Just after the October revolution a small band of Jewish radicals tried to help push communism onto the Jewish masses. They attacked Jewish identity, both from a religious perspective (Judaism) and a national one (Zionism). I have written about them before and they were called the Yevsektsiya. Reading about them is like watching history unfold. At their second conference, they demanded that the Zionist organisations be dissolved – LFI (Labour Friends of Israel) and JLM (Jewish Labour Movement) – you have already been warned. By their third conference, they demanded the ‘total liquidation’ of Zionism.
Every aspect of Jewish cultural life came ‘under assault’. They sought to cut off funds for Jewish theatre, and community life in the synagogue was seen as subversive. One of their central targets was the chief Rabbi and his allies. The Jews of Russia did not know it in 1920, but a bitter antisemitic winter that was to last seventy years had begun. The Jewish radicals enabled and protected the anti-Jewish racism that was to spread like a virus. They did it in the name of ‘solidarity’. They were part of Communist Russia’s Information and Propaganda Department and were set up not just to take action, but to deflect accusations of antisemitism.
I am currently finishing a ‘sequel’ to the Palestine Live report, which will hopefully be published in early April. It focuses exclusively on this small band of Jewish people (and a few media allies) who have provided cover for accusations of antisemitism inside the Labour Party. I believe the new report will make disturbing reading for anyone who fights against racism. Currently JVL (Jewish Voice for Labour) are seeking affiliation with local Labour groups that have been hurt by suspensions because of antisemitism. Just two days ago Liverpool Riverside joined the list. I am fairly positive, Liverpool Riverside will no longer have a problem with antisemitism.
An attack on the Jewish religion
What has any of this got to do with the religion? Isn’t JVL simply an ‘anti-Zionist’ movement? Firstly, it is important to remember a simple lesson. Never believe a word that JVL says. They claim they are not even anti-Zionist at all, except everyone there wants to see Zionism, and Israel, taken apart. To gain any acceptance by left leaning Jews at all, they spin lines about ‘having trouble with Israeli policy’. With the media they feign moderation. It is little more than a masking exercise, and this week they were unmasked again. This time not over Israel, but Judaism.
In six days Jewish people across the world will be sitting down to celebrate Passover. It is an important, ‘biblically derived‘ festival. It is one of the most important dates in the Hebrew calendar. Jews all over the world are currently engaging in a ‘spring clean’ in preparation, and on Friday night will read the story of the Exodus from Egypt in a text called the Haggadah.
In total it is fourteen pages long and last night I went through it. It is an attack on Jewish tradition, Jewish prayer, Jewish culture and the Jewish religion. It makes a mockery of one of the most important dates in the Jewish calendar. This is reproduced for the masses by a group inside the Labour Party that claims it represents Jews. What has Zionism got to do with a Jewish festival? Why can’t Jews sit down as they have always done, and celebrate a religious festival like everyone else? Why is our basic identity under attack? These are the tags, that JVL chose to use to place it on their website:
The four glasses of wine
Can you imagine what would happen if central beliefs of either Christians or Muslims were ridiculed from inside the Labour Party? This book doesn’t just change a few words – it politicises the entire event. It mocks us. According to JVL, when Jews all over the world sit down to talk about the Exodus – they need to focus on the Palestinians.
There are still four glasses of wine. However:
- The first cup is to education
- The second cup is to solidarity
- The third cup is to the BDS movement
- The fourth cup is to community
The entire text reads like an apology from Jews to the world. It opens not by talking about the oppression of Jews, but racial hate against Muslims:
In the wake of the violence, turmoil, colonialist control, and ongoing Occupation, we want to acknowledge the distinction between “mitzrayim” – the narrow place – where the story we tell at Passover takes place and Egypt, the modern-day nation state. We are not conflating contemporary Egyptians with the pharaoh and taskmasters that appear in the Passover story. In the U.S., and worldwide, anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia saturate our media and our culture, and we must be vigilant to oppose it and interrupt it at every turn.
It’s all about immigration stupid!
As we begin the Exodus story, we read that the oppression of the Israelites resulted from Pharaoh’s fear that their growth would somehow overwhelm the Egyptian nation. These verses certainly have an ominous resonance for the Jewish people. Indeed any member of a minority faith or ethnic group knows all too well the tragedy that inevitably ensues when a nation views their demographic growth as a “threat.” Today it is all too common to hear Israel’s leaders and supporters suggest that the “Jewish character” of Israel is threatened by the demographic growth of the Palestinian people. How should we react to the suggestion that the mere fact of this group’s growth necessarily poses a national threat to Israel? As Jews living in the Diaspora, how would we respond if our leaders raised questions about the “demographic threat” of a particular minority group to the “national character” of our country? In a multi-ethnic society, can a state’s identity ever be predicated upon the primacy of one ethnic group without the oppression of another?
The symbolic olive
‘At the same time, we eat this olive in sorrow, mindful that olive trees, the source of livelihood for Palestinian farmers, are regularly chopped down, burned and uprooted by Israeli settlers and the Israeli authorities. As we look on, Israel pursues systematic policies that increasingly deny Palestinians access to olive orchards that have belonged to them for generations. As we eat now, we ask one another: How will we, as Jews, bear witness to the unjust actions committed in our name? Will these olives inspire us to be bearers of peace and hope for Palestinians – and for all who are oppressed?’
The entire heart of the Passover meal is stripped away. Whoever wrote this, missed it all. Instead of Jewish families coming together and prompting children to talk and to ask (a way of passing the traditions from generation to generation), this is an activists get-together.
The four questions
- The Jewish people have a right, like everyone else, to experience and enjoy their own customs. To introduce their children to cultural heritage, and to experience special nights, just like other religions enjoy. Why have the group that claims to be the representative of the Jewish people inside the Labour Party, uploaded a blatant and direct attack on Jewish religious and cultural heritage?
- What percentage of Jewish people would use a text like this?
- Would JVL upload a similar text from other faiths, that mock and ridicule all of the central messages contained within a religious cultural experience? If they are unable to do so, they should be asked to explain why they cannot.
- Why do the Labour Party continue to provide cover for a group that so clearly follows the path of antisemitic forces from early Communist rule?
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