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THE results of the Israeli election which confirmed Benjamin Netanyahu as premier marked another stage in that country’s transition to a fully apartheid state.
Despite well-founded investigations into corruption and an appalling record of racist hate-mongering against Israel’s Arab population and the subject peoples of the West Bank and Gaza, this unashamed ally of imperialism has triumphed over a hopeless opposition that, from the very beginning of the election, accepted the basic premises upon which Netanyahu campaigned.
What passes as the zionist left has collapsed. The Israeli Labour Party which, nominally, at least, stands for a two-state solution to the Palestine national question slumped further into impotence.
With its six seats it polled less than the anti-apartheid Arab/Jewish Communist-led coalition while Meretz, which sees itself as the liberal left wing of zionism won just four seats.
The root of this collapse lies in the failure by Labour and Meretz to offer an alternative to the Blue and White alliance headed by Benny Gantz which accepted much of Netanyahu’s racist rhetoric while focusing its campaign on the bombastic premier’s manifest shortcomings rather than offering a fundamental challenge to his policies.
Unless and until the recognition of Palestinian national rights is embedded in practical policies and included in a governmental programme, a left zionism cannot offer itself as a credible opposition either to Netanyahu or as worthy of support.
For these reasons and more Britain really needs to have a grown-up conversation about Israel. Not just about that state’s domestic policies but the entire arsenal of repressive measures which it finds necessary to enforce its distinctive apartheid system.
This is an important moral and political question, but of immediate concern is the malign effect on our domestic politics that arises from the Israeli connection.
In the immediate past we have had an Israeli dirty tricks operative conspiring under diplomatic cover with home-grown activists to destabilise a Conservative Foreign Office minister perceived as too critical of Israeli policies, combined with a long-running campaign of destabilisation directed at the Labour Party and its leader and reportedly financed by a million pounds of Israeli government money.
This is the kind of interference that, if supposedly carried out by, say, Russia against the US, might generate quite considerable political heat.
In our country it was swiftly brushed under the carpet and the offending functionary dispatched to far shores.
Labour’s selectively broad church includes an affiliated socialist society, the Jewish Labour Movement — formerly Poale Zion — that is linked to the World Zionist Movement.
Zionism has always been a distinct if minority trend among Jewish people in the British labour and trade union movement and, like many labour movement bodies, the Jewish Labour Movement has included both left and right-wing trends.
People on the zionist left have played an active role on many issues including the fight against South African apartheid and most especially in the anti-fascist and anti-racist movements.
This is a tradition worth defending but there are but vestigial remains left in today’s JLM which is now transformed — by its own words — into an instrument for preventing the election of a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn.
The strategic objective of this campaign has been to quarantine the Palestine solidarity movement, and in particular, the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanction (BDS) campaign by conflating opposition to Israel’s policies with anti-semitism.
This conceit collapses the moment it is openly challenged. When, following Netanyahu’s election, US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed that the US cut military and economic aid worth £2.3 billion a year from Israel she exposed the essence of the question. Israel’s role as imperialism’s essential ally.
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