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Purging the Palestinians: The British try out a new version of free speech

by Philip Giraldi, Unz Review

Political purges are not new. Trotsky was purged from the Soviet Communist Party and Ernst Rohm was purged by the Nazis. Currently we are witnessing the spectacle of “progressive” groups ostensibly dedicated to the cause of Palestinian rights turning on long time advocates of that cause because they are not viewed as sufficiently engaged in demonstrating that they are not anti-Semitic. Indeed, demonstrating one’s anti-anti-Semitic credentials seems to have become a sine qua non for establishing the bona fides of any friend of Palestine, apparently more important than actually doing anything for the Palestinians, who have been losing land continuously to the Israelis and regularly getting killed whenever they resist.

That the Palestinians have been victimized by the self-designated Jewish State funded by Jewish organizations and enabled through Jewish manipulation of America’s legislature and media would appear to be an irrelevancy to the self-righteous standard bearers adhering staunchly to what they choose to describe as their “anti-racist principles.” In a recent disagreeable incident involving the Students for Justice in Palestine at Stanford University a Nakba survivor Palestinian woman speaker was actually disinvited because it was feared that she might verbally challenge the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of her former home. One wonders if the students would have censored an anti-Apartheid speaker from South Africa in a similar fashion in the 1980s?

I have sometimes noted how the Zionist conspiracy is international in nature, with hate crime legislation strictly enforced in places like France to sanction any criticism of Israel, which has been conveniently and incorrectly conflated with anti-Semitism. The latest focal point for making any critique of the Zionist enterprise unacceptable is Britain, and more particularly in the Labour Party, which once upon a time was viewed as the most progressive of the country’s three major parties. It also has long included Jewish Britons in senior party and government positions and is home to two formidable pressure groups, the Labour Friends of Israel and the Jewish Labour Movement.

Some recent Labour Party history is required. In September 2015 Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the parliamentary Labour Party to replace Ed Milliband. Corbyn, who has a long history as a human rights advocate and anti-interventionist in his foreign policy views, was considered a long shot when he began his leadership campaign but eventually won with nearly 60% of the vote due to “anti-establishment” fervor similar to what is taking place in the United States currently. Along the way, his campaign was assailed by a number of Jewish organizations in Britain based on allegations that he was hostile to Israel.

Corbyn had indeed been outspoken on Middle East policy as a member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, condemning the Israeli handling of the conflict in Gaza and denouncing what he describes as apartheid in Israel. He has supported a selective boycott of Israel and believes that weapons sales to it should be blocked. Asked on by an interviewer in July 2015 why he had referred to both Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”, Corbyn replied, “I use it in a collective way, saying our friends are prepared to talk. Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree … There is not going to be a peace process unless there is talks involving Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas and I think everyone knows that.”

Corbyn also supported the lifting of sanctions as part of a negotiated agreement to dismantle the Iranian nuclear program, and the initiation of steps to place Israel’s nuclear arsenal under Non-Proliferation controls. Though one would think that the statements were pretty mild stuff relatively speaking, Corbyn continues to be assailed as being tolerant of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party as a consequence.

Observers in Britain believe that much of the behind the scenes anti-Corbyn agitation within the Party is being orchestrated by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who wants to see Corbyn replaced by someone closer to his brand of political centrism. One longtime Blair supporter and major Labour donor David Abrahams apparently agrees, ending his financial support of the party over its alleged anti-Semitism, declaring it “a plague that has to be stamped out.”

Britain is going to the polls on Thursday in local and municipal elections. It is perhaps no coincidence that the attacks on Labour have intensified in the past several weeks and polls are now suggested that the Party might well lose “hundreds” of local government seats at least in part due to the apparent turmoil reflected in media coverage of the anti-Semitism issue.

