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August 2, 2018jackhairbrain

 The relentless coverage of the Labour anti-Semitism row has lead me to reflect a bit.  What do I even know about anti-Semitism?  Obviously it goes on, but is it more prevalent than other forms of racism, and if not why is air-time continually devoted to it?

Having lived in England for many years, as an Irish person, I got a sense of certain prevailing prejudices bubbling under the surface.  These seemed to be let out of the bag after the Brexit result when certain sections of society felt that they had permission to voice their anger and frustration with their own lives in the form of overt racism toward those around them in the street, on public transport etc. having viewed the referendum as tacit support for their own xenophobic attitudes.  I witnessed this myself in Manchester.  A random guy shouted abuse at a Pakistani taxi driver who had stopped at a red light.  I doubt he would have felt emboldened enough to do so before the referendum when he might have censored himself for fear of being viewed as a pariah, but as he strutted down Oldham Street, intermittently turning to shout “Paki”, I could imagine applause from the Question Time audience playing in his head.

In fact had I to guess which group were at the top of the League table of prejudice in the UK I’d have to say those from Islamic countries- Pakistan, the Middle East etc.  Then Roma.  Then probably black Africans/Afro Caribbeans.  Then maybe Irish travellers.  Then Poles and Eastern Europeans.  Then, by virtue of the fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland are in the UK, the Irish.  Then maybe Jews.  Of course I could be completely wrong, this isn’t based on any hard scientific data, but I know that certain events can change public perceptions of certain minorities and when I left England I felt that’s maybe where we were at.  But obviously things can change. Islamaphobia skyrocketed after 2001, whilst anti-Irish sentiment dried up in England after the Good Friday Agreement.  However, were a post-Brexit hard border to be re-instated on the Island of Ireland and we saw the resumption of Irish Republican attacks in mainland Britain, surely the days of No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish could re-emerge pretty quickly.  I’m sure there are those in the Jewish community whose children go to schools that employ special security, whose loved ones’ graves have been desecrated or who have had verbal abuse for wearing a kippah but as a white ethnic group, like the Irish, or the Poles, Jews in Britain have been able to integrate and thrive.  Anti-Semitism exists, of course, in pockets, everywhere in the world.  But widespread rampant anti-Semitism in Britain?  Is there widespread anti-Irish sentiment in Britain?  I’ve not experienced it.  But imagine Brexit couldn’t happen because of an international legal challenge concerning the Irish border and the Irish were blamed for stopping Brexit.  Or, God forbid, the border went up again, and the IRA started bombing London.  Then we have a real ant-Irish problem, not something in the heads of a few sensitive souls.  And here’s the thing, imagine if the Jewish community in Britain were seen as responsible for stopping the most anti-racist, decent, truly progressive, reformist politician in living memory taking office?  Imagine if the Jewish community were seen as the community who stopped the chance of a better life for everyone?  Then I fear that that would be the point when a false ant-Semitism smear could become real anti-Semitism.  I don’t want to see a world where the sign reads “No Blacks, No Dogs, No Jews”.  But that’s a dangerous road that many leaders of the Jewish community, in alliance with the press and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn seem to be leading ordinary decent Jews down.  And there is no ethnic minority with a better reason to be on their guard, given the events of the last century (and beyond) than the Jewish community.  But don’t fall for it: Corbyn’s no anti-Semite

So why has anti-Semitism been all over the BBC for weeks and weeks?

Firstly, the BBC.  Why should the BBC be considered any more reliable than Russia Today?  They’re both state broadcasters, and both occasionally broadcast propaganda.  George Orwell knew that the BBC could be a propagandist.  How?  Because he worked in the BBC’s department of propaganda during WW2.  Some of his experience there found its way into 1984.  BBC coverage of Northern Ireland followed the same rules as wartime propaganda.  As a child, I found myself pulling my hair in frustration whilst watching the BBC coverage of events in Northern Ireland that I knew to be completely false; whilst at other times, on programmes like Newsnight, time will be afforded to dissenting voices that question the status quo, giving an appearance of balance and impartiality.  However, the presence and persuasiveness of these voices seem to be directly proportionate to whether the Government and main Opposition party are staunch supporters of the apparatus that perpetuates the status quo.  Over the past 40 years this has come to mean supporters of the Neo Liberal project.  When one of those parties breaks with the programme the state broadcaster becomes the attack dog.  As I write this I have seen the most prolonged and orchestrated attack on a political figure since the BBC’s treatment of Gerry Adams during the 80s and 90s.  For almost the entire month of July the BBC and virtually every other broadcaster and media outlet in the country has been complicit ,on a daily basis, in labelling Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite and the Labour Party institutionally anti-semitic.  The way in which Corbyn’s name is being linked with anti-Semitism every day cements the idea in the public mind and will be of great concern to the 25% or so of Jews in Britain who traditionally vote Labour (the majority of Jewish voters vote Tory).  This tactic is straight out of Goebbels’ play book.  Say Corbyn and anti-Semitism enough times and the two become linked in the mind.  What’s troubling is that the whole thing is devastatingly effective, as evidenced by Momentum dropping support for Peter Willsman.  One of the great strengths of the Corbyn project is its grassroots unity, but when that’s compromised it truly is a cause for concern.  So having tried to attack Corbyn from every angle since being elected as leader the establishment, the press and the PLP have thrown everything at him but haven’t really managed to land any shots.  ‘Til now, with false claims of anti-Semitism.  Why do I say false claims?  Well, let’s look at it:

Is Corbyn anti-Semitic?

Clearly no.  Look at his speech at the commemoration of the battle of Cable Street when other immigrants came out in support of the Jewish community against Mosley and his Black shirts, who were, at the time, supported by the Daily Mail.

Let’s see his voting record on Jewish issues:


Immaculate.  A better record than his accusers.

So the accusation that Corbyn himself is anti-Semitic is baseless, runs contrary to the evidence, it is a smear.

Is the Labour Party especially anti-Semitic?

Again no.  Whilst press coverage over the past month would have you believe that The Labour Party want to celebrate Kristallnacht as a public holiday there is no evidence to support the claim that anti-Semitism exists in Labour on a larger scale than any other party.  It is a false claim.  It is a smear, and a smear that the British media perpetrates every day.  Unrelentingly.

Where does real anti-Semitism reside?

Where you’d expect- the far right.  Le Pen in France, Orban in Hungary, Steve Bannon, the protesters in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us”, the EDL.  These are the people who hate Jews for being Jews, the people who Corbyn and his supporters are prepared to put their bodies on the line to defend Jews, and other minorities against, if the situation arose.  Unlike the disingenuous, cynical, anti-Corbynites.  Ever seen any of Corbyn’s attackers at an anti-EDL protest?

So who is attacking Corbyn and how concerned are they about anti-semitism?

The Jewish Board of Deputies and other right wing, conservative pro-Israel groups who seem to share the view of Abba Eban, former Israeli foreign ambassador to the US, as outlined by Chomsky here:


The Board of Deputies are also Trump supporters.  To continually report these views as the only legitimate mainstream Jewish opinion, as if Jewish opinion in the UK is a monolith is farcical.

The DUP.

Set up as a sort of cult of Ian Paisley, the DUP haven’t distinguished themselves as leading opponents of anti-semitism in the past, yet there they were at the Enough is Enough protests.  Here’s how Paisley used to talk about Jews:

The PLP.

The Blairite faction of the Labour Party who have devoted every waking hour to removing Corbyn by any means necessary.  Cynical political ploy?  Pinch of salt?  Mandatory re-selection actually makes a party more democratic Chukka, so keep slabbering.

The pro-Israeli lobby.  Ooh, conspiracy theory! It’s as if this documentary was never made:

Anyone watching the media coverage of this row would be forgiven for thinking that spurious claims about Labour’s refusal to adopt a slightly shitey definition of anti-semitism puts you at odds with the views of all of Britain’s Jews, even though the person who wrote the IHRA definition warned about how it could have a “chilling effect” on legitimate criticism of Israel.  This is because arguments that counter these cynical political smears are rarely given air-time, and on the rare occasion that they are, they tend to be voiced by reasonable, compassionate, educated, well-spoken middle-aged Jewish women who exude integrity and in whose voice viewers can detect the unblemished truth.

Women like this:

and this woman:

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi has rightly pointed out that Corbyn is too apologetic, has a tendency to want to see the other side, and I think in this case trust Tory, pro-Israeli forces within the Jewish community too much when they are clearly following a tactic that wishes to conflate criticism with Israel with anti-Semitism.  When Israel has just declared itself a racist state it’s harder to defend against than painting your opponent as an anti-Semite.  As a consequence of this row, a spotlight that should have been shone on Israel, including another major attack on Gaza, and the passing into law of legislature that negates Israel’s claims of being the region’s only liberal democracy, is turned off.  In short, this whole thing is an alignment of forces- the “Get Corbyn” brigade (The do anything PLP, the Tories, the be as anti-semitic as you want as long as you’re anti-Corbyn and pro-Israel DUP, the right wing press, let’s face it, the left-wing press), and the pro-Israel forces, who sometimes intersect in this big disgraceful Venn diagram of a smear campaign.  These include the Jewish Board of Deputies, the Israeli office, certain big party donors, CIF Watch, CAMRA and others.  Corbyn has to stand strong.  There is an army of support behind him who don’t buy any of this.  Those of us who have faith are rooting for him not to blink in a game of chicken, not with Britain’s Jews, but his opponents, who are legion, who are many, and who have aligned.


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