(This is a copy of a letter I intend to send to Sir Keir Starmer. I do not expect it to have any effect on its own; but this is the only kind of action I am in a position to make before the next election. I hope that enough others with the vote are doing something like this own their own account so that in time the pressure will tell.)
It is to the eternal shame of the United Kingdom that its political representatives in the UK Parliament, most notably yourself, are willing to give their unstinting and unwavering support to the state of Israel.
Israel claims to be, and is accepted by the UK as being, a democratic nation. However, Israel’s actions in relation to the ordinary people of Palestine and to its own Arab citizens have since its founding in 1948 run counter to every accepted definition of democracy as we understand it in the UK.
Israel also claims to be the only truly Jewish state, a characterisation which has been all too readily accepted by its sponsor nations, especially the UK and the USA.
But it cannot be a Jewish state for two reasons: one, that about 50% of its population is not Jewish, and two, that there are a significant number of Jews, both inside Israel as well as outside it, who do not agree with Israel’s attempt, fundamental to its underlying political philosophy, at dishonouring and displacing the Palestinian people.
Indeed, Israel’s ambition to be a Jewish state at the expense of the non-Jews living in the region it controls by military force is racist by its very nature.
This racism is the foundation on which it has built its particular system of apartheid in Israel, and which justifies its various and highly injurious actions in the occupied territories, including the ghettoisation of Gaza and the forced evictions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Israel goes so far in its pursuit of affirming its image as the true Jewish state as to deflect all reasonable criticism of its actions by characterising such criticism, regardless of its source, as being anti-Semitic.
Anti-Semitism once upon a time was defined very simply as being Jew-hatred, i.e. a sense of enmity to all Jews and all things Jewish. Now, under pressure from Israel, there is a new definition.
This is encapsulated in the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism which the Labour Party, against all reason, has woven into its own policies and which you are using in the most arbitrary fashion as an excuse to exclude members from the party whose political convictions do not fit into the game of realpolitiks that you have chosen to play.
According to your interpretation of the IHRA definition, any-one who speaks out against the Israeli enterprise in Palestine for any reason is speaking out against the whole Jewish people, on whose behalf and with whose complete approval Israel is acting.
This blanket approach to criticism has resulted in Israel routinely accusing even its Jewish opponents of anti-Semitism, and has established a concerted campaign against its Jewish opponents which allows for the most personal and abusive terms to be used against them that cannot be used against non-Jews, because it is their Jewishness which is brought into question.
You have adapted and adopted this position to meet your own political ends.
So, because many anti-Zionist Jews believe that Israel is attacking them for their particular interpretation of Jewish history, political philosophy, and religion, it can hardly be surprising that their understanding of Israel’s response to their views, and your response likewise, is that it is in itself anti-Semitic.
In other words, the Labour Party, historically an internationalist and anti-racist party, has chosen now to stand, under your leadership, with a strongly nationalist and racist state whose claim to be a full democracy is entirely false, and is indeed carrying out its own version of the desperately unjust and demonstrably anti-Semitic campaign which Israel is waging against its opponents, opponents who are acting solely on humanitarian grounds.
That is irony enough.
But there is an added, and very bitter, irony, which is that Israel has won the support of real anti-Semites. Israel is admired round the world by far-right parties and organisations because they approve of the scope and effectiveness of Israel’s anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim discrimination, and who likewise approve for their own reasons of Israel’s message to the Jews of the world that Israel is the only safe place for Jews to be.
This inevitably feeds the rise in anti-Semitism round the world. Israel’s words and actions feed the notion that all Jews are racially antagonistic to the Palestinians because all Jews believe Palestine is theirs by natural right. Accordingly this confirms the traditional anti- Semitic stereotype which depicts Jews as thinking of themselves as a superior species of human being.
So it is that Israel finds allies among those who promote anti-Semitism in the world; and yet, Israel does not concern itself with that, so long as it benefits as a state from such alliances.
All of this seems to have passed our political masters by, as it has passed you by. And why would this be? Because of the benefits they themselves gain from Israel’s role in maintaining a balance of power in the Middle East which favours the global capitalist states of the West.
This being said, I fail to understand what earthly benefit can there be for the Labour Party in all this.
Maybe it has something to do with the existential fear shared by most of Israel’s allies, a fear of being tarred with the brush of anti-Semitism, as they do not wish to be associated in any way in the public mind with any policy that connects with Hitler’s Germany.
So it’s all about the next election. Realpolitik, no more, no less,
Or maybe it has something to do with more personal considerations, which should have no place in deciding party policy. But that’s for you to know.
In any event, the Labour Party is now an embarrassment to a significant number of its supporters – and ex-supporters – as the present membership count clearly demonstrates compared to the count when Jeremy Corbyn was leader.
Now, I do not expect this letter on its own to make any substantial difference to your way of thinking, or any difference at all
You are fully aware of the effect the punitive actions are having which you are taking against the Jews in your party who oppose Israel’s violent oppressions in Palestine and its systematic displacement of the Palestinian people from their own homes; and you are fully aware of the deleterious effect these and other actions of yours are having on the whole of your party.
You clearly have an agenda which does not include these things as matters of any importance.
Notwithstanding, I feel that I must express my personal outrage that you should lend your support to a violently oppressive, racist, militaristic, nationalist and expansionist state whose pretense that it is a democracy is nothing but a sham.
Why would you stand alongside the extreme right-wingers, the neo-Nazis and the altright, in their support for a regime which is both offering them a simple solution to the problem of where Jews should be sent to and giving them practical lessons in how to treat racial minorities? Why stand with a state which for all its claims that it is a Jewish state is severely undermining the fight against anti-Semitism in the world?
I am a Jew and proud of it. I resent the Zionists telling me that they are acting in my name and my best interests when both of these things are blatantly untrue. Also, I am English, and I love my country with all its faults. But I resent you as the leader of a party which has always opposed itself to narrow nationalism pretending that you are acting in my interests when you support a state whose brand of nationalism is creating such agony for a people whose worst crime is to be in its way.
You are a deep disappointment to those of us who expect a leader of the British Labour Party to stand up to extreme right-wing nationalists such as govern from the Knesset.
So do not read this is a plea for change. You have no intention of listening to people like me however much we protest.
However, consider that eventually you may find yourself being held to account in the court of public opinion for your failure to address one of the great humanitiarian crises of the modern world, as the opposition to the Israeli regime grows stronger each day, in the UK, in the USA, in Israel itself, and around the world, a significant part of that growing opposition being Jewish.
I for one look forward to that day.
Richard A Snell.
One thought on “OPEN LETTER TO SIR KEIR STARMER”
Excellent letter Richard, you have spoken for a lot of ex members of the Labour Party, a party that no longer makes any pretext in its representation of socialism and the working classes, whoever, or wherever they may be.