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The Persistence of Anti-Semitism on the British Left

Filed under: Anti-Semitism, Europe and Israel
Publication: Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review

Jewish Political Studies Review 16:3-4 (Fall 2004)


Much of the recent analysis of leftist anti-Semitism focuses on developments since the outbreak of the second intifada in September 2000. This article, which takes Britain as a case study, seeks to situate what is commonly referred to as the “new” anti-Semitism in a historical context, arguing that many of the anti-Semitic themes currently present in leftwing and liberal discourse have been observable in the past. The article analyzes the evolution of leftist anti-Semitism, concentrating in particular on the motif of delegitimization that marks discussions of Zionism and Israel. It concludes that the organizational alignment of leftist and Islamist organizations, and the ongoing integration of Islamist and leftist attitudes toward Jews, represents a qualitative shift in the nature of leftist anti-Semitism in Britain.


Although egalitarian, cosmopolitan, and internationalist principles are common to all variants of socialist doctrine, these have not immunized the Left from anti-Semitism. What the German socialist leader August Bebel denounced as the “socialism of fools” is as old and as resilient as the Left itself, even if its original thesis, famously expressed in Kautsky’s prognosis1 that the Jews would disappear with capitalism’s demise, has turned out to be a fallacy.


Like other forms of anti-Semitism, left-wing anti-Semitism has survived by mutating; whereas once the Jewish question (or problem) was viewed through the prism of economics, now it belongs to the realm of politics. The orthodox Marxist notion2 that the Jews – as an economic agent – perform a distinctive function within a system designed for the extraction of surplus value has been replaced by the anticolonialist notion that the Jews – as a national collective – are integral to the maintenance of American hegemony on a global level.3 Accordingly, there has been a conceptual shift on the Left from the politics of class to the politics of identity; and, again accordingly, a practical alignment with those forces, most notably the Islamist movements, opposed to this hegemony.

As a result of this alignment, three points warrant consideration. First, visceral opposition not to Israel’s security policies alone but to its very legitimacy means that, as in Islamist discourse, the terms “Jew,” “Israel,” and “Zionist” are increasingly interchangeable in contemporary left-wing discourse; second, this discourse has been standardized and globalized;4 third, this discourse is increasingly finding recognition outside the activist margins, for example, among politicians broadly described as “progressive,” among prominent academics, and in liberal media outlets.

In the United Kingdom, the phenomenon of left-wing anti-Semitism has been somewhat overshadowed by the attention paid to similar problems elsewhere in Europe, particularly in France, Belgium, and The Netherlands. Nevertheless, the anti-Semitism of the British Left deserves closer examination, not least because Britain was the former Mandate power in Palestine and a Labour government was in office when the State of Israel was created in 1948. The aim of this article, therefore, is to take a long view of the development of anti-Semitism on the British Left. While much of the analysis concentrates on attitudes toward Zionism, it needs to be stressed that in the United Kingdom, as elsewhere, hostility toward Zionism and Israel often functions as a Trojan horse for anti-Semitism.

The primary argument underlying this article is that the classic anti-Semitism associated with the xenophobic Right and its leftist version are linked by a profound enmity toward the empowered, autonomous Jew. For the extreme Right, anti-Semitism is based on a dark fantasy about the malign effects of Jewish power, which integrates the financial and the political spheres. In the leftist imagination, the only good Jew is the invisible Jew, one who is assimilated totally by his surroundings; by contrast, Jewish national consciousness is, a priori, reactionary, supremacist, and politically aligned with imperialism. For many on the Left, the concrete expression of this consciousness, the State of Israel, is the last colonial outpost in the world.


Origins of the “New” Anti-Semitism

“Why do you come to me with your special Jewish sorrows?” wrote the Polish Jewish revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg5 to a comrade. “I feel just as sorry for the wretched Indian victims in Patanago, the Negroes in Africa….I cannot find a special corner in my heart for the ghetto.” Those who would position themselves as Luxemburg’s heirs have, perhaps, taken her sentiments a step further. Jewish suffering is relativized or denied outright, while the supposed crimes of Jewish nationalism are seized upon with gusto. Moreover, in the collective heart of the modern Left there is a “special corner” for the Palestinians, whose particular narrative of exile has elevated their trials far above those of other unfortunate nations.

