“Wherever there is trouble in Europe, wherever rumours of war circulate and men’s minds are distraught with fear of change and calamity, you may be sure that a hooked-nosed Rothschild is at his games somewhere near the region of the disturbances.”
This hateful text, published in Labour Leader in 1891, was intended to form antisemitic propaganda for the Independent Labour Party. What people witnessed over the course of the next century was the devastating action that could arise as a result of these beliefs. Two world wars saw the indiscriminate murder of six million Jews, yet 127 years later, the Labour Party that grew from that socialist union is still unable to leave antisemitism in its history.
In Britain, Europe’s most adaptable prejudice was never a staple diet of the far-right – they peddled a share of it, without question – but antisemitism was almost exclusively a trait of the far-left. It didn’t just appear one day in 1933 and vanish again in 1945; it has a 2,000 year pedigree of pogroms, expulsions and blood libels – all of which were ignited by antisemitic party lines.
Labour Leader Keir Hardie once wrote that “modern imperialism is really run by half a dozen financial houses, many of them Jews, to whom politics is a counter in the game of buying and selling securities” – hauntingly comparable to the image depicted in Mear One’s mural, the mural defended by Jeremy Corbyn almost a century later.
In 1900, the Trades Union Congress passed a resolution proclaiming that the Second Boer War was being fought “to secure the gold fields of South Africa for cosmopolitan Jews, most of whom had no patriotism and no country”. Today, as it was then, the left is challenging Jewish loyalty – accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel than to their own nations was omitted from Labour’s recent antisemitic guidelines.
Following the creation of Israel, a newly accepted definition of antisemitism was agreed. In theory, leftists would argue that they are, rightfully, disagreeing with Israeli government policy, when in practice they’re discriminating against Israel because of its predominantly Jewish population.
The left manipulates the idea of Israel and Zionism out of shape until both become fit receptacles for the tropes of day-to-day antisemitism. The litmus test for this is as simple as finding left-wing outrage towards countless incidents of crimes afflicted on Palestinians by neighbouring powers like Egypt and Jordan: there isn’t any, and that’s because the left’s obsession with Palestinian human rights is selective and disingenuous.
In 1949, all Palestinians were expelled from Egyptian camps and forced into Gaza, with Egypt refusing UNRWA presence on its territory. During the 1970’s Palestinians become officially classified as “foreigners”, losing access to Egyptian social and food subsidy programs, making them unemployable and excluding them from a university education. And in 2013 hundreds of Palestinian refugees from Syria were jailed as they try to enter Egypt. Indeed, just six months ago, the Egyptian Navy shot a Palestinian fisherman at sea, without explanation or apology. The incident barely broke a headline and it saw no public condemnation from Jeremy Corbyn or anyone else on the left.
During Black September, the Jordanian government killed 3500-5000 Palestinians and expelled 20,000, demolishing Palestinian camps in the process.
Rocket firings by Hamas during the 2014 summer war in Gaza killed more civilians inside the Gaza Strip than inside Israel. 197 of rockets fell short, and many of those killed Palestinian civilians.
And since 2003, the number of Palestinians in Iraq dropped from 25,000 to 6,000 – Palestinian activists say that the Iraqis are waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the country’s Palestinian population. Yet there have been hardly any calls for an investigation or intervention, and little heartfelt sympathy from, well, anyone.
There’s no doubt that the Palestinians are a cause crying out for global action to bring peace and stability to the region, but why is the left only concerned with one-sided reports of violence and disruption with Israel? Why hasn’t Corbyn honoured the thousands of Palestinians killed by Jordan during Black September?
The simple truth is that the Palestinian cause has long been hijacked and as a consequence, Hamas, a terrorist organisation, has captured the peoples of Gaza, inflicted internal suffering without criticism and use Palestinians as shields as they try to obliterate Israel.
And while these incidents have been ignored, left-wing intellectuals have increasingly indulged in the ugliness of Holocaust inversion, systematically portraying Israel as a Nazi state and waving street placards depicting Netanyahu as Hitler.
The world is quite often a terrible place, sadly some governments across the globe commit terrible crimes, but the left is only interested in disassembling the one true democracy in the Middle East, the only country in the Middle East where women and LGBT people have equal rights, the country which faces constant threats of extinction, our one true ally in the region: the Jewish one.
During the 1980s, Corbyn’s close ally Ken Livingstone was editor of the Labour Herald, in which he published an article alleging that Zionists prevented the rescue of European Jewry from the Holocaust. It featured a cartoon of the Israeli Prime Minister at the time in Nazi uniform, standing on a heap of corpses and giving the Nazi salute below the heading “The Final Solution”. He’d go on to make several more antisemitic statements over the following decades, and the Labour Party has simply pretended that nobody noticed.
As for Corbyn, it must be getting pretty lonely at the top. Moderate Labour MPs are being backed into a corner and forced to make a choice: condemn Corbyn and leave the party, or support him and campaign to make him Prime Minister. But at the moment it seems to be another day, another antisemitic incident, and it’s becoming unworkable to deduct anything other than Corbyn’s underlying prejudice against Jews.
The reason Corbyn is against adopting the IHRA definition is clear. Having breached it many times, he would end up with even less of a moral leg to stand on. Maybe he isn’t antisemitic, maybe he is. However, there’s no doubt that antisemites congregate around him like moths to a flame. It is a disgrace that there is no longer the need to cast a light on this ugliness. In 2018, antisemitism is living in the daylight once again.