaret Hodge. Her steely grillings of millionaires, in her capacity as chair of the select committee on tax avoidance, had once warmed me to her.

Since then I’d given her little thought, until she made that foul mouthed,1 slanderous and – in any context other than a McCarthyesque circus whose real target is the first Labour leader in living memory to challenge ‘austerity’ – outlandish attack on Jeremy Corbyn last July.2

Then came Giladgate and the suspension of Labour MP Chris Williamson for defending Israeli Jewish musician – and vehement critic not only of his own state but a particular subset of Jews – Gilad Atzmon.

I stress that term, a particular subset of Jews. Those who call Atzmon antisemitic have rarely in my experience troubled to read him in the round, though a few offer cherry picked quotes. I blame a confusion Atzmon is at pains to disentangle.

In The Wandering Who? he sets out three understandings of Jewishness. One refers to those born Jewish, another to followers of ethical values and spiritual disciplines encoded in the Torah. To make important generalisations about either is absurd; to make important negative generalisations a double disgrace: a moral affront in and of itself, and a moral affront in light of a thousand years of Western history culminating in Hitler. The third understanding, however, refers to Jews identifying as members of a superior race. These last, says Atzmon, are the Jews I speak of in such negative terms, and whom I urge to question their arrogant assumptions.

If these are the words of an antisemite, call me one too. I myself have not encountered that third category in personal life. The Jews I know and count as friends are on the left, or at any rate liberal. (Nor do any belong to Atzmon’s second category: with a few exceptions I don’t much rub shoulders with religious types, whatever brand they smoke). But this reflects the demography of my world rather than the non existence of Atzmon’s third category of Jews. In the Never Again culture of Israel, and the powerhouses of London and New York City, they do exist, and I applaud the man’s courageous, principled and costly3 stance of calling them out.


Talk of cherry picking brings us, in this context, back to Dame Hodge. Three nights ago she was on Newsnight to slam the reinstatement of Chris Williamson. In so doing she issued another slander, folded into an aside on the man Williamson had – with guilt by association a standard smear in Stalinist,4 McCarthyite5 and other forms of witch hunt – defended at no small cost.

The next day that man responded with clear proof that Hodge, probably through ignorance as much as malice, had profoundly misrepresented a statement he’d made. Here then is Gilad Atzmon on the subject of Margaret Hodge on the subject of Chris Williamson. I offer it not because Hodge is important, though, as the above photo shows, she still commands respect within the Labour Party. I offer it because great care is called for when examining issues not intrinsically difficult, but so buried by obfuscation and mendacity, so emotionally charged and in this case so tightly bound with the quite different agenda of ousting Corbyn.

On these matters, Hodge’s interventions are at best crass, ignorant and spiteful. At best. And in this, alas, she exemplifies so much that is rotten in our political classes and debased media.

You might also read Atzmon’s written response of yesterday, addressed more at Lord Falconer than Dame Hodge. After rebutting accusations of holocaust denial, he concludes:

I categorically deny being an anti-Semite. Crucially, I have never been charged or even questioned about anything I said or wrote by any law enforcement authority anywhere in the world. That Lord Falconer accuses an innocent citizen, one with an absolutely clean record, of being “guilty” and the BBC presenter does not challenge or even question Falconer’s assertion is a clear indication that Britain is now a lawless place … an authoritarian society governed by a compromised political class. Britain has become uninhabitable for intellectuals, truth tellers and peace lovers. Sad it is but no longer a surprise.