It is at the farthest reaches of the Left, where there is a fixation with the Palestinians, that we find the brashest expressions of anti- Semitism. Among the mosaic of groups that compose the “antiglobalization” movement, as well as among the remnants of the New Left, anti-Semitic rhetoric and symbolism is rife. The UN World Conference against Racism in Durban in September 2001, the conferences organized by the World Social Forum in India and Brazil, and the marches in several European cities against the U.S.- led intervention in Iraq are all examples of public events where Jews have been actively denigrated. Such displays have commonly been presented as manifestations of the “new anti-Semitism,” generally dated back to September 2000, when the second Palestinian intifada began. Decidedly, this “new” anti-Semitism, which would deny selfdetermination to the Jews even as it celebrates this principle for other nationalities, is driven by the Left, and not the Right. Even so, it is far from new.6

In the British case, it should be borne in mind that contemporary manifestations of leftist anti-Semitism are loosely related, if at all, to the hostility – rooted in a conflict between indigenous and immigrant workers rather than opposition to Zionism – that Jews encountered from sections of the British labor movement at the turn of the 20th century. In addition, among some British social democrats there is a parallel tradition of solidarity with the Jews and Israel. As in other countries, the adversarial position toward Zionism was the effect of an encroaching New Left agenda during the 1960s and 1970s, so that by 1982 W.D. Rubinstein could state: “Fringe neo-Nazi groups notwithstanding, significant anti-Semitism is now almost exclusively a left-wing rather than a right-wing phenomenon.”7 Rubinstein also identified the factors that distinguish current leftist discourse as anti- Semitic, in particular the questioning of Israel’s legitimacy as a state. This strategy of delegitimization was accompanied by a steady buildup of pro-Palestinian opinion. In a case study of the United Kingdom, Rubinstein noted that as early as 1969, pro-Palestinian groups were being formed within the Labour Party; by 1978, one-sixth of Labour’s parliamentary contingent was identifiably pro-Arab. These developments reflected the growing influence of the far Left within and outside the party’s ranks.8

Much of the ire directed toward Zionism on the British Left drew strongly on motifs found in Soviet propaganda, specifically the equation of Zionism with Nazism and the accusation that the Zionist movement collaborated with the Nazis or even engaged in the killing of Jews to further its own ends. Rubinstein cites the example of the British Anti-Zionist Organization (BAZO),9 a left-wing group active on university campuses during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In an especially insidious example of the collaboration charge, BAZO claimed that the Struma, a ship carrying Romanian Jewish refugees to Palestine that was sunk by the Soviets in 1942, was in fact destroyed by Zionists because the sole survivor, David Stoliar, went on to fight for the Haganah.

Aside from the facile logic involved here, claims like this one, and those contained in the play Perdition discussed below, demonstrate the difference between the anti-Zionism of the ancien Left and that espoused by its new incarnation. As Robert Wistrich has argued, in becoming a “code word for the forces of reaction in general,” Zionism has assumed a global importance for the contemporary Left that not even Marx and Lenin could have foreseen. Consequently, “[t]he extreme left in western societies not only denigrates Israel and Zionism in a systematic manner, but its irrational hostility frequently spills over into contempt or antipathy towards Jews and Judaism as such.”10

The Lebanon War of 1982 afforded many instances of leftist publications in Britain engaging in ferocious attacks on Israel that drew on classic anti-Semitic images and themes. These attacks bore striking similarities to the anti-Semitic crudities evident during the formative years of English socialism. In 1884, for example, Justice, the newspaper of the Social Democratic Federation, railed against the “Jew moneylenders who now control every Foreign Office in Europe.”11 Almost a century later, the newspaper of the Workers Revolutionary Party – an organization distinguished by the presence of the actress Vanessa Redgrave among its members and for the generous funding it received from Libya – employed similar terms when it opined that it was “Britain who sold the Palestinian people out to Zionist money power.”12 Aside from the typical association of Jewish influence with financial muscle, what is arresting about this statement is the exaggeration of the power of Zionism to the extent that it, and not the British Mandate, is the starting point for what passes as an analysis of the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

