Political Storm In A Religious Teacup

Offensive image

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Any clear-thinking individual abhors racism. We are, after all, members of the same species and deserve similar respect, but one can’t help thinking that British politics is taking on the same dirty tactics as its counterpart across the Atlantic, i.e. utilizing every minor faux pas of a political opponent to crucify them via the media.

One obvious, though indirect, example of this in the U.S.A. was the virulent attacks on Barack Obama via his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, during the 2008 presidential campaign. However, that will be the subject of a later post.

The British Labour Party is presently suffering a merciless onslaught from its political opponents, who are making much of a graphic from the 2014 Facebook page of British Labour Party MP, Naz Shah.

Shah, of Pakistani origin, worked as an aide to the Labour Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, but had to quit when she was suspended from the Party this week by its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, for anti-semitism – which seems somewhat unfair as she wasn’t even an MP when the graphic (see above) was published.

A right-wing, Libertarian, blogger (yes, they’ve crept across the pond, too) discovered the image and accused Shah of anti-semitism. As a result Shah was suspended pending an investigation.

Jumping to her defence, Labour MP Ken Livingstone was also suspended for stating in a BBC interview:

“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.”
This was roundly condemned and led to a televised confrontation with a furious John Mann, the Labour MP who chairs Parliament’s all-party group against anti-Semitism.”[1]

What Ken Livingstone said was, in essence, quite correct. Hitler disapproved of the 1933 Haavara Agreement between Nazi Germany and German Zionist Jews, (allowing their emigration to Israel) though between 1937 and 1939 he became more supportive, considering it a way to rid Germany of Jews once and for all. Of course, once the invasion of Poland began all agreements were revoked.

The irony in this case was that Shah was merely reproducing an image from an August 2014 blog post by Norman G Finklestein, author, political activist, and an American-Jew, both of whose parents suffered in Nazi concentration camps.[2]

No-one batted an eyelid when Finklestein published the image, but the British media – always ready to set its hounds on any poor fox who dares to cross its path – picked up the story and set about a methodical crucifixion of both Shah, and their long-time foe, Ken Livingstone.

Even the BBC, once reticent until sure of its facts, launched an immediate attack on Livingstone via the ‘analysis’ of its political editor, Laura Kuenssberg:

For years it has been more surprising when Ken Livingstone hasn’t raised hackles than when he has.
That’s why so many Labour MPs feared a miscalculation when their party’s leader brought his old comrade back into the fold.
But his staggering comments today about Hitler and anti-Semitism crossed a line – they were enough for Jeremy Corbyn to suspend him.
But the problem for the leader doesn’t end with that act.
No one believes that Jeremy Corbyn himself tolerates discrimination against Jews.
But on repeated occasions Labour has been slow and clumsy in closing down cases of anti-Semitism among its members when they emerge.
Any moments of delay or doubts about the leadership’s determination, open the window a tiny crack to the kind of intolerance that the vast majority of the Labour Party, and indeed the public, find appalling.
Public denials that there is even an issue could make it even worse. Perhaps in politics as in normal life, the first step towards fixing a problem is acknowledging that it exists.
And with only a week before Jeremy Corbyn’s first big test at the polls, In elections in London, Scotland, Wales, and all round England, it’s the kind of mess, and political distraction Labour could do without. [my bold][3]

It’s difficult to extract from all this the “anti-semitism” that the media, and Laura Kuenssberg, are ranting about. Whatever happened to free speech? Naz Shah uploaded an image to her Facebook page two years ago, together with the words, “Problem solved,” both of which were extracted from the blog of a Jewish author. Ken Livingstone, Labour’s pet firebrand, stated historical fact, albeit somewhat passionately, on British television.

Apparently, those in the Jewish community who care about such things (and in 2016 it’s hard to believe many outside of political circles, Jews or otherwise, do, despite Kuenssberg’s assertions) find it quite acceptable for their own to behave in such a manner, but we ‘outsiders’ must hold our tongues – or else!

Frankly, political correctness that dictates views we are not allowed to hold for fear of upsetting the delicate sensitivities of one section of the human species, is political correctness gone too far.

Had Naz Shah taken a map of Syria and placed it in the middle of Iran, with the caption, “Problem solved – Peace!”, no-one would have turned the proverbial hair. Criticizing Muslims, or for that matter Christians or Buddhists, is not considered in the least politically incorrect, so why should we have to pussy-foot around Zionist Jews whose country has done nothing but wage war, commit terrorist acts against innocent people, and defy the international community for decades?

And if that comment makes the writer anti-semitic, he’ll hold up his hand to it. Just so long as Norman G Finklestein does the same.

[1] “Q&A: Labour anti-Semitism row” BBC, April 29th 2016

[2] “Solution for Israel-Palestine Conflict?” Norman G Finkelstein, August 4th 2014

[3] “Jeremy Corbyn denies crisis as Ken Livingstone suspended” (see “analysis”) BBC, April 28th 2016