San­ity in doubt in Labour’s par­al­lel uni­verse

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

THE OUT­COME could hardly have been worse. Guilty of dis­re­pute, but Ken Liv­ing­stone’s pun­ish­ment is barely wor­thy of the name.

A sus­pen­sion with­out ef­fect for a mem­ber of a party with­out a moral back­bone.

There are no pos­i­tives to be taken from this un­sightly case.

Oth­ers can as­sess the in­va­lid­ity of Mr Liv­ing­stone’s com­pletely un­founded claims about Jewish-Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tion. I can tell you this: the pub­lic­ity around Mr Liv­ing­stone’s hear­ing and its out­come has given carte blanche to those with an­ti­semitic views.

It has al­lowed cranks and nut­ters, whose pa­thetic out­pour­ings were once dis­missed out of hand, to feel as though they are part of nor­mal so­ci­ety, and that the mat­ter of Jew-ha­tred is open to the same sort of rig­or­ous de­bate as Brexit, house prices and the foot­ball.

Mr Liv­ing­stone’s case has, to a large de­gree, nor­malised an­ti­semitism. It is no longer a ta­boo sub­ject.

It is open sea­son for racism, and Labour’s past year of strug­gling to con­tain its an­ti­semitism prob­lem has cre­ated nu­mer­ous front­men and women around whom Jew-haters can con­gre­gate.

No longer are these peo­ple con­signed to the sew­ers. They have ob­served this coun­try’s of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion party spend­ing its days em­broiled in these mat­ters, and be­lieve it is nor- Part­ners in col­lab­o­ra­tion? Un­likely

mal prac­tice for them, too, to have a voice in the sup­posed de­bate.

Take the fol­low­ing ex­am­ple: the news that Mr Liv­ing­stone’s case would not con­clude un­til this week broke shortly be­fore Shab­bat came in last Fri­day. I tweeted that the de­lay at least meant Labour had man­aged “not to of­fend more Jews by an­nounc­ing the news on Shab­bat”.

Re­turn­ing to Twit­ter 25 hours or so later, I found my stream of men­tions clogged by a tor­rent of abuse, much of it an­ti­semitic, em­a­nat­ing from ac­counts be­long­ing to those claim­ing to sup­port Mr Liv­ing­stone and Jeremy Cor­byn.

I had thought my com­ment about the de­lay was rel­a­tively in­nocu­ous, but their re­sponses were un­hinged, fo­cus­ing on claims of global Zion­ist con­spir­a­cies and as­sorted ways of ex­cus­ing their an­ti­semitism.

One claimed: “Many don’t like to see #ken­liv­ing­stone be­ing mobbed. Not an­ti­semitic, just anti-zion­ist and an­tiIs­rael.”

Mr Liv­ing­stone was “mobbed”? And has Hitler now been rein­vented as merely “anti-Is­rael”?

An­other tweeted: “You can be crit­i­cal of Is­raeli govt pol­icy with­out be­ing anti-Is­rael.”

True, but who said any­thing about Is­rael?

These views — there were dozens more like them — are now stan­dard re­sponses from an­ti­semites on so­cial me­dia. It is the new nor­mal.

Mean­while, in the so-called main­stream me­dia, you could see the Guardian run­ning an im­age from its car­toon­ist Steve Bell de­pict­ing Mr Liv­ing­stone in front of a kan­ga­roo court.

Never mind the fact Labour staff worked tire­lessly to en­sure the hear­ing was run pro­fes­sion­ally, in ac­cor­dance with party rules and le­gal re­quire­ments. Never mind that the case re­lated to Adolf Hitler and ac­cu­sa­tions so ut­terly of­fen­sive to Jews that it is al­most be­yond com­pre­hen­sion that the pan­el­lists from Labour’s Na­tional Con­sti­tu­tion Com­mit­tee could even bring them­selves to sit through a dis­ci­plinary hear­ing with straight faces, giv­ing Mr Liv­ing­stone the time of day, let alone a fair hear­ing.

We have reached the point where we have to ques­tion our own san­ity. Is this even real? Am I ac­tu­ally sit­ting at a com­puter, typ­ing these words, or have I, and all of you, dis­ap­peared into a vor­tex lead­ing to a par­al­lel uni­verse where, 72 years af­ter the Nazis fin­ished slaugh­ter­ing mil­lions of Jews across the con­ti­nent, it is “nor­mal” for a for­mer Mayor of Lon­don, one of Bri­tain’s most recog­nis­able politi­cians, to have the au­dac­ity to spend a year ar­gu­ing that we col­lab­o­rated with the SS?

What hap­pened to hon­our, to shame, to de­cency? Mr Liv­ing­stone should have crawled off to play with his newts years ago — af­ter the con­cen­tra­tion-camp guard jibe, af­ter the sick­en­ing com­ments about Jews be­ing too wealthy to vote for him, af­ter his in­vi­ta­tions to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, and af­ter all the other ac­tions which re­main com­pletely re­pul­sive in the eyes of the vast ma­jor­ity of Bri­tish peo­ple.

But, no, here we are, with him, Mr Bell and their on­line trolling com­rades re­duc­ing the whole sorry mess to non­sen­si­cal car­toons and tweets which al­low them to be­lieve they are rea­soned peo­ple in an hon­est de­bate.

Forget about the ex­o­dus from Egypt — this farce has left me yearn­ing for an ex­o­dus from the en­tire planet.

PHOTO: GETTY IM­AGES

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