Defamation – the case of Maxine Peake

Jewish history is bedevilled by conspiracy theories. In the Middle Ages Jews were beaten, expelled or slaughtered as “child-killers” or “well-poisoners”. In modern times, tropes about a malign Jewish cabal manipulating finance, the media and political power have fuelled pogroms and attempted extermination. Antisemitic conspiracy theories have formed the backdrop to centuries of cruelty and terror.

Today however, something alarming seems to be occurring. Some people are being unjustly vilified with the charge of promoting such theories. The language of conspiracy and antisemitism is being dangerously debased, innocent people’s reputations besmirched, livelihoods threatened, lives made intolerable.

Now a much-loved actor, a northern working class woman dedicated to fighting injustice, is facing just this kind of defamatory vilification.

Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi explains.

What was so dreadful about Maxine Peake’s interview with Independent journalist Alexandra Pollard that a favourable tweet about it led to the sacking from Labour’s front bench of shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey?

According to Labour leader Keir Starmer, Long-Bailey – the MP for Salford & Eccles who had stood against him in the party leadership election earlier in the year – had to go because she had shared an article “which has got, in my view, antisemitic conspiracy theories in it.”

That’s a serious charge to level against Maxine Peake, a popular film and TV actor and campaigner for many just causes. She lives in Salford and is one of Long-Bailey’s constituents. They know one another and both admire Starmer’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn. It’s not surprising that Long-Bailey wanted to share the interview in which Peake discussed her latest film, her many TV triumphs, her working class background and strong socialist views and her thoughts about the racist murder by US police which triggered Black Lives Matter protests worldwide.

Nothing in the lengthy Independent article aroused any controversy until Long-Bailey tweeted a link to it, saying Peake was an “absolute diamond.” Then suddenly, it became the focus of forensic concern to opponents of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews felt obliged to let Long-Bailey know they were “very concerned” about her “praising the words of someone repeating the conspiracy theory that Israel was responsible for the death of George Floyd.”  It added: “This will not reassure those hoping the years of Labour indulging such conspiracies were over.”

Had Peake, a long-standing advocate for Palestinian rights, actually suggested that Floyd was murdered as a result of an Israeli conspiracy, and not by US police?  No.  She had said that systemic racism was a global issue and “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

BoD President Marie van der Zyl told the Sun:

“This was anti-Semitic because somebody has dreamed up a theory that links Israel to the horrific cold-blooded vile murder of an innocent man. The Israelis had nothing to do with it and there is a group desperate to blame them and Jews for every wrong in the world.”

If Maxine Peake had blamed Jews for George Floyd’s death, that really would have been an antisemitic conspiracy theory. She had done nothing of the kind. She had criticised the state of Israel, perhaps incautiously making specific reference to the knee-on-neck technique that killed George Floyd. As attacks on her words multiplied, she clarified her remark with a comment on Twitter: “I was inaccurate in my assumption of American Police training and its sources. I find racism and antisemitism abhorrent and I in no way wished, nor intended, to add fodder to any views of the contrary.”

The Independent took the precaution of inserting into the interview a denial from a spokesperson for the Israeli police, stating that “there is no tactic or protocol that calls to put pressure on the neck or airway”.

That is little comfort to the many Palestinians who have suffered just this technique applied by Israeli security forces.

Nor does it contradict the fact that those Israeli security forces give frequent training to their American counterparts, and vice versa.

A report on Amnesty International USA’s blog in 2016 listed 14 states and cities that had sent officers for training in Israel or received training from Israeli officials in the US. It said these trainings put “U.S. law enforcement employees in the hands of military, security and police systems that have racked up documented human rights violations for years.”

That’s not to say that the US needs to learn brutality and systemic racism from Israel – far from it. As one activist quoted by Middle East Eye put it: “It is important to understand that US police have harmed Black people long before Israel existed, and that Israel harms Palestinians without any special training from the US.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey felt the need to dissociate herself from Maxine Peake’s words, saying her Tweet “wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article.”

This retraction was not enough to save her front bench job however. Starmer had already made his decision, and he has stuck by it in the face of protests from some members of the Socialist Campaign Group of Labour MPs, including John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, and fury from thousands of party members, nearly 120,000 of whom voted for the Salford MP as their first preference in the leadership election. A petition calling for Long-Bailey’s reinstatement gathered more than 15,000 signatures in the first 24 hours.

McDonnell tweeted: “Throughout discussion of antisemitism it’s always been said criticism of practices of Israeli state is not antisemitic. I don’t believe therefore that this article is or Rebecca Long-Bailey should have been sacked. I stand in solidarity with her.”

Momentum’s outgoing chair and Labour NEC member Jon Lansman, not noted for leaping to the defence of leftwingers hung out to dry on spurious antisemitism allegations, said: “Sacking Rebecca Long-Bailey for sharing an interview in the Independent with one of Britain’s most loved actors is a reckless overreaction.”