* * *

  1. I’m a user of the f-word myself. IMO, telling a friend they are “fucking brilliant” is not foul mouthed. Snarling into anyone’s face, let alone one with a record second to none on such matters, that they are a “fucking antisemite and racist” assuredly is.
  2. Here we should note three ironies. One is that this same Labour right cheered on the Maidan coup which brought antisemites, the real kind, into the Kiev administration to embolden Ukraine’s far and thoroughly antisemitic right. (As in 2017, when thousands of nationalists marched in Kiev to celebrate the birthday of Stepan Bandera.) Another, related, is that in devaluing the antisemite term – which is what you do when you call Corbyn one – you let real antisemites off the hook. A third is that like the West at large, Israel – I mention this given how many names on Tom Watson’s tweet are in Labour Friends of Israel – has again and again been willing to work with antisemites, also the real kind, in pursuit of its agendas.
  3. The nature of Israel – both as a racist state and, to borrow from a Stephen Gowans book I’ll shortly review, as a ‘beachhead for imperialism’ from which to control the middle east – is obviously relevant in more ways than one. Here I confine myself to the observation that Israeli Jewish critics of Israel, like white South African members of the ANC in the apartheid era, exemplify – whatever other traits they may demonstrate – considerable courage.
  4. I’m aware of a revival, outside the traditional circles of Western Communist Parties, of interest in defending Stalin. At one level this is understandable. Given the corruption of our media and political systems it can be tempting to assume that whomever our rulers and their servants hold up as paragons of virtue, or as monstrosity incarnate, will be the opposite. I’d go so far as to say such reasoning will more often than not deliver broadly accurate results. It’s no substitute for proper investigation, however, and I’m planning a post addressing not so much the brutality of Stalin as his criminal incompetence.
  5. Since writing this post I’ve happened on an interview Roger Waters – an exception, alongside Brian Eno, to the rule that top stars shall not rile the Israeli lobby – gave in 2016 to the Independent. The header says it all: Pink Floyd star on why his fellow musicians are terrified to speak out against Israel

22 Replies to “Antisemitism: what does that even mean?

  1. ” I’m planning a post addressing not so much the brutality of Stalin as his criminal incompetence.”
    I look forward to reading it -I see the history of the Soviet Union as a tale written by its enemies in much the same way that the history of Cuba, Iran and Venezuela are clearly being dictated to a very large extent by the treatment imperialism metes out to them. Stalin was to a great extent the only alternative to direct surrender left to the CPSU by 1929, and perhaps collectivisation was the only alternative left save a return to Stolypin. I know that you come from Trotsky’s tradition. So do I. It is one, at its best of continually reevaluating old ideas, reexamining the past.
    I used to receive email notice of your posts. I no longer do, is there a reason?

  2. Responding to your question, bevin, you have not slipped off my radar. You didn’t get a notification of this post because no one did. At times I post without notice and this was one. You remain an esteemed commentator, both here and on OffGuardian.

    Re Stalin, I too am rethinking what happened, why, and whether it was avoidable. The question of Stalin’s incompetence is less frequently asked than that of his ruthlessness. Both, I fear, were largely self serving. From the mid twenties on, virtually every turn – left or right – by Soviet CP and Comintern reflected Stalin’s priorities at home. I’m sure you know this as well as I do, but what is exercising me right now is a statement by Field Marshal Keitel, at the Nuremberg trial which hanged him, and when he had no cause to lie. Told that his most senior officers opposed an attack on the USSR, on the ground the Red Army (Trotsky’s creation) was a formidable force, Hitler responded that it was so no more, Stalin having – again for his own self preservation – used the twenty-three months bought by the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to liquidate his ablest generals.

    Those who rightly challenge Western media’s subordination of the role played by the USSR in defeating Hitler cite the twenty million lives lost. It has to be added, however, that many of those losses could have been avoided.

    More generally, a striking feature of many tyrants – Franco and Pinochet shared it with Stalin – is mediocrity in many arenas EXCEPT a highly developed ability to play off potential rivals against one another.

    • PS – I’ve now sent out an email alert to this (updated) post. If you didn’t get that alert please let me know.

  3. I despise the apartheid atrocities Israel has bestowed on both Christians and Moslems within it’s stolen borders, I loathe the Israeli mindset that deems their unconscionable acts against the Palestinian people as acceptable and I utterly deplore the arrogance and nazi notion that the pro Israeli Jew is a superior being and I would add also that Israel is an extremely anti-Semitic sponsor of hate against “the wrong kind of Jew” by which any Jew who is not pro Zionist or pro Israel is discriminated against.

