Excl: Finkelstein critiques IHRA ‘definition’ – and rejects it whole

finkelstein

Professor Norman Finkelstein

 

Renowned academic and activist Norman Finkelstein recently issued a video of his blistering condemnation of Labour MP Margaret Hodge for her comparison of a disciplinary process against her by the Labour Party with the experience of Jews persecuted by the nazis.

As Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) prepares to debate – and almost certainly accept – the adoption of the controversial examples concerning Israel contained in the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘working definition’ of antisemitism, Professor Finkelstein has written a detailed critique of the definition and its associated examples, which he has offered to the SKWAWKBOX for publication.

The critique is challenging and will make uncomfortable reading for some – not least because the ‘working definition’ is already part of Labour’s disciplinary code and its remaining examples are essentially certain to be adopted – but is reproduced without amendment and as a demonstration of the importance of free speech:

WHY THE LABOUR PARTY SHOULD NOT ADOPT THE IHRA DEFINITION OR ANY OTHER DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM
By Norman G. Finkelstein*

(I am grateful to Maren Hackmann-Mahajan, Deborah Maccoby, and Jamie Stern-Weiner for their input.)

Will the British Labour Party adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism? Leaders of the British-Jewish community have been strong-arming Labour to accept it. The Party is scheduled to make its fateful decision in a matter of days. The definition is supplemented by 11 illustrations. Fully seven of them, however, home in not on antisemitism per se but instead on criticism of Israel. Natan Sharansky famously formulated a 3D Test of Antisemitism that was later touted by Israel’s supporters: demonization, double standards, delegitimization. Whatever the virtue of his checklist, it might be said that the IHRA illustrations constitute a textbook case of the 3S Test of Political Censorship: suppression, selective application, special pleading. Before documenting this, however, the debate surrounding adoption of the IHRA definition and illustrations must be situated in a broader context.

The IHRA definition imposes constraints on speech in the Labour Party. In a word, it is censorship. It might be argued that the Labour Party is a voluntary organization and as such has the right to set rules and parameters on its members’ public utterances. But at its worthiest, the liberal-left tradition, of which the Labour Party is an offspring, has attached a unique, primordial value to Truth, and recognized that, in the search for truth, untrammeled open debate is essential.

In his classic exposition On Liberty, John Stuart Mill posited that the utility of a belief was inseparable from its truth: “no belief which is contrary to truth can truly be useful.” At the other end of the spectrum V. I. Lenin would draw on the power of truth to best his opponents: “Facts are stubborn things, as the English say.”

To get a firm handle on truth, however, liberty of speech must not be abridged. When the young Karl Marx first made his name as a journalist, “the English press,” he approvingly noted, enjoyed “the greatest freedom from restraint,” whereas censorship was rampant in Germany.  This infringement was officially rationalized on the grounds that it required intercession of a higher authority to separate out the “good” from the “bad.” If indeed censorship was designed to preserve what was valuable in speech, Marx rejoined, then this objective could only be attained by its opposite of unbridled criticism: “Censorship is criticism as a monopoly of the government. But does not criticism lose its rational character if it is not open but secret . . . , if it operates not with the sharp knife of reason but with the blunt scissors of arbitrariness, if it only exercises criticism but will not submit to it . . . , if it is so uncritical as to mistake an individual person for universal wisdom, peremptory orders for rational statements, ink spots for patches of sunlight, the crooked deletions of the censor for mathematical constructions, and crude force for decisive arguments?”

When asked much later in life his favorite motto, Marx eschewed sacred, unassailable truths as he replied “De omnibus dubitandum” (“You must have doubts about everything”). Echoing Marx, his otherwise liberal nemesis Mill observed that the only rational test of one’s conviction was its capacity to withstand unhindered criticism: “The beliefs which we have the most warrant for have no safeguard, but a standing invitation to the whole world to prove them unfounded.”

In her critique of the Bolshevik Revolution, Rosa Luxemburg presented a lyrical defense of unqualified free speech: “Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party—however numerous they may be—is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.” She upheld this principle, however, “not because of any fanatical concept of ‘justice,’ but because all that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege.” In a passage that resonates as much today as when it was written a century ago, Luxemburg maintained that, if the path to socialism remains uncharted territory, then only free, open criticism from below can discover solutions to unforeseen challenges and correct the inevitable errors that attend its construction: “The tacit assumption underlying the Lenin-Trotsky theory of dictatorship is this: that the socialist transformation is something for which a ready-made formula lies completed in the pocket of the revolutionary party, which needs only to be carried out energetically in practice. This is, unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—not the case. Far from being a sum of ready-made prescriptions that have only to be applied, the practical realization of socialism . . . is something which lies completely hidden in the mists of the future. What we possess in our program is nothing but a few main signposts which indicate the general direction. . . . Socialism by its very nature cannot be decreed or introduced by ukase. . . . Only experience is capable of correcting and opening new ways. . . . The whole mass of the people must take part in it.”

It might be wondered, What if the discovery of a truth contradicts the twin ideal of justice? But this is a false opposition. Exactly as an ennobling end cannot justify ignoble means if the end is as pure as the means that bring it about, so the ideal of justice is as pure as the truth that informs it. If something is true, it is not only, per Mill, useful, it is also, and necessarily, just—or, in the words of Antonio Gramsci, “To tell the truth, to arrive together at the truth, is a communist and revolutionary act.”

Only truth is useful; truth—fact—is dispositive in mental combat; truth can only emerge from unfettered speech; the index of free speech is its universality; a cacophony of competing “truths” inevitably attends the trial and error of creating a just world; truths emerging from ruthless criticism cannot undermine justice because justice is grounded in truth—this is the historic legacy of the Labour Party. But it is now under attack as representatives of British Jewry press the Party to adopt a censorial speech code.

