Jeremy Corbyn may be gone from the Labour scene, but his anti-Zionist and antisemitic views live on. Writes Hugh Fitzgerald
At the 2021 Labour Party conference, held in Brighton, an anti-Israel resolution was introduced by Young Labour – that’s “young” as in “callow, shallow, ignorant” – and it was adopted. Jeremy Corbyn may be gone from the Labour scene, but his anti-Zionist and antisemitic views live on. A report on this deplorable event, and on the reaction of the Party’s leader Keir Starmer, is here: “UK Labour Leaders Condemn Anti-Israel Motion Passed at Annual Party Conference,” Algemeiner, September 27, 2021:
A resolution condemning Israel for the “ongoing Nakba in Palestine” and calling for a ban on British trade with Israeli settlements was approved at the UK Labour Party’s annual conference on Monday, drawing a rebuke from party leaders.
Brought to a vote by the Young Labour section of the party, the resolution condemned “the ongoing Nakba in Palestine, Israel’s militarized violence attacking the Al Aqsa mosque, the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza.
The “nakba” – “catastrophe” – is the word ordinarily used by the Palestinians to refer to the Arab defeat in the 1948 war, and the flight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arabs from Israel. Where is the “ongoing nakba” in “Palestine” today? Are hundreds of thousands, or tens of thousands, or even hundreds, of Palestinian Arabs leaving either Gaza, or the P.A.-ruled parts of the West Bank? They are not. They have just had approved, by the Israeli government, the construction of another 1,000 apartments in Area C of the West Bank. During this “ongoing nakba,” Israeli Arabs have seen a steady and dramatic rise in their levels of literacy, and fin years of education completed. They enjoy the same high level of medical care as Israeli Jews. They have the same civil, religious, and political rights as Jews. Israeli Arabs sit in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, go abroad as ambassadors. The chairman of the largest bank in Israel, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. In Israel, this “apartheid state” with its “ongoing nakba,” Arabs sit in the Knesset, serve on the Supreme Court, go abroad as ambassadors for their country. The chairman of the largest bank in Israel, Bank Leumi, is an Arab. Jews and Arabs study together in universities and technical institutes. Jews and Arabs work together In factories and offices. Jews and Arabs receive medical care in the same hospitals, where they are treated by both Jewish and Arab medical personnel. Jews and Arabs play on the same sports teams and in the same orchestras. Jews and Arabs own businesses — restaurants, stores, even high-tech start-ups – together. The only difference in their treatment is that Jews must, while Arabs may, join the IDF. Where is the “nakba”?
There is certainly a “catastrophe” in Gaza, where not a single Israeli lives – it’s the catastrophe of being ruled by the terror group Hamas, that brooks no dissent, persecutes – even murders – those who dare to criticize it. Those Hamas leaders — Khaled Meshaal and Moussa Abu Marzouk — have helped themselves to at least $2.5 billion apiece of the aid money given to Hamas. The same deplorable state of affairs can be seen in the P.A.-ruled parts of the West Bank, where Mahmoud Abbas has not held an election since 2005, making him a President-for-Life who is in the sixteenth year of his four-year term. And though 80% of the Palestinians want him out, Abbas shows no signs of leaving. He has accumulated, with his sons Yasser and Tareq, a private fortune of $400 million. Those who criticize him, like the late Nazir Banat, find themselves imprisoned, beaten, or even – as was the case with Banat – murdered, for daring to attack Abbas for his despotic ways and grand theft. That is the true and only “nakba” that the Palestinians must endure.
The Young Labour’s resolution also deplored Israel’s militarized violence attacking the Al Aqsa Mosque.
Whatever can Young Labour mean? Beginning in early May, Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli police on the Temple Mount. They also threw rocks and Molotov cocktails on Jews worshipping at the Western Wall far below. The Israeli police tried to bring the situation under control, as they struggled manfully to handle many thousands of rioters. Hundreds of the rioters ran into Al-Aqsa Mosque, pursued by the police. The police were not “attacking” the mosque; they were trying to round up and arrest those who had been trying to physically harm, or even kill, them, and Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount, and Jews praying at the Western Wall. The confrontation was started by the Palestinians; Israeli police entered the mosque not to harm the mosque, but only to capture those who had been trying to kill them. At no time did the Israelis use weapons as lethal as the rocks and Molotov cocktails hurled by the Palestinians; they limited themselves to tear gas and stun grenades. This information was widely known, and no doubt known to the members of Young Labour, the same ones who deplored the Jewish state’s “militarized violence attacking the Al Aqsa Mosque,” but why should they care about the truth?
