Countdown: Let’s show so-called celebrities like Rachel Riley that time is running out for their crackpot crusade.
After the action, the outcry: Last week, Rachel Riley succeeded in getting Katie Hopkins bumped from Twitter, as reported here.
The move has prompted outrage from certain sections of online society, as evidenced by these examples:
(This was by a Brexit supporter.)
(This was by someone who self-describes as: “American. Patriot. Brexit. Back Boris”.)
(This was from Mark Meechan, aka Count Dankula, the far-right activist who Ms Riley supported after he was accused of anti-Semitism).
Now, to me, they seem a pretty right-wing crowd. But Tracy-Ann Oberman, a friend of Ms Riley who also threatened me with court action for libel, seems to think otherwise:
“Watching the Far Left have a twitter meltdown over KatieHopkins twitter ban at the hands of EVIL Rachel Riley and those of us who have helped Twitter assess these matters , is quite a thing. The irrationality and double think plus the outright LIES”.
Katie Hopkins is out there on the far right, so it is logical that others on the far right are screaming the loudest. Why is Ms Oberman suggesting otherwise?
Is it a reflex action – blame the left because she is so used to doing it that it is now automatic?
Is she deluded – a new conspiracy-theorist desperate to blame the political theft for whatever plots she can dream up?
That would be bad enough – at least for her mental health.
But what if she isn’t deluded and is consciously and deliberately deceiving people by opportunistically blaming the left for instances of anti-Semitism and abuse that are nothing to do with anyone on that side of politics?
That would mean she – and Ms Riley, by extension – are enabling the far right.
Now consider the fact that the organisation that (as I understand it) radicalised Rachel Riley – the Campaign Against Antisemitism – has been reported to the Charity Commission for failing to be independent of party politics, which is required under law if it is to have charity status.
The Green Party made the complaint over the organisation’s anti-Labour campaigns and a video by its head of political investigations, celebrating Labour’s defeat in the 2019 general election by saying “the beast is slain” and using the word “slaughtered”.
The Greens are calling it negative campaigning that incites hatred.
If that is what the CAA has been doing, then is it a big stretch to believe that Ms Oberman is part of such an agenda? Or Ms Riley?
I think these so-called celebrities have serious questions to answer.
If you agree, please support my defence against Ms Riley’s libel action against me. If it gets to trial, we will be able to examine her behaviour and put those questions to her directly.
Email five of your friends, asking them to pledge to the CrowdJustice site.
Post a link to Facebook, asking your friends to pledge.
On Twitter, you could tweet in support, quoting the address of the appeal.
On other social media platforms, please mention the campaign there, quoting the appeal address.
People like Ms Oberman and Ms Riley seem to think that their wealth makes them impervious to criticism; that they can say and do whatever they want.
We have a chance to show them they are wrong. Let’s take it.
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.
That well-known self-proclaimed campaigner against racism and inequality, Princess Countdown (also sometimes known as Rachel Riley) has trumpeted her support for a libellous petition condemning Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite.
Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite and is unfit to hold any public office.
In so doing, she has very clearly libelled Mr Corbyn. He is not an anti-Semite – or indeed any kind of racist – and is certainly not unfit to hold public office. She may feel safe in this act as Mr Corbyn is unlikely to respond. He seems to believe that doing so would lend credibility to the lies, although I’m open to other opinions and evidence.
The petition she is supporting was put on the Change.org website eight months ago by a little-known right-wing fringe group and fake charity calling itself the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
I wrote about it at the time, pointing out that objectors could call for the petition to be removed by clicking on a link marked “Report a policy violation“. Unfortunately Change.org, in its wisdom, has only added a line saying, “We have received flags from our users that the facts in this petition may be contested. You should consider researching this issue before signing or sharing.”
One may also report the Campaign Against Antisemitism to the Charity Commission for violating the requirement that charities must be non-political, by clicking this link.
Meanwhile, Ms Riley’s libellous tweet has attracted a considerable number of responses – in opposition. The first response was from Gracie Samuels:
“This is a vile tweet it is also encouraging hate towards an individual and I am reporting you to Twitter and I hope you are sued, you horrible woman.”
She continued: “You are obsessed and this is becoming clearer by the day. Corbyn probably won’t sue you he probably pities you your childish arrogance and ignorance. You have made a libellous tweet imo you have gone too far and everyone should report it. You really are obsessed Rachel.”
