Just How Anti-Zionist Is Britain?

I didn’t realise until a few days ago that the UK Government Petitions website is searchable. It’s not quite down to “Don’t tell him your name, Pike” level – but you can find out how many people from each parliamentary constituency voted for a given petition. So you can see in what areas support is strongest – and where they really don’t care.
Obviously I searched for the most popular antisemitic petition I could find, as you do. Fortunately there is nothing of that nature currently live: but in 2015 there was a fine example of antisemitism masquerading as anti-Zionism: “Benjamin Netanyahu to be arrested for war crimes when he arrives in London” This attracted 114,122 signatures before it closed in February 2016.
As a control I compared it to the most popular petition which was likely to attract the sort of leftish, anti-establishment progressives who might have signed the first petition – but without the anti-Israel element. This is still open: “Prevent Donald Trump from making a State Visit to the United Kingdom”. As of 29 April 2017 it has garnered 1,863,606 signatures.
There are 650 constituencies in the UK, so on average 175 people from each should have signed the Netanyahu petition. More than 840 signed from: Bethnal Green (1665), Poplar (1528), Bradford West (1347), Birmingham Hall Green (1323), Blackburn (1319), East Ham (1311), Ilford South (1292), Birmingham Hodge Hill (1101), West Ham (1069), Leicester South (876), Rochdale (866), Bradford East (858) & Birmingham Ladywood (847).

On average 2,867 people from each constituency should have signed the Trump petition. More than 10,000 signed from: Bristol West (13177), Hackney North (12346), Hornsey (11848), Bethnal Green (11499), Holborn (11309), Hackney South (11166) Brighton Pavilion (11136), Islington North (10776).

What can we learn from these figures? Most importantly, that the Israeli/Arab conflict is a long way down on the agenda of even the most left-leaning politically-minded Brits. Secondly, that there is no drive to intersectionality: no underlying linkage between opposition to Trump and opposition to Israel. The only proportional demographic overlap with these petitions is in the East End of London, specifically Bethnal Green. This might be expected, as it is home to both the hard left and a massive Muslim population. But anti-Trump centres outside London (Bristol, Brighton) seem to have little or no animus towards Netanyahu or Israel. So where is the anti-Zionist animus concentrated? Bradford, Birmingham, Blackburn, Leicester and Rochdale – all very large Muslim centres.

Conclusion: anti-Zionism is just not that popular a cause in Britain, even among the hard, anti-colonialist, anti-American, anti-capitalist Left. But it does obsess a worrying large percentage of British Muslims. Below is the spreadsheet giving all above-average constituency figures: judge for yourself.

Anti-Zionist to Anti-Trump Petition Map of UK

The Chakrabarti Inquiry: Evidence that it ignores antisemitism

This was my submission to the Chakrabarti Inquiry:

As a concerned Jew I am writing to ask for your response to the following two questions about the Inquiry into the Labour Party which you will shortly be chairing:

  1. Can you confirm that you will not be applying double standards by on the one hand dismissing the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) and Pickles governmental definitions of antisemitism, and on the other hand giving weight to accusations of Islamophobia made against those who merely wish to protest the incitement of violence?
  2. Can you confirm that you will not be perversely standing Macpherson on its head by accepting the testimony of those Jews who categorise such statements as “the creation of Israel as a Jewish State was a crime” and “Jews of all people should have learnt from the Holocaust to turn the other cheek ” as fair comment, and not the antisemitism that they are?

The following excerpts from the Inquiry prove that the response to my concerns is a resounding “No!”

[page 4]: “…  it  is incredibly important that whilst individual testimonies are acknowledged, universal principles are then applied. So for example Islamophobia, antisemitism and Afriphobia are all equally vile forms of racism.”

This was meant to be an inquiry into antisemitism. Islamophobia and hatred of people of African descent are serious problems, but of different origin and merit different treatment in a separate inquiry

[page 6]: “  In  1987  Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng, Bernie Grant and Keith Vaz were elected to the House of   Commons..”

All four of those MPs are egregious in their attacks on Israel. It is an insult to Jews for their names to be included in this inquiry.

“  The  Iraq War (to be  discussed  in  the  long-awaited  report  of   another  inquiry),  as  well  as  stop and search without suspicion, punishment without charge or  trial and the domestic extremism agenda left many British Muslims feeling suspect and alienated in their natural political home.”

The Iraq war was against the regime of Saddam Hussein which rained Scud missiles down on Israel. How on earth is this comment helpful to an inquiry into antisemitism?

[page 14]: “I  am in no way suggesting that bad taste metaphors and comparisons should ever be a matter for the criminal law any more than say ill-judged and incendiary cartoons.  I am told that they are frequently used in Israel. However, they are all too capable, not only of bringing the Labour Party into disrepute, but of actively undermining the cause of peace, justice and statehood for the Palestinian people which forms part of Labour’s current “two-state” foreign policy and which so many Jewish people (including in the Labour Party) actively support.”

