Confusion over sign removed from outside Labour conference. Was it anti-Semitic? If so, why?

Is this sign anti-Semitic? It shows Israeli political leader Benjamin Netanyahu, in a plan marked “Israel lobby”, launching “defamation” missles at Jeremy Corbyn, who is speaking on Palestinian rights.

Police have removed a sign depicting Jeremy Corbyn being attacked with “defamation” missiles by Benjamin Netanyahu, while the Labour leader speaks on Palestinian rights. Mr Corbyn himself had complained that it is anti-Semitic but members of the public seem confused about his reasons.

The Mirror reported:

An “anti-Semitic” poster from outside the Labour Party conference has been removed.

The Labour leader said he was “disgusted” that the poster had been put up outside the conference centre.

He said: “We asked the police to remove it and I’m glad they did.

“This kind of antisemitic poison has no place whatsoever in our society.”

Benjamin Netanyahu is depicted flying a plane which represents the Israeli lobby and dropping bombs of “defamation” accompanied by the speech mark anti-Semite, anti-Semite, anti-Semite.

It bore the slogan “IHRA tell the NEC how you feel” referring to the huge row about the party’s refusal to adopt the full internationally-recognised definition of anti-Semitism.

It suggests that accusations of anti-Semitism in Labour are being created by an Israeli lobby.

Firstly, an aside: one of the reasons I was expelled from Labour was for putting “anti-Semitic” in quotation marks in an article about material that clearly was not. Will Labour complain to the Mirror for doing exactly the same thing? If reporter Nicola Bartlett was a Labour member, would she be expelled? There’s a possible double-standard here, before we even start discussing the meat.

And the meat is a simple question: Is the image anti-Semitic?

Anti-Semitism is hatred toward Jews. If anything, the image is a depiction of hatred toward Mr Corbyn, and toward Palestinian rights. Isn’t it?

My personal opinion is that this is not an attack on Mr Netanyahu and/or the critics of Mr Corbyn he represents because they are Jews. There is no criticism here of Jews who do not wish harm (political or actual) upon Mr Corbyn, and anti-Semitism is a hatred of Jews, because they are Jews. The image would have to attack all Jews. It seems clear to me that it attacks people who call Mr Corbyn an anti-Semite, because they are liars.

The question of whether an “Israeli lobby” has been directing hate, including false accusations of anti-Semitism, at Mr Corbyn and his Labour Party is one that has been asked since the first allegations against his supporters, back in 2016 – and it has never been investigated by Labour, let alone answered.

Middle East news channel Al-Jazeera did investigate, and broadcast a four-part series entitled The Lobby, showing very clear evidence that the Israeli government was interfering in UK politics.

It may seem strange, then, that some have condemned a poster pointing this out. Legitimate criticism of Israel is not to be labelled anti-Semitic, even according to the flawed IHRA definition and examples.

The demand for the poster to be removed has triggered a huge debate on Twitter, with many people asking what is wrong with it:

Consider this dialogue:

That’s right, isn’t it? The missiles in the image are marked “defamation”, and it is true that false claims of anti-Semitism against Mr Corbyn have been made time and time again over the last four years. It is clearly a metaphor.

Then again, can anybody forget Rachel Riley’s comment about Jeremy Corbyn, wishing that someone would “take him out” (if I recall correctly)? She has (falsely, in my opinion) set out her stall as an advocate for Jews in the UK – although I feel certain that a vast majority of the 300,000 or so Jews living here may be extremely unhappy to have this said by somebody who claims to be speaking for them.

This refers to a comment by Tracy-Ann Oberman, who was quoted in the Mirror article, claiming she would come to Brighton and rip it down herself if it wasn’t removed. Ah, but young Tracy-Ann doesn’t have a good record on factual accuracy when it comes to anti-Semitism…

I note also that a comment on the Mirror story suggested people should follow certain Twitter accounts including “David Collier, GnasherJew, Emma Picken, Lee Kern”. While I’m unfamiliar with Lee Kern, the other three are notorious troll accounts, part of an organisation known as the “GnasherJew troll collective”. Here’s David Collier, spreading a little unwarranted hate himself:

Most people just responded in confusion:

There are many, many more such comments.

This is what happens when the Labour Party tries to accommodate hate, rather than addressing it.

I mean, of course, the hatred of the people attacking Mr Corbyn constantly with fabricated claims that he is an anti-Semite.

His capitulation to them – fortunately the only sign of weakness by this hugely popular Labour leader – has merely worsened a situation that reached appalling levels of discrimination with the expulsion of anti-racist campaigners including Jackie Walker, Marc Wadsworth and – yes – myself.

And when challenged over its attitude, both Mr Corbyn and the Labour Party run away.

I have never had an answer from the party as to why it pursued me as an anti-Semite. That process was started by an official who is now no longer a member of the party and was himself being pursued over allegations that he had leaked (in my case, false) information about anti-Semitism allegations to the press.