Sam Lister, deputy political editor of the Daily Express, had no doubt about the grave significance for the left of Long-Bailey’s unceremonious sacking”.  She was “one of the few remaining torch bearers of Corbynism”. Her departure “marks the last gasp of the hard-left grip on Labour.”

And so the allegations continue to be repeated, in the manner of many such charges in the unhappy saga of Labour’s antisemitism wars, doing nothing to confront real racism, in fact making it harder to build a unified struggle against it.

Starmer’s action has won applause from Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies, Gideon Falter, chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism and Jewish Leadership Council chair, Jonathan Goldstein – all three united in denouncing Long-Bailey for sharing an article “containing an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.”

Dame Margaret Hodge, famed for calling Corbyn an antisemite to his face, was jubilant:  “This is what zero tolerance looks like. This is what rebuilding trust with the Jewish community looks like.”

The Sun piled in with “Calls for BBC to boycott actress over anti-Semitic conspiracy.” Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy called Maxine Peake’s interview “textbook casual antisemitism” and “libellous conspiracism (sic).”

There is no doubt, as the Community Security Trust points out, that far right antisemites have latched on to the US/Israeli security collaboration to make it appear that Jews are responsible for American police brutality. But this is not what Peake has done and it is not a reason to conclude, as the pro-Israel CST appears to do, that referring to unpalatable facts about Israel is impermissible.

Maxine Peake does not deserve to be the object of the Sun’s malicious boycott campaign, now joined by the Daily Mail under the headline “Angry viewers call for boycott of Maxine Peake and demand BBC never use her again after she wrongly linked Israel to death of George Floyd.”

Unjust and potentially libellous allegations are being made against a courageous, principled artist and activist. They should be retracted and public apologies issued.

Comments (83)

  • Jan Marsden says:

    Perhaps Maxine Peake might consider using the legal system to pursue those promoting allegations of antisemitism about her statements. Crowdfunding if necessary. This should have been a course of action for Jeremy Corbyn as soon as the attacks started. I doubt that these allegations would stand up in a court of law. Kier Starmer’s labelling as an ‘antisemitic conspiracy’ deserves a serious challenge

  • RH says:

    I think that a broad range of intelligent and thinking left-of-centre individuals will have written off Starmer as having anything to offer in terms of an alternative to Tory policy. Out of an uncomfortable assessment of the reality of the choice, I abstained from voting in the recent leadership election, but was willing to give the man a chance to establish credibilty in terms of essential LP principles.

    But lets not prevaricate – after this, no-one of a broadly liberal/radical disposition can take the man seriously except as a self-serving greasy-pole climber with no moral centre. He could have just sacked Long-Bailey, but chose, instead, to align himself with sectarian right-wing repressive interests that have no connection with anything recognisably ‘left’.

    The central question is how the Labour Party can be rescued from what is, essentially, corruption/diversion of the progressive impulse.

  • Nick Hook says:

    Kier Starmer must apologies to Maxine Peak – he has basically labeled her an anti-semite, which she clearly is not.

  • RC says:

    Well put, Naomi. One does not have to look very far to find accounts, indeed celebrations, of the exchange of ‘technical’ information between Israeli and US police forces. Apart from the many official exchanges mentioned (allegedly the New York police have a permanent office in Tel Aviv). the dreaded ADL has boasted about funding 150,000 such exchanges. I doubt if any other police force has had so many exchanges with US police. It is interesting that Durham, N Carolina has cancelled this arrangement it seems. Certainly the Israel-US exchanges have been well-publicized. Because of that in itself, the charges of conspiracism (!) and of ‘singling Israel out (more ‘whataboutery!) fall.
    Naomi also does well to mention Marie van der Zyl’s gross hypocrisy:”This was anti-Semitic because somebody has dreamed up a theory that links Israel to the horrific cold-blooded vile murder of an innocent man. ” Is that not precisely the custom of the Israeli police, eg in the case of Iyad Hallaq?

  • Do kidd says:

    This distortion of truth is what will feed real antisemitism for those who do not distinguish between Zionism and Judaism.

  • Jean McAulay says:

    Solidarity with Maxine, she always works for justice & FairPlay!

  • SANDRA says:

    The JVL, as ever, the voice of reason and humanity.

  • Rob Wiggin says:

    There is only one thing worse than an antisemite and it is someone who weaponises antisemitism in order to discredit someone unjustly. There has been plenty of that going on within the Labour Party and in that respect it is an abominably racist party, members of which have for 5 years been weaponising antisemitism to discredit life-long anti-racism campaigners. Maxine Peake is just their latest victim.

  • Charlotte Peters Rock says:

    ‘Are you now, or have you ever been..’
    ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’

    This ‘gag factor’, used across this country to shut up opposition, must never be allowed to achieve that aim.