The Young Labour resolution also referred to ”the forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah and the deadly assault on Gaza.”…
It’s been said many times before, but needs to be constantly repeated: there have been no “forced displacements from Sheikh Jarrah.” No one has been forced to leave, no one has been “evicted.” The Sheikh Jarrah dispute is a simple matter of property law. In 1875, two Jewish organizations bought from an Arab owner the properties in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood that are now the subject of a court case. In 1948 those properties were seized by the Jordanians, who put Arabs in houses built on the properties. Then in 1967, after the Six-Day War, ownership of these properties were restored to their proper owners. But the Arabs who had been living in these properties between 1948 and 1967 refused to leave. They have been living on these properties, without paying rent to their Jewish owners, ever since. The current dispute arises from the attempt by Jewish owners to finally evict those Arab tenants who for more than five decades have not been paying rent. This is no different from what a landlord in London or New York would do with a tenant who refused to pay rent. Some people have accused the Israelis of wanting to push Arabs out of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, in order to “Judaize” east Jerusalem. If the Israelis wanted to “Judaize” east Jerusalem they are doing a terrible job of it. In 1967, when Israel took possession of east Jerusalem, there were 66,000 Arabs in the area. Now there are 340,000. Do those Young Labourites know these facts? Would it matter to them if they did?
Now we come to that part of the Young Labour resolution that deplores “the deadly assault on Gaza.” Here’s what happened in Gaza: on May 10, the terror group Hamas launched hundreds of rockets on civilian areas of southern Israel. It also fired seven rockets that landed in Jerusalem. Many of these rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
In response to this barrage of rockets, Israel answered with airstrikes on places where Hamas had hidden its 15,000 rockets, and on its rocket launching pads. As is well known, Hamas deliberately places its weapons, and its launching sites, inside or near civilian buildings, including apartment houses, schools, hospitals, and even mosques. It’s a way to discourage Israeli attacks by holding civilians hostage. The IDF does everything it can to minimize civilian casualties, on both sides, just as Hamas tries to maximize those casualties, both Jewish and Palestinians. Israel’s “deadly assault” was in answer to the hundreds of rockets flung by Hamas at the Jewish state, and stopped just as soon as Hamas stopped launching its rockets. The Young Labour resolution suggests that Israel started the Gaza War with a “deadly assault.” It did not. The word “deadly” may have been used by Young Labour because many more Palestinians died than did Israelis. Presumably Young Labour would have been happier had Israel not possessed the Iron Dome missile defense system, and more Israelis had died. That would have been seen as somehow “fairer.”
Here are the facts on Israel’s “deadly assault”: 13 Israelis died, a very low number that can be explained both by Israel’s astonishingly effective Iron Dome missile defense system, and because many Israeli houses and other buildings have heavily fortified “safe rooms” which civilians can use in case of incoming rockets. Two hundred fifty six Palestinians died, of whom 91 were killed by 680 Palestinian rockets that fell short and landed inside Gaza. Of the remaining 165, Israel has estimated that more than 100 were members of Hamas, and 25 of them were senior commanders in the terror group.
The Young Labourites fault Israel for its “deadly assault” in Gaza – is war ever anything but “deadly”? – meaning that more Palestinians than Israelis died. Because of that imbalance in casualties, Israel must be declared guilty of an unacceptably “deadly” assault, and therefore, the Jewish state committed a war crime. By this logic, Nazi Germany was the victim in WWII, and the US was the unlawful aggressor, because 14 times more Germans than Americans were killed.
After the vote, Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told the Jewish News that the leadership “cannot support” the motion, a sentiment backed by party leader Keir Starmer….
MP Steve McCabe, chair of Labour Friends of Israel, called the motion “grossly inaccurate and morally repugnant,” and said it did not represent the party’s longstanding support of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Separately, in a conference vote on Sunday, over 73% of delegates voted to establish an independent complaint procedure for claims of racism, spurred by a report into antisemitism in the party.
This rules change should formalize, and make more independent of the Labour Party itself, the procedure for making complaints about “racism” – including “antisemitism” — which was prompted by the Labour Party’s own initial failure to recognize antisemitism in the party, in a report which was composed when Corbyn was in charge. Essentially, Corbyn had the party Investigate itself and absolve him, and it, of charges of antisemitism. Now there will be an “independent complaint procedure” for investigating antisemitism in the party.
Starmer called the rules change a “decisive and important” moment, saying, “we’ve now closed the door on a shameful chapter in our history.”
The change helped prompt Louise Ellman — a Jewish MP who left the party in 2019 over its handling of antisemitism under former leader Jeremy Corbyn — to announce her return to Labour on Monday.
“I am confident that, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, the party is once again led by a man of principle in whom the British people and Britain’s Jews can have trust,” Ellman said in a statement.
“Keir has shown a willingness to confront both the anti-Jewish racists and the toxic culture which allowed antisemitism to flourish,” she continued. “In beginning the process of stamping out the poison of antisemitism, he has demonstrated leadership and, crucially, action. He has my full support.”
He’s still cleaning the Augean Stables. Corbyn left a mess. Give Starmer time.
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