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September 04, 2018



'Turks, Kurds, Syrians, Russians, Iranians and so on.'

There's a big difference here though isn't there? All of these people have suffered, and some have suffered with British help, so to speak.

But with Israel-Palestine, the whole problem is Britain's. Had Britain not provided 'The Balfour Declaration' and then invaded Palestine and integrated it into the British Empire then none of this would be happening.

If we had a free press (which obviously we don't), then every piece on Israel-Palestine would mention that the UK caused this problem. Therefore it is incumbent on us (and no one else, to the same extent) to solve it.

I might add that this was actually mentioned by Corbyn in the infamous speech in which he talked about irony, and none of the British commentariat even mentioned or alluded to this. It's as if (along with most of Britain's imperial crimes) the fact that Britain caused this whole disaster is simply invisible to them.

'For this reason, Jeremy Corbyn’s activism on the issue has achieved pitifully little – much less than, say, Stella Creasy achieved in her campaign on payday lending'

True, but he is not yet, of course, Prime Minister (assuming he ever will be). If he was, he could put pressure on the Israelis (e.g. by an arms embargo).


The fact that there's a very real chance that Corbyn may be PM largely explains the shit thrown at him by Zionists and bad faith attacks by the Labour right.

Corbyn can apologise till he's blue in the face, it will never be enough. The only thing that will appease his attackers will be his resignation. I just wish he'd tell them to fuck off.


I'm glad you see justification in the Palestinian cause. But dismayed that you would imply giving other deserving causes a mention when considering Palestinians is a requirement – if one is not to be viewed as a crusader with childish notions of right and wrong that is....
Inevitably the evident difference between the Palestinian cause and those you mention, given the complexity, will be lost on some. How could this ever be otherwise?
Politics is a messy business, it will always be a messy business; unless perhaps: if you're prepared to take the people out of the politics and control and command them? Tell them how they must think and feel, knock the moralising out of them. It might work...
Politics will always be international too. Only now, more obviously so than ever before.
As I recall, in the '80s it was easy to get very pissed off with a government determined to pretend the troubles was all very easy to understand, all a question of goodies and baddies.....and we don't talk to baddies do we children. You just let us carry on regardless.

Ben Philliskirk

"Though not always. As the late Tony Judt reminded us, socialist Zionism was strong until the late 60s."

No coincidence in that really. Up until 1967 it could still be argued that Israel was something of an 'underdog' and after the suffering of Jewish people they deserved some kind of collective refuge. After the Six Day War this was more difficult, as Israel was clearly the strongest regional power and in a position to throw its weight around.

It doesn't that much imagination to see why Palestine receives so much attention from leftists, because there are very few struggles where the disparities in power are so polarised. You only have to look at Gaza to see that. You can argue that some people are somewhat obsessed by the issue, but you can't blame people for 'moralising' over it.

Norbert Hornstein

“For one thing, the cause is futile”.

Actually part of the reason that Corbyn is being so vociferously attacked is that many think you are wrong about this. Zionists have great respect for longshots. Indeed, without such respect, Israel would not exist. The government appreciates that Israeli intransigience on a realistic and viable two state solution would be severely tested were, say, the Euroean communtiy and the UK committed to advancing it. Say, for example, these countries decided to boycott all goods from the Occupied territories? Or say, Israel could not have favored trade with Europe if it did not move seriously towards a two state solution, or allowed Gaza to rebuild its economy without constant interference. I am pretty sure this would have dramatic effects on the possibilities of movement towards a juster peace. At any rate, one of the reasons there is so much toing and froing with regard to anti semitism in the Labour Party is precisely that the current government of Israel believes change is eminently possible. And it is right. Not a bad reason to press forward, IMO.

Ahmed Fares

Quoted from David Hearst (Middle East Eye):

"What should Palestinians who stick exclusively to non-violent means do to defend their vanishing rights? What now is the purpose of the Palestinian Authority? Should it continue to exist as a sub-contractor of Israeli security? I am not sure that sounds too appealing.

Surely the only response to having your whole file of claims taken "off the table", along with your lands, olive groves, houses, schools, water, history and refugees and institutions, is to hand the keys back to the nearest Israeli military commander.

"Go on, occupy us. We are all yours. All 5.79 million of us are your responsibility," Mahmoud Abbas should now say. He has nothing else left to do.

Eminent emigrant

Don't you also think that there is a large constituency of Muslims to be gained by at least not supporting Israel?

Arthur Murray

A friend of mine who'd spent time in Fleet Street once, wisely, told me a long time ago: "Whenever a story appears in a newspaper, ask yourself: where did it come from?"

So, just where are these stories of Labour's / Corbyn's anti-semitism coming from? Is there a team---or teams---of people going through newspaper archives / photo archives / video recordings / old blogs looking for material ? Photographs of Corbyn at a cemetery don't just come from nowhere; somebody dug them out.

Who is funding these people? Where are they based? It's easy to guess the usual suspects: Conservative HQ ? Right-wing think-tanks? Conservative tabloids? But are they even based in the UK ?
Or are some high-minded academics supplying the material which has appeared regularly in many of our newspapers over the last few months ?

Dave Timoney

In dismissing many on the left's adoption of the Palestinian cause as the desire for a moral crusade, and thus "narcissistic self-righteousness", I think you are assuming that such choices ought to be either virtuous (and therefore morally consistent, hence your point about equivalent examples of human rights abuse) or pragmatic (if a solution isn't feasible, don't bother). But this ignores politics.