    I applaud JVL for it’s principled stance.

  • Ted Clement-Evans says:

    We should crowd fund Maxine in making a case against both the Sun and Daily Mail for libel

  • Miriam Yagud says:

    I completely agree.
    The leadership has effectively silenced expressions of support and solidarity with Palestinians, criticism of Israeli state injustice and racism and has displayed flagrant factionalism.
    Am I surprised?

  • Doug Holton says:

    Equity members are writing a petition and planning a campaign to defend Maxine. I’m sure we can work together on this
    Solidarity

  • Jenny Nichols says:

    Thank you for this article, I don’t believe Maxine or Rebecca meant anything antisemitic, and as a labour member I stand by them.

  • Jeremy says:

    This is wrong on several counts. 1. Maxine Peake has admitted she was wrong. 2. I won’t rehearse the nonsense of anyone at all considering it necessary to mention Israel in the context of a whitel US police officer murdering an African American. The technique used – wherever learned is uttlery irrelevant. If I teach marksmanship and one of my students decides to use the skill to murder someone that doesn’t implicate me in the crime. There’s no way the Israeli military or law enforcement officers can be held responsible for a racist murder committed in the US. 3. What you refer to as RLB’s disassociation tweet is as amorphous as it is anodyne. It’s direct challenge to Keir and left him with no choice but to sack her. Such you read the articles by Jonathan Freedland and Andrew Rawnsley in the Guardian. {https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/26/sacking-rebecca-long-bailey-labour-antisemitism-keir-starmer} {https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jun/28/starmers-sacking-of-long-bailey-was-vital-to-show-that-labour-is-changing}. I’m pretty calm about this; but my other half – Rivka – who is Israeli went ballistic on learning about Israel being effectively scapegoated (in this case for Israel read Jews) – and also about John McDonnells’s tweet in which he clearly associates Israel with the murder {https://twitter.com/johnmcdonnellMP/status/1276164233609252864}. And by the way, I’ve subsequently had more than a few antisemitic barbs thrown at me about this from members of my local Labour Party branch. I was sceptical about antisemitism in the Party before this incident. Not any more.

  • Michael says:

    This is just what Mccarthyism looked like in the USA in the early 50s

  • John Bowley says:

    This is indeed appalling, actually disgusting. Lies are being promoted as if they are factual. It is obviously being done towards making Israel above any criticism, suppressing sympathy for the Palestinians, smearing fair-minded people and continuing the dirty process of damaging the Labour Party. It is being done by dodging natural justice and even correct use of words. Foul.

  • Stephen Pyle says:

    This will not stop until those accused of anti semitism sue their accusers , starting with Jeremy Corbyn and Margaret Hodge

  • Annie Weatherly-Barton says:

    Just devastated by direction in which labour is going! It is v v frightening & feels like we are right in the midst of our very own McCarthyite purge & silencing! I’ve left Labour Party because it has become just too corrupt!!!

  • Victoria Barton says:

    This whole tone suggests that any criticism of the policies of the present Israeli Government with regard to the annexation of Palestinians land and the treatment of the Palestinian people falls into a new and dangerous definition of antisemitism seemingly designed by right wing politicians and propagated right wing media outlets. Well done for your brave stand.

  • Noisy Tappet says:

    Starmer is a self-proclaimed Zionist. Which way will he jump if Netanyahu goes through with his threatened annexation of more Palestinian territory?

  • dave says:

    The accusers have been hoisted by there own petard really – this has only served to highlight the brutality of Israeli security forces as well as the American’s.

    But this isn’t about antisemitism. It was an excuse to get rid of Long-Bailey and Peake is collateral damage.

  • Naomi Wayne says:

    Great article. This is deeply frightening McCarthyite stuff. All of us who are Jewish know from direct experience about ‘antisemitic tropes’ and ‘conspiracy theories’. I regularly challenge people whose criticism of Israel is so vicious, hate-filled, disproportionate, determined and off the wall, it is clearly fuelled by a mixture of anger and disappointment that Jews turn out, like everyone else, to possess every human frailty going.

    Maxine Peake made a mistake. We all make mistakes. With the benefit of 20:20 hindsight, I bet she wishes she had taken more care, given she is a political animal as well as a brilliant actor, and she knows how any criticism of Israel is scrutinised into the ground. But there isn’t a shred of evidence that her mistake arose from her conflating Jews with Israel. She is, sadly, ‘collateral damage’ in the never ending struggle by Labour’s right to destroy the left forever, egged on (and intimidated by) a Jewish establishment consumed with hatred of anyone who dares to suggest Israel is not the promised land. I hope JVL makes contact with Maxine Peake and reassures her many Jews love her to bits.

