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Statement of Principles:

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Ken Loach responds to Jonathan Freedland

Comment is free – Guardian’s One-Eyed View of Labour Politics Ignores the Palestinians

Ken Loach, 5 October 2017

On 27th September 2017 the Guardian published an article by Jonathan Freedland called Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark place. Ken Loach wrote a response for Comment is Free beginning “The taint of antisemitism is toxic. Yet, with hints and innuendos, your columnist, Jonathan Freedland, tries to link me, Len McCluskey and Ken Livingstone to Labour’s ‘dark place’, for which it seems we are in part responsible. This is cynical journalism.”

The Guardian has refused to carry Loach’s article. We are pleased to do so here.

Addition: Today, 6th October, the Guardian has published a(n edited) letter from Ken Loach, under the heading Ken Loach: I give no legitimacy to Holocaust denial.


The taint of antisemitism is toxic. Yet, with hints and innuendos, your columnist, Jonathan Freedland, tries to link me, Len McCluskey and Ken Livingstone to Labour’s ‘dark place’, for which it seems we are in part responsible. This is cynical journalism.

What is his evidence? Len and I were welcomed at the packed first meeting of ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’. Strangely, Freedland ignored this progressive new group, which has published its own response to his attacks on us. The founding document says: ‘we stand for rights and justice for Jewish people everywhere and against wrongs and injustices to Palestinians and other oppressed people anywhere’. We support that.

But Freedland disputes our right to contribute. We are ‘not Jewish – a fact that might limit their authority to speak on the matter’. The matter in question is antisemitism in the Labour Party.

Many Jewish comrades say that they know the Labour Party to be a welcoming environment and have not experienced hostility as Jews. This chimes with my fifty years of involvement with the labour movement. But, for Freedland, this is a discussion to which only one group – Jews who share his political perspective – can contribute. It is exclusive – no place for solidarity or collective support. This goes against all traditions of the left where we stand alongside each other to oppose injustice.

People join left organisations to fight racism and fascism, intolerance and colonial oppression. Throughout history, it is the left that has led this fight. Racism including antisemitism is real enough and will emerge in all political parties. The Jewish Socialists’ Group (JSG) acknowledges this in relation to allegations about the Labour Party: ‘a very small number of cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism’. I trust their judgement.

This present campaign about antisemitism surfaced when Jeremy Corbyn became leader and drew on a number of cases that pre-dated his leadership. It has been led by his political opponents inside and outside the Labour Party, seeming in part to be aimed at undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters and therefore his leadership. JSG wrote ‘accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party’.

Corbyn has always opposed racism and defended human rights wherever they have been attacked, which includes the plight of the Palestinians. This will alarm apologists for Israeli occupation and expansion. Further, he stands on a socialist programme which has disturbed the right of the party.

There is a further, more serious allegation, that I gave ‘spurious legitimacy’ to Holocaust denial. In a BBC interview I was asked about a speech I had not heard and of which I knew nothing. My reply has been twisted to suggest that I think it is acceptable to question the reality of the Holocaust. I do not. The Holocaust is as real a historical event as the World War itself and not to be challenged. In Primo Levi’s words: ‘Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it.’ The first terrible pictures I saw as a nine-year old are ingrained on my memory as they are for all my generation.

Like readers of this paper, I know the history of Holocaust denial, its place in far right politics and the role of people like David Irving. To imply that I would have anything in common with them is contemptible. The consequences of such a smear are obvious to all: let the poison escape and it will be picked up on social media and reputations may be tarnished for ever. A brief phone call would have clarified my position.

One thing Freedland has got right – the ages of Len McCluskey, Ken Livingstone and me (he wittily makes a rhyme of our names). Freedland is happy to embrace one prejudice – ageism.

