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Richard Burgon Should Not Have Apologised, Zionism IS an Enemy of Peace

Michael East, Red Revolution

Facing an increasing storm from anti-Corbyn centrists and the pro-Israeli far-right, Shadow justice assistant Richard Burgon has apologised for remarks made in 2016 saying “Zionism is the enemy of peace”.

While it is sad that Richard Burgon very quickly capitulated to the demands of the far-right and peddlers of the antisemitegate conspiracy theory, his position is an understandable one, yet also one that beyrays the struggle of the Palestinian people and activists alike.

Conflating Judaism and Zionism is a common tactic amongst the far-right Israeli lobby, however many Jews stand opposed to Israel and Israeli actions | Alisdare Hickson

The apartheid state of Israel has entire organisations dedicated to protecting its image worldwide, many of these organisations are funded either directly by the Israeli government or by Zionist sympathisers. Their sole intent is to silence criticism of the increasingly far-right rhetoric of Tel Aviv, silence criticism of Israel’s human rights abuses in Gaza and the West Bank and silence criticism of Israel breaking international law in places such as the Golan Heights.

These organisations frequently act in unison and through an extensive troll network on social media can present an intimidating force on several fronts, through “official” political condemnation, through extensive trolling online and through the medium of “combatting antisemitism” as they subvert correct liberal revulsion at antisemitism in the same way the rest of the far-right subvert liberal values such as free speech.

Labour Friends of Israel, a group with links of its own to the Netanyahu government, were indignant.

“Half-denials and also weasel words to run away obligation for his dreadful recommendation that Zionism is the adversary of tranquility. Somebody that desires be among the nation’s top lawful numbers merely can not act thus.”

Jennifer Gerber, Director of Labour Friends of Israel

While Burgon’s position is understandable, apologising is the wrong move and one that is familiar to those who know the workings of the Israeli far-right network. In apologising for completely fair comments on Zionism and the threat to peace that the ideology poses, Burgon, in turn, states that his comments were wrong Zionism is not a threat to peace and therefore Israel is not a threat to peace either. He condemns all critics of Israel with his apology.

And while the intent may have been to ensure he doesn’t become the focus of pro-apartheid ire, in apologising he has already conceded ground. The Zionist network does not forgive, nor forget. In conceding once, they will seek a second concession, then a third. The tactic is to destroy credibility, to instil weakness, to portray Zionists as the aggrieved party and to solidify the fake news empire that surrounds Israeli policy. When have we ever heard an apology for the vile rhetoric thrown against the Palestinians?

The truth should never be apologised for.

Anti-Israel Protest | tedeytan

What must be understood is that “Zionism” no longer merely refers to the desire for a Jewish homeland, the ideology and meaning has long since morphed into an ideology that is indeed a threat to peace, not only in Israel/Palestine, but throughot the world.

Under the instruction of Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump has recently designated Iran’s revolutionary guard as a terrorist organisation, a move that will only destabilise the middle east yet further. Netanyahu has been calling for war with Iran for almost his entire time in office, Trump’s recent rhetoric moves that goal only closer. Equally, having annexed the Golan Heights, Israel will next seek to annex the West Bank. Israel has been a champion of military aggression and civil disturbances in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, and throughout the entire region.

These are not the actions of peace.

Approximately 10,000 Palestinians have been killed since 2000 by Israeli actions, 2,200 of them children, five times as many people as lost their lives during the September 11 attacks in the United States. During that same period, an astonishing 100,000 Palestinians have been wounded. 53 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza live in poverty. Over 700 Palestinian homes have been demolished, leaving thousands homeless.

These are not the actions of peace.

Israel is the seventh largest arms exporter in the world, currently selling arms and training to the likes of India, Azerbaijan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Serbia, South Sudan, and Rwanda. The Israeli government has fostered links with far-right Islamophobic parties and individuals across the western world, including Donald Trump and Victor Orban. The likes of Tommy Robinson have openly stated they are Zionists and have visited Israel.

These are not the actions of peace.

No sane or rational person would believe that individuals need to apologise for taking a stance against oppression. No sane or rational person would believe that individuals need to apologise for taking a stance against apartheid. No sane or rational person would believe that individuals need to apologise for taking a stance against racial supremacy. No sane or rational person would believe that individuals need to apologise for taking a stance against colonialism.

If you stand opposed to the values of oppression, apartheid, racial supremacy and colonialism, then you have no need to ever apologise for standing opposed to Zionism.

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