Tom Watson has issued an ultimatum to Jeremy Corbyn about the overdramatised claims of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.
Rather than allow the party to follow its procedures regarding disciplinary action against Margaret Hodge and Ian Austin, he has demanded that their cases should be dropped – for no very good reason.
And he has insisted that the party should adopt fully the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s examples of anti-Semitism (the party has adopted the working definition itself).
This would make it easier for malcontents to make false claims that party members were anti-Semites, of course – Labour’s code of conduct had closed loopholes that would make it possible to stifle legitimate debate about the political actions of the Israeli government with such accusations.
If Mr Corbyn refuses to comply with these unreasonable demands, Mr Watson has warned that the Labour leader risks the party being plunged into “a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment”.
Because Mr Watson will make sure of it?
It looks very much like blackmail to This Writer – a threat, following on from, and contributing to what appears to be a co-ordinated series of anti-Semitism-themed attacks on the Labour leadership over the last few days.
To what end?
Well, party members are voting in the current NEC elections, so it seems entirely reasonable to suggest that the dire publicity being generated for the party by each allegation published in The Guardian and elsewhere is intended to put people off the Corbyn-supporting ‘left slate’.
The trouble is, the accusations don’t add up to much.
I published a common-sense interpretation of the allegations up to yesterday (August 3) in a previous article.
Today’s instalments in the hate-Corbyn campaign include a claim that the Labour leader was a ‘convenor’ (whatever that is) in the Just World Trust when that organisation, a critic of Israel, wrote a letter in support of Roger Garaudy, a philosopher who was later convicted in France of Holocaust denial.
The Graun‘s article suggests that this person had denied that the killing of six million Jews by the Nazis constituted genocide.
But Wikipedia‘s entry (I know – how shocking that I would have to resort to that unreliable source again!) states that he had written about “the myth of the six million” Jewish victims of the Holocaust.
Those things are not the same. The Wikipedia article clarifies that Garaudy argued that his book dealt with the Israeli government’s use of “the holocaust” as a “justifying dogma” for its actions, mainly in Palestine and toward Palestinians.
If that is true, then he was not saying that the Holocaust did not happen; he was saying that it was being mythologised, in the sense of an idealised or exaggerated image of it being created, in order to justify Israeli government policy – a policy that has come under widespread criticism in the wake of recent massacres of Palestinians by Israeli troops.
That would not be denying the Holocaust; it would be accusing the Israeli government of rewriting history for its own purposes.
It would be useful to have more – and accurate – information on this matter. Clearly The Guardian should be treated as an untrustworthy source in the light of the Wikipedia piece. It seems likely its reporting of this matter is fake news.
Whatever the truth about Garaudy, no blame can be placed on Mr Corbyn. He did not write the letter of support, nor did he sign it; it seems likely he was not aware of its existence.
Yet he is being blamed for it. Unfairly?
It seems the origin of this story is the Community Security Trust, which describes itself as a charity set up to protect the Jewish Community – its head of policy is quoted in the Graun piece.
But left-wing Jewish group Jewdas describes the CST as “a right-wing vigilante group”. That may be going a bit far, but it certainly suggests there is dissent about the organisation’s own values.
Also listed by The Guardian as due to the ongoing anti-Semitism accusations is the resignation from Labour of former MP Tom Harris.
But this seems confusing to me. If he is so concerned about anti-Semitism, Mr Harris will know the danger of frivolous comparisons of others with the Nazis or Adolf Hitler – yet he himself compared former SNP leader Alex Salmond with Hitler for no very good reason.
Is he really the best person to resign in criticism of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership on this matter?
This Writer hopes that Mr Corbyn will refuse to accept Mr Watson’s demands. They are anti-democratic, in that Labour’s deputy leader is trying to dictate what the party should do. Labour has an elected National Executive Committee for that – on which Mr Watson himself sits.
But there will be more, as the CST, the Campaign Against Antisemitism, and all the other right-wing fringe groups I’ve listed in the past empty their archives of all the dirt they have tried to collect on left-wing Labour over the last few decades in search of some mud that will stick.
For Labour’s rank-and-file membership, the best thing to do is ignore these wild, daft and apparently baseless recriminations – and vote for the ‘left-slate’ NEC candidates to show that we will not be intimidated.
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