So, the right wing media are concerned about anti Semitism in the Labour Party, and at first glance, it could be a valid question. But only in a knee jerk responsiveness sort of way. However, the right wing media are quite brilliant at turning such instant, unthinking reactions into a long played out narrative.
Naz Shah is absolutely not anti-Semitic: at least to my rather limited knowledge of her, and indeed it would be strange if she were, for reasons I make clear later on. Her postings have been anti zionist, for sure, but nothing can be garnered from that, only that she reserves the right to speak out against a violent regime, and I hope she continues to do so. I would say the same about Ken Livingstone. Both he and Shah have campaigned actively against the manner in which the modern state of Israel conducts its affairs. This state of Israel should have been the crowning glory of the post war world, but such noble intentions were alive only insofar as the existing state and peoples of Palestine were involved, protected and supported but more essentially, respected. A two (secure) state solution surely is the only way in which the new state of Israel could have been termed a success.The fact that it hasn’t happened lies at the feet of global responsibility.
Ken Livingstones comments appear so much more inflammatory, but perhaps we need to look at what he said objectively: for a moment. It is a matter of record that Hitler, in Mein Kampf, saw the contemporary zionist campaign as a means of acheiving his own ends. In that, Ken is entirely accurate. But context is everything. Such support as Hitler gave was not because of a humanitarian or grand philisophical commitment: it was purely expedient in pursuing his deeply racist political agenda. If you are going to cite Hitler as a zionist supporter in a purely literal way without reference to the larger issues, then you need to understand that there will be a backlash, it will be well funded, orchestrated and delivered, and will in all likelihood be terminal. And kind of deserved, if only for your own crass naivety.
It has been said that anti Semitism is a sensitive issue for the Jewish people: undoubtedly it is, but more importantly it is, or should be, for all of us. The Nazi campaigns were the most vicious and diabolical in human history by far, despite the large number of contenders. Its legacy for humanity is that it stands as testament to just how evil, corrupting and depraved mankind can be. It should serve as an example to every state in this world. But it also needs to be stated loudly, categorically that anti Semitism is not about the Jewish people, it is about the Semitic peoples, and that includes the Palestinians, so the anti Semitic jibe just doesnt stand up. It is time that the world recognised that fact.
I have always admired and respected Livingstone. I cannot believe he has been so crassly incompetent as to fail to understand the consequences of his extremely ill chosen words, and worse, to continue to rather gracelessly hold to his position. But worse still, to further move the focus from the daily struggle of the Palestinian people by playing into the hands of the Israeli apologists who are so prevalent in the media. Thats his failing in this instance, along with supplying, gift wrapped, such ammunition to the anti Corbyn establishment.
Thanks Ken. You have damaged the two things closest to your political heart, and unfortunately that could be your legacy.