**

Faithful to its libertarian roots, the Labour Party up until recently did not curb speech but only conduct. Its rule book stated: “No member of the party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NCC [National Constitutional Committee] is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NCC is grossly detrimental to the party. . . . The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions.” But in 2017, the Party, acting apparently at the behest of the anti-Corbyn Jewish Labour Movement, transmogrified this rule as it inserted clauses deeply encroaching on speech. The rule currently reads:

No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC [National Executive Committee] is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party. The NCC shall not have regard to the mere holding or expression of beliefs and opinions except in any instance inconsistent with the Party’s aims and values, agreed codes of conduct, or involving prejudice towards any protected characteristic. (emphasis added)

None of the notoriously slippery terms in this restrictive speech code—“racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language”—is defined, which in itself cannot but cast a pall on free speech: Who is to determine and how is it to be determined that a redline has been crossed? What’s more, the rule bars, as a discrete subcategory, prejudicial “sentiments.” If this denotes nonverbal sentiments (it would otherwise just fall under “racist language”), then Labour is now in the dreary business of controlling not just speech but also thoughts and feelings. If Comrade X refuses to date Asian guys, Comrade Y refuses to date Muslim girls, and Comrade Z only dates Jewish guys (she’s Orthodox), will they be hauled before the NQSC (National Questionable Sentiments Committee)?

Even as the revised code of conduct explicitly outlaws antisemitism, representatives of British Jewry have issued an ultimatum to Labour: it must also incorporate the IHRA definition of antisemitism in all its parts—or else! It is, to begin with, unclear why Jews warrant special treatment. Indeed, of all the protected categories in the rule, British Jews are the richest, best organized, most strategically placed, and least subject to “hostility and prejudice.” If Jewish communal organizations can so openly, brazenly, and relentlessly press this demand on Labour, it’s because of the political muscle they can flex and the political immunity they enjoy. Further, the demand is on the unseemly side, as it implies that Jewish lives are somehow more worthy. It recalls the nauseating ethnic chauvinism at play in the stipulation that The Holocaust must be separated out from run-of-the-mill “other genocides.”

It is yet more disturbing that the proposed definition bears so little on antisemitism per se and so much on Israel. It is often heard from Israel’s defenders that the Jewish state should be treated and judged like every other state; indeed, that not treating and judging it like other states is antisemitic. But no other foreign state is accorded special dispensation in the Labour manual; indeed, no other state is even mentioned. Is British Jewry imposing on Labour an antisemitic coda? It is also cause for intrigue why Israel figures so saliently in a definition the subject matter of which is antisemitism. Consider this scenario. The Afrocentric, Jamaican-based Rastafarians worshipped Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia. In the early 1970s, Selassie stood guilty of crimes against humanity as he presided over and concealed a mass famine in his country. If Rastas convened an International Slavery Remembrance Alliance, if this body then contrived a definition of anti-Rastafarianism that proscribed criticism of Ethiopia, would it be so hard to discern that the impetus was not fighting “prejudice and hostility” against Rastas but, instead, immunizing their Holy State from deserved scrutiny?

The IHRA definition reads:

Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.

It is widely agreed that this incoherent, illiterate, clunky definition provides nil guidance as to what constitutes antisemitism. It is said to be a “certain perception,” but this certainty turns out not to be so certain as it “may be expressed as hatred toward Jews”—which is to say it also may not be thus expressed. But the fact of the matter is, it’s impossible to define antisemitism. Moreover, even if an intelligible definition were cobbled together, it would be of dubious utility save to be hurled as an epithet of abuse. It and cognate pejoratives do no real work. Put otherwise, their supplemental benefit, value-added is also nil; if dispensed with, no one would be the poorer.

The term antisemitism is commonly defined as “hostility towards Jews as Jews.” But an antisemite would deny he hates Jews as Jews; rather, he would purport it’s because this or that offensive trait—parsimoniousness, clannishness, arrogance—inheres in them. Ditto, the racist who hates Black people. She would undoubtedly object that her loathing springs not from the fact that they’re Black but that they’re robbers and rapists. The question is then empirical. In other words, the accusation cannot be refuted by “you’re a racist.” Such a retort shuts down discussion just at the point when it’s most needed. Wouldn’t it be a dereliction of duty if a teacher abusively labels a student who, for all anyone knows, in good faith utters a politically incorrect opinion? Not the least of a political party’s functions is pedagogical, internally as well as externally. “A man curses,” Malcolm X surmised, “because he doesn’t have the words to say what’s on his mind.” Something similar can be observed about he who reflexively reaches for epithets like antisemite and racist. It’s an impoverished, ignorant, slovenly substitute for rational dialectic. If he is so blessed as to possess the mental tools to engage in such a dialectic, it’s also inexcusable.

It’s probably right that the hard-core bigot is impervious to reason so it’s futile trying to dissuade him. “If you cannot convince a fascist,” Leon Trotsky famously quipped, “acquaint his head with the pavement.” But who is so perfect as not to harbor one or another “local” prejudice? Surely it cannot be correct that irrational belief is by its essence reason-proof. “The antisemitic passion,” Jean-Paul Sartre said, “precedes the facts that are supposed to call it forth.” Were that true, it would be pointless to counter with facts. But Sartre was drawing the internal portrait only of the hard core, for whom bigotry was the poisonous fruit of a “comprehensive attitude . . . and conception of the world” born, ultimately, of a “fear of the human condition.” In the ordinary course of events, among ordinary specimens of humanity, reason retains its persuasive power; or, at any rate, no a priori grounds exist to give up trying, let alone to replace point-counterpoint with wholly and inherently inadequate epithets.

In a refinement of the common definition, British philosopher Brian Klug proposes that antisemitism is “a form of hostility to Jews as Jews, where Jews are perceived as something other than what they are.” Still, it turns on an empirical question requiring an empirical answer: whether or not Jews in general are something other than what they’re perceived to be. But there’s another wrinkle in Klug’s definition. It is often alleged by Jews that the antisemite resents them because they’re smarter and therefore more accomplished. In fact, Wilhelm Marr, who coined the term antisemitism, described Jews as “flexible, tenacious, intelligent” (albeit in destructive excess). For all anyone knows, they and he might be onto something: Jews might be superior. The average IQ score of Ashkenazi Jews is significantly higher than that of any other ethnic group in the world. But if, per Klug, antisemitism is the perception of Jews as “something other than what they are,” then the antisemite seething with ressentiment of Jews couldn’t be antisemitic.

