The rise of Jeremy Corbyn as the new leader of the Labour Party has bought about some of the most important political developments in recent history. From being labelled a terrorist sympathier to an impotent leader, no other leader has been attacked more than Jeremy Corbyn in British politics recently. But one theme that has kept on recurring is one of the most crucial issues of our times, that of antisemitism and its more modern manifestation which many call ‘new’ antisemitism. The allegations of a widespread antisemitism within the labour party led the author to write the book “The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-semitism”. 
The Islamist- Leftist Alliance

After having just finished reading the book, I admit it was an engaging read. It gave me a different perspective on the issue that I wouldn’t have normally considered but nonetheless, I can see, are very important to consider. For instance the authors analysis of anti-semitism not only in the far right, but also what he calls, the far left was educational. Even though he acknowledges that not all sections of the far left are anti-semitic, the fact that certain members within it engage in stereotyping of all jews as capitalists, bankers war mongers is a form of anti-semitism slightly different to that of the far right which engages in racial depictions of jews. I would agree with the author that all forms of racism and stereotyping of the jewish community needs to be tackled whenever we come across it. I also enjoyed reading the authors analysis of the history of the anti-war movement and its relationship with ‘islamist’ movements such as the Muslim Association of Britain. This section of the book was a fascinating read as it highlighted how these various movements within the left engaged with newly formed muslim political organisations and created a more inclusive political bloc where muslims can legitimately protest while keeping their identity. Individuals mentioned as leaders of the movement were people like John Rees, Anas Al Tikriti, Lindsay German and Jeremy Corbyn. Reading about Jeremy Corbyns historical activism in ensuring that various members of the Muslim community were involved politically made me respect him even more. What especially struck me in this section of the book was the authors commentary on the Cairo Anti-War Conference which was a global meeting of leftist anti war organisations and islamist groups discussing ideas and building solidarity. It is of my opinion that these meetings should continue so that all who participate can participate in the free exchange of ideas and engage in constructive criticism
Misunderstanding Zionism?

However there were some points that the author made which I highly disagreed with and found to be highly problematic. The main element of my disagreement was the authors view regarding Zionism and the claims made by leftists against Zionists. The author implies that the anti-war, pro-palestinian left, or what Maajid Nawaaz would call the “Regressive” left, have misunderstood the idea of Zionism, which is purely an idea of national liberation against European antisemitism that is not racist as well as not imperialist. In other words, to equate Zionism with racism and imperialism is anti-Semitic because it implies that jew’s are inherently racist and pro-capitalist. Although it is important to ensure that antisemitism is challenged, Zionism is a political ideology and therefore criticising Zionism and the various Zionist movements isn’t, in and of itself, an anti-Semitic act. This idea that Zionism isn’t a racist ideology would find some resonance for those who understand it as an ideology of national liberation but the truth is that the ideology of Zionism comes with a set of historical claims which validate its belief that the homeland for the jew’s is in Palestine. This lead to the belief that Palestine was “A land without a people for a people without a land”. The fact that there were a people already on that land, which was verified by various jewish delegations during the ottoman times, shows the level of dehumanization that came with Zionism because the idea that you can just erase the existence of a large group of people based on their ethnicity is one of the most vilest forms of racism. 