This paragraph implies that insults used by Jew against Jew are fine for Gentiles to use against Jews. It also implies that the only Jews whose opinion is worth taking into consideration are those who support a Palestinian state.

[page 15]: “Crucially, I have heard testimony and heard for myself first-hand, the way in which the word “Zionist” has been used personally, abusively or as a euphemism for “Jew”, even in relation to some people with no  stated  position  or even a critical position  on  the  historic  formation  or  development  of  modern Israel. This has clearly happened so often over a number of years as to raise some alarm bells in Jewish communities, including amongst  highly orthodox  people  who,  whilst  perhaps  most “visibly Jewish” (e.g. in dress and or  observance), would never see themselves as Zionists.”

“A  further  complexity   comes  from  left-wing British  Jewry, including, but  not  exclusively,  young people becoming increasingly  critical of, and disenchanted  with Israeli Government  policy  in  relation  to settlements in the West Bank and the bombardment of Gaza in particular. This has led to some people personally redefining their Zionism in ways that appear to grant less support to the State of Israel and more solidarity to fellow Jewish people the world over.”

This clearly references Neturei Karta, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and their ilk. So these two tiny minorities are to be given as much weight when considering antisemitism as the vast majority of Jews who support Israel?

“ But  surely  it  is  better  to  use  the  modern  universal language  of  human  rights,  be  it  of dispossession,  discrimination,  segregation,  occupation  or persecution and to leave  Hitler,  the  Nazis and the Holocaust out of   it?”

This language is not universal but “When did you stop beating your wife?” It takes as a given that the Palestinian Arabs are dispossessed,  discriminated,  segregated,  occupatied  and persecuted.

 [page 16]: “What I cannot do is legislate for which causes activists within the Party spend their time and energies ,or require that people only highlight issues relating to one country or  government if they spend equal time  on  infractions or injustices elsewhere.  No doubt  my  many  years  as  a  domestic  human  rights campaigner may  have  led  some  people  (not  least  in  past  Labour  Governments)  to  question  my preoccupation with abuses by the British State when there was so much worse in North Korea, Saudi Arabia,  Syria,  Russia  and  elsewhere.  No doubt some people suspected my motives or my loyalty to Britain.  In truth it was my background, experience and a view that Britain should lead the world that informed my choice of activism.”

This is itself the antisemitic accusation of ‘whataboutery’ and comes straight out of the PSC playbook.

“ It is especially pernicious,  in  my  view,  to  blame  those who share  platforms with people who  went on (often some considerable time later) to say and do things with which we profoundly disagree and even abhor.”

“Sharing a platform or having a meeting around some kind of problem or injustice never has meant, does not and never will mean, sharing any or all of the views (past, present or future) of everyone in the room.  It is instead the business of peace-building and of the promotion of fundamental human rights.”

Far from being pernicious, this is shining a spotlight on a disingenuous protestation, here shamelessly repeated.

[page 19]: “Some care should also be taken to identify and record the identity of complainants. This would allow and facilitate genuine sensitive communication and “aftercare” in relation e.g. to a Labour Party member who has been targeted or upset unpleasantly by a fellow member.  However, it would also create an important distinction between such a complainant and a hostile journalist or political rival conducting a trawling exercise or fishing expedition in relation to a particular person or group of people  within the Labour Party.  I am not going so far to say that a politically motivated complaint should always be disregarded, just that motivation may have relevance, as will context. I also recognise that the Party’s elected structures (Leader, the NEC etc.) should be able to raise concerns of their own volition about a member in danger of   bringing the  Party into disrepute.  However, if  an  investigation arises  via this  route,  that  should  be  also  clearly recorded.  Further, subjects of complaint should normally be informed both of  its  substance  and  author  at  the  earliest  opportunity unless there is a clear and pressing reason for protecting the identity of a complainant.”

“Submissions to my Inquiry reveal a level  of concern and confusion (in  some  quarters) about the “Macpherson”  definition  of  a  racist  incident.  This is of course a reference to the famous Report of   1999 into the Metropolitan Police after its appalling mishandling of Stephen Lawrence’s murder.  The principle  that  an  incident should be recorded as “racist” when perceived that way by a victim may indeed  have  some  useful  application  outside  the  policing  context,  and  even  here  in  the  world  of   Labour Party discipline. However the purpose of   the approach is to ensure that investigators handle a complaint with particular sensitivity towards the victim.  It is to suggest the seriousness  with which  a complaint must be handled, but in no way to determine its outcome.  If I complain to the police that I have been the victim of a racist attack on the street, I should expect my complaint to be so recorded. However investigation and due process must of course then follow and it is perfectly possible that an investigator, prosecutor or magistrate will subsequently find either that no attack took place at all, or that its motivation was something other than racism.  In the present context, my complaint that I have been subject to racist or other personal abuse by a fellow Party Member should be so recorded, taken seriously and handled sensitively. However it will be for the investigation and any subsequent process to determine whether my complaint was ultimately well-founded.”

