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Jews and all citizens should be encouraged to challenge actual and existing anti-semitism

THE shambling article by John Elder “Rising anti-semitism cannot be tackled without addressing Israel’s crimes” (June 18) betrays no understanding of the relationship of class to culture, religion and anti-racism and really cannot be left to go unchallenged. 

Its rationale, that Jews everywhere are responsible for the actions of the Israeli government, is by reverse exactly the argument put forward by the Israeli government and right-wing zionists. 

But that cannot be acceptable in a daily paper of the left, which has anti-imperialism at its heart and should be challenging all forms of racism, including anti-semitism.

Elder says: “Mainstream Jewish communities everywhere … appear unwilling to accept the connection between developing international anti-semitism (or anti-Israel sentiment) and Israel's decades long … acts of barbarism.” 

Also, “no amount of protestations about the symptoms of rising anti-semitism or anti-Israel sentiment in Britain and elsewhere will end the problem until its root cause — Israel’s criminal behaviour — is dealt with.”

Elder says this is true for the Jewish “diaspora.” So Jews worldwide are to be considered collectively responsible. Therefore the billionaire’s interest is no different from that of an Israeli dockworker. Israel’s actions cast a pale of guilt over this “Jewish diaspora” and all Jews have to denounce it before their concerns about what Elder calls “apparent” anti-semitism are dealt with. 

This is collective guilt whatever way one comes at it. We argue forcefully as a paper, that British Muslims should not be stigmatised for the actions of Saudi rulers, or Isis. But when it comes to Jews, other standards apply. 

As if anti-semitism didn’t exist across the world, before Israel was formed — when in fact, it was common before capitalism appeared.

What is alarming about current day anti-semitism is that it continues to use the same themes that have been used to stigmatise and justify genocide of the Jews for centuries. And where the Labour Party is forced to confront hundreds of cases and act on them, it can hardly be “apparent.” 

Many of these instances are not linked to Israel and include conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial. The Labour Party should be applauded for taking anti-semitism seriously and dealing with it robustly. 

To say anti-semitism isn’t an issue, is a conspiracy to bring down Jeremy Corbyn or that no British Jew can challenge anti-semitism without being called an apologist for genocide is a dangerous path. It is certain to drive those genuinely concerned with anti-semitism into the hands of Israeli propagandists, who can simply say: “We told you so.”

Elder’s answer is to change voting patterns at UN. The rationale for this is unclear. Possibly it seeks to point us to a single-state solution, which is where Arab reactionaries and Benjamin Netanyahu agree, but aim at different outcomes. Those Jewish and Arab Israeli citizens who have been beaten in recent weeks for protesting against the atrocity in Gaza may have a different opinion.  

Asked at the recent speaking tour organised by Liberation, speaker Dr Aqel Taqaz said that he identified as his closest allies the progressives and anti-imperialists in Israel who fight against the expansionist aims of the government. 

He said that the Palestinians would not be driven into the sea and had no wish to drive anyone else there either. He thought that only a two-state solution would resolve the direst of situations. That’s from the heart of the Palestinian liberation movement. 

We write as long time supporters of the Morning Star. There is an expectation that features can be as challenging as is necessary. But the blinkered and reactionary nature of the Elder article has to become a line in the sand. Jews and all citizens should be encouraged to challenge actual and existing anti-semitism. Our paper should be at the forefront of that movement.

 

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