Shalom In Our Time

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jeremy-corbyn-antisemitism2

julien

From top: UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with Rabbi Pinter after delivering a speech on anti-semitism at the weekend: Dr Julien Mercille

How sound are claims that antisemitism is rampant within the British Labour under leader Jeremly Corbyn?

Dr Julien Mercille writes:

Any pretext appears to be valid to justify attacks on Jeremy Corbyn on the part of the media and his right-wing political opponents.

The Daily Telegraph criticised him by comparing him and his beard to his supposedly over-grown garden while the Daily Mail had a headline  saying that Corbyn “sits silently in meetings munching noodles and granola bars”—OMG. (Ronan Burtenshaw wrote an excellent piece here  on how the British media demonises Corbyn).

But another loud criticism that has surfaced periodically over the last few months is that under Corbyn, the Labour party has become more antisemitic.

Media commentators have said  that Labour is now attracting “antisemites like flies to a cesspit”, has “become a cold house for Jews”, and within the party these are “difficult times to be a Jewish member”.

In short, “Labour is a racist party now”.

But in fact, when one investigates the actual evidence, if any, one finds nothing of the sort. Jamie Stern-Weiner, a dual British-Israeli national based in the UK, wrote several outstanding articles on the subject (here, here and here) in which he carefully researched every allegation of antisemitism in the Labour party under Corbyn.

His conclusion:

“Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters have been blamed for rising antisemitism in the Labour party. These claims are baseless”.

His articles are systematic and comprehensive and should be read in full, but below I summarise some of his points.

The core evidence for claims that antisemitism is rampant within Labour comprise of statements made on Facebook and Twitter by eight low-to-mid-level members and an MP, as well as allegations of antisemitism in a university Labour club.

To put this in perspective, recall that Labour now has hundreds of thousands of members, so even if the above were true, it would apply to a very small minority of members.

But when one looks at the actual tweets and Facebook posts, the evidence is laughable. Sure, some contain inaccurate or inappropriate language towards Jews or about Israel.

But if those standards of evidence were applied to tweets and Facebook posts regarding other ethnic or religious groups, a lot of social media users would be found guilty to say the least.

A few examples: a Labour party member posted on Facebook, “ISIS is run by Israel” and shared a picture of a rat with a Star of David and the caption, “the real plague”.

Another one tweeted “Zionist scum”. One could discuss the appropriateness of such posts, but to elevate that claims that the Labour party is antisemitic is to create a storm in a teacup.

Also, Naz Shah, a Labour MP, shared on Facebook an image suggesting to relocate Israel into the United States (the image and caption can be seen here.  Again, a storm in a teacup.

The claims surrounding alleged antisemitism in the Labour club at Oxford University, as far as we can tell, seem to be of the same order as the above – if they can even be verified as true.

The accusations of antisemitism were made by the club’s vice-chair, Alex Chalmers, in February 2016, when he resigned. But Chalmers is a former intern at BICOM, an Israel lobby group, so there might have been ulterior motives at play.

Nevertheless, in every case that allegations of antisemitism were made against a Labour member under Corbyn, they were immediately suspended or expelled, and therefore it cannot be said that Labour is too tolerant (on the contrary, one could make a case that it reacts too harshly).

In any case, the above allegations motivated Labour to commission a report to investigate the claims.

The report of the Chakrabarti Inquiry was released a few days ago. It basically concludes exactly what you would expect: there is no significant racism in the Labour party against any minority groups, but the party should nevertheless make efforts to be careful in its use of certain words, expressions, and stereotypes—a conclusion that would hold for virtually any institution in Britain or elsewhere.

For example, the report recommends that “there must be greater inclusion and representation of black and minority ethnic people on the staff and at every elected level within the Party”, and “racist epithets” should not be used in the party.

One wonders how much harsher such conclusions would have been if the report had been about the Conservative party?

Also, as Israel/Palestine Jewish expert Norman Finkelstein reminds us, we should not believe that antisemitism is rampant in Britain – other ethnic or religious groups suffer much more discrimination, yet there is no equivalent scandal about that.

Indeed, opinion polls show that only about 7-10% of Britons don’t like Jews. In contrast, 40% of Britons don’t like Muslims and nearly 60% don’t like Roma.

Finally, while a few Labour members have been suspended over social media messages, many Labour and other MPs have actively defended and facilitated Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands with all the oppression that comes with it.

But calling to suspend or expel them would probably be decried as being antisemitic…

Julien Mercille is a lecturer at University College Dublin. Follow him on Twitter: @JulienMercille

82 thoughts on “Shalom In Our Time

  1. Jimmee

    It takes an Irish university lecturer on an Irish website to defend against allegations that the UK Labour party holds antisemitic views.

