Labour antisemitism isn’t about the complaints process. It’s about ideology.

Even for those who avoid employing explicit classic antisemitic tropes while vilifying Israel, the acceptance of the view that the Jewish state isn't merely a state that's flawed as all states are, but, rather, represents, as the late Robert Wistrich phrased it, a singularly “organic obstacle to peace and progress” necessarily vilifies Jews qua Jews.

Israeli academic Shany Mor provided some clarity on a major element of the Labour antisemitism scandal that’s typically ignored, even by those who’ve been the most outspoken in their opposition to the rise of Jew hatred under Jeremy Corbyn.

The IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism itself – which Corbyn tried unsuccessfully to resist – states clearly that “criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.

But, such regular criticism is not what Mor is referring to. 

He’s calling out, as central to the Corbyn ideology, the pathological, obsessive hatred of Israel, one which views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a binary story of good and evil, and which views the Jewish state – indeed any Jewish state – as inherently (indeed, irredeemably) racist, and morally beyond the pale.  It’s this ideology – or, as Mor put it, theology – which invariably leads to the conclusion that to identify with and defend the state (as most British Jews do) not only places you ‘on the wrong side of history’, but signifies, as one Guardian contributor framed it, that you lack “the ethical impulses of an ordinary human being”. 

In other words, even for those who avoid employing explicit classic antisemitic tropes while vilifying Israel, the acceptance of the view that the Jewish state isn’t merely a state that’s flawed as all states are, but, rather, represents, as the late Robert Wistrich phrased it, a singularly “organic obstacle to peace and progress”, necessarily vilifies Jews qua Jews.  Even leaving aside the racist beliefs and motives of its adherents, anti-Zionism, as a political force, inextricably leads to an antisemitic place. 

It’s this demonisation of Israel – on display day in and day out in publications like the Guardian – that drives and provides succor to the resurgent antisemitism in the UK, which is why, as Mor argued, the antisemitism crisis that’s engulfed Labour can’t be defeated by members being more careful with their language, or party officials implementing an improved complaint process.  It can only be defeated if the Labour Party, and, in fact, the nation as a whole, confronts this pathology, the atavistic worldview that ‘Israel is our misfortune’.

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