Norman Finkelstein on fabricated Labour ‘antisemitism’ crisis

I have an interview on Labour’s on the contrived hysteria over Labour Party ‘antisemitism’ with leading American Jewish scholar Norman Finkelstein.  It discusses the cases of Naz Shah MP and Ken Livingstone in detail, and places the whole manufactured crisis in broader political and historical context.

Finkelstein is a leading authority on the Israel-Palestine conflict and the political legacy of the Nazi holocaust.  He is also the son of survivors of the Nazi holocaust.  The interview exposes the chasm separating the pitiful talking-heads and cynical hacks fear-mongering over barely-existent Labour ‘antisemitism’, and a scholar who knows what he’s talking about, and who treats antisemitism and the Nazi holocaust with the seriousness they deserve.

You can read the whole thing here; please share it widely.




  1. swordfish · · Reply

    Brilliant !

    I’ve just been saying over the last few days that I’d like to see Norman cover this. He’s written extensively, of course, on the regular waves of “New Anti-Semitism” smear campaigns, both in his own published work and in the 2003 collaboration ‘The Politics of Anti-Semitism’. Great to get a broader overview. Norman’s also written about Zionist history and the way the deeply reactionary (19 C German/East European Romantic Nationalist and Imperialist) ideology exerted a major influence on both the Zionists and the Nazis. He always approaches things in a fair-minded way, weighing everything from a deeply held moral and ethical stand-point and eschewing the banal polemics of his critics.

    To date, Jamie, your analyses have been far and away the most impressive contributions to the debate (well, to the extent that there is any “debate” amid this extraordinary Salem Witch-Hunt – the force of Arthur Miller’s allegory remains undiminished). Careful, methodical forensic examinations that remind me very much of some of Finkelstein’s best work (and contrasting so starkly with the sheer banality of almost all the contributions from other journos / protagonists in this saga). I’d love to see you write more extensively on the matter, maybe placing the current hysteria in the broader context of the rise of Labour Friends of Israel under Blair, the close association of many Blairites and Brownites with the Israel lobby, the “anti-Semitism” smear against Corbyn during last year’s Labour Leadership campaign and the early stages of this latest (and most intense) round of persecution, with the attack on the new NUS President. You’ve already covered some of the latter, but It’d be nice to see a broad overview that brings it all together in one detailed analysis (although I realise that’d be pretty time consuming).

    For me, one of the greatest irritations has been the way New Statesman journos like George Eaton and Stephen Bush have cheerfully weighed in, doing their bit for the Blairite Brigade. I guess it’s not entirely surprising, given their attacks on Corbyn during the leadership election, but I’ve always liked to assume that the NS is at least nominally Left-leaning, not to mention scrupulous in its fact-checking and fair-minded. But obviously not.

    I’ve been thinking of writing some sort of detailed analysis on this ugly episode on my blog, but – as a New Zealander – I’m possibly just a little too far away from the nuance of the thing. Have a strong interest in British Politics (studied UK/Euro politics through to post-grad level at Uni), regularly visit the UK (there for a few months last year and witnessed Corbyn’s rise), friends and family scattered about London and elsewhere, read UK media online each day, own a copy of most of Norman’s work on Israel and its lobby published over the last 20 years, Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappe etc and a huge number of critical articles on Israel’s Occupation. Read quite a lot specifically on the UK Israel lobby, criticism of BBC bias and so on. I’ve also made it my business over the last 15 years to read scholarly work on the Zionist movement (including Lenni Brenner’s quasi-academic work, which is now suddenly receiving a burst of publicity) … but still, I think, not really enough to compensate for not actually being physically there on the ground in Britain while this witch-hunt/hurricane continues to play out. Some one who was active in the UK Labour Party would have a much stronger take on the minutiae etc But, I’m still kind of toying with the idea of doing something, if only as a way of expressing anger at the outrage of witnessing various apologists for Israeli war crimes (including paid ones like the Blairite Luke Akehurst – his day job is running a pro-Israeli campaign group) and various others who have never lifted a finger in the cause of anti-racism suddenly having the sheer audacity to think they can take the high moral ground on racism when attacking people like Livingstone. Absolutely Jaw-dropping.

    The witch-hunt, incidentally, is being discussed on both Left and Right blogs and social media forums in New Zealand (and, no doubt, throughout the English-speaking world). As indeed was the Labour Leadership contest last year. There’s quite intense interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Many thanks for your kind words. Your knowledge of these machinations is impressive for someone on the other side of the world. I think you’re right to zero in on Labour First and Akehurst for example. I am planning to address some, but only some, of this in Part 2 of the openDemocracy piece. I would encourage you to write on it, if you can point to anything solid. The role of pro-Israel networks in British politics is something that needs more research in general.

    There’s someone else you should be in touch with on these issues; if you want, you can email me on jsternweiner [at] gmail [dot] com and I’ll make the connection.


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