  • Catherine says:

    I have every faith in you

  • Trish O'Hara says:

    I am so utterly dismayed that we have another assault of socialists using antisemitism as a tool. I am also pretty sure that conflating Israeli forces with Jewish people is conflation. According to the IHRA – that is antisemitic. I am a member ally to JVL and a proud anti racist socialist and yet I have been called an antisemite on line many times because I sure Peake and Long Bailey are not. We are all being dragged down a very dangerous path. Kafka is writ large in this horrific abuse of Jewish people who are being put in harms way more now than ever in UK since ww2.

  • Sheldon Ranz says:

    Maxine Peake did not ‘admit’ she was wrong – she was cowed into recanting. This is behavior we have seen before from those who support Palestinian human rights (i.e. US Representative Ilhan Omar) but don’t yet have sufficient clout to defend themselves.

    Oh, Jeremy, what the hell is this: “I’m pretty calm about this; but my other half – Rivka – who is Israeli went ballistic on learning about Israel being effectively scapegoated (in this case for Israel read Jews)…” Aren’t you aware that conflating Israel with Jews conforms to the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism?

  • Iain Crawford says:

    If Long-Bailey and Peake are not disciplined and suspended for anti-semitism by Labour this will show that was nothing anti-semitic about the article.
    There is also the issue of Starmer´s conflation of all Jewish people with the actions of the Israeli security forces. This is behavior identified as anti-semitic by the IHRA definition guidelines and it has been reported that complaints have been made to Labour about it.

  • Chris Khamis says:

    Great article, Naomi.

  • Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi says:

    In response to Jeremy, you are savaging a straw man. Our story says quite clearly: That’s not to say that the US needs to learn brutality and systemic racism from Israel – far from it. As one activist quoted by Middle East Eye put it: “It is important to understand that US police have harmed Black people long before Israel existed, and that Israel harms Palestinians without any special training from the US.” Just for interest, I’ve learned since we posted the piece in question that, despite the denial from a spokesperson quoted in the Independent, the deadly Krav Maga method proudly marketed by the Israeli security services includes the knee-on-neck technique. https://israelitacticalkravmaga.com/law-enforcement/?fbclid=IwAR2LDfBanK1BmW658-JmIIbNk1mYLQslNsoFKCgf1UBTAo0b2Ia-qifRQ18.

  • Philip Jones says:

    The israeli police are just as violent in their treatment of Palestinians to the extent of using the knee/neck technique and the way the treat young palestinian boys is vile and vicious.

  • John Wathen says:

    For me this sacking of RLB was the final straw. I resigned from the Labour party.

  • Janet Watson says:

    Thank you JVL for being the voice of reason. We live in terrifying times

  • Linda Edmondson says:

    Thank you, Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi for this article and also for the link to Krav Maga. Earlier today I sent Keir Starmer the link to the same site and hope that at least one of his staff monitoring his email has the decency to look at the site. Most striking on the very first page is the photo demonstrating the technique and, as Naomi says, boasting of its use. I have been so incensed by Starmer’s action that I finally cancelled my membership of the Labour Party. It appears that the motivation for Long-Bailey’s sacking wasn’t her ‘antisemitism’, but her vocal disagreement with Starmer over the issue of children being sent back to school while the coronavirus is still active. Starmer seems to be so lacking in moral principles (not good for a human rights lawyer) that he’s prepared to have both RLB and Maxine Peake tarred with the brush of antisemitism, instead of simply sacking RLB for disagreeing with him over schools. Perhaps JVL and its allies needs its own Anti Defamation League, to take action against the persons and organisations that have been defaming Israel’s critics for the past five years with accusations of antisemitism. I would happily contribute to any legal action taken against those involved in destroying people’s reputations and sometimes livelihoods. Keep up this essential work, JVL!

  • Quite and interesting comparison : As far as we know neither Rebecca Long Bailey nor Maxine Peake have formal complaints of antisemitism submitted against them. Keir Starmer though does have a formal complaint of antisemitism submitted against him (Editor of Skwawkbox). The practice established, as much as it is consistent, is for those subject to formal complaint be suspended pending investigation. If zero tolerance and decisive action is the order of the day why has Rebecca Long Bailey been sacked but no action against Keir Starmer?

  • richbpink says:

    It is Disgusting the way the right wing media witch hunts anyone who campaigns for Palestinian rights and dares to criticise Israeli Human rights abuses. What a shame Starmer is so weak he could not stand up for Rebecca and Maxine’s human rights to free speech sad to see a Labour leader choose the side of fascists bullies and oppressors Labour really needs a new leader with some independent strong minded conviction and a working moral compass.

  • jenny says:

    When one talks of the actions of the Israeli government we should never in any case “read Jews” as stated above. A nation’s citizens should never be held collectively responsible orcomplicit for the wrong doings of its leaders. This applies across the board.