Exaggerated or false claims of antisemitism can create a climate of fear in which legitimate discussion about the state of Israel and its actions are stifled. Antisemitism and debate about Israel should be separate issues. Once again it is the Palestinians who are marginalised or ignored. Freedland writes frequently about Israel, yet his concern for the Palestinians takes second place. So while we are clarifying our position, could he make clear whether, for example, he accepts:

  • that land stolen from the Palestinians should be returned to them and all illegal settlements removed, as UN Resolutions demand.
  • that Israel is breaking the Fourth Geneva Convention by transporting Palestinian children to Israeli prisons without access to lawyers or their families.
  • and that the deliberate destruction of civilian life, hospitals and medical facilities in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge were war crimes.

And will he endorse the distinguished Israeli historian Ilan Pappe when he writes about the founding of Israel: ‘The ethnic cleansing of Palestine (is) a crime against humanity that Israel has wanted to deny and cause the world to forget’?

So many questions, so many injustices. Labour has much to do in developing an ethical foreign policy and social and economic justice at home. It now has principled leaders and a growing, enthusiastic membership. Let the party not throw away this great opportunity. We have a world to win.

 

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63 comments to Ken Loach responds to Jonathan Freedland

  • Rod Webb

    An excellent repost to a spurious accusation.

  • Chris East

    The Guardian has a history of supporting Zionism back to the old Manchester Guardian. Corbyn’s support of justice for Palestinians as quoted in his recent speech is of great concern to Zionists.

    • Tigger

      “Corbyn’s support of justice for Palestinians as quoted in his recent speech is of great concern to Zionists.”
      As was his support of justice for black South Africans, during the years of apartheid, of concern to the ruling white party then.

  • Markus Strauss

    If there is one thing most Jews despise more than anti-Semites, it’s Jewish-anti-Semites, such as JVL, JVP, IJV, etc…

    No one suggests that Israel is beyond the scope of criticism, neither Jews in the Diaspora, much less Israelis themselves. However, when Israel is the only named-example of issues in relation to amorphously conceptualized campaigns for “human rights” or “social justice”, that is in and of itself anti-Semitic. What, if anything, is the distinguishing factor of Israel, if not for the fact that it is Jewish? And how could a sane intellectual person lump israel in with the likes of ISIS and elevate countries like Iran or Syria above it? That makes no sense, however Loach, Livingstone, JVL and the likes have chosen to stake their careers on this issue. It is truly pathetic, and fully understandable that real news-outlets, like the Guardian, won’t publish such drivel.

    • Andy

      Same old same old. The bs claim that anybody is picking on Israel unfairly is truly pathetic and false every time it’s made.

      Nobody believes your hasbara nonsense anymore, if ever they did.

    • Chris Jury

      “However, when Israel is the only named-example of issues in relation to amorphously conceptualized campaigns for “human rights” or “social justice”, that is in and of itself anti-Semitic.”

      What on Earth are you on about? Loach, McClusky and Loach are on record as opposing racism, colonialism and imperialism wherever it occurs! Israel isn’t being ‘picked on’. It’s just that when we talk about Israel and the Palestinians we talk about Israel and the Palestinians . Do you want everyone to qualify every statement about Israel and Palestine by saying ‘other injustices occur elsewhere’?

      They also haven’t staked their careers on the Israel/Palestine issue, it is supporters of Israel who have turned this into ‘the only issue’ by relentlessly attacking anyone who dare criticise Israeli actions with regard to Palestine and the Palestinians. It is supporters of Israel who have abused the tragic memory of the 6 million to pursue petty short-term political objectives. It is supporters of Israel who are trying to stifle any discussion on Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians and who smeer any such discussion as de facto anti-semitism.

    • Jeffrey Rogers

      ..and your answer to the three questions posed by Loach Markus?

    • Alan Calder

      Markus, are you taking part in a voyage to Mars experiment or living down a deep cave? Just why do claim that “Israel is the only named-example of issues in relation to amorphously conceptualized campaigns for “human rights” or “social justice”,”? Have you not heard news and views on the subject of Myanmar, North Korea, Australia, Zimbabwe, Trump’s America (to reference just a few countries) on the matters of human rights and social justice? I also note that you put speech marks around human rights and social justice – I take it that you don’t believe that these are important matters for human societies? Finally, there is a lot more to Israel than the fact that the Government there describes it as the Jewish state. If all a country has to distinguish it is a religion then it would be a very sad thing indeed!

