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My name is Daniel Waterman, I am Jewish and have lived in Israel-Palestine. I am an author and social-critic with a keen interest in Ethics. 

 

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Ruth Smeeth having an 'aha' moment, realises her opportunity to accuse a member of Momentum of making 'antisemitic slurs' ...

Labour UK, Anti-semitism & Witchhunts

The recent spate of false accusations of antisemitism with Labour UK unfold according to an all too familiar pattern reminiscent of the witchhunts of the middleages as well as Soviet style show trials. The correspondences are all too real and should serve as a dire warning about the direction we are heading in, or being pushed into taking.

It is undeniable that witchhunts served and serve the interests of powerful political elites and wealthy classes as well as providing a means for settling personal vendettas. What they seldom if ever accomplished is reconciliation or the discovery of truth because that was not what they were ever intended for in the first place.

It is important to note that witchhunts could never proceed without a measure of public support and that members of the public often participate gleefully, or even take the initiative where they perceive a possible outcome favourable to themselves. When political circumstances are favourable to scapegoating it provides an opportunity for the settling of scores, even very minor ones. It is very rare for those in power to fall victim.

In recent years, political debate in the UK has taken a tragic turn, following that in the US, where candidates are judged on their own merits rather than on their stated aims, political programs and ability to make some sort of reasoned argument, and where campaigning consists largely of trying to portray political opponents as corrupt, inept or wrong, rather than focusing on constructive debate and consciousness raising. As a consequence, political campaiging turns increasingly to lying, deception and dirty tricks, attempts to manipulate the public or distract them from real issues with stories than cast doubt on character (Bill Clinton's extramarital affair) while substantial matters are handled with increasing stupidity (the Brexit referendum being held before a thorough public debate on its potential consequences).

Given the current atmosphere in British politics, and in the knowledge that much is at stake, can we and should we treat accusations of antisemitism levelled at Labour members and candidates as nothing more than they are? (Legitimate instances of real antisemitism). Or do we have some obligation to consider how these accusations might affect Labour policy? In which case, should we not also ask whose interests are served by the present witchhunt? Who are the accused? What are their politics? Who are the accusers and what are their politics? Whose interests are ultimately at stake?