Jeremy Corbyn has said he does not believe it is anti-Semitic to describe the creation of Israel as racist in a move which saw his relationship with the Jewish community plummet to new depths.
The Labour leader called for the party on Tuesday to adopt a personal statement which would have permitted activists to describe “Israel, its policies or the circumstances around its foundation as racist”.
I think that he is anti-semitic. And not particularly through any animus to Jews, but because he’s so deeply invested in the Palestinian (for which read, really, anti-US hegemony) idea. But put that to one side.
Is it right to say that the foundation of Israel was racist? To the extent that you think the Jews were/are a race, mebbe, mebbe not. You could substitute culturalist, tribalist, religionist, you might get closer. There was certainly some distinction made between those who were in group and those who were not.
But whether you’re right and whether you’re allowed to argue the case are rather different things. Of course you can/may argue that case, just as you should be allowed to argue any other.
After all, because something actually was racist – if we assume it was – doesn’t mean that it was therefore a bad idea. Whether it was a bad ‘un or not depends upon whether it was a bad ‘un or not. Who got to rule the Danelaw and why was definitely something decided along racial – or tribal – grounds. Doesn’t mean that Yorkshire’s a bad idea, does it?