The reason why particular foreign abuses achieve prominence is that they reflect domestic concerns. To take an example from the other end of the political spectrum, the horror of Burke and others at the French Revolution (whose toll of victims was slight by historical standards) had more to do with the fear of domestic threats to property and hierarchy than sympathy for the Ancien Regime.

Likewise, the British left's focus on Spain in the 1930s was amplified by disgust at the British government's policy of non-interference (in practice tacit support for Franco) that reflected the "hands-off" approach to economic and social policy during the depression. Marching with the International Brigade was a logical corollary of marching from Jarrow. To take a more recent example, the anti-Apartheid movement grew noticeably stronger in the 80s in the UK precisely because it was a proxy for resisting Thatcher.

So, why Palestine? I suspect the answer is that for many on the left it provides an image of institutionalised inequality and selective state brutality that looks like a wider harbinger of life under a nationalist right. The febrile atmosphere that surrounds the issue is probably due to two things: the realisation that Israel has no intention of allowing a viable two-state solution, and the growing opposition to structural inequality in British society.

PS: I've often found the "more Methodism than Marx" line amusing given that old Karl wrote on the superstructural role of religion. Moral crusades aren't eccentric or random choices. They reflect the contending forces within society and thus the material base.

Ralph Musgrave

Hidari, I'm not an expert on Israeli / Palestinian history, but blaiming Britain for the plight of Palestinians is far fetched, seems to me. After WWII, Britain was bankrupt and couldn't do much. Britain tried to stop Jews taking over Isreal, but failed. I.e. Jewish mis-treatment of Palestinians would have happened regardless of Britain, strikes me.


There is something very unhealthy / pathological about the obsession with I/P at the expense just about everything else.
One also tends to find that the obsessives are frequently (if not almost always) fans of the Iranian regime, as well as often being 9/11 conspiracy theorists. (The Jews were warned to stay away you know...)
That it spills over into overt anti-semitism is hardly surprising.

PS Corbyn did not lay a wreath - he was there but "not involved"!
Today is the anniversary of the murder of the Israeli athletes.


PS Marx himself was rather anti-semitic of course.

Lindsay Berge

I have always wondered why the Israel/Palestine issue gets so much attention but the Turkish occupation of Cyprus gets so little.
I suspect there is a deep vein of anti-semitism.
I also have the suspicion that the Muslim countries of the Middle East would not willingly tolerate the existence of a Jewish state in their midst no matter where the borders are drawn, how they treat their non-Jewish citizens, or what efforts they take to be good neighbours. Even the most secular incarnation of Isreal would likely be surrounded by hostility.
So what options do the Jewish people currently living in Isreal have?

B.L. Zebub

This may speak more of my own limitations than of anything else, but I find it rather confusing how Karl Marx, the son of a Prussian Jewish couple of converts, can be at the same time "rather anti-semitic of course" AND a member of a secret Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, depending on whether one is a garden-variety anti-Marxist or a neo-Nazi anti-Marxist nutter.

Don't get me wrong, I never met Marx -- believe it or not -- so I can't say for sure whether he was one or the other. I'll have to trust cjcjc, who, no doubt, knew him better.

Either that or garden-variety anti-Marxists and neo-Nazi nutters should decide which of the two stories is right, cause I suspect at least one of them has to be wrong and I wouldn't be surprised both of them were.

My two cents.


"What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.…. Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist. Money degrades all the gods of man – and turns them into commodities…. The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange…. The chimerical nationality of the Jew is the nationality of the merchant, of the man of money in general."

Clearer now?
That he chose to write something called "On The Jewish Question" possibly says enough, let alone those delightful observations...


PS does one need to meet someone to draw a conclusion as to his or her character? So much for History!

Dave Timoney


Marx's essay is a response to an earlier work by Martin Bauer called The Jewish Question. In other words, Marx wrote "[Thoughts] On 'The Jewish Question' [of Martin Bauer]".

There is a long-standing dispute as to whether Marx was antisemitic (even a "self-hating Jew") or simply employing sarcasm and irony (as he frequently did in his writings). Given that his criticism of Bauer was actually a defence of German Jews, the case is not-proven.

Even Jonathan Sacks, the UK's Chief Rabbi, has said that applying the term "antisemitic" to Marx is anachronistic, as he was simply using the common language and stereotypes of the time, which just goes to show that the layers of irony are infinite.

B.L. Zebub

It's not me you have to argue with, cjcjc. It's with the neo-Nazi nutters. It's them who directly, unambiguously, without any doubt, contradict you.

I'm just promoting dialogue between you and them. See how nice I am? One identifies some point two groups have in common (their Marx bashing in this case). From that point on they exchange opinions.

It's surprising how far that technique can take. You may discover you and them have a lot more in common than you imagine and are willing to admit.


"PS does one need to meet someone to draw a conclusion as to his or her character? So much for History!"

But there you may have a point. Can I apply that to you?


From Arse to Elbow,

On'...common language and stereotypes of the time, which just goes to show that the layers of irony are infinite.'

Thank you for discussion about Marx. Did not know the 'full' histortical context in the case above.

** Marx also wrote that Henry George, no less, was merely a 'Yankee' seeking publicity, as I recall. The first comment is unimportant for the reasons you give (and we all chuckle - or can we?). The second is pretty fucking ironic, given the number of supporters they each had at the time!

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