Socialist Worker

Right wing report accuses the left of antisemitism

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2526

Corbyn speaking at a Stop the War rally

Corbyn speaking at a Stop the War rally (Pic: Guy Smallman)

A parliamentary report into antisemitism argues that 75 percent of antisemitic abuse and attacks are perpetrated by the far right.

Malia Bouattia

Malia Bouattia (Pic: NUS)

It proceeds to smear the left as antisemitic, singling out Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and National Union of Students (NUS) president Malia Bouattia.

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee report argues that antisemitism is a real danger to Jewish people. It details that the “first half of 2016 saw an 11 percent rise in antisemitic incidents” from the previous year.

The report trivialises these incidents by equating antisemitism with opposition to Israel and smearing left wingers who fight against racism.

It is a disgrace that Labour MPs on the committee backed this report which is an attempt to undermine Corbyn. The report says he has not cracked down on antisemitism which has benefited those with “vile attitudes” towards Jewish people.

The report claims that it wants to “establish a definition which achieves an appropriate balance between condemning antisemitism… and maintaining freedom of speech”.


It argues that the “use of the words ‘Zionist’ in an accusatory or abusive context should be considered inflammatory and potentially antisemitic”.

This is based on Mick Davis from the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) who claims, “Zionism is totally identified with how the Jew thinks of himself”.

The report then admits that only 59 percent of Jewish people in Britain see themselves as Zionists.

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same thing. Zionism is based on the idea that Jewish people cannot live peacefully alongside others

Its real motivation of defending Israel becomes clear in its definition of antisemitism.

So, for the report’s authors it is antisemitic to deny “the Jewish people the right to self-determination, by claiming that the existence of the State of Israel is a racist endeavour”.

Antisemitism and anti-Zionism are not the same thing. Zionism is based on the idea that Jewish people cannot live peacefully alongside others.

Zionists argue that there needs to be an exclusively “Jewish state”, because they see antisemitism as inevitable.

When Israel was set up after the Second World War in alliance with Western imperialism, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were ethnically cleansed. Opposing a state that is built on Palestinian oppression and the ideology that justifies is not racist.

To back up its claims, the report descends into lies and smears.

It argues that “a number of hard left organisations, such as Unite Against Fascism (UAF)… have taken a pro-Palestinian stance”. UAF takes no position on Israel and Palestine.


The report then claims that “Malia Bouattia does not appear to take sufficiently seriously the issue of antisemitism”. Bouattia is a committed fighter against racism and is being attacked because she supports Palestinians’ right to resist the occupation.

Sometimes activists wrongly talk of a “Zionist lobby” or the “Israel lobby” influencing Western foreign policy. Such talk gets the relationship the wrong way around.

Western powers back Israel because it safeguards their imperialist interests in the Middle East.

Israel feels threatened by a Labour leader who supports Palestinian rights, and the growing movement in solidarity with Palestine and the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns.

In desperation, it has tried to brand any opposition as antisemitic.

The Labour right sees this as an opportunity to undermine Corbyn and the movement that supports him. It is another example of their cynical use of any issue to attack Corbyn.

This report’s smears will shut down debate, and could even allow space for the idea that Jewish people are to blame for Israeli brutality.

The left should take no lectures on antisemitism or racism from the people who produced this report.

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