The Labour Party’s suspension of the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, for allegedly making anti-semitic remarks in his defence of MP Naz Shah is yet another example of how anti-semitism is deliberately being conflated with anti-Zionism in the service of a pro-Israel agenda.
Neither Shah, who has also been suspended, nor Livingstone have said anything that is racist or anti-semitic. Both were criticising the state of Israel and the supremacist Zionist ideology underpinning it that has resulted in the dispossession and oppression of the Palestinians for well over half a century.
The knee-jerk reaction of the Labour Party in relation to both members is disturbing in that it highlights the hyper-sensitivity that has been brought to prevail over any discussion of Zionism and Israel.
By deliberately conflating them, supporters of Israel seek to prevent legitimate public criticism from taking place with the effect of not only narrowing the range of permissible discourse but stigmatising anyone who dares to cross their self-imposed boundaries.
Criticism of Israeli policies and Zionism is not anti-semitic (you can be a Jew and anti-Zionist). Neither Shah nor Livingstone are anti-semites. They are victims of a political climate in which Israel and Zionism are exceptionalised and considered off limits to any kind of legitimate criticism.
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