Labour MP Naz Shah, who recently stirred up controversy by sharing a Facebook post that was viewed as being anti-Semitic ©PA/PA Wire/Press Association Images Read more: What is anti-Semitism? Where to start with Labour and anti-Semitism? At the top. As the Russian saying goes “a fish rots from the head.” This crisis—in which Labour politicians Naz Shah and Ken Livingstone made comments widely viewed as being anti-Semitic and a furious row erupted in the party as a result—is the direct and entirely predictable consequence of the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party. He and his closest associates are entirely responsible for the creation of a situation where ordinary voters can credibly believe that Labour has a “problem” with anti-Semitism. And it is because Corbyn has a problem with Israel. The Labour donor, now former Labour donor, and parliamentary candidate Michael Foster reports that at last year’s party conference he saw Corbyn speak at an event held by the group Labour Friends of Israel. In that meeting Corbyn could not bring himself to say the word “Israel” or the phrase “two-state solution.” The only conclusion one can draw from that is that Corbyn believes in a “one-state solution”—and if he does, that state is surely Palestine, not Israel. This view is not held in isolation from the other foreign policy positions which Corbyn developed in his 30 years as an MP on the fringes of the Labour Party. What connects support for the Provisional IRA, nostalgia for the Soviet Union, an indulgence for the Russian Federation and a willingness to support Hamas and Hezbollah? The infantile politics of the ultra-left, where foreign policy positions derive from the tortured application of the logic of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend.” If your view is that the West, and in particular the United States, are the enemy then everything else falls into place. Putin and Russia attract the same apologism that the USSR received. All “liberation” movements against “colonialism” are to be supported. The Middle East? Simple. Israel is the enemy because it is—in effect—the West and the US combined. Foreign policy becomes so much easier if you only need to know what you are against—not what you are for. This is the world which produced Ken Livingstone’s views too. He has had a problem with anti-Semitism for quite some time. A decade ago he accused a Jewish reporter of being a Sonderkommando: Oliver Finegold: “Mr Livingstone, Evening Standard. How did it …” Ken Livingstone: “Oh, how awful for you.” Finegold: “How did tonight go?” Livingstone: “Have you thought of having treatment?” Finegold: “How did tonight go?” Livingstone: “Have you thought of having treatment?” Finegold: “Was it a good party? What does it mean for you?” Livingstone: “What did you do before? Were you a German war criminal?” Finegold: “No, I’m Jewish. I wasn’t a German war criminal.” Livingstone: “Ah… right.” Finegold: “I’m actually quite offended by that. So, how did tonight go?” Livingstone: “Well you might be, but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard. You’re just doing it ’cause you’re paid to, aren’t you?” That was considered at the time as reflection of Livingstone’s loose-lipped style of talking when he was extremely relaxed late at night. His recent exchange with Vanessa Feltz on her Radio London morning show took his offensiveness to new heights: “Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932, his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism.” This, remember, was an interview intended to defuse the row about Labour MP Naz Shah, who had been suspended from the Labour Party for endorsing anti-Semitic views on social media. It led, instead, to Livingstone’s suspension from the Labour Party. As a consequence he will be unable to stand for Labour’s National Executive Committee and be removed from co-chairing the Labour Party Defence Review. The combination of error, irrationality and loathsomeness in a comment that makes Hitler out to be a Zionist—and by implication Zionists into Nazis—should not merely rule Livingstone out of party membership, he should retire from public life immediately. Livingstone’s political formation is similar to Corbyn’s, though far more careerist and successful until very recently, when Corbyn seized the Labour leadership, so it is relatively straightforward to trace the origins of his views. The real question is how and why anti-Semitism has taken a hold on the left more widely—and it has. The answer can be found in another of Livingstone’s arguments, expressed this way on the BBC’s Daily Politics: “Literally I’ve been a member for 47 years and I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of Israel. If I was to criticise the South African government as riddled with corruption you wouldn’t say I was racist—you’d say I was being critical of that government.” The excuse, which is widely used by Labour members, is that it is not anti-semitic to criticise Israel. But that is a profoundly dishonest position because it conceals something. Israel is criticised not for what it does as a nation or as a people—how could it be? What happens is that policies of the ruling Likud party, the Israeli government, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or even of groups within Israeli society like the settlers are held to be the responsibility of the whole country. They aren’t. Any more than the poll tax was Britain’s fault. This deliberate and dishonest elision of difference is behind the campaign on campuses to brand Israel as an “apartheid” state. Again it is not—Israel is a modern democracy with rights for citizens which are enforced by a Supreme Court, even against the government. This is the thinking behind the Boycott, Disinvest, Sanctions (BDS) movement too—applying uniquely to Israel campaign tactics previously only used against the real apartheid state of South Africa. Russia, which has annexed part of Ukraine—a neighbouring independent country—and fomented and supported a civil war which has virtually partitioned it, faces no such campaign. The casual anti-Semitism of Naz Shah, Ken Livingstone grows from a far wider set of attitudes antagonistic to Israel. Those are justified as anti-Zionist rather than anti-semitic—a distinction without a difference. Those making that case cannot actually identify what it is about Zionism they actually object to— it is just something that is “wicked” and criticisable. Anti-Zionism is the name by which those who do not believe that the state of Israel should exist advance their prejudice. No other country on earth faces constant and persistent calls for its abolition because of the actions of its government. Labour will not solve its problem with anti-Semitism until it once more has a Leader who will openly and honestly say that they believe in the right of Israel to exist and they enforce that view through the party. If Jeremy Corbyn won’t change then he will need to be changed.