Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

The Left and anti-Semitism, Livingstone Drags the Debate to the Gutter.

with 28 comments

Livingstone: “when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.”

27 April 2016

Earlier today, JLM National Chair Jeremy Newmark made the following statement about events following the revelation that Naz Shah MP had posted antisemitic statements on Facebook some time before her election as an MP:

“Naz Shah is a politician who is clearly on a political journey, from a Respect firebrand in the choppy waters of local Bradford politics to the Labour Party. She courageously stood up to George Galloway’s bigotry at the General Election. However, her historic remarks and posting were repugnant and completely unacceptable.

Her contrition expressed over the past day seems to be genuine and sincere. This is part of that journey. We are optimistic that she will now take steps to deepen her understanding of Jewish identity. We do not ask or expect her to mute her criticism of the actions and policies of the Israeli government. We do ask and expect her to build upon her apology and contrition with a programme of education and action that includes standing up to anti-Semitism on the left and within the Palestine Solidarity Movement.”

Shortly after this statement was released it was announced that Shah had been suspended.  Jeremy Newmark commented:

“The suspension of Naz Shah by the Labour Party is fair and consistent. I hope it will provide the context for a programme of education as we, at JLM, have set out.”

Jewish Labour Movement.

Jim comments on Shiraz Socialist.

It was right and also inevitable that Naz Shah was suspended from the Labour Party following the revelation of anti-Semitic Facebook posts suggesting that Israel should be “relocated to the US” and likening Zionism to al-Qaida (made, incidentally, before she was an MP).

In her defence it should be noted that (1) she made an immediate and unequivocal apology, with no attempt to claim that this was just “anti-Zionism” and (2) she has been brought up in a political culture in which saying offensive things about Jews, Israel and Zionism is considered acceptable and in which many people don’t even recognise that anti-Semitism is much of a problem: check out Ken Livingstone’s reaction, for instance.

(More on site…)

I note in passing that the Facebook post – which Shah did not create –  was shared by many people, that it was one of many virulent posts circulating during the Israeli military actions against Gaza.

I, like many, opposed these armed repressive actions, and said so.

If some people got caught up in their emotions and have since, as Shah has, thought through her politics on a democratic basis then all credit to them, and to her.

This response does not help (Politics Home).

Speaking to BBC Radio London, Labour NEC member Ken Livingstone accused the “Israel lobby” of a campaign to smear its critics as anti-Semites, after Labour MP Naz Shah was suspended for sharing a post calling for Israel to be relocated to the United States.

“She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over the top but she’s not anti-Semitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-Semitic…

“It’s completely over the top but it’s not anti-Semitic. Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews. The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians.

“And there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.”

As I’ve said, I’ve never heard anybody say anything anti-Semitic, but there’s been a very well-orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby to smear anybody who criticises Israeli policy as anti-Semitic. I had to put up with 35 years of this…

“Let’s look at someone who’s Jewish who actually said something very similar to what Naz has just said. Albert Einstein, when the first leader of Likud, the governing party now in Israel, came to America, he warned American politicians: don’t talk to this man because he’s too similar to the fascists we fought in the Second World War.

“Now, if Naz or myself said that today we would be denounced as anti-Semitic, but that was Albert Einstein.”

He hit back at Lord Levy’s criticism of the leadership’s response to the anti-Semitism storms in Labour.

“After Jeremy became leader I was having a chat with Michael and he said he was very worried because one of his friends who was Jewish had come to him and said ‘the election of Jeremy Corbyn is exactly the same as the first step to the rise of Adolf Hitler to power’.

“Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as anti-Semitic from the moment he became leader. The simple fact is we have the right to criticise what is one of the most brutal regimes going in the way it treats the Palestinians.”

There are many aspects to this controversy, which has been envenomed by Livingstone’s comments.

One is the claim that some people are deliberately making wild claims about antisemitism on the left which may, as Livingstone alleges, be connected to a broader attack on the socialist left.