Continuing the same theme, Starry Night tweeted: “Hopefully Jeremy sues you for libel. Might be able to put your maths skills to some use and work out how much you owe him in damages.”
From the threat of legal action, Twitter users moved on to discuss Princess Countdown’s personal qualities. Here‘s Dianne, giving her opinion:
“He is neither an antisemite nor unfit to hold office. You however are a particularly toxic individual, who from a position of privilege is intent on haranguing one of the only few politicians who have spent decades dedending human rights for all, not the few.”
That’s reasonable, given the evidence. As is this, from NO TO #MAYHEM: “I fail to understand how you can get away with publishing outright lies against an honest man.. What a disgraceful person you are.”
Tom, here, took a more sympathetic view – although he was scathing in other respects: “Rachel Riley is a pawn for the far right. But don’t hate on her, she genuinely hasn’t a clue and sincerely believes she her cause is justified. She may be good with numbers , but sucks at independent thinking.”
Other Tweople concentrated on the political aspect. Here‘s Christopher Johnston: “The desperation is clearly growing, petitions don’t work, but nice try. Perhaps call out May & the Tories for islamaphobia, 120,000 Austerity deaths, 3.7 mil kids in poverty, and 320,000 homeless, let’s have some balance.”
Janice Barnes tweeted this infographic, which gets to the heart of the matter:
And Mathias responded with a personal opinion on what Ms Riley was trying to do:
Finally, some people resorted to a very simple, emotional response – which may or may not be based on the evidence of Mr Corbyn’s behaviour over the last 30-odd years in Parliament.
I’m referring to people like Pauline, who tweeted, simply, “I like him.”
Sadly, we know from experience that Princess Countdown is unlikely to take this criticism lying down. She is notoriously litigious and may decide to pursue her critics for libel. She doesn’t like it when we make her look bad, it seems.
Fortunately we all have an ironclad defence. The facts are self-evident and we are all entitled to our opinions. Furthermore, it is in the public interest to let as many people as possible know what this public figure supports and endorses.
To Princess Countdown, I can only add the following:
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August 27 was an interesting day for those of us wrapped up in the Labour Party – anti-Semitism storm-in-a-teacup.
We learned that certain Jewish Labour MPs have decided they will need bodyguards when they attend the party conference, due to a perceived increase in anti-Semitic feeling – a perception that some of them played a part in creating, by giving credence to false allegations of anti-Semitism.
We also learned that unnamed malcontents were cloning Twitter accounts belonging to Labour Party supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – creating new, fake accounts that look identical to the real things, intending to use them to post abuse they can then attribute to the real accounts and their owners.
It seems possible that this is intended to give credibility to the claims of the afore-mentioned Jewish Labour MPs, that they need bodyguards, setting up a nice – fake – controversy with which to hit Mr Corbyn during the conference. “Your supporters are threatening our lives. Step down!” That sort of thing.
And we learned that right-wing members of the Labour Party (although we cannot be sure they include the Jewish MPs already mentioned above) have complained bitterly about plans to penalise anybody making false, vexatious and/or malicious allegations about fellow party members.
Now, why would they do that, if it wasn’t to protect the Twitter cloners (among others, I’m sure)?
The plan seems to be to undermine Mr Corbyn with a landslide of fake accusations against his supporters, made by people who believe they will be immune from retribution, with protection from senior Labour figures.
Now, who could possibly come up with a plan like that? It’s too intelligent for the usual suspects in the Labour Party (the brains tend not to reside on the right wing of politics).
A new resolution has been submitted for inclusion on the agenda of Labour’s NEC meeting next week – that’s the committee that runs the party. It states:
– Notes that an unfortunate side-effect of the party’s renewed determination to root out antisemitism has been that, in a small number of cases, false accusations have been made about Labour party members, officers and elected representatives.
– Believes that maliciously-made accusations are damaging, hurtful and cannot be accepted in a democratic party.
– Resolves that:
(1) Labour must be tough on vexatious claims made about its members and must never accept such behaviour becoming the norm.
(2) To be taken seriously, formal complaints about alleged wrongdoing by party members must therefore be precise and based on facts and must take into account the context within which the alleged behaviour took place.
(3) Complaints that do not meet these standards may be considered vexatious, in which case they may result in disciplinary charges being pursued against the complainant.
