June 09, 2006

Fabian/Progressive Conference on "antisemitism"

I received a comment about a meeting promoted by Engage as being on "Anti-semitism and the left." The notice of the meeting is here:
On 6 June, 'Anti-semitism and the left: The acceptable prejudice?' will be the focus of a discussion between the writer and lawyer Anthony Julius; the Guardian's Jonathan Freedland; John Mann, chair of the All-Party Group Against Anti-semitism; and Jane Ashworth, project director of Engage. The event takes place between 6 and 7.30pm in the Boothroyd room of Portcullis House. Registration is essential. For more details and to register e-mail wesley@progressives.org.uk or call 0203 008 8180.
The comment on the meeting is here:
I went to a meeting on anti-Semitism and the left organised by the Young Fabians and Progress. Several MPs were there including Louise Ellman and Dennis McShane. Its difficult to believe quite how unpleasant and how little most Zionists believe in open honest debate. There were four speakers:

(1) Anthony Julius slandered the SWP implying that they were anti-Semitic, but when I asked him to name instances or statements he was unable to and said, "Ask Oona King".
To my question that Zionism is a type of racist nationalism because of (a) colonial settlement, (b) ethnic cleansing and (c) a series of discriminatory laws that could be said to constitute partial apartheid, he sneeringly insulted me saying he should teach me some history, but was either evasive or historically ill-informed in his reply. For the record, the three components of Zionism I have listed above are stated in a rhetorical way and could be qualified, but are essentially true.

(2)Jane Ashworth (the project director of engage I think) was just unbelievable. Venomous in many things she said. She constantly tried to conflate anti-Semitism and opposition to Zionism. One technique she used was to say that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitic in its effect. By this she means that anything which harms Jews is anti-Semitic. According to her, anti-Zionism harms Jews and is therefore anti-Semitic. Anti-Semitism has a clear meaning, but according to Jane's use a person who campaigns strenuously against Anti-Semitism and has positive views of Jews but opposes Zionism is still anti-Semitic. I actually think quite seriously that Zionism is harmful to Jews, so using her own technique, Jane is being anti-Semitic. Perhaps I should loudly say that Jane is anti-Semitic (in effect).

(3) Jonathan Freedland was by the far the best speaker but still depicted the conflict as a symmetrical national conflict….. It isn’t.

(4) John Mann heads the House of Commons inquiry into anti-Semitism. Spoke blandly but I am expecting an exaggerated account into the extent of anti-Semitism in the UK.

Overall, its worth critics of Israel thinking about how best to conduct their politics. The fact that so many active opponents of Zionism are on the far left leaves the mainstream centre / left - who wield power- heavily influenced by Zionists who tend to operate on the centre left.
That last point is the one that gets me. The campaign against apartheid in South Africa was a largely mainstream campaign and yet the anti-apartheid campaign against Israel is still largely on the fringes of western politics. But that the zionists are resorting to such desperate trickery as this absurd conference together with the fact that various taboos about Israel are being broken are encouraging signs that zionist domination of the mainstream won't last forever.

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