Along with its racist connotations, the author states that the Zionist movement is purely a movement of national liberation and isn’t a project born out of and used for imperialism. According to the author, this view is anti-Semitic because this automatically implies that Jews were pro-capitalist etc as the claim was made before. Although I agree that there shouldn’t be any prejudice or stereotypes, stating that the Zionist project was aligned to the aims of the British Empire to further its control and then aligning itself with other imperialist states is not an anti-Semitic claim since the historical record shows that these claims were based on fact. In The UK, it is no secret that Chaim Weizman sought and eventually got the support of the British Empire as a protectorate of the Zionist movement in Palestine which led to the infamous Balfour Declaration. After British support, the French briefly also supported the Zionist movement before the United States. Each saw the Zionist movement and the state of Israel as a method to introduce western markets to the middle east and therefore expand their markets and influence. This was also the aim of Hitler in his support of the Huaavara agreement, which was the transfer of German Jews to Palestine as stated by Francis R Nicosia in his book “The Third Reich and the Palestine Question”, which in my view vindicates Ken Livingstone in regards to his remarks that Hitler was an early supporter of Zionism due to its belief that Jew’s should leave Europe for Palestine, something that hitler ideologically could agree with according to Mr Nicosia.
Although throughout the book, the author states that Israel is discriminating the Palestinians in Gaza and the west bank and seems to be the proponent of the two state solution, the author tries to tackle the left’s comparison of Israel to South Africa to show that discrimination of arab Palestinians isn’t as bad as compared to other arab states and that since Israel is different from South Africa, there is no apartheid in Israel, saying that in Israel Arabs have the right to vote, no interracial sexual laws, the right to work equally with their Israeli counterparts etc. All this makes it look like Israel is not an apartheid state compared to South Africa and this is the important distinction, when compared to South Africa, Israel practices a different form of aparthied which is that Arabs and Israelis may live side by side but within the law of the Israeli state, they are treated as different groups. Hence legally, Israelis and Arabs are treated separately with the law designed and practiced in a way that privileges its Jewish citizens which is Israel’s form of apartheid distinct from South African apartheid. It’s a form that is more complex and more entrenched then South African apartheid for example, this issue of the Arabs being allowed to vote in the Knesset which the author describes as a proportional democracy, this gives it the veneer of freedom but if one were to understand how israels democracy was constructed, you would reach a different conclusion. Israel was established in 1948 after the expulsion of 700,000-800,000 arabs from their villages which the Palestinians refer to as the Nakba (The Catastrophe). Within Israeli law, any Jew can apply for Israeli citizenship due to what Israelis call the “Grandfather Clause”, however those that were ethnically cleansed in the Nakba have no right to return, so you already have a population that was socially constructed. Along with this, the Knesset is designed in a way to ensure that only pro-zionist parties get the majority of the seats and this is they call, proportional democracy so in theory Israel is a democracy but in practice, activists call Israel an ethnocracy, the co-option of democracy to privilege a single group of people over others. In other words, the reality is that no matter who the Arabs vote for, only pro-zionist parties can only be part of a coalition government. Similar diligence is required to understand the rest of Israel’s laws to understand how it discriminates against its non-jewish citizens. Something that the author brushes under the carpet.

He ends the book with the spirit of reconciliation, which for me was a god development. He states that it is possible to understand Zionism is an idea of national liberation while also critiquing israels establishment and its policies. At this point, I was very cautious of the authors spirit of reconciliation because although this book critiques the antisemitism in the left, it wouldn’t have been out of place to admit that antisemitism also exists in the centre, the far right and within many Zionist organisations too who believe that jew’s only belong in the middle east and nowhere else, but alas, this book only focuses on attacking the left. Since he ends his book by advising the left on how to reintegrate Zionists within the pro-palestinian left and therefore demanding the left fundamentally change its understanding of Zionism, it would have been good to write a paragraph or 2 about the changes that Zionists need to make since the pro-palestinian left has some genuine concerns about the Zionist movement but he didn’t do that, so I’m going to make some demands of the ideological changes that I believe Zionists need to make;
1) Israel – Zionists need to reconfigure their understanding of Israel being an exclusive jewish homeland. Since Israel was establishment on a piece of land that was already inhabited by the Palestinians, This idea of a “Jewish and democratic state” should be changed to just a “Democratic state” therefore representing all of its citizens and not just a specific group. This will make it possible to still believe Israel to be a homeland for the jew’s, but not an exclusive one since they have to share the land with other races and religions.

2) Right of return – Palestinian refugees should have the right to return. It is simply unjust for those who have been ethnically cleaned to be denied the right to return while jews who have lived in the west for hundreds of years automatically have a right for Israeli citizenship. This is simply wrong so the issue of Palestinian refugees must be addressed and if that right continues to be denied, then I think it only to be fair that Zionists and Jews to have their rights revoked to move to Israel until justice is granted to the Palestinian refugees. This is only fair.

3) The west bank & Gaza – The occupation of the west bank and the blockade of the Gaza strip, in all of its forms, simply must come to an end.
In his lecture, Imperial Continuity – Palestine, Iraq and U.S Policy, Professor Edward Said as was asked if Zionists have a historical claim to the lands of Israel, he replied by saying

“Of course but I would not say that the jewish claim or the Zionist claim is the only claim or the main claim. I say that it is a claim among many others. Certainly the arabs have a much greater claim because they’ve had a longer history of inhabitancy and actual residence in Palestine then the jews did. If you look at the history of Palestine…’ll see that the period of actual Israelite…..dominance in Palestine and that amounts to about 200-250 years. But there were molobites, there were jebuzites, there were canaanites, there were philistines, there were many other people in Palestine at the time and before and after. And to isolate one of them and say that’s the real owner of the land, I mean that is fundamentalism…so I think a people who have a history of residence in Palestine for a certain amount of time, including the jews,yes, and of course the arabs have a claim….but nobody has a claim that overrides all the others and entitles that person with that so-called claim to drive people out, that’s the point”