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Labour’s view of Jews is an antisemitic caricature worthy of the USSR

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Anti-Zionist caricature from the Soviet magazine “Krokodil”, № 15, 1972 | Source: Mikhail Sychyov

Labour’s view of Jews is an antisemitic caricature worthy of the USSR

By Richard Mather 

The UK Labour Party is no longer in the business of winning elections. The party’s reticence stems from a more radical political desire, which is to “address the Jewish question” (to quote one of its activists) and to deZionize the party.

Even something as innocuous as a Jewish holiday message is subject to Labour’s obsessive scrutiny, with claims circulating that Labour’s communications director Seamus Milne apparently tried to ban the use of Hebrew in a Passover message because he felt it implied support for Zionism.

Under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is the British political party that is most hostile to Jews. Given that most Jews in Britain are Zionists and that most Zionists are Jews, Labour’s disdain for the vast majority of Anglo-Jewry is incontestable. To paraphrase British PM Theresa May, Labour is the “nasty party” par excellence.

This nastiness is deliberate. Like the Soviets, Labour antizionism is a crafted propaganda doctrine that aims to rob Jewry of their security and to oust them from political discourse. The main thrust of Labour’s antizionist message is this: Zionism is a form of racism, Zionists are similar to Nazis, and Israel is a tool used by Jews to foment imperialism and militant chauvinism. This is the politics of anti-Jewish contempt.

It’s true that antisemitism in Labour is not new. It was evident in the foreign policy decisions of the post-WW2 Labour government. But there has always been (at least until now) a significant and sizeable pro-Israel, pro-Jewish contingent within the party: advocacy groups such as Labour Friends of Israel, and important individuals such as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown who stood alongside the Jewish state and spoke out against antisemitic prejudice and bigotry.

Corbyn’s rise to power has done more than just embolden the minority of antisemitic cranks already within the party; he has enthused a new generation of antisemites who have joined Labour in droves. Labour Zionists are now marginalised, and Jewish Labour MPs are routinely abused and bullied by militant Corbynistas. As a result, financial donations from Jewish donors have all but dried up and Jews are abandoning the party.

But anti-Jewish hostility is not just a problem for Jewish members inside Labour. It is an issue of concern for Jews in the UK more generally.

The ascendancy of Corbyn and the militancy of Labour’s recently-formed Momentum group are reminders that left-wing extremism did not die out in the 1980s but remains an ongoing threat to the well-being and security of Anglo-Jewry. The rise in antisemitic attacks in the UK suggests that Labour and the rest of the British Left, in allegiance with Islamist radicals, now pose an existential threat to British Jews.

The ‘idea’ of the Jew

Corbynistas are a lot like the antizionist Soviet propagandists who studied Zionism in order to uncover its secrets. In Soviet lore, Zionism was/is the politics of the wealthy Jewish bourgeoisie which had closely allied itself with monopoly elites in the USA and the UK.

Like the Soviets before them, the Corbynistas are convinced that Israel is home to several million racists, and that Zionists around the world serve as “the front squad of colonialism and neo-colonialism,” to quote the third edition of the thirty-volume Great Soviet Encyclopedia.

Even when there isn’t a flesh-and-blood Jew in sight, Labour antizionists are still tormented by the idea of ‘the Jew.’ Lacking political depth and therefore unable to distinguish between the real and the imaginary, it is the idea of the Zionist Jew– albeit a false idea – that keeps their hatred alive.

It was the same with the Brownshirts and the Stalinists, the Lutherans and the medieval Catholic Church. The thought or image of the nefarious Jew is enough to engender a pogrom, a Stalinist show trial, an inquisition, a boycott.

It is no wonder that the Corbynistas are irrational and abusive. They imagine themselves living in a world controlled by Jew-Zionists. And this is why Labour’s focus is not on winning seats at the next general election but on cleansing the party (and the country) of undesirable Zionist Jews.

More than that, party members are well aware that they do not need to be in government in order to do this.

They already have the power and the resources to perpetuate their dirty war against Jews, not only through the media, but also by means of organized protests, marches and demonstrations, by the boycotting of Jewish businesses and individuals, and by aiding and abetting Islamist extremists.

Labour and the Far Right

Another recurring theme in Soviet antisemitism was the allegation that the Zionists and the Nazis collaborated against the Jewish people because Zionist leaders viewed ‘Palestine’ as the only legitimate place for Jewish immigration.

This view formed the basis of Mahmoud Abbas’ PhD dissertation. It is also the view of Labour’s Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, nicknamed Red Ken.

If the Soviets learned a great deal from the Nazis about how to slander Jews, so the contemporary Far Right is taking lessons from the Labour Party. Earlier this year, Nick Griffin, former leader of the extreme right-wing racist British National Party, took to Twitter to defend Ken Livingstone’s repugnant suggestion that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist:

“Hitler started war wanting to send all Jews to own homeland outside Europe & armed Zionist terrorists to fight Brits in Palestine. #RedKen,” wrote Nick Griffin, who then tweeted a message reading, “One day the world will know that #RedKen was right.”

Consider, too, the Far Right website deLiberation, which recently hailed Corbyn as the “antidote to the Blairite virus and Zionist snake-bite”:

“Many certainly can see Corbyn as Prime Minister – a very different and totally new style of PM, to be sure […] he’s a man to look up to and identify with […] a man who is not tempted by the Israeli shekel. If any of his opponents lands the leadership Labour will remain under the yoke of Zionist ambitions and enslave by the gangster regime in Tel Aviv.”

The end?

The Far Right’s fascination with the Labour Party is what happens when a once-major political party is taken over by lunatics who transform their irrational fixation with Jews into party policy.