So – yes. This sign has exposed the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party.

Not Labour’s failure to deal with anti-Semitism – but its failure to challenge false accusations and the people who make them. That is Labour’s shame today.

The Mirror article and its comments may be read at:

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10 thoughts on “Confusion over sign removed from outside Labour conference. Was it anti-Semitic? If so, why?

  1. Simon Cohen

    100% agree Mike. Corbyn’s capitulation to media pressure and pressure from people in his own Party who do not understand the issues is very saddening.

    I am a Jew and can clearly say there was nothing, absolutely nothing anti-semitic about that poster. It used zero antisemitic tropes. It could be criticised in other ways, of course (by depicting israel as a monolithic force when it is politically very divided)
    but it is NOT antisemitic.

    This will only damage Labour more and fuel misunderstandings about antisemitism which is NOT in the interests of the Jewish Community itself.

    Once again, Mike should earn the thanks of Jewish people for highlighting these issues over the past few years where the concept of antisemitism has been manipulated and abused.

    Many orthodox Jews have come out in support of Corbyn and some were present at last years conference. (

  2. MS

    There is no such thing as a palestinian . They are arabs, Egyptions, Jordanians, which is where the Palestinians should be.

  3. Zippi

    Sadly. Mr. Corbyn has lost my mother and he may be about to lose me, too. I can see that the image might be used to suggest that the accusations of anti-Semitism were lies and that what is being depicted is a conspiracy theory but it seems to me that, anybody can call anything anti-Semitism, these days and everybody will too frightened to challenge them, as has become increasingly the case with so many differences of opinion and understanding. We all have to be mind readers, these days and the onus is on the speaker to know what is in the mind of the offended, not for the offended to make know his objection. Mud is slung with impunity. We are entering a very dangerous age, if we cannot have open, frank discourse and be able to disagree. As one twitter user said, without education, this will be repeated. If it is anti-Semitic, tell us how it is and by whose authority it is deemed so. Failure to address this makes a mockery not only of those who have been falsely accused and their reputations destroyed but also of those who are on the receiving end of genuine anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice by virtue of merely existing.

  4. Jill Phillips

    I understand the ‘anti-semitism’ involved (and always have done, as long as it has been going on) as the harm being done (intentionally obliquely) to Jewish people themselves. This endless stream of ‘imitation-fake news’ aimed directly at Jeremy Corbyn, is devised and (aided by the muck-raing media) only to keep the
    ‘anti-semitism-anti-semitism-‘anti-semitism’ machine gun rattling.
    Such behaviour is not only despicable – but well past its sell-by date. Grow up the lot of you.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      There’s a lot of truth in this – that the “anti-Semitism” accusations are being racked up purely to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, rather than because there is any at all.
      But it is more complicated.
      Racism in general has been on the increase, due to the likes of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and David Cameron.
      And that must include anti-Semitism.
      You get all the nasty little narrow-minded creeps who’ll hear you complaining about austerity (or whatever) and will say, at just the right moment, that it’s “the Jews” (or whoever) – just to put a piece of hate in someone else’s head.
      They crawl out of the woodwork at times like these because they realise that this is their opportunity to bring a little more nastiness into the world.
      Hateful creatures.

  5. Gary

    No, on it’s own it isn’t anti-Semitic. If you preface it with the CORRECT information it’s not anti-Semitic either. The problem is that it can easily become anti-Semitic in the hands to anti-semites who will claim that ANY complaint of anti-Semitism is politically motivated. When sadly that’s not the case. It’s too easily open to abuse.

    Given that, it SHOULD be removed. I agree that whilst there ARE cases where people have been the victim of abuse, these are magnified by those who wish to harm Corbyn. What I mean is, there may be ten complaints but it is reported so heavily you’d think there were a thousand. But showing this cartoon is to devalue those brave people who have come forward after having been abused. And anything doing THAT really is anti-Semitic…

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      Trouble is, of course…
      There are people who have suffered anti-Semitic abuse.
      There are people who only say they have suffered it.
      There are people who haven’t suffered any but are merrily accusing others anyway.
      And when we try to sort out which is which, we get accused of anti-Semitism too.

  6. groovmistress

    Oh dear. I don’t envy Corbyn. He’s damned if he does, damned if he don’t. I can understand why he wanted it removed. Any reference to Jews, Palestinians, Israel, anti-semitism etc, whether pro, anti, whatever, unleashes a media frenzy and just perpetuates the ridiculousness of this whole fabricated attempt to cause damage to him and the Labour party.. Obviously he doesn’t want any of this to take attention from the real and important business of the moment. Who put it up does anyone know?

  7. Jennifer Cameron

    Perhaps he’s trying to dampen things down following the article in the Jewish Chronicle ‘re Watson’s accusations against JC despite him blocking the proposal to remove the post if Deputy Leader. Watson has so much to answer for… an absolute snake!

Comments are closed.