The wave of attacks on Labour members deemed to be too hostile to Israel actually began in August 2015 with widely publicized but later discredited claims that the Oxford University Labour Club was dominated by anti-Semites. As it turned out, Alex Chalmers, the student who made the allegations, was a member of Britain’s Israel lobby. Currently it is being fueled by appearances in the national media by Israel’s Ambassador Mark Regev and also by former associates of Tony Blair who are demanding a thorough review of possible anti-Semitism within the party. They have focused on two Labour notables, Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone, “Red” Ken, who have been suspended over comments and social media postings relating to Israel.

Naz Shah, a member of Parliament, reportedly made a Facebook post before she was elected to office that copied a graphic of Israel superimposed on to a map of the United States with the message “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict – Relocate Israel into United States” with the additional notation by Shah “Problem Solved,” a joke intended to demonstrate that if the U.S. and Israel love each other so much they should collocate, solving the Middle East conflict as a consequence. The graphic was copied from American professor Norman Finkelstein’s blog.

Shah has apologized four times for her transgression.

Ken Livingstone reportedly told the BBC that Adolph Hitler had supported Zionism in that he negotiated with German Zionists to transfer Europe’s Jews to Palestine in the event of a German Army defeat of the British in the Middle East, a victory that never materialized. Livingstone, well known for inserting his foot in his mouth, was, in fact correct in his comment, which he later declared as “historical” in nature. Under attack, Livingstone defended himself by declaring that the truth about Hitler and Zionism is “not taught in Israeli schools.”

Corbyn and other members of the Labour Shadow Cabinet have repeatedly stated that any party member who makes anti-Semitic or racist comments will be expelled. He has responded to the demands in the media and from within the party by initiating an official inquiry into possible racism headed by Shami Chakrabarti, a highly regarded former head of a civil rights charity called Liberty.

The disturbing aspect of the current purge underway in Britain is not only about racism, if that is indeed how one should define anti-Semitism. It is over the extent to which one can criticize the state of Israel without suffering consequences and also over the degree to which any such criticism should or can be equated with anti-Semitism. It is in the interest of Israel and its supports to make the two issues one and the same and they have had considerable success in making the distinction between the two largely invisible. Corbyn’s comments on the Middle East are decidedly progressive but not necessarily wrong. Naz Shah played with a graphic on Facebook expressing her views, which were not genocidal or racist, in a silly fashion that most Facebook users have likely emulated at one time or another. Ken Livingstone has a history of shooting from the lip and turning him into a whipping boy for an ill-advised comment that had no racist overtones or that did not in any way call for violence is more than a bit of overreach. None of the three attacked Jews either as an ethnicity or as a religion but they were criticized as if they had done so.

Critics of Israel in the United States, possibly to include the Stanford University Students for Justice in Palestine, should learn from what happens in Europe. Once you start your critique with an apology lest you offend someone you have already lost the argument. Refusing to listen to speakers who just might upset part of the audience is self-censorship, designed to go along to get along and in the end it is self-defeating. If you want to tie yourself in knots over avoiding the anti-Semitism label, which is routinely used to silence and destroy critics including yourself, you will never see a country called Palestine or a United States that is free from the manipulation by the Israel Lobby.




  1. John says

    Let’s see what Hitler actually said in a speech to the Reichstag on 30 January 1939:-
    ‘Today I will once more be a prophet. If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the bolshevization of the earth, and this the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!’
    Note that this speech was given BEFORE the start of World War Two.
    Arguably, Hitler switched from a policy of promoting external migration for Jews (to anywhere, including Palestine) to a policy – eventually – of one of destruction after conquering large territories with large number of Jewish inhabitants.
    The Wannsee Conference in January 1942 marked the official change in attitude towards Jews in the Reich.
    Was Wannsee a sign of Hitler going mad? I don’t think so.
    According to his own ideology and the ideology of his party, Hitler’s action were bizarrely rational, not mad.

    • Arguably, indeed: by 1939, it had become extremely difficult (mostly impossible) for Jews to leave Germany.

