Guardian/CST anti-Semitism smear job prompts backlash movement: #EngineOfHope

If there really is an “Engine of Hate” operating in the UK, then it seems The Guardian/Observer and the Community Security Trust (CST) are prominent among those stoking its flames.

Today, the Observer has published a smear piece attacking 36 Twitter accounts – although the reason is not entirely clear.

According to the headline, they are “at heart of Labour antisemitism battle”. Which doesn’t seem too bad. Does it?

The sub-heading suggests they are “pushing pro-Corbyn messages”. Still not too bad.

It’s only when you get to the intro that you realise they have been “used to dismiss claims of antisemitism levelled against the party”. And what’s wrong with that? If an accusation is false, it should be dismissed.

The issue here seems to be that the Guardian/Observer and CST are assuming that all accusations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party are true. The CST may be expected to have this attitude because it is a charity that claims to be dedicated to protecting Jewish people in the UK and as such, its default position may be to assume the truth of an allegation until the opposite is proved. But a newspaper that has been a pillar of the mainstream media for many decades may be expected to have the opposite view, as it is the responsibility of journalists to be fair and balanced, and to research the truth or falsehood of such claims, rather than make unsubstantiated allegations.

The attitude in this piece can be judged by the title of the CST report on which it is based – that the Twitter accounts mentioned are an “Engine of Hate”.

The Observer piece claims that “the accounts have tweeted content claiming that allegations of antisemitism in the party are ‘exaggerated, weaponised, invented or blown out of proportion, or that Labour and Corbyn are victims of a smear campaign relating to antisemitism'”.

It fails to mention whether or not those claims are accurate.

And of course the linking of no fewer than 36 accounts creates the problem of guilt by association – if even some of the accounts mentioned were actually anti-Semitic, then are the authors or the report trying to induce us into believing that all must be, in the face of evidence to the contrary?

We are told that 12 of the accounts had tweeted anti-Semitic content (but not allowed to judge that content ourselves), and that nine have been deleted between the start of research for the report and its publication (but not whether they were among the 12 we had already been told had tweeted anti-Semitic content).

“All were connected to Twitter networks that have used hashtag campaigns to attack MPs or public figures who have raised concerns about antisemitism and Labour,” we are told. These hashtags include #BoycottRachelRiley, about the Countdown co-presenter who has disgraced herself online with a series of tweets accusing innocent people of anti-Semitism (targets include Noam Chomsky as well as Jeremy Corbyn), and #SackTomWatson, about Labour’s deputy leader whose conduct should need no rehearsal here.

And what about the hashtag #GTTO, which stands for “Get The Tories Out”? What’s anti-Semitic about that?

People posting under these hashtags are described by the newspaper as Twitter “networks” – and this is misleading. Twitter networks are more accurately groups of accounts that post together about many subjects, not accounts posting under a particular hashtag. An example would be the “@GnasherJew” troll network; the account itself is anonymous and believed to be run by several different people, and it has several satellite accounts that consistently join it in its false claims that others are anti-Semitic.

The comment from Mr Watson is amusing in its irony. He suggests that the report be shown to “the dominant faction that control our party’s national executive” to explain “how a small group … can influence our internal discussions”. Can this not be levelled at those like himself, Margaret Hodge, Wes Streeting and others, who have influenced the national executive’s internal discussions with their incessant (and often false) anti-Semitism accusations?

Margaret Hodge, for example, submitted around 200 anti-Semitism complaints to the party’s disputes team, who found that more than 100 of them did not even refer to members of the Labour Party.

Accusations include describing Rachel Riley as “unhinged” and “deranged” for criticising Mr Corbyn. That’s an expression of opinion. And was it based on fact? We aren’t told.

But that did not stop representatives of the CST and the fake charity calling itself the Campaign Against Antisemitism from using these insubstantial claims as though they were proof of a co-ordinated network, rubbishing genuine accusations of anti-Semitism.

The CST’s rep claimed: “Our report reveals how they set the tone and drive the vitriol on social media, attacking anyone who criticises the party’s appalling failure to deal with its antisemitism problem.”

And the CAA’s rentaquote added: “Prominent Labour party figures and rank-and-file members and supporters have long been denying the antisemitism crisis in Labour by claiming that Labour and Jeremy Corbyn are victims of a smear campaign.”

For the record: Complaints of anti-Semitism have been made against 0.05 per cent of the Labour Party’s membership – that less than one per cent of the national average. Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is negligible and the only reason the party is having trouble coping with it is the huge number of false and vexatious accusations submitted by individuals like Margaret Hodge.

The CAA commenter added: “Labour’s outriders on social media have been fuelling this and meting out appalling abuse to those who stand up against antisemitism.”

This is extraordinariily hypocritical from a man speaking in support of (for example) Rachel Riley, one of whose supporters tweeted this to me:

It’s mild in comparison with what some of their victims have received, I’m told.

But then, none of the owners of accounts accused by the CST have been given the right of reply. Not one.

Why not, Observer?

I’d like to know what the owners of the accused accounts have to say. They are:

@SocialistVoice (see tweet below)
@otivar55 (see tweet below)

Without knowing their side of the story, this is not balanced reporting; it is a smear. From now on, my advice is: Treat the Observer as fake news and avoid anything said by the CST altogether.

The good news, though, is that the story has provoked a backlash on Twitter, under the hashtag #EngineOfHope. Here are some examples:

Follow the hashtag #EngineOfHope for more, along with uplifting tweets about Mr Corbyn and Labour’s plans for the future.

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7 thoughts on “Guardian/CST anti-Semitism smear job prompts backlash movement: #EngineOfHope

  1. trev

    I don’t have a twitter account myself but this definitely seems to be a smear campaign if ever I saw one. It’s getting like the McCarthy era all over again. I suspect that MI5 is behind it. The Establishment will do anything to try to prevent a leftwing socialist government, and their influence runs deep.

    1. timhinchliffe

      I don’t think there’s the remotest chance that he meant that. In fact I don’t think it’s even a word.

  2. Jon Grunewald

    Well said, Mike. In fact exactly my thoughts when I read the Observer piece. It seems that nowadays it is heresy to question the theory that the Labour Party is infested with antisemites, or to suggest that some “antisemitic” tweets are actually not antisemitic at all. If jews get to define what is antisemitic we need to stand up and say that we too are jews and our opinion should be heard too.

  3. ducksoap

    CST claimed the Engine Room members were central “in driving online discussions around Jeremy Corbyn and antisemitism” but its report merely showed that the accounts were central in driving discussion about many topics related to Corbyn and to socialism including criticism of Watson and of Riley and including responses to comments made by the latter two. If CST want to investigate twitter accounts that are “driving online discussions around Jeremy Corbyn and antisemitism” they should look at those of, for example, Stephen Pollard and David Collier as well as Riley.

    CST expressed its fear of the Engine Room because “their influence via hashtag networks and the high level of engagement they command when tweeting about Jeremy Corbyn, means that these 36 Twitter accounts, as a group, have a significant influence over the online conversation in broader Labour-supporting Twitter.” (p. 20)

    Yes, socialists developed a strong successful methodology of using twitter as a tool of organisation, information sharing, solidarity and mutual education. That is what all conservatives are fearful of.

  4. Pete Winstanley

    Great article, Mike, but some may be confused by your statement that “Margaret Hodge submitted around 200 antisemitism complaints to the party’s disputes team, who found that more than 100 of them did not even refer to members of the Labour Party.”
    This sounds as though nearly 100 WERE Labour members. In fact, Hodge’s 200 complaints related to 111 individuals, of whom only 20 were Labour members.

Comments are closed.