This indeed happens and could be seen on Newsnight yesterday.

Lady Neuberger claimed the issue in Labour was “attached to Jeremy Corbyn becoming leader”, and “an issue within the hard left”.

A measure of how wide Neuberger was prepared to extend her net was that she included ‘Militant’, that is the Socialist Party in the charge.

This is a good illustration of just twisted the debate has become.

The Socialist Party has been both an opponent of boycotting Israel and a supporter of the right of the Jewish people to their own state (Boycotts of Israel: Will they help the Palestinians?)


Israeli Jewish workers are also inevitably alarmed when some of the staunchest advocates of boycott action in Britain and elsewhere, such as the SWP, have a record of opposing the right of the Jewish people to their own state. Whereas in the case of South Africa, a majority of black workers there supported international sanctions against the ruling white elite, Israeli workers are not in agreement with sanctions against Israel.

A boycott under these conditions is a mistake, and a gift to the Israeli right.


The Palestinians and the Israeli Jews have a right to their own separate states. But achieving such states, with lasting, peaceful co-existence and decent living standards, will be unviable on a capitalist basis.

The only way that will be possible, will be on the basis of Israeli workers building the workers’ movement in Israel to challenge the power, profit and prestige of the Israeli capitalist class, and of Palestinian workers also building their own united movement.

I would say that the Socialist Party reflects what is in fact the mainstream left position of the issue, although one can be, to say the least,  sceptical about the possibility of socialist states in the region.

If many of us are opposed to the policies of the Israeli government, if we are critical and the structures it is built on, we continue to hold to this two-state position. Equally we have every sympathy for the Palestinians, their plight, and efforts to create their own independent state and society.

Another is the fact that in some quarters of the left, notably those influenced by the ‘anti imperialism of fools’, there is a strain of hatred against ‘Zionism’ which shades into antisemitism.

Livingstone’s remarks about Hitler’s support for Zionism indicates that his claim about never hearing anti-Semitic remarks in the Labour Party disproves the widely-held view that he loves the sound of his own voice.

But everybody else heard him.

In response all I can say is that if that if anybody thinks for one fucking minute that the majority of the left, and the part of it the Tendance belongs to, will ever stop fighting antisemitism and will cease from defending the right of the Jewish people to determine their own future and state, and that they have any sympathy for would-be genociders, they are fucking joking.


Statement on “Labour’s problem with antisemitism”

from the Jewish Socialists’ Group

Antisemitism exists and must be exposed and fought against in the same way as other forms of racism by all who are concerned with combating racism and fascism.

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same. Zionism is a political ideology which has always been contested within Jewish life since it emerged in 1897, and it is entirely legitimate for non-Jews as well as Jews to express opinions about it, whether positive or negative. Not all Jews are Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews.

Criticism of Israeli government policy and Israeli state actions against the Palestinians is not antisemitism. Those who conflate criticism of Israeli policy with antisemitism, whether they are supporters or opponents of Israeli policy, are actually helping the antisemites. We reject any attempt, from whichever quarter, to place legitimate criticism of Israeli policy beyond the Pale.

Accusations of antisemitism are currently being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party with claims that Labour has a “problem” of antisemitism. This is despite Corbyn’s longstanding record of actively opposing fascism and all forms of racism, and being a firm a supporter of the rights of refugees and of human rights globally.

A very small number of such cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism. Others represent genuine criticism of Israeli policy and support for Palestinian rights, but expressed in clumsy and ambiguous language, which may unknowingly cross a line into antisemitism. Further cases are simply forthright expressions of support for Palestinian rights, which condemn Israeli government policy and aspects of Zionist ideology, and have nothing whatsoever to do with antisemitism.

The accusations do not refer to antisemitic actions but usually to comments, often made on social media, long before Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership. Those making the charges now, did not see fit to bring them up at the time, under previous Labour leaders, but are using them now, just before mayoral and local elections, when they believe they can inflict most damage on the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn.