    Despite this admission I am most vehemently NOT anti-Semitic, but quite obviously in strong opposition to the tyrannical machinations of the Zionist Lobby andd Israel’s evil occupation. I denounce the new anti-Semitism concocted interpretation and would suggest that those who sing it’s praises are neither truthful in their intent or honest in their agenda.

    Now then….. Stalin versus Trotsky? That is going to be a much harder topic for me to wade through. Stalin may not have been able to play off his rivals but during the 80’s the Theocratic Ayatollah ruling clerics had no such problem. The clerics did not actually want political supremacy(not as outrageous a statement as you might think)for themselves, they wanted a political party that would fall in line with their vision of an older version of Iran and manipulated the vying political parties very cleverly.

    I think to some degree Stalin had gone off piste at some point and rather lazily decided that he would make what he wanted by the iron fist rather than diplomacy. Perhaps I’m wrong headed about him, but he could orate and he held strong convictions about how his ideology would pan out, but his statecraft left much to be desired and I don’t believe he was a very patient man either. However, since I wasn’t around c. 1900 and was not Russian(then or now)it would be difficult for me to guage the man’s thoughts except through the enactment of his policies.

    Looking forward to your analysis and opinion.

    • Hi Susan. On yur first two paragraphs, hear hear. In your third you raise the interesting example of Iran. At the time I followed those events, and socialist analyses of them, quite closely. I well remember how skilfully the ayatollahs hijacked a popular revolution, biding their time before attacking the (Stalinist) Tudeh. Years later, a very good friend of mine – an Iranian marxist who came to Britain in 1980, i.e. while the revolution was still ongoing – commented in a different context that the theocrats are “above all arch pragmatists”.

      On Stalin there’s a lot of material to wade through, and a good deal of triangulation to be done. I fear I’ve yet again made a promise it’ll take some time to make good on!

  4. I am not sure that you have answered the queston that you set yourself in the title – what does it mean ?
    Williamson himself , who I generally support, denounced Atzmon as an ‘antisemite and a racist’ back when Giladgate broke. Is he confused about what the term actually means too?
    You write of Atzmon’s ‘… three understandings of Jewishness. One refers to those born Jewish, another to followers of ethical values and spiritual disciplines encoded in the Torah. To make important generalisations about either is absurd; to make important negative generalisations a double disgrace: a moral affront in and of itself, and a moral affront in light of a thousand years of Western history culminating in Hitler. The third understanding, however, refers to Jews identifying as members of a superior race.’
    Does it not matter one jot to you what these ‘ethical values and spiritual disciplines encoded in the Torah’ actually are ? [-you might consider the Talmud and Cabala in there too].
    If the Torah regards Jews as a superior race then what? Is that irrelevant, and if so, why?
    Have you read the Torah, Talmudic or Cabalist writings?
    If this is a contest of ideas and not a contest of peoples then we need an honest discussion of the ideas, considered separately from the people who supposedly embody those ideas.
    Even Atzmon’s view breaks down, because he does not really consider the origins of his identitarian analysis. He makes the case that Jewishness can be fundamentally summed up as ‘chosenness’, but neglects to explore where such a notion might have come from. ‘Jewish’ is fundamentally a religious designation, and as such it can only have come from religious doctrines, even if many Jews consider themselves secular today. Ask anyone who is Jewish a few questions about the origins of their sense of identity and you quickly come to the religious designation, even if they do not regualrly attend synagogue.
    This is where the Left are silent. Any critique of Jewish ideology is not addressed, but dismissed out of hand as racist, nazi, and bundled with the Aryan supremicism of the Third Reich. This is lazy, incoherent and self contradictory.
    Until the Left admit that the ideas at the core of Judaism (and therefore jewish identitarianism) are antithetical to the universalism of socialism (as well as the supremicist ideas of fascists ! ) then they will continue to be undone by this issue. It is their achilles heel.
    The Left’s attempt to demarcate ‘Zionism’ from ‘Judaism’ has also failed. Zionism effectively ended with the founding of the state of Israel. Many who empower Israel to commit the crimes it does and who grant it impunity in the international system are not Israeli citizens.
    What the Left should oppose is ‘Jewish supremacism’ and all who support it, just as they took a united stand against Aryan supremacism and those who aligned themselves with it.

