John McDonnell’s attempt to end the anti-Semitism crisis engulfing the Labour Party were dealt a huge blow tonight after it was revealed he signed a Parliamentary motion backing a group that describes Zionism as ‘racist and anti-Semitic’ and pledges to ‘oppose the state of Israel’.
The shadow chancellor, who told broadcasters on Wednesday that anti-Semitism accusations had rocked the party ‘to its core’ signed an Early Day Motion in October 2008 “welcoming the launch of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network and its founding Charter”
Its charter says: “Israel is an atomic bomb that should be urgently dismantled” and states “Zionism dishonours the persecution and genocide of European Jews by using their memory to justify and perpetuate European racism and colonialism”
In language that will shock many Labour members and provoke widespread fury amongst the Jewish community it also says: It (Israel) continues a long history of Zionist collusion with repressive and violent regimes, from Nazi Germany to the South African Apartheid regime to reactionary dictatorships across Latin America.”
Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is defined as anti-Semitic under the IHRA definition, which Labour did not adopt in full – choosing instead to use part of it while controversially removing examples referring explicitly to comparisons between the Nazis and Israel as anti-Semitic.
The EDM, which was also signed by Jeremy Corbyn’s former political secretary Katy Clarke – who was then a Labour MP – praised the organisation for speaking out to “discredit Israel’s attempts to suppress criticism with false accusations of anti-Semitism”
The charter says: “The Holocaust against Jewish people is being used to perpetrate other atrocities” and states: “The Israeli colonial project must be brought to an end…… Zionism, in all its forms, must be stopped.”
It reads: “Zionism dishonours the persecution and genocide of European Jews by using their memory to justify and perpetuate European racism and colonialism.”
Using language that would probably foul of Labour’s own rules on anti-Semitism, the charter also says: “Zionism is not just racist but anti-Semitic. It endorses the sexist European anti-Semitic imagery of the effeminate and weak “diaspora Jew” and counters it with a violent and militarist “new Jew,” one who is a perpetrator rather than a victim of racialized violence.”
“Zionism seeks to make Jews white through the adopting of white racism against Palestinian people.”
“Through a shared Islamophobia and desire for control of the Middle East and broader West Asia, Israel makes common cause with Christian fundamentalists and others who call for Jewish destruction.”
“It (Israel) continues a long history of Zionist collusion with repressive and violent regimes, from Nazi Germany to the South African Apartheid regime to reactionary dictatorships across Latin America.”
The revelation that McDonnell signed the motion is likely to heap further pressure on the Labour leadership, which is reeling from a series of disclosures about Corbyn’s public appearances alongside figures who made vehemently anti-Semitic statements.
The Labour leader is also facing criticism for failing to act over his close friend and NEC member Peter Willsman’s rant at the last meeting of the party’s governing body, when he was recorded describing some members of the Jewish community as ‘Trump fanatics’ who may have fabricated evidence of anti-Semitism in the party.
Momentum responded by withdrawing its support for Willsman’s NEC candidacy on Tuesday evening by removing him from its slate.
McDonnell has taken a different approach to the crisis by expressing regret and sympathising with the Jewish community – adopting a far more emollient tone which promoted some observers to claim he may have fallen out with Corbyn over his response to the anti-Semitism affair.
He will now face questions over his previous actions and his public pronouncements in recent days are likely to be reassessed.