The attack is coming from four main sources, who share agendas: to undermine Jeremy Corbyn as leader of Labour; to defend Israeli government policy from attack, however unjust, racist and harmful towards the Palestinian people; and to discredit those who make legitimate criticisms of Israeli policy or Zionism as a political ideology. As anti-racist and anti-fascist Jews who are also campaigning for peace with justice between Israelis and Palestinians, we entirely reject these cynical agendas that are being expressed by:

• The Conservative Party

• Conservative-supporting media in Britain and pro-Zionist Israeli media sources

• Right-wing and pro-Zionist elements claiming to speak on behalf of the Jewish community

• Opponents of Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour party.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group recognises that ordinary Jewish people are rightly concerned and fearful about instances of antisemitism. We share their concerns and a have a proud and consistent record of challenging and campaigning against antisemitism. But we will not support those making false accusations for cynical political motives, including the Conservative Party, who are running a racist campaign against Sadiq Khan, and whose leader David Cameron has referred to desperate refugees, as “a swarm” and “a bunch of migrants”. The Conservative Party demonstrated their contempt for Lord Dubs, a Jewish refugee from Nazism, when they voted down en masse an amendment a few days ago to allow 3,000 child refugees into Britain while Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, gave total support to Lord Dubs and his amendment.

The Jewish Socialists’ Group sees the current fearmongering about antisemitism in the Labour Party for what it is – a conscious and concerted effort by right-wing political forces to undermine the growing support among Jews and non-Jews alike for the Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, and a measure of the desperation of his opponents.

We stand against antisemitism, against racism and fascism and in support of refugees. We stand for free speech and open debate on Israel, Palestine and Zionism.


While some of the Jewish Socialists’ points about the origins of the present furore are borne out by the facts there remain problems about this statement.

Apart from underestimating the growth of overt antisemitism, not just from stray comments but from full-blown Ant-Semites of the type described by Sartre in Réflexions sur la question juive, this downplays the extent to which by denying the right of Israel to exist at all – and thus of the Jewish people where large numbers wish to – has a coherence within the framework of the ‘anti-imperialism of fools’.

Support for the view that Socialist Fight’s claims about a ‘pan-national Jewish bourgeoisie’ at the heart of world-wide Zionism, may seem a lunatic fringe affair.

But backing, sometimes unconditional,  for the Islamist Hamas – which makes no secret about its hatred of the Jewish population in the Middle East –  on ‘anti-imperialist’ grounds is much more widespread.

We note that  within the Labour Party and the wider left there are strong critics of these positions, and that John McDonell  has been sufficiently concerned to issue a declaration calling for there to be no place for antisemitism in the movement.

 This careful and lucid examination of the media-famous incidents ignores the points raised in the previous two paragraphs: Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t got an ‘antisemitism problem’. His opponents do. Jamie Stern-Weiner 27 April 2016



28 Responses

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  1. Andrew Coates

    April 28, 2016 at 1:14 pm

  2. You’ve missed the clincher.

    Ken: Criticism of Naz Shah over the top. Anti-semitism is not racism.

    Vanessa Feltz: “It was over the top. Over the top of what?”

    Ken Livingstone: “To think of anti-Semitism and racism as exactly the same thing.”


    Now please, please, someone defend that comment by Ken as being merely ‘criticism of Israeli government policies’. Shut your eyes and just parrot it. It’s what you want to do.


    April 28, 2016 at 1:46 pm

  3. No one is defending him and he has been suspended, you bell-end.


    April 28, 2016 at 2:07 pm

  4. Lost in all this, because of Ken’s clumping persona, is what happened with Naz Shah. When it first came out I had a feeling that she was not what she was being painted as and this was borne out by events. Her statement is just about perfect, as is her call to action for herself.

    When the story about her statement being edited came out we had the unedifying spectacle of different parts of the Labour operation pointing fingers at each other. The JSG, among many others, behaved as if none of this was happening and that it was another RW media attack. Later we had a meaningless statement put out by Shah, presumably at someone’s dictat, again intended to point the finger at the evil media.