    • Hi mog. Good to hear from you. I hope all’s well.

      Re your opening question, of course I haven’t answered my own question. It was posed half tongue in cheek. (And I have a ridiculous OCD about having post titles short enough to not spill over a second line in the right sidebar. Like my childhood fear of treading on the cracks between paving stones, it may take some while before I take the plunge and learn to live with so existentially threatening a page layout catastrophe.)

      As always you say a great deal. Short answer: nope; haven’t read the Torah. Raised in a strict baptist (laced with methodism) tradition, I’m better versed in the bible – a fair degree of commonality there with Judaism and Islam – and have already hinted I’m not big on God. That said, I don’t go around berating Christians for the more preposterous claims, as well as the more monstrous precepts, laid down in their holy text and would not do that with Judaists either. (Admittedly, I once decried Islam, in ways that came dangerously close to attacks on Muslims, for the contents of Koran and Hadith, but that was just a phase I was going through. I’m over it.)

      The ‘great’ religions of our age arose between the neolithic and industrial revolutions. It is an ahistorically sterile exercise in my view to separate them from their roles as social glue in the era of nation and empire building. And anachronistic (selectively so in this case) to single out their more bizarre – to our age – claims and commandments for ridicule. All the more so when we pick and choose between different faiths, none of which have a monopoly on blood curdling obscurantism.

      When I speak of ‘ethical values’ and ‘spiritual disciplines’ I refer on the one hand to those aspects of morality common to all humankind, faced with the challenge of managing our dual natures as social yet individuated beings, on the other to more exotic acts of ‘worship’ which, while at one level patently superstitious, can be seen more kindly as an outlet for our need to place our lives in a bigger context.

      I’m writing quickly and can’t be sure I’m being altogether coherent. What I’m getting at, or trying to, is that I cannot agree with your assertion that the Left must “admit that the ideas at the core of Judaism (and therefore jewish identitarianism) are antithetical to the universalism of socialism”. For me that assumes too close a fit between the words of texts – Bible, Torah, Koran, Gita – written thousands of years ago, and the pragmatic worldviews of those who, while at one level professing adherence to those texts, must negotiate life in the twenty-first century.

      Or to put it another way, I cannot agree with your prescription because, quite frankly, the Left has far more important things to do!

      • PS – yes, Williamson did indeed dither over Atzmon – I commented on this at the time – but, respectfully, I think you draw the wrong conclusion from that. I don’t see his temporary loss of courage (for which I refuse to judge him, having not myself been so intensely tested and in so ferocious an arena) as stemming from a “confusion” about what antisemitic means. I see it as an all too human loss of nerve.

        Could have been me. Shit, could even have been you, no?

        • Has he found his nerve in the intervening time and made his position clear regarding Atzmon’s views and how they relate to his own?
          I think not, and would therefore find your explanation lacking.

          • No, to my knowledge he hasn’t, so I should withdraw the word ‘temporary’. But I’m reluctant to do so on the ground, already given, that I do not hurl the ‘coward’ – or even the more benign ‘confused’ – epithet at those in a firing line I have not myself endured.