    Why is that I wonder?

  2. rotide

    This column is hillarious.

    Twice in the last few weeks, the good doctor has predicted an absolute poostorm following the Chilcott report and that Saint Jeremy would be vindicated from the arrows of the disgraced Blairites in the party. This hasn’t happened so he’s had to resort to plan B.

    Face it. Regardless of what you think about Corbyn, he’s a terrible party leader. Good party leaders don’t have 18 members of their shadow cabinet resign. A shadow cabinet that lets not forget, is a ‘second choice’ one since the first one was terrible also.

    All this is before you even get into the meat of what he’s written which includes the little gem that “a picture of a rat with a Star of David and the caption, “the real plague”” is just a storm in a teacup. There is no way on this earth that he would pass that off so easily if it was made about any other minority.

    Mercille will write literally anything to backup his ‘progressive’ views, it’s getting ridiculous.

    1. Rob_G

      Or the suggestion that the Jews should be driven from the State of Israel, à la Hamas – “just a storm in a teacup”.

    2. Starina

      has Labour done anything about the party member with the rat image? i would hope they’d be unceremoniously booted out…

    3. phil

      Blairites were terrified that Corbyn would apologize for the actions of the Labour party in the lead up to the Iraq war, which he promptly did after the report was released. What Corbyn didn’t anticipate was that the media would ignore the apology …

  3. Nilbert

    “One wonders how much harsher such conclusions would have been if the report had been about the
    Conservative party?”.

    Us usual, Its the academic rigour that impresses….
    Much as I often want to agree with this chap, I just cannot take him seriously.

  4. H

    Thanks, I was aware of the allegations, now I can look into them properly.

    It’s a real shame that so many people are being taken in by the establishment attacks on Corbyn, it’s the old adage – the more muck you throw at the wall, the more sticks.

    1. rotide

      Do you think that the large portion of his own party that don’t support him are being taken in by the ‘establishment attacks’?

      1. hex

        Not his own party – his own parliamentary party. Corbyn isn’t answerable to the PP, but the membership – it’ll be they who decide.

        1. rotide

          By party, i mean the whole party. There is a lot who don’t support him. A lot more since he showed terrible leadership skills during and after the brexit. He won’t contest the next election

        2. MoyestWithExcitement

          +1 He is supported by the vast majority of the Labour party membership and he won the same percentage of remain votes from his constituency (about 66%) as Nicola Sturgeon and nobody is doubting her leadership. Anyone questioning Corbyn’s leadership is obviously just some vacuous slogan chanter that passes off other peoples opinions as their own.

          1. rotide

            18 members of Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet didn’t resign.

            Anyone questioning Corbyn’s leadership is someone with eyes.

  5. bisted

    …the antisemetic tag is one of the strongest weapons in the hasbara arsenal but it’s misuse by this group is being exposed as a way of demonising individuals and groups.

  6. moould

    it would be possible to take Mercille more seriously if he wasn’t so obviously partisan. there is no evidence of any open-mindedness from him at all

    1. bisted

      …Julien deals only in evidence…he merely collates the evidence and lets the facts then speak for themselves…

      1. Rob_G

        “One wonders how much harsher such conclusions would have been if the report had been about the Conservative party?”

        – except when he just supposes and conjectures about stuff that hasn’t actually happened.

      2. Kieran NYC

        “…Julien deals only in evidence…he merely collates the evidence and lets the facts then speak for themselves…”

        HAHAHAHA that’s a good one.

    2. Harry Molloy

      absolutely none, if there was an ounce of objectivity his columns might be worth referring to, but there isn’t and they aren’t

      1. bisted

        …sorry…I think the opposite is true…Julien is an empiricist specialising in the media and objectivity is the cornerstone of his discipline. With the malign influences that control media in this country and beyond we should be grateful for the likes of Julien.

          1. bisted

            …I’m no Julien Mercille…but I would take @J comment to be evidence of the existence of a random insult generater..

          2. J

            @ Bisted as opposed to your “random” praise generator. I made a comment supported by facts. I tagged it with in an insult to highlight the farcical nature of the post. I just don’t take Mercille’s posts very seriously.

        1. rotide

          Objectivity could pick up Jules on the side of the road, give him a lift to Dublin, put him up for 6 weeks in its home and Mercille still wouldn’t recognise it.

      2. Rob_G

        It’s not the bias that bothers me; its the ill-thought out and baseless suppositions he engages in.

        1. J

          +100000. Agree. I have no issue in him engaging in a particular narrative, it is the joke of a commentary peddling that narrative that really irks me on a Monday morning.