    Shah’s genuine actions got completely smothered *by everybody* and I was left with the feeling that no one really cared if a young, female Muslim MP – one who had taken on Galloway – was thrown under the bus. This included a lot of people I might otherwise respect who seemed not to care what she’d said and just wanted to see her destroyed rather than try something like, sigh, build something positive on her reaching out and trying to be a change agent.

    I suspect she’s not beaten and I can see in what she did some hope against the antisemites. We should be backing her and highlighting her instead of some old fart.

  5. This is politics – what do you all expect? People in politics will always seek to clobber their enemies with any weapon which comes to hand. The enthusiasm of many on Labour’s left for the Palestinian cause makes “anti-Semitism” (real or, more frequently, imagined) a perfect weapon, both for people on the Labour right to use against their factional opponents, and others on the wider right to use against Labour as a whole. The campaign comes with all the usual histrionics, half-truths and clichés – lots of not-very-historical Hitlers will be invoked by all sides – but the entire “anti-Semitism” business in relation to Labour is simply opportunism on the part of those who can wield that bludgeon, and ineptitude on the part of those who set themselves up to be hit.


    April 28, 2016 at 2:59 pm

  6. The fact that few in the Labour Party give a damn about antisemitism anymore does not mean that few outside the Labour gives a damn about it either.


    April 28, 2016 at 3:57 pm

  7. @ Makhno,

    Evidently you haven’t seen the pages of sewage on CiF and twitter defending him, you sack of shit.


    April 28, 2016 at 3:59 pm

  8. Francis, Livingstone is a fool, who should be kept in a cellar with a supply of single Malt and let out only under guard to toddle around a newt sanctuary.

    The issue is what Livingstone said, no doubt after a dose of whisky on his cornflakes was 1) Wrong, because it omitted the premise that Hitler believed in a zoological racial fight with ‘the Jews’ and a whole range of other ‘races’. (2) It was therefore deliberately inflammatory to say that “his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel.” and infer from that that “He was supporting Zionism…”.

    Moreover this recent exchange – on the French mainstream left a reply to PM Valls, is extremely important in clarifying the difference between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

    Valls said there was no difference.

    The centre-left Libérationeditor Laurent Joffrin replied not by making an abstract distinction but a historical one.

    He cited as anti-Zionists,

    “le Bund, héroïque mouvement socialiste juif d’Europe centrale, persécuté successivement par les staliniens et par les nazis, désapprouvait la création de l’Etat d’Israël. ”

    The Bund, the heroic socialist and Jewish movement in central Europe, persecuted successively by the Stalinists and the Nazis, was opposed to the creation of the State of Israel.

    Aujourd’hui, une partie très minoritaire de l’opinion juive reste sur cette position. De même, les mouvements trotskistes, souvent dirigés par des Juifs, ont condamné le sionisme. Ils n’étaient pas antisémites…

    Today, a small minority of Jewish opinion continues to hold this view. Equally, Trotksyist movements, often led by Jews, have condemned Zionism. They were not antisemites.


    Andrew Coates

    April 28, 2016 at 4:53 pm

  9. “The Bund, the heroic socialist and Jewish movement in central Europe, persecuted successively by the Stalinists and the Nazis, was opposed to the creation of the State of Israel.”

    How did that work out for them? Oh yes, they were persecuted and killed.

    How do communists like their Jews? Heroic, principled, and dead.


    April 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm

  10. As somebody who comes from the ‘centrist’ internationalist democratic Marxist political tradition embodied by the Bund – that is actually having been a member of such organisations – I find your comments about our martyred dead beneath contempt Lamia.

    Andrew Coates

    April 28, 2016 at 5:14 pm

  11. And I find yours and others’ attempts to excuse and minimise left wing antisemitism somewhere at the bottom of a mine shaft, several hundred metres under an entrance sign marked ‘Contempt’, Andrew.