      • As ever, I appreciate the reply – even one written quickly.
        So my first point could be expanded : not only the generally principled Williamson, but also those who contribute to Novaramedia, Asa Winstanley and Electronic Intifada, Tony Greenstein, Richard Seymour and of course the circle of Owen Jones et al – all of them would agree that Gilad Atzmon is ‘antisemitic’. If Atzmon really does -and I would seem to agree with you, expose the hypocrisy of Jewish identitarian chosenness (even on the Left) in a way that does not rely on any race theory, then there is a serious problem here. Yet you suggest that the Left has ‘more important things to do’ than explore what is at root here. Obviously, I disagree, as MPs are being thrown out of the Labour Party.
        At the risk of sounding patronising, the history of political ideas didn’t start with the French Revolution, and the moral framework from which the socialist impulse grew is rooted very much in the era when religious philosophy dominated our thinking. It bears relevance today, as any other succession of ideas does., whether one is a believer in numinous gods or not. The tendency of those on the Left to write off religiosity as mere superstition and political control is a kind of hand waving, and that, I think, is why the Left has failed to gain more traction.
        Raised as a Baptist aand indoctrinated with the Holy Bible, you will be familiar with the Torah, for it is essentially the Old Testament. As for myself, not writing as a Christian in any conventional sense, it seems clear that the boiled down moral messages of the Old and New Testament are almost diametrically at odds with each other. The former preaches tribal supremacism, the righteousness of revenge, the dogma of God’s Word as Law, the reward of material wealth; the latter preaches universal love, forgiveness, the reward of spiritual attainment. Yet every courtroom, legislative house, church, and altar has had a tome binding these two ‘books’ as if they were the word of the same ‘God’….?

        You write : ‘When I speak of ‘ethical values’ and ‘spiritual disciplines’ I refer on the one hand to those aspects of morality common to all humankind, faced with the challenge of managing our dual natures as social yet individuated beings’
        It is exactly that the Jewish Law has different edicts for Jew to Jew interactions than Jew to Gentile ones that has brought it so much criticism over the centuries. No other ‘religion’ is so bound to the tribe, at the expense of the individual. In our age it is exceptional that we are basically forbidden to discuss this, even though we can (rightly) critique the ideas within other religions.
        Pragmatism has its place I agree, but we face existential problems of unimaginable magnitude, and some consideration of the big questions is important too. The world needs to draw together into some more harmonious form, and some key universal ideas are surely a prerequisite for this to happen. There are many very wealthy and powerful among the Jewish elites (and many gentile fellow travellers) who are open about how they see such a unity emerging.
        But ‘Jewish universalism’ can only be interpretted as a global, supremacist rule of Jewish elites.
        I am not up for that personally.
        Atzmon also opposes ‘Zionist plans for world domination’. Relevance ?

        • “Yet you suggest that the Left has ‘more important things to do’ than explore what is at root here. Obviously, I disagree, as MPs are being thrown out of the Labour Party.”

          To be fair, mog, you’ve sneaked in a condition of your own to the words attributed to me. Despite my semi t-in-c title, I do not share your view that a definition of antisemitism is “what is at root here”.

          IMO what is at root here is the weaponisation of the antisemitism charge to defend the indefensible. That is a very different issue, one that can be countered – at least in debate – without going down the rabbit hole of the relationships, complex and contradictory, between Holy Texts and the actual practices of their adherents. The (idealist) Richard Dawkins is overly reductive on Islamic texts prescribing death for apostates. So is the insistence that, to be accepted as socialists or even human beings, Jews must reject Judaism. It’s needlessly sectarian.

          Between my previous comment and your latest, two comments of interest have appeared on the OffGuardian version of my post. One is by Louis Proyect, to insist in that stupidly pugnacious way of his that Atzmon is indeed antisemitic. (Atzmon has responded, asking LP to put up or shut up. If my own limited interactions with Proyect are any guide, he’ll do neither.)

          The other is by Harry Stottle (I love some of these nom de guerres!) and goes like this:

          “There is a semantic discussion to be had on definition but that is something not even the keenest minds can yet agree on – more importantly, and germane to Phil’s article is the weaponisation of antisemitism as a means of exploiting political opponents, in other words hasbara.”

          Best wishes. Over and out.

