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Labour’s Policy Won’t Wash – Anti-Zionism is an open door to Anti-Semitism

 

Labour’s Policy Won’t Wash –
Anti-Zionism is an open door to Anti-Semitism
 
Friday 29th April: This week the Labour Party descended even deeper into chaos. First, it suspended the MP, Naz Shah. She had commented on social media that the population of Israel should be transported to America. Then one of Labour’s most influential elder statesmen, Ken Livingstone, a member of its ruling NEC, came to her defence, with the bizarre claim that Hitler had been a Zionist. Here John Marenbonexplains why the anti-zionism endemic in the Labour party is objectionable: but for too many of its members, proscribing it would be a step too far. 
 
Professor Marenbon writes ...
Labour responded to the furore this week about anti-semitism in its ranks, by announcing that anti-semitism is racism and not to be tolerated. But hostility to Israel can be permitted, or even adopted as party policy, it suggests, in view of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
 
That distinction between hostility to Jews (anti-semitism) and hostility to Israel (anti-zionism) is not so straightforward in practice. 
 
In the case of Naz Shah, theMPwas suspended from the Party because she wanted to ‘relocate Israel into United States’, adding that ‘America has plenty of land to accommodate Israel as its 51ststate’. Meanwhile, Ken Livingstone, defending Ms Shah, emphasized that she and other people in the Labour party are attacking Israel, not Jews: ‘I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years … I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything anti-semitic.’ Livingstone went on to try and make the distinction even clearer by asserting, on very doubtful historical evidence, that none other than Hitler was a Zionist. This led to Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, being promptly suspended from the Labour party.
 
But things are not so clear cut. Although there are anti-semites who are not anti-zionists, and anti-zionists who are not anti-semites, the two views cannot be completely disentangled.
 
If ‘anti-zionism’ is taken to mean opposition to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, then such a view should be tolerated, and respected, even by those who disagree strongly with it. Indeed many loyal Israelis, who have served courageously in Israel’s army, could be called ‘anti-zionists’ in this sense. However this weak sense is not the obvious meaning of the word. An anti-zionist is, as the name suggests, someone opposed to Zionism. Zionism’s aim, which in fact is now fulfilled, was to establish a Jewish national state in the biblical homeland of the Jews. Those who call themselves ‘anti-zionists’ are thereby declaring that they want to undo the project of Zionism – that is to say, to destroy the State of Israel (whether by transporting its inhabitants to the deserts of Nevada or throwing them into the sea).
 

The Government’s Fantasy Europe

                          The Government’s Fantasy Europe:                    The reality of the EU, explains Professor Robert Tombs, is 'an alarming state of uncertainty and flux.' 

Friday 22nd April: The seven-page leaflet sent to us all by Mr Cameron, and the 200 pages provided by Mr Osborne - both eminently political documents about Europe - have one remarkable thing in common: they contain nothing about politics and little about Europe. The ‘EU’ to which they repeatedly allude is a distant abstraction: a bloodless organization we trade with. Their argument is solely based on [what they say is] our individual material interest as consumers. It does not treat us as citizens of a nation who might be and should be concerned with our own and Europe’s democracy, accountability and long-term social welfare.

Buffeted by crises, beset by shocks. How different the real EU is from the picture given here of a faceless, unchanging economic machine, with a future ‘based on the EU as it is today’, with ‘an ambitious agenda of economic reform’ about to be realized in Brussels. No hint is given that the EU today is in fact in the grip of intractable economic and political crises. Its first signs of economic failings go back forty years - ironically, just the moment Britain joined and then voted in the first referendum to stay. At that moment, European economic growth was beginning its long slow-down after a post-war boom which had made it seem such an attractive partner to Harold Macmillan and Harold Wilson.

Crisis in Brazil

Crisis in Brazil
 
Wednesday 20th April: As a number of new economic powers emerge world wide, the success of the rule of law and the introduction of democratic institutions are essential for international economic stability.  In Brazil, the first of the ‘BRICS’ (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – the emergent success stories), a political and economic downturn shows how economic promise may be hampered by political instability.  
 
Last Sunday, Brazil’s House of Representatives voted by more than a two-thirds majority to proceed with the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff. She was found to have acted illegally by the official tribunal supervising budgetary controls for breaching laws that regulate the government’s budget. It found Rousseff guilty of hiding an expansion of government expenditure shortly before her re-election in 2014 by borrowing from state banks without the transactions showing on the official balance sheet. If the Senate approves the motion by a simple majority on 17th May, Rousseff will be temporarily suspended for 180 days to face formal proceedings.

IMF - Right or Wrong?

IMF - Right or Wrong? asks Gerard Lyons
 
 
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Friday 15th April: This week saw the International Monetary Fund (IMF) release their spring economic outlook. It prompts a question, what goes down but never up? The answer, it seems, is the IMF's revisions to their economic forecasts. Global economic growth this year is expected to be 3.2 per cent and next 3.5 per cent, below their previous view. Anything around 4 per cent is strong, below 3 per cent is weak. 
 
It may not be the only thing the IMF needs to revise. They may also need to rethink their assessment of Brexit, which they saw as bad, both for the UK and for the wider regional and world economy. They are wrong on this.
 
There is a natural status quo bias in the pronouncements of such international organisations. As bad as the current set up is, they rarely if ever want to change and the alternative is always wrongly seen as worse. Although the IMF is seen as a barometer of current economic thinking, its forecasting record and policy prognosis is often wide of the mark. Indeed after the Asian crisis it was referred to as ‘I'M Fired’ - such was the impact of its erred policy. But even allowing for that, a number of points are worth nothing. 
 
One can argue as the IMF did, that Brexit is an economic shock. Yet the UK has highlighted its ability to cope with shocks, as the rapid post-crisis rise in employment illustrates. Indeed, I recall one of the other global organisations, the Paris based OECD, back in 2005, identifying a list of responses that economies needed in order to be able to cope with shocks.

Not Guilty! Secrecy is not a Crime

Friday 8th April: The Panama papers have been used to imply that offshore tax havens serve the main function of dubious tax dodging. Yet many who seek to preserve and enhance their wealth overseas do so perfectly legally. Modern states need individuals to create, preserve and enhance wealth. Drive them away and the nation will pay the price, writes Stanley Brodie QC.

The furore generated by the disclosure of the Panama Papers seems unreal, and in some respects farcical. It is assumed by commentators, such as Tom Bradby and Robert Peston (on television the 5th April), that the fact that a British citizen has deposited funds or assets with or through the law firm of Massock Fonseca itself suggests wrongdoing of some kind; in particular the innuendo is that the motivation for using its services is to conceal taxable assets or revenues from the tax authorities in the United Kingdom. The secrecy usually associated with such transactions is a factor pointing towards some kind of impropriety. Panama is labelled by commentators as a tax haven, as if that were sufficient to make the deposit of money or assets there by a British citizen immediately suspect. It is to be noted that thus far there is no suggestion that any of the clients of Massock Fonseca (including the Prime Minister’s late father) has engaged in any unlawful conduct or concealment.

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