Tam Dalyell and anti-semitism

January 27, 2017 at 9:14 am (anti-semitism, AWL, left, Middle East, MPs, palestine, reactionay "anti-imperialism", reformism, SWP, zionism)

Image result for picture Tam Dalyell anti war

Long-standing Labour MP (43 years in the House until he retired in 2005) Tam Dalyell, who died yesterday, supported many good causes, was personally honest and courteous and (to judge by the tributes pouring in) was much-loved on all sides of the Commons. In many respects, he was an exemplary MP. So it may seem churlish — distasteful, even — at this time, to raise the matter of remarks he made in 2003 about the supposed influence of Jews on British and American politics (and especially, foreign policy), and the response this evoked from his friend Paul Foot. Nevertheless, it is important as an illustration of how prevalent casual anti-semitism and conspiracy-theorising about Jews was (and remains) commonplace even on “respectable” sections of the left and amongst otherwise decent individuals – and of how dishonest and slippery the stance of “anti-Zionists” like Foot and the SWP often is.

Anti-Semitism? Anti-Zionism! Learn how to do it smoothly, Tammy!

By Sean Matgamna

A small outcry greeted Tam Dalyell MP’s assertion that there are too many Jews in the entourages of Tony Blair and George W Bush, and that those Jews make Britain’s and the USA’s policy on the Middle East.

I found the responses to Dalyell encouraging, but also seriously off the point. The important and effective antisemites now are not those who talk like Hitlerites about Jewish influence and Jewish “cabals,’. Such people can usually expect the response Dalyell got.

Their talk is too close to what the Nazis said to justify genocide. It begs too-obvious questions and implies preposterous answers to them. Do all Jews have the same politics? How can the presence of “the Jews”, or of people of Jewish faith or Jewish background, add up to “Jewish influence” or “Jewish conspiracy”, when the individuals involved often have different opinions and advocate different policies?

How, where the neo-conservatives of Jewish origin who are close to George Bush are out of line with the thinking of most American Jews, the big majority of whom are liberal Democrats? Where, though there may be a number of Jews who share the same opinion on certain questions, they are not alone in such opinions, and Jews can be found defending the opposite view?

Where some Jews helped create the recent anti-war movement, while others fervently supported the war, or, in Bush’s camp, helped initiate it?

There is only one coherent version of the idea that where there are Jews around, irrespective of whether they agree or fight with each other, then that is a Jewish influence. And that is the Nazi doctrine that Bolshevik Jews and Jewish international financiers, irrespective of all that divides them, are all nonetheless part of one Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world. It is the only version that allows you to note the truth that there are bourgeois Jews and Bolshevik Jews, red Jews and Rothschilds.

That stuff doesn’t, I guess, have much of an open following now, though such bits of that old anti-semitism as Dalyell spewed out should of course be stamped on. A number of writers in the Guardian did stamp on it. It was left to Paul Foot to defend Dalyell and put the most important present day anti-semitism back in focus.

Foot wrote: “Obviously [Dalyel] is wrong to complain about Jewish pressure on Blair and Bush when he means Zionist pressure. But that is a mistake that is constantly encouraged by the Zionists” (Guardian 14 May 2003).

Foot advises Dalyell on how he should have expressed the same idea in widely acceptable words. Call them “Zionists”, not “Jews”, Tammy, and no-one can accuse you of being an anti-semite without also having to take on the bulk of the “revolutionary left”.

Learn how to do it in the modern fashion, comrade Dalyell’ Of course you didn’t mean “Jews”, you meant “Zionists”, didn’t you? Anti-Jewish feeling and ideas are usually now wrapped up in anti-Zionism. Not all “anti-Zionists” are anti-semites, but these days anti-semites are usually careful to present themselves as “anti-Zionists”.

For that reason, it is lightshedding to find a prominent pseudo-left “anti-Zionist” recognising as his political kin someone who denounces Jews – and, Foot thinks, was at fault only in lacking the finesse to say Zionist when he meant Jew.

“Anti-Zionism” is the anti-semitism of today. “Anti-Zionism”, that, is root-and-branch denunciation of Israel, involves comprehensively anti-Jewish attitudes – rampant or latent and implied – because it starts out from a stark refusal to recognise that the Jewish nation that had formed in Palestine by the mid 1930s had the right to exist, or the right to fight for its existence against those who would have destroyed it if they could.

In onslaughts the most important of which began in 1936, and in a series of wars, 1948, 1967, and 1973, Arab chauvinists tried to destroy the Jewish nation in Palestine. The “Zionists” had no right to defend themselves, still less to prevail! Arab pressure on the British overlords in pre-World-War-Two Palestine led to the closing of the doors to Palestine for Jews who otherwise faced death in Europe, and kept them closed all through the war and for three years after the war ended.

In his own way, Foot expresses the logic he himself sees in the “anti-Zionist” language he advises Dalyell to adopt. “There are lots of Jews in Britain who are bitterly opposed to the loathsome Israeli occupation of other people’s countries and the grotesque violence it involves” (emphasis added).