A related tendency is the ascribing of collective guilt for Israel’s actions. As this is an important feature of the “new” anti-Semitism, it should be remembered that this was also pronounced during the Lebanon War. A British anarchist paper captured the two prongs of this argument – that all Jews are responsible for what Israel does and that Jews are therefore responsible for their own misfortune – extremely well.13 The massacres at the Sabra and Shatila camps, blamed automatically on Israel, could not fail to spark “acts of revenge” across the world; it was not fanciful to assume that the targets of revenge would be Jewish communities. The consequent claim, namely, that Zionism is the “monster” that fuels anti-Semitism, holds the Jews themselves accountable for prejudice against them.

This recasting of Zionism as a causal factor of anti-Semitism, rather than an authentic Jewish response to it, is a uniquely leftist contribution to anti-Semitic doctrine. It is, moreover, intimately linked to the accusation of Zionist collaboration with the Nazis. As Rubinstein points out, whereas for the neo-Nazis the Shoah is a hoax, for the far Left “[t]he Holocaust now emerges as the Jews (or Jewish nationalism’s) greatest crime – the autogenocide of the Twentieth Century.”14


Perdition: A Dress Rehearsal

In 1986 the play Perdition,15 by the Marxist playwright Jim Allen, brought the accusation of Zionist-Nazi collaboration to the British public’s attention for the first time. Until that point the Left’s discussion of Jews and Israel, like most of its discussions, had been conducted internally, with leaders defining the doctrine and foot soldiers repeating it to each other. Now, a thesis that had been dismissed by scholars of the Shoah was suddenly granted a wider audience.

Perdition was based on a well-known trial brought to the Jerusalem district court in 1954.16 The defendant in the trial was an elderly Hungarian Jew, Malkhiel Grunwald, who was charged with defaming the Hungarian Zionist leader Rudolf Kastner when he accused him of collaborating with the Nazis as they prepared to exterminate Hungary’s Jews in 1944.Kastner’s intent had been to negotiate a deal whereby the German army would be supplied with ten thousands trucks in exchange for a stay of execution. But according to Grunwald, Kastner had facilitated, through his negotiations with Adolf Eichmann, the destruction of Hungary’s Jews while enriching himself personally. The court found in favor of Grunwald. Kastner himself was assassinated just before Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the Jerusalem court’s decision.

In the hands of a talented dramatist, this story could have probed the nature and limits of the moral choice confronting the leader of a beleaguered community, as well as the complex motives of the survivor who made these allegations. In Allen’s hands, any nuances and subtleties were purged. In his own words, Perdition was a tale of “privileged Jewish leaders” collaborating “in the extermination of their own kind in order to help bring about a Zionist state, Israel, a state which itself is racist.”17

The announcement by London’s Royal Court Theatre that it intended to stage the play sparked a furious public debate. Many Jewish scholars and leaders pointed to gross distortions and inaccuracies in the text, asserting that Perdition was little more than standard anti- Semitic conspiracy theory with a leftist tinge. European Zionists, the play charged, betrayed Europe’s Jews while “all-powerful American Jewry” (a line from the play) discreetly approved the strategy. Indeed, the text was replete with lines that equated the power of Zionism with that of Nazism (“the Zionist knife in the Nazi fist”) and highlighted the selfishness of Jewish leaders (“To save your hides, you practically led them to the gas chambers of Auschwitz”).

In January 1987 the artistic director of the Royal Court, Max Stafford-Clark, declared that his doubts about Perdition were grave enough for him to cancel its performance. Although Stafford-Clark made the decision on his own, left-wing activists were quick to point to a Zionist “conspiracy.”18 The film director Ken Loach, a close colleague of Allen, claimed that the theater had caved in to pressure from prominent British Jews such as Dr. Stephen Roth, Lord Weidenfeld, and Lord Goodman; men, Loach said, “who can pay their way.”

