At last Corbyn fights back against the anti-Semitism smears – now its time to junk the Witchhunter’s Charter, the IHRA

Tony Greenstein’s Blog

Socialist, anti-Zionist, anti-racist

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Corbyn’s AccuserTimes ‘journalist’ Lord Finkelstein was a Board Member of the RacistGatestone Institute – this is Jonathan Freedland’s accomplice

Corbyn’s sin was one of omission. He had failed to comment on some 10 anti-Semitic lines in a book of 400 pages. Anti-Semitism was unfortunately not unknown a century ago.
The latest episode in the fake anti-Semitism smear campaign began on April 30th when Times Associate Editor and Tory peer Danny Finkelstein wrote Corbyn’s praise for deeply antisemitic book. The book in question was J.A. Hobson’s classic Imperialism – A Study.

What is good though is that for the first time instead of apologising and promising to do better and then being kicked in the teeth, Corbyn has stood up to his racist abusers. Prime amongst these being Jonathan Freedland and the Board of Deputies, a Zionist organisation whichjustified the cold blooded murder of Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza last year.

In his letter of 2nd May to Marie van der Zyl, President of the BOD Corbyn spoke of the ‘mischievous representation to the foreword to my book’ and the ‘false accusation that I endorsed the anti-Semitic content of this 1902 book.’

Jonathan Freedland never misses an opportunity to attack Corbyn on behalf of his Zionist friends – in this instance this establishment journalist poses as a radical

Because Corbyn has stood up to these bullies we can expect these liars to slink away because bullies are also cowards.  But it is worth noting that if one of us had accused our detractors of making false accusations, then according to the Compliance Unit that would itself have been proof we were ‘anti-Semitic’

Just tweeting that the Israel lobby is responsible for the fake anti-Semitism campaign is in itself enough to warrant somebody being suspended.

This tweet is part of the evidence for a member of the Labour Party being suspended – merely referring to an article making an allegation that the Israeli lobby is behind the antisemitism smears, which is itself based on an undercover Al Jazeera programme, The Lobby, is sufficient in itself to prove antisemitism

However Corbyn must go further. If ‘mischievous’ allegations are made about him then the same is true for many of us and who is making these allegations if not Israel’s lobbyists?

Hobson’s book with a warm endorsement from The Guardian

On the front cover of Hobson’s book was a blurb from a Guardian Review: it said the book had ‘changed the course of social history.’ The Guardian seems to have gone overboard on this book. A Guardian Review described it in glowing terms:

‘Hobson’s Imperialism belongs to the small group of books in the years from 1900 to the outbreak of war that have definitely changed the contours of social thought.’

Michael White, their former Political Editor, described how:

someone thrust into my hand a copy of JA Hobson’s influential classic, Imperialism (1902) whose 2011 edition contains Jeremy’s own perfectly decent introductory essay. Its analysis will impress many. Others will shake their heads.

However to the Guardian’s peripatetic former Comment Editor Finkelstein’s article was like a red rag to a bull. Freedland has penned innumerable anti-Corbyn articles and he immediately penned another which appeared the next day – Jeremy Corbyn is either blind to antisemitism – or he just doesn’t care.

So pleased was Freedland with Finkelstein’s ‘scoop’ that hetweeted ‘credit to @Dannythefink for exposing this deeply depressing episode, one to add to an already long list.’

And here you have a good example of how Establishment journalists feed off each other’s prejudices. Finkelstein is a Tory peer, Freedland is a ‘liberal’ journalist but when it comes to Zionism and Israel, sorry ‘anti-Semitism’, you couldn’t put a piece of paper between them. They operate within a consensus that has a very small gap between them. What they share is more important than what divides them.

Freedland wrote that

In today’s Times, [it was the previous day’s] the columnist Daniel Finkelstein has dug out a 2011 reissue of JA Hobson’s 1902 work, Imperialism: A Study. The foreword was written by Jeremy Corbyn in 2011.’

According to Freedland this mural contains Jewish bankers with ‘hooked noses’ – if so I can’t find them!

So blatant is Freedland’s dishonesty that I penned an Open Letter to Jonathan Freedland. I was particularly taken with the idea that Finkelstein just happened to come across Corbyn’s 8 year old Review, that he dug it up much like you might dig up a few weeds. No doubt Luciana Berger also just happened to ‘dig up’ a mural dating back to 2012 last year!

One can only await with bated breath what will be on offer next year.  Judging by present trends it will be at least a decade old by then!