          • The (idealist) Richard Dawkins is overly reductive on Islamic texts prescribing death for apostates. So is the insistence that, to be accepted as socialists or even human beings, Jews must reject Judaism. It’s needlessly sectarian.
            Yes he is. But imagine if he had made the critique against tracts within the Talmud? That is the point here, that all bodies of thought must be open to critique, yet one, is not. That is the quintessence of Jewish exceptionalism. This is Atzmon’s argument : that Jewish power is the power to silence criticism of Jewish power.
            I hope you are not interpretting my argument as ‘an insistence that to be accepted as human beings Jews must reject Judaism’. I think that the primary victims of the idea of chosenness are ordinary Jews.
            Not really following your line of thought here Philip.
            If the issue for you is the weaponisation of the AS label to demonise political opponents, then I guess it is of little or no significance to you that Gilad gets labelled such by so many on the Left (seeing as he is a self declared non-political voice).
            I agree with Norman Finkelstein’s statement that this is indeed ‘a conspiracy against Corbyn’ and one with Jewish individuals at the helm, organising through the organs of the self declared ‘Jewish state’ and groups who claim to represent British Jews.
            Sometimes plain speaking wins the day. Yet to understand why this is happening, some consideration of the roots of Jewish identity is obligatory.
            Thanks for the exchange.

            • You’re welcome, mog. As an aside, I’ve little sympathy with those who insist that ‘real’ writers publish books. One problem with its one-to-many model is that the gatekeepers – publishers and agents – had a bigger role than they’d earned a right to. Another though is that the many-to-many communication of modern digital media ebables real conversations. Like this one.

              That said, I fear I’ve gone further than I intended in these exchanges, touching on issues that find me shooting from the hip where I’d rather be allowing time to organise my thoughts and give them time to mellow. One such concerns the limits not merely to what Chris Williamson could or should be doing, but limits inherent to the nature of Labour (a social democratic party but with a unique, if fading, relationship to organised labour) in capitalism. Another is that question of Jewish identity, one I’d hoped to avoid precisely because I see the more pressing issue as reactionary weaponisation of the AS charge.

              No, though we’ve never met I know you would not insist that, to be accepted as human beings, Jews must reject Judaism. But such an equation, surely, is one of the dangers of placing too much emphasis on ancient texts in understanding the thinking of their adherents today? Hence my analogy (imperfect, as analogies by definition are) with Dawkins’ reductionism on Islam.

              On the other hand I don’t accept the syllogism of your comment that “If the issue for you is the weaponisation of the AS label to demonise political opponents, then I guess it is of little or no significance to you that Gilad gets labelled such by so many on the Left”. The Left – as you and I and everyone’s grandmother knows – is riven with factionalism and internecine dispute. Louis Proyect, for instance, who, in the BTL comments under the OG version of my post, has made one of those hit and run raids he specialises in to trash Atzmon, calls himself an unrepentant marxist and trotskyite. Well I still have respect for Trotsky but see Louis as a man who writes decent film reviews – and malevolent drivel on much else, not least Syria, where I suspect you and I agree far more than we differ.

              Look, these are deep waters and I respect your seriousness, intellect and spirit. Let’s return to them – possibly by one to one exchange – to our mutual enrichment. My own positions on religion (and much else) have shifted greatly in a few short years – see this post for instance – and will undoutedly evolve further. Here’s to comradely debate in the digital age!!

          • Just one final thought
            The Dawkins example is a false equivalence. Anyone can convert to Islam.
            Some Communists were fine with murdering fascists.
            Sometimes it takes a fight to death to get your idea accross (not that I advocate violence).
            But for most of Jewish history, membership of ‘the tribe’ was strictly lineal, which makes it a separate category.

