Out of the political deterioration in Britain and America, the double-headed hydra of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism has emerged.
The venom from both heads has nothing to do with the root causes of the distress in either country. Instead, in both cases, the radical left, affiliated with an imported ideology, has exploited the turmoil to press their agenda. It is an agenda that will bring ruin to both countries.
In Britain, the failure of the ruling party to satisfy the demand of the people, namely an affirmative withdrawal from Europe, commonly known as Brexit, gave rise to the opposition, a reformed radical left Labour Party with ideas that will bring social and economic disaster to Britain.
In America, a country ripped apart by a resentful Democratic Party reeling after the embarrassing defeat of their revered candidate to an outsider in the 2016 Presidential election, opened the door to a new radical left with ideas and ideologies that will bring social and economic ruin to the United States.
Out of the confusion of both countries, dark voices began to be heard.
In Britain, the volume of increasingly blatant Jew hatred, both at local and national level within the left-wing Labour Party, was met with protest by people within the party and by representatives of the British Jewish community to little effect. Even the demand for the Labour Party to adopt the full version of the official IHRC definition of anti-Semitism was answered by the adoption of a doctored version after a very public struggle.
In America, as in Britain, anti-Semitic tropes were heard within the opposition party by newly elected members of Congress. In both cases, the targets were Israel and Jews. In both cases, the rhetoric stereotyped Jews and their money and power, and the Jewish State as an evil and illegitimate entity.
In both England and America, Jews had, traditionally, found political homes in the British Labour Party and in the American Democratic Party.
Decades ago, both parties harbored the working class, and Jewish immigrants, fleeing the Holocaust, found political shelter there as they assimilated and began to prosper by their intelligence and hard work. As they prospered they remained loyal to the parties they had adopted.
It helped that both parties supported the yearning of the Jewish people for self-determination in their ancient homeland and the reconstituted State of Israel. It was the right and moral thing to do, particularly after the horrors of the Holocaust.
Jews expressed their enthusiasm for both parties by constantly voting for and actively supporting them. American Jews like to say, “You are born a Democrat, and you die a Democrat.” The same applied to Jewish members of the Labour Party.
Jews, now fully assimilated, became donors and delegates, rising to high positions in both parties. They were patriotic and effective leaders.
When we look at the British Labour Party today it is difficult to believe that only four years ago it had a Jewish leader, Ed Miliband. Now look at it today.
It is rife with anti-Semites at all levels.
As Joan Ryan, a non-Jewish Member of Parliament, warned the recent AIPAC Conference in March, “Why did I, a non-Jew, travel to your conference to tell you this? I did so to remind you that things can change quickly. I would never have believed, just three years ago, that the party which backed the Jewish homeland even before the Balfour Declaration would have sunk so low so fast.”
She was talking about the rapid downward spiral of Jew and Israel hatred that has infested her party, a party she had recently walked away from after forty years as a member.
Why did she leave, rather than fight the anti-Semitism from her position as a leading member and a prominent parliamentarian
Because she, like so many others, found that confronting the ogre from within was a desperately useless battle. Instead of admitting the problem and solve it there was a resistance against her protest from within her party.
Joan Ryan admitted that, “despite the best efforts of some decent members, it is riddled with anti-Semitism. It now seeks to demonize and delegitimize Israel.”
We can see a similar pattern of the new anti-Semitism loosely guised as anti-Israelism that has infected the Democratic Party, and the resistance within that party fails to fully face the problem.
Her party, Ryan told AIPAC, was “now led by a man who proudly declares Hamas and Hezbollah to be his friends. And so, along with eight members of Parliament, we made a choice. We decided that words were simply not enough. We walked away from the Labour Party.”
The Democratic Party now has new representatives in Congress that consider Hamas their friends.
Joan Ryan and her colleagues were not alone in giving up the fight in trying to drag their party out of the gutter of anti-Semitism. There have been joined by many others, both Jewish and non-Jewish veterans of a party they once loved, who have left because of the grip on the party of those who harbor disdain for Jews and Israel.
Americans should be made aware of a political, undemocratic, phenomenon in the increasingly hard left British Labour Party. It is the return of a Soviet-style purging of party members that do not toe the party line and show total loyalty to the party and its leader. In the Soviet Union such people were shamed, or disappeared. In Britain, they are de-selected by branch officials, thereby overruling the will of the voter.