Andrei Brevik, the Norwegian fascist who killed over 70 young socialists, is quite clear that anti-Zionist and anti-racist Jews are the enemy of both him and the Zionists 

We can assume that the ‘digging up’ was done by others, whether they are at the Israeli Embassy or MI5 is irrelevant. But given that Freedland at least pretends to be a democrat, I wrote that

[if what was happening to Corbyn] happened to any other politician then we would have no one in public life and you know it. You are an integral part of a concerted attempt by powerful forces in the British State to discredit a radical politician. Of course the Right would like to attack Corbyn for his economic proposals or his opposition to austerity but that wouldn’t play well. Hence the ‘anti-Semitism’ card which you use.

Freedland quickly passed over Hobson having been a political correspondent for the Manchester Guardian! It’s quite a tradition that Freedland has to live down. Ted, the son of C.P. Scott, the Guardian’s most revered editor, even married Hobson’s daughter, Mabel!

Corbyn’s crime was that he hadn’t mentioned that Hobson was anti-Semitic. It is as if a mention of T S Elliot’s anti-Semitism is compulsory before you can discuss his poetry. And not only Elliot, but Virginia Woolf, Jack London, Dickens, Shakespeare and Orwell too. Although anti-Semitism has all but disappeared today, other than as a stick to beat the Left, it had an inglorious tradition amongst the British ruling class. People like Freedland and Finkelstein.

What is also true is that people like Hobson tended to abandon such views when the reality of the society they lived in changed. Even T S Eliot seems to have become a reformed character.

On the 7th June 2003 Zionist solicitor Anthony Julius wrotethat

‘Eliot was not a typical anti-semite. He was instead an extraordinary anti-semite. He did not reflect the anti-semitism of his times, he contributed to it, even enlarged it.’

Six months before Professor Ronald Schuchard of Emory University ‘in a ground-breaking essay’ in the January 2003 issue of “Modernism/ Modernity”, refuted the charge of Eliot’s anti-Semitism, backing his claims with a cache of new documents.

As Paul Kelemen showed in The British Left and Zionism – History of a Divorce (MUP 2012) anti-Semitism was far more deeply entrenched in the right-wing leadership of the Labour Party in years gone by. Sydney Webb, founder of the Fabians and later Colonial Secretary Lord Passfield, wrote that ‘French, German, Russian socialism is Jew-ridden. We, thank heaven, are free.’ And why? ‘There’s no money in it.’ 

During the war years Attlee, Morrison and Bevin supported Churchill and Eden in their implacable hostility to the entry of Jewish refugees. They even worried when they learnt that Jews might be extruded by Germany’s allies rather than exterminated. But Freedland and Finkelstein have no complaints because the Zionist movement, led by President of the Board of Deputies Selig Brodetsky was also opposed to the entry of Jewish refugees. Their argument being that Jewish refugees should go to Palestine if they were to go anywhere.

It was left to Professor Donald Sassoon, in a letter to the Guardian, to explain that Hobson’s book has been taught for years in universities without anyone feeling the need to highlight the 10 anti-Semitic lines.

Sassoon also makes the point that ‘Far less marginal are Hobson’s comments about the “lower races” (ie black Africans) and what to do with them’ but anti-Black concern is of no interest to Freedland or Finkelstein. Only anti-Semitism concerns them.

Freedland also failed to mention that Gordon Brown also failed to mention Hobson’s anti-Semitism when wrote that

‘in Britain, this idea of liberty as empowerment is not a new idea, J A Hobson asked, “is a man free who has not equal opportunity with his fellows of such access to all material and moral means of personal development and work as shall contribute to his own welfare and that of his society?”

Tony Blair also described Hobson as “probably the most famous Liberal convert to what was then literally ‘new Labour’.” in a pamphlet for the Fabians.

Daniel Finkelstein – Board Member of White Supremacist Gatestone Institute

According to Powerbase Finkelstein was a founder member of the board of Gatestone

Finkelstein is or was a member of the Board of Governors, as of October 2015 of the Gatestone Institute.  What is the Gatestone Institute?  Well according to Wikipedia

the Gatestone Institute is a right-wing anti-Muslim  think tank with a focus on Islam and the Middle East. The organization has attracted attention for publishing false articles and being a source of viral falsehoods.

