Nick Cohen on the alliance between the British Left and extreme Islam

There are two “alliances” that I think about constantly. The first is one that I’m involved with, which isn’t a real alliance but a convergence of interest. That is the concentration of both the Right and people like me in calling attention to the excesses of the authoritarian Left. For instance, a lot of the stuff I write about dealing with regressiveness in universities is also highlighted on right-wing websites like The College Fix or Campus Reform. That has led people to call me “alt-right,” but that doesn’t worry me. If I think behavior of some liberals is hurting the Left, or I’m disappointed with college students in some cases, I’ll say so. Just because the Right also does that, as a way to discredit the Left as a whole, doesn’t deter me so long as I emphasize my profound differences with the American Right in other ways. Further, the Leftist media, like the New York Times or the New Yorker, judiciously ignores (or excuses) regressive Leftism, or, in the case of Sarah Jeong, promotes it (see my next post). What is happening, in fact, is that collegiate regressivism metastasizes to the Leftist media as college students enter the work force and become journalists.

The other alliance—and the subject of Nick Cohen’s latest piece at the Spectator (click on link or screenshot below)—is the alliance between the Labour Party (and other moieties of the British Left) and the subset of Muslims that is anti-Leftist in rejecting apostates, free speech, gays, and women’s rights.

This second unholy alliance occurs in the U.S., too, and is the outcome of the Left’s misguided decision when two aspects of liberal philosophy collide: sympathy for oppressed people of color, and sympathy for the plight of other marginalized or “second class” people like gays, nonbelievers, and women. Many Muslims, even those in the West, have regressive views on homosexuality, atheism, apostasy, blasphemy, and women’s rights, and yet because Muslims have somehow acquired the status of OPOC (oppressed people of color), the pigmentation trumps the misogyny, censoriousness, and homophobia. This is THE great philosophical schism of today’s Western Left, and Nick Cohen (a national treasure of British journalism) has expended a lot of words exposing it. He’s also spent a lot of time calling out the Labour Party for not only its Islam-osculation, but also the anti-Semitism that comes along with it. And so he continues in the piece below:

I don’t have much to say today, what with Kavanaugh’s depressing confirmation and my Duck Troubles, so let me steer you to Cohen’s piece and tender a few quotes:

The alliance between the white far left and the Islamist right is a dirty secret in plain sight. Few can bear to look at it. None of the books and documentaries on Corbyn’s takeover of the Labour party asked, even in passing, how people who professed to be socialists and feminists, found themselves promoting theocrats and misogynists. I have no doubt that ‘serious’ scholars will be as negligent when they come to write their accounts. In supposedly stable Britain, there is a psychological aversion to admitting that the dark corners of modern history can be the best place to find the roots of current crises.

However much respectable writers hate to admit it, you cannot understand Brexit without understanding the rise of Ukip from its beginnings on the cranky fringe of James Goldsmith’s Referendum Party. We may one day explain the rise of anti-Muslim bigotry by looking at the shift of today’s Ukip supporters from hatred of the European Union to hatred of Muslims. What applies to the far right applies to the far left: without understanding its toleration of religious extremism, little about modern Labour politics makes sense.

But wait! There’s more!

In 2002, Jeremy Corbyn attended a rally for Palestine in Trafalgar Square. Nothing unusual in that: many on the centre-left had marched for Palestine for years. But 2002 was different. They were no longer marching for the Palestinian Liberation, Organisation whose secular constitution connected it to the western left. In 2002, however, they marched alongside Islamists who believed apostasy from Islam is either “a religious offence punishable by death” or, at least, “an act of mutiny or treason, that is punishable”. 

Even before the great protest against the Iraq war of 2003, the combination of the far left and the religious right could get 100,000 on to the streets. Imagine that: 100,000 people willing to listen to your speeches, wave your placards, vote for you in elections and give you an energy your moribund movement thought it had lost. Radical Islam was crack cocaine for the old left. All Islamists asked in return for the fix invigorating support was that the left ignored and excused religious fanaticism, however violently it manifested itself. They were happy to go further and merge the rump of the old socialist movement with the Islamist right.

But wait! There’s a bit when the Palestine Solidarity Committee asked Cohen (a secular Jew) to become their patron. His response was this:

I experienced the shift when the Palestine Solidarity Committee called and asked me to become a patron. I had not yet realised the modern left required you to think about Israel from the moment you woke up to the moment you went to sleep, and wondered why they wanted me. ‘Because of your name”’. Ah right, I had a Jewish name it would be useful to stick on the letterhead to reassure those who worried that they were straying into racism.

I said that to my mind you had to combine a campaign for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank with principled opposition to Hamas. It was all very well to announce your support for ‘the Palestinians’. They were not a homogenous bloc, but divided between too warring parties. Surely you had to decide which side you were on.

‘Do you condemn Hamas’,’ I asked.

‘We don’t think it’s our business to tell Palestinians what to think.’

‘That’s funny,’ I thought, as I turned down the offer, ‘you seem very keen on telling everyone else what to think.’

Now that is a riposte!

Cohen predicts that in the end, the British Left will suffer from this alliance, for many Muslims have the goal of spreading their faith, and do so by demonizing those who dislike Islam with the label “racist” or “Islamoophobe.” And they’ve succeeded. The rub will come when Labour is finally asked to tolerate sharia law, and I hope that at that point they dismount from the tiger. If Corbyn becomes Prime Minister, then Brits had better start looking in the mirror.