  • Alan Sloan says:

    ” If I teach marksmanship and one of my students decides to use the skill to murder someone that doesn’t implicate me in the crime.”

    I disagree, which is why I dont teach marksmanship, nor do I think brutality is required to keep public order in a civilised country . Frankly I think this is silly, we need to get a grip, and Israel needs to choose its friends more wisely.

  • John Noble says:

    Some Jewish people/politicians are making much of this being naturally sensitive to allegations they see as against them, history has shown them the wisdom of being on their guard. However, they are in the company of many other groups that have been persecuted for their religion down the ages and what has happened to them is atrocious and will not be forgotten for hundreds of years, but, just like the other groups that suffered as they have done we must become more alike.

  • john tymon says:

    Well done Naomi. I will happily contribute to a fund to take the allegations against Maxine Peake to the courts. We know she is innocent and must put a stop to the labeling of her. The decision of the European Court of Human Rights against the French Government on 11 June will strengthen our case. John

  • Jerome Van Koch says:

    Thank goodness “can I finish Corbyn “ was not standing beside Maxine !

  • Susan Will says:

    The lady doth protest too much. Sorry,man!
    Sounds totally paranoid, what an invented fuss over nothing . Don’t think this will increase his popularity.

  • Martyn Meacham says:

    Will Maxine Peake now take legal action against the lies and smears?

  • Vivienne Kitcatt says:

    Am torn between my desire to stay as a member and try to change things from within, and my fear that I will be expelled because of my abhorrence of the Palestinian plight. The question for me is, do I resign or wait to be expelled?
    Whoever would have thought that a Labour Party member would have to choose from these two options?

  • Vera Lustig says:

    To Jeremy (28 June at 20.06) : you write, “but my other half – Rivka – who is Israeli went ballistic on learning about Israel being effectively scapegoated (in this case for Israel read Jews)”. Sorry, but I’m baffled by those words in brackets. Who decides that “in this case” we should construe “Israel” as meaning “Jews”? Why “in this case” and not, perhaps, in others? Call me a self-hating Jew, but to me, the word “Israel” means “Israel” and the word “Jews”, “Jews”.

    I concede that Maxine Peake seems to have made a factual error in implying that the lethal hold used on George Floyd had been taught by Israeli forces, but her implication is not far-fetched, given the evidence of Israelis using that hold, and the fact that the Israelis do give seminars to US police forces.

    There may be anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, but I would not regard this as an instance of it. I’m deeply disappointed that a highly esteemed lawyer like Keir Starmer spoke of “anti-Semitic conspiracies” when sacking RLB. His overheated words evoke blood libels, Holocaust denial and the like. This isn’t Zero Tolerance of anti-Semitism; it’s Zero Tolerance of free speech.

    .

  • Mary Davies says:

    Excellent article.

  • Alan says:

    [JVL web says: Note, this is NOT an official Israeli government website – it appears to be a branch of a commercial training school in Poland. Treat it with extreme caution!]

    https://israelitacticalkravmaga.com/law-enforcement/?fbclid=IwAR2LDfBanK1BmW658-JmIIbNk1mYLQslNsoFKCgf1UBTAo0b2Ia-qifRQ18

  • Frances Naggs says:

    This is yet another heartbreaking episode. Good people, who spend their lives defending people’s rights and working assiduously against racism are made into hate figures and targets. Maxine Peake has been an inspiration to many working class northern women. She is a rare beast in the posh media world. She needs protection and praise not smears and defamation.

  • Ted Clement-Evans says:

    I have thought hard on this below. Could someone with legal training look at what I have written please – is the thinking correct? If it is – let’s put the pressure on and crowd fund Maxine Peach in suing the Daily Mail
    The crux of the question is this. In the IHRA list of examples of anti-Semitism, the last definition is

    Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
    Is it therefore a reasonable conclusion that it is anti-Semitic to accuse a person of anti-Semitism who has slagged off Israel for its war crimes?
    In making an accusation of any critical remarks being anti-Semitic, the accuser must be regarded as equating Jewish people with Israel.

    In the normal way it would not be logical to equate criticism of Israel with criticism of Jewish people because the state is made up of a multitude of religions and ethnicities. But because their accusers regard Israel as a Jewish state their accusation of anti-Semitism is made in that light.

    They make the anti-Semitism accusation on the basis that Israel is an inherently Jewish state. They are therefore claiming that it is its Jewish population which is being tarred with whatever accusation made of Israel. If Israel happened to be a predominantly Christian state it is inconceivable that any accusation of anti-Semitism could or would be made.

    Effectively therefore the accuser is concluding that the Jewish people are being accused of the war crimes. As such the accuser is thus holding Jews or the Jewish people collectively responsible and therefore must fall within that definition.

