Labour’s Antisemitism Problem

“Corbyn, Sadiq Khan and Livingstone have embraced those who incite the murder of Jews”

With Prejudice
Ken Livingstone: The former Mayor of London has claimed that Hitler was a Zionist (photo: World Economic Forum)

“So what do you think?” people keep asking me. Would I come on the  Today programme, Newsnight, breakfast television for heaven’s sake, and talk about it. “It” was not the opening of a new play, the surprisingly good reviews, or the fact that one of the four actresses had to leave the show permanently after the first night due to family illness. Nor the broken limbs of two audience members who tumbled down the theatre steps, on two different nights (making the term “break a leg” a no-go area for ever more), stopping the show while paramedics were called.

Nor was it for my thoughts on Barack Obama’s gig as a stand-up comedian — good — or his lecturing us on the consequences of a Brexit — bad — or even the terrible shock of losing the bright and beautiful Victoria Wood, whom I had not even known was ill.

What they sought was my response to Ken Livingstone’s response to Naz Shah’s delicate 2014 tweet on the Jewish question. I turned them all down. I was — am — too tired.

I read and listened and watched, though, and came to a cynical conclusion. For the Jews in the diaspora, as for the state of Israel, one thing is for sure: we’re damned if we respond and damned if we don’t.

Out of the blue, the papers and the airways are filled with the word “anti-Semitism”. It is all about us. Again. Why? Have I missed something? Did Israel attack a neighbour in response to rocket fire? No. Have Jews attacked, surrounded, blown up, beheaded, caged, destroyed, proselytised, rounded up, raped or hijacked anybody? No. Have any recent terrorist attacks been perpetrated by Jewish groups? No. Have we vowed in our constitutions, on our websites and on social media to destroy any one of the Muslim states or Catholic or Christian countries of the world, or urged young Jews to stab members of other faiths? Have we flown planes into tower blocks or trained suicide bombers to blow themselves up in marketplaces, on buses, and in hospitals? No.

Yet we are back on the front pages and the rumblings can be heard — “Oh, it’s the bloody Jews again. It’s always about them.” Too bloody true it is. Why?

I don’t know why. I am far too busy running the world’s finances and plotting domination. It’s all I can do to get to Waitrose.

Ken Livingstone may be an egomaniac and a controversy seeker, but he is not a fool. He is, like many on the Left, and most on university campuses and among extremists, completely obsessed with the Palestinian cause — a cause which has been absent from the front pages since IS emerged as the biggest threat the world has seen since Nazi Germany, and since Wahhabis started slaughtering Shias, and Sunnis began supplying arms to Syria.

In one foul sweep and 20 interviews he has put the Palestinian cause right back on the front page and in the zeitgeist. Naz Shah had apologised in the House for her abysmal racism, suggesting that the Jews of Israel should be transported to America — job done. I can’t vouch for her sincerity but she made all the right noises in the right order. The fact that she should never, after such a tweet, have been accepted as a candidate is another subject. Mind you, I see the Labour party’s problem. Whom do you select to replace George Galloway when Genghis Khan is already dead?

The fact remains that Naz Shah needed no help from Ken. He chose to weigh in on her behalf and to suggest that Hitler was a Zionist, based, one is led to understand, on a book by a self-hating Jew, Lenni Brenner, which implies that the Jews collaborated with the Nazis to get to Palestine in 1932. According to Ken, Hitler was not intending to harm the Jews, just to deport them until “he went mad and ended up killing them”. So you see, Mein Kampf was the work of a philo-Semite. And Eva Braun made kneidlach and planted trees in Tel Aviv.

Ken refused to apologise. His repeated defence was to quote, out of context,  Netanyahu’s remark that Hitler wanted expulsion not extinction. (Hitler was indeed influenced by the apparent indifference to the fate of the Jews before 1939: 32 nations, including the US and UK, refused to take in Jewish refugees.)

Then, in a Swiftian turnabout, union leaders declared it was all down to “disgruntled Blairites plotting Corbyn’s downfall, who engineered this whole debate”. I wonder which DB forced Naz Shah to write that racist blog in the first place?

More recently still, when the Hezbollah commander Mustafa Badreddine was killed, the Israelis were regarded as the immediate culprits, until Sunni jihadists claimed the murder for themselves. It reminded me of a debate on Burmese oppression where John Pilger preceded me on a platform to declare that Israel was responsible for the Generals’ 40-year junta. If there’s a blame vacuum to fill, look no further.

Here’s a fresh conspiracy theory, for those who need such things: what if Livingstone started the whole mishagas on purpose to galvanise the anti-Semitic extremists into voting — and voting his way? Some sacrifice. He gets to potter around his newt pond for nine months until Corbyn quietly brings him back into the arena.

The fact is that nobody cares about the Jewish vote. We are 240,000 people in Britain. The more anti-Semitic Labour’s private agenda is, the more votes they get from those millions who are programmed to hate and fear us. Corbyn and Sadiq Khan and Livingstone have embraced and entertained those who incite the murder of Jews and the destruction of the Jewish state. Corbyn knew the provocateurs, extremists and infiltrators in his party but prevaricated in warning themto stop their racist behaviour and in denying them platforms.

Meanwhile, on Sunday morning TV, the most hate-filled studio “discussion” took place between Israel bashers and defenders, hand-picked, it would seem, by Katie Hopkins. Lunatic, petrifying, anti-Semites — the worst being self-hating Jews who prefaced each remark with “I’m Jewish myself, but . . .”.  Shame on the researchers. It made me feel sick all day.

The Palestinian cause is as important a cause as the occupation of Tibet, Chechnya, Crimea, Kurdistan, Northern Cyprus. I won’t go on because they will accuse me, as they always do, of “what-about-ism” and never, never give me an answer as to why they don’t give a flying fart about the “right to return” of any of these other oppressed peoples. So, as I said, I did not respond. I am too tired. I am 4,000  years too tired.