  2. Alan says

    Self serving groups have always dominated the illusion of democracy within British politics, one only has to consider the influence of Milner and the Round Table group to understand this. Zionists are no different, like all political movements, theirs suffers no alternative. Zionism hides behind and callously uses Judaism, Israel and that states population to further it’s own political agenda, it even distorts the meaning of Semite in order to achieve it’s goals. We should not be fooled by yet another group whose only ambition it seems is to force their view of the world upon us. Unfortunately many British politicians including the prime minister have declared they are Zionists, a loyalty that suffers no alternative including national loyalty. Should we be so concerned with the issues affecting a branch or those of the tree?

  3. Seamus Padraig says

    I have to admit that I’ve been a bit disappointed with Corbyn’s performance to date. Selling out a stalwart leftist like Ken Livingstone is not only a faithless and cowardly act, but also a politically foolish one. Corbyn can feed the Zionist bully machine all the ‘anti-Semites’ in the Labour Party he wants, but in the end it still won’t save him. What he really needs to do is to show solidarity with the other pro-Palestinian Labourites and fight back against these lying, deceitful Zionist creeps like a man. That would win him a real following on the left.

  4. deschutes says

    Sadly the UK has now mirrored the American political system: only two parties to choose from. Both of them being pro-Zionist. Both of them being neo-liberal. Neither of them being pro-working class. Both of them being utterly corrupted by the Israel lobby/AIPAC. The ‘Labour’ Party has long since stopped being pro-labour decades ago, maybe one has to go back to before the evil witch Thatcher came into office in 1979. In my opinion the solution to the McCarthyite ‘anti-semite’ witch-hunt and purges is for Corbyn, Shah, and all Labour supporters to hit back hard with informed arguments against this ugly Zionist campaign: call a spade a spade, point out that these attacks on Livingstone and the others is not actually about anti-semitism, but in fact are false accusations being used to banish any Labour party members who will stand up for Palestine and make honest, just, and informed criticisms of what Zionists are getting away with in Palestine: ethnic cleansing of Palestinian Arabs from their homes, building giant concrete walls separating Arabs from their property, making living a normal life impossible, not to mention the horrific abuses suffered by Palestinians by the hate consumed Zionist settlers. If you watch any of the videos on YouTube what these illegal settlers get away with is absolutely shocking: attacking Palestinians, throwing stones at them, shooting them with guns. These Zionist settlers are so extreme that they even lash out or attack the IDF military if the military tries to keep the settlers and the Palestinians apart. Of course, none of this is ever reported in the Guardian, Observer, NY Times, CNN, etc. Labour needs to stand their ground. NO apologies! GO on the offensive!

  5. Runner77 says

    “Corbyn’s comments on the Middle East are decidedly progressive but not necessarily wrong”.
    Apparently it is now ‘progressive’ (and definitely risky) to tell the truth . . .

  6. bevin says

    What Livingstone said was factually accurate. Nor is it in the least surprising that the Nazis, who claimed that Jews were not ‘real’ Germans and did everything that they could to make life impossible for them, did favour their emigration to Israel.
    That is all that he said. The claim that Hitler supported zionism is correct in that sense. Nobody suggests that he was a member of any zionist organisation. It is really clear enough.
    What I find surprising is that Livingstone, a former leader of the GLC and first elected mayor of London, on a virtually independent ticket, (opposed throughout by Blair and his cronies running New Labour) is not portrayed as the powerful political figure that he is but as a bumbller prone to putting his foot in his mouth. In fact he is a politician who thwarted Thatcher at every turn and carried public opinion with him despite daring to invite the IRA, for example, to County Hall and opposing British Imperialism.
    Livingstone is not intimidated by the media-he understands what it is and treats it with contempt. Corbyn and his friends ought to try it, because appeasement won’t work.