The trouble is, even if Corbyn and his cronies are overthrown by sensible Labourites on September 24 (the date of the leadership conference), there’s not much evidence that the party is in a fit state to govern, even at a local or regional level. The rot may be too wide and too deep.

So is the Labour Party finished? The party is, on average, eleven points behind the Conservative Party. As things stand, there is no chance of Labour doing well in the next general election because the anticipation of election victory in 2020 is absent.

The only thing that matters to the Corbynistas is the cleansing of the party of Zionists and other political foes.

Yes, the Labour Party exists – but only just. Under its current leader, it has been reduced to a social media/student union protest body that proffers a seemingly endless proliferation of callow opinion from the naïve, foolish, the extreme and the dangerous.

Thanks to Corbyn and his communist apparatchiks, Labour is limping through a catastrophic collapse of meaning and intellectual malaise, propped up only by its Sovietesque obsession with Jews and Zionism.

 

Adam by Barnett Newman

Barnett Newman and the art of not making graven images

Barnett Newman and the art of not making graven images

By Richard Mather 

Barnett Newman was born in 1905 to Abraham and Anna Newman, Jewish immigrants from Poland who came to New York City in 1900. Although not religious, Barnett’s father was a passionate Zionist and a supporter of the National Hebrew School of the Bronx. As well as attending Hebrew school, Barnett and his brothers and sisters were educated at home by Jewish scholars from Europe. He went on to study philosophy at the City College of New York and later made a living as an art teacher, writer and critic.

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Barnett Newman

In the 1930s he made a number of paintings but eventually destroyed all these works. Newman started painting again in 1944 and he made a number of chalk drawings but it wasn’t until 1948 that he produced his artistic breakthrough: Onement 1 was a major achievement and it was this artwork that earned him the reputation as a pioneer of color field paintings.

It was around this time that Newman became preoccupied with Judaic creation stories. Art critic and friend Thomas B. Hess has described how Newman immersed himself in the Torah and Kabbalistic writings in the mid-1940s. Newman began to evolve a distinctive pictorial image: a vertical band, zip, or what Newman called a “streak of light” running from the very top to the very bottom of the canvas. The vertical strips of light (usually created by the ripping away of masking tape from the canvas) are thought to relate to the Kabbalistic notion of a ray of infinite light (kav) used to create the world. The form of the divine produced by this first ray of light is known as Adam Kadmon, literally, “Primordial Adam.” Perhaps this is why some critics regard the zip to be a representation of man, indeed, of the first man, Adam, who walks upright.

Thomas B. Hess regards the vertical bands of colour as “an act of division, a gesture of separation, as God separated light from darkness, with a line drawn in the void.” Newman himself claimed that the artist begins with the void. As Newman remarks in his essay “The Plasmic Image,” “It can be said that the artist like a true creator is delving into chaos. It is precisely this that makes him an artist for the Creator in creating the world began with the same material, for the artist tries to wrest truth from the void.”

adam

‘Adam’ (1951-2) by Barnett Newman

In 1951 Newman created Adam, an abstract expressionist colour field painting, complete with multiple zips or “streaks of light.” Adam is dominated by two colours: red and brown, blood and earth. The name Adam derives from the Hebrew word adamah (ground), but also adom, (red) and dam (blood). As it says in the Torah, “the Lord God formed man [ha-adam] of dust from the ground [adamah].” Newman makes no attempt to depict Adam in any natural or literal sense. As with many of his paintings, there is a conspicuous lack of literal representation. Art critic Arthur Danto suggests that Newman was moved by the Judaic injunction against the making of graven images. The Shulkhan Arukh (a codification of Jewish law) states that “it is forbidden to make complete solid or raised images of people or angels, or any images of heavenly bodies except for purposes of study.” The Shulkhan Arukh takes the literal meaning of פסל pesel as “graven image” (from the root פסל P-S-L, “to engrave”). The prohibition is seen as applying especially to some forms of sculpture and depictions of the human face.

Newman’s Adam is a “body-without-organs” (to borrow a curious phrase from philosopher Gilles Deleuze). It is pure surface, a plane of immanence, or what Newman calls the “the picture plane.” Newman’s streaks of light or zips do not destroy or collapse the painting; they unite it into a totality, into a plane of consistency. And yet there is just enough movement, just enough God-given possibility, to ensure that Adam isn’t congealed into a lumpen artwork devoid of energy.

Adam has a companion piece, Eve, painted at the same time. In a letter to the Tate Gallery (dated April 6, 1983), Newman’s widow Analee writes: “I think he thought of them as a pair because he worked on the first painting and then on the second continuously until they were finished and then named them ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’.”

Eve 1950 by Barnett Newman 1905-1970

‘Eve’ (1950) by Barnett Newman

Like Adam, Eve is a color field painting, with one of Newman’s vertical bands or zips at the right side. Adam is slightly larger than Eve. It is different in colour. Whereas Adam is predominantly brown with red zips, Eve has a vast expanse of red, interrupted by a single, narrow band of purplish-brown running the length of the canvas’ right edge. The two paintings were the last Newman completed before his second one-man exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in April–May 1951. At that time, Adam featured two stripes, but Newman added a third one down the left centre a year later, which is why it’s now inscribed with the double date of 1951-1952.

Both Adam and Eve are in the possession of the UK-based Tate art institution, but neither artworks are currently on display.

 

richard-mather2Richard Mather is a writer and journalist. He writes for Israel News Online and Arutz Sheva, and occasionally blogs for JPost. He has also written for the Jewish Media Agency, Poetica Magazine, Drash Pit, Voices Israel, The Best of the Manchester Poets, The Holiday Times Magazine (Chabad Lubavitch) and Triggerfish Critical Review.