Right wingers will continue to use accusations of antisemitism against the left after the general election.
On Sunday Labour’s John McDonnell said he feared the issue of antisemitism would affect the outcome of the election. He also apologised for “the suffering we’ve inflicted” on Jewish people.
It was effectively a concession to the accusation that Labour is responsible for causing and spreading antisemitism. Underlying the accusations is the argument that Jeremy Corbyn’s left wing politics encourages antisemitism.
Statements from 70 former and serving Labour staff, compiled by the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), were leaked to the Sunday Times newspaper.
Its claims were reported as fact despite a statement from Labour that said the leak “includes baseless assumptions about current staff’s workload and the untrue allegations about outstanding cases”. The JLM statement claimed that Corbyn’s office believed in a “Jewish conspiracy” and said that Labour “ignored” and “normalised” antisemitism.
Many of the claims rest on Corbyn’s support for Palestinians.
The right wants to equate resistance to Israel, a boycott of its products, or criticism of its founding ideology Zionism, with attacks on Jewish people. It fought to make Labour adopt a definition of antisemitism that ruled out describing Israel as a racist state.
A report by the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) released last week said that “left wing antisemitism” was a bigger problem than right wing antisemitism.
But it could only do that after describing certain opposition to Israel as “Anti-Zionist antisemitism,” by which it meant “hatred of Jews expressed in relation to the Jewish state.”
For instance, it said that disagreeing that “Israel makes a positive contribution to the world” was not in itself antisemitic.
But it said it was “a good indicator of anti-Zionist antisemitic attitudes in general.”
The CAA was launched in 2014 to oppose what it described as antisemitism on demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians during Israel’s war on Gaza.
Right wingers want to use such accusations to discredit solidarity with Palestine and the left in general. Agreeing with them and apologising for it has helped them to do it.