Long-term readers of This Site will, I hope, understand and forgive me if my enjoyment of the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s discomfiture seems more than fulsome.
The organisation, which seems to have been founded as an offshoot of the Israel Advocacy Movement, and appears dedicated to countering criticism of the government of Israel by accusing the critics of anti-Semitism, put Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in its sights last week.
The claim was that Mr Corbyn had failed to mention Jews in his Holocaust Memorial Day statement. This was untrue. It was later found to be true that Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was in fact guilty of this omission (if any guilt need be applied – HMD commemorates all victims of the Nazi Holocaust, and victims of several other genocides as well), along with Vince Cable and the Chief Rabbi, as I understand it.
Today, the CAA published a grudging apology for jumping the gun. But the organisation refused to lay any guilt on Mrs May, Mr Cable or the Chief Rabbi – despite the fact that they had definitely done exactly what Mr Corbyn had only been accused of doing.
Here‘s what the CAA had to say. The apology – if you can call it that – is at the very end:
Objectively, it is clear that the collective reaction of Jewish organisations to Mr Corbyn’s failure to mention Jews in his message in the memorial book was different to the Chief Rabbi’s or the Prime Minister’s. Diagnosing the reason for that difference is important.
Mr Corbyn has presided over an unprecedented tolerance by a modern British political party for anti-Jewish racism. After action was not taken against numerous antisemites in the Labour Party, he commissioned the Chakrabarti report. The report was a whitewash and its author was reportedly told in advance that she would earn a peerage from it. Now, under conditions of secrecy recommended by the report, we do not know what is being done about the many cases of antisemitism waiting to be heard. However, we do know that Ken Livingstone, who claimed that Hitler “was supporting Zionism”, was not expelled from the Party despite the objections of 107 Labour MPs who said “we will not allow it to go unchecked” before mostly falling silent. Nor has the Party yet dealt with figures such as Jackie Walker. We also know that Mr Corbyn and his allies have been dismissive of allegations of antisemitism for a long time, and have had trouble speaking about the Party’s antisemitism problem without alluding to far less evident issues with Islamophobia and “racism in all its forms”. This is compounded by the fact that Mr Corbyn already sought out and defended antisemites from Raed Salah to Reverend Stephen Sizer, long before he was in the political spotlight.
For these reasons, Campaign Against Antisemitism and other Jewish organisations around the world are particularly concerned about Mr Corbyn. In this instance, Mr Corbyn has a defence that he did just the same thing as others whom we have not criticised, but context is everything and the heightened concern of Jewish organisations worldwide has not sprung from nowhere. However, upon reflection, on this occasion we expressed our concerns in a manner that was open to allegations of double standards, and that was a mistake.
Much of the above is disinformation – hogwash of the foulest kind. The Chakrabarti report was not a whitewash; it was an honest attempt to address an issue that many still believe to have been blown out of proportion by organisations like the CAA, for political purposes, rather than their stated intentions.
The claim that Ken Livingstone said Hitler “was supporting Zionism” makes it seem that he was suggesting the Nazi dictator was in full agreement with all the aims of German Zionists at the time. He wasn’t; he never said that. Mr Livingstone’s comments referred to a very specific instance in which his aims and those of the German Federation of Zionists coincided. The CAA’s claim here is therefore such a strong exaggeration that it may as well be considered a lie.
It is just as well that the CAA does not describe its complaint with Jackie Walker. Allegations about her stem from her attendance at a closed-door, “safe space”, “training” session run by the Jewish Labour Movement, from which none of her words should have been recorded, let alone quoted to the press and used against her. She had taken issue with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism which had been adopted by the Labour Party – on very solid grounds, as it happens, and as this dissection of the document by a leading lawyer shows in graphic detail. In fact, the only part of the definition put forward by the JLM that the IHRA has actually adopted is the first two sentences. The text that follows – 11 examples – includes seven that refer to the state of Israel rather than Jews, as this work by Jewish Voices for Labour explains.
Ms Walker was also attacked for suggesting that Holocaust Memorial Day should commemorate other holocausts than that which was perpetrated by the Nazis. The claim against her was that HMD does commemorate other atrocities, which is true. But it doesn’t commemorate all of them, including – for example – the genocide of indigenous American peoples over 500 years that claimed 100 million lives. And of course the protestations of certain people, including the CAA, when certain other people didn’t mention Jews in relation to HMD – the manner of their complaint – made it clear that they consider it to be a day to commemorate what happened to Jewish people, rather than the others. It is an attitude that has caused a certain amount of friction, as revealed by reactions to previous articles on This Site.
The claim that Mr Corbyn and Labour have been “dismissive” of allegations of anti-Semitism might possibly be explained with a counter-claim that some of those allegations are vexatious – especially those put forward by organisations like the CAA against Mr Livingstone, Ms Walker and, for that matter, myself.