For anyone exploring the recent history of anti-Semitism on the British Left, the Perdition affair is seminal for at least two reasons. First, the immense press coverage the affair generated meant that extreme anti-Zionist claims won wider attention, particularly among Britain’s liberally inclined intelligentsia; as the past was interpreted through the prejudices of the present – the perception of Israel as a racist, militarist state – it is not surprising that these claims were given serious and sometimes sympathetic attention. Second, the affair rehabilitated the old canard of the nefarious, transcendental power of Jewish individuals and organizations, whether manifested in wartime Hungary (the subject matter of the play) or modern-day London (the reason for the play’s cancellation). Since 2000, a similar discourse of uncompromising anti-Zionism, which carries both implicit and explicit warnings about the dangerous extent of Jewish power, has resurfaced in Britain. As has been demonstrated thus far, its authors belong to the far Left, but those who echo it are spread, politically and demographically, more widely.


Anti-Semitism and the Liberal-Left Elite

In January 2002 the New Statesman, an august journal of the British Center-Left, published a cover story about the “Zionist lobby” in Britain.19 The magazine’s cover displayed a golden Star of David stabbing a pliant Union flag and carried the legend: “A Kosher Conspiracy?” In the days and weeks that followed, Jewish and non-Jewish critics excoriated the New Statesman for its revival of anti-Semitic iconography. The magazine eventually ran a qualified apology from the editor, Peter Wilby, who conceded that the cover “used images and words in such a way as to create unwittingly the impression that the New Statesman was following an anti-Semitic tradition that sees the Jews as a conspiracy piercing the heart of the nation” (emphasis added).20

Wilby’s assertion that the New Statesman did not realize the historical import of the imagery it used must be regarded as disingenuous. Is it really credible that no one among the culturally sensitive editorial staff of a political weekly would have been struck, in examining the cover before it went to press, by the echoes of the Protocols or the agitational rhetoric of Maurras or Streicher? That no one at the New Statesman was aware of the Left’s own anti-Semitic idiom, from Fourier’s “parasites” to Stalin’s “rootless cosmopolitans”? These points were never addressed by the magazine.

The article on the Zionist lobby itself, by Denis Sewell,21 amassed evidence for one conclusion and then ended with another. After writing about the web of clients assembled by an Israeli arms dealer, including the Shah of Iran and Indira Gandhi; after claiming that this same arms dealer was financially supporting a pro-Israeli lobbying group in London; and after pointing to instances of journalists at The Times and the Daily Telegraph allegedly being censored by media barons with Zionist sympathies, Sewell ended his piece with the argument that the Zionist lobby was ineffective and “clueless” because it opened itself up to criticism by accepting funds from a man involved in the sale of weaponry.

No such sophistry was evident in the accompanying article by John Pilger, the extreme left-wing journalist.22 Pilger has been a stalwart critic of Tony Blair’s project to remake “old” Labour as “new” Labour, whereby many long-established socialist principles were abandoned and a greater distance was placed between the party and the trade unions. For Pilger, as for many on the Left, Blair’s personal sympathy with Israel reflects the party’s sharp turn to the right, as well as being emblematic of British subservience to American foreign policy.

Indulging in the conspiracy theorizing beloved of the far Left, Pilger identified Blair’s friendship with “wealthy Jewish businessman” Lord Levy, who also serves as his envoy to the Middle East, as the principle reason for his support of the Sharon “regime.” Hence, the New Statesman gave us two contrasting views of Jewish power. For Sewell, it is incompetent,whereas for Pilger, it is ruthless and proficient; for both writers, though, Jewish power undoubtedly exists in the shadows of political life, manipulating and shaping policy as it tries to escape scrutiny.

This stress on the intersection of Jewish power with Jewish wealth was evident during the furore over Perdition, demonstrating that it is one of the more favored anti-Semitic themes of the Left and is easily revived. Indeed, in 2003 the veteran Labour MP Tam Dalyell told a Vanity Fair journalist that Blair’s views on the Middle East had been subverted by a “Jewish cabal” that included, along with Lord Levy, Peter Mandelson, a key ally of the prime minister, and Jack Straw, the foreign secretary (both Mandelson and Straw have Jewish ancestry, but neither is Jewish).23 Moreover, this highlighting of Jewish influence is not restricted to the British Left’s appraisal of their own country’s Middle East policy. Numerous denunciations of American foreign policy under the Bush administration have dwelt upon the Jewish origins of the neoconservatives in Washington. In 2004, a former BBC Middle East correspondent was even more brazen. At a speech in Glasgow, Tim Llewellyn accused President Clinton’s former Middle East envoy Denis Ross of hiding behind “a lovely Anglo-Saxon name.” He went on to say that Ross is “not just a Jew, he is a Zionist…a Zionist propagandist.”24