43 Comments

  1. john Coelho
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    Kudos! What we need is a new left inspired by the Euston Manifesto that Cohen helped draft which calls for an end to Islamist sycophancy Putin worshiping and indifference or support for any Third World tyrany as long as it’s anti Western.

  2. Posted October 7, 2018 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    … two aspects of liberal philosophy collide: sympathy for oppressed people of color, …

    The ctrl-Left only have sympathy with the “oppressed” when the “oppressors” are White (and preferably male and straight also).

    If the oppression is done by Islamists, then they couldn’t care a hoot.

    • john Coelho
      Posted October 7, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Exactly

    • BJ
      Posted October 7, 2018 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Most Jews in Israel aren’t even white. “White” no longer just refers to skin color in these circles. A group can be labeled “white” whenever it becomes convenient to do so.

      • Damien
        Posted October 7, 2018 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

        Most Jews in Israel aren’t even white ?

        What are they, then ?

        • BJ
          Posted October 7, 2018 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

          I may have overstated by saying “most.” According to this graph, and assuming those who are from African and Asian countries aren’t white-skinned, a little under half of Israel’s Jews aren’t “white.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Israelis#Jews

          Of course, according to the rules of social justice’s hierarchy of oppression, Jews shouldn’t be considered white anyway, but that’s not what the conversation was about. Still, it’s interesting to bring up.

        • BJ
          Posted October 7, 2018 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          Also, I’m assuming in my assessment of that graph that all the Jews of European descent do have white skin, but that might not be accurate, as Latin America is also included under that category.

        • Posted October 28, 2018 at 2:39 am | Permalink

          They were expelled from various Middle Eastern countries immediately after the foundation of Israel, and have the same skin color as the Arab majority of these countries that passes as POC in the eyes of the Ctrl-Left.
          I have read DNA studies finding that of all populations, the one genetically closest to Israeli Jews are Palestinian Arabs.

  3. Historian
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    “This second unholy alliance occurs in the U.S., too, and is the outcome of the Left’s misguided decision when two aspects of liberal philosophy collide: sympathy for oppressed people of color, and sympathy for the plight of other marginalized or “second class” people like gays, nonbelievers, and women.”

    You raise a perplexing conundrum, and I find myself struggling to explain why this is. There seems to be a hierarchy of oppression with the Muslims near the top, resulting in support of Islamist regimes. Perhaps it has something to do with the far left’s belief that all evils in the world are due to western imperialism. If this is the case, then the less than ideal regimes that emerged after the imperialists left cannot be really blamed for what they are like. Also, since they oppose United States foreign policy, they can’t be all that bad. What I have just said is quite tentative. I need to read and think more on this topic.

    • john Coelho
      Posted October 7, 2018 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      You’re on the right track

    • Posted October 7, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Yep — Cohen argues that quite persuasively in his book What’s Left? (2006). After the fall of the Soviet Union, leftists needed a new battering against capitalism to pin their hopes on. He traces out its development quite persuasively.

      I also think there’s a good deal of the old faithful Noble Savage delusions they project on exotic cultures and brown people.

    • Steve Pollard
      Posted October 7, 2018 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Your second paragraph sums up Corbyn’s views on international politics to a T.

    • BJ
      Posted October 7, 2018 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

      But, of course, none of this makes sense according to that math. Between Israel and Palestine, which place is actually friendly to gays, nonbelievers, and women? It ain’t Palestine.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    It is all the same old problem of pulling people one way or the other to extreme positions. They end up believing there is no other way. If you are pro Palestine then you must go for all the bad baggage that follows. How they treat women, nonbelievers, you name it. The far right does not have this problem because they hate all of it. No baggage for them, it’s simple. You are either 100% Israeli or 100 percent Palestine. Trouble with that choice is it has no ending.

    That is why being a Trump means you can no longer be a republican. Republicans at one time could maybe work out a deal on immigration. Learn to live with some rights groups. Take a more honest look at health care. No longer – now it is crush everything and build a useless wall. Goodbye republicans.

  5. Posted October 7, 2018 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Nick Cohen has an utterly jaw-dropping piece in the Guardian about the infiltration of Russian spies into Britain today too. He compares it to warnings about Islamism:

    “We have been living through a rerun of the 1990s, when the security services refused to listen to warnings from the French that London had become a centre of Islamist terrorism. They did not wake up until the exploding planes of 9/11 shook them from their slumbers.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/07/russian-interference-goes-beyond-spying-to-the-very-heart-of-britain?

    (Incidentally, if I recall correctly, it is fairly recent that Cohen has become a ‘secular Jew’. A Jewish grandparent converted to protestantism around 1900, and the family became secular/atheistic/protestant. But having been so often labeled a Jew and a Zionist by demented leftists, he wound up accepting the label.)

    • Martin Levin
      Posted October 8, 2018 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      You recall correctly. Despite his name, Cohen did not grow up Jewish.

  6. XCellKen
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Q: Did y’all hear about the sacred animal from India that hated Muslims?

    A: He was an “Islamoophobe”

  7. BJ
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

    It’s a marriage that makes perfect sense: Islamists hate Jews and hate the West. The far Left has a long history of aligning itself with horrifyingly nasty groups, so long as those groups “oppose Western imperialism/decadence/whatever,” and antisemitism can be added to that lsit now that Jeremy Corbyn leads Labour, antisemitism is experiencing a resurgence in Europe, and Jews are considered white oppressors in social justice math.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    As Cohen observes in his piece “… in the past two years the [British] white far left has taken sides. The leaders of the far left are for the Shia forces in Islam’s civil war[.]”