Notice that, while the resolution mentions anti-Semitism for context, the proposal relates to all categories of complaint. It has a good chance of being passed, which is good news for everybody – except those who are trying to manufacture fake outrage in order to remove political opponents.
Amid all these, we learned that the mis-named Campaign Against Antisemitism, the fake ‘charity’ that pretends to fight anti-Semitism but in fact smears those who speak out against the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestine, has launched a petition on the Change.org website, calling for Jeremy Corbyn to be removed as leader of the Labour Party and claiming that this is due to numerous examples of anti-Semitism.
But the examples cited are lies and have been disproved, the petition is libellous, and both the Campaign Against Antisemitism and Change.org are vulnerable to prosecution under UK defamation law.
And it has provided an opportunity for signatories to make death threats against Mr Corbyn, exposing the double-standards of the fake charity behind the petition; it poses as an organisation protecting people from the threat of death because they are Jewish – but is perfectly happy to host death threats against Mr Corbyn, based on lies.
You see, organisations that register as charities must never engage in party political activity – and trying to remove the leader of a political party by means that include inciting others to harm or even murder him is an emphatic form of such involvement.
They must remain independent and politically neutral – yet the Campaign Against Antisemitism concentrates almost entirely on making allegations against members of the Labour Party.
And charities must not be used as an expression of a trustee’s own political views – yet it is clear that chairman Gideon Falter, whose pro-Zionism, pro-Israeli-government views are well-known, is using the CAA as a front for his own attempts to remove an opponent of the same government’s slaughter of Palestinians which is carried out in the name of Zionist ideology.
Talk about backfiring!
It seems both these plans have blown up in the faces of their instigators.
The bid to smear Corbyn-supporting Labour members seems set to flounder if the accusers know they will face harsh penalties once their subterfuge is exposed.
And the Campaign Against Antisemitism could lose its charitable status – and face legal action – over its libellous, politically-incendiary petition.
For those of us on the side of the angels, I’d call that a good day’s work.
The faked-up controversy about Jeremy Corbyn’s criticism of Zionists who “deliberately misinterpreted” (read: perverted) a Palestinian representatives words in order to distort their meaning has really brought the nasties out from under their respective rocks.
It seems the malicious and misanthropic are queuing up to malign Mr Corbyn, who was perfectly correct to criticise Zionists for their apparent failure to “understand English irony”.
Some of his critics, it seems, also need to try to grasp this point – as they have distorted his words for their own purpose. This is exactly the same misdemeanour that Mr Corbyn pointed out in the 2013 clip that has sparked the current wave of pointless outrage.
It’s a common tactic – many of us have fallen foul of it.
Gregg Carlstrom is the Middle East editor of The Economist. If that is an example of his journalistic accuracy, he should be facing the sack (or at least receive a verbal warning).
According to the Daily Mail, Stephen Pollard, Gentile editor of the Jewish Chronicle, said: ‘This shows the reality of what Jeremy Corbyn thinks of Jews, somehow a breed apart from “normal” English people.’
Pollard added that he believed the Labour leader ‘used the word “Zionist” obviously to mean “Jews”.’
Neither the Mail nor Mr Pollard provided any evidence to support this claim. Mr Corbyn is on record as saying he used the term Zionist in an “accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people”.
It is well worth noting that the complaint by these alleged Zionists has not been published by the Mail, lending credibility to Mr Corbyn’s statement. What has the newspaper got to hide?
Also quoted in the Mail was Jonathan Sacerdoti, a founder of the pro-Israeli-government pressure group that masquerades as a charity, the Campaign Against Antisemitism. He said: “The idea that British Jews somehow haven’t absorbed British values is outrageous.” It is indeed. And he really should not be putting it about and claiming Jeremy Corbyn suggested it.
Gideon Falter, current chair of the vile CAA, stated: “It is precisely this euphemistic use of the word ‘Zionist’ to refer to Jews and direct smears at us which used to be the preserve of anti-Semites amongst the aristocracy.” “This” being the use of the word “Zionist” by Jeremy Corbyn? Where’s this liar’s proof that he did so?
