Briefing for canvassers: Challenging false allegations of antisemitism

JVL has prepared short clear accounts of the true stories behind the events most often used to support allegations of Labour antisemitism. We hope they will be of use to Labour activists in responding to such allegations on the doorstep. These facts are not secret but journalists and commentators have been reluctant to find them, preferring to regurgitate old sad untruths.

We are preparing more but if you come across other allegations you do not know how to respond to, please send details to [email protected] and we will add it to our work programme.

For our position on antisemitism and our implacable opposition to it, see our statement What is – and what is not – antisemitic misconduct, and our endorsement of the recent Board of Deputies of British Jews/Community Security Trust definition of antisemitism published in October 2019.

 

Brief rebuttals of some common unjustified allegations

  1. The Mural debacle
  2. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism
  3. The Macpherson Principle
  4. ‘Irony’ and antisemitism
  5. The wreath-laying accusations
  6. The Attack on Corbyn for meeting ‘our friends’ in Hamas and Hezbollah
  7. The Failure to deal with antisemitism in the Labour Party
  8. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into the Labour Party 

More issues to follow

Additional resources


One page summary briefing
for canvassers to use on the doorstep

 

1. The Mural debacle

The Allegation

That in 2012, via a Facebook post, Jeremy Corbyn defended what has since been described as “a clearly antisemitic mural” on a wall in Tower Hamlets, East London

A brief rebuttal

Back in 2012 even some leading right wing commentators didn’t think it was antisemitic! Corbyn’s Facebook posting was concerned with freedom of speech; at the time he knew nothing of the antisemitism concerns expressed by some, and it isn’t clear that he saw more than a thumbnail image of the mural on a mobile phone. In 2018, when the mural, antisemitism complaints about it and the Facebook posting became headline news, Corbyn checked back, was horrified, and apologised.

More detail

1. There was no hysteria when the mural first went up in 2012, but the Tower Hamlets mayor responded to some antisemitism concerns by ordering it to be whitewashed .

2. In October 2012, the Jewish Chronicle’s Marcus Dysch started his report about the mural with: “A mural depicting money-grabbing bankers and highlighting Western imperialism conspiracy theories will be removed following complaints that it contains antisemitic undertones.”
Even the fiercely right-wing anti-Corbyn critic at Harry’s Place was originally uncertain that the bankers were meant to depict Jewish figures. He later changed his mind, but still said: “I’d oppose the whitewashing of the mural…”

3. In November 2015, Dysch returned to the issue, reproducing Corbyn’s Facebook comment for the first time. Dysch merely said the mural “was condemned as having antisemitic undertones.” The story was not taken up by anyone and died a death.

4. Three further years later, in March 2018, and on the day that Labour launched its local election campaign, Blairite MP Luciana Berger, who has since joined the Lib Dems, somehow ‘discovered’ Corbyn’s tweet, and tweeted her outrage. Now it became a story.

5. A Labour spokesman said: “In 2012, Jeremy was responding to concerns about the removal of public art on the grounds of freedom of speech. However, the mural was offensive, used antisemitic imagery, which has no place in our society, and it is right that it was removed.”

6. Corbyn himself added: “I sincerely regret that I did not look more closely at the image I was commenting on, the contents of which are deeply disturbing and antisemitic. The defence of free speech cannot be used as a justification for the promotion of antisemitism in any form. That is a view I’ve always held.”

More detailed accounts

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2. The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) document on antisemitism

The allegation

That Labour was antisemitic in trying to adopt an amended version of the IHRA’s ‘internationally recognized definition of antisemitism’.