I am reminded of George Colman’s famous phrase: “Love and a cottage! Eh, Fanny! Ah, give me indifference and a coach and six!” Here, ladies and gentlemen, is Ms. Chakrabarti caught in the act of driving that indifferent coach and six through the spirit of the Macpherson Report. Macpherson clearly concluded that the accusation of prejudice is indeed in the gift of the victim: it is not for authority, and above all not for the perpetrator, to decide.

[page 27]: “I explained earlier why the trigger of antisemitism notwithstanding ,I believed that it was right that my terms of reference embrace all forms of racism. I also explained that it is not enough to avoid being clearly, expressly or deliberately racist in the Labour Party if anyone feels excluded from their instinctive political home. That is why the idea of ensuring “Labour is a welcoming environment for members of all communities “constitutes the fundamental underpinning of my task. The journey of this Inquiry has reinforced the importance of this, not just in principle, but sadly in practice as well.”

“ I believe it right, natural and wholly positive for the Labour Movement, that so many new-comers to Britain, their children and grandchildren have gravitated to the party of social justice since its origins and inception. There is nothing inherently suspect about this tendency, and it should be welcomed and positively encouraged by all in the Party.”

Having had the chutzpah to trample Macpherson underfoot, Ms. Chakrabarti compounds it by arrogating to herself the decision as to who is fit to join the Labour Movement. You do not have to be a social justice warrior to support Labour. If they expel the Blairite New Labour Centrists for good, then Labour will never again have the chance to form a government.

‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ by Amos Oz

I have just finished reading ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness’ by Amos Oz (a bit late in the day, I know – the English translation came out in 2004). What a read! Ostensibly it is the autobiography of the author’s first sixteen years, but it is so much more than that. It chronicles the history of his family from his grandparents’ childhood in the 1880s, and at times flashes forwards to 2001 when the author was writing. Through his family’s eyes, Oz describes the entire Zionist project from Herzl to Netanyahu – a true roman fleuve.

I must admit I embarked on this book out of a sense of duty, thinking that for somebody interested in Jewish thought and Israeli politics it was a worthy-but-dull must-read. But within a couple of chapters I was as lost in the book as the young Amos Klausner (he changed his surname to Oz after going to the kibbutz) was in the books of his childhood. Great credit must go to Prof. Nicholas de Lange’s limpid and fluid translation.

I have often asked myself why so many Israelis, particularly in Jerusalem, when presented with the glorious sunshine, freedom and physical and mental health of Eretz Yisrael, dafka insist on retaining the neurotic, fearful, shrivelled lifestyle of Eastern Europe. My late father used to say: “It was terrible there, and you should thank God your grandfather got out!”. Amos Oz’s family did not thank God they got out. They brought their Eastern European culture with them to Jerusalem, the intellectual pyrotechnics and crippling fears intertwined, and wrapped it around them like a Dementor comfort blanket, branding all those it touched.

But the book makes you sympathise with these people and understand how and why they were this way. Not just (just!) the Shoah, which casts its shadow over every Jew and will continue to do so for who knows how long, but before that, centuries of persecution, of having our feebleness, compared to the majority population, so embedded in our psyche that we believed it ourselves.

The sabras shook this off, and did it so effectively that they forgot how to empathise with their neurotic mishpoche – thus compounding their neurosis.

This book is so compelling that it even dares – to those that have ears to hear – to propose an answer to the question that most of us dare not ask: Why did we go like sheep to the slaughter between 1941 and 1944?

David Cameron is Inspired by My Speech (Allegedly)

On Sunday 18th October I asked a written question of the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews. He gave a written response, to which I replied from the floor in clarification:

My Question: How would it damage British Jewry to concentrate exclusively on working with Muslim groups and individuals who are not anti-Zionist – maybe Ahmadiyya, Sufis and Ismailis, – together with (say) DCLG, Eric Pickles and Quilliam, to encourage a peaceful, integrated, British kind of Islam to empower neutral, tolerant Muslims?

Answer from the President: The Board has a policy of co-operating with a variety of Muslim groups both to foster good relations between the communities and to work on issues of mutual interest – for example shechitah and brit milah. While we may not agree on all matters, it is far better to engage the Muslim communities rather than refuse to talk to anyone who does not agree with all of our views on Israel.