Gatestone was founded in 2012 by Nina Rosenwald, who serves as its president. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton, now national security advisor, was its chairman from 2013 to March 2018. Its current chairman isAmir Taheri. Its authors include Nonie DarwishAlan DershowitzRaymond IbrahimDenis MacEoinDaniel Pipes,Raheel RazaKhaled Abu Toameh, and Geert Wilders.

Finkelstein is recorded in the House of Lords Register as having spoken and been paid at a number of its events. The engagements are listed below. It is clear that he is a regular speaker for the GI.

Speaking engagement, 27 October 2016, Gatestone Institute

Speaking engagement, 20 November 2015, Gatestone Institute

Speaking Engagement, 14 October 2014, Gatestone Institute

Speaking engagement, 10 March 2014, Gatestone Institute

Daniel Finkelstein is a member of what is, according to the article White supremacists at the heart of Whitehall a racist organisation with strong international links and ties with other anti-Muslim Groups.

One key figure is neo-con Douglas Murray, Associate Director of the cold-war Henry Jackson Society. According to Nafeez Ahmed  

Behind the facade of concern about terrorism is a network of extremist neoconservative ideologues, hell-bent on promoting discrimination and violence against Muslims and political activists who criticise Israeli and Western government policies

Another prominent figure in the HJS is Baroness Cox, a former Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords. She is a virulent Islamaphobe and all round bigot. According to Ahmed in 2007, she told the Jerusalem Summit – an anti-Palestinian network of which she has been co-president since 2005, that “Britain has been deeply infiltrated” by Islamist extremists, who have converted the country into “a base for training and teaching militant Islam”.

“They are using our institutions to recruit young people, and preventing any critical analysis of Islam,” she added. “Britain’s cultural and spiritual heritage are under threat.”

Later that year, Cox told the Jerusalem Post she was concerned about “the disturbing alliance between the Islamists and the Left in the UK,” On the presidium of the Jerusalem Summit alongside Cox was another well-known anti-Muslim hate-monger Daniel Pipes.

According to former British ambassador Craig Murray, Cox is “a prominent supporter of organisations which actively and openly promote the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from Gaza.’

According to James Bloodworth in  Labour should cut its ties with the illiberal Henry Jackson Society Murray wrote that the problem was skin colour not religion or colour:

“We long ago reached the point where the only thing white Britons can do is to remain silent about the change in their country. Ignored for a generation, they are expected to get on, silently but happily, with abolishing themselves, accepting the knocks and respecting the loss of their country. ‘Get over it. It’s nothing new. You’re terrible. You’re nothing’.”

Bloodworth wrote that in 2013 11 Labour MPs were members of the HJS. He wrote to all 11 with his concerns about the HJS but none replied. Gisela Stuart is no longer an MP. Solomon Hughes in the Morning Star this March wrote describing how right-wing MP and friend of Tom Watson, John Spellar, is a member and how both Yvette Cooper and Shadow Defence Minister Nia Griffiths had co-operated with HSJ over a conference they held in Oxford. Margaret Beckett was also a member as I understand was Chris Bryant.

In 2009 Murray described Robert Spencer, the leader of a group calling itself “Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA)”, as a “very brilliant scholar and writer”. He is so brilliant that along with Pamela Geller he got himself banned from entering Britain. He is responsible for Jihad Watchwhich is allied to David Horowitz’s Freedom Centre which as I write is busily peddling Israel’s line that it is under attack from Hamas.  Nothing about Israeli military strikes and bombing are allowed to come between it and the truth.

Bloodworth described how Marko Attila Hoare, a former senior member of the Henry Jackson Society was driven out of the organisation in 2012 because of his opposition to Murray’s anti-Muslim and anti-immigration views.

“It rapidly became clear that Murray had not tamed his politics, and that actually they were becoming the politics of the whole organisation,”

In an otherwise appalling apologia for Finkelstein on the Barrister’s Blog, Matthew describes how, in a 2006 speech to the Pim Fortuyn Memorial Conference Murray demanded that “conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”:

All immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop. In the case of a further genocide such as that in the Balkans, sanctuary would be given on a strictly temporary basis. This should also be enacted retrospectively. Those who are currently in Europe having fled tyrannies should be persuaded back to the countries which they fled from once the tyrannies that were the cause of their flight have been removed. And of course it should go without saying that Muslims in Europe who for any reason take part in, plot, assist or condone violence against the West (not just the country they happen to have found sanctuary in, but any country in the West or Western troops) must be forcibly deported back to their place of origin.”

