The mainstream media in Britain is currently dominated by attacks on the Labour Party for being riddled with anti-Semitism and on Jeremy Corbyn either for being personally anti-semitic or for failing to deal adequately with the problem.
This campaign which is being waged by a combination of Zionists, Tories and right wing Labour MPs with the active assistance of the media has taken on a bizarre surrealistic character.
At a time when the Israeli state has been openly murdering Palestinians by the day, while passing a bill which enshrines de facto Israeli apartheid in the law of the state, this campaign is focused on the claim that opposing Zionist racism, is by definition anti-Semitic.
At a time when real anti-Semitism is raging across Europe with the rise of far right and fascist leaders and parties, like Victor Orban in Hungary, and the openly Nazi Jobbik or the Lega Nord in Italy or Sebastian Kurz and the Freedom Party in Austria, not to speak of Tommy Robinson in Britain, this campaign is denouncing the lifelong anti-racist campaigner, Jeremy Corbyn, as an anti-Semite.
A right wing Labour MP, Margaret Hodge, whose own record on racism against Muslims and migrants is terrible, shouted in Corbyn’s face that he was ‘a f…… racist and anti-Semite’ and this was deemed reasonable and acceptable.
Moreover, in the absence of any evidence of a single anti-Semitic statement, comment, or action by Corbyn in the last fifty years they are resorting to ‘guilt by association’. ‘Eight years ago Corbyn spoke at a meeting addressed by a Jewish Holocaust survivor who compared the behaviour of the Israeli state to that of the Nazis – this makes him an anti-semite! ‘ This is now so ridiculous it would be funny if it were not for the fact that it is being taken seriously by both the mainstream media and sections of the Labour Party.
But this is the nature of witch hunts, this is how they operate, and this is a vile coordinated witch hunt. Its aim is NOT to defend Jewish people from anti-Semitism; it is a deliberate attempt by the Israeli state to repress all criticism of Israel and Zionism, and to smear and if possible outlaw all solidarity with Palestine just as the BDS movement is gaining such momentum. It is taken up by the Labour Right and by the media in order to ‘weaponise’ anti-Semitism against Jeremy Corbyn and this has been done precisely at a time when the Tories are in utter disarray over Brexit.
In its logic and dynamic it is highly reminiscent of the McCarthyite witch hunt in the US in the fifties and indeed of the witch hunt in Salem dramatised by Arthur Miller in ‘The Crucible’. ‘Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?’ ‘Tell us the names of the Communists you know or were at that party you attended’. ‘If you won’t name names then you must be a Communist too.’ ‘You were seen in the company of a suspected witch at the crossroads last week – so you must be a witch too!’
And there is an important lesson in this. Just as you cannot deal with racism by making concessions to it (‘yes we accept that the number of immigrants is a problem, we will limit them too’) so you cannot deal with a witch hunt by retreating or trying to compromise. In both cases the racists and the witch hunters simply take your concession or retreat as a sign of weakness and demand more.
If you are accused of consorting with witches at the cross roads and you reply ‘I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise they were witches’ you simply dig your own and everyone else’s grave.
Sadly this is what Momentum, some Labour Lefts and Jeremy Corbyn himself have tended to do. This is partly through lack of clarity by many Labour Party members on the Palestine issue – the Labour Party does not provide its members with much political education – partly through lack of leadership at the top, and partly because of the Party’s ingrained electoralism; never mind the Palestinians, never mind principles, the key thing is the next local election and the best strategy is to lay low and avoid offending people. But this doesn’t work and hasn’t worked.
First they came for Jacqueline Walker, a principled but little known anti- racist campaigner, and she was sacrificed; then they came for Ken Livingstone and Marc Wadsworth – two more lifelong anti-racists campaigners and they were sacrificed. Now they are coming for Corbyn himself and for his key ally, McDonnell . And in the face of this Corbyn has actually apologised for his meeting with the anti-Zionist Holocaust survivor eight years ago!
There is another way. That is to come out fighting. ‘This is nonsense: there’s no such thing as witches and you, my accusers, are superstitious backward looking witch hunting bigots! ‘ ‘I am a proud supporter of the Palestinians. Israel IS a racist state! Palestine will be free from the river to the sea!’.’Anti-Zionism has nothing to do with anti-Semitism and the real anti-Semites are to be found in the Tory Party, UKIP and the fascists.’
That is the real way to counter witch hunts and witch hunters. Stand up to them and face them down!