Anti-Anti-Jewish conspiracies

This article in the Grundian is interesting.

But this paragraph worries me:

“Often, anti-Jewish conspiracy theories don’t explicitly talk about Jews or ‘the Jews’ as a group. There’s some kind of code word or symbol that’s used in place.”

I think this way thinking makes criticism of Israel and indeed any Jewish individual almost impossible and I think this idea is at the heart of many Jews response to criticisms of Israel by the left in the UK and the USA.

The problem with the idea is that it means that some people are actively seeking to attribute anti-Semetic motive to statements that are not in and of themselves anti-Semetic. This means that almost any proposition or statement about anything can be construed as anti-Semetic if an anti-Semetic motive can be constructed or implied.

I don’t think most of the Republican right* in the USA hate Soros because he is Jewish. They hate him because he is a rich liberal who openly supports leftist causes and is thus a threat.

Most of the time it is the Republican right who have the support of billionaires like Soros and it is the Republican Right who benefit from the influence the wealth of men like Soros buys them. In this context Soros is seen as sort of ‘class traitor’ who is betraying his fellow billionaire oligarchs. It seems to me that this is the source of the vitriol against him by Fox and the right wing media, rather than his religion.

It appears that this week over a dozen letter bombs were sent by the right-wing nutjob Cesar Sayoc and the thing that linked all the victims was not their religion but their opposition to Trump. Thus to try and frame these attacks as motivated by ‘anti-Semitism’, as the author does, is frankly a disingenuous rhetorical construct and is counterproductive in the important fight against the evil that is anti-Semitism.

I am pretty sure that very soon someone in the mainstream media will claim that the attacks on Sir Philip Green are motivated by anti-Semetism. It is true that Philip Green is Jewish and that many people hate him. But his Jewishness has little or nothing to do with why people hate him. Ordinary people hate Green because he is a manifestation of the greed, sneering superiority, irresponsibility and sociopathy at the heart of neoliberalism. He’s not alone in being condemned and most people who hate him won’t have even registered that he is Jewish. His religion is nothing to do with anything. Ordinary people are sick of the shenanigans of the entire global oligarchical wealthy elite who are defined not by their ethnicity, sexuality or religion but by their class interests.

Anti-Semitism is real and, like all racism, is wicked and needs to be confronted whenever it appears. But the constant ‘search’ for anti-Semitism in ‘coded’ symbols and words is fraught with dangers.  For a start as a way of thinking it is in danger of mimicking the characteristics of the very paranoid conspiracy theories it is designed to confront. But more importantly after the Nazi Holocaust calling someone ‘anti-Semetic’ is one of the most potent and damning labels you can attach to a person. Perhaps only trumped by calling them a paedophile. Thus if someone is criticising the global elite for their greed and selfishness and is then accused of anti-Semitism, this most morally damning of all accusations, then they are understandably going to be extremely resentful towards their accusers. Constantly framing all attacks on the global elite as attacks on Jews is not helping the fight against anti-Semitism on the contrary it undermines attempts to more accurately challenge the dangers of anti-Semitism and racism on our streets and in our communities.

(*I am using the phrase ‘Republican Right’ to distinguish from the ‘Alt-Right’ who openly use explicitly racist rhetoric. Mind you even the Alt-Right’s attitude to Jews and Israel is today far more complicated than it was in the 1930’s. Much of the Christian Alt-Right for example are passionate supporters of a Jewish Israel because of their biblical ‘end times’ narrative. Similarly the right-wing Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu is cosying up to some very unsavoury proto-Nazi characters in the USA and Eastern Europe.)

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What we say and the way we say it? Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party

As a member of the left of the Labour Party I find the anti-Semitism scandal to be really, really chilling. A sort of McCarthyism in overdrive. Rational debate is simply not possible. I personally find the accusations of antisemitism extremely distressing. The historical reality of the Holocaust has had a profound influence on my politics. I have a set of beautiful photos of Ann Frank on my office wall that I look at every day so that I never forget the horror that human beings and political systems are capable of. The persecution of the Jewish people in Europe has informed everything I do politically and made me determined to fight fascism, racism and state oppression wherever I see it.

Ironically and tragically that includes trying to draw attention to the way the Israeli government and army has treated the Palestinians and the racist rhetoric of the fascist religious right in Israel, which is as obnoxious as anything coming out of the racist right in Europe or the USA. Continue reading

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Coercive Control In The Workplace

Quite rightly Coercive Control in the personal realm is now a criminal offence but surely in the workplace ‘coercive control’ is the norm?

Some of the characteristics of the crime of Coercive Control are listed as….

  • Isolating you from your friends and family
  • Controlling how much money you have and how you spend it
  • Monitoring your activities and your movements
  • Repeatedly putting you down, calling you names or telling you that you are worthless
  • Threatening to harm you
  • Threatening to publish information about you or to report you to the authorities
  • Forcing you to take part in criminal activity

To me that sounds like what happens in many workplaces on a daily basis. Continue reading

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Neoliberal identity politics has failed and has to be replaced with class politics

Contemporary Liberal Identity Politics is based on the idea that ‘identity’ is a personal matter and that any individual can ‘choose’ any identity – for example that men can ‘choose’ to be women and women can ‘choose’ to be men. This liberal individualist conception of ‘freedom also underpins neoliberal capitalism and perhaps it is more accurate to describe contemporary Liberal Identity Politics is actually Neoliberal Identity Politics.

And I am distinguishing here between ‘Neoliberal’ Identity Politics that has been specific to the neoliberal era (1979-2017), and previous forms of identity politics that saw themselves as parts of a broader struggle for the liberation of the 99% from domination by 1%.

The rhetoric of many contemporary ‘liberation groups’ fails to challenge the current political hegemony and the economic status quo and asks only for equal access for middle class women and disabled BAME and LGBT members of the middle class, to the class privilege that was previously only available to white, middle-aged, middle-class, males. In this neoliberal iteration of identity politics the various ‘liberation groups’ now ‘compete’ with each other in the political sphere for resources, activist time and energy, media attention and of course the moral high ground. Continue reading

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Higher Ground?

My on going experience in the Labour Party is that while Corbyn’s critics in the party have been (temporarily?) been subdued by his success in Teresa May’s disastrous election, the underlying tensions are still very real.
But the party isn’t just split between those who support Corbyn and those who don’t and those who supported ‘New’ Labour as a centrist, essentially ‘liberal’ party and those committed to the LP as a participatory vehicle for achieving democratic socialism.

Continue reading

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Corporate Culture and Being Human

Much of the discourse surrounding the current moral panic about sexual conduct is dominated by a particularly puritanical and sociopathic, corporate culture that takes it for granted that ‘at work’ human beings should not behave like human beings.

Unwanted sexual advances, sexual bribery, sexual assault and rape are abhorrent everywhere and anywhere including the workplace. But in the modern corporate workplace human beings are not even supposed to find each other sexually attractive. Indeed, many corporations have severe sanctions including sacking for employees who engage in sexual relationships… and yet one of the most common places to meet a future partner is in the workplace?! Continue reading

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In Memorium

Until yesterday I knew nothing about Carl Sargeant, I’d literally never heard of him. Now all I know about him is that he was accused of some form of sexual impropriety and killed himself.

And I for one can’t blame him because Carl knew how these witch hunts and ‘purges’ play out. Once the accusation is made ‘the mud sticks’ and the gossip-based, ‘no smoke without fire’ logic kicks in and whatever the outcome of an investigation the accused is ‘guilty’ for ever more. Continue reading

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