Here’s Joan Ryanof Labour Friends of Israel, determinedly mixing “Zionist” with “Jew” to present a false impression – and a takedown from John Clarke:
You do NOT represent Jewish people & you do NOT have a mandate for saying what is & is not offensive to Jewish people. Jeremy Corbyn's comments may well be offensive to Israeli supporters & Zionists; so what? Israeli murderous actions are bloody offensive! https://t.co/GWSy9FBy9Y
How about Emily Benn? Tony Benn is probably spinning in his grave at this disgrace:
At some point it would be a great idea to look at the actual fact Jeremy Corbyn was talking about a particular group of Zionists (he didn't mention Jews) who had attacked the Palestinian ambassador making a speech about the occupation of the West Bank https://t.co/qbsm4ncqlH
Just to bring some REALISM into the debate: 1. Zionists are not an “immigrant community”. 2. Criticism of Zionism isn’t “Antisemitism”. 3. Criticism of Israel isn’t “Antisemitism”. 4. Tories have REAL problems with their dealings with immigrant communities. https://t.co/ICH8t7zrmZ
It is textbook anti-Semitism to ascribe to all Jews a particular unified ideological or political viewpoint — particularly when that viewpoint is support for a violent settler-colonial movement like Zionism.
Is it just me or does the latest anti-Corbyn tactic of conflating 'a specific group of radical Zionists who berated the Palestinian ambassador 'with 'all Jews' actually look a lot like outright anti-Semitism?
This Site applauds the Labour Party spokesperson who told the Campaign Against Antisemitism where to stuff its latest complaint.
The CAA – a right-wing political pressure group masquerading as a charity – sent a complaint about Jeremy Corbyn to Labour HQ.
According to The Guardian, “As well as the 2010 Holocaust Memorial Day event, it highlighted comments made by Corbyn in 2012 when appearing on Press TV, the Iranian state-owned broadcaster, in which he linked a massacre of 16 Egyptian policeman to Israel.”
The paper quoted CAA chairman Gideon Falter as saying, “The evidence shows beyond all doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is an antisemite and the Labour party has become institutionally antisemitic. The problem is not one man but an entire movement which has hijacked the anti-racist Labour party of old and corrupted it with a racist rot.”
We know that the evidence shows without a doubt that Jeremy Corbyn is a multiculturalist who embraces people of all religions, ethnicities and colours.
Consider the list in this article.
Listen to the Jewish voices giving video evidence in this article.
Considering these facts, it is entirely to be welcomed that a Labour spokesperson was quoted, again by The Guardian, putting the CAA down hard.
He said [boldings mine]: “Labour is committed to rooting out antisemitism from our party and society. False and partisan attacks like this undermine the fight against antisemitism.”
He correctly identified the CAA’s claims as false.
And he correctly denounced them as partisan.
I wish we could find out the identity of this person without setting him up as a target for fake accusations himself.
Perhaps this makes matters clearer: It turns out Hajo Meyer is the person who said an anti-Semite was no longer a person who hated Jews but a person who is hated by Jews. No wonder the Campaign Against Antisemitism is keen to besmirch his memory.
Of all the accusations by the fake “anti-Semitism” accusers, this has to be the lowest yet. Why has Jeremy Corbyn apologised?
It seems Mr Corbyn has been accused of anti-Semitism because he appeared at an event in 2010 when Hajo Meyer, a Jewish Holocaust victim who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, repeatedly compared the behaviour of the Israeli government in Gaza to that of Nazi Germany.
It’s just This Writer’s opinion but, as a person who has witnessed the crimes of the Nazis first-hand, he should know!
To show how ridiculous the accusation is: The implication by the Campaign Against Antisemitism is that Mr Meyer was an anti-Semite. These people are accusing a Holocaust victim of anti-Semitism – or they would, if he hadn’t died in 2014.
The fact that this has been dredged up now raises a couple of questions.
Firstly, did the Campaign Against Antisemitism conduct any research into the feelings of the wider community of British Jews before making its claim? This is an event that happened eight years ago, so there has been plenty of time.
Why was no accusation made in 2010? It seems that would have been the appropriate time. Why has no objection been made until now? Is it because it is politically expedient to do so now?
The CAA has referred the party to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which has exhibited little interest, saying it will consider what action is needed – “if any”.
The CAA’s letter to the EHRC claims that Labour has created an atmosphere of discrimination against Jewish members and/or associates through years of failure to enforce its own rules. Which rules? Isn’t it strange that they never come out with any actual evidence?