A brief rebuttal

The IHRA document comprises a ‘working definition’ and eleven ‘examples’. In spite of deficiencies (described below), in July 2018 Labour adopted the definition wording in full. Labour also agreed to adopt seven examples directly and amended the others to ensure the document could be used in disciplinary cases without undermining debate and free speech around Israel/ Palestine. (See Jewish philosopher Brian Klug for a comparison of the texts  – link below)

Under huge pressure, Labour then abandoned its own version and incorporated the unamended IHRA document into its rulebook. Our view is that the full IHRA document does undermine free speech and Labour should not have adopted it at all, or should have stuck to its own improved version. In any event, nothing it did was antisemitic

More detail

1. Though described as an ‘internationally recognised’ definition of antisemitism, the IHRA document has been adopted by only eight of the IHRA’s thirty-three members plus two of its nine observer states. The UK was the first to do so, though its announcement has no legal status. The UN, by the way, has 193 member states,

2. Reflecting on the fierce resistance to changing even a single word of the IHRA document Brian Klug has written: ‘In the Judaism in which I was nurtured and educated, there is only one text whose status is sacred; and it was not written by a committee of the IHRA’. That sacred text is the Torah.

3. Compare the vicious attacks on Labour for seeking to amend some IHRA ‘examples’ with the Tories’ experience. When it was belatedly realized the Conservatives had not adopted the IHRA document, the Tories simply inserted an ‘interpretation’ clause into their rulebook providing: ‘Discrimination . . on the grounds . . of religion or belief should be interpreted as fully adopting the IHRA’s definition of antisemitism’. (our emphasis) There is no mention of the eleven examples that caused Labour such trouble.

4.The IHRA 38 word ‘definition’, in retired Lord Justice Sir Stephen Sedley’s view, ‘fails the first test of any definition: it is indefinite’. Its clumsy drafting leaves its meaning quite indeterminate.  Plus, it is way too narrow, focusing on extreme antisemitism (hatred), whilst ignoring (so not protecting against) far more common forms, such as harassment, prejudice, hostility and discrimination.

5. Though the IHRA ‘definition’ says it is about ‘hatred towards Jews’ (and expressly covers ‘individuals’, ‘their property’, ‘Jewish community institutions’ and ‘religious facilities’), several of its most contested IHRA ‘examples’ are about something quite different, namely political criticism of a country,

6. Should we prohibit description of Israel’s existence, the way it was founded, the ideas behind its foundation, the very idea of ‘a Jewish state’ as ‘a racist endeavour’ – as the most contentious IHRA ‘example’ of all seeks to do? What happens to discussion about Palestinian rights and experience if we do so? Whether Israel’s foundation and existence was/is ‘racist’ (as we would say in more everyday English) is certainly contested. But political debate has to be able to discuss difficult, even upsetting and controversial ideas: forbidding such discussion is a dangerous attack on freedom of speech.

7. Already, some universities which have ‘adopted’ the IHRA document, have cancelled or obstructed student activities which support the Palestinians, and some local authorities have cancelled meetings out of a fear – with no reasonable basis – of what might possibly be said in them.

8. The IHRA document has been fiercely criticized by some of Britain’s most senior lawyers, who fear the political nature of its ‘Israel examples’ may seriously ‘chill’ political debate on Israel/Palestine. These critics include Jewish retired Lord Justice of Appeal (Stephen Sedley), foremost Jewish advocate on race and equality issues over the past half century (solicitor, Geoffrey Bindman) and leading human rights QCs (Hugh Tomlinson and Geoffrey Robertson), who have both written legal opinions tearing it apart. Plus, American Jewish lawyer Kenneth Stern, the original author of what has since become the IHRA definition and examples, is furious that a document he wrote to assist the collation of international police statistics on antisemitism, is now being used to regulate, chill (and potentially kill) debate about Israel/Palestine.

 

More detailed accounts

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3. The ‘Macpherson Principle’

Allegation

That in trying to amend the IHRA document against the wishes of the ‘Jewish community’, Labour went against the ‘Macpherson Principle’ that victims of racism have the right to define it.

A brief Rebuttal

Apart from the false (even anti-Semitic?!) assumption that there is a single ‘Jewish community’, with a united view about antisemitism and Labour, this allegation seriously distorts the Macpherson Report.

Issued after the Stephen Lawrence murder, the report aims to ensure that incidents reported as racist by victims, are defined as racist in police records and are investigated as suchThere is no ‘Macpherson Principle’ and the Macpherson Report does not give victims the final right to decide if a racist incident had occurred.

More detail

This was dealt with definitively by Professor David Feldman (Director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism at Birkbeck College) in his sub-report to the All Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism in the two comments below.

