Row over UK lawmaker’s “Jewish” comments a reminder that Zionism is anti-Semitism
Controversy has broken out in the UK over alleged anti-Semitic comments made by Labour MP Paul Flynn about the British Ambassador in Tel Aviv.
According to The Jewish Chronicle (a publication whose record demonstrates that its accuracy can never been taken for granted) Flynn questioned whether Gould could be properly loyal to the UK because he is Jewish and has declared himself a Zionist:
A Labour MP has caused outrage by suggesting that Britain’s first Jewish ambassador to Israel has divided loyalties because he has “proclaimed himself to be a Zionist.”
Challenged by the JC to clarify his comments about Matthew Gould, who took up the post last year, Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, said ambassadors to Israel had not previously been Jewish “to avoid the accusation that they have gone native.”
Britain needed, he said, “someone with roots in the UK [who] can’t be accused of having Jewish loyalty.”
In a post at The New Statesman, Owen Jones wrote that if Flynn’s comments were accurately reported, “then Paul Flynn has discredited himself.” Jones argues that raising Gould’s self-declared Zionism is legitimate because, “Zionism is a political movement, after all, and an MP is well within his rights to query whether there is a conflict of interest.” But, he continues “there is no justification whatsoever for his subsequent comments” questioning Gould’s loyalty because he is Jewish. Jones adds:
Of even greater concern is Flynn’s clear suggestion that a Jewish person has no “roots in the UK”. This echoes classic anti-semitism, which is based on the slur that Jews outside Israel are aliens in whichever country they live (a myth that, unfortunately, is these days also promoted by the Israeli government.) Perhaps Flynn’s words simply were ill-chosen but he certainly should clarify what he meant by this.
Jones sums up his concern that Flynn’s comments could discredit support for the Palestinian cause, which he correctly notes has also come from many prominent Jewish people:
But Flynn’s comments will now be used by ultra-Zionists as evidence that their critics are motivated by bigotry.
Zionism is anti-Semitism
I agree fully with Jones’ reading of Flynn’s reported comments. If accurate it is indeed outrageous to suggest that a British person cannot be loyal to the UK just because he or she is also Jewish. And it’s even more outrageous to suggest that a Jewish person has no “roots” in the UK, just as it would be to suggest the same of a British Muslim or any other person.
But what Jones – and perhaps other critics of Flynn’s comments – have missed, is that the claims Flynn reportedly made have always been at the very heart of Zionism.
The basic idea is simple enough: Zionists, just like anti-Semites, believed that Jews were inherently alien and rootless in Europe and needed to be expelled physically. The “father” of Zionism, Theodor Herzl in his seminal tract, Der Judenstaat, wrote this nauseatingly anti-Semitic passage:
The Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in perceptible numbers. Where it does not exist, it is carried by Jews in the course of their migrations. We naturally move to those places where we are not persecuted, and there our presence produces persecution. This is the case in every country, and will remain so, even in those highly civilized—for instance, France—until the Jewish question finds a solution on a political basis. The unfortunate Jews are now carrying the seeds of Anti-Semitism into England; they have already introduced it into America.
Of course the “political solution” of which Herzl spoke was – Zionism – the removal of Jews from Europe and America so that they could not carry with them the “seeds” of their own persecution.
Greatest British Zionist hero a vile anti-Semite
It is no coincidence then that the greatest British hero of Zionists to this day is Lord Arthur Balfour whose eponymous Balfour Declaration promised the Zionist movement that to which it had no right: the land of Palestine.
As Kattan points out in his book From Coexistence to Conquest: International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1891-1949, Balfour’s anti-Semitism was well documented and expressed in his writings. From Kattan:
Zionism actually provided Balfour and those who thought like him with the perfect pretext to reduce Jewish immigration into Britain whilst portraying themselves, falsely, as ‘humanitarians’ concerned about their welfare. This is what Balfour wrote in the conclusion to his introduction to Nahum Sokolow’s epic book, the History of Zionism, 1600–1918 (1919):
If [Zionism] succeeds, it will do a great spiritual and material work for the Jews, but not for them alone. For as I read its meaning it is, among other things, a serious endeavour to mitigate the age-long miseries created for western civilisation by the presence in its midst of **a Body which it too long regarded as alien and even hostile, but which it was equally unable to expel or absorb. Surely, for this if for no other reason, it should receive our support.
That Balfour had the gall to write this in a book on Zionism was foreboding. One can only imagine what he wrote about the Jews in private or in correspondence that was destroyed or lost.
Indeed. And, as Kattan documents, such sentiments were shared by German anti-Semites who in the same period became enthusiastic supporters of Zionism.
Can anyone see the difference between the views allegedly expressed by Flynn and those of his British Zionist forerunners such as Balfour? Flynn, it should be pointed out, has asserted: “I have been a lifelong friend of Israel and Jewish causes.”
Given the lengthy tradition of anti-Semitic support for Zionism and Israel in the UK, there’s no reason to doubt that.
Zionism’s hatred of diaspora Jews alive and well
Zionism’s hatred of diaspora Jews and its desire to see them removed from Europe and other places they live persists to this day.
In 2004, for example, then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told France’s 700,000 Jews they don’t belong there and should leave.
Israel funds organizations, such as Nefesh b’Nefesh dedicated to reducing the number of Jews living around the world, and encouraging them – including with cash payments – to leave their homes and go into exile on stolen Palestinian land. The goal of various “Birthright Israel” programs is the same – to instil nationalist loyalty to Israel in young Jews from around the world – in the hope that they will leave their native lands and move to Israel. Zionists – allegedly like Flynn – believe that the true “roots” of Jews are not in the countries of their birth, but in Israel.
It’s a positive sign that most Jews in the world remain resistant to these efforts, and despite the exhortations of Zionists, Jewish communities in the UK, France and Germany among other countries, are thriving while Israel struggles to entice all but a handful each year to abandon their homes.