So we find that Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for being present when a Jewish Holocaust survivor passed an opinion that he was perfectly entitled to hold – at an event eight years ago, to which (to the best of our knowledge) the wider Jewish community in the UK does not object.
He should not have done so. In fact, he should have told his accusers to clear off – in no uncertain terms. Until he actually does this, he will never be free of them.
Jeremy Corbyn has apologised for speaking at an event where the actions of Israel in Gaza were compared to the Nazis.
The Labour leader acknowledged he had appeared with people “whose views I completely reject” when he hosted a Holocaust Memorial Day event in 2010, while he was a backbench MP. He apologised for the “concerns and anxiety” it had caused.
The main talk at the event, called Never Again for Anyone – Auschwitz to Gaza, was given by Hajo Meyer, a Jewish survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. He repeatedly compared Israeli action in Gaza to the mass killing of Jewish people in the Holocaust.
Corbyn said: “The main speaker at this Holocaust Memorial Day meeting was a Jewish Auschwitz survivor. Views were expressed at the meeting which I do not accept or condone.
“In the past, in pursuit of justice for the Palestinian people and peace in Israel/Palestine, I have on occasion appeared on platforms with people whose views I completely reject. I apologise for the concerns and anxiety that this has caused.”
This is exactly why This Writer is raising money to fund legal action against the Campaign Against Antisemitism and others who use accusations of hatred against Jews to score political points.
Amazing though it seems, the CAA objects to the appointment of an independent barrister to advise the Labour Party on disciplinary matters involving allegations of anti-Semitism. It seems he is not sufficiently biased towards the CAA’s own views.
Or perhaps he’s the “wrong sort of Jew” – which is itself an anti-Semitic slur and the author of the CAA piece should be ashamed for making it.
Gordon Nardell QC is not only a barrister but he is also a Jew, which tends to suggest that he is well-placed to provide solid advice on such claims. But the CAA has trumped up a few silly quibbles and is trying to turn them into major objections – its usual modus operandi.
Let’s look at the methods used to smear Mr Nardell, from the CAA’s recent article about him. First up is a classic – denigrating a person because of the people who support them:
Mr Nardell counts Elleanne Green amongst his supporters. Ms Green, a prolific and obsessive poster of conspiracy theories, wrote in the virulently antisemitic “Palestine Live” Facebook group she founded that Mr Nardell is: “A man I like and trust…also a non Zionist Jew and a very brilliant mind…this should prove interesting…He has already seen my letter to the Labour Party as I copied him in a week or two ago…so, we shall see…”
Saying that he “counts” Elleanne Green among his supporters is to cast him in an active role that is not supported by the evidence. Where has he commented on this person’s support and how did he welcome it? Answer: He hasn’t – otherwise the CAA would be crowing about it. The organisation’s statement about the connection between these two people is meaningless, other than as defamation of character – possibly referring to both these people.
The CAA then moves on to Mr Nardell’s own Facebook posts. It states:
In one response to a Labour member’s defence of Ken Livingstone, Mr Nardell commented: “The problem with characterising Ken’s rather crass and ill-judged remarks as antisemitism is that it debased the coin – we no longer recognise real anti-Jewish racism when we see it, and we undermine the party’s ability to tackle it.”
He also liked a post praising the lifting of Jackie Walker’s original suspension for antisemitism, and another claiming that accusations of antisemitism were being made by a group of Jewish Labour members in an attempt to shut down criticism of Israel.
So his opinion on these matters is different to that of the article’s author. So what? Ken Livingstone was not accused of anti-Semitism by the Labour Party because the allegations would not have withstood examination in a court of law. This is one reason I want to drag the CAA – and those who have supported its false claims – into court, and why I need your help to do it.
Mr Nardell’s further comment – that the furore accusing Mr Livingstone of anti-Semitism would make it harder to recognise real anti-Semitism – is justified, of course.
As discussed on This Site in the past, the lifting of Jackie Walker’s original suspension was the right decision – hackers had broken into her private Facebook messages, grabbed the first thing they could find that they could claim as anti-Semitism, and broadcast it to the press. It later transpired that the claim was unfounded – defamatory – and the accusation was dropped.
As for the claim about “a group of Jewish Labour members” attempting “to shut down criticism of Israel”: Context is everything. We are meant to disapprove of Mr Nardell on this basis – but what was actually said and why was it said? The CAA omits the important information in order to present a false impression.
