Recent events in the UK have resulted in a new word being added to the political lexicon and that is ‘Corbynizing’. This is the label given to the concerted effort orchestrated by the right wing Israel lobby in the UK, the Conservative party, much of the establishment media, and Blairite neoliberal members of the Labour party to discredit and undermine Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn by suggesting that he is an anti-Semite and/or a coddler of anti-Semites, in an effort to remove him from the party leadership and also to distract attention from the progressive platform that the party put forward.
Sensing they are on to something, that tactic is now being brought over here and being used to attack Bernie Sanders as also an anti-Semite/coddler in order to prevent any possibility that he might win the Democratic party nomination. What, you say? How can they do that when Sanders is Jewish, has lived on a kibbutz in Israel, and his election would be historic in producing the first Jewish presidential candidate of a major party and possibly the first president?
If you ask such a question, that suggests you have little understanding of the viciousness of American politics where any mischaracterization can be seized upon to serve partisan ends. Recall how John Kerry’s Vietnam war service that resulted in him being awarded three Purple Heart medals was belittled and ridiculed by Republican supporters of George W. Bush, the man who used his family connections to stay safely in the US during the war while Kerry was risking his life. The same thing happened with George McGovern who volunteered in World War II but was disparaged as some sort of peacenik wimp by supporters of Richard Nixon who did not volunteer.
Philip Weiss writes that the campaign against Sanders has begun in earnest, led by the usual suspects with some hiding behind front groups.
In recent days, a group calling itself Democrats Against Anti-Semitism has begun an earnest campaign to inject the discourse with the idea that Bernie Sanders, historically the leading Jewish politician ever to run for president, is an antisemite because of his positions on Israel. That group joins New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss and others in seizing on the urgent task of vilifying Sanders. They evidently aim to “Corbyn-ize” him, by parroting smears used effectively against the UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Sanders is a target because he has taken the strongest stances in favor of Palestinian human rights that any major candidate for the presidency has ever adopted. He has denounced the killings of Palestinian protesters in no uncertain terms, he has repeatedly called for the end of the Gaza siege so as to end a humanitarian disaster in the strip, he has said that he would condition military aid to Israel because of its unending settlement project and disrespect for Palestinian human rights, he has called Netanyahu a racist, and, worst of all, called for an “evenhanded” U.S. policy with respect to Israel and Palestine. All this, while saying that he is proudly Jewish, lived on an Israeli kibbutz as a young man, and supports Israel’s existence/favors a two-state solution.
Norman Finkelstein told me that progressive defenders of Palestinian rights need to mobilize to oppose the campaign against Sanders, even if they don’t support Sanders’s presidential ambitions.
This is a huge occasion for progressive Jews to rise to the occasion. There has got to be already now, a repudiation by the whole liberal Jewish community of the campaign that’s starting up against Bernie. And you have to remember this. Our situation is very different in the UK. In the UK, only 15 percent of Jews support Labour. UK Jews are overwhelmingly Tory. Yes, but here is a huge contingent of Jews who will not like what’s happening in particular, young Jews: The attempt to sabotage Bernie’s campaign. Yes. And you know, Bari Weiss is already that…
We have to create a firewall for Bernie, a very vocal, large Jewish presence, saying regardless of what we think about Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, there is no evidence to suggest that he is an anti Semite. And after 40 years in politics, there’s every good reason to trust his judgment about whom he chooses to associate with.
What is astonishing is that these groups are struggling to find even the smallest evidence to use against Sanders when there are such glaring examples of anti-Semitism within the Republican party and those closest to Donald Trump.
Jewish groups intensified criticism on Tuesday of Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor turned president’s lawyer and freelancing Ukrainian envoy, after he attacked the Jewish financier, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros for being “hardly a Jew” and failing to attend synagogue.
Giuliani also asserted he was “more of a Jew than Soros” and repeated a claim that the former US ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who testified in Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry, was controlled by the financier.
The Anti-Defamation League CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, furiously rebuked Giuliani, who is of Italian descent and was raised Roman Catholic, describing his comments as “baffling and offensive” and a “dog whistle to hardcore antisemites and white supremacists who believe this garbage”.
To his credit, Sanders does not seem to be fazed by these unfounded attacks on him.
I hope that the people that frame any criticism of Israel as anti-semite will finally have gone too far. It’s a poisonous strand of thought, facistic in the forbidding of talking about the very real ills that Israel imposes on the Palestinians. It pisses me off that the accusation of anti-semitism is raised every time Labour has a serious socialist leader, and pretty much only then. I don’t doubt there are anti-semites in the Labour Party, jbut there are also racists and misogynists, yet somehow we rarely hear about them. I am in no way saying that anti-semitism shouldn’t be challenged, but it shouldn’t be challenged to the exclusion dealing with other prejudices which is what seems to happen.
“there are also racists and misogynists, yet somehow we rarely hear about them”
They’re never the leader and his friends.
Next, the right-wingers will say that everyone involved with the first 40 years of modern Israel’s history was an anti-Semite, because all those Israeli leaders were in the Labour Party, which didn’t agree with Netanyahu’s party. And if they don’t agree with the leader of the government then they must be against it.
Corbyn wants to be evenhanded regarding the Palestinians, and respect international law. Netanyahu’ government is not so interested in this. In one-party states, dissent against the leader is treason. I remember when Israel allowed free elections (a few weeks ago). But while actual Israelis may speak and vote their conscience, the rest of the world must treat the country as if it is a fascist one-party state, according to the anti-BDS people in the US and the U.K. The opinions of the Israeli left may not be mentioned, and it is somehow anti Semitic to admit that those Israeli voters exist.
Who Cares says
It isn’t astonishing. The people who fund the democrats don’t want him to be president. Thus there is no reason to whack the republicans to get a contender for being the democratic presidential candidate out of the way.
Leo Buzalsky says
I get what you’re saying here, but can we not likewise ask, “How can one accuse Stephen Miller of being a white nationalist when he is Jewish”? It seems somewhat of a contradiction, yet it’s true that he is. Yeah, OK, Miller probably considers people of Jewish ancestry like himself as being white and so, for him, there is no contradiction. Still, the point is that people can engage in behavior that seems contradictory and they may have rationales that, for them, resolve the contradiction(s). So could there be an anti-Semitic Jew? Sure, why not? The real question, I think, is how does such a person address what, to most people, appears to be a contradiction.