The Labour Party’s code of conduct hitherto faithfully honored its libertarian legacy as it allowed every idea, however bizarre or noxious, to be mooted. Prodded by the anti-Corbyn Jewish Labour Movement, the Party’s leadership poured into the code a mass of verbal sludge that polluted the venerable principle of free speech. Now British-Jewish elites are terrorizing Corbyn to accept a purported definition of antisemitism that, one, is and couldn’t but be gibberish, two, exemplifies ethnic special pleading, three, is not just pointless but also stifles vital debate, and, four, has nearly nothing to do with antisemitism and nearly everything to do with shielding Israel from deserved condemnation. The long and short of it is, to detoxify its code of conduct, Labour should junk the revised text, reject as a whole and in all its parts the IHRA text, and return to its radical roots.

**

The IHRA definition of antisemitism includes 11 illustrative examples. Fully seven of them home in on criticism of Israel. If the Labour Party adopts these taboos, respected scholarship will be suppressed while Israel will become the beneficiary of a pernicious double standard. Consider these examples culled from the IHRA text:

  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor. But, according to Israel’s leading historian, Benny Morris, “transfer [i.e., expulsion] was inevitable and inbuilt into Zionism,” while according to Israeli writer Ari Shavit, in his widely acclaimed bestseller, My Promised Land, “If Zionism was to be, Lydda could not be.” The upshot is, if Israel’s founding necessarily entailed ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population, then realization of the Jewish people’s right to self-determination must have been a racist endeavor.
  • “Applying double standards by requiring of it [Israel] a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.” But, far from holding Israel to a more stringent standard, overwhelmingly its critics have targeted Israel’s immunity to any standard. For example, since 1979 the UN Security Council has repeatedly condemned Israel’s policy of building settlements in occupied Palestinian territory as a “flagrant violation” of international law, while in 2004 the International Court of Justice unanimously declared Israeli settlements “in breach of international law.” Yet, Israel persists in its settlement policy, while the UN, although repeatedly imposing sanctions on other member states, has not imposed any on Israel, even as its settlement policy constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
  • “Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” But Israeli hasbara (propaganda) itself promiscuously exploits the “blood libel” charge (i.e., that Jews murdered Christian children for ritual purposes) in order to silence critics by reversing its sting. Thus, mere mention of Palestinian children killed by Israel typically prompts accusations of a “Global Blood Libel against Israel.”
  • “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.” But, on the one hand, Israelis across the political spectrum freely make such bone-chilling analogies, while, on the other hand, Israel has itself routinely depicted its antagonists, be it Nasser’s Egypt or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, be it Iran, Hezbollah, or Hamas, as reincarnations of Hitler and Nazi-like. Indeed, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has—in certifiably mad defiance of every scrap of evidence—declared that Iran might pose an even greater threat to humanity than did Hitler and that not Hitler but a Palestinian leader masterminded the Holocaust.
  • “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.” But, by representing itself as the Nation-State of the Jewish people, Israel itself collectively implicates Jews in its actions, just as Netanyahu collectively implicates Jews when he touts himself as the “representative of the entire Jewish people”.

In sum, these examples of antisemitism allegedly hiding behind criticism of Israel comprise factually accurate depictions by Israel’s critics (first bulleted example), factually inaccurate depictions of Israel’s critics by its watchdogs (second bulleted example), and questionable practices of which Israel is as, if not more, culpable than its critics (third, fourth, and fifth bulleted examples). If the Labour Party adopts them, it will become a willing dupe of Israeli hasbara; it will disgrace the Party’s noble traditions; and it will betray Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to set the Party on a new-old path of upholding Truth and Justice, wherever it may lead and whatever the price.

Comment:

As the SKWAWKBOX has noted elsewhere, the adoption of the IHRA examples by the NEC is almost certain, given the voting balance among its thirty-nine members. But while the adoption of the additional examples has the support of enough of the NEC to pass, Professor Finkelstein’s detailed and challenging critique of the definition and examples as a whole underlines the importance of the NEC also incorporating the additional protections the SKWAWKBOX has flagged – for the sake not only of free speech but of the rights of Palestinians as well.

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76 responses to “Excl: Finkelstein critiques IHRA ‘definition’ – and rejects it whole

  1. That is a bit of a non-sequitur at the end there, Steve. I would rewrite it, if I were you.

    We are all going down a very rocky road here, which quite literally threatens the new-found membership of the Party. Please see David Rosenberg and Jonathan Cook for further details.

  2. The Code+ will introduce the IHRA with examples by the back door. I am afraid the caveats will not protect free speech.
    Instead of trying to sell to the membership that Code+ cannot be resisted and we must accept it, the Skwawbox needs to take a stand and inform its readers of the dangers ahead and help to organize the resistance.

  3. It seems as if this mess started with the growth of the membership of Labour Friends of Israel under Blair. This is not a criticism of people being supportive of the country – it’s a criticism of a group whose main aim is to lobby for the prevention of criticism of the Israeli government and against sanctions which would help to stop the human rights abuses. LFI are essentially a party within the party and because its been gradual its difficult to untangle. After the Aljazeera documentary there should have been an investigation. I still think there should be one.

  4. I don’t agree with Skwawkbox or the adoption by LP of any of the IHRA on this. The so called “protections” could lead to complete snarling up of disciplinary process as they will be challenged.

    ” The long and short of it is, to detoxify its code of conduct, Labour should junk the revised text, reject as a whole and in all its parts the IHRA text, and return to its radical roots.”

    I 100% agree with Finkelstein.

    Here’s Rabbi Shapiro on Israel’s nation state law.
    https://www.facebook.com/torahjews/videos/2255658004665584/

    Rabbi Shapiro reacts to the announcement of US moving embassy to Jerusalem. A must listen. https://www.facebook.com/torahjews/videos/1552062438217914/

    • Thanks Mariah, excellent from Rabbi Shapiro – lucid and plain speaking as always. Throughout history, prominent Zionists have insisted (wrongly of course) that there is no distinction between Judaism and Zionism and so the NSL is a consolidation of that position. When Hodge spoke about her “thin line”, I think what she and the LFI really mean is that, for them, there is no line at all.

  5. I agree with MerryMichaelW, Steve. Your ‘comment’ doesn’t do justice to Prof. Finkelstein’s analysis, is a non-sequitur, and seems designed to prop up your own mistaken approach to this crucial issue rather than endorse the very strong points made in Finkelstein’s piece.

    Much as I value your blog and admire your impressive effort and outputs, Finkelstein argues for a very different outcome than the compromise ‘solution’ you have recently been proposing, and you do no service to any of us (including the oppressed Palestinian people) by not making that completely clear.