The passage of the anti-Zionism of the extreme Left to the Center- Left, along with its attendant disdain for Jewish concerns, is visible in other media outlets. A good deal of attention has been paid to the BBC, which, despite a public broadcasting remit and “Producer Guidelines” that are meant to enforce impartiality, has been consistently biased in its reporting on the Middle East. One analyst has suggested that to understand why this is the case, the BBC’s own culture needs to be examined: “It is full of reporters holding left-wing, so-called ‘liberal’ viewpoints, including very negative ones about Israel. They then recruit people under them who have a similar outlook. In this way, the liberal left-wing system propagates itself.”25

Similar criticism has been directed at the United Kingdom’s two main liberal dailies, The Guardian and The Independent, both of which regularly publish comment questioning Israel’s legitimacy and portraying it as a pariah state.26 Although both papers have, on occasion, acknowledged the Jewish community’s anxieties about their reporting, they have also, on occasion, been dismissive.27 For example, Paul Foot, Britain’s leading leftist commentator until his death in 2004, wrote in his Guardian column: “Especially pathetic on the part of our apologists for Israeli oppression is their bleating about anti-semitism. For the sort of oppression they favour is the seed from which all racialism, including anti-semitism, grows.”28

This brief survey of attitudes toward Jews on the British liberal- Left would not be complete without some mention of the campaign for an academic boycott of Israel, begun in April 2002 by the biology professor Steven Rose. As in the media, liberal and leftist viewpoints are disproportionately represented in Britain’s universities. Despite the profusion of human rights crises around the world, from Sudan to North Korea, it is the Palestinian cause that has seized the imagination of Britain’s leftist academics and has fueled calls for a boycott; one practical result has been the reporting of a number of cases of discrimination against Israeli scholars and researchers in British academic institutions. The boycott campaign is perhaps the most transparent illustration of the Left’s determination to depict Israel as the ultimate rogue state.


The Red-Green Alliance

The spillage of anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism noted by Wistrich is an increasingly perilous feature of British political life, as it is elsewhere in Europe. This tendency has manifested itself everywhere from the literary pages of liberal newspapers to resolutions on the Middle East passed by trade unions, as well as in the escalating calls for an academic boycott of, and economic sanctions against, Israel. It has been argued here that any examination of anti-Semitism on the British Left without a strong sense of historical context is compromised, but it is equally true that the conditions that enable the expression of anti-Jewish sentiment on the Left have never been as permissive as they are now. To understand why this is the case, it is necessary to explore in greater detail an issue raised at the beginning of this article: the growing intimacy between the Left and the Islamists.29

The very existence of this alliance represents a critical shift for the Left. Radical socialism and radical Islam are far from obvious bedfellows, and a strict focus on the key texts of both does not yield any synergies. Even so, text and doctrine cannot be regarded as the sole substance of politics. Otherwise, one cannot explain why the left-wing mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, known for his previous support of feminist causes, would enthusiastically host an obscurantist Muslim cleric, or why a party claiming allegiance to Trotskyism would join forces with a group identified with the Muslim Brotherhood.30

Demography partially explains this shift. There are approximately 1.5 million Muslims in the United Kingdom, and the population is growing. Many British Muslims originate from Pakistan and Bangladesh, and their ranks have been swelled by arrivals from other Muslim countries, notably in the Arab world. In tandem, there has been a corresponding political radicalization. Some British Muslims identify with groups like Al Muhajiroun, which openly declares its support for Osama bin Laden (indeed, the first foreign homicide bombers to carry out an operation in Israel were two British Muslims). Many more identify with the ostensibly moderate Muslim Association of Britain (MAB), which, despite forswearing terrorism, proudly declares its support for Hamas.

