First off, full disclosure. I'm an atheist. But some people might regard me as jewish. I certainly do like Ashkenazi food, I go for Passover meals with my sister and with my sister-in-law and when I go to weddings and funerals, I wear a hat. So antisemitism interests me, and could affect me.
So is there antisemitism? Specifically, is there antisemitism in the UK?
I've encountered it twice. The first time was 30 years ago, and the antisemitism was clear and strong, from the person's own words. I was *really* surprised. It hadn't occured to me that the main reason he hated me was for that reason, but when his own words revealed his prejudice, I had to believe it.
The other time was pretty minor.
Of course, there could be others - people don't usually admit to it. It's deeply unfashionable. These days, any form of racism is a no-no. But the fact that I've only encountered major antisemitism once in 60 years, is a very good sign.
You can criticise the policies of a country, and if you don't like Israel's actions or policies, it's fine that you should say so. So, you can be anti-Israel - but you can't be anti-jewish.
Have you ever heard a dog whistle? No, because they're designed so that dogs can hear them, but the high frequency means that people can't. And there's a similar thing for people. In the Southern USA, you talk about being in favour of "states rights" which sounds fine and respectable, but people with the right sort of ears, hear that as being in favour of "segregation". The great thing about using dog whistles, is that you can claim you weren't being racist, while simultaneously appealing to racist people.
The antisemitic dog whistles are: Zionist, international banker, Zionist controlled media.
And it's sometimes difficult to tell, when someone is making an anti-Zionist speech, whether he's speaking against Israeli policies, or being antisemitic. Which, of course, is the whole point of dog whistles.
But sometimes, the whistle becomes very audible. So Livingstone said that "Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932 his policy then was
that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism - before
he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews." Well, Hitler certainly wanted a jew-free Germany. But I can't remember reading that he wanted them to emigrate to Israel - which, by the way, didn't exist then. In the 1930s, there was a country called Palestine, which was administered by the UK, and the UK wasn't allowing mass immigration of jews to there. Indeed, ships were turned away. And my recollection is of a Madagascar Plan, to relocate all European jews to Madagascar (a French colony, at the time), where they would be governed by the SS.
Anyway - Corbyn thought Livingstone was being antisemitic, and Livingstone is now suspended from the Labour Party.
And there's MP Naz Shah, recently supended from the Labour Party. In 2014, before she was elected, she made a Facebook post in which she suggested that the inhabitants of Israel should move to the USA, where they'd be welcome, and that this would solve the Middle East problems (which it wouldn't). It isn't clear if she was talking about voluntary or forced emigration (I don't see how it could be voluntary, because the six million people today living in Israel aren't forced to stay there). And when I look at what she posted, it looks to me as if she had her tongue at least partially in her cheek. So maybe she was just joking. Anyway, she's now made a statement in which she admits it was antisemitic and she's sorry. As a Labout spokeman said "We’re saying she’s made remarks that she doesn’t agree with." Um.
And Vicky Kirby, suspended for a second time after sending antisemitic tweets. Jews have "big noses", apparently, and Israel is behaving like Hitler.
And there's Khadim Hussain, a Labour Bradford councillor, suspended over antisemitism allegations.
So yes. There does seem to me to be too much going on in the Labour party that is either antisemitism, or at least close to it.
And then there's Malia Bouattia, president of the National Union of Students. She mentioned "mainstream Zionist-led media outlets", and I hear a dog whistle. And the University of Birmingham is a “Zionist outpost”. Dog whistle.
So that's all about the Left. What about antisemitism from the Right? Historically, that's where antisemitism was strongest - Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists being the most obvious. But it does look to me as if the modern Tory party isn't antisemitic, or at least if any individuals are, they don't show it.
And that's creates a bit of a problem for Labour. If they're perceived as antisemitic, they'll lose support from donors and voters. So, hopefully, Labour will fix any problems that they have.
And, by the way, what actually is Zionism? It's the belief that Israel has a right to exist.