    Guilty – m’Lord

  • Leslie Evans says:

    Reinstate RLB…Exonerate Maxine Peake, it’s the only honourable thing to do. To criticise Israel is not antisemetic. A free Palestine should be the goal of all right thinking nations.

  • Carol Lawrenson says:

    A voice of reason in an asylum!
    I am appalled by the way people pounce immediately upon anything that they can construe to be antisemitism/racism/homophobia/anti-Islamic etc etc etc
    It’s a very worrying climate in which we live and, horrifically for the Jewish people I am sure, it must raise the ugly spectre of Nazi fascism and the Holocaust once more. An example of how prejudice can become murderous policy. I support the Jewish voice for Labour in its honest desire to rid politics of antisemitism without excusing the wrongs being done by zionists and Establishment Jews. By this I refer to groups such as BoD British Jews etc.
    There are those in every creed, race, denomination, government and position of power, whose actions should stand for public scrutiny and condemnation, when those action place others in a an unsafe position.
    I need to say explicitly that I find antisemitism despicable. I find racism despicable. I find any form of separatism abhorrent.

  • John Burr says:

    It’s pretty clear to any reasonable person, who is likely just rolling their eyes at this, that all the righteous indignation is singling out all those Zionists hell bent on destroying Palestinian support, and any remaining vestiges of socialism in the Labour Party.
    We see you!

  • Allan Howard says:

    As it says in the article, ‘Nothing in the lengthy Independent article aroused any controversy until Long-Bailey tweeted a link to it…’.

    Well I don’t know what the timeline was – ie how long it was between the Independent posting the article on its website and RLB posting her tweet – but whoever conducted the interview apparently didn’t pick up on it as being anti-semitic, or their editor.

    I think the thing is that many people who have a deeper awareness of what has been done to the Palestinians over a period of seventy years or more have an innate hostility towards ‘Israel’, and it is irrelevant that they are Jewish, and it is what they have done and what they are doing that is what people abhor, and not WHO they are in terms of religion or ethnicity or race.

    And my point is this, that Maxine Peake didn’t throw in the bit about US cops being taught such tactics from IDL because she’s in any way, shape or form anti-semitic, but because she has an innate anger towards ‘Israel’ for all it has done to the Palestinians AND what it IS doing AND what it intends to do.

    Anyway, I came across the following yesterday (posted on Friday):

    https://antisemitism.uk/caa-asks-sir-keir-starmer-to-discipline-jeremy-corbyn-and-group-of-far-left-labour-mps-demanding-reinstatement-of-rebecca-long-bailey-despite-her-sharing-antisemitic-conspiracy-theory/

  • James Dickins says:

    It is a progressive American Jewish organisation, Jewish Voice for Peace, which is leading the fight against the so-called Deadly Exchange programme, in which Israeli security forces train American police: https://deadlyexchange.org/

    Given the brutal nature of this programme, the city council of Durham, North Carolina, recently voted unanimously to withdraw from it: https://progressive.org/dispatches/us-police-trained-by-israel-communities-of-color-paying-price-shahshahani-cohen-191007/

  • Judith Kelman says:

    I can’t comment. I feel so very angry. Poor Maxine. Poor Rebecca. This is nothing but a wretched scheme to banish anyone left wing. Hideous, and should be denounced.

  • ian duncan kemp says:

    most of the above comments I agree with. JVL are a group who should have more media coverage than other biased groups people MPs James O’Brian LBC . Me of Jewish descent have been sickened by various right wing media MPs who are anti Labour or Corbyn in particular weaponizing the serious problem of A/S for political purposes. They demean the real A/S out there and rise the fear of what can only be described as a Form of McCarthyism.

  • Peter Smith says:

    I find the endless references by Margaret Hodge and others to the Jewish ‘community’ tiresome. It would be equally tiresome to refer to the Christian ‘community’. Neither is a homogeneous entity sharing the same views. As an instance of this, JLM, membership of which is not restricted to Labour members, or even to being Jewish, refuses to have anything to do with JVL, full membership of which requires that you are Jewish and a Labour Party member. A ‘community’ implies shared values, interests and objectives.

  • Bill Risebero says:

    Keir ‘Forensic’ Starmer’s thinking is pretty flimsy, along, it seems, with his principles. As RH rightly says, he might have had the courage to sack Rebecca, or not appoint her, if she is too left-wing for him. Instead, he hides behind an anti-semitism slur which placates the BoD but vilifies Maxine.

  • sandra yvonne yehya says:

    Where are the voices of those Jewish people and members of the Labour Party who have supported Jeremy Corbyn and other politicians in recent years? It is taken as a truism that the CST, the Board of Deputies, and the Jewish Leadership Council speak for the majority of Jews in Britain. It is my understanding that this is not the case.
    I would also like to ask for an agreed definition of the much-used, and over-used word, conspiracy. In thinking about this, all the people and organisations with an interest in seeing an end to the deaths of innocent people in the Middle East, can see how much they actually have in common and then work towards actual unity within the Labour movement and the country as a whole. It is far too easy at present to bandy the word around to prevent genuine discourse and to seek political capital at the expense of
    rivals.