They have constituency voting in Britain. Brits vote for their individual parliamentary representatives at local level. But, with the anti-Semitism scandal rocking the party, the party has struck back at the protesters, shaming them and ejecting them. Elected local and national Labour politicians face what is called “de-selection.” In effect, the local branch committee can remove a duly elected member on the grounds of bringing the party into disrepute. Highlighting the anti-Semitism within the party or criticizing Jeremy Corbyn on this issue can lead to an elected member being thrown out of the party. It has echoes of Soviet-style tactics and, in essence, is anti-democratic.
Luciana Berger, a prominent Jewish Member of Parliament, said that her Labour Party had become “institutionally anti-Semitic.” She received abusive anti-Semitic insults and death threats to the point that she needed a permanent security team to protect her from members of her own party. She was called “a disruptive Zionist” and worse. She faced two votes of no-confidence from the branch officials at her Liverpool Waverley constituency. In challenging this attempt to purge her, she said that she had made “no secret that, as a Jewish woman representing a city with a Jewish community, I have been deeply disturbed by the lack of response from Jeremy Corbyn as party leader and many in the wider leadership of the party to the anti-Semitism that stains our party.”
Unable to quell the hate, or bring her party to adequately address the problem, Berger led a group of seven Labour MPs out of the party and formed an independent group within Parliament.
The end result of the flight of traditional Labour members is that they will be replaced by hardened leftists who vow allegiance to their Hamas and Hezbollah supporting leader and to the stringent local party officials, making it a less tolerant party.
How far down the radical road has the British Labour Party gone could be seen at their last annual conference. In voting for their top ten policy priorities Palestine was not only their main foreign policy issue, it took preference ahead of Brexit, social services, welfare, the healthcare system, and local government funding. In effect, Labour members, including their many trade union members, voted for Palestine ahead of pressing issues that affect their own immediate individual and collective needs.
Can this happen within the Democratic Party?
Well, the process has begun. Rashida Tlaib did not wrap herself in the Stars and Stripes when she was elected to Congress. Instead, she draped herself in a Palestinian flag. Ilhan Omar, fresh in Congress, immediately hit out at Israel, its Prime Minister, the Jews and their money. She followed up by returning the favor to the group that had supported her election campaign by being the guest speaker at a fund-raiser for CAIR, an organization that professes to represent the civil and social needs of American Muslims. That would be fine if that was their agenda, but CAIR is the barely disguised American Muslim Brotherhood with a proven identity of supporting Hamas, a designated Palestinian terror organization. And CAIR is now strutting the halls of Congress with confidence pushing aside anyone who attempts to ask pertinent questions of their congressional representatives. Just ask Asra Nomani, a true Muslim reformer who wanted to address Ilhan Omar on her anti-Semitic remarks but was confronted by CAIR bullies who prevented her from speaking to Omar.
There is a dangerous undercurrent that needs to be addressed both within the British Labour Party and within the Democratic Party.
In Britain, Jeremy Corbyn get a lot of his support from similar organizations to CAIR. He addressed the Islamic Human Rights Council in London. Like CAIR, they pose as caring for the British Muslim community, but they have a stealth agenda to promote dawa and sharia into Britain. Ahead of Corbyn, a radical imam, Sheikh Bramanpour, spoke openly about wiping Israel off the map. Corbyn followed him onto the stage and, instead of condemning the imam’s words, told IHRC that they “represent all that is best in Islam.”
It remains to be seen if CAIR, Omar and Tlaib represent all that is best of Islam in America. Up to now we have seen the hateful, anti-Semitic, anti-Israel side of all three, while I personally can vouch for the veracity of Asra Nomani as a genuine peacemaker and reformer having had the honor of sharing a stage with her at a Springs of Hope Conference in Jerusalem a few years back.
If only Asra Nomani were in Congress, instead of Ilhan Omar, we would have more confidence in the future of the Democratic Party and America.
Barry Shaw is the International Public Diplomacy Associate at the Israel Institute of Strategic Studies. He is a researcher into contemporary anti-Semitism and the author of ‘Fighting Hamas, BDS, and Anti-Semitism’ which examines the anti-Semitism at all levels of the Palestinian cause.