    • Of course he argues for that. And if it was a possible outcome it would be worth fighting for. It’s not going to happen, so better to fight for what can happen than to expend energy and morale on a lost cause and miss the opportunity to achieve the next-best option. Big picture.

      • No point tilting at windmills for sure, and an attainable 90% beats an impossible 95%.

        Good to let the decision makers know there’s dissent in the ranks though, and that there might be support for a much more radical solution – like maybe telling the AS mongers to do their worst and we’ll stand on our principles?

        The right appear to see this as an all-or-nothing battle to the death anyway.

      • I understand your argument but the tragedy I see is it is unlikely to make any difference to the smear campaign to unseat Corbyn and attempts to demoralise members.
        Will the ‘protections’ become the target on this front?

        I don’t believe there are compromises to be had with the forces aligned against Corbyn led Labour so better be readying to draw some red lines, somewhere.

  6. Skwawkbox, please check the moderation and other failed comment boxes. I forgot the more than one link rule, again! If its not there I wish to repost it in two comments.

  7. Finkelstein’s detailed commentary and critique of the IHRA working definition should be mandatory reading for the leadership of the Labour Party and the members of the NEC. I am concerned about the danger of giving up the right to free speech as a result of pressure – it is crucial in my view as a political activist, a former Professor of Politics & Development Studies and an associate at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, that a critique of the Israeli state – which I consider more necessary than ever after the recent vote in the Knesset to confirm Israel as an exclusively Jewish state – be clearly distinguished from ‘anti-semitism’. Do NOT GIVE IN for the sake of ‘compromise’ and the hope of limiting debate at the Party Conference – it wont work and will compromise serious principles and political strategy with regard to the Middle East and prospects for a just settlement of the Israel/Palestine issue.

  8. In April/ May I made extensive study into the smearing of Corbyn – as a matter of fact, I did so because I was concerned with the truth, and was not actually a committed supported of Corbyn at all, or any political party. I now have 14 pieces linked to my pinned tweet.

    There is nothing abusive by the way in them, but since I made them public it is obvious that *someone* is attempting to block me. Please view and share.

    However, in the light of Rabbi Sack’s recent intervention, those interested in a religious voice may like to read my (highly philosophical) letter to the current Chief Rabbi urging dialogue with Corbyn. It’s here:

    https://www.academia.edu/37163315/A_Letter_to_the_Chief_Rabbi_in_the_Octave_after_Easter

  9. This is what anti-Palestinianism looks like.

    electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-lawmakers-call-genocide-palestinians-gets-thousands-facebook-likes

  10. Pingback: Excl: Finkelstein critiques IHRA ‘definition’ – and rejects it whole | The SKWAWKBOX | sdbast·

  11. I have always thought Labour should just say:
    ‘1. Labour believes in equality for all human beings.
    We are proud to be a party that opposes racism in all it’s forms including anti-Semitism. We also oppose discrimination shown towards LGBT, and Disabled citizens, young and old, female and male
    citizens in the UK and Worldwide.
    2. Furthermore in this context we re-assert the right of all Labour members to criticise any Government in the World.
    3. Finally if the Far Right were ever to re-emege as a serious threat then as well as continuing to fight racism we would commit ourselves and our trade union partners to mobilise against them and we would invite all diverse communities to join us on the front line!”
    But a resolution like this is not on the table.
    I wish I was a cartoonist; I can imagine a cartoon of a large crowd (labour members, trade unionists, diverse citizens including Jewish Voice for Labour – all with banners) facing up to a much smaller crowd of the Far Right, and behind the Far Right are a small group of Far Right US billionaires throwing them millions of dollars through the air.
    Yet behind the large Labour/Trade Union/Left large line is a much smaller group too (some Right Wing and Liberal media barons and reporters, some Jewish conservative group reps including JLM and some Right Wing Labour MPs) and what’s this – they’re booing and heckling us?
    We are being charged with what Bebel once called “The socialism of fools” (socialists taking on board Anti-Semetism) which we know we are not but perhaps we are up against ‘A Neo-Liberalism of Twits’ (Non socialist people many of whom support Neo-Liberalism and have their own agendas, promoting a false narrative against Labour members but failing to recognise serious Far Right forces are trying to be to be built around the World and they perhaps thus play a dangerous game?)
    Norman’s piece is excellent and it reinforces what I have come to believe, that the original ‘socialism’s’ were bourgeois – top down, elite cental committees, undemocratic, ready made programmes, leaders who took the power for themselves a ‘socialism FOR’ and no wonder they withered when perhaps socialism was always perhaps meant to be grassroots, bottom up, participatory, democratic – socialism WITH what I would call left wing democratic socialist.
    I deliberately incorporate ‘democratic’ after visiting a former Eastern Europe ‘socialist state’ in the 1990’s and to working people there I am afraid socialism was a dirty word.
    Rosa Luxemburg was a star (although like all of us made mistakes) but I loved how Rosa argued that the best thing that we can all bring to the table is our independent left wing critical thinking.

    • Bazza, the type of Socialism you eluded to was/is followed by the Fabians. Democracy and Socialism they said do not go together. You cannot bring Socialism to the masses by using democracy, you need to slide it in, so to speak, when no one is looking – Blair is a Fabian as have been most if not all Labour PMs.

      • The clue you missed was ‘Left’ wing democratic socialist.
        Oh dear a bourgeois socialist perhaps with a ready made programme that he just needs to deposit into the heads of the working class, a vanguardist who will lead us (and only his like can lead us) poor unthinking working people to the ideal society.
        You paid no attention to Norman’s piece about how revolutionary it can be to be HONEST and win WITH and not FOR, the bourgois socialists will never win working to people to socialist ideas by being dishonest and you can’t sneak socialism.
        I have confidence in left wing democratic socialist ideas but you sound like Alliance for Workers Liberty (Revolutionary Communist League) or Left Unity or some other irrelevance.

      • Bazza, I don’t think you understood a word I said. I wasn’t talking about what you or I believe or our interpretation of Socialism and democracy.

        Read what I said again without some preconceived notion of what it meant.

        I WAS TALKING ABOUT THE FABIANS !!!

        And if you have any doubts, check out Bernard Shaw.

  12. As with all religion, Judaism only survives by the ‘education’ from birth of its children. During the brainwashing process small questioning minds learn of the shunning by family, church, friends and society that awaits the apostate.
    Only the strongest can resist.