  • BMW says:

    One has to wonder, why would the Police forces of the World’s greatest superpower, go to the great expense of sending police officers halfway around the globe for training?
    What can they possibly learn for the U.S., apart from policing an oppressed, downtrodden and occupied people?

  • Vivienne Boardman says:

    Good article. Maxine Peake is not an antisemite, and the Labour Party should never have agreed to the BoD’s demands. Long Bailey should be reinstated.

  • If it was antisemitic, the editor of The Independent should have been sacked.

  • Greg Dropkin says:

    Israeli ‘Kneel on Neck’ and Minneapolis
    http://labournet.net/world/2006/kravmaga1.html

  • Catherine Newall says:

    I believe that holding up the allegations of antisemitism against Maxine to legal scrutiny is the best way way forward. It would be an opportunity to have the distinction between antisemitism and antizionism clarified publicly and once and for all/ and to see a standard for future similar scenarios. Also, were to depend on a campaign to reinstate Rebecca alone to be successful, and I hope it would be, I am afraid that the issue be might be blurred in some sort of face saving exercise on behalf of Starmer. So, let’s get a fundraising exercise underway to support action on behalf of Maxine.

  • Christine Renney says:

    Thank you for shining a calm and light on this issue. Being anti-Israel is not being anti-Semitic. Errors need correcting but the response to Peake’s comment is so over the top it makes me question its validity.

  • Julia Pickering says:

    Thank you JVL for your continuing wisdom, kindness and solidarity with disadvantaged people everywhere. You are a shining example to us all. Inclusivity and respect for all people is the right way. The attempts to slur these two fine women are terrifying, and I am relieved that you are doing your part to protest against this.

  • Linda P says:

    Great article, it is a sad reflection of our country that only right wing organisations are given a voice in our media while JVL is effectively silenced. I would gladly contribute to funding for Maxine to take legal action.

  • Dawn Smith says:

    Thanks for this reasoned analysis which aims to quiet this incredible storm. Meantime the battle to make BLM gets kicked into the long grass! There is NO place for any racism casual or otherwise anywhere.

  • Julie says:

    I feel the sun should apologise asap.
    I believe K Starmer needs to reinstate RLB.

  • Felicity De Motta says:

    As a woman of Jewish heritage I wholeheartedly support Maxine Peake’s article & Rebecca Long Bailey’s support of its content. I too am appalled at the government of Israel & its apartheid policies towards Palestinians. I am not an anti-semite. What I don’t understand is why one or both of them don’t sue for defamation of character. I would.

  • John Wattis says:

    Maxine Peake was right to apologise. I think the Independent should, too. The sentence about the Israeli security forces was unnecessary. It is perfectly appropriate to criticise the Israeli government and security forces and is certainly not anti-Semitic to do so. However to insert this sentence into a discussion of American Police brutality is unnecessary and clearly causes offence to some who perceive it as a ‘casual’ kind of anti-Semitism. I hope the rift that this comment and the reaction to it has caused can be healed and that the Labour Party can move forward as a diverse but united and effective opposition to the Conservatives.

  • Robert Damon says:

    It is a sign of how antisemitism is legitimised by some on the Left that this disingenuous article is written and approved. What does Peake’s status as a much-loved actor and activist have to do with it? She has promoted a grossly antisemitic lie in keeping with patterns of Jew-blaming hundreds of years old. Since it is admitted the Israeli state is NOT responsible for George Floyd’s death it is in truth antisemitic and not anti the Israeli state. It is shocking that so many people think it is OK to disseminate such palpably silly accusations and for RLB to condone them.

  • Debbie grue says:

    Maxine peake was surely ambushed by pollard. Feigning that she was a sympathetic journalist. She took advantage that msxine had not accurately contextualised the brutality o police tactics. The journo knew this , even going as far to apparently contacting US police re the charges. Pollard had no interest in portraying Maxine’s commitment to socialist politics. Sadly she n Rebecca fell into the trap n starmer must have been overjoyed he could continue to court Zionism. His desire to rid himself of an opponent, making an eg of Rebecca was foremost and appearing “strong” was his motive and not about opposing anti Semitic or racism.

  • Zoe Roseanna Jones-Edwards says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    Thank you for the wonderful article.

    I was disappointed to read the “Reply” contribution from “Jeremy 28th June 2020 at 20:06” and disagree with respect. The fact that Rebecca Long-Bailey stated that her Tweet “wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article” should have ended the discussion.