    Start with Marx ‘On the Jewish Question’ and work your way forward. It’s nasty stuff, though some people appear not to mind it.


    April 28, 2016 at 5:20 pm

  12. Not only are you a moral cretin Lamina, smearing our dead, from the ideas and actions of Rosa Luxumberg to Simone Weil, to the hundreds of thousands of democratic Marxists who perished in the Gulag and the Nazi camps, but you are politically illiterate.

    I suggest that after you have read some Hal Draper, Vols l and ll of Karl Marx’s theory of revolution Vol. 1 State and bureaucracy 1977
    Karl Marx’s theory of revolution Vol. 2 The politics of social classes, and more specifically comrade Robert Fine’s excellent article: Robert Fine: Karl Marx and the Radical Critique of Anti-Semitism in: Engage Journal 2, May 2006 https://engageonline.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/karl-marx-and-the-radical-critique-of-anti-semitism-robert-fine-engage-journal-issue-2-may-2006/

    Oddly your logorrhea closely resembles that of the obsessive ‘anti-Zionists’.

    Andrew Coates

    April 28, 2016 at 5:42 pm

  13. Andrew – I agree. KL’s words were absurd and politically damaging, and a period of silence would almost certainly be the greatest service he could render the left.

    The eclipse of Bundism was a tragedy, although the assimilationist tendencies of many Jewish leftists at that time would have undermined its foundations before long. Its persecution in Soviet Russia was not really a crime of the “Stalinists”, though – the organisation was wiped out as a separate current already under Lenin, with some of its cadres absorbed into the Bolsheviks and the others scattered to the four winds. The only active Bundists to fall victim to the Stalinists were those in Eastern Poland in 1939-41.

    That said, it’s not surprising that the Bund’s rivals for support in the Jewish communities, the Zionists, came out on top. The experience of the Nazis did rather undermine the Bund’s optimistic perspectives for peaceable and cooperative cohabitation in Europe, as did developments in Eastern Europe after the war. Zionism, of course, came with a different set of problems, first and foremost, the fact that Palestine wasn’t empty…


    April 28, 2016 at 5:49 pm

  14. “Evidently you haven’t seen the pages of sewage on CiF and twitter defending him, you sack of shit.”

    On CiF most people are rightly condemning him, although some acknowledge this manufactroversy for what it is. I don’t do Twitters.

    Both Livingstone and Shah have been, rightly, suspended. And swiftly.

    Boris Johnson, on the other hand, states that Obama hates the UK because he’s African, and he’s still feted as the next leader of his party by many in the right wing press.

    I’m still struggling to see how the former constitutes some form of crisis for the left, whilst the latter merits a “LOL BoJo” and is swiftly swept under the carpet.


    April 28, 2016 at 6:18 pm

  15. “Oddly your logorrhea closely resembles that of the obsessive ‘anti-Zionists’.”

    Ain’t that the truth. I also strongly suspect he doesn’t give two shits about anti-semitism. It would be a massive double-standard if he did, considering his previous virulently racist comments about Bangladeshis.

    It’s just crocodile tears, and an attempt to exploit the struggles of the Jewish people in order to win a different political argument.


    April 28, 2016 at 6:21 pm

  16. “What of this? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haavara_Agreement

    What of it? If a BNP or UKIP supporter were to say that all black people should be “sent back to Africa”, does that make him/her a Rastafarian?

    Livingstone’s comments were crass, ignorant, dishonest and pretty much anti-semitic.


    April 28, 2016 at 6:23 pm

  17. Galloway spoke this morning on Sky news about Zionism and Nazism being two sides of the same coin – a reference to a coin struck after the so-called Haavara Agreement.

    This is an example of how degraded the row has become. Hitler and the Nazis believed in a zoological racial fight to the death against Jewish people, as Timothy Snyder’s last book outlines in horrifying detail (Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. 2015).

    No ‘agreement’ was ever made in seriousness.

