Michel Warschawski is an Israeli anti-Zionist activist and contributor to The Case for Sanctions Against Israel. He is the former leader of the Marxist Revolutionary Communist League, and the founder of the Alternative Information Center, a Palestinian-Israeli NGO. This is his response to the recent accusations against Jeremy Corbyn and Ken
I met Ken Livingstone when he was the leader of the Greater London Council, and, among his many positive initiatives, Livingstone declared 1985 – if I am not mistaken –Year Against Racism.
During this year, London municipality were organising several events, including exhibitions, concerts and conferences, and as an anti-racist activist, I was invited to speak on one of these panels.
I met Jeremy Corbyn on several occasions, all related to solidarity with Palestine. These two leaders of the British Labour Party are truly progressive and anti-racist politicians. Accusing them of anti-Semitism is simple calumny. The Israeli leaders are accustomed of confronting European political leaders that can be easily pressured and even blackmailed: you must support us and our policy, or you will be accused of Anti-Semitism. In Germany and in France this tactic is working, however much less so in the UK. One reason for this is the political courage of British left-wing politicians, a courage that doesn’t exist, for example, on the French left. The other reason is the multicultural nature of the British society, which allows non-white men, women and organizations to express themselves as such in the public domain. Unlike the French “Republican model” that does not recognize the existence of communities in the public domain, and what the French call “communitarism” is perceived as anti-Republican and regressive.
It is impossible to imagine a Muslim woman wearing a hijab as the spokesperson of the French anti-war movement, like Salma Yaqoob in the UK. It is impossible to imagine a Muslim mayor in the city hall of Paris, but in London Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor.
What did Livingstone and Corbyn say that made Netanyahu and his gang so mad? That Israel is a colonial country that denies basic rights to the Palestinian people. Big deal! That, in the early thirties, there was collusion between some Zionist leaders and fascist movements and ideologies? This is public knowledge, documented in dozens of Israeli studies.
Livingstone and Corbyn are progressive and anti-racists. Netanyahu, Benett and Shaked are the last people on earth who have a right to give them lessons on the principles of human rights and decency.
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