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Submitted by DB on Mon, 28/11/2011 - 00:21

Well, at least Workers Liberty is one of the few organisations on the revolutionary Left which considers anti-Semitism an important issue at all -- that's definitely to be commended in the current climate, in which other groups (namely the SWP) seem to be utterly fixated on anti-Muslim racism alone, and turn a blind eye to other forms of racism and prejudice which are just as poisonous and divisive. However, I do think it is about time a serious debate took place about how exactly the AWL defines "anti-Semitism", because all too often the term seems to be thrown around quite cynically, particularly when employed to denounce rival left groups. In that respect I think the re-naming of this article is quite sensible in light of Workers Liberty's reputation in the wider socialist movement.

Last week we had an article about RMT activist Steve Hedley -- most of which I happened to agree with -- in which it was stated that some of his comments at a meeting on Palestine "were line with some [anti-Semitic] myths and are therefore anti-Semitic".…

We've also had columnist Eric Lee argue that to even raise the issue of a "ritualistic" murder taking place in the occupied territories of Israel can be seen as anti-Semitic because its circumstances appear to echo anti-Semitic myths about Jewish bloodlust and ritualistic murder.…

This, for me, employs a wholly insufficient definition of anti-Semitism, one that is so wide-ranging and all-encompassing that it could be applicable to anything -- just like the SWP's definition of Islamophobia. Don't get me wrong: it is right that we be vigilant. But it does not follow that just because a statement overlaps with anti-Semitic myths it must necessarily be anti-Semitic, just as it doesn't follow that some of the AWL's criticisms of Islamic fundamentalists are "Islamophobic" if they happen to coincide with the kind of "medieval" stereotypes about Muslims promoted by the EDL. One of Hedley's comments to a Jewish pro-Israeli activist in the aforementioned meeting is a case in point: "your friends in the media" could be anti-Semitic, but is not necessarily so; it could either refer to the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about Jews controlling the media, or to the power and influence of the formidable Israeli PR machine constructed by the Israeli ruling class. The context is crucial. I would argue that the entire concept of "objective anti-Semitism" is problematic precisely because it seeks to remove all context.

the other DB

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