Abbi Wilkinson, who has come in for criticism from Finkelstein’s elite barrister friends, nails the simple truth about Finkelstein – an upper class racist

Abbi Wilkinson’s article Danny Finkelstein And The Bigotsrefers to Murray’s statement that ‘There are certain things in Britain about which it is impossible to speak frankly. The birth rate of the Muslim population is a prime subject”. In either of those cases, had he used “Jews” and “Jewish”, he’d have been denounced for anti-Semitism.

Finkelstein however disagreed. As far as he was concerned, Douglas Murray was both ‘stimulating and worthwhile and often right.’ Nor did he agree with the ‘characterisation of Gatestone’ which he found both ‘stimulating and worthwhile and often right’ indeed ‘Gatestone acts as an excellent platform …”.

Finkelstein’s admiration for Murray in 2015 should be seen in the light of the decision of the Tory Party leadership to cut its links with Murray. Paul Goodman, a former MP and editor of Conservative Home wrote on October 17 2011 Why the Conservative frontbench broke off relations with Douglas Murray – and what happened afterwards.

In 2006 Murray made a speech in the Dutch Parliament“What are we to do about Islam?” His answers were what most normal people would describe as racist. To Finkelstein they were ‘stimulating’ and ‘worthwhile’. Murray declared:

“Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board: Europe must look like a less attractive proposition… all immigration into Europe from Muslim countries must stop”

Muslims who

“take part in, plot, assist or condone [my italic] violence against the west must be forcibly deported to their place of origin”.

So someone whose parents or even grandparents came from Bangladesh, who supports Palestinian resistance against Israel, which Murray sees as ‘part of the West’should be deported ‘back’ to a country they have never seen. Or someone who supports resistance to French troops in Africa should be deported. One wonders what part of this Finkelstein finds stimulating?

Goodman therefore went  to see Murray to ask him to disown his remarks.  He refused and therefore relations with the Tory Party were broken off.  Later Murray claimed to have recanted ‘years earlier’ but this was clearly untrue.

Murray is listed as a Distinguished Senior Fellow of the GI whose Board he sat on until late October 2014. John Bolton, now Trump’s National Security Advisor, chaired the GI from 2013 to 2018. Gatestone’s board also included Baroness Cox. The GI proudly lists all of Murray’s writings. They make interesting reading.

Finkelstein claims not to support Wilder’s views but he defends Murray whose views are similar and he was part of the Gatestone Institute which did share Wilder’s views
Wilders in court in The Netherlands on charges of racial discrimination
Geert Wilders – Gatestone’s favourite fascist

In his article on Gatestone’s site The Guilty Verdict Dutch Politicians Wanted So Much Murray rails at a Dutch court for having convicted Geert Wilders of inciting discrimination and fostering hatred of Moroccans. Apparently all poor Geert did was to ask a crowd of his supporters whether they wanted more or fewer Moroccans and they responded ‘fewer’. In fact the transcript is damning. EuroNews describes howRonald van Vliet a parliamentary member of his far-right Freedom Party resigned in protest against the speech.

During the meeting Wilders encouraged supporters to chant racist slogans against Moroccans before he addressed them:

“So I ask you what do you want in this city more or less Moroccans?”

The crowd chants, “less. less.”

Wilders continues: “We will fix it.”

The crowd laughs.

Finkelstein changes his story & lies through his teeth

Ahmed described how Finkelstein was ‘promoting far-right politics, and in the name of freedom itself.’

When his membership of GI’s Board was raised Finkelstein lied, lied and lied again. When three years ago, Nafeez Ahmed asserted “you are on the board of [Gatestone]”, he replied

I naturally don’t (and didn’t) say that I didn’t know who it was or what it publishes or who it hosts. Of course I do. Being on the Board doesn’t mean I agree with every article or every speaker, nor does it imply that I don’t”

He went on

I don’t accept your characterisation of Gatestone. I find Douglas Murray stimulating and worthwhile and often right, without always agreeing. I think Gatestone acts as an excellent platform …(my emphasis)

Yet on 1st August 2018 Finkelstein tweeted

‘I do not serve on the board and have never had any role of any kind running Gatestone or supervising it in any way. They listed me on the board, until I told them to stop. I have spoken to them as have many distinguished guests.’

Realising that that might not sound all that convincing Finkelstein clarified 7 minutes later in response to a query from kadhim:

‘To clarify, are you saying that you never served on the board and that they listed you as such (for two years) in error?

