MANCHESTER, England — “Why is anti-Semitism such a big issue?” Manchester factory worker Adam Herring asked his co-worker, Communist League member Pete Clifford. His question about Jew-hatred in the leadership of the Labour Party is one that comes up often when League members raise that countering this is a life-and-death question for the working class. And that anti-Semitism in the Labour Party must be confronted.
Clifford told Herring some things he had learned at a Sept. 16 “Say ‘no’ to anti-Semitism” national rally here. Two young Jewish workers had described to him stepped-up attacks in the mainly Jewish area of north Manchester. “Eggs are being thrown at us, abusive comments are being made, damage of cars now happens regularly,” driver Simon Kaye had told Clifford.
“I came back here from military service in Israel four years ago and can see a change,” said construction worker Ben Stein. “Young people from Manchester are now moving to Israel, you can walk the streets there without fear.”
“History tell us that Jew-hatred rises in times of capitalist crisis,” Clifford said. “The bosses use it to divert workers from fighting their real enemy, the capitalist system.
“Today we hear more talk of ‘the Jews control the banks,’ they ‘control foreign policy,’ along with the allegation of Jews being a ‘secret cabal’ looking after their interests at the expense of all others,” Clifford said. “This scapegoating is a poison that weakens the working class.”
One thousand people joined the rally, called by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and backed by 32 other organizations. According to reports there are more than 100 anti-Jewish incidents each month in Britain. A Jewish cemetery in Urmston, Greater Manchester, was desecrated three times this year.
Many were also drawn to the rally in response to ongoing anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. Despite the party leadership’s recent symbolic adoption of a code of conduct around the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, party leader Jeremy Corbyn and some of his supporters continue to make anti-Semitic remarks. And to associate with well-known purveyors of Jew-hatred.
They do so under cover of saying it’s just opposition to the leaders of Israel, which they depict as a pariah ‘racist’ state, and say its existence and all who back the state are the problem. Corbyn claims that he has spent his “whole life fighting racism in any form,” as if this is proof that he can’t be anti-Semitic and as if Jew-hatred was just a form of racism.
“One of the best forms of trying to hide from the atrocities that you are committing,” Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union and close ally of Corbyn, told a Sept. 11 Palestine Solidarity Campaign event is “to actually create a story that does not exist.” That “story” is that there is Jew-hatred in the Labour Party.
Corbyn has described Hamas, a reactionary Islamist group based in Gaza that calls for driving Jews in Israel into the sea, as his “friends.” And he has defended a mural that depicted hooknosed bankers — a timeworn caricature of Jews — running the world.
A video released by the London Daily Mail in August shows Corbyn making an anti-Jewish slur at a 2013 conference.
“They clearly have two problems,” he said there, referring to “Zionists.” “One is that they don’t want to study history, and secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either.”
This is “classic anti-Semitism,” Josh Glancy, a longtime Jewish supporter of the Labour Party, wrote in the New York Times. “He smeared them not on the basis of disagreement but on the basis of their ethnicity. He accused them of failing to assimilate English values, of not fitting in, of still being a bit foreign.”
Corbyn’s claim that his reference to Zionists is not “as a euphemism for the Jewish people,” Glancy replied, is, “to put it in British, utter tosh.”
“I’d always thought that if Mr. Corbyn was ever nailed down on this issue, he’d be spouting the anti-Semitism of the international left,” he said. “Instead we got something much closer to home.” In other words, the deep-rooted anti-Semitism of the old landed aristocracy and of the capitalist class in Britain.
Recognize Palestine state and Israel
As part of responding to the rise of Jew-hatred, the Communist League is stepping up its use — on doorsteps and in workplaces — of the statement “For Recognition of a Palestinian State and of Israel,” put out by the Socialist Workers Party in the U.S.
Jonathan Silberman and other League members met forklift driver Raz Khan on his doorstep in Harlow, Essex, and showed him the statement.
“In opposition to Washington, to bourgeois governments and political organizations across the Middle East, and to the middle class left here in the United States,” it concludes, “the Socialist Workers Party has a different starting point: the class interests and solidarity of workers and toiling farmers across the Middle East — be they Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, Kurdish, Turkish, Persian or otherwise, and whatever their religious or other beliefs — as well as working people in the United States and around the world.
“We are for whatever helps working people organize and act together to advance our demands and struggles against the capitalist governments and ruling classes that exploit and oppress us and their petty bourgeois political servants and media apologists.
“We are for whatever renews our class solidarity and self-confidence, advancing us along a revolutionary course toward a united struggle for workers power,” the statement says.
“We need a Palestine that’s viable,” Khan said. “But without the support of the Israeli people, there can be no Palestinian homeland and no peace. Whatever the legality of the creation of Israel, the country has existed for 70 years now, we have to accept that.”