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What’s in a “Zionist”?

Since there has been a furore since the Daily Mail pointed out Corbyn’s attack on individuals who he simply describes as “Zionists” who don’t understand “English irony” we should recognise what using the term “Zionist” this way really means for Corbyn and many others.

It is the foremost advocates of Palestinian rights such as Ali Abunimah who use such language the most and therefore offer the best examples of it.

For him this is not an individual expressing a view on the Israeli Palestinian conflict but a “Zionist” working on behalf of Israel. The editor of the Jewish Chronicle doesn’t have a name apparently, he’s a “Zionist fanatic” and that’s all anyone needs to know…

Asa Winstanley is another case in point. He’s aware many Jews find it offensive but he doesn’t care:

The fact is that Corbyn didn’t see a couple of people criticising the PA ambassador to the UK back at that meeting in 2013 he saw “Zionists”. He dehumanised them and therefore couldn’t take their concerns seriously because he thought they were arguing in bad faith. This has been a theme in his discourse My jaw dropped when he wrote the following in an article supposedly aimed at mending the rift between Labour and the Jewish community:

“All of us committed to peace and justice in the Middle East accept that the perspective of the Palestinian people, and their experience as victims of racism and discrimination, should not be censored or penalised any more than the right of Jewish self-determination should be denied.”

He may as well have just written; “We all know this is just an Israeli lobby smear against me, so fine I’m writing this column but I won’t stop talking about Palestinians.” Entirely missing the point that the issue was never about Palestinians in the first place. In 2014 at an anti-Israel rally Corbyn said the following to an American Far Right website:

“Well there are two lobbies here, there is yes an Israeli government lobby, there is a very strongly pro-Israel Zionist lobby but we’ve just heard an absolutely brilliant speech one moment ago from Glyn Secker from Jews for Justice for Palestine reading a letter from Mads Gilbert working at Shifa Hospital in Gaza. That is the Jewish tradition that I am in interested in, that is the Jewish tradition that I understand…”

Watch him saying it in the video below:

Half of all Jews in the world live in Israel, 72% of British Jews consider themselves to be Zionists, over 80% of British Jews argue that Israel plays at least an important part in their lives (according to research conducted by JPR in 2010). Using the word Zionist in the pejorative sense can’t help but cause offence to most British Jews.

Corbyn doesn’t care or realise that Secker doesn’t represent anyone. It’s enough that he’s saying the things that he wants to hear. This puts a great deal of perspective on Corbyn’s inability to apologise for offence caused to the Jewish community. In spite of figures proving to the contrary Corbyn insists on dehumanising the organised Jewish community as “Zionist” and therefore whose concerns are irrelevant and all about suppressing Palestinians.

People who shared this view used to sit at the political fringe, along with Corbyn. Now they sit at the heart of British politics…right along with Corbyn.

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