To which Finkelstein replied

‘Essentially. I realise that sounds like a weasel word so let me unpack it. They listed me on a board and I didn’t actually know at first. The board never met or was asked to meet or had any role and rather lazily, once I do know, just left it.’

As clear as mud. Four minutes later

‘More recently, I thought, mmm, being listed on a board is different to making a speech or two and I don’t want to be responsible for everything they do with no actual control so I’d better not continue lazily ignoring this. So I asked to be taken off. That, I’m afraid is the

And knowing he was being caught in a trap of his own making tweeted ‘‘unheroic truth’

But 8 hours later, realising that nothing he said had made sense Finkelstein tweeted

Yes I’m sorry I was on it and I apologise for the error. Worst of all it gives the legitimate impression that I support ideas that I think are completely wrong and rightly thought offensive

But was it an error? For at least two years Finkelstein sat on the board of an openly racist and Islamophobic organisation, spoke at their meetings, defended people like Douglas Murray who the Tory front bench had dissociated themselves from and then expects us to believe that this worldly wise man, who goes around on the lecture circuit explaining the political climate to people was unaware of who he was mixing with?  And worse can then call anti-Semitic a man who has fought racism his whole life.  As Private Eye used to say ‘pass the sick bucket Alice’.

The reality is that Finkelstein sat on the Board of an organisation which consciously promoted the writings of Geert Wilders, an open fascist whose racism is such that even members of his own misnamed Freedom Party have resigned.

Gatestone Institute defend Geert Wilder’s racist views

The  Gatestone’s response to this was an article Who is in More Trouble: Wilders or The Netherlands?

According to the Center for American Progress in Washington DC, Nina Rosenwald and the foundations controlled by her and her family are part of “a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts” that “peddle hate and fear of Muslims and Islam.” This is the organisation Finkelstein has such close connections with and who Jonathan Freedland, in his battle against ‘anti-Semitism’ considers a trusted ally.

The GI has repeatedly endorsed the myth of “Muslim no-go-zones” in Europe that caused David Cameron to describe a Fox News pundit echoing the same views as an “idiot.”

Freedland’s email to me as the antisemitism smear campaign began

There is also a good article in the Morning Star The Times launches yet another desperate smear against Corbyn

I have one more question to Freedland, Finkelstein and all the other obsessives who are willing to chase down anti-Semitic opinions expressed over a century ago.  You describe yourselves as Zionists.  When are you going to distance yourself from the anti-Semitic opinions of Zionism’s founders. Unlike Hobson’s views they are still relevant today because Israel is in a de facto alliance with white supremacists the world over, from Trump to Orban.

Freedland doesn’t care what company he keeps when
attacking Corbyn
Theodor Herzl, founder of the Zionist movement, railing against ‘the terrible power of our purse’

I am referring for example to Theodor Herzl, the founder of Political Zionism, who wrote about the Jews in the pamphlet which started off the movement, The Jewish State:

When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat, the subordinate officers of all revolutionary parties; and at the same time, when we rise, there rises also our terrible power of the purse.

Or Jacob Klatzkin, join editor of the Zionist paper die Welt, who wrote that the Jews were

 ‘a people disfigured in both body and soul – in a word, of a horror… some sort of outlandish creature… in any case, not a pure national type… some sort of oddity among the peoples going by the name of Jew.

Or how about Israel’s first Justice Minister, Pinhas Rosenbluth who described Palestine as ‘an institute for the fumigation of Jewish vermin’

There are many more such quotes I can dig up if necessary. Zionism began with a rejection of the Jewish diaspora. It’s called ‘negation of the diaspora.’ Zionism literally hated the Jewish presence outside Palestine. Many Zionists considered themselves proud anti-Semites.  For example Arthur Ruppin, one of the most important Zionist figures in the last century, after whom streets and boulevards are named in Israel and the Father of Land Settlement:

We can rely on Aaronovitch, a former communist who went to the neo-liberal right, to defend Finkelstein

When a friend of Ruppin called him an anti-Semite he retorted ‘I have already established here [in his diary] that I despise the cancers of Judaism more than does the worst anti-Semite.’ Ruppin associated Judaism with capitalism and his writings reflected his belief in the identity between anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism. [Joachim Doron, Classic Zionism, parallels and influences’ (1883-1914), Studies in Zionism 8, Autumn 1983]

Compared to Ruppin and Herzl, John Hobson was a very mild anti-Semite.  Perhaps we could see some explanations from Jonathan Freedland as to why he has said nothing about the origins of Zionism up till now?

Tony Greenstein

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