    My understanding is that c.80% of British Jewry votes Conservative.
    Antisemitism is provably not endemic in Britain or in Labour therefore most Jews will have experienced no antisemitism of any kind – yet they remain silent while a few proxies of the Israeli hard right, with their politically motivated, false and evidence-free AS accusations, risk unknown consequences.

    If Israel is as important to Judaism as the Vatican is to Catholicism – maybe Jewish believers might also demand truth and reconciliation from their leaders instead of “Shut up and don’t embarrass us while we smash democracy.”

    Racist yobs are easily led and misled, their minds twisted by bullying adults and failure.
    Mainstream claims of widespread antisemitism let the Tommy Robinsons convince the drones that the far right view was correct all along, that they’re on the up and if they jump on the bandwagon now there might be something in it for them.

    That only happens if we give in to Israel’s threat of “Do what we want or democracy gets it.”

  13. Blairites appear to have been plotting to create an SDP mk2, but now there is no need. If the NEC adopt IHRA definitions & examples as a straight-jacket to control criticism of Israel, there will be ‘blood on the streets’ within the Labour Party very soon. The NEC must be very careful what it wishes for.

  14. Skwawky, you know quite well that the IHRA definition IS A TRAP, so please don’t try to tell those of us, unlike some such as Len McCluskey who cannot see it, that the trap has been neutralised when we know quite well it hasn’t.

    And by the way, please don’t also tell us that Norman Finkelstein’s critique in any way gives credibilty to anything other than rejecting the IHRA definition in its entirety because it doesn’t.

    I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s important when dealing with subjects like this that we are clear who we are dealing with and what are their allegiances so that we can judge for our selves if there is any bias other than the obvious. So I ask you in good faith and without any malice whatsoever, are you a Zionist?

    • No. But your point is fallacious. Reality is that the definition and examples are going in, for all their ills and problems. Labour members either fight for the best scenario that allows, or tilt at windmills and miss the opportunity. It’s not rocket science

      • Nothing’s fixed until the meeting. However, sitting back and doing nothing until the meeting allows worse damage to be done. By that time, it’s too late to change course

      • By the way, kudos to SkwawkBox, and to the readers – this is easily the most civilised debate on the subject that there has ever been.

        Indeed, Richard Murphy’s blog more or less collapsed when he brought the subject up, and he appeared to be a much more strict moderator than Steve is.

        So bless all of you – especially those who disagree with me! 🙂

      • If you think there is a problem with being inquisitive about why someone takes a particular view which appears to be at odds with a course of action which is obvious to the majority of posters here then so be it. It is however not wrong nor inadvisable to fight against what you say is inevitable.

        You said “Labour members either fight for the best scenario…”

        Please tell me how accepting the inevitable is ‘fighting’ at all?

      • Who said it was a problem?

        The inevitable is – well, inevitable. So the choice is about how to absorb the blow with least damage. Or about expending your energy on a lost cause so you’re less able to fight the next battle.

      • But that is exactly my point – I am not sitting back, I promise you. I have emailed the whole NEC(2 replies, both affirmative so far), and am linking everyone possible to Jonathan Cook’s and David Rosenberg’s articles. I have developed the affiliation between my union branch, and JVL, and we are now proceeding from there.

  15. I also agree the end of the post is unnecessary Steve, and doesn’t give Norman’s argument the respect he deserves. I do understand there is the necessity of achieving what is achievable since you’re aware of the balance of forces in the NEC but there is also principles that needs to be held high, without compromises, that, to me is crucial for the sake and the future of the struggle.

    • Mr F’s points stand on their own merit, but in the current circumstances the ending is necessary. It’s clearly distinguished from his work

  16. That is an excellent piece by Professor Finkelstein. It very nicely encapsulates my own views on this issue. The beginning of this was the huge mistake to alter rule 2.I.8 in 2017. I was at conference and I begged some senior people not to support that change but, as is so often depressingly the case, rational debate was rebuffed in favour of short sighted, knee jerk, political expediency. Which of course nearly always fails in the medium to long term.

    If the IHRA definition is adopted in either, its current form, or with the additional examples then regardless of any purported safeguards it will be a death knell to free speech within the Labour Party. Let’s be clear this is just the beginning of a dangerous process. When will another particular cause celebre arise that will require special additional rules to protect it from criticism? Will this trend continue until it begins to cover criticisms of certain policy decisions? Will we return to the days when hefty security guards manhandle, a slight, elderly man out of the Conference Hall because he dared to heckle his opinion?

    I don’t wish to criticise the SWAWKBOX editor, as I hold him in very high regard, but the fact I respect his intellect and sincerity is why I feel I must express an alternate view. Similarly I well understand the sentiment that sometimes you have to be realistic about what can be achieved but, in my view, that outlook has to be balanced against what is at stake.

    In a political debate around the practical outworking of a technical policy issue then it is sometimes necessary to get agreement by reining back your ambition and accepting a compromise. That is not however what we are discussing here. This is a red line issue of fundamental political morality and principle. Quite frankly I don’t care how difficult it might be, or even if it may appear at this stage to be largely futile. Acquiescence to immorality is never acceptable in my book and so this decision must be fought every inch of the way, up until the eleventh hour and beyond.

    Since Conference 2017 I have continued to argue against the changed rule 2.I.8 and I intend to keep doing so. I will also argue against the IHRA Code of Conduct even if it is foolishly adopted by the NEC. Then if necessary that fight will have to be continued for as long as it takes and by whatever lawful means are available to see the current rule 2.I.8 and the IHRA Code of Conduct rescinded in their entirety.

    The principle of free speech is just too important and too vital to the lifeblood of genuine political freedom and to the successful development of a truly democratic Labour Party and our socialist future to be jettisoned because it means some more bad headlines in the Times, Torygraph, or another full-on whinge by (so called) Labour members of the PLP who long ago ditched any semblance of principle, or moral authority they may ever have had.

    This issue is a die in the ditch principle and every member, who can, must resist it and whatever decision is made by the NEC then we must continue to fight until we succeed in restoring genuine free speech to the Labour Party.

    • Duncan, thank you for making those points.