  7. J

    Jeepers. I bet Mercille drew straight lines as a kid , whilst Mummy trilled in the background” shout louder my dear , darling Jules. You shall be heard”.
    It is a fact that Corbyn was a long-time backer of a pro-Palestinian group founded by Paul Eisen . Eisen is a Holocaust denier. It is also a fact that Corbyn praised Islamist leader Sheikh Raed Salah who was found guilty of spreading “blood libel”. Corbyn defended this antisemitic as follows: “He represents his people extremely well and his is a voice that must be heard . . . I look forward to giving you tea on the terrace because you deserve it.”Ok. Does that mean I will shout anti-semitic at Corbyn ? No. Not necessarily. It does though call into question Corbyn’s judgement , his ability to ignore any wrongs which do not fit in with with whatever Anti- Western pet project he is engaging in. The problem is not that he is anti-semitic. The issue is that he cosies up to those that are.

          1. J

            No. Not necessarily. …. which was then qualified by the following ” It does though call into question Corbyn’s judgement ”

            *sniggers* and * pats Clamper’s bald little head*

          2. J

            also qualifed by final statement “The problem is not that he is anti-semitic. The issue is that he cosies up to those that are.”

      1. J

        All hail Moyest .The man who insults without imagination.Bodger should ban anyone who uses #rascist#blarite#blueshirt from BS.All other insults are welcome.

    1. The Gawm

      He blotted his copybook last week with the racist-spray-gun / omni troll fest.

      Won’t be seeing him again, too damaging to the BS brand.

      1. MoyestWithExcitement

        Hiya, pal. I enjoyed riling up you racist trolls though. You’re still talking about it 3 days later so I must hsfe done a good job. I won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

        1. The Gawm

          I’m not the one trawling every article on this site for a mention of my username. You seem to be a bit ruffled yourself sweetness.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            Yeah me neither. We’ve so much in common. I’d suggest hanging out together but I know leaving your bedsit makes you nervous so I won’t put you on the spot like that.

  8. Cynic3000

    Anti-semitism accusations are dished out willy nilly these days. It’s mostly manufactured slurs using a taboo subject that nobody wants to fall on the wrong side of.

    Actual Zionists need to stop trying to guilt gentiles to into feeling blame for the genocide of WWII. We didn’t do it. Stop making us feel guilty and stop conflating criticism of Israel with real anti-semitism.

    Sick and tired of this monopoly of victimhood as if there hasn’t been millions of others murdered in genocides all around the world before and after WWII. But they don’t have access to world media or practically own an entire film industry to tell their story over and over again.

    1. Rob_G

      I think there are certainly cases where the pro-Israel side will try and shut down debate by bandying the term ‘anti-Semite’ around; however, suggesting a forced exodus of all the Jews from Israel as a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is anti-Semitic, and Mercille’s attempt at downplaying this comment is worrying.

  9. Sido

    They are two separate issues..

    On the one hand Labours’s support for the Palestinian movement will tend to attract the usual mudslinging from the usual sources – It works like this – If you don’t like what the Israeli’s do to the Palestinians – you’re “anti-Semitic” (oh yeah where did I leave my Zyklon B).

    The other problem is Corbyn’s perceived unpopularity with the electorate – and this is an issue. However replacing him with another clown such as Eagle who is essentially the same as Corbyn but a bit less rough around the edges – another member of the London PC bubble crowd. Is hardly going to win back the disaffected voters in Labour’s North of England heartlands.

    Labour could fast find that it becomes irrelevant, if they fail to do their job of representing the views of their core voters and not just the left wing metropolitan elite. The Brexit referendum has highlighted this divide.

  10. Tony

    But if one is anti Israel, doesn’t that imply at least a bit of anti-semitism. I know the pedants will go to all sorts of lengths to bore me with the difference, but i live in the real world.
    I hate what Israel is doing to the occupied territories. I resent them for their treatment of Palestinians. I hate the way they get away with so much with the blessing of hypocritical allies. And Israel does all this in the name of their religion and their status as the chosen people. As Tommy Tiernan says, Its not the Mexican that are doing it… So if someone predictably brands me anti-semitic as a way of shutting me up, then Im ok with that. (And this is from someone who has jewish family so I know they are not all the same etc)

    1. Sido

      “But if one is anti Israel, doesn’t that imply at least a bit of anti-semitism. – No
      Anti-Semitism – Is a dislike of jews
      Anti Israeli government – Is a dislike of the Israeli government

      You can dislike the bombing of innocent people in the Palestinian territories without disliking jews. Its not tricky.
      One involves dislike of a race of people the other involves hatred of a government.

