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Labour, anti-semitism and the emperor’s new clothes

HANS CHRISTIAN ANDERSEN’S two weavers convince the emperor that his new suit is only visible to those worthy of their positions. 
Both the King and his entourage are too fearful of being exposed as unworthy and pretend to see the suit where none exists. 

Finally, it is a child, unencumbered by the social forces who exposes the trick. Like the child, it takes a Jewish group outside the entourage to call the bluff.

We know that the wave of anti-semitism in the Labour Party is invisible because, when we ask party branch members — and we have asked very many during this show — if they themselves, personally, have actually seen examples of anti-semitism within the party, rather than having heard reports of it, or seen it elsewhere in the public domain, the answers are overwhelmingly negative. 

Ah-ah, we hear the cry, it takes a Jew to see the substance. Well, we are several hundred Jews and none has spotted it. But then we are unworthy Jews who do not pass the authenticity test, cast beyond the pale by the magic circle for giving away the game. Andersen is joined by Lewis Carroll.

So what is the warp and weft of this cloth, what is the pay off and why the tantrums?

Just three strands compose the fabric. Israel, zionism and Jew are wove into cloth such that criticism of Israel or zionism is transmogrified into criticism of Jews and magically becomes anti-semitic.

The weavers stood to be paid a small fortune for nothing. What is the payoff produced by the invisible wave of anti-semitism in the Labour Party? It’s a rich seam — serious damage to brand Corbyn which otherwise has Teflon credentials, gagging of Israel’s human rights critics — and its abuses are legion —  removal by suspension of large numbers of grassroots Corbyn activists and provision of a “moral” foundation for right-wing Labour MPs should they plan to sabotage Corbyn’s electoral prospects by staging a split.

And why the tantrums? 

In spite of all the bullying, culminating in the nuclear button of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s open revolt against its own party’s executive, the centre has held, in the form of a national executive code of conduct on anti-semitism. 

This has taken note of the legal criticisms of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition and set down the obvious — that it is not anti-semitic to criticise Israel and to use robust historical analogies where relevant or to criticise the ideology of zionism or to advocate boycott, disinvestment or sanctions so long as these actions are not construed in such ways as to be anti-semitic  — ie not aimed at their subject but at all Jews as Jews.

In other words, the right, having fired off its big guns and failing to sink its target, is left stamping its feet.

“Jack Zipes, in Hans Christian Andersen: The Misunderstood Storyteller, suggests that seeing is presented in the tale as the courage of one’s convictions. Zipes believes this is the reason the story is popular with children. Sight becomes insight, which, in turn, prompts action.” (Wikipedia). 

But there is protection money involved. The IHRA definition was written by Jews — gainsay it at your peril — for ipso facto, the crier becomes an anti-semite. Support it and gain admittance to the magic circle.

As was demonstrated at last year’s party conference, the whole of the floor lifted the roof in siding with the criers — the NEC is in tune with its grassroots, representing over half a million members, while the weavers are becoming exposed as charlatans, firing off insults.

Glyn Secker is a member of Jewish Voice for Labour. This article is written in a personal capacity.


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