We see this tactic in operation again, along with the classic quotemining technique of using only individual words rather than full sentences – suggesting that Mr Nardell’s words did not have the meaning attributed to them – here:
Mr Nardell has also turned his sights on Campaign Against Antisemitism, stating that our work to combat hatred directed at Jews by Labour members is “revolting” and results in antisemitism being “abused and belittled”.
Context is everything. What did he really say, and why did he say it? The CAA doesn’t want you to know.
That’s why these liars – and they are lies; they change the meaning of actions (or inactions, in the first case above) and comments in order to present a false argument – must be tackled.
That’s why I am raising cash to fund legal action against this organisation for the libels it has committed against me, using more extreme examples of the same behaviour.
It is clear that the people running this organisation will not heed any appeal to reason; we must therefore turn to the law.
Please visit my JustGiving page and donate, so that we can all put an end to the petty, vindictive, and harmful accusations coming from the CAA and its allies.
(Incidentally, this is the only definition of anti-Semitism anybody needs.)
Yes: This Writer agrees with the Jewish Labour Movement about something.
Of course, we split again over the details. Let’s look at the issue, as reported in The Observer:
The bitter Labour party controversy over antisemitism erupted again on Saturday night, as the main organisation representing its Jewish members accused the leadership of failing to deal with a “vast backlog” of complaints and of allowing a second inquiry into Ken Livingstone to get “stuck in limbo”.
The accusations from the national chair of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), Jeremy Newmark, came as party sources told the Observer that a group of members, including activists and councillors, was preparing legal action against the party for failing to act on complaints about antisemitic incidents, some of which date back more than six months.
Newmark said the delays in dealing with many cases raised serious questions about whether the party had learnt lessons after an inquiry last year by Labour peer and former head of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti.
Newmark said: “We remain seriously concerned about what is now a vast backlog of cases involving alleged antisemitism that appear to be stuck in the system, in some cases for over a year. That is not a good indicator of the party having embraced Shami Chakrabarti’s imperative to adopt a gold standard in dealing with antisemitism.”
Readers of This Site will be aware that I was suspended by the Labour Party at the beginning of May last year, based on a vexatious complaint of anti-Semitism that seems to have come from a so-called charity known as the Campaign Against Antisemitism.
It took a staggering eight months for this open-and-shut case to be heard by Labour’s disputes panel. We shall discuss the failings of the report to that panel momentarily. Let’s get back to Mr Newmark and some of the allegations to which he refers:
“We will be closely monitoring the outcomes of a number of high-profile cases due to be determined by the national constitutional committee over the weeks ahead. These include former Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker and [activist] Marc Wadsworth [who are to contest the accusations].
“The second investigation into Ken Livingstone appears to be stuck in limbo.”
Last April, Livingstone avoided expulsion from the party after an NCC disciplinary panel ruled he should be suspended for another year for bringing the party into disrepute over comments about antisemitism, Hitler and Zionism. He was censured after having suggested that Hitler at one point supported Zionism, and for defending the Labour MP Naz Shah over an antisemitic Facebook post for which she subsequently apologised.
Livingstone’s defiant reaction to the suspension caused further outrage among Labour MPs, many of whom were already dismayed at what they saw as a far too lenient ruling. Corbyn said that the former mayor’s comments after the ruling would be the subject of further investigations by the NEC after representations from party members.
Several Labour MPs and senior officials have also expressed private concerns that – despite promises by the leadership to show “zero tolerance” in cases where antisemitism had been alleged – the party had been slow to investigate. In some cases where complaints had been found to have had substance, the party had recommended surprisingly lenient punishment.
It should be pointed out that anything Jeremy Newmark says should be taken with a pinch of salt. He was found to have lied while giving evidence at an employment tribunal in 2013, and it seems he is too keen to see anti-Semitism where it isn’t actually present.
Okay – there’s a lot to address here.
The case of Jackie Walker will be interesting because it arises from a so-called ‘safe space’ session of ‘training’ run by – guess who? – the Jewish Labour Movement. The organisation had claimed that attendees would be able to discuss their concerns about issues related to Judaism without fear of being attacked for it – then either allowed Ms Walker’s words to be recorded, or the organisation itself recorded her and released her words to the news media in order to present her as an anti-Semite.