    • John Grounds

      Drivel of the highest order. When Israel is ‘ the only named example” – Where did that come from.? You clearly haven’t read the article. All you have shown is you can’t take criticism and you choose to hide behind something called Jewishness. Therein lies the problem.

    • David Parker

      This is just nonsense based an utterly illogical premise: Israel is Jewiosh so anyone who critcises it is by definition anti-Jewish or semitic. By this logic Isreal can never be critcised.

    • Caitlin Ni Chonaill

      Most of the people, like Ken Loach. who have criticised the Israeli government have a long record of criticising other governments whom they deem unjust, such as the apartheid government in South Africa. It’s not the case that they are ‘picking on Israel’.

  • Cyril Wheat

    Great response. Well done Ken

  • Howard Cohen

    Thing you Ken Loach for your decisive reply to the defamatory article against yourself and others who decry human rights abuses. The attempts to silence all legitimate criticism against Israel’s policies of Palestinain oppression and human rights abuses by labeling all such criticism as “antisemitism” or “antisemetic tropes” (even when it comes from anti-Zionist Jews themselves) is unconscionable. It is a gross denial of freedom of speech and a moral outrage. As a British citizen who today lives in Israel and has witnessed and experienced the apartheid reality here and the terrible terrible crimes committed against the Palestinians I can only thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing up so strongly and defending human rights wherever they are abused. It is about time these witch hunts against those who speak out against Israel’s crimes are stopped and those responsible for leading such a dirty and unethical campaign put firmly in their place!

  • Karen Bett

    Might end my subscription based on their refusal to print this. It’s a pale shadow with some appalling writers.

    • Jan Brooker

      Exactly what I was thinking. Perhaps I’ll give my £5 a month to Another Angry Voice, or similar.

      • Jacqueline Bowe

        Feeling the same. Full story or no story.

      • Moses, L D I

        I gave one off payment of £25 about two weeks ago. Can I have my money back, Guardian?

        It is scary to think that it can be done to someone of KL repute and calibre. What wouldn’t they do to the man in the street? When you are evicted unlawfully by Leeds City Council and your children abused, then you get maligned, then you get hounded everywhere you go. And you can’t get legal representation because the perpetrator makes you out to be what you are not to wherever you go for legal assistance. Never thought it would happen in real life. Then I remembered the children and the girls abused by Jimmy Savile. They were not listened to until the bastard was death.

        If KL words can be so viciously and blatantly twisted… If gold could rust, what would iron do? Heaven help the man in the street.

        What kind of a world is this?

  • Adrian Litvinoff.

    Eloquent and clear statement about a disputed inwhich one side deliberately blurs definitions and intentions in order to slur their opponents.

  • Orit Friedland

    Thanks for publishing this. As an Israeli who is horrified by Israel’s ongoing landgrab, occupation and apartheid policy, I welcome every brave voice that makes the point that criticising Israel does not equal antisemitism.

  • […] of antisemitism are being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party”. My full response is available online at the website of Jewish Voice for Labour.Ken […]

  • Sean O'Donoghue

    Well said Ken…however, it doesn’t even get a column inch in the Guardian…not even an apology. The irony is that all those who have fought against racism in all its manifestations, over many years, lifetimes in fact, get slurred and libelled.