  5. Gidday from Australia the ever faithful (slavish?) follower of empire. Never visited your blog before but my “comment” is really a query: on my phone, the text runs narrowly down the right side to the
    point of farce where only one word to a “line” shows. What’s up is it you or my phone? Makes it very hard to follow.
    On the antisemitism thing I am very much along the it’s a blatant and often slanderous effort for apologists for the vicious land stealing state of Israel to intimidate, marginalise and silence critics witness Corbyn’s to me puzzling reluctance to come out firing, sack the quislings and demand the defectors to that “company” resign and contest a bi election. To the tiny number who may listen to me or read posts I make on the subject of Israel/Palestine, I could not care less if they think I am an antisemite. As a naive youngster I believed the poor Jews surrounded by mustachiod evil Arabs bent on driving them into the sea nonsense. As I matured and read more widely it became inescapably obvious that the complete reverse is the truth . Incredibly many people still believe the aforementioned evil Arabs started the June ’67 war. This awakening in me made both embarrassed that I so readily swallowed the propaganda and angry that “the west” created this tragedy and to this day support the last vestige of colonial supremacy over the right to self determination of the Palestinians.

    • G’day Antipro. My apologies for layout madness. I fear your woes arise from my using a columns plug-in that allows me to present text and images side by side. In the past I used it a lot but this lessened as more and more people took to reading me on their phones. On the whole I’ve gone back to basics in layout but still occasionally find use for the split column format. In this case I used it because the Tom Watson tweet – a low res jaypeg – was easier to read in a half column than when taking up full screen width.

      In solidarity. Phil

  6. Focusing on what it says on the tin (the tongue in cheek (?) question/heading) this contribution by Professor Brian Klugg may prove useful:

    It is about an hour long but a downloadable transcript is available via a search engine. Three sections stand out; the bus analogy; the discourse on Jewish identity drawn from the Hungarian Jew Imre Kertesz; and the final paragraph conclusions about ‘othering’ people.

    All seem relevant here.

    • Thanks Dave. Viewing this is on my bucket list. I’ll get back to you on it, but can’t be sure when. Hope all’s well, and you’re getting out for plenty of walks in the peak district!

  7. Re-reading the tone of my previous comments, I fear it comes accross as overly antagonistic for which I apologise.
    Point taken about ‘courage’ in the public debate (as I write behind a psuedonym).

    I stand by my point made though. Medialens tweet applause for a twitter thread by @ElwinWay, which, in summarising the case for and against Williamson, conforms to the labelling of Atzmon as ‘antisemitic’, without regard for his arguments.
    Atmon seems more and more prophetic in his regard of Labour as an enforcer of Orwellian thought control when it comes to free discussion of Jewish identity or Jewish political motivations. [NB Lansman and Momentum] And this in the time when many books are being withdrawn and law implemented (NB France !) that make increasingly make Atzmon’s arguments out of bounds.
    -All this in a time when Israel prepares for yet more war against Lebanon and the incendiary plan to destroy the Dome of the Rock.
    I can no longer take the Left seriously (just as I do not take the Right seriously for very different reasons) for the general approach of most of its thinkers on this matter. The Left seem to be occupied.

    • Relax Mog. I write in OffGuardian, remember! My skin’s not rice-paper thin and I do know the difference between robust debate and the vilifications of the ignorant, the puerile and the downright nasty. Your comments fall well within the boundaries of robust debate.

      I’m reading a reviewer’s copy of Stephen Gowans’ latest book, Israel: A Beachhead. I’ll be posting my already unforgivably late review asap, but can say now he makes the irrefutable case that Jews have in the modern era been disproportionately represented on the Left, not least in the events of 1789 and 1917. Indeed, this was one reason European reactionaries – including both Churchill and (initially, as Ken observed to his cost) Hitler – backed the Zionist project: in part to drain Europe of ‘Jewish-Bolshevik’ troublemakers; in part because rightwing Zionists like Herzl offered the tantalising prize of an ethnically cleansed Israel as instrument of Western control over an oil rich middle east. Also relevant here is that Zionism has largely Christian origins, while Jewish Zionists have often – again like Herzl – been atheists. This should be no surprise, given orthodox Judaic opposition to Zionism on the religious ground that only Jehovah can decide when His People have sufficiently atoned for their errant ways to be allowed back from the exile detailed in Exodus!

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