    In that same time span, regarding that same civil war, the Trump and Netanyahu rightwings have cast in their lots with the Saudi-Arabian Sunnis in their face-off with Iran.

    Those who ride the sectarian tiger must expect to get eaten, as the frog who bears the sectarian scorpion across the river must at length expect to get stung.

    These developments can’t bode well for the prospects of peace in our time.

  9. Kevin
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    What I find disturbing in this discussion is the total lack of distinction between what anti-Zionism and antisemitism actually mean.
    To make critique of Israel or to support Palestinians is not intrinsically antisemitic, at most anti-Zionist, perhaps even simply pro-Palestinian.

    I feel that the IHRA definition is not workable because it makes it too easy for Israel and its supporters (in the sense of Zionists) to play the antisemitic trump card to their own political advantage (in the same way that antisemites can hide their antisemitism behind an anti-Zionist stance).

    • Mikeyc
      Posted October 7, 2018 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

      Well Kevin, I think you are doing a disservice to many of the people here when you say that there are no distinctions made between criticism of Israeli state policies and antisemitism. Almost all regulars here, though they disagree often, are careful thinkers at the least.

      Of course one can criticize Israel without being antisemitic just as one can criticize the US without hating Americans. But it is not uncommon – not in the slightest- for antisemites to claim they are only criticizing the state of Israel when it is so often clear that they are dissembling. When people, for example, call Israel an “Apartheid State”, as some here on WEIT have done insisting they’re only criticizing policy, the admonition “if it quacks like a duck, it probably is one” applies.

      Antisemitism is so prevalent among those whose first response is to criticize Israel that, as far as I’m concerned (other’s mileage may vary), that I think the onus is on those who make those critiques to make it clear they are not antisemitic. It is just the way it is. It is the state of the world today that EVERYONE’S motives are suspect. The Israeli government, like all governments, makes bad decisions from time to time and they ought to be called out on it. Thats appropriate and proper. But the Jewish people have suffered centuries of a special kind of evil and versions of the blood libel still holds sway among far too many* including among those on the political left. For that reason I have no sympathies for those who feel put out by being challenged on their anti-Israeli criticisms as few can reasonably claim to be unaware of that history. Tough noogies. This is a topic like few others. Make your arguments against Israel and I am certain that all WEIT regulars will address them openly, but you will simply have to accept that some here and elsewhere will not let you get away with anything resembling hatred of Jews. It’s been a long couple of millennia for some people.

      *I am NOT -EN OH TEE- NOT accusing you of the libel, ok? It’s a rhetorical device to make a point. The sentence previous about motives should I indicate why I feel I need to make this clear; there are few discussions among those who disagree these days, there is usually only spit and bile.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 8, 2018 at 6:01 am | Permalink

        I’m afraid that your argument just proves my point: the onus is not on the person making a pro or anti zionist comment to make a distinction that he is not making an antisemitic comment. If a person wishes to accuse another of antisemitism this can also be a form of libel if it is not justified.
        The onus in libel is to PROVE your accusation.

        The argument “if it quacks like a duck…” I’m afraid is the equivalent of “guilty until proven innocent”.

        I’m very aware of what sectarian states can be (I’ve grown up in the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland since the 1950’s and been made to feel very uncomfortable about my own “ethnicity”: trying to keep a balanced view is not easy).

        Corbyn, for example, used the word Zionist specifically. He knows exactly what the difference is between making critique of Israeli Zionism and making an antisemitic comment.

        The mass media latched onto this immediately.
        The same happened with Ken Livingstone.

        In my view, the antisemitic argument is being used by the Right (and the media) as a way of weakening the Labour party and as a way of attacking Corbyn specifically. This is also true of the Blairite/New Labour faction which is uncomfortable with the Old Labour position that Corbyn is taking. Corbyn gets his support from the party membership and the electorate, not, funnilly enough, from the elected members of his own party, who made their way up under New Labour/Blair.

        Livingstone had made comments that Hitler in the 1930’s had been pro-Zionist because he had favoured the return of Jews to Palestine. This is a historical fact. I presume that Livingstone was trying to make a public distinction (on an issue that was in current discussion), by asserting that Hitler was a pro-Zionist but also an antisemitic.
        This was then morphed into accusations against Livingstone of anti-semitism.

        Your argument boils down effectively to: either you have support the Israeli state or you keep quiet or you will be accused of anti-semitism for quacking like a duck. That is the point I am trying to make, and that several points of the IHRA definition is not workable (as parts of the Labour Party tried to point out). Supporting the right of Israel to exist should not have anything to do with a workable definition of what antisemitism is: exist on what terms?. Can those terms not be discussed or criticised? If not, then the IHRA has become an antidemocratic instrument.

        I understand that two millennia are a long time: the Irish have been having issues with the English only since the tenth century.