    As far as I am aware, the only time and place where these notions of anti-semitism were totally rejected, and the Zionist brigade shown up for being, to put it mildly, economical with the truth, was the Fraser v UCU case at an Employment Tribunal. To quote the judge..”We regret to say that we have rejected as untrue the evidence of Ms Ashworth and Mr Newmark concerning the incident at the 2008 Congress… Evidence given to us about booing, jeering and harassing of Jewish speakers at Congress debates was also false, as truthful witnesses on the Claimant’s side accepted. One painfully ill-judged example of playing to the gallery was Mr Newmark’s preposterous claim, in answer to the suggestion in cross- examination that he had attempted to push his way into the 2008 meeting, that a ‘pushy Jew’ stereotype was being applied to him. The opinions of witnesses were not, of course, our concern and in most instances they were in any event unremarkable and certainly not unreasonable. One exception was a remark of Mr Newmark in the context of the academic boycott controversy in 2007 that the union was “no longer a fit arena for free speech”, a comment which we found not only extraordinarily arrogant but also disturbing.” And of Mann and McShane “We did not derive assistance from the two Members of Parliament who appeared before us. Both gave glib evidence, appearing supremely confident of the rightness of their positions. For Dr MacShane, it seemed that all answers lay in the MacPherson Report (the effect of which he appeared to misunderstand). Mr Mann could manage without even that assistance. He told us that the leaders of the Respondents were at fault for the way in which they conducted debates but did not enlighten us as to what they were doing wrong or what they should be doing differently. He did not claim ever to have witnessed any Congress or other UCU meeting. And when it came to anti- Semitism in the context of debate about the Middle East, he announced, “It’s clear to me where the line is …” but unfortunately eschewed the opportunity to locate it for us. Both parliamentarians clearly enjoyed making speeches. Neither seemed at ease with the idea of being required to answer a question not to his liking.” Perhaps we could get Freedland in court …for libel….and the Leader of Brighton Council, for his comments after last week’s LP Conference there.

  • Anthony Davids

    Loach, when asked “did it happen or not” on the Holocaust, refused to say that it happened. He placed himself in the gutter and equivocated when he should have condemned Holocaust denial.

    • John Spencer-Davis

      False. He was not asked that question, so the gutter should be a familiar place to you. And have you even read this article? “My reply has been twisted to suggest that I think it is acceptable to question the reality of the Holocaust. I do not. The Holocaust is as real a historical event as the World War itself and not to be challenged.”

  • Malcolm Finch

    CORRECTED (SORRY) …. If people had been intimidated into silence over South African apartheid, Nelson Mandela could have died in prison! We are at a truly critical point in the struggle for Palestinian human rights – a point where the very existence of a Palestinian nation and people hangs in the balance! Ken Loach can’t be intimidated, nor bribed into silence, about apartheid Israel and so the knives of the Friends of Apartheid are out for him!

  • Gavin Lewis

    It is rather ludicrous for Markus Strauss to accuse Ken and others of ‘singling Israel out’ when they are merely articulating the civic resistance to brutal white settler oppressions that previously activists applied to white minority ruled Rhodesia and Apartheid South Africa. Actually Israel is getting privileged rhetorical treatment. When White Dutch Boers claimed this was the land was promised to them in the book of Joshua – their religious fundamentalism was rejected as an excuse for their crimes. When White Rhodesian farmers claimed that they had Battle of Britain pilots among their numbers WW2 was rejected as an excuse for their brutalities. Nor is anyone exempting Iran and Syria from scrutiny but by comparison they are actually populated by indigenous peoples and their faults have occurred after being violated by history western imperialism. Clearly, they could use some time to evolve and recover from this endless interference.

  • Barry James

    Markus Strauss you should read howard Cohens reply! Numero uno,GOLAN HEIGHTS! They have had it so long i didnt realize it was Syria! Photo of Netanyahu with injured ISIS mercenaries in a Golan Heights Hospital pretty conclusive? I have a lot of Jewish friends who just turn a blind eye but settlements? cmon Mosaad trained by CIA and MI6 since the 40s now THEY train the CIA and MI6? Because they are more programmed to the Greater Israel project!

  • Shelagh

    Well argued Ken – you, along with Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, are all men of principle.

  • Rosalie Walker

    we all have to live together please and our lands have to be shared fairly

  • Ed

    If I was Jewish, I have little doubt I would consider a Jewish state an absolute necessity; and, for the sake of myself and my loved ones (assuming they were Jewish too), I’d want it to be armed to the teeth, and capable of protecting us all from the poison that is antisemitism.

    But I sincerely hope I would have the courage, even as an Israeli citizen, to oppose the oppression, brutalisation, dispossession, and murder of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state.