‘It is sometimes suggested that when Jews perceive an utterance or action to be anti-Semitic that this is how it should be described. In the UK this claim looks for support to the 1999 Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, written by Lord Macpherson of Cluny. There Macpherson wrote that ‘a racist incident’ is ‘any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person.’ If we look at the context in which this quotation appears, it is unambiguously clear that Macpherson intended to propose that such racist incidents require investigation. He did not mean to imply that such incidents are necessarily racist.’ (our emphasis)

... if we rest our definitions of racism on the perceptions of minority groups then we open the way to conceptual and political chaos. For if the identification of racism becomes a matter of subjective judgement only, then we have no authority other than the perception of a minority or victim group with which to counter the contrary subjective opinions of perpetrators who deny that they are racists. Without an anti-racist principle which can be applied generally, we are left in a chaotic situation in which one subjective point of view faces another. An equally damaging objection is that Jews in the UK have diverse and, in some respects, contradictory perceptions of antisemitism. This gravely weakens any attempt to take Jews’ perceptions as the basis for a definition of antisemitism. None of this means that Jews’ sense of offence, where it arises, is insignificant. But it does mean that their sense of being offended should not be elevated so that it becomes the touchstone for judging whether or not something is antisemitic.’ (our emphasis)

More detailed accounts

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4. ‘Irony’ and antisemitism

The allegation

That in 2013 Corbyn “othered” Jews by saying of a group of British “Zionists” that they “don’t understand English irony” despite “having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives.” Jonathan Sacks, former Chief Rabbi, said it was “the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech”.

A brief rebuttal

Corbyn was referring neither to Jews nor to Zionists in general, but to some particular right-wing Zionists in his audience, who habitually disrupt meetings and barrack speakers.

More detail

1. At a 2013 meeting in Parliament where Corbyn and the Palestinian ambassador, Manuel Hassassian, were on the platform, Hassassian, a fluent but non-native English speaker who was over fifty when he came to live in Britain, said:

“You know I’m reaching the conclusion that the Jews are the children of God, the only children of God and the Promised Land is being paid by God!… Maybe God is partial on this issue.”

Some Zionists in the audience berated Hassassian after the meeting, apparently missing the ambassador’s intended irony.

2. At a subsequent 2013 meeting, this time at the Palestinian Return Centre, Corbyn and Hassassian were again on the platform, and the same Zionists were in the audience being disruptive. Referring to that specific group of Zionists, Corbyn said:

“They clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history and, secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either. Manuel does understand English irony, and uses it very effectively.”

3. The allegation that Corbyn was attacking audience members because they were Jews was made in 2018 when the Daily Mail was given a tape of the meeting.

4. After the video came out, Corbyn explained he had meant to “defend the Palestinian ambassador in the face of what I thought were deliberate misrepresentations” by people “for whom English was a first language, when it isn’t for the ambassador.” Corbyn also said: “I am now more careful with how I might use the term ‘Zionist’ because a once self-identifying political term has been increasingly hijacked by anti-Semites as code for Jews.”

5. As Jewish commentator Jerry Haber put it:

“in effect, he accused pro-Israeli members of the audience, whom he referred to as ‘Zionists’, which they are, and who argued with the Palestinian ambassador, with being humourless and misunderstanding history, compared with the Palestinian ambassador.”

More detailed accounts

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5. The wreath-laying accusations

The allegation

That Jeremy Corbyn laid a wreath at the Palestinian Martyrs’ Cemetery in Tunisia in 2014 to honour the founder of the Black September, the group that carried out the Munich Olympic massacre

A brief rebuttal

It is untrue.

Corbyn did indeed attend a wreath-lying ceremony in 2014 where victims of the 1985 Israeli airstrike against the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Tunis were remembered – an attack that had been condemned at the time by the UN and by Margaret Thatcher. The attack killed around 50 people, mostly Palestinians, and injured many more.

While wreaths may also have been laid at other graves, Corbyn did not participate in these ceremonies. Nor are any of the graves those of Munich perpetrators, who are mostly buried in Libya. None is buried in Tunis.

