31 August 2018 — WSWS
Recent weeks have seen the acceleration of a campaign by the right-wing of the British Labour party to paint Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite, in hopes of driving him from his position as leader of the party.
In its scale and ferocity, these efforts have all the hallmarks of a destabilisation campaign involving MI5 in the UK, Mossad in Israel and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the United States.
Britain’s ruling elite, its political representatives and its media are making clear that they will not tolerate the election of a Labour government led by Corbyn. Moreover, the international scope of the escalating witch-hunt confirms that the US and other major powers are as determined as their British counterparts to see him discredited and ousted.
Lying accusations of anti-Semitism, endlessly repeated since the failed 2016 leadership putsch by Labour’s right wing, provide the noose with which Corbyn is to be hung. But the goal of this campaign is to discredit socialism in the hope of preventing any challenge by the working class to austerity and the escalating pursuit of militarism and war in the Middle East and throughout the world.
To this end, every possible denunciation of Corbyn by a cabal of right-wing Labourites, Zionists and the Conservative Party is published in the world’s newspapers—from Rupert Murdoch’s Times, Sunday Times and the Sun, to their “liberal” counterparts such as the Guardian and the New York Times.
The campaign is epitomised by an August 27 New York Times op-ed by Josh Glancy, “Getting Off the Fence About Jeremy Corbyn’s Anti-Semitism.”
Glancy asserted that he did not want to face “the reality” that Britain’s “possible prime minister … traffics in an ancient prejudice against my people,” until confronted with a video released August 23 by the Daily Mail that he alleged showed Corbyn making statements at a 2013 conference that were “classic anti-Semitism.” Glancy’s damascene conversion would be more believable were he not the New York correspondent for the Sunday Times, which has played a lead role in attacking Corbyn.
For weeks, Glancy has posted material asserting that Corbyn hates Israel “in a troubling fashion,” that Labour “validating anti-Semitism is bad, painful and worth protesting” and that a Corbyn government would be “bad” for Jews.
The Mail claimed that Corbyn was speaking at a conference “promoted by the propaganda website of terror group Hamas” and reported that he said some British Zionists “don’t want to study history” and “don’t understand English irony either.”
In reality, Corbyn was addressing a meeting called by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC), an advocacy group given consultative status at the United Nations in 2015. He drew attention to an earlier speech in parliament by the UK representative of the Palestinian Authority, Manuel Hassassian, who ironically said: “I’m reaching the conclusion that the Jews are the children of God, the only children of God and the Promised Land is being paid for by God. I have started to believe this because nobody is stopping Israel building its messianic dream to the point I believe that maybe God is on their side.”
Corbyn said Hassassian’s detractors did not understand history or irony, referring to the multimillionaire blogger Richard Millett, who asserted that Hassassian was suggesting “Jews don’t control just the Federal Reserve [a statement only made by Millett] but now even God’s money.”
Based on manufactured outrage over this flimsy concoction, the Campaign Against Antisemitism has launched an online petition on Change.org, calling for Labour MPs to oust Corbyn—either by organising “a vote of no confidence” or setting up “their own political party.”
The Conservative Party has urged the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate whether Corbyn had brought the Commons into “disrepute.” Former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks demagogically described Corbyn’s 2013 remarks as the “most offensive” by a leading politician since Conservative Enoch Powell’s racist anti-immigrant “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968.
Reports appear daily of Labour MPs planning to launch a breakaway party by April 2019, following the vote to accept or reject the deal negotiated by Prime Minister Theresa May on Britain leaving the European Union (EU). The Labour right is working with pro-EU sections of the Tory Party and Liberal Democrats, with at least £50 million provided by business figures. The Sun reported that Labour deputy leader Tom Watson has attended meetings at the home of Tony Blair’s key adviser, Peter Mandelson, along with other “moderate MPs” to “plot how to oust Jeremy Corbyn.”
Allegations of endemic left-wing anti-Semitism are a foul slander with an equally foul purpose.
Discrimination against Jews has deep historical roots, but the emergence of modern anti-Semitism as a mass political movement in Germany and other European countries was bound up with efforts by the bourgeoisie to mobilise petty-bourgeois layers against the revolutionary threat posed by the socialist workers’ movement.
