This year’s Labour Party conference, held in the seaside resort town of Brighton on the south coast of England, left no doubt that after decades spent in a neoliberal, free market wilderness the Labour Party has been returned to its founding values as a mass party of the working class, advocating an unalterable shift in power in British society from those who own the nation’s wealth to those who produce it.
Jeremy Corbyn entered the conference as the man of the moment, his every appearance and utterance greeted with rapturous applause, accompanied by the now ubiquitous chant of “Oh-oh Jeremy Corbyn! Oh-oh Jeremy Corbyn!” Considering where things were a year ago, when Corbyn entered the same conference as the partys leader in name only, regarded as an impostor in the eyes of most of its MPs, who were actively engaged undermining and destabilizing his leadership, his popularity now is staggering to behold.
What a difference a year makes, especially one that includes a general election out which Corbyn emerged the clear moral if not political victor. From then to now he has driven the political agenda, scoring blow after blow against a Tory government that continues to be mired in a Brexit swamp.
What has not changed over the past year, however, is the attempt to associate Corbyn’s Labour Party with antisemitism.
The latest salvo in what has been a ceaseless campaign of smear and character assassination waged by apologists and supporters of the world’s favorite apartheid state, came in response to a fringe meeting that was held at the Labour Party conference on Palestine, at which guest speaker Miko Peled said that the Holocaust should be open to discussion on the grounds of free speech, leading to him being splashed across the UK media as a Holocaust denier.
Peled, it should be pointed out, is an Israeli-born Jew and son of a former general in the IDF. He himself was a member of the Israeli Special Forces until Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 left him disgusted, whereupon he turned his back on Israel and became a champion of Palestinian human rights, travelling the world to make the case in support of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against the State of Israel in solidarity with the Palestinians.
The notion that such a man could be smeared as a Holocaust denier is about as absurd as it gets – though as most with experience of such people know well enough by now, when it comes to this rotten pro-Israel apartheid crew, nothing is off limits.
The danger with the campaign to delegitimise supporters of the Palestinian cause in the West is not so much over whether it succeeds or not but more with the fact it distracts from the actual suffering of the Palestinians themselves. It reduces the issue to the credibility of supporters of the Palestinian cause, such as Peled, who can easily find themselves being bogged down in defending themselves against such spurious charges of Holocaust denial instead of championing the inarguable rights of a people struggling to maintain a semblance of humanity and dignity in the face of the most prolonged and systematic system of apartheid, military occupation, and ethnic cleansing of any in modern history.
Miko Peled: “There is no Palestine; there are no Palestinians in Israeli consciousness. It’s the land of Israel. As long as we kill more of them than they kill of us, we’re going to be fine. There is no vision beyond that.”
Former Labour mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, who has been a member of the party for over four decades, is still under suspension over allegations of antisemitismconcerning remarks he made in 2016 on the history of collaboration between German Zionists and the Nazis in the 1930s, while Jackie Walker was expelled from the Labour Party on the same basis over comments she made concerning Holocaust Memorial Day, again last year.
Returning to this year’s Labour Party Conference, lifelong socialist and critically acclaimed British filmmaker, Ken Loach, also incurred the wrath of the antisemitism police, when during a BBC TV interview he dared opine that the attempt to smear the party with antisemitism is part of an attempt to undermine Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
The wrath directed at Loach over his remarks came most prominently from Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland, doughty and dependable defender of the apartheid state, in his column titled, ‘Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place.’
Freedland’s main line of attack was over the issue of who has the right to decide what constitutes antisemitism and who does not, claiming that only people of Jewish persuasion have this right and that people such as Loach, in denying that antisemitism exists within the Labour Party, are akin to men denying that bias against women exists within the party, or straight people denying that bias against LGBT people exists within the party.
Here Mr Freedland conveniently overlooks the open letter to his own newspaper, The Guardian, written and signed by Jewish members of Labour in 2016, denying the party had a problem with antisemitism while alleging that the claim is part of an attempt to undermine Corbyn’s leadership, as Loach maintained in his BBC interview.
But no one should be under any illusions when it comes to Jonathan Freedland. As Ben White wrote in a 2014 article, “Liberal Zionists [such as Freedland] and their sympathisers obstruct the growth of Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, and often try to define the boundaries of acceptable discourse.”
Fifty years into the illegal occupation of their land, defense of the apartheid State of Israel cannot possibly be supported on moral, legal, or ethical grounds. To not only defend this system of injustice but also attempt to smear those who dare raise their voices against the brutal oppression endured by the Palestinians, this is a species of mendacity for which history will not be kind.