More details

The Labour Party has lodged a formal complaint with IPSO, the body that passes for a regulator for the main press titles, about the ‘MSM’s misrepresentation of Jeremy Corbyn’s 2014 visit to the Hammam Chott Palestinian cemetery in Tunis’.

This story runs and runs, despite being simply untrue…

More detailed account

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6. The Attack on Corbyn for meeting ‘our friends’ in Hamas and Hezbollah

The Allegation

Jeremy Corbyn welcomed terrorists from Hamas and Hezbollah, calling them “our friends”

A brief rebuttal

In the wake of Operation Cast Lead (Dec 08–Jan 09) and general outrage at the disproportionate use of force deployed by Israel, there was a widespread belief that Hamas and Hezbollah needed to be engaged in dialogue, as the Foreign Affairs Committee was recommending. Corbyn’s sin was to call the people he was meeting “friends”.  Of course, peacebuilding often means acquiring new ‘friends’ as the iconic photograph of the Queen shaking hands with IRA leader Martin McGuiness underlines.

More details

1. This is what Corbyn said at the time:

“Tomorrow evening it will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event in Parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking. I’ve also invited friends from Hamas to come and speak as well…. the idea that an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake.”

2. Giving evidence at the Home Affairs Committee in July 2016 Corbyn said he had used the phrase to describe the militant groups during a meeting in parliament in 2009.

“The language I used at that meeting was actually here in parliament and it was about encouraging the meeting to go ahead, encouraging there to be a discussion about the peace process,” he said. Asked whether he still regarded Hamas and Hezbollah as “friends”, he said: “No. It was inclusive language I used which with hindsight I would rather not have used. I regret using those words, of course.”

3. Corbyn’s March 2009 speech to a Stop the War rally (linked to in this article) just after Operation Cast Lead was intended as a corrective to the labelling of Hamas as a terrorist organisation. At no time has Corbyn ever described Hamas as left-wing or progressive nor has he ever supported its founding charter which contains clear antisemitic elements.

4. But he has never wavered from his view that

“There has to be talks, there has to be negotiations with all the Palestinian forces, as well as with all the Israeli forces…That means talking to Hamas, it means talking to Hizballah – does it mean that you agree with what they say on social issues, on the death penalty? No it doesn’t, and you can make that clear to them in the discussion.”

5. Talk of the need to engage with Hamas and Hezbollah was widespread at the time. It was in the same year that a Foreign Affairs Committee report, chaired by Labour MP Mike Gapes recorded its view that.

“We therefore reiterate our recommendation from 2007, that “the Government should urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas as a way of encouraging it to meet the three Quartet principles.” We further recommend that in its response to this Report, the Government should set out the specific indicators, if any, that would trigger a shift of British Government policy towards engagement with Hamas.”

6. And further

“We welcome the Government’s decision to open contacts with the political wing of Hezbollah, in line with the recommendation which we made in 2007.”

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7. Failure to deal with antisemitism in the Labour Party

The allegation

Following the Chakrabarti Report into racism and antisemitism in the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn did nothing. It was just business as usual and antisemitism went – and continues to go – unpunished.

A brief rebuttal

The Labour NEC accepted Chakrabarti’s main recommendations at the end of June 2016, almost immediately after their publication.  However, implementation fell to the party machine, over which Corbyn had no control or influence as staff answered to the (then) right-dominated NEC. Yet the party machine, led by long-standing Blairite General Secretary Iain McNicol, was the very body the Chakrabarti Report had found unfit for that purpose (esp. Section 5, p.14f).

The delays in dealing with complaints of antisemitism in this period are attributable to the activities of the party machine – which Corbyn and his supporters could do nothing about until the left won NEC control and Jennie Formby became General Secretary.

More details

1. After Tony Blair’s election as party leader in 1994, the party was re-fashioned, power was centralised, and members mostly side-lined. For over 20 years, employment in the party apparatus­ went almost exclusively to sympathisers with the Blairite agenda. (The same applied to most candidates selected for winnable Parliamentary seats.)