That is not reasonable behaviour. It is deceitful to take words that are presented as discussion points and use them out-of-context to support a false claim about a person’s character.
Mr Wadsworth’s case arises from the launch of Shami Chakrabarti’s report into alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, in June, 2016. Mr Wadsworth, a member of Jeremy Corbyn supporting organisation Momentum, attended and was handing out press releases from the organisation when he saw a reporter from the Daily Telegraph – a Conservative-supporting newspaper – handing a copy to Ruth Smeeth – a Labour MP who had resigned her position as a Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Shadow Scotland and Northern Ireland teams three days previously, in protest at Mr Corbyn’s leadership of the party, and who may therefore be said to have been an opponent of Mr Corbyn at the time.
He is quoted as having said: “I saw the Telegraph handed a copy of a press release to Ruth Smeeth MP; you can see who is working hand-in-hand.”
It seems clear that he was suggesting anti-Corbyn Labour MPs were working with the anti-Corbyn press to criticise him. Right?
In a statement released after the incident, Ms Smeeth tried to claim that: “I was verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Jeremy Corbyn supporter who used traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a ‘media conspiracy’. It is beyond belief that someone could come to the launch of a report about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and espouse such vile conspiracy theories against Jewish people.”
“Media conspiracy”? When did Mr Wadsworth make that claim? He didn’t.
So her claim that Mr Wadsworth was making an accusation that Jewish people control the media – which is certainly an anti-Semitic trope – is, as journalist Craig Murray described it, “untenable”. He added that, considering the subject matter of the meeting and her own Jewish ethnicity, Ms Smeeth’s reaction may have been genuine, and “she read into the remark something not intended”.
Ken Livingstone’s words have been discussed exhaustively on This Site. His Labour Party membership was suspended by the party’s National Constitutional Committee on grounds that the controversy over his defence of Labour MP Naz Shah had brought the party into dispute. He had been accused of anti-Semitism, but it had been proved that he had not said anything anti-Semitic. The Guardian‘s report, that he was “censured after having suggested that Hitler at one point supported Zionism” tells only part of the story. The claim against him was initially that he was an anti-Semite because he had claimed Hitler was a Zionist – something he never did. Labour MP John Mann, oddly accompanied by a TV camera crew, claimed he said it in an incendiary confrontation on a stairwell but the facts proved otherwise. The grounds for his suspension were that he had upset the UK’s Jewish population – and this, too, is questionable as many British Jews came forward to support him.
The Guardian states that Mr Livingstone was also censured “for defending the Labour MP Naz Shah over an antisemitic Facebook post for which she subsequently apologised”. In fact, it was a tweet, stating that “The Jews are rallying” to vote in an online poll by John Prescott on the appropriateness of Israeli military action against Palestinians in 2014. The message was indeed anti-Semitic and Ms Shah was right to apologise for it. If she had said “supporters of Israel are rallying”, she would have been in the clear. According to legal opinion, criticism of Israel that alleges ill treatment of Palestinians (the subject of the discussion at the time) cannot be taken as evidence of anti-Semitism.
Mr Livingstone also defended Ms Shah for retweeting two images. One was controversial as it was a response to a plan propossed to the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, to forcibly move Palestinians from the land that has been theirs for centuries, relocating them in neighbouring countries. The image proposed moving Israel – the whole country, physically – to within the borders of the United States (on the assumption that the US was Israel’s greatest ally). The idea is of course ridiculous and it would be inappropriate to take it seriously. The accompanying text drew flak for referring to the “Jews-only state”, but consider this: certain so-called representatives of Jewish people (including current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, come to think of it) like to conflate Israel with Judaism. It seems strange that certain organisations that demand the two should be intermingled should then complain about it.
The other image was of a man posing for a police ‘mug’ shot, above the words, “Everything Hitler did in Germany was legal”. Mr Livingstone was taken to task by Vanessa Feltz on her radio show over this image, which she claimed was an attempt to justify Hitler’s anti-Semitism. This was a huge mistake: The man in the image was Martin Luther King, and the point he was making was that actions that are entirely legal can still be entirely wrong.
Isn’t it curious that nobody has tackled Ms Feltz over her gross misinterpretation of the image? Has anybody even bothered to ask her, or is it only permitted to question the accused, and not the accusers?
