BBC (and others?) distort reasons for Andy McDonald’s suspension. Why trust them?

Andy McDonald: according to the Labour Party, as quoted by the BBC, his call for peace between Israel and Palestine was “deeply offensive”. In what reversed reality?

The BBC has apologised publicly for distorting the reasons Keir Starmer had Andy McDonald’s Labour Party membership suspended.

He seems satisfied with this:

Others have been less accepting of the apology – if apology it was.

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What did Mr McDonald actually do, again? Here’s a report of it:

In his speech at a demonstration … Mr McDonald, a former shadow minister under Jeremy Corbyn, said: “We will not rest until we have justice. Until all people, Israelis and Palestinians, between the river and the sea, can live in peaceful liberty.”

The claim is that the words “From the River to the Sea” are anti-Semitic. This is nonsense. A Dutch court ruled that they are protected speech:

This Site reported on it, here, as follows:

The ruling was that the pro-Palestinian slogans … “are subject to various interpretations” and “relate to the state of Israel and possibly to people with Israeli citizenship, but do not relate to Jews because of their race or religion”.

Novara Media article I quoted also stated: “As to the claim that the slogan expresses a desire for Israel’s ‘destruction’, the historian of Palestine Maha Nassar has suggested that this eliminationist interpretation may derive from a post-six-day-war Israeli propaganda campaign that asserted that Palestinians wished to ‘throw Jews into the sea’.”

So the claim that the chant from which the words are taken is anti-Semitic may be Israeli propaganda.

But in any case, while Mr McDonald’s use of those particular words may have been a reference to that chant, it was not the chant itself.

He was in fact – and very clearly – making a call for peace between Israel and Palestine.

If a call for peace is described by Labour – or anyone – as “deeply offensive”, then we are all in dangerous territory indeed.

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  1. James February 15, 2024 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Absolutely agree with your take on this, Mike – with the additional fact the Israel’s Likud Party manifesto also features ‘the river to the sea’ as being Greater Israel!

    • Mike Sivier February 15, 2024 at 7:55 pm - Reply

      Yes indeed (I used that in a previous article).

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