Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thoughts on UK Labour's 2018 Conference

I may be reading too much between the lines here but rather than tackle Zionist influence in the UK Labor Party directly, and making crystal clear the fundamental distinction between anti-Semitism on the one hand and anti-Zionism on the other, Jeremy Corbyn's speech to Labour's annual conference seems to be an attempt at wedging the hostile Zionist elements in the party.

He sought early in the speech to reassure British Jews that they had his full support as a veteran anti-racist campaigner. Dismissing the Labour component of the Zionist smear campaign against him and his party as merely a "row," he targeted instead "Tory hypocrites who accuse us of antisemitism one day, then endorse Viktor Orban's hard-right government the next." In addition, he studiously avoided all mention of Israel (despite, perhaps inadvertently, using the Zionist fiction that Jews constitute a "people"):

"The Jewish people have suffered a long and terrible history of persecution and genocide. I was humbled to see a memorial to that suffering two years ago, when I visited the former Nazi concentration camp at Terezin. The row over antisemitism has caused immense hurt and anxiety in the Jewish community and great dismay in the Labour Party. But I hope we can work together to draw a line under it. I say this to all in the Jewish community. This party, this movement, will always be implacable campaigners against antisemitism and racism in all its forms. We are your ally. And the next Labour government will guarantee whatever support necessary to ensure the security of Jewish community centres and places of worship, as we will for any other community experiencing hateful behaviour and physical attacks. We will work with Jewish communities to eradicate antisemitism, both from our party and wider society. And with your help I will fight for that with every breath I possess. Anti-racism is integral to our very being. It's part of who you all are, and it's part of who I am. So conference, we won't accept it when we're attacked by Tory hypocrites who accuse us of antisemitism one day, then endorse Viktor Orban's hard-right government the next. Or when they say we are racist, while they work to create a hostile environment for all migrant communities. We can never become complacent about the scourge of racism. Race hate is a growing threat that has to be confronted. Not just here in Britain, but across Europe and the United States. The far right is on the rise, blaming minorities, Jews, Muslims and migrants, for the failures of a broken economic system."

The Palestinians came later in the speech, when he addressed foreign policy matters:

"And let me next say a few words about the ongoing denial of justice and rights to the Palestinian people. Our Party is united in condemning the shooting of hundreds of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza by Israeli forces and the passing of Israel's discriminatory Nation-State Law. The continuing occupation, the expansion of illegal settlements and the imprisonment of Palestinian children are an outrage. We support a two-state solution to the conflict with a secure Israel and a viable and secure Palestinian state. But a quarter of a century on from the Oslo Accords we are no closer to justice or peace and the Palestinian tragedy continues, while the outside world stands by. As my great Israeli friend Uri Avnery who died this year put it: 'What is the alternative to peace? A catastrophe for both peoples'. And in order to help make that two-state settlement a reality we will recognise a Palestinian state as soon as we take office."

Underwhelming, yes, with its tired repetition of the two-state mantra. One wonders whether Corbyn here has made a strategic decision to stick with the international consensus, at least for the time being. Some joy, I suppose, could be had from his proviso of "a viable and secure Palestinian state," a formula clearly incompatible with Israel's expansionism in the West Bank and the ongoing Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Most encouragingly, the conference is reported to have passed a near unanimous motion calling for an immediate freeze on UK arms sales to Israel. (See Defying Israel lobby Labour votes for arms freeze, Asa Winstanley, electronicintifada, 26/9/18)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do applaud the freeze on arms sales, however, control over the basics is where the real pain is being inflicted on the Palestinians.