  7. Livingstone’s assertions were wide of the mark, of course Hitler wasn’t a zionist. However, there is sufficient evidence that in 1940 there were liaisons between Nazi Germany and prominent zionist including leaders Avaraham Stern, Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, the latter two becoming Israeli PMs, on what tactics they would use to evict the British from Palestine. Lohamei Herut Israel – Lehi, “Fighters for the Freedom of Israel – Lehi”, commonly referred to in English as the Stern Gang, later the Irgun Zvai Leumi was a Zionist paramilitary organization founded by Avraham Stern Palestine. The objective was to eject British authorities from Palestine by resort to force, allowing unrestricted immigration of Jews and the formation of a Jewish state, a ‘new totalitarian Hebrew republic’. Later called the National Military Organization in Israel upon being founded in August 1940, but was renamed Lehi one month later. Lehi was to carry the fight to the British during the war after a split in the movement. This further involved an attempted alliance against the British with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, offering to fight alongside them against the British in return for the transfer of all Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe to Palestine. Believing that Nazi Germany was a lesser enemy of the Jews than Britain, Lehi twice attempted to form an alliance with the Nazis

    It should be said, however, that some 30,000 Jewish volunteers were in enlisted in the British army in a unit called the ‘Jewish Brigade’ and fought alongside the allies in Italy with bravery and distinction. But of course after the war the real war against the British occupation began in earnest, with the historical documented terrorist acts against both the occupying forces, viz, the blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem killing 93 people which was serving as British intelligence centre, the assassination of Lord Moyne Resident minister in the middle east, and against arab civilians, the massacre of Deir Yassin being the most infamous carried out by the Irgun and Lehi.

    Well it is all history now. But one would have thought that there was no arguing with these facts. However to even raise these historical events is to invite the smear of ‘anti-semitism’. The whole anti-semitism issue in relation to the Labour party has reached hysterical levels, particularly in our favourite publication. They are all weighing in: Freedland (naturally) Mason, Own Jones who apparently shares the view that anyone who raises the issue of zionism is part of the problem, and Cohen. Of course it is all part of the campaign to discredit Corbyn. Any stick to beat him with. It will be a test of his and Labour’s mettle to see whether they are intimidated by the zionist propaganda machine.

    • The guardian has lost the plot and its readership – it’s going down the pan – they announced another 200 jobs to go on top of a large culling of named journos.

      It’s fucked and frankly it deserves everything it gets I boycotting it completely now. I suggest every consider the same.

    • Janet B says

      Liked your comment frank but didn’t think that Ken Livingstone was saying that Hitler was a Zionist!

  8. Dave Hansell says

    The logic being applied here seems twofold:

    Firstly to elevate one particular formof racism above all others and secondly to redefine that racism as any and all criticism of the policy, behaviour and attitude of both Israel towards those it considers not one of us and of Zionism, both of which are problematic within parts of the community both claim to represent and which themselves fall into to the criteria of racism as currently practiced towards other semetic people’s such as the Palestinian Arabs.

    This has certain logical consequences in regards to the demos in Britain as the official loyal opposition and alternative party of Government in the Westminster Parliament, the Labour Party, is at present dangerously close to expelling members, some of whom, like Tony Greenstein, are themselves from the Jewish community, for falling foul of this warped and inverted definition of racism.

    The logical outcome of such expulsions would be to make membership of one the two main political parties within the Westminster Parliament conditional on accepting this definition and by extension on support for the policy of Israel towards the other semetic people of the region and of Zionism. Anything else would be considered anti-Semitic by those individuals and groups within the Party, along with their fellow travellers in the corporate media, who are pushing this line.

    Moreover, reaching such a position will also send out a very clear message to the wider electorate who are not party members that support and voting for the Labour Party involves tacit approval of the same. A position no individual of good conscience would consider tolerable. As a consequence the behaviour of those pushing this line is not simply seeking to undermine the Corbyn leadership or the performance of the Party in the local elections, behaviour which should by itself result in the harshest of penelties from the NEC for those involved, but is also risking wider electoral support in the longer term as people are turned off supporting a Party which requires adherence to a racist doctrine as currently practiced towards others from its candidates and members.