    Of course, the Israeli state is far from the only state responsible for reprehensible crimes against people largely unable to protect themselves, or leave areas of conflict over which they have little or no control. I include the West’s recent wars, in which the vast majority of those being killed are civilians. Israel is not a special case, to be singled out for condemnation not afforded others; but nor does the history of pogroms, genocide, holocaust, murder, oppression, or any other of the many virulent forms of antisemitism to which Jewish people have been subject both historically and today, make Israel’s illegal actions somehow beyond criticism.

    • Jane

      Ed

      Thank you for this reply. It’s the first comment I’ve read on this subject that makes a real distinction between the legitimate fears of Jews as a people everywhere and the the appalling oppression of Palestine by the Jewish state. I’m Jewish but have never lived in Israel (though I have family who do) nor have I ever supported what the Israeli state does. In fact I have always condemned it and have said so repeatedly to my family there.

      However, just as Muslims everywhere rightly fear the aggression of their non-Muslim compatriots as a response to an atrocity by Isis or any Muslim state, so as a Jew I’m very worried indeed by the constant insistence that I declare myself as a Jew and immediately have to publicly condemn Israel in order to have legitimacy as a socialist.

      The problem also is the ‘bleed’ into slurs or insinuations regarding Jews as a whole, particularly with references to ‘Zionism’, ‘Jewish bankers’ or ‘world Jewish conspiracies’. This is terribly dangerous ground and yes, I have experienced it from some on the left (as well as right) and of course it’s antisemitic.Of course it makes anyone Jewish who has any knowledge of their history extremely nervous. It is not antisemitic to condemn the actions of the Israeli state, but it is antisemitic to link that in any way to Jews everywhere, and that certainly does happen.

      • Caitlin Ni Chonaill

        Jane – Your comments make very clear the predicament that Jewish people like yourself are in and as a non-Jew I would like to say how deeply I regret the slurs, that deep-rooted prejudice which does exist. (As a person of Irish descent I also know a thing or two about racial stereotyping). I can also understand why such prejudice would be a particular cause for anxiety given the history of the Jewish people in Europe. However, I feel that the tendency to blame all Jewish people for the actions of the Israeli government has been encouraged by that very government which claims to be speaking ‘for Jews everywhere’. The Israeli government also claims that Israel is ‘the true home of the Jews’ – a dangerous claim inasmuch as it questions their right to be citizens of other countries.

  • John Johnstone

    COBURN: There was a fringe meeting yesterday that we talked about at the beginning of the show where there was a discussion about the Holocaust, did it happen or didn’t it… would you say that was unacceptable?

    LOACH: I think history is for us all to discuss, wouldn’t you?

    Ken Loach had the opportunity to condemn Holocaust denial during his interview with Joe Coburn. He didn’t, and those of us who are uneasy about that will not forget it.

    http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/245953/this-anti-semitic-bbc-interview-perfectly-illustrates-britains-left-wing-anti-semitism-problem

  • Catherine glynn-davies

    Im glad that this article was published. Thank you Ken Loach. I’m very unhappy that The Guardian refused to publish this.Thank you Ken Loach for giving clarity to the voice of those Jewish people opposed to annexation of lands in Palestine and deniers of Palestines right to sovereignty as an independent state. It is true that Israel may receive more attention in excess of other countries particularly in respeçt of human rights, but it must be said that they have a powerful international lobby and geographically hold a strategic position in the ME and scrutiny is a natural consequence.

  • What an EXCELLENT rebuttal by Ken Loach. I now have NO respect for the Guardian after a decision like that. What kind of journalist is Freedland if he can’t consider any other perspective but his own? It’s an absolute disgrace to attempt to shut down debate in this way. Dirty anti-Corbyn tricks.

  • Labina

    Excellent article. “Exaggerated or false claims of antisemitism can create a climate of fear in which legitimate discussion about the state of Israel and its actions are stifled”. Astounding that the Guardian is playing a key role in this by publishing Freedland and refusing to publish Ken Loach.