        • Malgorzata
          Posted October 8, 2018 at 8:20 am | Permalink

          Just as an addition to the discussion “anti-Zionism vs. antisemitism”:
          https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/anti-zionism-is-about-the-joos-stupid/

          One quotation from this article:

          “Indeed, Prof. Almond’s judgement of “some voices” is that “their anti-Zionism […] spill[s] over mindlessly into anti-Semitism”. So anti-Zionism comes first and “some voices” are guilty just of taking it a bit too far. But, since (as he himself explained) “anti-Semitism is so entrenched in our society, so depressingly persistent”, isn’t it much more likely that anti-Zionism is the result of that deeply entrenched prejudice? Indeed, that it is just a new symptom of that entrenched disease? If – God forbid – I suffer from “entrenched” and “depressingly persistent” lung cancer and develop a nasty cough – chances are it’s because of the cancer – not because I sang too loudly in church!”

          • Kevin
            Posted October 8, 2018 at 9:14 am | Permalink

            “anti-Semitism is so entrenched in our society, so depressingly persistent”, isn’t it much more likely that anti-Zionism is the result of that deeply entrenched prejudice?”

            Again that is just re-enforcing my point: that statement makes it acceptable to discount any anti-Zionist opinion as antisemitic based on an assumption of what is “much more likely” as to what they are “really thinking”. Any legislation (or definition such as the IHRA) cannot hope to deal with what someone is really thinking when he says something entirely different. You have to take statements at face value.

            As I said, both Corbyn and Livingstone were very clear in their use and implication of the word Zionist. If anything they were deliberately STRESSING the difference (particularly Livingstone) because that was the issue in hand.

          • Kevin
            Posted October 30, 2018 at 8:53 am | Permalink

            Malgorzata:
            “Sorry to barge into your discussion but you may find this article about what constitutes an indigenous population of some interst: https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/224254/bellerose-aboriginal-people

            I’m afraid I don’t find the tabletmag arguments any way convincing: even if 80% of male Jews as claimed have a link to the Levant, they have mostly not been there for thousands of years.
            They lost their “indiginousness” centuries ago.

            In any case, the biblical jews had been nomadic, their history claims that they were in Egypt for a time and eventually came to Israel. It is not possible to claim that you are idiginous because you occupied a piece of land as promised by God some two thousand years before and have since dispersed all over the world.
            As far as I know the Levant would have been occupied after earlier migrations towards the Mediterranean from further East (Indus Valley?). The Jews were also not the only people in the area: the modern Lebanese for example deny that they are either Jewish or Arabic, though they are very likely Semitic. They have also had a real continuous presence in the area and are truly indiginous.

            “I would also suggest that you look at the massive help Palestinian Arabs got – equal or exceeding help Jews got.”
            As far as I know, Israel has been the biggest recipient of US aid since WWII. Of late it has been majorlly military aid, wheres some years ago it was more economic. I assume that Palestine also recieves support, otherwise it would hardly survive.

            “And how is it with protesting against other counties created after the collapse of Ottoman Empire? Did you ever protested against Jordan with a foreign king imported from Hijaz by British, ruling with the help of Beduins over majority of Palestinian Arabs (today’s Jordan was East Palestine and was initially to be a part of “Jewish homeland”) who are treated as second class citizens?”

            British colonialism (and also European and Ottoman colonialism) left similar political screwups all over the world: by all means protest.
            The US has inherited a good deal of the consequences, but was also an early complicit: see the economic advantage it drew from slavery as it developed towards being a world power.
            The modern situation in Israel is also a major consequence of the Cold War and the conflicted situation in the Middle East since WWII. Russia/US. Oil!!!!!

            • Malgorzata
              Posted October 30, 2018 at 9:26 am | Permalink

              Well, you avoided every argument in Ryan Bellerose’s article, except one of the less importance – the genetic one. The existence of Jewish states (admittedly, a long time ago) in this terrritory was at the same time the existence of the ONLY independenta state during the whole history of this terrirtory. The continuous presence of Jews there, expelled and massacred repeatedly by various conquerers; the return from the exile whenever possible; the preserved culture, religion language, which all came to be in this area. Jews didn’t lose their indigenous status. Not according to any definition of being indigenous.

              And they didn’t have any other place to be in the world. Even assimilation didn’t help, as you well know.

              There is a minority of Palestinian Arabs who are descendants of Arab invaders from 7th century. But majority are much, much later immigrants who were drawn to the area by economic revival achieved by Zionist. It is estimated that during British rule (who restricted Jewish immigration but allowed unrestricted Arab immigration) many more Arabs immigrated to the Mandat Palestine than Jews. How are they indigenous?

              Help and support to Palestinian Arabs came not only from US and the West. It came from Arab and Islamic countries as well, also quite a few times in the form of regular armies invading Israel. And if not for those regular armies they would be no Palestinian refugees. Jews didn’t expel Palestinian Arabs, except for a very small minority who refused to put down their armes at the end of 1948 war. Palestinian Arabs left the field to these armies to let them finish off the Jews, after their own leaders urged them to do so. See https://pl.scribd.com/document/21367168/Arab-leaders-tell-Palestinians-to-Flee-in-1948

              • Kevin
                Posted October 30, 2018 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

                I’m afraid you have led away from the original subject I was trying to develop. If you look at my previous comments, you will see that I was trying to argue that anti-Zionist opinions are not anti-semitic.
                This inevitably triggers responses intending to defend Israel, taking for granted that I am on “the other side”.
                I offer you the following link:
                https://www.scribd.com/document/44841946/24462527-Israel-Massacres-Against-the-Palestine
                It was in the same article that you sent me in your last link.

                I was not intending to get involved in the actual pros and cons of the Israeli State and its actions.