    There are petitions currently circulating which are seeking to encourage the Labour Party NEC to consider the behaviour of certain individuals, such as the MP for Bassetlaw. However, given the implications it would seem more reasonable to tackle the situation head on rather than focus on simply one or two individuals and instead encourage the NEC to set up an inquiry into those within the Party who who are undermining it’s rules as a result of this witch hunt

  9. Whilst I understand Mr Geraldi’s opinion I don’t think it’s wise to conflate Jewish with Israel. Even if we find ourselves in knots for a while in Britain many Jewish folk have no love nor respect for Bibi’s murderous ways and do not take up the offer for a Israeli passport. If this descends into “the Jews did this, the Jews did that” then there may well be violent attacks against peaceful British Jews.

    It’s an important distinction and whilst Mr Geraldi is of an age where you could get away with saying what you like – we are no longer in that age.

    • elenits says

      In this case it is Israel, not the British people, that refuses to make that distinction (conflating jews with Israel) – aggressively so.

    • You clearly don’t understand Giraldi’s opinion. Or have ignored it to build your strawman.

      • How so? I understand his points I agree with most of them. I acknowledge that Zionism, Aipac and Israel state are Jewish. However I do it accept that Jewishness is Zionism, Aipac and Israel state. The implication is that we on the left shouldn’t tie ourselves in knots over the distinction. However I don’t believe it’s tying ourselves in knots anymore than making a distinction between Al Nusra and sufi Muslims. It’s not hard to see the distinction.

          • No he isn’t but in the second paragraph he says that Palatinians campaigners are trying to turn themselves into knots to prove that they aren’t anti-semetic and his view he clearly thinks that this is a waste of time – I however think it’s a slippery slope and I think the distinction ought to be noted.

            Even so I still don’t know why you attacked me – im not interested in any straw men

            • So you think Palestinian justice campaigners should waste time jumping through the hoops that the zionists set up?

              I agree that it’s a waste of time. The zionists will attack any pro-Palestinian anyway. Best to ignore them and fight for the cause.

    • Jen says

      In my view, the correct thing to do when accused of being anti-Semitic for supporting Palestinian rights is to throw the accusation back at the accusers by challenging them on whether they support Palestinian rights and if they say they do, whether they themselves do enough for Palestinians by their words and actions. This entails knowing enough about your accusers to be able to prove or disprove what they claim to say or do by showing what they actually say and do.

      If you know your accusers are attacking you with bluff, you have to call them out on it. If you know your accusers are trying to stifle you to control what you say, you have to wrest control back. This also means calling them out when they bring up Hezbollah or Hamas or any other group to distract your attention.

      You would treat them the same way you would treat trolls here at Off-Guardian.

  10. Jack says

    Ken Livingstone’s assertion is based on history but it is not accurate. The deportation of German Jews to what was then the British Mandate of Palestine (Haavara Agreement) was only very ambivalently supported by Hitler and done out of matters of pragmatism and extortion. That Palestine was the destination was irrelevant for Nazis given that they also suggested Madagascar, Siberia and Uganda. At no point does this suggest that Hitler supported an independent Jewish state, and the claim that he supported Zionism is unequivocally false. The Nazi project always, since its foundation, was aiming for the complete annihilation of world Jewry, and temporary relocation of German citizens do not change that.

    That said, I’m inclined to believe Livingstone was merely being naive and meant no real harm. The weaponisation of this against Corbyn is quite disgraceful, not merely that Nadine Shah supported Yvette Cooper anyway. But the first rule of modern politics is do not get the holocaust wrong.

    • Seamus Padraig says

      “The Nazi project always, since its foundation, was aiming for the complete annihilation of world Jewry …”

      Am not a Hitler fan myself, but that’s a bit of a canard. While the Nazi movement had always hated Jews and agitated against them, there’s no evidence at all that Hitler had any plans to exterminate them before WW2 broke out.

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