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.

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House of Commons Debate on Recognition of Palestinian Statehood

I’m watching this with a sense of utter despair. My own shul’s MP (Mike Hancock) made egregious, mendacious, mischievous and borderline antisemitic comments (in that he denies the facts surrounding the birth of the State of Israel) about Israel’s War of Independence.
The same buzzwords keep coming up: disproportionate, settlements.
The most powerful proponent of the motion, it soon became apparent, was no MP but the BBC: speaker after speaker prayed in favour of the motion the film ‘The Gatekeepers’ and subsequent debate, screened on BBC2 48 hours previously.
The division was not across party lines, but something both older and newer, and far more visceral. The voices in favour were mainly regional, with a preponderance from Scotland; those opposed were uniformly (with the honourable exception of Louise Ellman) received pronunciation from the shires.
As I listened, I was reminded inescapably of Yeats’ famous lines: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity.” The pro voices were clear and forceful: the antis were factually correct, but dull, dull, dull, in some cases obviously reading briefs.
Much was made of the second part of the Balfour Declaration, that “nothing should be done which might prejudice the rights of the non-Jewish communities”, and Britain’s historic responsibility and importance as the holder of the Mandate from 1920 to 1947.
So: the motion was amended to read: “That this House believes that the Government should recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution.” It was passed 247 to 12.
Not one word was spoken about the White Paper of 1939 which shut the doors of Palestine forever to the millions of doomed Jews of Hitler’s Europe. By that act, the people of Britain, whether they know it or not, forfeited their right to dare to pass judgment on Israel.

Israel & Gaza – a Cymru Perspective

Imagine, if you will, that Plaid Cymru decided to adopt an extremist militant policy. Mindful that the whole of the island of Britain had once been their land, they decided to declare war on the United Kingdom. Not having access to any heavy weaponry, they resorted to such small arms, mortars and missiles as they could smuggle in or manufacture, and a campaign of suicide bombing, in an effort to demoralise and terrorise the British into dismantling the United Kingdom and re-instating the rule of the Romano-British Welsh over the whole island.

Now imagine another scenario. After the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the 5th to 7th centuries, a remnant of the Romano-British Welsh are driven to the Welsh and Cornish fastnesses, but the majority spread across the world, particularly to Patagonia and Pennsylvania, where they flourish and make enormous contributions to the nations in which they settle, most of all by bringing the incalculable blessing of Welsh (or ‘Bourbon’) whiskey to the USA. However, in the late 19th century, an international Plaid Cymru movement springs up with the aim of returning the worldwide Welsh to a re-established State of Britannia Superior. Since they have by now become Americans, they have the will-power and the weaponry – and they overthrow the rudderless and divided United Kingdom.

The first paragraph is how Israel sees Hamas. The second is how Arabs see Israel.

Israel and Gaza

Hamas can’t lose, because Hamas can’t win.
Furthermore, Israel can’t win – because Israel can’t lose.
Let me explain.
Hamas’s objective is clearly set out in their Charter, and nothing they’ve said or done contradicts it. Their goal is the overthrow of the State of Israel (or ‘Zionist Entity’, as they call it) and its replacement with a unitary State of Palestine, governed according to Sharia law, in which non-Muslims are dhimmis – second-class citizens, with the same level of rights as non-whites in South Africa or Mississippi in the 1960s.
Obviously Israel will never acquiesce to this, so Hamas will continue its ‘resistance’ in perpetuity. It is this interminable state of conflict which is Hamas’s true and achievable goal. If in this conflict children and other vulnerable Palestinian Arabs are killed, so much the better: each death makes Hamas look like the underdogs and Israel like murderers, thus encouraging the rest of the world to side with Hamas against Israel.
For the same reason, Israel can never give in to any of Hamas’s demands, since they are all about giving Hamas access to better weaponry, sited where it can attack Israel’s heartland with impunity. Israel can only survive by maintaining overwhelming military superiority: with equality of arms, Hamas (and indeed Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Uncle Tom Tanzim and all) would inflict on Israel the same level of massacre that the Little Giraffe is visiting on his own subjects in Syria. But this is a story that the outside world just doesn’t want to hear: for them, Israel is fatally condemned by its willingness and ability to defend its own citizens of all races and creeds.

Operation Protective Edge

Here are some sensible comments on the latest developments in the Arab-Israeli conflict:

http://hurryupharry.org/2014/07/10/combatants-and-human-shields-some-inchoate-thoughts-on-the-ethics-of-war/

http://www.thejc.com/news/world-news/120481/i-begged-hamas-a-ceasefire-they-said-no-bring-it

http://www.thejc.com/comment-and-debate/comment/120478/failed-condemn-hamas-you-have-no-right-outrage-israels-response

http://sarahhonig.com/2014/07/10/another-tack-eerily-deja-vu/