                However I feel that equating anti-Zionism with ant-Semitism is dishonest. Some of the extreme forms of Zionism are demanding of very legitimate criticism.

              • Malgorzata
                Posted October 31, 2018 at 2:55 am | Permalink

                Not really. There must be a reason so many are protesting against Israel, calling it anti-Zionism. Zionism was – before Israel existed – a national liberation movement of Jewish nation with a goal of achieving suverenity on their ancestral land. Now, when Israel exists, it is an ideology stating that Jews, like other nations have right to their own independent state which exists on their ancestral lands. Many, many countries with quite strange ethnic composition were established after demise of great empires: Russian, German, Austrian, Ottoman and British. Only against one there are worldwide movements, demonstrations, whole ideology called “anti-Zionism”. And it so happens that this country is Jewish. I coudn’t open the link you gave me but I know about all real and imaginary crimes of Israel. Even if all of them were real – how come that other countries which were built on many, many more crimes and now have much worse human rights records (Pakistan is an obvious example)do not give rise to such “anti-Pakistani” ideology? Another link (hopefully, easier to open): https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/anti-zionism-is-about-the-joos-stupid/

              • Kevin
                Posted October 31, 2018 at 8:04 am | Permalink

                “Only against one there are worldwide movements, demonstrations, whole ideology called “anti-Zionism”. And it so happens that this country is Jewish.”
                You can’t have anti-Zionism without the prior existence of Zionism.

                There are many reasons why the Israel/Palestine situation is particular and contentious internationally which have NOTHING to do with the fact that Israel is a Jewish state. They also have nothing to do either with Zionism.
                Most of these arguments are strategic and political. I’m not going to list them here.

                Some people may support the Palestinians, even to the point of condoning violence. Whether you agree with them or not, this does not mean that they are anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist.

                The definition of Jewishness, includes a very broad combination of factors which is fairly unique. There are very few other “groups” which would attempt to combine ethnic, religious, cultural, territorial, nationalistic, political.

                It is not possible to place Arab and Muslim under a single blanket term which is in any way meaningful. Similarly Christian and Westerner. However Jewish does EXACTLY this: it attempts to unify race and religion. You cannot clearly identify what “Jewish” actually means because of this.

                Turks and Indonesians are Muslim but non Arab.
                They have distict territorial designations unrelated to any common ethnicity or religion.

                Russian Orthodox may be Slavic and Christian.
                A Boro Indian in Brazil may be Roman Catholic.
                There is no blanket tern equivalent to “Jewish” which can identify them collectively.

                I would not condone an ideology that proposes to create a nation state based on justifiers of race and religion/ideology.
                That is what German Nazism did and ISIS (aptly called Islamic State) and to an extent European colonialism and Arabic/Islamic expansion since Mohomed.
                Add to that the conviction that that nation has a right to a PARTICULAR piece of land and Messianic concepts such as the Promised Land, God’s chosen people and you have recipe for disaster.

                The more extreme forms of Zionism are not acceptable and HAVE to be criticised.
                At its most extreme Zionism can be racist in itself: https://nlp.cs.nyu.edu/meyers/controversial-wikipedia-corpus/english-html/main/main_0857.html

                Similarly religious Zionism is not acceptable as a political justifier. Same goes for ANY other religion.

                That is one of the points I am making.

                You keep getting sidetracked into a detailed defense of the Israeli State.

                I had already read the article that you cited last time: it is an example of what I am complaining of. The manipulation of pro-Palestinian/ant-Zionist/anti-Israeli views or critique into an accusation of anti-Semitic sentiment, which, I repeat, is dishonest.

                Pro-Israeli interest groups can (and do) use this mechanism to avoid critique and obfuscate.

              • Malgorzata
                Posted October 31, 2018 at 9:24 am | Permalink

                You seem to just be against the fact that Jews exist. Sorry, but this is a historical fact: a nation or ethnic group that simultaneously has a unique religion. Moreover, the nation which survived 2000 years of exile. The world was full of similar ethnic groups but they disappeared in history. Jews not only didn’t disappear but they left a significant mark in every part of the world they resided. (Infuriating, I know.) There are some small remnants of such groups here and there (Yazidis comes to mind and diverse groups in Africa) but they are on the brink of extinction while Jews prosper.

                Proper antisemites who never needed to hide under the mask of anti-Zionism always knew exactly who the Jews were. Your grandparents could convert to Christianity, you could speak perfectly the language of your country and know no other but when the call came to kill the Jews you were killed as well. So your problem with definition of Jewishness doesn’t sound too honest to me.

                Moreover their religion gave birth to two other world’s religions, Christianity and Islam, both of which believe that their religion superseded Judaism which now should be null and void and that followers of these new religions are now “Chosen by God”. But some pesky Jews are still worshiping their Jahve. And on top of everything Jews are the only indigenous group which managed to return from exile and to build a blooming, democratic state in the land their forbeares were expelled from, while people who colonized their land for so long are mired in poverty, backwardness and dictatorships.

                It doesn’t matter that most of the world (except U.S., Canada, Australia and a huge exception: Switzerland) consist of nation-states. The idea of a Jewish state is repugnant to people like you. Every nation has its criminals, fanatics, radicals but for you the existence of such people in the Jewish nation is a proof that this nation should not have a state – hence your anti-Zionism and your sympathy for people whos stated goal is to eradicate the Jewish state and kill as many Jews as possible while again exile the rest.

                Anti-Zionism = antisemitism.

