Friday, 29 November 2019

Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party - Again

Within quick succession, Countdown maths wizard and twitterer Rachel Riley, alleged comedian David Baddiel and prominent lawyer Andrew Julius have all expressed very similar opinions / ideas:

Riley has been a ferocious critic of Corbyn for a while.  Notably, she recently alter a well know image of him being arrested at an anti-Apartheid rally in the 80s to call Corbyn a racist.


Classy.

It is worth noting that Riley is echoing the sentiments promoted by the billboards on the trucks shown in her tweet.  And those billboards would have had to be prepared well in advance.  They were commissioned by a group called The Community United against Labour Party anti-Semitism (CULPA) who have carried out similar stunts in the past.  I remember doing some vague digging about them and finding ... something ... that I thought was interesting but I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

(EDIT - I actually blogged on the earlier parade of billboards at the time.  I'm pretty sharp, I am.  Today's news, yesterday!  It's associated with a character called Jonathan Hoffman, a politicised pensioner who has somehow reconciled his Jewish identity and the racist politics of the English Defence League.  It seems Hoffman has learned something from buddying up with the EDL - in June he was found guilty of a public order offence after threatening a speaker at a demonstration.)

Then Baddiel:
This in response to the surreal debate about whether Corbyn's pronunciation of Jeffrey Epstein's name is some sort of anti-Semitic act.

Baddiel is saying (as explained earlier and drawing on two different comments he made as proof) that he thinks Corbyn is passively / subconsciously anti-Semitic. As you said, it is right there. The word "actively" is the give away.

He isn't accusing Corbyn of wanting to beat up Jews, or shout abuse at them; he is saying Corbyn consistently disregards, minimizes or trivializes Jewish concerns about some of his associations and endorsements; and (important bit) this consistent pattern of behaviour is something that most Jews would consider anti-Semitic.

So passive / unconsious anti-Semitism, not the active, goose-stepping Horst Wessel Song singing sort. But still - in Baddiel's opinion, or at least that of "most Jews" - anti-Semitism.

And finally Julius, responding to comments made by Harold Evans, who he worked with on the Irving libel trial:
To purge the party of anti-Semitism will be the work of a generation. The evidence that the political will exists to undertake this task is not compelling: members are not yet ashamed enough of their party’s anti-Semitism. The driving out of leading Jewish (and non-Jewish) politicians from the party, who cited its anti-Semitism, did not have a substantial impact on party morale, still less commit its officials and elected members to decisive action. We cannot leave the work to the party itself. Supporters have to lend a hand. Depriving the party of a vote is a start.
Three diverse sources all with essentially the same message - that a vote for Labour is a de facto racist act, and that voting Labour is endorsing and accepting the anti-Semitism Riley, Baddiel and Julius claim infests the party.

Julius is the most interesting case.  He is a prominent legal practitioner well known for his involvement in the Deborah Lipstadt libel trial.  He is also - according to Wikipedia - "an advisory editor at the current affairs journal Fathom" - which has published negative pieces about anti-Semitism in Labour - and "a founding member of both Engage and the Euston Manifesto" - the latter linking him to another fervent Corbyn critic, Nick Cohen - and "From 2011 to 2014 he was chairman of the board of The Jewish Chronicle" - which brings in Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish Chronicle since 2008, another trenchant opponent of Jeremy Corbyn.

The tactic seems to be persuading Labour supporters that - if they prioritise social justice (or free cricket and broadband) over confronting anti-Semitism (and thus, perforce, accepting it exists, as defined by Juius et al) - they are akin to Corbyn tolerating his dodgy mates, which means "most Jews" would consider them anti-Semitic.  Most people don't want to be thought of as racists or anti-Semites, so will be deterred.

What does all this mean?  I have no idea.  I do know, if I was inclined to buy into anti-Semitic tropes, I'd be having a field day with all these media tie-ins.  I really don't want to go down THAT road.  David Irving might revoke my honourable standing as a "Traditional enemy of truth."  But there is something going on, some of it clearly deliberate and orchestrated, and some possibly coincidental (I struggle to think why anyone trying to hatch a conspiracy would include the tiresome David Baddiel); but, either way, the previously discussed cynical weaponization of anti-Semitism seems to being deployed once again.

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