Since the end of the Cold War, the Left has been groping for a mass response to the “New World Order”; by allying with the Islamists it may have found one. Of all the marches held in Europe in 2003 opposing the Iraq War, the largest took place in London, involving over one million protestors. An outgrowth of this march was a new political party, Respect, sponsored by the Socialist Workers Party, MAB, and George Galloway, a Scottish MP expelled from the Labour Party in part because of his links with Saddam Hussein’s regime. Although Respect failed to win any seats in the 2004 local and European parliamentary elections, it enjoyed a strong showing in those areas of the country, such as East London and the Midlands, with large Muslim populations.

Galloway, in particular, is known for his detestation of Israel; of only a handful of principles expressed in Respect’s founding document, solidarity with the Palestinians is one. At the same time, Galloway has rejected accusations of anti-Semitism.31 Such denials, however, ring ever more hollow for the following reason: despite all the demonization of Israel and Zionism that the British Left has engaged in for the last four decades, leftist groups stopped short of organizational alignment with anti-Semites. With the advent of Respect, this is no longer the case. MAB’s admiration for Islamist ideologues such as Sayid Qutb and Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, who expressed their loathing for Jews as Jews and not as Zionists, has begged some sort of clarification from its left-wing partners; but none has been forthcoming, save for the standard response that the participation of several Jews in the Palestinian solidarity movement renders accusations of anti-Semitism inadmissible. What is not recognized is that these Jews, whether acting as individuals or through organizations such as Jews for Justice for Palestinians,32 have no real base inside the British Jewish community and only identify as Jews for the purpose of disavowing Israel.

Fear of alienating Muslim activists and voters is certainly one reason for the reluctance to acknowledge and condemn Muslim anti- Semitism. Mindful of the importance of the Muslim vote in London, Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London, offered his hospitality to the Egyptian Muslim cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi, who visited the British capital in July 2004. Despite being confronted with Al Qaradawi’s anti-Semitic pronouncements – he has declared, for example, that there can be no dialogue with Jews “except by the sword and the rifle”33 – Livingstone continually dismissed objections to his presence in the United Kingdom as “Islamophobia.” Gay rights activists, once an important base of support for Livingstone, were similarly dismissed when they expressed displeasure at Qaradawi’s visit. Thus did the new Islamist-leftist constellation in Britain reveal those political constituencies that are excluded as well as included: Muslim distaste for those issues that were at the heart of the Left’s agenda, such as women’s emancipation and homosexual rights, has finally won out.

As well as the electoral imperatives of local politics, geopolitics is another explanatory factor for the Left’s startling shift. Opposition to the United States is axiomatic to the Left’s credo, even if that means joining with other currents with which there is little ideological commonality. This necessarily affects the Left’s attitude toward the Jews. In this regard, the “socialism of fools” derided by Bebel might be said to have given way to the “useful idiots” phenomenon derided by Lenin.34

Much has changed, but much has stayed the same. The denial of victimhood to the Jews, the plundering of the Shoah to condemn Israel,35 the conspiratorial portrayal of Jewish power and the inherent illegitimacy of Jewish self-determination, are all constants. However, the anti-Semitism distinctive to the British Left has integrated, ideologically and organizationally, with its Islamist counterpart. Consequently, British political discourse in the mosque, the street, and the salon has been infected. This last assertion is not intended to subsume peculiarities and differences into a single framework; rather, the aim has been to discern a general pattern of leftist anti-Semitism in Britain that, ominously, continues to develop.