                I don’t think we have anything more to say to each other.

              • Kevin
                Posted October 31, 2018 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

                “You seem to just be against the fact that Jews exist.”
                I never said ANYTHING to indicate that I think anything of the sort. You are way of track. But you prove my point: any inference that criticism of Israel is acceptable and assumptions of anti-Semitism come out of the woodwork.

                “a nation or ethnic group that simultaneously has a unique religion.”
                Exactly; combining religion, ethnicity and political ideology is, in my view, a toxic mixture.
                I made it quite clear that I would not support ANY Nation state that incorporates ANY religious justification for its existence: that goes for Christianity and Islam as well.

                In the US, there is a constitutional protection against religion interfering with the State and a citizen has a support that verbally. Clearly, according to your lights, to have the same thinking about Irael is antisemitic.

                “So your problem with definition of Jewishness doesn’t sound too honest to me.”
                I already elaborated the reason: if you attempt to define a “group” by a mixture of traits based on ethnicity, religion, language, culture, politics, territorial claims, the “group” does not exist as a cohesive entity.

                The reason I tried to reach a definition of what Jewishness is, is because the IHRA is attempting to define anti-semitism. You cannot define an ANTI if you have not defined what you are ANTI to.

                The problem with the IHRA is that, as it seems to me, to be unworkable as any form of legal definition. Particularly by inhibiting critique of Israel it has been by some seen as being pro-zionist.

                “The idea of a Jewish state is repugnant to people like you.”
                I stated that ANY state based on ANY religion would not get my support- That does not mean that Israel is repugnant to me: my argument is that Israel has to take critique without defending itself by accusing its critics of antisemitism.

                “Every nation has its criminals, fanatics, radicals but for you the existence of such people in the Jewish nation is a proof that this nation should not have a state”
                I never said that at all.

                “– hence your anti-Zionism and your sympathy for people whos stated goal is to eradicate the Jewish state and kill as many Jews as possible while again exile the rest.”
                I did not state sympathy of any such sort.

                “Anti-Zionism = antisemitism.”
                That you make such a binary, global statement, just goes to support the premise that I was making. Take a critical stance about Israel, and you will me accused of anti-Semitism.

    • Posted October 28, 2018 at 2:51 am | Permalink

      Once the State of Israel was founded, one cannot be anti-Zionist without being antisemitic. If you say we Bulgarians must leave our territory and give it away to other nations having claims to it, you are not just pro- these other nations, you are anti-Bulgarian.
      You say yourself, “…Israel and its supporters (in the sense of Zionists)…”. This shows perfectly what sort of “critique of Israel” you mean. You do not mean normal criticism of the policies of a country, e.g. as Prof. Coyne often criticizes the pandering to ultra-Orthodox Jews. You mean criticizing the very existence of Israel, which criticism for some bizarre reason you find normal, though I doubt you would find it normal if it were applied to any other nation-state.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 28, 2018 at 6:44 am | Permalink

        “Once the State of Israel was founded, one cannot be anti-Zionist without being antisemitic. If you say we Bulgarians must leave our territory and give it away to other nations having claims to it, you are not just pro- these other nations, you are anti-Bulgarian.”

        If I were to say that Bulgarians had no right to their land as a nation, that would be anti-Bulgarian.

        If I were to say that Israelis had no right to their land as a nation, that, by analogy, would be anti-Israeli. That is NOT anti-semitic, though it might be ant-zionist. If it is THAT particular land, it might be pro-Palestinian.

        If I were to say that Northern Irelanders had no right to their land as a nation, what would that make me? Anti-English, anti-British, anti-Protestant, ant-Christian or just pro-Irish?
        My view is that I would like to see the North and South of Ireland united (peacefully). However, using your logic as applied to Israel, I should not be entitled to express this opinion without expressing some kind of verbal, sectarian or race crime against the British/Northern Irlander/Protestants.

        “You mean criticizing the very existence of Israel, which criticism for some bizarre reason you find normal, though I doubt you would find it normal if it were applied to any other nation-state.”
        You are making mistaken assumptions about what I mean and also what my views are.
        I am British/Irish and Ireland is one of the “any other nation-states” that you mention.
        I have been aware of and lived with such sectarian issues most of my life.

        The terms of existence of the Israeli state have been a source of dispute principally since WWII. There has been a disputed partition of land, a displacement of peoples, contested usage of disputed territories. Israel is also the only nuclear power in the area.

        The country can be considered to have a right to exist, but where, how and on what terms, who should live there and where etc is stll up for discussion. An opinion unfavourable to Israel is NOT intinsically anti-semitic.

        The subject is unresolved and is in NEED of OPEN discussion. This means that opposing views MUST be able to be expressed.

        I brought this subject up partially because of the fiasco of the anti-semitism dispute within the UK Labour party. In my view, many of the political views concerning Israel/Palestine have been distorted from Pro-Palestinian/anti-Zionist to ant-Semitic which I feel is dishonest.

        I brought attention to the IHRA document because I feel that it fudges the distinction between anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic. It does not even well define what “Semitic” means. Racial, cultural, religious, linguistic? If you add National, Territorial and Political to that, you have an unworkeable definition.
        If you can’t define PRO, how can you define ANTI?
        I read the IHRA through about two years ago with the Livingstone issue beginning and it seemed to me ill-conceived as a definition.
        As far as I am aware, no Arabic country has even yet signed the IHRA.

