Written by: Daniel Xie
Originally appearing in the Canadian Files
Long-Bailey another Victim of Neoliberal Labour’s Witch Hunt
Recently, the witch hunt launched by the Neoliberal wing of labour; which had worked tirelessly to utilize trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism to destroy Jeremy Corbyn when he was Labour leader has claimed another victim. Rebecca Long-Bailey, the former Shadow Secretary of State for Education, was sacked from that position by Keir Starmer, the neo-Blairite leader of Labour.
This was done for sharing a supposedly anti-Semitic article pertaining to the training of US police by Israeli police. The allegations for sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey was that the article she shared supposedly contained anti-Semitic conspiracy theories, simply because it made the claim that US police trained in Israel.
The original article, which was posted in The Morning Star, the news website of the Communist Party of Great Britain, stated that Minnesota cops “learned the violent techniques used by Israeli forces” to terrorize the Palestinian population during a counter-terrorism training conference in Minneapolis hosted by the FBI where Israeli law enforcement came over to train Minnesotan law enforcement.
While the Labour establishment has tried to write this off as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory circulated by the Communists, the article’s claims were corroborated years ago by Amnesty International. They revealed that law enforcement in Baltimore, along with many other cities, are receiving their training from Israeli law enforcement.
Israeli law enforcement and police forces, according to Amnesty International, were guilty of numerous human rights violations. These human rights violations included extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, the use of torture (even against children), suppression of political freedoms including through government surveillance, and excessive use of force in the West Bank against Palestinian protesters.
With regards to the training of American police by Israeli law enforcement, Amnesty International warns that the training of the American police by Israeli law enforcement will lead to the continued outbreak of similar human rights violations in the US. Despite the corroboration of the Morning Star’s claims by Amnesty International, the Labour establishment has seen fit to write off these legitimate grievances as anti-Semitism.
The purging of Rebecca-Long Bailey from Labour by the party’s establishment signifies the continued purging of pro-Palestinian Labour members under the pretext of trumped-up anti-Semitism by an establishment-friendly leadership. It also proved to be an opportunity for the Labour establishment to replace figures within the shadow cabinet that won’t tow the neo-liberal line on socioeconomic matters.
According to James McAsh on Labour List, Rebecca Long Bailey was responsible for fighting the efforts of the Johnson government to send children back to school even when the COVID-19 pandemic has not abated in Britain. These efforts were ultimately successful in pressuring the government to shelve its dangerous plans for reopening. With Rebecca Long Bailey’s ouster, it’s likely that she will be replaced by someone from Labour’s establishment wing. That person would subsequently put up considerably less resistance to risky plans being discussed regarding “reopening”.
The Hypocrisy of the anti-Semitism Witch Hunt: Attacking Pro-Palestinians while providing cover for Trans-phobia and Police Brutality
At the same time that pro-Palestinian voices in Labour are silenced using trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism, the views of social reactionaries within British progressive circles pertaining to transphobia have been held up as worth listening to by Starmer. In Britain social reactionarism manifests in two forms. In one form of class reductionism manifests through Blue Labour.
It is an element of the party that, while supportive of progressive economic policies, views the working class as inherently tied to socially conservative policies, with little chances to be shifted to more progressive directions. Consequently, they can only be courted as a voting base through embracing the most right-wing social policies possible.
Blue Labour has made transphobia an explicit part of its platform, as its website states that transgender rights are pseudo-science.
Class reductionism within British progressive circles also manifests in the considerably more infamous Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism (TERF) movement. The TERF movement denies the existence of trans women, and views the only women valid as “true women” as those that are born biologically with a vagina.
They hypocritically complain about trans women supposedly overriding and erasing the lived experiences of “real women”, while seeking to erase and deny the lived experiences of trans women. Notable Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists include Guardian Journalist Suzanne Moore, former Labour candidate Jess Philips , and fantasy author JK Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series.
In response to the threat of TERFs, Starmer has, rather than condemn these threats and defend the rights of trans people, has stated that people should “work together to craft a solution” rather than “chuckle bricks at each other”.
Through this statement, Starmer has essentially chosen to enable the transphobia manifesting through organizations such as Blue Labour and the TERFs by holding their views up as somehow just as valid as those seeking to defend trans rights. This being despite the obvious fact that Blue Labour and TERFs, as transphobes, both seek to destroy and deny the existence of trans people.
Besides providing cover for transphobes, Starmer has also condemned the demands put forward by Black Lives Matter, for police abolition in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. Starmer’s opposition to the transformative demands of Black Lives Matter was evident early on, when protesters threw the statue of slave owner Edward Colston in a river.
While Starmer agrees that perhaps in theory statues of slaveowners shouldn’t be put up on display in the public, he condemned the tearing down of the statue by protesters as “completely wrong”. With regards to the police brutality targeted by Black Lives Matter, Starmer condemned any efforts to abolish the police as “nonsense”; a claim which was agreed upon by far-right Brexit party politician Nigel Farage.
