Michael Rosen on Richard Burgon: Zionism, Zionists, Katzism

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(republished from Facebook)

Richard Burgon MP has apologised for saying that Zionism is an ‘enemy of peace’. Leaving that to one side for the moment, let’s look at the argument for why Burgon needed to apologise. Here it is:

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“Mike Katz, chair of the Jewish Labour Movement,said the vast majority of Jewish people identified as Zionists.

“Insulting a core part of their identity and then dissembling about it… [Burgon claimed he hadn’t said that Zionism was an enemy to peace]… is shameful behaviour from a senior frontbencher in our party, let alone someone who aspires to administer our justice system,” he said.”

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This ups the stakes.

MPs (anyone else?) must not ‘insult’ Zionism because it is a ‘core part’ of the ‘identity’ of the ‘vast majority of Jewish people’.

In other words it ups the stakes in what can or can’t be said about Zionism, Zionists and the ‘vast majority’ of Jews. Bear in mind that for many decades in the 19th and 20th centuries, there was active, open debate by Jews (and others) about Zionism. Of course there was! Zionism is a political idea. Can’t we argue about Zionism? Any Jews like my parents, who lived in London’s East End throughout the 1920s and 30s, regularly had debates about Zionism and of course there were times when either side might have said that there were ‘insults’ flying. But no one could have closed down the argument on the basis that it wasn’t really an argument, but it was, as Katz has implied, an argument against the core of people’s identity. Or if they did, you couldn’t get away with saying, ‘How dare you say that Zionism is an enemy of peace! Zionism is a core part of my identity, you have just insulted me, Zionists and (because the vast majority of Jews are Zionists) Jews.’ Yes, yes, yes, people would have said, now let’s get on with the political argument about whether it is or is not an ‘enemy of peace’.

But to claim that things can’t be said in this debate because it’s a matter of personal identity – as Katz has done – is a way to close down the debate altogether.

On this specific matter, what Mike Katz is saying is that a person shouldn’t say that ‘Zionism is an enemy of peace’. Just don’t say it! It cannot be said. It’s an unsayable thing. Note that he doesn’t offer an argument against it. He simply says a) that it is ‘shameful behaviour’ and b) that it is an ‘insult’ (ie not an argument or point of view) on the grounds that c) for the ‘vast majority of Jews’, Israel is a ‘core part of their identity’.

Potentially, if we are to follow the Katz rule, this could remove whole areas of debate about Israel from discussion. Yet, when the IHRA code was introduced we heard over and over again how this wasn’t a restriction on criticism of Israel. OK, so Katz isn’t talking about criticism of Israel, he’s talking about criticism of ‘Zionism’ – which he has subtly turned into ‘Zionists’ – who mustn’t hear comments like ‘Zionism is the enemy of peace’. Is that because it’s racist? Or antisemitic? Does Katz really think that?

Meanwhile let’s conjure up this Mike Katz Argument-Free Zone. What are we allowed to say about Zionism in this Zone? What instructions does Katz have for us so that we don’t receive his censure? What is this new doctrine?

(By the way, there are millions of Zionists who aren’t Jews. In the US alone there are millions of ‘Christian Zionists’ who are ‘dispensationalists’. These are people who believe that it’s not long now before the Messiah will come again (Second Coming). But this depends on more Jews, most Jews or all Jews going to Israel. At this point the Messiah will come again and all people will convert to this form of Christianity. Those who don’t will be put to the sword. All those who are now believers will ascend to heaven in what is known as ‘The Rapture’.

If you think I’ve made this up, please look up “Christian Zionism” and “Dispensationalism” on wikipedia. Actually, the entry on “Anti-zionism” is very interesting too because it tells the story of who in the 19th and 20th centuries were against Zionism and why. It will be surprising for some to read, for example, that some of the most vocal anti-Zionists were the more conservative and ‘assimilated’ Jews who thought that Zionism would evoke the accusation that they had dual loyalties, or they weren’t really attached to Britain or the USA. Interesting read…)

Jackie Walker: A reply to “Lucy Lips”

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At the heart of Labour’s witch hunt problem……people who twist the truth for their own political ends

http://hurryupharry.org/2017/12/09/at-the-heart-of-labours

There’s a writer who calls herself Lucy Lips. I’ve been reliably informed Lucy is in fact a man, Harry Toube — who writes at times for the Guardian (no wonder it’s going bust) who used to be on the Pro Pal side of things, till he saw the light — or the dark, depending on your point of view. Anyway, whatever the reality, Luscious Lucy has made a number of truth claims to justify her smears of me and a number of other suspended comrades. Let me be clear, I have no problem with gender bending, in fact I’m all for it, but bending the truth for political purposes, in particular, when it not only affects the reputation of individuals but the Party you claim to support — that is a deviation too far and worse, it’s just plain intellectually LAZY Lucy.

