The DA is becoming the poster child of the Right, (Mail & Guardian 18 October 2021) refers
Steven Friedman claims to be a ‘political scientist’. Though his career and professorship may appear to chart a course within South Africa’s academic establishment, he merely demonstrates the parochialism which reigns at these institutions.
A case in point is the manner in which Friedman has taken it upon himself to be the ‘pre-eminent analyst within the country of the British Labour Party (BLP)’
I write this letter, not to take issue with the professor’s opinions on the Democratic Alliance, but rather to point out the manner in which the man’s criticism of local politics has descended into a false and misleading indictment of the BLP.
That Friedman cannot distinguish between the polices of either the Tories nor Labour for that matter, and thus conflate both parties with the Democratic Alliance (DA), is par for the course. More alarming, is his general thesis on ”current campaigns against ‘antisemitism’ in Western Europe and the United States” — campaigns which he alleges are not aimed at racial and religious bigotry, but are rather ‘quite the opposite of their stated intentions’.
In his latest piece he states: “Power holders who not so long ago were keeping Jews out of clubs and limiting their number at universities claim to be so angered at anti-Jewish prejudice that they have passed laws to prevent it. But this is not a newfound non-racialism. The campaign is really about protecting the Israeli state, which has become a favourite among the bigoted – including some who really are antisemites – because it discriminates against Palestinians. Conveniently, branding supporters of Palestinian rights as racists can also be used to hound left-wingers out of the British Labour Party. To oppose racist treatment of Palestinians is to be branded a racist.”
The ‘left-wingers’ he refers to are none other than past BLP leader Jeremy Corbyn and his allied supporters. Friedman’s blatantly dishonest account of the matter has been previously published in New Frame.
Lies about Corbyn surely deserve a careful examination of the truth?
When the Equality and Human Rights Commission report into anti-Semitism in Corbyn’s Labour party was released, it was damning, writes Jay Elwes in The Article. “Facing allegations of anti-Jewish racism, the report said Corbyn’s Labour was “responsible for unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” in an attempt to counter and dismiss those claims.”
The report found there were ‘three especially egregious breaches of the Equalities Act’, including: Political interference in anti-Semitism complaints; a failure to provide adequate training to those handling anti-Semitism complaints; and harassment.
This is a far cry from Friedman’s fanciful version of events.
According the Friedman, not only was there no evidence of anti-Semitism inside the British Labour Party, but ‘the closest (the report) comes to finding that anti-Jewish racism is a problem in Labour is the claim that some in the party use “antisemitic tropes” and say that “complaints of antisemitism [are] fake or smears”.
Corbyn was thus an innocent ‘victim of a trick’, he claims, one which ‘has been used for years in the United States and here to portray racial redress as racist. Less well known is that it is now used to paint opponents of racism as antisemites, people who despise Jews.”
That Friedman was ignoring serious complaints made on the left regarding harassment of members of the Jewish Labour Movement (an anti-racist group) which had resulted in 7 MPs including Chuka Umunna, a black MP leaving the party last year is clear.
He thus continues to trot out a well-known criticism of the right, (‘mere tropes’) in an attempt to smear ‘black Labour’, as hopelessly tied to Israel, while promoting Corbyn’s reinstatement as leader of the party.
The only trick here is Friedman’s own chicanery and mendacity in attributing race to Jews and thus reducing all adherents to Judaism, to the status of simulacra. People who ‘look like they could be Jews’.
It is a common tactic of race-obsessed critics to focus attention on ‘Jews of European origin’, whilst forgetting there is a mosaic of difference within the Jewish diaspora, which includes inter alia Jews of Ethiopian, Nigerian and South African origin. Nations are not races, and rather the issue here is one of ethnicity.
In 2018 I wrote an open letter to Friedman questioning his apparent expertise on the subject of Jewish identity, his neglect of issues relating to secularism, and the problem of ‘who gets to decide who is Jewish or not?’ He failed to respond and continues to issue forth with blatantly false allegations, allegations which have not been tested in any court.
I have only to reiterate my own experience with racism and Anti-Semitism at Media24, to demonstrate, the lay issues at stake, have absolutely nothing to do with Zionism per se, nor the tedious opinions formulated by shoddy academics, over whether or not a Palestinian or Jewish State has a right to exist (why not?). But rather the manner in which open debate on the subject of Jewish secular identity in general and Anti-Semitism in particular, is circumscribed and defined by self-appointed political apparatchiks such as Friedman.
As Thomas Jefferson once stated: ‘I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.’
South Africa is a secular state with a “We, the People’ constitution. The phrase “In humble submission to almighty, God” was removed from earlier drafts of the constitution, and is a well-established narrative recorded by Judge Albie Sachs.
David Robert Lewis
SEE: Labour of Hate