  • Jack

    What we have witnessed since the formation of the JVL is supporters of Zionist groups such as JLM and LFI launching a concerted campaign to twist and distort the opinions of others who criticise Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians.

    As they are invariably Jeremy Corbyn supporters, the intention of the JLM is to fabricate accusations of antisemitism against opponents so that they can get ‘their man’ Iain McNicol to expel or suspend them from the Party.

    For too long the JLM and the LFI have had far too much influence in the Party and they are now lashing out because that influence is waning and it’s not before time.

  • Jean Fitzpatrick

    Shame on the Guardian for not printing it. They keep asking me for money which i will continue to ignore.

  • Malcolm

    This is obviously true:
    ‘accusations of antisemitism are being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour Party’
    Why then has Corbyn not stated this and fought back against the accusers instead of stabbing his old comrade Ken Livingstone in the back and then commissioning that ridiculous enquiry by Sami Chakrabarti?

  • Rob

    The Guardian has published Ken Loach’s letter and their website link took me here. The interview was the usual interruption and hurry to the next item, so how Johnathan Freedland came up with his twisting of words was beyond me.
    It does all look like a media storm to make Labour look anti Semitic and to discredit Jeremy Corbyn.
    There again the Guardian does like to make out Laura Keunssberg is being bullied by Momentum while giving uncritical coverage to the Alistair Campbell who used Channel 4 news to bully and intimidate David Kelly, the BBC and Andrew Gilligan. So, we know where they are coming from.

  • Ben Cosin

    The Guardian has carefully eviscerated KL’s reply of all material which goes to the politics behind Freedland’s scurrilous falsehoods, notably KL’s well-phrased 3-question challenge. We might well use this challenge to push the Guardian and Freedland, hopefully ad nausea…
    Ben Cosin

  • Mona Williams

    I don’t think I will spend any time online with the Guardian anymore. The paper has been going downhill, and this refusal to print Ken Loach’s piece is another clear sign of its decline.

  • jane clout

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/jamie-stern-weiner-norman-finkelstein/american-jewish-scholar-behind-labour-s-antisemitism-scanda

    Interesting quote from the above link from an author whose whole family bar his parents were wiped out in the holocaust. His mother was in death camps but survived. Talking about the way the ‘antisemitism’ label is being used to try to discredit Corbyn’s Labour he says

    “You can see this overlap between the Labour Right and pro-Israel groups personified in individuals like Jonathan Freedland, a Blairite hack who also regularly plays the antisemitism card.”

    Freidland is the author of the Guardian artical Ken’s referring to.

  • Roger Watson

    Sadly we only have one left wing newspaper in the mainstream in UK. Johnathan Freedland is showing once again that he is not capable of objective reporting. Maybe the Guardian will be dragged down by him.

  • Reg Vernon

    There is no Palestinian nation, other than Palestine trans Jordan, which is 80% Palestinian. All Palestinians in the Occupied Territories hold or are entitled to hold Jordanian passports. The indigenous Palestinians displaced in 1948 have rights which should be dealt with under a peace agreement between their representatives and Israel.
    The actual shape of a peace agreement remains to be seen. Either two states, or one state for two peoples, or just complete annexation and civic enfranchisement. Israel want peace and settled borders, but not at any price.

    • Caitlin Ni Chonaill

      Anybody who has studied the history of ‘peace talks’ between Israel and the Palestinians can see clearly that Israel does not want peace. Israel used those endless peace talks, where it conceded nothing, to buy time to expand its illegal settlements built on Palestinian land. And Israel certainly isn’t ready for ‘settled borders’. The geo-political intent of the incumbent settler-dominated Israeli government is ‘Eretz Israel’ – that is they want the whole of historic Palestine: to achieve this they want the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous people of Palestine, the Palestinians.

  • Alexis Chase

    I did not agree with Jonathan Freedland’s article. He has from the outset been opposed to Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party and there is nothing wrong with that. However, I am concerned with this determination to label the Labour Party antisemitic and racist.

