Antisemitic Incidents January – June 2019, a new CST Report, August 2019

Alan Maddison has reviewed  the latest statistics on antisemitism released by the CST for JVL.

He draws attention to the dramatic increase in social media incidents reported this time, and a continued fall in far-right perpetrator share.

Are these real changes or do we need to interpret them with care?

* An earlier draft of this commentary was originally uploaded in error. This is the final version.

Summary

This latest CST Antisemitic Incidents report is characterised by a fall in far-right discourse, an increase in anti-Israel discourse, and most importantly an increase in incidents with a discourse around the Labour Party.

Of the increase in reported incidents on social media, many involved a discourse around the Labour Party. Was this a real increase in incidents, or was it rather related to increased reporting, and if the latter what was the mechanism? It seems CST staff were involved, rather than spontaneous reporting by victims or witnesses, which raises the question of any political bias.

There is no evidence that any Labour members were involved, nor is it clear that all the incidents were really antisemitic. Some clearly may have been legitimate challenges to the smear campaign.

No doubt the anti-Corbyn media will draw many unjustified conclusions from this report and we need to be prepared to challenge them.

 

Analysis of the report

CST recorded 892 incidents for the first 6 months of 2019. This was 10% more than for the same period in 2018.

Incidents reported from social media (SM) rose 36% to 323 (from 240 for Jan-Jun2018) and at the same time other incidents fell from 599 to 569 (-5%).

In previous years SM incidents represented 16-22% of the total. This increased to a 36% share in 2019, probably as a result of on-line incidents involving a discourse about the Labour Party.

The CST do say this could be a real increase in SM events or improved reporting…the question is why should the reporting have improved?

There has been a change in the breakdown of identified discourses for Jan-Jun 2019. It is shown below, together with those for the full year reports from 2015 to 2018.

As shown above, the ratio between far right and anti-Israel discourses reversed in the first 6 months of 2019. There was also a real fall in incidents with a far-right discourse (from 209 in the first 6 months of 2018). This seems surprising as the growing far-right is manifesting itself more often now. Has the far-right focus shifted to Muslims and immigrants? Has the collaboration between Tommy Robinson and extreme Zionists in the UK or his trip to Israel had an effect?

In addition, why the increase in anti-Israel discourses (from 114 in the first 6 months of 2018)? Is it the Gaza border events – or just another increase in incidents reported to CST including from social media?

In fact the authors attributed an incident ‘political motivation’ for only 67 of the 168 far right discourses, but in this particular report fail to do the same for other discourses. So we do not really know if the discourse around the Labour Party were considered a main motivation for the antisemitic incident reported.

As seen in the illustration above, it is also puzzling that incidents involving a Labour Party discourse only appeared in 2018. I do wonder if this is influenced by the Hope not hate twitter survey involving 5,000 left-wing (allegedly) account holders who had already tweeted or retweeted some antisemitic material, even in ignorance.

These accounts are being surveyed by the Hope not hate team and in their interim report ‘anti-Israel’ tweets and ‘challenges to the smear campaign against Labour’ seem to dominate. However, not everyone agrees that the examples given by Hope not hate were antisemitic. Some would say for instance, that to compare Israel’s actions to those of the Nazis is only antisemitic if there is evidence of a hatred or hostility towards Jews.

Similarly, not all alleged left-wingers who legitimately challenge the smear campaign are denying some antisemitism exists in the Labour Party, just that it is not more prevalent than elsewhere or rampant.

So one question is whether CST has adopted a similar approach, which would partly explain the increase in the number of reports on both issues.

There is no evidence that Labour Party members were the perpetrators

This is what was reported.

Page 8

There were 102 antisemitic incidents recorded by CST that targeted Jewish organisations and events, rising by 59 per cent from the 64 such incidents reported between January and June 2018. This increase can largely be accounted for in the online response to Jewish leadership organisations issuing statements on social media regarding antisemitism in the Labour Party. Many of these antisemitic reactions were in the wider context of ‘smear’ accusations spoke of conspiracy and attempted to delegitimise clear evidence of antisemitism; while others specifically targeted the social media accounts of Jewish organisations to respond to statements about antisemitism in the UK by holding these British Jewish organisations responsible for the actions of the Israeli government.