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1. Kautsky argues that the disappearance of the Jews is also a desirable outcome: “We cannot say we have completely emerged from the Middle Ages as long as Judaism still exists among us. The sooner it disappears, the better it will be, not only for society, but also for the Jews themselves.” Karl Kautsky, Are the Jews a Race? (Jonathan Cape, London, 1926), also available at: http://
2. For a classic exegesis of this view, see Karl Marx, “On the Jewish Question,” in Early Writings (London: Penguin, 1992).
3. The view that Zionist imperatives control U.S. policy in the Middle East is increasingly finding favor on the Left, as several scholars have noted. See, for example, Shlomo Lappin, “Israel and the New Anti-Semitism,” Dissent, Spring 2003.
4. See Daniel Goldhagen, “The Globalization of Anti-Semitism,” Forward, 2 May 2003.
5. Quoted in Walter Laqueur, A History of Zionism (New York: MJF Books, 1997), p. 435.
6. For an incisive perspective on the novelty of the “new” anti-Semitism, see Anthony Julius, “Is There Anything ‘New’ in the New Anti-Semitism?”
in Paul Iganski and Barry Kosmin, eds., A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st-Century Britain (London: Profile Books, 2003).
7. W.D. Rubinstein, The Left, the Right and the Jews (London: Croom Helm, 1982), p. 9.
8. Ibid., p. 56.
9. Ibid., p. 110.
10. Robert Wistrich, “Left-Wing Anti-Zionism in Western Societies,” in Robert Wistrich, ed., Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism in the Contemporary World (London: Macmillan, 1990), p. 48.
11. See Steve Cohen, That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic: An Anti-Racist Analysis of Left Anti-Semitism (Manchester: Beyond the Pale Publishing, 1984), p. 20.
12. Ibid., p. 42.
13. Ibid., p. 53. The newspaper in question was the now defunct Big Flame.
14. Rubinstein, The Left, p. 115.
15. Perdition was published in 1987 by the anti-Zionist publishing house Ithaca Press (London).
16. See Leora Bilsky, “Judging Evil in the Trial of Kastner,” Law and History Review, Vol. 19, No. 1 (2001).
17. Quoted in David Cesarani, “The Perdition Affair,” in Wistrich, Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism, p. 54.
18. Ibid., p. 57.
19. See Winston Pickett, “Nasty or Nazi? The Use of Antisemitic Topoi in the Liberal-Left Media,” in Iganski and Kosmin, A New Anti-Semitism? pp. 148-166.
20. The New Statesman, 11 February 2002.
21. Ibid., 14 January 2002.
22. Ibid.
23. Dalyell later said: “I am fully aware that one is treading on cut glass on this issue and no-one wants to be accused of anti-Semitism, but, if it is a question of launching an assault on Syria or Iran . . . then one has to be candid.” See
24. Jewish Chronicle, 25 June 2004.
25. Trevor Asserson, “What Went Wrong at the BBC,” Jerusalem Viewpoints, No. 511, 15 January 2004. Asserson’s detailed research is available at www.bbcwatch.con.
26. See, e.g., Gerald Kaufman, “The Case for Sanctions against Israel,” The Guardian, 12 July 2004. Kaufman is a Jewish Labour MP who has become a virulent opponent of Israel.
27. Upholding its liberal principles, The Guardian ran a fairly critical review of a book by the Israeli journalist Daphna Baram, Disenchantment: The Guardian and Israel, which the newspaper itself published. The reviewer, Bryan Cheyette, observed that Baram had “something of a tin ear when it comes to the experiences of Jews as a minority in the diaspora.” Brian Cheyette, “What Became of Zion?” The Guardian, 24 July 2004.
28. Paul Foot, “In Defence of Oppression,” The Guardian, 5 March 2002.
29. See especially Dave Hyde, “Europe’s Other Red-Green Alliance,” Zeek, April 2003, available at
30. Anthony Browne, “This Sinister Brotherhood,” The Times, 11 August 2004.
31. In a 2002 speech at Cambridge University, Galloway declared: “We shouldn’t allow a group of gangsters called Zionists to hold us to ransom on the issue of anti-Semitism.” See quest.12jul2002.html.
32. Many British Jews were scandalized when, in December 2003, Jews for Justice for Palestinians held a Christmas-carol service in central London. Among the carols they sang was “Little Town of Bethlehem,” rewritten to condemn IDF operations in that town.
33. See>SD75304.
34. Lenin (supposedly) referred to those western leftists who unconditionally defended the USSR as “useful idiots.”
35. A notorious example of the abuse of Holocaust imagery involved the poet and critic Tom Paulin, who, after telling Al Ahram in 2002 that “Brooklynborn” Jewish settlers should be shot, wrote a poem that described Israeli soldiers as the “Zionist SS.” See David Cesarani, The Left and the Jews, the Jews and the Left (London: Profile, 2003), p. 75.

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BEN COHEN is a London-based writer and broadcaster. A former producer and reporter with the BBC, he now works on a freelance basis for a number of international broadcasters. He has also worked as a consultant on media development projects in the Balkans and Asia.