        • Posted October 28, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

          Our right to our land, similarly to other nations I know, boils down to “our ancestors came to this land and fought for it successfully”.
          Given that all states I know have been founded this way, I do not see any reasonable justification for the special focus on Israel.
          Your comparison to Northern Ireland is apples to oranges. Regardless of the future historical fate of Northern Ireland, its current residents, both Catholic and Protestant, will be allowed to stay. If Israel ceases to exist, or if Arabs gain a majority in it, every single Jew in it will be expelled or murdered.
          As for “antisemitic”, everyone knows that it means “anti-Jew”. Arab nations do not accept this definition, because they do not want to be called bad names while killing Jews.

          • Kevin
            Posted October 28, 2018 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

            “Our right to our land, similarly to other nations I know, boils down to “our ancestors came to this land and fought for it successfully”.

            That’s your solution for Israel is it? You occupied it, fought for it, so you can have it. What’s the difference between that and the Arabs/Palestinians doing the same?

            “Given that all states I know have been founded this way, I do not see any reasonable justification for the special focus on Israel.”
            Really? It deserves special focus because it is a powder keg, and the situation is unstable, and it is of concern to countries other than JUST Israel.

            “your comparison to Northern Ireland is apples to oranges. Regardless of the future historical fate of Northern Ireland, its current residents, both Catholic and Protestant, will be allowed to stay.”

            If both parties do manage to coexist peacefully, that is after nearly a thosand years of conflict since the original Norman English occupation and substantial international influences, including the European bickering over land in which religion was a major player.
            The mishandled economy and famine removed half of Ireland’s population in 4 years due famine disease and emigration, the majority of the victims being indiginous, landless Catholics.
            If that’s apples to oranges to you…..

            My point was that, the Israel/Palestine situation has all the cards for being a similar problem.

            I do not have particularly strong feelings about Israel/Palestine: as I said, I have been following the anti-semitism issue in UK politics and feel that it need better public debate.
            I see certain parallels between Israel and Ireland, which I wanted to put forward.

            “As for “antisemitic”, everyone knows that it means “anti-Jew”.”
            Simplistic.
            As I discussed before, it is already difficult to define exactly what Jew means in any legal sense (what the IHRA is seemingly moving towards): ethnic, cultural, political, religious, geographic, secular, nationalist.

            The question also arises as to why a definition of anti-semitism is needed: everyone has the right to protection against racism and prejudice, maltreatment extermination and holocaust.
            An attempt to define it legally is to make Jews a “special focus” or special case which I thought you were arguing against.
            Do we have to legally define anti-Armenianist and anti-Tutsiist as well?

            “Arab nations do not accept this definition, because they do not want to be called bad names while killing Jews.”
            Perhaps they also don’t accept the definition because that definition makes specific reference to Israel which they just won’t swallow.

            • Posted October 29, 2018 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

              Kevin,
              Arabs/Palestinians are not doing the same. When they try to fight, they lose every single time. So they resort to terror, and I disagree with this.
              I think we cannot let the past, like Hamlet’s father’s ghost, hold us captive. I refuse to go too many years back. Outside today’s Bulgarian territory, there were large areas with Bulgarian ethnic majority. My ancestors have fought for them and lost. The population has been ethnically cleansed or forcibly assimilated. So what? Nothing can be done anymore. Let the bygones be bygones. Time for peace. The same with Ireland. Do you really expect me to put the Jewish civilians being murdered as I type on the same balance with the Irish Catholics starved nearly 200 years ago?
              You mentioned the Armenian genocide. I think we need not define anti-Armenianist, the Turks need. Because they are held captive by the genocide their ancestors carried out and they refuse to acknowledge. Until they do, it will hold them captive, and Turkey will be doomed to misery.
              Same with Arabs. Until they swallow what they should, they will be doomed to misery. The problem is that their current population growth, combined with the irresponsible immigration policy of Western countries, spreads this misery to everyone else.
              The obligatory disclaimer: not all Arabs, not all Turks. But enough to define the collective psyche of these nations.

              • Kevin
                Posted October 29, 2018 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

                “Arabs/Palestinians are not doing the same. When they try to fight, they lose every single time. So they resort to terror, and I disagree with this.”
                But you agree that a group can use superior force, when aided and financed by the West to establish a foothold in the Middle East and displace the indiginous population: do you really expect the Arab world to find that acceptable?
                Of course the Arabs lose against Israel: Israel has massive external funding and support(apparently about $3bn per year from the U.S. Israel has been the largest recipient of US aid in the last 50 years).

                “I think we cannot let the past, like Hamlet’s father’s ghost, hold us captive. I refuse to go too many years back.”
                It is not really the past, it is a current situation.

                Depends how you define terror: a small group with few resources uses even sticks and stones. The dominant group uses a trained army or police and planes and tanks supplied by its allies.
                The Israelis also used terror in the period after WWII and many of their protagonists became politicians in the new regime (just like in the modern Irish power sharing).
                As they say: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot”.

                “Do you really expect me to put the Jewish civilians being murdered as I type on the same balance with the Irish Catholics starved nearly 200 years ago?”
                I pointed to the Irish question 200 years ago because that is how the IRA came to be born and that is still very much a CURRENT problem, and it can explode again if the situation provokes it. I simply make analogies.
                The point is here that the Irish were the much weaker group, and they had to persist for a long time to gain the measure of independence and self-determination, that they, the Israelis and the Palestinians all strive after.