The Guardian goes on to report Labour MPs and officials’ concerns that “despite promises by the leadership to show ‘zero tolerance’ in cases where antisemitism had been alleged – the party had been slow to investigate. In some cases where complaints had been found to have had substance, the party had recommended surprisingly lenient punishment.”
“Zero tolerance” with allegations? This implies that guilt is assumed, no matter what the evidence may be – which brings me to my own case.
Here‘s a site called The Red Roar, reporting my refusal to accept the disputes panel’s decision to give me a warning and send me for “training” with the JLM. It is inaccurate, or at least misleading by omission, in several places:
A Labour member accused of anti-semitism could face expulsion from the party after publicly refusing to take part in a training programme because it is run by the Jewish Labour Movement.
Party officials had recommended Sivier should be referred to the National Constitutional Committee, which has the final say on disciplinary matters. But several NEC members argued on Tuesday he should be given a second chance if he agreed to take part in training. It is unusual for the Disputes Panel to ignore the advice of Party officials, but it voted by 12 votes to 10 in favour of the compromise agreement.
Readers of This Site will know that I am not an anti-Semite. The allegations against me were entirely false.
If you’ve come late to the debate, or have only seen the other side of it, I recommend a quick trip here and here.
I’ve already mentioned the fact that it has taken Labour eight months to bring my case before the NEC’s disputes panel.
For nearly five of those months, I heard nothing from Labour at all. Then I was invited to an interview, to discuss the matter, and encouraged to bring evidence supporting my side of the issue, details of other people who could be contacted for supporting evidence, and a witness – who may not speak but may ensure that proceedings take place equitably.
In hindsight, I have no idea why I was invited to that interview; I might as well have stayed at home. My evidence was ignored; my documents went unexamined; my supporters uncontacted. And what’s the point of having a witness if she isn’t allowed to review the report to dispute panel members for accuracy?
The report delivered to the panel, as I understand it, dismissed nearly two hours worth of verbal evidence as “unclear”, and claimed that I did not understand why Jewish people might take offence at what I had said.
The reason they chose to take offence is perfectly clear: For political gain. My accusers did not want me to do well in the local government elections last May, so they released the article making their claim about me in the week before – to ruin my chances. This is against the law.
None of this information was provided to the disputes panel – and it seems that some of its members seem to assume guilt, simply from the fact that a complaint has been made. It can hardly be a surprise that they were not prepared to accept Mr Lansman’s argument – and that of others who were there – that I am innocent.
Indeed, it seems that some of the panel even took offence at attempts to introduce evidence I had given at my interview into their deliberations, as it had not been mentioned in the one-sided report they’d had from the officer.
Oh, and Mr Lansman didn’t put forward the proposal to give me a warning and send me for training – that was someone else.
No, it’s a reference to the evidence that JLM uses its “training” events to smear innocent people with fake anti-Semitism accusations (as Jackie Walker discovered).
Also, it is surprising that whoever wrote the Red Roar article apparently hasn’t read the allegations against me. That’s poor journalism. My statements about the JLM cannot be described as anti-Semitism as they do not fit any of the definitions; they are criticism of the JLM as an organisation, not Jews.
Sivier now faces being referred to the NCC, as recommended by party officials.
Yes indeed. Hopefully I’ll be able to inject some much-needed factual accuracy into this sorry saga. I am already calling for reform of the disciplinary procedure as it clearly causes injustice.
Those who spoke in my favour “understand” my decision and “applaud” my “strong principles”.
As for Mr Lansman’s agreement that Labour has a problem with anti-Semitism – he said it is on the rise nationally, and “it would be extremely surprising if it wasn’t also present in the Labour Party”. He didn’t say Labour had failed to address the problem, but did say “it has to be dealt with”.
He’s right – but not by automatically penalising anybody who has been accused. That merely encourages mischief-makers to make vexatious complaints in order to discredit people they don’t like – and that’s not acceptable.
Don’t forget that cases of apparently genuine anti-Semitism were discussed by the disputes panel and sent on to the Natonal Constitutional Committee last week. Where the party’s rules are clearly breached, it acts appropriately.
It is only in cases where the innocent are accused that Labour seems to tie itself in knots.
So, yes, I agree that Labour takes far too long dealing with these complaints. But Labour needs to reform its procedures to ensure that everybody who is accused can ensure that their case is heard fairly and that justice is served. That is not happening at the moment.
And that’s why I’m telling the disputes panel to think again.
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