The defence of social reactionaries guilty of transphobia, along with their condemnation of the demands of Black Lives Matter by Starmer and the neo-Blairites currently controlling Labour illustrates perfectly the hypocrisy in which anti-Semitism is used as a means to destroy the left in Labour that’s critical of Israel.
While Labour deploys anti-Semitism against leftists under the pretense of creating safer political spaces for Jewish labour members, they are rather unwilling to take harsh action against transphobia and socially reactionary progressive circles peddling transphobia; all of which demonstrates clearly that anti-Semitism is used as a weapon to shut down pro-Palestinian discourse rather than used to address genuine bigotry and anti-Semitism in Labour.
Not in a Vacuum: anti-Semitism as a Weapon and the NDP
Starmer and the Labour establishment weaponized anti-Semitism to shut down criticism of Israel rather than address genuine anti-Semitism. This must not be viewed in a vacuum or just a unique anomaly in British politics.
In Canada, the right-wing elements of the NDP, along with its establishment has also been guilty of trying to weaponize anti-Semitism. This being done to shut down pro-Palestinian voices in its ranks. Even removing candidates from being able to run if they hold pro-Palestinian views. This has been seen during Mulcair’s time as NDP leader.
When Mulcair was the NDP leader, the NDP disqualified Paul Manly in 2014 as a candidate in Nanaimo-Ladysmith. He is the son of former NDP MP James Manly. Paul Manly has speculated that this had much to do with his desire to petition the Conservatives and NDP in 2012. He was pushing for the release of his father, who was confined by Israeli officials for participating in efforts to breach a blockade in the Gaza.
Other candidates have also been disqualified on the basis of supposedly holding pro-Palestinian views. These include Morgan Wheeldon, NDP candidate for Kings-Hants, who was forced to resign for opposition to Israeli Settler Colonialism in the West Bank. Clyde River Mayor Jerry Natanine, who wanted to run as the NDP candidate in Nunavut, was prevented from doing so due to tweeting in support of Palestinians.
Under Jagmeet Singh, things have not really improved. At the 2018 federal convention, a resolution calling on the NDP to embrace policies pertaining to BDS was narrowly defeated, before it could be brought up at the convention. During the 2019 Ontario Provincial NDP convention, a similar resolution calling on the Ontario NDP to support BDS policies was placed at the very bottom of the list of resolutions.
This occurred even as the NDP had time to entertain socially reactionary resolutions including measures potentially subjecting those with mental health issues to police brutality. Jagmeet Singh has declared his opposition to BDS, claiming that it will have the “opposite” effect on lasting peace in the Middle East. During the 2019 Federal Election, the NDP has also removed candidate Rana Zaman from standing in Dartmouth-Cole, due to past tweets that were critical of Israel.
During an incident where pro-Palestinian activists protested a speaking event at York University that invited IDF soldiers, far-right thugs from the Jewish Defense League carried out violence against pro-Palestinian activists. This happened despite being warned by the York University administration not to organize counter protests. Rather than condemn the JDL, Singh has placed the blame on the activists for “instigating” the JDL.
A large number of Jewish Canadians are increasingly critical of Israel and pushing for pro-Palestine policies. Despite this, the NDP under Jagmeet Singh has yet to reverse course from the pro-Israel course of the Mulcair era, and the use of anti-Semitism as a weapon against pro-Palestinian voices in the NDP.
Neo-liberals out of Labour and NDP!
The sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey demonstrates that ultimately, anti-Semitism has been disproportionally weaponized to silence leftist and pro-Palestinian voices in Labour. While genuine anti-Semitism may exist in the ranks of Labour, the way it is weaponized reveals that it’s more often than not used to shut down criticism of Israel.
The training of American police by Israeli law enforcement is not a communist anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. This has been corroborated by other sources such as Amnesty International. Yet as bringing this up constitutes opposition to the Israeli government, the Labour establishment has no problem using trumped-up charges of anti-Semitism. This is done to silence those that bring up the fact that there is evidence that US law enforcement is being trained by Israeli law enforcement.
Similar behaviour exists in the NDP, which has also weaponized anti-Semitism to silence pro-Palestinian voices in the NDP. This was particularly true during Mulcair’s time as leader, and it doesn’t look like to have changed under Singh. What the weaponization of anti-Semitism reveals to us, is that neo-liberals will deploy any dirty trick against attempts by leftists to take over social democratic parties, and against pro-Palestinian voices.
Leftists must defend leftist political figures speaking out against Israeli politics from these charges of anti-Semitism being deployed to silence said figures. Crucially, they must also push to remove neo-liberals from social democratic parties by whatever means necessary. This is to prevent neo-liberals from subverting and crushing leftist insurgencies against the establishment, through dirty tactics such as the weaponization of anti-Semitism.