2. When Corbyn was elected, centre/right bureaucrats still controlled the party machine. Only after formidable General Secretary Iain (now Lord) McNicol, was winkled out in March 2018 did the bureaucracy start to change, though this is still a work in progress.

3. After Corbyn’s election, complaints of antisemitism and other offences were soon launched in bulk against leftist/Corbyn-supporting/pro-Palestinian activists. It is believed that Party officials used a computer algorithm to trawl social media to find members who had used ‘forbidden’ and ‘antisemitic’ words.

4. The most common next step was immediate suspension pending lengthy investigation. It isn’t clear how many were suspended, but it was in the thousands. This self-induced pressure massively overloaded the party’s disciplinary procedures and left many suspended members in limbo for months, even years.

5. Since Jennie Formby’s election as General Secretary in April 2018, there has been rapid reform and substantial progress. Formby wrote to the PLP in February 2019:

“I had witnessed first-hand that our complaints and disputes procedures were not fit for purpose, with longstanding cases that hadn’t been dealt with, alongside new cases coming in, especially in relation to appalling antisemitic tropes and conspiracy theories, mostly on social media. . .urgent action was needed to ensure our processes for dealing with complaints were robust, efficient and fair; to resolve outstanding cases; and to establish political education to deepen understanding about, and combat, antisemitism within our movement. Since then, we’ve made significant progress. . .”

6. In February 2019, Formby released antisemitism case statistics starting from 10 days after she became General Secretary (they weren’t kept before!). These showed a total of 1,106 complaints of which 433 were not even Labour Party members, with evidence against a further 220 too flimsy for a case to answer. That left 453 to investigate (0.08% of Labour’s membership). The available evidence left a potential maximum of 212 determinations of antisemitism – under 0.04% of Labour’s membership.

7. In May 2019 we learned the depths that the old bureaucratic right-wing rearguard has plumbed to undermine the Corbyn project: evidence emerged that in order to present Corbyn in the worst possible light, full-time party staff had been refusing to deal with allegations of antisemitism and had shredded thousands of crucial documents (while keeping personal copies with which they could embarrass the Party after leaving their jobs).

More detailed accounts

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8.  The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) investigation into the Labour Party 

 The allegation

That the launch of this investigation into ‘institutional antisemitism’ in the Labour Party in mid 2019 proves there is a serious antisemitism problem in the Party.

Note to canvassers:  All our other briefings have exposed facts and scotched lies. This one is different. The only ‘facts’ we have here are two texts – the immensely complex Equality Act and the incoherent Terms of Reference of the Investigation.  Below we reveal what anyone can – and cannot – conclude from the launch of the Investigation.

A brief rebuttal

The first clue is in the name: the EHRC has launched an Investigation. Nothing is proved till the Investigation is complete.

Second, it’s not an Investigation into ‘institutional antisemitism’ – or, indeed, any kind of antisemitism.  The EHRC only has the power to investigate alleged ‘unlawful acts’ (i.e. ‘racial or religious discrimination or harassment’) as strictly defined by the Equality Act. Some alleged antisemitism will fall under the Equality Act definition, and some will not.

The EHRC has made a dog’s dinner of the Terms of Reference of its Investigation.  This is not just a technical legal matter – it means we cannot be sure what the EHRC is invetigating, or whether its investigation is even legally valid. Is the EHRC simply investigating ‘unlawful acts’ under the Equality Act (which is its job) or is it tangled up in broader ‘antisemitism’ issues (which is not)?

In spite of the EHRC’s own legal shortcomings, the Labour Party is cooperating fully with the Investigation.   We doubt very much Labour has broken the law – and if the EHRC carries out its investigation as the law requires, we expect to be proved correct.

More details

1. The EHRC Investigation was launched after it received a barrage of complaints about Labour antisemitism from the (self-described) Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).

2. The CAA claims to be non-party-political. Its website review of the main political parties (excluding the Brexit Party) gives Labour a higher ‘antisemitism’ score than either the Tories or UKIP.  The CAA’s website discloses the full flavour of this organisation (which has somehow managed to maintain its charitable status).