Also Page 11

In 100 cases – 11 per cent of all antisemitic incidents recorded by CST from January to June 2019 – the offender or offenders, and the abuse they expressed, were related to the Labour Party or the incidents occurred in the context of arguments about alleged Labour Party antisemitism.

We have seen with the complaints from Margaret Hodge (only 20 /111 individuals of her independent allegations involved Labour members) that most comments she submitted were not from members. We also know there are fake accounts set up to discredit Labour by sending out abuse in their name. It may seem logical to blame Labour/Corbyn for all, but to do so would not be justified.

I would also ask if CST submitted, or intends to submit, these incidents to Labour Complaints.

Were all the incidents about Labour actually antisemitic?

Page 11

These tweets (below) include examples of antisemitic incidents recorded by CST that were related to the Labour Party – either by the expressed affiliation or support of the offenders, the context of the incident, or the language or other content used – but that employed tropes, conspiracies, propaganda and rhetoric that have historically been used and propagated by the far right. These are classified by CST as having more than one type of discourse, which does not quite convey the disparity and incoherence of the ideas and language that often appear within the same social media post.

Are these above are the worst examples? Are all the other SM incidents antisemitic, that is do they show evidence of a hatred or hostility towards Jews for being Jews?

There have been recent attempts by Hope not hate and Prof. Alan Johnson (BICOM) to frame any support for an ‘antisemitic smear campaign’ as antisemitic in itself. Their logic is that this denies or trivialises antisemitism. This assumption may be used by CST but is false without evidence that any perpetrator really does deny the existence of antisemitism. The same is true for criticism of Israeli policies.

Alternatively CST may only have reported when genuine additional antisemitic comments were made but the above example leaves some doubt.

Why did social media incidents grow by 36% – who reported them?

Page 14

In 111 instances, CST staff reported antisemitism. The sizeable increment of 141 per cent in this area from the 46 incidents reported by CST staff in the first half of 2018 is largely due to the increase of social media incidents in which CST has been tagged by the perpetrator.

I struggle to understand why a Labour Party member would tag in the CST. Could these perpetrators have been inviting scrutiny in order to discredit the Labour Party, and therefore are neither Labour Party members nor supporters?

Then there is this earlier quote from Page 11 above,

 “ …but that employed tropes, conspiracies, propaganda and rhetoric that have historically been used and propagated by the far right.”

Taken together with the possible tagging, suggests to me that some of these particular perpetrators may not be Labour members, nor even genuine left-wingers, but fake accounts set up to discredit Labour and Corbyn, as has been reported by Asa Winstanley

In addition, I do wonder if there has been some liaison between the Hope not hate twitter survey team and CST as mentioned earlier. This could in part explain the sudden rise in the CST report of incidents involving alleged supporters of Labour and those perpetrators having anti-Israel motivations.

Conclusion

Whilst there are certainly some incidents of antisemitism involving Labour members, I find this report, even if it only involves possibly 100 related cases, should be interpreted with great care.

We do not know how many perpetrators were Labour members, or even genuine supporters, nor if the incidents were all antisemitic.

We do not know if the increase in reported incidents involving a discourse about Labour is real or due to some change in reporting method, nor for how many incidents this was the main motivation for the incident.

I question the tagging of CST staff for so many of these cases – 111 – perhaps this even included all the 100 reports around Labour, rather than spontaneous reporting

I would not exclude the possibility of a liaison between CST and the Hope not hate twitter survey team. This would provide a large pool of allegedly left-wing incidents, as it involves 5,000 accounts having allegedly tweeted some previous antisemitism. Any such selective scrutiny in a high volume SM arena could result in the CST reports no longer reflecting the true dynamics of antisemitic incidents in Britain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (1)

  • dave says:

    Surely any anonymous or unverified social media account must be discounted – no serious researcher would include them.

Comments are now closed.