                I am afraid that Israel is in a situation in which it will be under siege for years to come.

                As I said, I am not actually taking sides, more playing devil’s advocate with the issues.

                The issue of anti-semitism has been an issue in recent politics, which is why I have broached it: I too find the pointless killing of Jews in Pittsburgh a senseless waste.
                This makes discussion of the issues all the more necessary. It also has little to do with the subtlties of the difference between anti-semitism and anti-zionism or support for Palestine.

                Criticism of Israel has to be possible without their tendency to use the anti-semitism card to trump criticism.

                I return to my original premise: criticism of Israel is not in itself anti-semitic, it is in first place anti-zionist, anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian.

              • Malgorzata
                Posted October 30, 2018 at 4:05 am | Permalink

                Sorry to barge into your discussion but you may find this article about what constitutes an indigenous population of some interst: https://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/224254/bellerose-aboriginal-people

                I would also suggest that you look at the massive help Palestinian Arabs got – equal or exceeding help Jews got.

                And how is it with protesting against other counties created after the collapse of Ottoman Empire? Did you ever protested against Jordan with a foreign king imported from Hijaz by British, ruling with the help of Beduins over majority of Palestinian Arabs (today’s Jordan was East Palestine and was initially to be a part of “Jewish homeland”) who are treated as second class citizens?

              • Posted October 31, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

                Kevin,
                Are you saying that the indigenous population of “Palestine” did not include Jews?
                Indeed, before and after Israel’s foundation many European Jews migrated to this territory. However, the same is true about “Palestinian” Arabs. Arafat himself, the icon of their “liberation” movement, was born in Egypt.
                Many Palestinians became refugees after the 1948 war. At the same time, Arab countries expelled their Jews. These Jewish refugees went to Israel. Where I live, such bilateral population transfers are considered fair. However, Arabs first got rid of their unwanted Jews, and now want to take all “Palestine”, driving the Jews into the sea or into hell. How is this fair? Not to mention that they have gained much land in Europe. When an Arab mused in front of me how Europe should take back all the Israeli Jews, I replied that, as a European, I am OK with this, provided that European Arabs also go back to their home countries. This shut him up.
                Israel was founded 80 years ago, yet you still consider the wholesale deportation of its Jewish citizens (to where?) a serious option. Let’s suppose that Israel endures 20 years more and becomes a century-old entity; would you still say that anti-Zionists who want to make Israel judenfrei are nice people and are not antisemitic at all? Will you recognize Israel as Jewish state if it endures 500 years? (I suppose you do not recommend ethnic cleansing of white Americans just because some native Americans may want it.) Where is the time limit that will give the Jews those rights that any other groups of humans is given by default?
                As for the IRA, I think that everyone, including the Catholics of Northern Ireland, would have been better off if it had never existed.

              • Kevin
                Posted October 31, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

                “Are you saying that the indigenous population of “Palestine” did not include Jews?”
                Where do you think I said that?
                I am not really interested in your arguments attempting to justify Israel. That is not the discussion in point.
                My point is that ant-Semitism is not the same as anti-Zionism and that much criticism of Israel can be legitimate in many cases without being anti-Semitic. As I said, I am not wanting to go into the details. Just the idea that it can be criticised without the ant-semitic card being played.

                “yet you still consider the wholesale deportation of its Jewish citizens (to where?) a serious option”
                Again you put words in my mouth: I never said anything of the sort, nor do I even think it. Again you are off track. Straw man argument.

                “As for the IRA, I think that everyone, including the Catholics of Northern Ireland, would have been better off if it had never existed.”
                Just as they would likely have been better off if the English (note I say English and not British) hadn’t, in the first place, colonised the North of Ireland with Scottish Presbyterians who were likely put there as a way of supressing Catholics, the latter being gradually forced off the land and into emigration or cheap labour. The end result is an unnatural partition.
                Seems that Israel is destined to a similar future.
                I don’t like the IRA myself, but I don’t like the bigoted way the English dominated the country either and the methods they used to hold power. People defend themselves as best they can.

  10. CAS
    Posted October 7, 2018 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    The fracturing of both the left and right into segment, that have abandoned long held principles and rationality, makes the predictions of political violence in American in the 2020s by Peter Turchin seem all the more likely. Let’s hope he is wrong, but it does not look promising. Some of his mathematical models have produced fair simulations of past cycles of violence.

  11. John Crisp
    Posted October 8, 2018 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    ” The rub will come when Labour is finally asked to tolerate sharia law, and I hope that at that point they dismount from the tiger.”

    If it did so, the Labour Party would hardly be the first component of the Establishment to “tolerate” sharia law. In 2008, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, expressed his support for sharia law in the UK, though I believe that the current incumbent does not share this view. And of course governments of both colours (though primarily Conservative in terms of length of office) have tolerated sharia law, in so far as it exists in many Muslim communities in the UK, without being prepared to tackle the question of whether it is compatible with British law, and whether two systems of law can reasonably coexist within a single state. The most obvious sphere in which this incompatibility clearly exists is that of women’s rights, but I guess – as recent events in the US have shown – that this half of the population is not deemed to be of sufficient importance to warrant intervention.

  12. Posted October 28, 2018 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    I find this the inevitable result of massive and continuing Muslim immigration, combined with low birth rates of native British. When political parties see a group of voters dwindling and another one growing, it is logical to bet on the growing one.


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