      The Labour Party or at least those members who want to see true democracy has NEVER been about accepting the inevitable. If we did, we would not have bothered to tramp around the streets talking to voters when we were told it was inevitable we would not just lose but be annihilated at the last election.

      Jeremy Corbyn never accepted the inevitable when he was told he would not survive as leader – remember Cameron saying “go now” when some of Jeremy’s own MPs were lined up behind him with their knives?

      By accepting the IHRA conditions or any derivative, one aspect seems to have been forgotten. We will be letting down all our Jewish comrades who have stuck by Jeremy despite suffering expulsions and the most vile of insults from some within their own community. They are adamant that the discredited IHRA definition is a trap which should be avoided at all costs.

      Finally, our editor seems to think opposing the acceptance of the IHRA definition is a waste of energy and we should save it for the next battle. I can assure him it takes very little energy to oppose this disastrous move and whatever the outcome it certainly will not deplete my resolve to fight on, whatever the issue.

      A.J.P. Taylor said “Nothing is inevitable until it happens”

      • So happy it won’t deplete your resolve. What about the other 500k or so members? Picking ‘hills to die on’ that we can actually win is just common sense.

      • Skwawky, no need to be sarcastic but thanks for answering my previous question, genuine apologies if it wasn’t a problem.

  17. I’m a bit old for demonstrations but I’ll wave a banner for this if it would stiffen anyone’s backbone to get done what we all know needs doing.

    Is this not important enough to poll the membership?
    If the only choices are to ‘go gentle’ or stand and fight there is no choice. No retreat, no surrender, no Quislings.

  18. Shortly after the Tories introduced their new Code of Conduct Theresa May invited JC & Labour to sign up to it. Perhaps on reflection it may have been a good strategic move for Labour to have adopted the Tory’s code, at least the BofD would have to criticise both parties equally for their alleged short comings in their rules. It is worth noting that although the Conservative Code of Conduct has recently been amended to include the ‘Full IHRA definition’ there is no reference to including any of ‘the examples’ in the Tory’s code.
    Isn’t it rather strange how quiet the BofD have been about this ‘outrage’?
    https://www.conservatives.com/codeofconduct

  19. Surely the beauty of the plan is that even if Labour did adopt the Tory code – all the usual suspects have to do is just keep ‘finding’ or goading Labour infractions while ‘not finding’ any Tory ones. Conclusive proof they were right all along about Labour.
    Maybe for the sake of appearances a Tory with skeletons and a vanished majority would be whipmailed to take one for the team.

    I’m leaning more and more to the view – thanks entirely to the disgusting behaviour of Israel’s Anti-Corbyn Brigade – that we should tell them to go piss up a rope rather than give away the least scrap of freedom to criticise in whatever legal manner we choose.
    I’m done with making excuses for Israel because of Jewish history.

  20. Labour Party members need to call emergency Constituency Party Meetings ASAP to debate & direct our MPs to support JC & instruct NEC to reflect the views of the membership & not even dream of accepting IHRA definitions, despite the furore that will erupt in MSM.

  21. I do not agree with the comrade above who comments that the creation of a new traitors’ Centre party hangs or falls on the IHRA definition and examples.

    Contrary to appearances, what really obsesses the Blairite would-be defectors is certainly not Jews nor even Israel but the preservation and strengthening of their beloved capitalism.

    Accordingly the defection of the Blairite “exiteers” is more likely to hinge far more on Labour’s decision over the EU “People’s Vote”.

    If the Blairites think there is some chance of going back into the European Single Market in some way, shape or form, to keep unlawful the extension of public ownership, public monopoly and a planned economy, that will keep them in the Labour Party – regardless of the position Labour reaches on the IHRA.

    • I believe Danny is wrong for the right reasons (or is it right for the wrong reasons?) I agree Blairites care very little about AS but, as with MSM, are using it as a stick to beat JC & Socialism. Potentially a weapon that can be used to expel anyone who dares speak their mind or dares criticise Israel, it is a control mechanism for the Parliamentary Labour Party to control the opinions of grass roots’ membership. This will have a devastating effect on the Party & its future.

  22. Tories, Blairites and Israel have different reasons to fear Jeremy’s Labour Plus – the real deal Socialism those on the right thought laughably quaint three years ago 🙂

    The idea to use the Palestine/AS issue to further their shared neoliberal ̶b̶e̶l̶i̶e̶f̶s̶ larceny project would have been Israel’s I reckon.
    Too clever for Blairites or Tories and too reliant on British Jewry not to be Israel. It’ll be a fascinating documentary if a whistleblower pops up.

    Now the wheeze is losing traction they’ll be trying to think up excuses to send in the troops.

  23. ” … and it’s 1, 2, 3, what are we fighting for?…”

    In my understanding, we are talking about 3 different texts when we refer to the LP code of conduct:

    – The IHRA document (with or without the attendant 11 examples, most of which are clearly Zionist in their origins and intent),

    – The first NEC code of conduct that incorporated a limited number of caveated examples and which, I believe is still supported by many Jewish organisations including JVL,

    – The infamous and (allegedly) “inevitable”, Code+

    I know that there are several posters above who have consistently and passionately argued that both the the second and the third versions are a big mistake and certainly it’s not hard to see why.
    It’s clear, also, that most,if not all of of us, are vehemently opposed to Code + . However, how many of us are fighting for the retention of the first JVL supported draft code, with its limited, caveated examples and how many are for the scrapping of anything that references the IHRA?

    Do most posters feel there is no longer a case for the first NEC code of conduct?

  24. Finkelstein is a charlatan who uses the fact that he’s Jewish and his family died in the holocaust to legitimise anti-Semitic tropes. He’s a sort of anti-Zionist shock-jock and has cynically built an entire brand on this for yeas. It’s a big mistake for anyone of the left to cite him as any kind of authority.

    • Why are you erroneously conflating political ideology with religious doctrine

    • Who are the authorities Jim? I’m not sure that I even like authorities, so in a sense I agree with you! For me, his is an authentic, interesting and highly relevant voice; controversial yes, charlatan no.

    • He does no such thing as “use the fact that he’s Jewish and his family died in the holocaust.” He has spent his life opposing those who do at the expense of Palestinian suffering. Finkelstein is a man whose bravery opposing AIPAC and the rest in America – who have done for decades what we have been seeing being done to Corbyn now – has resulted in him being relentless hounded and publicly attacked by such as Alan Dershowitz and the university authorities and sponsors hounded, resulting in Finkelstein losing his university job. He was thus made unemployed because of his preparedness not only to see past the trauma of his own personal bereavement but to do so on behalf of the presently oppressed. And this is what you call a charlatan?? Someone who loses their professional living for their beliefs?
      Shame on you.