Countries, plural? Which countries does Israel occupy other than the West Bank and Gaza? Foot does not mean the ex-Syrian Golan Heights, Israeli-occupied since 1967. He means pre-1967 Israel.

The attitude to Israel which Foot expresses, that it does not have the right to exist at all, begins with denial of equality to the Jews of Palestine and with demonising the Jewish nation there.

From that denial comes grotesque anti-Jewish bias and misrepresentation in accounts of the history of the Jewish-Arab conflict and the origin of Israel. The Jewish nation had no right to exist; Jews who fled to Palestine from the Nazis had no right to do that; they never had the right to defend themselves, and they don’t have it now.

The overwhelming majority of Jews in the world, in whose post-Holocaust identity Israel is engrafted, are guilty of racism and betrayal of Jewish internationalism when, however critical they may be of Israeli governments, they defend Israel’s right to exist.

Beginning with denial of the Jewish state’s right to exist, this “anti-Zionism” spreads out to also demonise most Jews in the world. The “Zionists” who are demonised by the “anti-Zionists” of foot’s kind are always Jewish Zionists, not non-Jews who defend Israel’s right to exist and defend itself. (The exception is when they are those who can be denounced as renegades from pseudo-left orthodoxy on Israel and “Zionism” – like the non-Jewish supporters of Solidarity).

“Anti-Zionism” is the most potent anti-Semitism in the modern world. It is especially and most venomously a property of the pseudo-left, as Dalyell’s statement and Paul Foot’s gloss on it shows clearly.

In fact Dalyell didn’t even get his facts right. Of the three “Jews” he named in Blair’s circle, two, Jack Straw and Peter Mandelson, do not identify themselves as Jews, though both have some Jewish ancestry. The daft old duffer blundered into a racist, “tell-me-who-your-ancestors-were” definition of Jewishness. By the time Foot came to defend Tam Dalyell, his mistake had been pointed out. Foot didn’t notice. Just call them “Zionists” Tammy and you can’t go wrong.

This “anti-Zionism” is no help at all to the Palestinians. For over half a century the Arab chauvinist demand for the destruction of Israel has been the best helper the expansionist Jewish-chauvinist Israeli right has had. If the Arab states and the Palestinians had accepted the Israeli proposal of September 1967 to withdraw from the territories it had occupied in June that year in return for Arab recognition and normalisation of relations between Israel and the Arab states, then the colonialist horrors of the last 35 years on the West Bank could not have happened.

People like Foot, are not socialist internationalists but vicarious Arab chauvinists. They are no friends of the oppressed Palestinians, for whom the only just and possible settlement is an independent Palestinian state side by side with Israel.

The main thing “socialists” like Foot and his mentor Tony Cliff have achieved is to infuse old left-wing anti-colonialism with virulent anti-Semitism, dressed up in the way Foot advises Dalyell to dress it up, as “anti-Zionism”.


  1. Mick said,

    You’re right on the anti-Semitism. It’s nice to write in to agree. It’s a stain wherever it comes from. Though is anti-Semitism on the loony left a first-generation symptom of real hate, or a secondary symptom of just being out to lunch anyway?

    I’d say both, especially when the rest of the left aren’t exactly immune from idiocy. The people howling loudest for ‘safe spaces’ are the most manically intolerant of all. That’s how Labour deserve to only be opposition for all the other less dangerous twaddle that gets spouted, for example Labour’s candidate for Stoke in the by-election saying that Brexit is a pile of S. And Dianne Abbot’s ‘defending’ of the indefensible by saying Labour’s not voting for Brexit but just to leave the EU. (Stoke wanted Brexit.)

    But at least when leftists are not being violent and demanding, they can still be fun.

    • Stephen Bellamy said,

      “This “anti-Zionism” is no help at all to the Palestinians.”

      Hum well in my ( considerable ) experience Palestinians are anti Zionist almost down to the last man woman and child.

      I guess all Palestinians are racists

      • Jim Denham said,

        “I guess all Palestinians are racists”: eh, no, Stephen: only in the eyes and wishful thinking of a UK anti-Semite like you.

        Most Palestinians (as far as can be judged) support Two States, which means that they are not, in fact “anti-Zionist” at all …whatever Christian anti-semites like you think.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        I do not know about rascist but they would wipe out the Jews if given the chance. Do you agree Mr Bellamy?

      • Stephen Bellamy said,

        That was quite a wiggle Jim

  2. Glasgow Working Class said,

    My personal view is that when lefties or righties actually mention Jews then it is a sign of antipathy.
    Dalyell got it wrong about the Belgrano. The Captain admiited in a documentary that his ship was on a war footing. And Dalyell did never seem to concede that British sovereign territory was invaded.