Identification of the Jews with the evils of modern capitalism provided the populist glue for creating racist and nationalist parties opposed to the class struggle and socialist internationalism, including Hitler’s Nazi party, with its identification of socialism with “international Jewry.”
An attempt is now being made by the Zionists, Blairites and Tories to redefine anti-Semitism and equate it with a left-wing critique of Israel and its brutal subjugation of the Palestinians, centred on demands that Labour fully accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Association definition of anti-Semitism. The organization defines as anti-Semitic any description of the founding of the state of Israel as a “racist endeavour.”
This takes place under conditions in which Israel continues to slaughter Palestinians on an almost daily basis and has passed the “nation-state” law, which asserts that the “right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel” is “unique to the Jewish people.”
Moreover, it is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government that freely associate with anti-Semites such as Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Europe’s far right returns Netanyahu’s affection. Geert Wilders of the Dutch Party for Freedom proclaims his shared “opposition to a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria,” while Filip Dewinter of Belgium’s Vlaams Belang praises Netanyahu for understanding “that the first danger for Europe is Islamisation.”
Two basic considerations determine the opposition of Britain’s ruling elite to Corbyn.
Firstly, despite the retreats he has made on supporting NATO and on retaining the Trident nuclear submarine missile system, Corbyn is not acceptable as the leader of a major NATO ally of the US. Only a week after he was first elected as Labour leader, Murdoch’s Sunday Times reported the threat of “a mutiny” made by a “senior serving general” in the event of his becoming prime minister. Lord West, the former first sea lord and ex-Labour minister, warned that Corbyn “should not lead the nation” because his criticism of militarism might get “the unthinking masses to vote for him.”
More important still is that Corbyn, despite the minimal character of his proposed reforms, is associated in the eyes of many workers and young people with ending austerity, defending the National Health Service and redistributing wealth away from the super-rich and major corporations. These sentiments are anathema to the ruling elite under conditions where the mounting crisis over Brexit demands an escalation in the brutal social onslaught against the working class.
The campaign against Corbyn has provoked widespread outrage among Labour members and supporters, including calls for right-wing MPs to be deselected and expelled. The Socialist Equality Party lends full support to this demand. The political criminals leading this campaign must not be allowed free rein to carry out their anti-working-class agenda.
But that is precisely what Corbyn and his allies such a Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell refuse to do, based on their insistence that preserving party unity will allow Labour to form a government “of the many, not the few.”
This is a dangerous fallacy, which disarms workers and young people in the face of political conspirators working at the highest levels of the state who will stop at nothing in their defence of the financial oligarchy.
Any government with the Labour right in it would be a government of the few against the interests of the many. That is why the SEP warned against Corbyn’s claim that Labour could be transformed into an anti-austerity, anti-war party ever since he was first elected in 2015. Labour, we wrote, is “a right-wing bourgeois party… complicit in all the crimes of British imperialism and has functioned as the principal political opponent of socialism for more than a century…”
Everything that has happened since has confirmed this appraisal.
Workers and youth should draw the lessons of history. In 1935, Leon Trotsky wrote an open letter, “To All Revolutionary Working-Class Organizations and Groups.” Surveying the world in the aftermath of Hitler’s rise to power and amid the growth of far-right forces across Europe, Trotsky said the “disintegration of the world economy” had put “the task of the socialist revolution imperiously on the agenda.”
The greatest danger for the working class, Trotsky explained, was the impotence and treachery of its reformist and Stalinist leaders. In a passage that is exceptionally relevant to the present situation, he wrote:
“Should the electoral successes of the Labour Party raise it once again to power, the consequences would not be a peaceful socialist transformation of Great Britain, but the consolidation of imperialist reaction, that is to say, an epoch of civil war, in the face of which the leadership of the Labour Party will inevitably reveal its complete bankruptcy.” [Documents of the Fourth International: The Formative Years (1933-40), p.67]
With British and world capitalism entering a new period of revolutionary crisis, this is the most prescient warning of the dangers attendant on Corbyn’s constant dithering and surrender before his opponents.
Everything now depends on the working class rejecting all appeals for political compromise with the representatives of big business and the waging of an implacable struggle for internationalism and socialism. Those who agree should join the SEP and take up this fight.