There has been a reasonable amount of chatter of late within sections of the Labour Party about antisemitism.
I have a long track record of fighting against racism in all its guises, for forty years and more, pre-dating my activism with Labour by two decades. It is appalling that we are still dealing with it today, although, thankfully, it is far less acceptable today than it was in the seventies.
However, I am a little concerned that in the rush to be seen as chaste we, in Labour, may be guilty of stifling debate.
The argument, as it seems to me, is a cypher for the internal quarrels between the two wings of the Labour Party.
Whilst any race-hate language cannot be tolerated, I fear that what could be taken as an attempt at serious debate is being deliberately misconstrued.
I think all have to accept that we are where we are. Israel has existed since 1948, and whatever one thinks of the decisions taken back then all must know we cannot turn back the clock. We have to work with what we have got today.
The politics of the Middle East is a veritable minefield, and many states there have regimes that fall some way short of the standards we accept as normal in Western Europe.
You cannot have absolute freedom of speech, there are some things that must not be allowed to go unchallenged. Shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre is an oft cited example; I would include lies and incitement to hate and violence. However, censorship is largely wrong, and often counterproductive anyway.
We are where we are, and Israel and Palestine exist. Somehow we have to make the two-states work, peacefully co-existing.
There are some who question Israel’s existence, and this undoubtedly has sinister connotations in some minds. But in general, if annihilation is not being considered, is it wrong to consider the future of any nation? After all, history is full of examples of nations that have come and gone.
It is a sensitive subject. Debate is healthy, provided the motives are honourable. It is not always easy to see what motives lie behind what is being said, but I would rather we allowed opinions to be voiced than see certain subjects put beyond the realm of inquiry and discourse.
I should point out, before I am accused of antisemitism, that not only do I have Jewish family members and friends but I also support organisations like Labour Friends of Israel. I also support Palestinian organisations too.