For complex historical reasons, Jewish people have been held responsible for capitalism, Communism and a great many other contradictory ills. But then, for many centuries Jewish people have been routinely blamed for almost anything somebody wanted to blame someone for.
They’re not the only ones. Throughout the 20th century – and it still goes on – poor white Americans were encouraged to blame their poor black neighbours for their troubles. It distracted them from looking for their real oppressors.
In exactly the same way, people in Britain and across Europe are encouraged now to blame innocent migrants or Muslims for troubles caused by governments.
And in exactly the same way, Tsarist Russia’s savagely oppressive ruling class turned the poor peasants on the Jews, most of whom were poor peasants themselves. The resulting wave of riot and murder in the 1880s and early 1900s led desperate Jews to seek a way out.
One way was the boat to America. Another was the idea of Zionism – that a “homeland” could be found in Palestine.
The idea was Utopian. It was based on the mistaken belief that no one was living there already. Or that both communities could rub along happily together in friendship and co-operation. And so the modern state of Israel had its origin.
It’s not anti-Semitic to believe that it was a great and tragic mistake.
And it’s not anti-Semitic to be appalled by the institutionalised racism of the Israeli government. Even if you accept – as I think you have to – that the state of Israel is a fact that can’t be wished away. Or transported to America.
Many Jews are appalled by the apartheid system brutally applied by Israel’s rulers. Many Israelis – sadly, not quite a majority – are equally horrified.
That vicious system, incidentally, should not be equated with Zionism, though many people - Ken Livingstone, for instance - get the two things muddled up. Most of the original Zionists would have been appalled to see what's now being done in their name - the idea was for equality, mutual tolerance and peaceful co-existence in a shared land, which doesn't seem such a bad idea.
In today's reality there are similarities between Israel’s treatment of its Palestinian citizens and the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews. It’s not the same – not by a long way – but there are clear parallels. And it’s not anti-Semitic to point that out.
Any more than it’s anti-British to side with the junior doctors in their dispute with the health secretary.
Like people the world over, I am often made angry or embarrassed by my country’s government. It doesn’t mean I hate my country, or its people.
Unhappily, though, opposition to Israeli policy is often mistaken for opposition to Jewish people generally.
Even more unhappily, the one often really does shade into the other. Which can make the two things difficult to tell apart. And that appears to be the problem afflicting Labour. Along with the destructive desire of one part of the party to bring down their elected leader by whatever means seem available.
There is another factor too. The Left’s natural sympathy for the oppressed – the sympathy which went out to Russian Jews a century ago and to German Jews in the 1930s – now goes out to the Palestinians.
It’s simplistic to see the Israeli conflict in straightforward black-and-white terms: “good” Palestinians versus “bad” Jews (or vice versa). Dangerously simplistic, whichever way round you look at it. The situation is more complex than that, the people more varied.
Unfortunately, simplistic and monochrome seems to be how most people look at most things most of the time.