Why is new Labour MP Lisa Forbes being witch-hunted with such flimsy evidence?

Accused: Labour’s Lisa Forbes has been attacked by people who claim to represent British Jews, but are really speaking out only for themselves.

I would say the witch-hunt over alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party had reached peak hysteria, but that may be a forlorn hope, judging by the fanaticism we have seen so far.

Current victim of accusations is Lisa Forbes, Labour’s new MP for Peterborough. She was accused, just days before the by-election there was held last week, when a man called Iggy Ostanin, who claims to be a “freelance investigative journalist”, published these allegations about her:

She “liked a post saying Theresa May has a “Zionist Slave Masters agenda”. She also commented on a post claiming ISIS was created “by the CIA and Mosad [sic], Forbes wrote “I have enjoyed reading this thread so much”.” Not much of a case, is it?

In fairness, I would say it was foolish of Ms Forbes to attach her name to any posts ambiguously. Where a meaning could be attached that would harm her reputation or integrity, she needed to ensure her own meaning was clear. But many of us don’t realise that our contributions to the social media will be examined so closely by people with an intent to harm – I didn’t, when the witch-hunters went after me! We learn from experience.

I often press the “like” button on social media posts I don’t like at all – because I want to come back to them, take a hard look at what they’re saying and whether it is supportable. As people say on Twitter, “Likes do not necessarily mean endorsement”. I can’t say for sure that this was what Ms Forbes was doing but, responding to accusations, she said she was supporting the image of schoolchildren praying in solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand, rather than to the comments attached to it.

And the claim about a “Zionist slave masters’ agenda” is not anti-Semitic in any case. Zionism is not Judaism. There are plenty of Christian Zionists, for example.

The post claiming ISIS was created by the CIA and Mossad? It was attacking the Conservative government of David Cameron; the claims mentioned by Mr Ostanin were sideswipes. And Ms Forbes didn’t say she believed those claims. She said she had enjoyed reading the thread. She went on to make a general point about the division promoted by David Cameron: “So much that trys [sic] to divide us, but there is far much more that unites us all.”

Again – and of course – Mossad is not Judaism, nor is the CIA.

We should be questioning the attitudes of the people who leapt to accuse Ms Forbes: Marie van der Zyl, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, and David Delew, chief executive of the Community Security Trust. All are self-appointed representatives of British Judaism; they haven’t been elected by the wider population of British Jews and the views they express belong to nobody but themselves.

Their statement about Ms Forbes did not address Mr Ostanin’s allegations in any but the broadest of terms – perhaps because they could see that this is extremely weak ground.

Mr Ostanin claims to be the recipient of two awards for investigative journalism. While it is true that he was among more than 20 people who won the Tom Renner Award in 2015 (for an ongoing project that won the same award in other years, when he was not named), I cannot find any reference to him winning the Hanns Joachim Friedrichs Award unless it was as a member of the Bellingcat team (as with the Renner Award).

Pinned to the top of his Twitter feed is a post about Richard Burgon, part of a campaign he launched to suggest that the shadow cabinet member was an anti-Semite because he said “Zionism is the enemy of peace”. Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism, of course.

It seems Mr Ostanin is less concerned with facts than he is with following an agenda. As a journalist, I find that offensive.

Ms Forbes has also been attacked for signing a letter, alongside other Labour MPs, opposing moves for the party to adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, including all its examples:

If you read the full text of the letter, rather than the highlighted parts in isolation, you will see that “Hughster” here has been disingenuous at the very least. The evidence provided in the letter supports its assertion that Israel – as it is currently governed – is not democratic and does support racism against Palestinians. Support for the “right of return” is not anti-Semitic. Neither is support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. And the letter does not say Jewish self-determination in the form of a “Jewish homeland” should be denied; it says Palestinian self-determination should not be denied by the Israeli government removing those people from their homeland.

Doesn’t that put a different complexion on this matter?

