A statement from the interim committee of the Northern Independence Party on antisemitism
The NIP will not tolerate antisemitism. Our party is a place for people of all backgrounds, of all faiths and of none.
We know that prejudice against Jewish people is present in all quarters of society, including within socialist movements. We are therefore dedicated to raising awareness of antisemitism within our ranks, to listening to our Jewish members, and to engaging with the wider Jewish community to ensure that antisemitism never gains a foothold within our party.
In order to tackle antisemitism effectively, we must understand the unique way in which it operates. Unlike some other forms of racism, antisemitism tends to peak when Jewish people are at their most integrated; before the Holocaust, for example, Germany was a centre of Jewish culture. On the left in particular, this can involve a dangerous and wrongheaded conflation of the Jewish community with the capitalist or imperialist classes. For this reason, it is vital to understand antisemitism not only in terms of the present material oppression of Jewish people, but also by the spread of antisemitic attitudes and narratives in society.
Explicit forms of antisemitism include:
- using antisemitic slurs, such as ‘zio’, ‘yid’, or ‘kike’
- claiming Jewish people are untrustworthy, greedy, selfish, or have split loyalties
- denying the Holocaust happened or minimising its importance
- treating ordinary Jewish people as somehow responsible for the actions of the State of Israel or of Israeli extremist groups
- demanding Jewish people reject their Jewish identity in order to take part in communal or political life
- spreading conspiracy theories about ‘the Jews’
Conspiracy theories are a particularly important source of antisemitism. In general, they take problems caused by structural features of capitalism, and attribute them instead to the supposed wickedness of a particular group that supposedly controls the world. The group accused is almost always either explicitly or tacitly understood to be the Jewish community. Even non-antisemitic conspiracy theorists tend to find themselves in the company of antisemites, and more often than not wind up incorporating antisemitic theories into their worldviews. Common signs of antisemitic conspiracy theories include references to ‘the New World Order’, the Rothschild banking family, ‘ZOG’, or the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’.
But well-meaning people who are not conspiracy theorists may also unwittingly promote antisemitic narratives. These narratives often sound superficially left-wing, and as such we must be especially vigilant against them. Common forms these can take include:
- attributing disproportionate power to the Jewish community or to Israel
- singling out particular Jewish billionaires who feature in far-right or conspiracy narratives for special opprobrium (their present favourite target being George Soros)
- using graphics or imagery that superficially appear anti-capitalist but feature antisemitic tropes, such as ‘capitalists’ with stereotypically Jewish facial features (such as large noses, small, close-together eyes, short foreheads, weak chins, and heavy stubble or bushy beards)
- using language that allows for both innocent and antisemitic readings - for example, calling for Israel to be ‘abolished’ without simultaneously affirming the right of Jews to live in Israel-Palestine
- endorsing material that uses the language of anti-Zionism as a cover for antisemitism (a deplorable tradition that goes back to Stalin’s Soviet Union)
Antisemitism endangers Jewish people, empowers fascists, and undermines our socialist cause. NIP members are expected to familiarise themselves with and be alert to the forms antisemitism can take, to call it out when they see it, and, above all, to listen to Jewish people when they point out antisemitic words and actions.
For more information on antisemitism, here are some good places to start:
- April Rosenblum’s ‘The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere’, probably the definitive antisemitism pamphlet for left-wing organisers.
- Barnaby Raine, ‘Jewophobia’ - a bit of an academic text, but very good.
The interim Northern Independence Party Committee