    People have a right to express their views and right-wing Likud supporters of Prime Minister Netanyahu deny Palestinians their right to self-determination or even any connection to their own historic land, questioning the rights of Palestinians. That is unfair and as Palestinians are Semitic, is that no anti-Semitic and anti-Palestinian?

    Israel’s actions in the present and in the past have been reprehensible and it is correct to condemn its violation of Palestinian rights, its continued oppression of the Palestinian nation and its links to South Africa in the past.
    Also kindly see:
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/feb/07/southafrica.israel
    https://progressive.org/dispatches/us-police-trained-by-israel-communities-of-color-paying-price-shahshahani-cohen-191007/

    It is clear that under Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel wishes to for once and for all, end any lingering hope for a two-state solution. Forcefully taking 30% of the West Bank will destroy any hopes. The international community and the UN have stated any annexation will have very serious consequences. The growth of illegal settlement colonies on the West Bank and the fact that Palestinians have to access separate roads on their West Bank land is appalling, as is Israel’s wish to ignore 100s of UN Resolutions, to ignore the ruling of the International Court of Justice, to still have the monstrous 400 mile “wall” on occupied Palestinian land, ignore the wish by the world to see a just and durable peace where two states can live side by side in peace. Under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership this wish for a comprehensive peace has sadly ended.

    It is tragic that Palestinians who are Semitic people, are completely disregarded and treated as if their rights are worthless by Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government. Israel continues to ignore 100s of UN Resolutions (including ones supported by the UK concerning the status of Jerusalem).

    Thank you so much and let us all hope and pray that peace will prevail in the Holy Land for all Israelis and Palestinians.

    God bless you all.

  • Patricia Marsh says:

    We should substitute the phrase” anti Israel “with “anti Netanyahu” to preclude the charge of antisemitism

  • Nick Sainsbury says:

    I agree with this article. There should be a balance of views within the Labour Party and healthy debate. RLB should be reinstated because the view she expressed was anti Israeli government policy and not antisemitic.

  • Stephanie Spooner says:

    It is a shame an actress of Maxine Peake’s calibre, has allowed herself to sail too close to the wind politically on such a delicate issue – a shame because she is a great actress.

  • Carol clegg says:

    I think it’s been blown out of context .

  • roger hill says:

    If the knee on neck technique was/is official police policy in the USA how can the death of Mr. Floyd be described as “vile, cold blooded murder?” By over egged statements like this you undermine the essential message that RLB was sacked on spurious grounds. Otherwise an interesting and well written article.

  • John C says:

    Maxine Peake’s career and livelihood is at stake for this, should the Sun/Daily Mail boycott campaign get wind behind it. Many will remember the price Vanessa Redgrave paid for speaking eloquently about the Palestinian cause at an Oscar ceremony in the 1970s.

  • R. Weil says:

    Maxine Peak made a mistake which could have been seen as anti semitic. She apologised for it. That mistake was repeated by a shadow minister, who then refused to retract it, and that is why Starmer was right to sack her, and why he had no choice. I have always supported Jeremy Corbyn and voted labour and I shall continue to do so.

  • Harry Law says:

    R.Weil I disagree with you comment, here is Johnathan Cooks opinion on another article on this site …. “In taking action against Long-Bailey, Starmer, a former lawyer known for his forensic skills, made a telling, false allegation. He told the BBC that the Peake interview had indulged in antisemitic “conspiracy theories” – in the plural. But only one Israel-related claim, about the knee on the neck chokehold, was made or cited.

    Further, Peake’s claim, whether correct or not, is patently not antisemitic. Israel is neither a Jew nor the representative of the Jewish people collectively – except in the imaginations of antisemites and the hardcore Zionists who people the Israel lobby”.

  • Alan Taylor says:

    Absolutely disgusting.. Maxine was just telling the truth.. as was RBL in retweeting them.. does the Labour Party have to be censored for telling the truth about Israel’s agenda to annihilate the Palestinian race?.. I point out.. NOT jewish

  • David Roger says:

    I notice erstwhile supporters of BLM like Piers Morgan , are subscribing to the BoD narrative that it is annow anti Semitic group and he opined that what Peake really meant was “ Jews are killing blacks” ( which as you say she NEVER meant ) and that as Israelis have denied they train anyone it’s just not true . End of . Newsnight and BBC news were no better …It was just an antisemitic conspiracy theory.not even an “ alleged “ one . . no investigation and only Friends of Israel invited . As everyone knows it is true Israel trains US officers & they use the choke hold How to get TV journalists to do their job and present a balanced view ? I’ve been sending them evidence but no response

  • Karen Sudan says:

    There is no way to ‘stay and fight’ in the Labour Party. The only way to stay is to stay quiet. There is no ‘correct way’ to criticise actions of the State of Israel which is ‘safe’. That is how it is – if you don’t stay totally quiet they’ll come for you. Make no mistake.

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