It is a matter of shame for the so-called Jewish Labour Movement (many members aren’t Jewish, many aren’t members of the Labour Party, and many are neither) that it released a statement that Ms Forbes “endorsed racist material” using this letter as a source.

It will be a matter of shame for the Labour Party if it takes seriously any complaints about Ms Forbes, based on such flimsy evidence.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.


Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Here are four ways to be sure you’re among the first to know what’s going on.

1) Register with us by clicking on ‘Subscribe’ (in the left margin). You can then receive notifications of every new article that is posted here.

2) Follow VP on Twitter @VoxPolitical

3) Like the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/VoxPolitical/

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

4) You could even make Vox Political your homepage at http://voxpoliticalonline.com

And do share with your family and friends – so they don’t miss out!

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

The Livingstone Presumption is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:


11 thoughts on “Why is new Labour MP Lisa Forbes being witch-hunted with such flimsy evidence?

  1. David Abrahams-Edley

    Well said. I felt compelled to pm Lisa Forbes on her FB page the other day. I don’t know her but I am disgusted at the behaviour of the MSM towards her and by the disingenuous actions of her so called colleagues including trawling her social med to find ‘something’. I wanted to reassure her that this grand bullying by the Labour right has not gone unnoticed. I would urge you all to message her facebook page with notes of support:

    Hi Lisa

    Firstly I would like to congratulate you on your victory in Peterborough. It was important and it shows that the pace of hate and division can be stopped in its tracks.

    As a former member of Jewish Voice for Labour, I am absolutely tired with the faux claims of anti-Semitism coming from Phillips, Hodge et al who seem to have gaslighted themselves into a position where they think every criticism of the state of Israel is anti-Semitic. The flawed IHRA definition of anti-Semitism that Arkush, attack dog of the Board of Deputies of British Jews (which does not by any stretch of the imagination represent all British Jews), and made such a well publicised deal of the Labour Party refusing to adopt, and was as political capital clearly states in its definitions that it is anti-Semitic to:

    ‘Accuse Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations’; and

    ‘Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions’

    If we are to follow this universally far from accepted definition, then criticising the actions of the Israeli Government or political mechanisms, such as Mossad, within it cannot by this very definition be viewed as anti-Semitic – as to do so is making an assumption that all Jews primary loyalty is to Israel and that the actions of the Israeli Government are carried out on behalf of all Jews. In fact, under this definition claiming that criticism of mechanisms of the Israeli State are anti-Semitic is in itself an act of anti-Semitism. In any event are we saying now that any criticism of Israeli policy is anti-Semitic? That would be making an anti-Semitic assumption that Israel is a wholly Jewish state which we have to treat differently to every other nation, when 20 percent of the population is Arab or Druze. Where does this end? Are the Labour ‘centrists’ going to say that criticism of LFI is anti-Semitic? That criticism of Tom Watson and others receiving money from Sir Trevor Chinn is anti-Semitic?

    The definitions also state that it is anti-Semitic to:

    ‘Hold Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel’; and

    ‘Apply double standards (of Israel) by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation’.

    So by claiming that it is anti-Semitic to call out the the actions of Mossad or indeed of any institution of state in Israel and to shut down dialogue by claiming that to talk about these is anti-Semitic is also in itself an act of anti-Semitism. The same happened the other day with Willsman, look at Shai Masot: as a member of the Israeli Embassy, he was clearly acting on the instructions of the Israeli Government. Why should there therefore be an inference of anti-Semitism? It is the same thing – as this would adopt the anti-Semitic trope that all Jews, including all Jews that live in Israel, are collectively culpable for the actions of the Israeli state. It would also be applying double standards to Israel because it would be saying that Israel has a constitutional hold over British Jews – as this is the only way that state actions of the State of Israel would cause collective harm to non-Israeli Jews in Britain.