  3. Ben said,

    Paul Foot was well connected and got invited to write for many leading publications including the Spectator and the Guardian. There was one article that he manged to get published in both, though the publication dates were separated by many years. In it he launched a diatribe against the Board of Deputies of British Jews, challenging their right to express an opinion on Israel and its battles with its enemies. His hatred of Jews who did not subscribe to his political views was palpable. On this matter he was able to influence many who were otherwise completely opposed to his general political opinions, such as Peregrine Worsthorne.

    He was an acolyte of SWP founder Tony Cliff, born Yigal Gluckstein, the son of a prominent Zionist labour leader in Mandatory Palestine. Other Israeli members of the Matzpen Trotskyist group such as Moshe Machover and Shimon Tzabar also settled in Britain in the 1960s and agitated full time against their country. Most anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli ideas in circulation in Britain today have their origin in Israel itself.

    • Stephen Bellamy said,

      I completely fail to grasp why the simple fact that Israel is crappy, racist, kleptomaniacal basket case has to be complicated by all this pseudo intellectual political theory agonising. Israel isn’t for arguing about, it is for doing something about.

      • Jim Denham said,

        “all this pseudo intellectual political theory agonising. Israel isn’t for arguing about, it is for doing something about”

        Doing *what* about, Stephen ?.. if that doesn’t involve too much “pseudo intellectual political theory agonising”, by which I presume you mean “thinking.”

      • Stephen Bellamy said,

        Telling it it has 6 months to get the fuck back behind its internationally recognised borders or to fully democratise the de facto one state between the river and the sea.

        You see Jim life isn’t nearly so complicated as you would wish it to be. I’m thinking maybe you should give being a Christian a whirl o-))

      • Jim Denham said,

        *Who* would tell Israel this, Stephen? And *who* would then destroy Israel and implement a “one state” solution? And what would you do about the ensuing Middle East War and the mass casualties? What would you advocate if Israel threatened to use its nuclear weapons?

        Or are these questions a bit too “complicated” for you?

      • Stephen Bellamy said,

        Way too complicated for me Jim. I am just a humble Irish bog man.

      • Stephen Bellamy said,

        Though I guess we would have to nuke the bastards first. Thank God for Trident ha ha ha I really must do something about my mind.

      • Jim Denham said,

        ” I really must do something about my mind” that presumes that the cess-pit of prejudice, ignorance, racism and stupidity that passes for something in your skull, can be called a “mind.”

      • Stephen Bellamy said,

        But Jim like I say I am not much of a thinker. Help me out. What would be the correct response if Israel threatened ti nuke us ?

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Israel is well aware that there are those who want to be doing something about it. That is why Israel will expand and continue to exist..

  4. John Palmer said,

    The question for you, Jim, is why so many Jewish socialists see zionism as – essentially – a colonial project. Why is it that Jewish organisations like Jews for Justice for Palestinians in the UK, the US and in so many other countries see the fulfillment of a very reactionary project in the nightmare Israeli government of Netanyahu and its champion Trump? Your part in the campaign to try and pin an antisemitic label to the stance of Jewish socialists is, frankly, contemptible.

    • Jim Denham said,

      John: we’re not talking here about “the nightmare Israeli government of Netanyahu” (or at least, I’m not): we’re talking about anti-Semitic conspiracy theories as espoused by the like of Dalyell and excused/explained by the likes of Paul Foot and the SWP and those who’ve been mis-educated by that current.

      The stance of *some* (not all) Jewish socialists towards “Zionism” is a separate issue, that I’m happy to discuss, but it’s not the issue here. The issue is left anti-Semitism that calls itself, self-righteously, “anti-Zionism”. Matgamna’s comments about Foot’s advice to Dalyell illustrate it superbly. Nothing “contemptible” about exposing the hypocrisy and “left” anti-Semitism of people like Foot and the SWP.

    • Mick said,

      ‘Nazi Kikes Get Out Of Israel’ – Sign at an American left-led anti-war protest. That stands for all the examples you can find. And of course, the article above.

      Israel is front and centre what the Jews are about. It’s the physical cornerstone of Judaism, so no wonder – as Ben Shapiro says – Jews expected to have a position on it is a concept. He says secular Jews are the ones to campaign against Israel, whatever’s said about it.

      But when it comes to the socialists, the blood libel cartoons and all the rest of it are the greatest hypocrisy possible, when the left-backed Palestinians and their Sharia system are way more brutal, way more often than Israel could ever aspire to be!

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Muslims believe that the world should succumb to Sharia. Jews believe that they have the right to settle in Israel.
        Israel is just an excuse for Islamists to wage war. With or without Israel the Islamic fascists would wage war against humanity and are. Islam is if given the chance would make Adolf look like a peacemaker. Trump has got them sussed. I look forward to the forthcoming conflict and listening to Mr Bellamy. (Reading his comments).

  5. Hanna Banana said,

    So Labour fuhrer Corbyn’s obituary of this blatant Jewhater declares him as speaking the ‘truth’ and exposing ‘cover-ups’: so despite his protestations to the contrary, Corbyn is an anti-Semite, then?

  6. John Palmer said,

    Why am I blocked from a reply?

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