As for the allegations of links between Mr Corbyn and anti-Semites, a group of British Jews wrote to the Jewish Chronicle to berate it for making the same claims during his initial campaign to become Labour Party leader, in 2015. Their letter stated:
Your assertion that your attack on Jeremy Corbyn is supported by ‘the vast majority of British Jews’ is without foundation. We do not accept that you speak on behalf of progressive Jews in this country. You speak only for Jews who support Israel, right or wrong.
“There is something deeply unpleasant and dishonest about your McCarthyite guilt by association technique.
But that is exactly the “deeply unpleasant and dishonest” technique being used by the Campaign Against Antisemitism again, in the article published yesterday (January 28).
Notice that the CAA article goes on to say Mr Corbyn “has a defence that he did just the same thing as others whom we have not criticised”, but this is a lie. Mr Corbyn did mention Jews in his words; the others did not.
Particularly pertinent to This Writer is the comment that “context is everything”. Yes it is – and that is the reason I remain disappointed that the Campaign Against Antisemitism took so many words from my articles and presented them, out of context, in an attempt to make me appear to be an anti-Semite.
In the light of yesterday’s words, perhaps it is time the organisation took down its lying article and published a full, frank and grovelling apology for its hate-filled attack on an entirely innocent man.
Finally, note that the apology at the end really isn’t one. All the author of the article can manage is an admission that the attack on Mr Corbyn was a “mistake”.
What kind of mistake?
The tone of the article suggests its author is sorry the CAA was found out, not sorry that it attacked an innocent man irresponsibly. That would certainly correspond with my own experience of its behaviour.
But it seems time is running out for the CAA and its fabrications. The attack on Mr Corbyn spawned a huge backlash. Here are some of the responses to its inflammatory article, which it tweeted out to the world in the form directly below:
— Campaign Against Antisemitism (@antisemitism) January 25, 2018
@antisemitism Are you going to ask .@theresa_may to apologise, as well as .@jeremycorbyn – who hasn't done anything wrong? Theresa May didn't mention Jews in her Holocaust message – but Jeremy Corbyn was attacked for it https://t.co/ulRApw0Xsi
— Mike Sivier (@MidWalesMike) January 28, 2018
This is a deliberate lie on your part @antisemitism, Corbyn does mention Jews. Take it down, you are damaging your own credibility
— Anne Conner (@Anne_Conner2) January 28, 2018
I think you need to apologise. You are damaging the work of those campaigning against antisemitism by telling untruths.
— IsaMcC 🌹 (@MccIsabella) January 26, 2018
Stop lying. This is disgusting. pic.twitter.com/usg5ijNBz1
— Aaron Bastani (@AaronBastani) January 26, 2018
Except you're wrong in his written statement he's the only party leader who refers to it.
— Nathan Morrison (@njm_09) January 27, 2018
Why are you lying about this? His statement very clearly "mentions" Jewish people.
— Peter Rankin (@expcc_leader) January 27, 2018
Is this a campaign against antisemitism or against Corbyn? Disgraceful on this day of all days that you divert attention away from the Holocaust and on to petty political squabbling. I presume you will be moving on to attack Theresa May? pic.twitter.com/MoPqMI0PZv
— Three Oranges 🍊🍊🍊 (@Socialist_Doggy) January 27, 2018
He did mention Jews. It’s important to read the whole statement before you make guesses or assumptions. Will you retract this tweet or make an apology? pic.twitter.com/OHsr3TF4aa
— Lucas Leau (@Lucas_Leau) January 26, 2018
He does mention jews. Why are you spreading lies? https://t.co/U5KPYUF68J
— Lineal Conker Champion of the World (@NUFC_OurClub) January 27, 2018
Frankly flabbergasted at the number of tweets saying Jeremy Corbyn was disrespectful and anti-semitic for not mentioning Jews in his Holocaust Memorial piece. Except he did. Some very pernicious disinformation going on. Thanks to @AaronBastani for sharing this: pic.twitter.com/X8QendJiPR
— CrémantCommunarde#ActivistLawyer ⚖️ 😷 ✋ (@0Calamity) January 26, 2018
And the far-right – the real anti-semites – pitching in.
— Messmore Breamworthy #GTTO #IVotedLabour (@socialistMike) January 26, 2018
I'm offended that nowhere in the Holocaust coverage this morning is there any mention of the gypsies, homosexuals, JW's and others consigned for extermination!
— right to left (@rlmcr57) January 27, 2018
Used to be an anti-semite was someone who didn't like Jews. Increasingly it is someone that Jews don't like. #AhedTamimi
— 𝗘𝘀𝘀𝗲𝘅𝗕𝗼𝘆𝗨𝗽𝗡𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗵 (@essexboyupnorth) January 26, 2018
That’s the problem with campaigns that are motivated by hatred rather than justice: They are always exposed in the end.
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