    In it’s surge to the right, the UK has just by a country mile voted in the highest level of far right politicians to a legislative assembly since the 1930’s. It is about time that these disingenuous attempts by people like Jess Phillips, MArgaret Hodge and Tom Watson et al to paint the Labour Party as the party of anti-Semitism were called out for what they are: A right wing attempt to close down socialism. Only then can we tackle the real and present anti-Semitism in our society that is growing by the day. The members of the Labour Party that are pursuing this with vigour, seeing it as a way to destabilise Corbyn, are not only harming British Jewish communities by their actions, they are dangerously ‘normalising’ anti-Semitism and as such are emboldening unsavoury elements in our political structure. Whether intentionally or unintentionally the Labour so called ‘centrists’ have become midwives of the far right.

    I fully support your claims that you are not Anti-Semitic. Of course you aren’t – neither are the vast majority of the accused. There is no place for AS in the Labour Party but I see the JLM resurrected into a socialist bashing forum that is neither Jewish, Labour or a Movement. I see a nest of snakes in the Labour Party that we need to deselect before the General election – I do not envy you your colleagues.

    In short, everyone I speak to is tired of these faux accusions. They can do no good and have no substance. It’s like the Monty Python sketch where the man who is about to be executed for blasphemy is shouting Jehovah! Jehovah! I also have major issued that the BoDs – an organisation that is not affiliated to the Labour Party is being taken notice of on these matters and the Jewish Voice for Labour, which is, is ignored. I also have issues with the LFI – it should be called Labour friends of Likud: and to be honest, we should be asking ourselves why Labour MP’s are supporting the current Israeli regime, given its track record and why it is acceptable for an MP to take money from Sir Trevor Chinn on behalf of another State.

    The ‘centrists’ have thrown everything they could at Corbyn and it hasn’t stuck. This is all they have, it is without substance and is an act of desperation by Labour MP’s that bizarrely think it is inappropriate for a democratic socialist party to contain socialists that believe in democracy.

    I am sorry you were forced to apologise for this. For the record I do not believe you should have because I do not believe intentional or unintentional criticism of the functions of the Israeli state is anti-Semitic. It must be hard for you at the moment being the focus of the MSM and the Labour right, but please be resolute, they are this vicious because they know change is coming. Best of luck in your new post and give them hell in Westminster.


    David Abrahams

  2. Florence

    It seems that there is no barrel too deep to be scraped here. The “evidence” is typical of all of us who use SM. All of us flick through, and often just take the initial impression of something to FB “like” or retweet. Lisa had a great victory for Labour and this hounding leaves a nasty taste, (one of utterly sour grapes).

  3. Jan Brooker

    Iggy O is not a freelance *journalist*, he’s part of David Collier’s clique of Zionist muck-rakers; Collier being a leading example of a non-Jewish Zionists. YES, he who infiltrated the Labour Party to get access to information to allow him to attack pre-Palestinian LP members.

  4. groovmistress

    I can’t see this coming to end unless Labour can distance itself from this Group. As they seem hell-bent on malevolence towards Labour and if they are not officially affiliated (I don’t know if this is the case) can they not be made to change their name?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Who, the Jewish Labour Movement? That group is indeed affiliated to the Labour Party, despite the fact that it has non-Labour members. Some of us have been calling for it to be disaffiliated for some time now.

      1. Tony

        Momentum was taken to task for having non-Labour Party members. I think it was required to change its rules.

  5. Gary

    So he’s from Bellingcat? That immediately raises my suspicions. Who funds them? Who feeds them their stories? Who do they actually work for?

    He might as well work for the 77th Brigade…

  6. spirit

    Too much to say about this so I’m not going to embark on a reply but I just wanted to let you know that if you google the name of said ‘independent investigative journalist’ (hah!) your article comes up. That’s OK, right? Not really, as it appears on David Icke’s site and is attributed to someone else entirely. Nothing wrong with being reblogged – but there? Not very helpful! Thought you should know.


    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      It doesn’t bother me, particularly. Exposure is exposure. I can’t help who reblogs my articles and, as long as they only republish a taste and include a link to the full piece, it might do This Site some good.

      If anybody thinks someone else reblogging my articles implies some kind of endorsement on my part, they’d be a fool.

Comments are closed.