3. The JLM’s public statement about its General Election strategy shows its priorities: ‘We will not be campaigning unless in exceptional circumstances and for exceptional candidates, like our Parliamentary Chair Ruth Smeeth, and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who’ve been unwavering in their support of us. We will not be giving endorsements to candidates in non-Labour held seats’. The JLM has retained ‘top law firm’ Mishcon de Reya to pursue its allegations against Labour, launching an ‘EHRC Fighting Fund’ to pay for its costs.

4. We do not know what the CAA and JLM complaints comprise. More important: though required to do so under the Equality Act, the EHRC has not stated what are Labour’s alleged ‘unlawful acts’ which supposedly justify the investigation. This means it is impossible to evaluate whether its investigation should be happening at all.

5. The EHRC appears to be investigating issues which are legally irrelevant. Its Terms of Reference provide that it ‘may look at . . . the steps taken by the Party to implement the recommendations made in the reports on antisemitism by Baroness Royall, the Home Affairs Select Committee and in the Chakrabarti Report’ and also ‘may have regard to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism and associated examples, while recognising it is a non-legally binding definition.’ None of these documents has any legal status – indeed, the IHRA document is expressly ‘non-legally binding’. Only the Chakrabarti Report examines any legal issues at all – and these relate to the legal principles of ‘Natural Justice’, and not to the Equality Act.

More detailed accounts

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Additional resources

Comments (29)

  • jean crocker says:

    Thankyou JVL

  • Andy Summers says:

    Excellent and invaluable aide memoire for any of us campaigning in support of the positive potential that Jeremy Corbyn presents as leader of the Labour Party.

  • Oliver Swingler says:

    Here are some further articles and evidence in the blog
    Jeremy Corbyn is NOT antisemitic – antisemitism is not welcome in the Labour party https://leftgreen70.wordpress.com/2018/09/02/jewish-labour-members-speak-out-jeremy-corbyn-is-not-antisemitic-ihra-definition-is-not-fit-for-purpose/

  • David Roger says:

    This is brilliant ! An indispensable aid to combatting the inevitable propaganda to come !

  • Gerry Glyde says:

    Macpherson clearly set out both by his words and the layout of the text the two stage method of establishing the nature of an incident

    a) The complainant may identify, in their view, that the incident was motivated by prejudice (not just alleged antisemitic, but other incidents such as race, gender disability)

    b) The alleged motive is then investigated by the relevant body who despite finding that the incident ocurred did not discover any evidence of prejudice. The matter is then referred for determination by an adjudicative body.

    It is the b) part that the Board of Deputies, JLC, JLM and others have attempted to avoid. They did that with the demonstration posters in 2018
    , that said ‘it is Jews to decide what is antisemitic, not Corbyn & McCluskey’

    (Of course that did not include Jews supporting JVL)

  • Jessica says:

    May I also suggest that all Jewish JVL and pro-Corbyn members who are inclined to be identified as Jews, make a point of wearing the magen David (star of David) in some form when out campaigning to reclaim the symbol from Zionism and challenge the notion of Jews being inherently Zionist.

    Simply seeing my magen David often scuppers arguments and stuns both miscreants and frightened potential Labour voters – and even leads to curiosity and future votes when coupled with a good counter…

  • Owen Jones says:

    Our view is that the full IHRA document does undermine free speech and Labour should not have adopted it at all, or should have stuck to its own improved version.

    Says it all….

    • Richard Kuper says:

      Says what all, Owen?

      Treating the IHRA document as holy writ when it is a poorly-drafted confused and confusing set of statements does nothing to combat antisemitism in Britain or elsewhere. The criticisms of it have been made at enormous length by a variety of distinguished Jewish lawyers and analysts, cited in this short rebuttal. Point us to any coherent response that answers the criticisms made.

  • Gerry Glyde says:

    The announcement by the so called JLM Ruth Smeeth that they would prefer Jo Swinson or Boris Johnson as PM suggests they need a new title of Jewish Conservative Movement.They say that they will only campaign for exceptional Labour candidates. Are they people who will not criticise the actions of the Israeli state in any circumstances.

  • Irena Fick says:

    Thank you for this briefing, very helpful.

