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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Scottish Labour and the left must rid themselves of the poison of anti-Semitism

By Denis MacEoin 
MANY people seem to have been taken aback by the discovery that deep anti-Semitism lurks within the Labour Party. "Who knew?" many voices cry. Well, the truth is a lot of us, Jews and non-Jews alike have known for years. Sadly, it’s not confined to extremists down south. Scotland’s Jewish community has been alarmed and deeply concerned about recent developments. A couple of months ago, the Edinburgh University Student Association passed an anti-Semitism resolution to boycott Israel, then posters appeared on campus denying the Holocaust, posters that have now moved to Glasgow. You’d be worried too if you were a Scottish Jew. 
Last week Glasgow Friends of Israel wrote to Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, asking her to confirm that anti-Semites in the Scottish Labour Party would be suspended as they have been in England. She has thus far not responded, despite this being the biggest crisis in her party in many years. 
For years now, the “New Anti-Semitism” has been growing across the globe, most notably in Europe. Just last year, 8,000 Jews left France to seek refuge from anti-Semites, while countries like Greece, Hungary and Romania are viciously anti-Semitic. As is Germany. Is this old-fashioned far-right anti-Semitism dismissable as the ravings of shaven-headed no-hopers who’ve learned nothing from history? In some places, especially Eastern Europe, it is, but move further west and things change. For a long time now, European anti-Semitism, including its variants in the UK, has been driven for the most part by two groups: radical Muslims often from countries where explicit, no-holds-barred anti-Semitism reaches 90 per cent of the population, and radical left-wingers. It doesn’t always look like anti-Semitism, but it is nothing less than that, and it is deeply poisonous. 
Commonly, left-wingers, including members of the Labour Party, exclaim “we are not anti-Semitic because we are not racists”, and they get away with that every time. They say their angry hatred for the Jewish State of Israel is merely ordinary politics. But this argument, voiced repeatedly recently, is just worn and threadbare doublespeak. Fair and balanced criticism of Israel is perfectly acceptable, but heavy-handed slurs about the country, telling outrageous lies about its policies and daily life, and giving succour to terrorist organisations intent on destroying Israel and committing a second genocide of millions of Jews, by any standards cross a moral rubicon. 
Demonisation of Israel and holding it to standards not used against any other country on earth, including the worst dictatorships, falls under the definition of anti-Semitism used by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia and the US State Department. The left’s repeated calls for boycotts of Israel as an “an apartheid state” is total deception. Israel is so totally free of apartheid that anyone who has been there knows the accusation is an outright lie. Continually repeating this untruth is anti-Semitism. 
So many left-wingers are so ignorant about and so deeply biased against Israel that their naïveté exposes them to ridicule. Like that man of peace and brotherly love, Jeremy Corbyn, who has called terror organisations Hamas and Hezbollah his friends and appeared on many platforms calling for a “Free Palestine”. Here are some sentences from the 1988 Hamas Covenant which is still in force: “Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas]. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavours.” What pacifist could consider such warmongers as his friends and call for dialogue with them as a path to peace? 
When radical Muslims and the far left – with which Mr Corbyn is closely linked – march through our cities chanting “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas”, and pro-Palestinians chant “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea”, where the river is the Jordan and the sea is the Mediterranean, they have a single goal, the elimination of Israel and its replacement with a Greater Palestine. 
In this election week its worth remembering that candidate vetting is a matter for Scotland’s political parties. Perhaps the suggestion by UK Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP that the party south of the Border tightens its vetting procedures might usefully be applied here as a first step in riding our polity of this intolerant poison. 
Dr Denis MacEoin is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute and a former lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies at Newcastle University.

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