    There are racists and antisemites in this and all other political parties. This does not make it right and should always be challenged. However, being concerned with what is happening to Palestinians does not make me or anyone else antisemitic. I do think people need to think before the speak and should remember to treat with a measure of respect the people with whom they disagree.

  • David Whelan

    If you think the founding of Israel was an act of ethnic cleansing then you are proving Freedland’s point

    • Alan Calder

      Strawman creation time again, David?
      No, the foundation of Israel was not an act of ethnic cleansing. Sadly there have been acts by Israeli governmental bodies that merit that description since that foundation – these acts continue and increase the resentment felt by those affected. It mystifies me that Israeli governments believe that pursuing such policies can be to the country’s benefit in the long term.

  • Arjumand

    Any criticism of state of Israel and mention of its aparthied policies and violation of Palestinian human rights being manipulated, distorted and labled as antisemitism is dishonest and immoral and shameful abuse of holocaust tragedy. Well done Ken Loach for listening to voice of your conscience and standing up to bullies of Israeli lobby. The world needs people like you.

  • Richard Hallmark

    Is it antisemitic to question the honesty of Freedland and other such reports (The Tablet for instance) on the Loach interview? Watch the interview again, carefully. At the critical point he is “told” by the interviewer that at the beginning of the meeting in question (a “fringe”, i.e. unofficial meeting) there was a discussion of the holocaust did it happen or didn’t it. He says, quite clearly that he does not think that there was any such discussion. But, curiously, this denial by Loach was not of the holocaust (which he deals with thoroughly elsewhere) but whether there was such a discussion.

    Whether there was such a discussion has not been discussed, so far as I have seen so far.

    I think I am going to avoid, if only I can, opinionated, frequently ill-informed and dishonest opinion articles from people calling themselves “journalists”, like Jacobson who is not, by most usual standards, a journalist. He is not the only one, A writer he may be does not a journalist make. I know that “facts” as a concept in the reporting of politics is and has long been a problem. Think for instance what Orwell said about political reporting.

    So why are these things being “reported” as they are ? Is it accident, is it bias ? Or is it that what we are reading is not “reports” but very filtered (by which I mean not just partial but coloured and twisted) ? Is that accident, is that bias, should we not discount the opinion-formers until they really do better to prove their case or argument?

    Is is a coincidence that the Labour Party is resurgent with a new leftish orientation that certain interest groups are becoming nervous about?
    Is it a coincidence that the BDS campaign is becoming stronger and having more effect and undermines the right-wing Israeli image-making of where Israel is going ?

    Is it a coincidence that in the USA there is an extreme right-wing government and Congress (where even the opposition is cowed into silence on this subject)and that Britain, which gave away the land in Palestine in 1917 (well before any notion of Holocaust of Shoah) when it was not theirs to give by any measure or known law, similarly has become a political mess with nationalist-populist movements combining with the interests of the super-rich to prevent any discussion of looking at making society better, fairer, and more peaceful?

  • I shall no longer buy the guardian. Ken Loach has asked some very important questions. Perhaps that is why they have not published his response to their wild accusations. I, for one am fed up of this term “The holocaust.”
    Far greater ones have been committed in history in Africa and USA. Why is this one made out to be the largest? Are white people more worthy than Native Americans or Black Africans? A free voice must be given to those oppressed and whoever supports them. There is no excuse for thuggery, violence racism or apartheid in this world. On the subject of denial, how about addressing questions posed by Ken Loach please Jonathan Freedland.

  • Colm

    I will now not buy the Guardian.
    Terrible behaviour by the Guardian, not to publish his full reply.
    This is all about ‘Free Speech’ and the denial of free speech.
    These good people are being attacked by these Ultra Zionists with one goal, to protect a foreign government against criticism, they are not anti racist, they are ‘Anti Free Speech’
    Ken Loach and his like, have been against injustice and racism all their lives, the real racism is going on elsewhere and that is what they want to stop criticism of.
    JVL gives a real chance for Jews within the labour party to see and hear what the truth is.
    There are racist stereotypical attitudes towards Jews, which we should not put up with, this is what we should be focusing on, not these viscous stories put out with their only agenda, to support a foreign govenment, Israel.