        1. Deluded

          I’m wondering why we have that term, though. What’s wrong with “colony” or “occupation” or “apartheid”? Why is “zionism” different?

        2. rotide

          You’ll need to look up the history of Israel, its creation, expansion and security to answer your own question there.

          Zionism refers pretty much exlusively to the right of the Israeli nation to exist and to a tangential extent to defend itself

        3. Deluded

          Yes, I understand that, it’s just that none of the things we are talking about, seperately or together, are exclusive to the Zion project. You can go anywhere in the world and find people colonising land and oppressing natives, defining a nation and defending themselves. I guess I have a problem with the term because it suggests something special or unique is happening in Israel compared to, for example, South Africa in the last century.

          1. MoyestWithExcitement

            In fairness, South Africa isn’t next door to Britain and governed by a group who’ve commited to driving all British people into the sea.

          2. rotide

            Deluded, Where else in the world is there a country that was given to the current occupiers? Israel was not colonised by bloodshed in the normal scheme of things. They also didn’t start off by opressing the natives, mainly because there really wasn’t a huge amount of natives to begin with.

            The opression started when their neighbours tried to drive them into the sea. Things have got a lot worse now , granted but even Israel as it stands at the moment isn’t SA under apartheid.

          3. Deluded

            Gifting lands, religious exodus, abandoned colonies and offshoots of empires are not unusual, my argument is that the term “Zionism” feeds into racist tropes of peculiar people with a particular ideology which has fetishised the conflict.
            It seems though that taking a rational view of an irrational situation is leading me into an argument about cultural relativism so I will leave it there, thank you.
            (“…there really wasn’t a huge amount of natives to begin with.”
            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_history_of_Palestine ;)

      1. Tony

        yeah. Thats my point. The Israeli government are all jewish and they follow a jewish ideology. So the terms are intermingled. I get that you’re trying to be PC, but I dont give a fupp if you call me anti-semitic. Its not against the law and like a lot of these SJW terms, they are just debate blockers.

        1. rotide

          He’s not trying to be PC. He’s trying to explain 2 fairly simple concepts to you.

          You’re second sentance indicates he’s wasting his time.

          1. Tony

            I don’t need more explaining on how to think correctly. But thanks for your concern. Next thing he’ll be wanting to explain 5 terms that are appropriate for race and 15 for gender.

  11. Kolmo

    Some seem only decry the lack of objectivity in an opinion piece only when they don’t agree with the opinion being proffered.
    Corbyn is a tonic against the constant drone of nonsense from Murdoch and co, why would the Cameron implore on him to go, why the unending personal attacks? – Because he is a real threat to the highly concentrated core of power and influence in the UK.

    1. Rob_G

      Corbyn is no threat to anyone other than the SWP; the PLP realise this, and that is why they want him gone.

      1. Kieran NYC

        +1

        Seems like he wants to be 100% ‘right’ and at 5% in the polls rather than compromise an inch and have a chance at improving anyone’s lives. Like Bernie or AAA/PBP.

    2. Sido

      He needs to be a bit more than a tonic for a small percentage of the population. Ideally he should be aiming to become the prime minister.
      Having a go at Murdoch =/= Prime minister.

  12. Owen C

    “A few examples: a Labour party member posted on Facebook, “ISIS is run by Israel” and shared a picture of a rat with a Star of David and the caption, “the real plague”.

    Another one tweeted “Zionist scum”. One could discuss the appropriateness of such posts”

    Discuss appropriateness? Jesus Christ.

    1. bisted

      …despicable behaviour…just a short step to advocating apartheid and ethnic cleansing…and from there to perpetrating genocide…

  13. Friscondo

    They have assiduously moved the goalposts over the years to make advocates for Palestinian rights de facto antisemites. You just have to ignore this nonsense. Zionists are playing a long term game. Militarily dominate the entire region and subsume West Bank. It will become an apartheid country. To make criticism of Israel antisemitic is all part of this strategy.

  14. shitferbrains

    Where have all the ordinary decent upstanding anti-semites gone ? All you get these days is nonsense about anti-zionism and whatnot .

  15. newsjustin

    “ISIS is run by Israel”
    “picture of a rat with a Star of David and the caption, “the real plague””
    “Zionist scum”
    “Naz Shah, a Labour MP, shared on Facebook an image suggesting to relocate Israel into the United States.”

    Ah yeah. Healthy banter I’m sure. Storm in a tea cup and all that. Jez should just let it all blow over.

    1. bisted

      …ah facebook…if you want to experience really rabid antisemetism look for the comments the zionists reserve for Jewish people or organisations that dare to criticise the zionist project..

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