05 May 2016, The Tablet

Anti-Semitism and the politics of intolerance


Following the recent inflammatory comments from Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone, a former Labour Party minister points out that attitudes towards Israel are part of a wider problem across Europe

When Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former London mayor Ken Livingstone first cut their political teeth nearly 50 years ago, there were any number of big international causes for left-wing baby boomers to champion. They could take their home-made banners and join the struggle against the Vietnam War, apartheid, General Pinochet and other Latin American military juntas, fading fascist powers in Spain and Portugal, or Stalinist oppression in Poland or Czechoslovakia.

Now, the only cause that seems to still be going strong is solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank. It is a commonplace among certain activists to denounce Israel as an apartheid state. Given that ­children from Jewish and Arab families play happily on the same beach in Tel Aviv and Arabs have held high office as judges in Israel, the country is not exactly South Africa.

As the events of the past week have shown, attitudes towards Israel among the Left have moved from criticism of its treatment of the Palestinians to a dislike bordering on hatred of Israel, and hatred of Jews, and the ensuing row has embroiled the Labour leadership in a dispute over anti-Semitism in Labour. First there was Bradford West MP Naz Shah who was exposed as having suggested on Facebook that Israel should be transported to the United States. In the past, ugly remarks about Israel and Jews would remain private, but social media has changed that.

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User Comments (2)

Comment by: Ishvara
Posted: 10/05/2016 22:36:31
Susan correctly, it seems to me, identifies the three demons of prejudice: "ignorance, isolationism and fear". What is not noted is the demonic possession is on both sides of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The victims of these prejudices tend to accuse the 'so called perpetrators' of ignorance, isolationism and fear of the victims. But that is only half the truth. The victims themselves could take a good look at their own ignorance, isolationism and fear towards the opposite side . When the whole truth is known, a solution is possible.
Comment by: Susan
Posted: 06/05/2016 15:19:27
An outstanding article. Language in such matters is crucially important eg Zionist = Jew. To equate British Jews with Israeli politics is like blaming African Americans for corrupt regimes in Africa. Spot on to highlight the Left's silence on hideous abuses in countless other countries contrasted with its virulence on Israel. Wise and modern UK Muslim leaders understand that anti-Semitism and Islamophobia have the same roots - ignorance, isolationism and fear.