“As a young boy,” wrote Stephen Pollard in last weekend’s Telegraph. “I used to think my grandma very strange. In her bedroom she kept a suitcase, packed and ready for use at a moment’s notice. ‘Just in case,’ she’d tell me when I asked where it was that she was always waiting to go to. ‘You never know when they’ll turn on the Jews.’”
At the time, Pollard didn’t understand what she meant, since Jews in Britain were integrated and thriving. Lately, though, as the anti-Semitism coming out of the British Left chills him to the bone, he has begun to understand her better.
Over the weekend, Britain found itself in turmoil. It was no longer possible to hide the shame. Anti-Semitism has reared its head from within the bastions of the Left.
There were telltale signs along the way. But it’s easy to live in denial. What with Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London who was suspended from the Labour party and is at the center of the current commotion, acting as official host to the anti-Semitic Muslim preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi.
Other Muslims warned him that his actions will encourage other Muslim extremists. It made no difference to him. Al-Qaradawi, they told him, is an anti-Semite and a supporter of Hitler. He paid them no mind. So why is anyone surprised now that Livingstone is continuing down the same path?
The current wave began when Alex Chalmers, then Chairman to the Oxford University Labour Club, resigned in protest due to anti-Semitic markers that started creeping up among other club members. It was the club’s decision to support Israeli Apartheid Week, which translates into additional support to Hamas and more lecturers who peddle anti-Semitic brainwashing rhetoric that broke the camel’s back.
It wasn’t contained in the headlines, though. Editorials also began to concern themselves with the issue. The Guardian, the Left’s flagship newspaper, tried to tiptoe between what it considered anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, obviously seeing the latter as legitimate.
But therein lies the proof, since even in its present incarnation, most of the British Left is in denial. There is no difference between denying Jews individual rights, which is the definition of anti-Semitism, and denying Jews the right to define themselves as a collective, which amounts to anti-Zionism. And there is no difference between demonizing individual Jews and demonizing the Jewish State.
There is, of course, a need to distinguish legitimate criticism of the policies put forth by any Israeli government from the invalidation of Israel’s right to exist, as there is a need to distinguish between criticism and demonization. But the Left is having trouble differentiating between the two, and in fact has long since crossed any and all red lines in the matter. Don’t say occupation, since those supporting the current anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic rhetoric aren’t against the settlements. They’re for Hamas and Hezbollah.
This isn’t coming from the fringes, either. It’s the story of the leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn. At present, he is having trouble handling the anti-Semitic crisis plaguing his party, while continuing to claim that he is against all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, despite never having recanted his publicly-declared sympathy for Hamas and Hezbollah, two organizations intent on the annihilation of the Jews.
But that’s Israel’s doing, certain members of the Left might tell you. There’s something to that. But it isn’t because of the real Israel. It’s because of the Israel they choose to describe. A “child murdering community,” as Mark Steel wrote in The Independent. If this is Israel, then it truly has no right to exist. But this isn’t Israel. It is a blood libel.
During the first year of the British-American invasion of Iraq, more children were killed, even relatively speaking, than during all the years of the Israeli-Arab conflict. But Steel and his friends from the Left would rather make Israel a child murderer while innocently claiming that anti-Zionsim isn’t anti-Semitism.
Adding to this is The Lancet, a prestigious British magazine that provides a platform for declared anti-Semites masquerading as human rights activists, despite their source material being the right-wing anti-Semite David Duke.
So there is a problem. The British Left is just in denial over it.
The upside to the current disturbance lies in the fact that a discussion is being conducted at all, in which clear-headed and brave opinions are also heard. But this is only the beginning.
It is doubtful that the British Left will realize that the demonization of Israel and denying of Jews and Jews alone the right to self definition are the basis out of which the renewed anti-Semitism grows.
This insight hasn’t seeped in yet. And so the British Left is in for a long and arduous withdrawal process. One that it will doubtfully see through.