  • Richard

    When talking of the Israel- Palestinian conflict why is it only Israel that is to blame. Why doesnt Ken Loach and his supporters also speak of the problems on the palestinian side. Why do they not speak of the Arab Palestinian rejection of numerous peace offers, including the original 1947 UN partition plan. Why do they not speak of the Palestinian campaign of terror and incitement against Israel- from the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Olympic games, plane hikackings, thousands of bombings, the thousands and thousands of rockets fired into Israel, to the encouragement and glorification of suicide bombers, car rammers, and knife attackers.
    Why do they never discuss the lack of freedoms in Palestinian society- the problems faced by women, the non acceptance of the LGBTQ community, the lack of elections – President Abbas in in the 10th year of a 4 year term, and the crackdown on the palestinian press and dissenting views. Why do they not talk about the Palestinian policy of ‘pay for slay’ where they pay stipends to terrorists who murder Israelis. The US congress is soon to vote on the Taylor Force Act which would cut off funding to the PA for this practice.
    Loach quoted primo levi saying ” Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it” but there is tremendous holocaust denial in Arab/Palestinian society, in their media and mosques, and abbas himself wrote in his Phd thesis that the number of jewish victims was greatly inflated.
    One must question why Loach et al blame only Israel, the one and only Jewish majority country in the world, for this conflict and why the Palestinians are given a complete free pass and it is not unreasonable to link it to anti semitism.

    • Caitlin Ni Chonaill

      Richard – Assuming you’re an Israeli, what would you do if somebody intended giving your country to someone else and that, without even asking you? This is what the British did to the Palestinians. Palestine’s tragedy is Britain’s disgrace.

  • Richard

    Caitlin, Im not an Israeli and you didnt address any of the legitimate issues I raised concerning what goes on on the Palestinian side and why it is ignored and given a pass by people like you. Additionally, just to be historically accurate, never in the history of the world has there been an independent nation of Palestine so the British didnt give anyones country away. Palestine was a region, and a place that Jews had lived in for thousands of years, their ancestral homeland, containing their most holy places, dating to biblical times when it was called Israel and Judea, and in 1947 the United Nations decided it was to be divided peacefully between Jewish and Arab. The jews accepted the 2 state UN partition plan and the Arabs rejected it and invaded Israel with 5 arab armies to wipe the new state of Israel out. Against all odds the Jews survived and The Arabs lost that war of annhilation they launched. Furthermore from 1948 to 1967 when Jordan controlled the west bank and Egypt controlled Gaza neither of those countries created a Palestinian state for their arab brothers.

  • Richard

    and by the way Caitlin, Jordan occupies 77% of what was the original mandate of Palestine. Thats why king hussein said in 1981
    “The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan”
    Israel has about 7 million citizens and about 0.18% of the land in the middle east. The Arabs have 22 non democratic countries (and numerous failed states in war and chaos), they have 99% of the land in the mid east and over 300 million people but it seems it is still not enough for you or them.

  • Klaus Fried

    As a jew whose family was decimated by the nazi holocaust against us, there is nothing more contemptible than the exacting of similar persecution in the name of those victims. The Israeli State’s persecution of our Palestinian cousins is guilty of that on a massive scale and to hide behind the toxic accusation of anti-semitism, is a hideously crude tool for continuing this crime. I commend Ken Loach on having the integrity to resist such accusations. Jewish or otherwise, we all have the authority to speak out against persecution of all kinds and to shrink from that duty is a crime in of itself, however aggressive the backlash.

  • It was perhaps clumsy to pivot from alleged Holocaust denial to Israel’s record vis-à-vis the Palestinians. But Loach’s disinclination to indulge a bad-faith inquisition was understandable while his refusal to issue the rote condemnation that was being demanded of him was surely justified given that he was being interrogated about an incident—‘a discussion about the Holocaust, did it happen or didn’t it’—that never took place. Loach subsequently explained:

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