  25. When people on the far left were critical of this charlatan; from Socialist Review (SWP mag) , Sept 2000:

    A DISTORTION OF JUDGEMENT

    The Holocaust Industry
    Norman G Finklestein
    Verso £16.00
    The Holocaust Industry
    With this book Norman Finkelstein attempts ‘to represent my parents’ legacy’. Since his parents were Holocaust survivors, that is a stern task.
    Finkelstein has garnered enormous publicity for his argument that the real danger to the memory of Nazism’s victims comes not from the Holocaust deniers but from the ‘prominent, self proclaimed guardians of Holocaust memory’. He argues that the horror of Hitler’s death camps has been subsumed by an ideology constructed by a ‘Holocaust industry’ that has hijacked the memory of those who were murdered in order to boost the state of Israel, and the role it plays in aiding US imperial domination of the Middle East.
    A second theme of Finkelstein’s argument is that the ideological construct of the ‘Holocaust industry’ has been used to justify the shift to the right among US Jews in the years since the civil rights movement of the 1960s, with opposition to their politics being declared ‘anti-Semitic’.
    Finally he denounces as a ‘double shakedown’ recent efforts to win compensation, particularly from Swiss banks and German companies, for Holocaust survivors. According to Finkelstein, most survivors’ claims were settled after the war. It is, he says, the lawyers and the institutions of the ‘Holocaust industry’, rather than the survivors, who have been the main beneficiaries of the settlements reached in the late 1990s. Tragically, Finkelstein’s years of political confrontation with the pro-Israeli Jewish establishment in the US have distorted his judgement and produced a book that does more harm than good.
    Finkelstein does have some insights into the way the Holocaust has been used in Jewish, Israeli and US politics over the last 50 years, but these are lost amidst the author’s provocations and polemic, and he condemns the outpouring of work on the Holocaust in recent years. Books, films and the construction of new museums on the Holocaust are scathingly dismissed. ‘Too many public and private resources have been invested in memorialising the Nazi genocide,’ writes Finkelstein. ‘Most of the output is worthless, a tribute not to Jewish suffering but to Jewish aggrandisement.’
    It is true that the hardline Zionists have increasingly cited the Holocaust as an excuse for the violence and terror meted out by the Israeli state. It is true that hypocritical politicians will appear at Holocaust memorials and then go away and play the race card. But it is also true that the memory of the Holocaust is the biggest barrier to the rebirth of a modern Nazi movement.
    Finkelstein seems unaware that one major explanation for the growth of Holocaust studies and memorials has been as a reaction to the growth of new Nazi movements around the world. He has clearly forgotten Jörg Haider’s malevolent influence on the Austrian government, or French Nazi leader Le Pen’s remark that the Holocaust was ‘a mere detail of history’, or the recent murderous Nazi attacks on Jews in Germany. He also defends free speech for Holocaust deniers, and attacks those who expose them for giving publicity to ‘obscure cranks’. He tells us the Nazi historian David Irving has made an ‘indispensable’ contribution to our knowledge of the Second World War. This is the David Irving who sees himself as the intellectual leader of Europe’s new Nazis, and who was shown during his recent libel trial to be a systematic falsifier of history.
    Unlike Finkelstein I have no Holocaust survivors in my family. In the 1930s my mother’s family lived in London’s East End, where they were involved in the fight against Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts. My father’s family lived in Germany before the war. Some made it out by 1939, others simply disappeared. While I was reading Finkelstein’s book my parents were sorting out the papers of an 88 year old fellow refugee.
    The letters reveal the horror of living under Nazi rule before the Holocaust, and the racism and cynical hypocrisy of the politicians who talked about tolerance but slammed the doors in the face of those fleeing oppression. My parents hope the correspondence will find a home in one of the Holocaust museums–probably one that Finkelstein condemns–either in Britain or Berlin. This will not be an act of Jewish aggrandisement, but their memorial to a victim of the Nazis.
    There is an important history to be written about the Jews, racism and politics after the Holocaust. It would have to begin with the physical destruction of the anti-Zionist socialist tradition among Jews in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. It would have to talk about the cynical way the Allies refused to bomb the gas chambers even though they knew what was going on there. It would have to deal with the failure of much of the leadership of world Jewry to fight for an open door policy for refugees before the war, and for rescue during the conflict. It would have to discuss the very real anti-Semitism which existed among the political elite worldwide before and after 1945, and the confusion caused by Stalin’s rush to recognise the state of Israel even though the country was born amidst the ethnic cleansing of up to 1 million Palestinians. It would have to explain the politics of the Cold War and the changing strategies of imperialism in the Middle East.
    Only in this context is it possible to discuss the way the Holocaust has been used by certain sections of the Jewish establishment to defend the indefensible. Finkelstein makes only passing references to this history.
    Quoting his mother Finkelstein says, ‘The time is long past to open our hearts to the rest of humanity’s sufferings.’ Unfortunately his book offers no help to those who are today fighting humanity’s sufferings.
    Mike Simons

    • I’m afraid all I can see in the review is that the SWP line on the Holocaust is not followed by Finkelstein. Both, for me, happen to have something to say that is worth listening to. The difference is that I doubt if Mr Simons lost his job for his.

      Let us get away from the threat of internal left sectarian squabbling back to the matter in hand: the defence of Jeremy Corbyn, whose very nonsectarianism has made him vulnerable to attack from those who would pursue it.

    • The vast majority of the reviews on Amazon are at odds with the one you have posted above.
      5 Stars – 82%
      4 Stars – 13%

      Although there is one solitary review that gives just 1 Star, so I guess you can take some solace from that.

  26. It’s the work, of course that I would expect you to cite, Yes, this work, taken on it’s own, absolutely begs to be challenged and Mike Simons does a very good job – thank you for posting this. Provocative and risky yes, but for me still not a charlatan.