After all, it would have taken little research to know that I was not the first, but the third person, to ask what definition was being used by the Jewish Labour Movement’s so-called trainer Mike Katz (for goodness sake, why would I say there was not ANY definition of antisemitism I could work with? I earned my living as an anti-racist trainer for years). Mind you, the coyness of Katz in defining his terms was understandable. Having taken participants through a session that was remarkable only for its lack of theory or evidence to back up his sweeping claims of antisemitism, not just in the Labour Party but in the country as a whole, Katz knew the IHRA definition he was reluctant to confess he was basing his session on, would be torn to shreds by a significant and well informed proportion of the audience.

By the way, the IHRA definition being touted by every Israel supporting and right wing hawk in town at the moment, is in fact a re-hash of an earlier definition which had been rejected by …. virtually everybody, and for good reason; it makes neither legal or ethical sense. Having understood what an effective tool false accusations of antisemitism might be, some bright sparks realised that if the tried and tested definitions of antisemitism (you know, for example, hatred of Jews for being Jews) was not doing the job of protecting Israel and its Zionist friends, they would just have to come up with — yes you guessed it — a ‘New Antisemitism’. And this ‘New Antisemitism’ could then be backed up by a new definition that could be as self-serving to the interests of Israel as they needed. Personally, whenever people stick a ‘new’ in front of a term, I shudder — you know, New Labour and all that! But for those from that ‘New’ neck of the woods, they took to this New Antisemitism like ducks to water.

Now it seems there’s an issue in Labour, for while the Compliance Unit of the Labour Party, for example) has adopted the full IHRA definition, including all the ‘we mustn’t criticise Israel’ nonsense, the leadership of Labour appear to have only adopted the first paragraph, something that all good people should be happy to sign up to. But let’s leave this drivel for the moment where it should be — dripping out of Lucy’s I suspect not so luscious lips.

And Lucy, you naughty girl, not satisfied with bending the truth with your rendition of the training session (if you haven’t, I suggest you watch/read at least one of the alternative narratives to the Zionist propaganda you have been so enthusiastically wrapping your lips around, the Aljazeera documentary The Lobby for example http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/lobby-episode-2-training-session-170112085805744.html or the statement by Free Speech on Israel made by witnesses who were actually at the training session http://freespeechonisrael.org.uk/jewish-labour-activists-defence-jackie-walker/#sthash.uauWqafU.dpbs.) you then turn your doubtful vision on the workings of the Steering Group of LAW … and vision is the right term isn’t it Lucy unless you have been, or are, a member of the LAW Steering Group?

Because the truth is Lucy, whatever you have been taking, whoever has been feeding you this narcotic brew of smear and half-truths, you actually have no idea of the reasoning of the Steering Group or the discussions that led to the request for exclusions do you? And in any case, anyone with any knowledge of me knows my antipathy to Gerry Downing in particular is long standing. I will not share a platform with Downing or Donovan because their ideas lead in the direction of anti-Semitism, as well as to ‘the socialism of fools’.

Now you could say, why didn’t you leave LAW straight away? Well, some of us believe, when we are part of a group, we should allow democratic and political process to go forward before making any such decisions.

And by the way, what makes you think I love the Labour Party ‘the most’? Most of what? Or is that just another meaningless rhetorical flourish? As for your take on my record — jeez — as football supporters might chant, “who the f….ing hell are you?”.

I have nothing to justify, certainly not to you, a true non-entity, someone who won’t even apply their real name to the nonsense they write. I’m more than happy with what I’ve achieved. I continue to serve the agenda I began with. I’m not stoking the fires of a witch hunt that is benefiting the enemies of our movement. Not helping to silence the voices of minorities who are not just the victims of bigotry but are excluded at all levels, not only of the Labour Party but of British society as a whole. I’m not backing a settler colonial regime that seeks protection behind a wall of the most offensive allegations and devious actions. I’m not supporting a disciplinary system that would be laughed out of any British court or industrial tribunal.

But hey, why would you, or people of your ilk Lucy of the Lips, concern yourselves with the oppressed when you have the poor, browbeaten, friendless Israeli state to defend? Especially when, according to Labour Friends of Israel Chair Joan Ryan, there is in fact no other racism in the Labour Party except … yes you guessed it… anti-Semitism http://www.lfi.org.uk/analysis-thornberry-lays-out-labours-israel-agenda/.

Mind you if, as a (Jewish) comrade said at the launch of Jewish Voice for Labour this year, Labour is so riven with antisemitism, I would say, given the level of representation of Jewish MPs, given that the last Leader (a Jew) had to defeat his Jewish brother for the post, that the present leader is a life long anti-racist well known for his good relations with Jews in his constituency, that there are Jews in key positions as advisers in the Labour Party and of course, as you noted, as Chair of Momentum, given all that, if the Labour Party is rife with antisemitism, it’s really not doing a very good job of Jew hating is it? Whereas the witch hunters — they seem to be victimising anti-Zionist Jews very nicely indeed.

By the way, you have no idea of me, my record. And you — I say again, who are f***ing hell are you? I suggest until you have the courage to put your name to the crap you write, until you manage to grow a pair (of ovaries or balls) Lucy, you should just crawl back into the incognito hole you came from.