  • Allan Howard says:

    Regards the mural saga, a number of newspapers, including the Sun, gave their readers every indication that ALL six people depicted in the mural were Jewish, and did so deliberately of course, so I think it would be helpful to point out that a number of newspapers did this AND that only TWO of the six were in fact Jewish. I did a search on the Sun’s website for the original article but it didn’t come up in the results, but the following article – posted on the 27th of March last year – DID, and they do exactly the same:

    https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5914429/vile-anti-semitic-mural-at-centre-of-jeremy-corbyn-row-deemed-not-offensive-by-facebook/

  • Jenny Twist says:

    I have never taken any of these antisemitism smears seriously. Clearly they are the result of right wing desperation to find a stick – any stick – to beat Corbyn with. They are merely a demonstration of how terrified the Right is of a real socialist leader. This article, however, is extremely useful for rebutting these smears.

  • Ronald Mendel says:

    Thanks for providing these systematic rebuttals of allegations of Anti-Semitism. I would add one other key principle, that is, allegations are quite different from proven facts. The media, even The Guardian, has failed to make that distinction, failing to insert alleged to express this. In addition, the adoption of the IHRA’s ‘definition’ of Anti-Semitism opened the doors of a witch-hunt within and outside the Labour Party, allowing those who unapologetically defend Israel even when it commits human rights violations to try to invalidate any attempt to hold Israel accountable for its actions.

  • Jim Denham says:

    This is wretched, shameful denialist stuff, confirming the widely-held view that JVL is now (by Corbyn’s and McDonnell’s definition) “part of the problem.”

    • Richard Kuper says:

      “Shameful denialist stuff,”! Come on Jim Denham – can’t you distinguish between an argument, with evidence, and head-in-the-sand denialism?

      No-one is denying anything, merely pointing out that certain accusations levelled against Jeremy Corbyn and others either have no basis in fact or have been heavily distorted interpretations of very specific events. In cases where there was a basis for calling Corbyn out e.g. on the mural, he accepted that he had done wrong. Pure denialism I guess!

  • Margaret West says:

    Thank you for this and all power to your elbow!

    I am not Jewish and hope you
    do not mind me posting.

    About your rebuttal ..and not in any particular order:
    1. The “Zionists” who disrupted the meeting were in fact members of the
    Zionist Federation so what on earth was he supposed to call them!

    2. The Mural – when I first saw it I thought it represented real figures from the Middle East but could not tell what the rest of it was about – it just looked
    as if they were sitting round a sheet with squiggles on it. I had to be told what these were. If it was meant as anti-semitic – the artist was very bad at it.

    3. The wreath laying – somewhere on the web is a picture of Corbyn laying
    it on the other memorial to the victims which is distinctive. However what really angered me was the fact that the victims of the original attack were pretty much ignored by the MSM and no interest taken in the Conference – the main reason for Corbyns visit.

  • jeremy godden says:

    Could you tell me how I can rebut questions about Corbyn’s support for the Reverend Sizer?

  • Tophattingson says:

    We received a long comment from this author which calls into question our entire posting, linking to a number of allegations and analyses carried in the Daily Mail but not made anything of in the rest of MSM. We have spent some hours following up complicated interpretations of photographic details which are alleged to show something other than the simple and obvious explanation that what Jeremy Corbyn was doing was attending a conference to commemorate the victims of victims of the 1985 Israeli airstrike against the headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Tunis, which included participating in a ceremony to remember them.

    We find the allegations entirely unconvincing and see no point in continuing to inflict them on our readers.