    • My central point is not whether or not the SWP critique is correct (imho it doesn’t go far enough), but that even Britain’s leading “anti-Zionist” /anti-Israel left group once thought Finkelstein was, shall we say, dodgy. If anything, he’s got worse since that review of The Holocaust Industry: he now deals in unashamedly anti-Semitic tropes such as “Jews have too much power”: https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2018/08/22/verso-publishes-norman-finkelsteins-diatribe-that-jews-have-too-much-power-in-britain/

      It is, frankly, shameful to find left wingers citing him as a respectable authority on *anything*.

      • Rather, by quoting ‘tendancecoatesy’, you’ve shown that nobody should be citing you on anything. But there you go, eh.

      • It is often the case and we can see it now with Jeremy Corbyn, if you don’t like what someone says but cannot argue sensibly against it, you try to destroy the person with smears and innuendo. Therefore before decrying Finklestein, it would probably be worth examining his views to see if they stand up to academic scrutiny. The big problem is that the minute anyone tries to do it, they are labelled as ‘antisemitic’.

        I don’t know if Catholics, Jews, Muslims etc., have too much power in the UK or for what purpose they mobilise whatever power they have. What I do know, evidenced by the current attacks on JC, is that ‘Zionists’ be they Jews or not, have had far too much influence in the Labour Party and it is their ‘power’ in the Party and in the media which is trying to subvert democracy and prevent Jeremy Corbyn from becoming our next PM. This is a view to which many of our Jewish colleagues in the Party would agree.

        Zionists are desperate to bond Zionism and Judaism together without a chink of daylight between them so that anyone who criticises Zionism can automatically be labelled as an antisemite. We have to resist this at all costs, which is why we MUST oppose the adoption of the IHRA definition and its examples in any form.

        We have to be free to criticise Zionism, Catholisism, Communism or any other ‘ism’ – yes even including Corbynism – if there is such a thing.

  27. I despair at the naïveté Skwawks, I truly do. The incorporation of the IHRA and its examples is designed to ensure that anybody who supports the Palestinians can be gagged, or thrown out of the party. It has no other purpose, its proposers have no intention of compromising. Sooner or later we will have to stand and fight, so let us start right here, right now.
    If the IHRA and its examples are adopted there will be such a witch hunt that all true socialists will be swept from party membership. And it won’t stop there. When the LP wins the next election it will be incorporated into law, criticising Israel will become a criminal offense.
    That is the glittering prize for these people Skawks, already achieved in some American states. Listen to Finkelstein, he knows!

  28. Re the Skwawkbox editorial comments on Tendance Coatsey earlier today: this ad hominem attack is devoid of political content and unworthy of serious socialists. For the record, Andrew Coates (who I don’t always agree with) is a long-standing Marxist socialist, Labour Party member and consistent defender of Jeremy Corbyn. Perhaps its the fact that he’s also capable of critical thought that annoys you.

    • Perhaps it’s the fact that the ground is disappearing from beneath you and your handlers that scares the shit out of you.
      The evidence of Israel’s fifth column and its UK smear project is mounting and the MSM will eventually be forced to acknowledge it.
      You idiots will have damaged the reputation of British Jewry and handed the far right a stick to beat you with.

    • “Finkelstein is a charlatan…. He’s a sort of anti-Zionist shock-jock and has cynically built an entire brand on this for yeas. It’s a big mistake for anyone of the left to cite him as any kind of authority.”
      “Finkelstein was, shall we say, dodgy..”
      “…critical of this charlatan…”

      Ad much hominem lately?

    • I await with interest full details of your allegations concerning my ‘antisemitism’.

      • As Jim’s blog reveals irrespective of what you have or haven’t said you will still be guilty in his eyes and, counter intuitively, any evidence to the contrary only servres to confirm your guilt

        ” His [Corbyn’s] remarks were not “racist”, nor illustrative of a racialised hatred of Jews on Corbyn’s part. But they do demonstrate a lack of understanding of the ways that antisemitism does not only manifest as racialised antipathy to Jews, but can take other forms, often politically, rather than racially, constructed. ”

        for some reason I can’t post the link but cutting and pasting the following Google search term will take you there.
        “A history lesson for Corbyn on antisemitism, Zionism and Stalinist-influenced “anti-imperialism”
        Jim Denham”

      • SteveH,
        ““A history lesson for Corbyn on antisemitism, Zionism and Stalinist-influenced “anti-imperialism”
        Jim Denham”

        I got a third through it and realized I had read similar such dissembling rambles many times before… I no longer have the stomach or time to engage, none of it is new to me.

        I note there is a big push from parts of the left to drop the term Zionist/Zionism because the argument is it has already become conflated with Jew/Judaism. I refuse to accept this as I believe it debases Judaism and weakens the struggle against Zionism which is a political ideology that usurps religion for political, colonial and ideological gain and protection. It also enables even more debasement of language which we have enough of already. Having said that I am very comfortable with terms such as illegal in International law, colonialism, imperialism, oppression, murder, collective punishment, theft, ethnic cleansing, repression, apartheid and a multitude of terms that can be brought to bear, when appropriate, against the Israeli regime’s ongoing actions and policies in the illegally occupied and illegally colonised Palestinian territories.

      • Hi Steve, thanks but my ‘interest’ was just lazy sarcasm 🙂

        It would be unpardonable to add to the time wasted in writing his blog by reading it.

    • Good luck to those who, with a false sense of righteousness, can only respond to a writer through the dreary dogma of labels and a meme/trope checklist of misdemeanours; whilst ignoring their purposes, their intentions, the whole

      I was cautious in my comment on Finkelstein above, now less so. I am far from having read all of his work and I am far, too, from the political acumen and experience of others who have commented above – I am still finding my way. However, thanks JD, you have obliged me to read some more. One soon gets a feel for a writer’s position/intentions and I have read enough to know where I stand. I continue to find his work clear, sometimes funny, courageous, apposite, necessary and sincere.

      Finkelstein’s greatest “misdemeanour”, of course, is to generalise and engage with generalisations. Actually, it is partly this that warms me to his work. Why? Because you and I and everyone else knows that we all make generalisations and it is dishonest, foolish and hypocritical to pretend otherwise.

      I was brought/dragged up in the ambience of a relatively Jewish part of East London. I do my homework, follow references, read my history and talk to my Jewish friends. The voices of writers like Norman Finkelstein and David Rosenberg are deeply familiar to me. I listen to and read writers, such as these, with both affection and recognition.

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