My response from the floor: Mr President, when I said we should work exclusively with Muslim groups and individuals who are not anti-Zionist, I wasn’t suggesting we reject approaches from such groups.
No, what I meant was that we shouldn’t be forever running after self-styled Muslim ‘community leaders’ in the name of inter-faith.
A century ago Colonel Albert Goldsmid, founder of our wonderful Jewish Lads and Girls Brigade, enjoined our immigrant forefathers to “iron out the ghetto bend”. No more should we be ‘trembling Israelites’.
We should have the confidence to know that, as fully integrated, contributing citizens of this country, our Brit Milah is first class surgery and our Shechita minimizes animal suffering. We can help our Muslim fellow-citizens improve their practices if they ask us: but under no circumstances should we ‘check the privilege’ so hard-won by our forebears.
There are nearly 3 million Muslims in Britain: don’t tell me that there aren’t a few tens, even hundreds of thousands who are happy to live & let live, and are only stopped from expressing themselves by fear of opposition or worse from the majority leaders.
I see no reason we can’t unapologetically cultivate those minority groups and voices within the ummah that are neutral or tolerant towards Israel.

I think David Cameron must have heard me. This piece by him appeared in ‘The Times’ the following day:

Times Articles Inspired by My BoD Speech (2)

If there is any doubt, here is the text of an e-mail I wrote to a number of my right-thinking fellow Deputies on 4th October, which I later condensed into my question:

Dear Friends,

I thought I’d just fly a kite in the run-up to the next BoD meeting.

Have any of you, like me, been frustrated and irritated by our communal leadership’s predilection for endlessly running after Muslim ‘community leaders’ in this country in the name of inter-faith?

It seems that the more they condemn Israel and become entrenched in their opposition to it as a Jewish state, the more our leaders tie themselves in knots and bend over backwards to try to appease them.

They emphasise our shared commitment to ritual male circumcision and religious slaughter, as if that somehow outweighs the standard Muslim narrative of ‘Death to Israel’.

How about a different approach?

Instead of making up to the MCB and the self-styled mainstream majority spokesmen for British Muslims, why don’t we cultivate those minority groups and voices within the ummah that are neutral or tolerant towards Israel?

There are nearly 3 million Muslims in Britain: don’t tell me that there aren’t a few tens, even hundreds of thousands who are happy to live & let live, and are only stopped from expressing themselves by fear of opposition or worse from the majority leaders.

How difficult would it be for us to work with (say) DCLG, Eric Pickles and the Quilliam Foundation to empower these neutral voices at the expense of the Islamists?

I’m thinking in terms of Ahmadiyya, Sufis and Ismailis; many of you will know others.

Or am I on to a total loser here?

Trains from the East

I’ve been looking at those trains passing through Hungary, carrying refugees from further east, and seeing the Hungarian police offer them food and water, which they throw on the ground in contempt. And I’m reminded of other trains travelling the same route, 72 years ago, also en route to a place that in those days was in Germany. Those passengers, when the train stopped at a station, offered gold and jewellery for the privilege of a mug of water. But this was denied them. They arrived in a Germany, all right, but there were no lines of happy faces carrying placards saying ‘Welcome’. Just soldiers, dogs and whips. And a chimney.

Why Antisemitism?

The way the world is at the moment, now is as good a time as any to try out my theory of why anti-Semitism exists and persists.
Leaving aside Bible stories, hatred of Jews has been recorded in history at least from the 3rd century BCE. Jews have been hated for killing Christ and giving rise to Christianity; for being alien and for trying to blend in; for being rich and being poor; for being dirty and for washing too much; for being capitalists and being communists; for leaving Israel for Europe and for leaving Europe for Israel.
WTF?
I believe that the main reason that hatred for Jews has thrived for so long is that the story of the Jewish people is a standing counter-example to the narrative of both Western civilisation and the two faiths that could be called heresies of Judaism.
The success of the Jewish people shows that you need neither Socrates nor Cicero nor Jesus nor Muhammad nor Marx in order to lead a rich and fulfilled life. In particular, Christianity, Islam and Communism are universalist faiths: each say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” The Jewish people, and Judaism, shows that there’s another way, just as good. And the authorities, from Hadrian to Khamenei, see that as an existential threat.
And because, while Christianity, Islam and Communism are desperate to convert everybody, Judaism puts up barriers to conversion and only accepts the sincere, this drives them mad: because they don’t understand how we can be so weak, so few, and yet so indestructible.
And it also drives Christians & Muslims mad that, while they live in fear of God, every Jew has a personal relationship with Him. Even when He gets angry with us, it’s just dear old Dad losing His rag: we are confident that He loves us, and His wrath will blow over after a bit. They are in awe of God: but we’re His best mate. We see Him on his day off, and go out for a drink with Him. The Tanach and Mishnah are full of stories of us having blazing rows with Him, but He just laughs it off.
No wonder they want to kill us.