    Livingstone’s comments are classic diversions, we could make a long case about Hassan al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood’s relations with Nazism, not to mention Mohammed Amin al-Husseini.

    This kind of ‘debate’ solves absolutely nothing about what’s happening the Middle East now, a real genocide, mass murder, religious cleansing, millions of refugees in wars which have nothing to do with ‘Zionism’.

    Andrew Coates

    April 29, 2016 at 10:30 am

  18. Via Bob.

    Andrew Coates

    April 29, 2016 at 10:43 am

  19. Galloway is right!


    April 29, 2016 at 11:51 am

  20. Galloway is a lying, craven, poisonous, oleaginous, hypocritical, desperate spiv. He is the political equivalent of Ridley Scott’s xenomorphs’ blood – that ‘universal acid’ that burns through everything it touches. Anyone with political ambitions knows not to go within a mile of this plodding, relentless cockroach of a politician.
    And by the way, coups and takeovers don’t happen in a vacuum – they need kindling, and Corbyn and his acolytes have handed their opponents bundles of the stuff.

    Saul Sorrell-Till

    April 29, 2016 at 4:22 pm

  21. George Galloway is a brave man with principals who was beaten up by some JDL thug. He was unseated by a political nobody, Naz Shah. I bet Coatesy is regretting supporting Naz Shah how, isn’t he?

    Sir Galloway, I salute your courage, your strength, your indefatigability, and I want you to know that we are with you,


    April 30, 2016 at 12:31 am

  22. “. I bet Coatesy is regretting supporting Naz Shah how, isn’t he? ” I can’t speak for Coatesy, but I’m not. She is young and naive and reposted some stupid and offensive comments. When this became an issue she immediately made a fulsome and obviously sincere apology. She has promised to reach out to, and learn from, Jewish people. She should be allowed back as a Labour MP asap. Livingstone, on the other hand, is an experienced operator with a long history of Jew-baiting. he should be expelled.

    PS Naz Shah will always have an honoured place in UK socialist history for having taken on and defeated the bully-boy Galloway. I trust that, like me, she will savour his forthcoming humiliation in London.

    Sam Kincaide

    April 30, 2016 at 10:33 am

  23. Jesus, he really is pathetic. Not to the extent that I’d pity the man, but seriously – what’s his poll rating? And posing in front of a bookshelf stacked with books on various cultural and political icons – perhaps in the hope that subliminally the names Che, Churchill, Dylan, etc. will come up every time we see his shifty, weasel-owl face.

    Saul Sorrell-Till

    April 30, 2016 at 12:52 pm

  24. […] rescue, despite the fact she was handling the matter quite well on her own. Almost immediately he makes everything worse: “When Hitler won the election in 1932, his policy was that Jews should be moved to Israel. […]

  25. We all know it’s about getting labour to stop supporting Israel. The moral question of prejudice is another thing. Naz shah said on twitter ‘everything hitler did was legal’. Is that a socialist sort of thing to say. It may have been legal, but then the nazis were creating the laws. As for the woman from the nus, the resolution that was eventually passed at an executive meeting, dropped any reference to the yazidis or Christians, and just talked about the Muslim Kurds. At least we now know the parameters of islamophobia. It is any repot or criticism of any Muslim anywhere. Does mr tony think that is laudable.

    Sue r

    May 1, 2016 at 2:20 pm

  26. […] rescue, despite the fact she was handling the matter quite well on her own. Almost immediately he makes everything worse: “When Hitler won the election in 1932, his policy was that Jews should be moved to Israel. […]

  27. Hey guys. I can’t seem to access this page when I’m using the web browser NECROPEDOSADOMASO 39… I had to use Firefox to read this article 🙂 I suspect it is a problem coming from either your WordPress theme or maybe your plugins https://mmorpggaminghd.wordpress.com/2016/08/30/lotro-the-ultimate-captain-dps-guide/

    Cece Capella

    August 31, 2016 at 12:45 pm

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