    For more information, we would refer you to the following video: Inside the Jeremy Corbyn wreath row cemetery in Tunisia by the BBC’s Rana Jawad; and a Skwawkbox follow-up story Excl: Mail’s ‘terrorist grave’ pics – ‘NO match to Corbyn wreath images’

  • Dr Rodney Watts says:

    Ronald Mendel makes the important point that the use of the IHRA definition has led to witch hunts inside and outside Labour “allowing those who unapologetically defend Israel even when it commits human rights violations to try to invalidate any attempt to hold Israel accountable for its actions.”
    Jeremy Godden raises the question regarding rebuttal of “Corbyn’s support for Reverend Sizer” I presume this is relevant once again because of the BoD and JC bringing the attention of Ilford Momentum, who had invited Stephen to a charity dinner for Gaza in Sept, to the fact that he had linked his facebook page to an article ” 9/11 Israel did it” in Jan 2015. That is true, but he took down the link within a few days, when he realised the antisemitic nature. He also sincerely apologised It was Jonathan Arkush who nicely conflated Israel, Zionism and Jews in 2015. But the witch hunt continues.
    I have valued his biblical insights into the wrongs of zionism and so has Rabbi Prof. Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Prof Ilan Pape who have contributed to his ‘Friends ‘ page https://www.stephensizer.com/friends/

    There is not exactly a witch hunt in the Lib Dems but those of us in the libdems4freespeech group have been subject to abuse and censorship. Jonathan Coulter and others have unresolved complaints. I have also been prevented from publishing an article because of ” being so dismissive of lived experience of antisemitism of one of our MPs and many others in the Labour Party” (A very small part of the whole article) Can it be described as institutional anti-antizionism…?

  • Linda Goodacre says:

    Thanks! This is very helpful.

  • Anne-Marie Brody says:

    This is so helpful. Thank you. Today I had to argue on Facebook with someone who said a vote for Labour was tantamount to endorsing antisemitism. I pointed out that you support Corbyn and Angela Raynor and many other Jewish p work with him and support Labour.

  • John Launer says:

    Thanks. This is a useful, balanced and well-informed document.
    A couple of questions:
    – Do you have a figure for how many outstanding investigations there are (ie members who have been reported for AS but not yet exonerated, been expelled etc?)
    – What is a good answer for people on social media who point out that there are frank antisemites posting on the JVL Facebook page and aren’t blocked?
    Thanks

  • Charlotte Williams says:

    This is really useful. I also find using the stats Jennie Formby collated very useful for questions like ‘if there’s little evidence of antisemitism in the Labour Party, who is making all these complaints’?

  • Gerry Glyde says:

    To Charlotte W
    Quite simply use Hodge as an example whose staff appear to have trawled the internet for posts that mention something Labour and antisemitic. As stats show 90% are not party members. I have written to Hodge several times to ask her the dates of incidents she has witnessed, the branches of which they are members, and their names. She goes silent.

    In addition I wrote by email to her friend and MP colleague, Siobhan McDonagh who (possibly inadvertently ) admitted she has never witnessed any issue of antisemitism in the local party, in all her time as an MP , yet is convinced that it exists. No evidence but believes the hype; please feel free to use the example that I have backed up in email files. Look also at her voting record.

  • Simon Dewsbury says:

    Have added a link from this to the homescreen on my mobile. Excell resource. Will be interested to see if I actually need to use it on the doorstep. My experience is that “but Corbyn supports the IRA.” is more of an issue around where I’m based.

  • Naomi Wayne says:

    As to whether Corbyn supports the IRA, do point out that the Queen received and shook hands with Martin McGuinness, who was formerly a leading IRA member. McGuinness claimed to have left in 1974, but this claim has been questioned by, among others, Peter Taylor, a very reputable expert on the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’. But whether McGuinness was in the IRA or not for decades after 1974, none of this matters – the Queen shook his hand, and he became an accepted Deputy First Minister. Should we indict the Queen?!

    And anyway, this is the normal trajectory for those who engage in national independence struggles – once they become statesmen, their past paramilitary activities are swiftly consigned to history. Same thing by the way for many of the founders of Israel. . .

  • June says:

    http://www.edlis.org/criticalthinking/mural/

    Is this a sound treatment of the mural smear?

  • Doug says:

    Thank you as a non Jewish Labour member who is about to jump into the GE fray,
    Can I ask you to take on the why Friedland, Hodge, Sacks, Pollard choose to attack JC and the party,
    What are they so frightened off

  • Carmel Cadden says:

    Dear JVL
    Thank you for this detailed, much needed info! I will pass it on to other canvassers.
    Hope we can put right some of the damage done to Corbyn and Labour before election day!

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