The Labor Party's response to last night's BBC Panorama program Is work anti-Semitic? – in which I participated – is a scandal for itself. The party machine has made it possible to destroy the reputation of ex-employees, to question the integrity of injured and confused young Jews, and to encourage their already cultivated form of denial.
At best, the current leadership is unable to understand Labor's anti-Semitism. In the worst case, it is a pioneer. The lead time has expired: they must be replaced.
In 1980, the Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, not a friend of Israel, warned of a new form of anti-Semitism. Throughout much of the world anti-Semitism had never disappeared in two major regions in the post-war years and had survived. He said, "In Islam, and unfortunately in some countries committed to an ideology that rejected racism, especially the Soviet Union," in which "anti-Semitism … after the Holocaust … was tolerated and sometimes encouraged". At the time of the Jewish state, anti-Semitism was "disguised as anti-Zionism".
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Hobsbawm predicted that this "new" form of anti-Semitism would increase in influence. and thats the way it is. The party leadership, however, has failed to grasp the nature of a "new anti-Semitism" and thus also to grasp the difference between legitimate criticism of Israeli policies – including criticism of territorial occupation, the settlement project, and aspects of minority treatment Israel and the extent of Israeli violence against Palestinians – and the illegitimate discourse. This discourse is based on a demonizing, dehumanizing and conspiratorial language to bring the meaning of "Israel" and "Zionism" and "Zionists" out of shape so that each term is a suitable vessel for the tropics, images and ideas of the classical Anti-Semitism will.
The party did not understand that anti-Semitism, which is "disguised" as anti-Zionism, has three components: a political program for the abolition of the Jewish homeland (and no other homeland), a discourse, it as evil and as "Nazi" (and just to demonize it) and a global movement to make Israel a global pariah state so that it can be "smashed" (an anathema applied to no other state in the world, only to the little Jewish).
The old classic "racist" anti-Semitism has not disappeared. It is now mixed with the new anti-Semitism. While the old one said, "The Jew is our misfortune," proclaims the new anti-Semitism: "The Zionist is our misfortune." The ancients wanted to make the world "pure Jews" – free of Jews. The new effort to make the world "Jewish state clean" – free from the Jewish state.
Let's face the facts. Nowadays, euphemism is very often "Zionist", "Zio" or "Global Zionism". "Israel," "Zionism," and "Global Zionism" are not criticized by the new anti-Semite, but eerily portrayed as "the Jew" was discouraged by the ancient antisemites:
In addition, all proponents of Israel's existence (most of them critical or very critical of Israeli politics) are grouped together as "Zionists" who are to be attacked, banned, expelled from the movement and expelled from access to the public square. That's what the Corbynista Keyboard Warriors have been screaming for on social media every day for four years.
If a person says that "the Zionists" control the media or control America, they have done 9/11 or created ISIS. If you use the term "Zio", "Zio-Nazis" or say Israel is the "New Third Reich" and should therefore be "smashed". If they demand that all British Jews take responsibility for Israeli policy in the West Bank, this is not "criticism of Israel," but anti-Semitism. The party needs a new leadership that understands this and eradicates it once and for all.
Alan Johnson is a political theorist and activist. He is a Senior Researcher at the Britain Israel Communications and Research Center