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“A Labour activist who claimed the Israeli lobby had “manufactured” the party’s anti-Semitism crisis has been selected as a candidate for the European elections, deepening the row over claims of anti-Jewish hatred in the party.
Israel is not Judaism and the Israeli government, in fact, is not representative of the opinions of all Israelis – so it cannot be suggested that the claims suggested here relate to anti-Semitism in any way.
… That’s unless the person making the suggestion has a political interest spreading falsehoods, of course.
Here comes another fake claim:
Martin Mayer, a former member of Labour’s National Executive Committee and a Unite union activist, has been chosen to stand as MEP for Yorkshire & Humber.
The retired transport worker has been active in Labour Against the Witchunt (LAW), a group which claims accusations of anti-Semitism are a ruse to undermine Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour Against the Witch-hunt claims that some accusations of anti-Semitism are false, and have been made to undermine Mr Corbyn and his supporters.
But the omission of that word – “some” – in the article creates an implication that the organisation is saying all such accusations are politically-motivated falsehoods. That is not true.
Mr Mayer’s selection as an MEP candidate is likely to raise questions about the suitability of the candidates being selected by Labour.
It is only likely to raise such questions among people with a vested interest in spreading falsehoods about the Labour Party and anti-Semitism.
It will be interesting to see who puts their head above the parapet. We can start the list with Telegraph reporters Patrick Sawer, Edward Malnick and Hayley Dixon.
The last time I can recall Rowan Atkinson raising his head above the parapet to give an opinion on political matters, I thought he was right.
Not so sure about this one, though.
Mr Atkinson has defended remarks made by Boris Johnson in a Torygraph article, in which he suggested that women wearing burqas look like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.
Mr Atkinson reckons it was a good joke.
I can only say, paraphrasing one of his own sketches: “Good? No. Joke? … No.”
Boris Johnson is a man with a history of racist behaviour that has been well-quoted here and in the mainstream media. He has ‘form’ when it comes to offending people of other cultures.
Therefore we may assume there was a malicious intent behind his words.
If they had appeared in a comedy sketch on TV, spoken by a character we were supposed to find amusing for his views, then it would be a different matter.
That said, Mr Johnson has shone the spotlight on a difficult issue.
Some people do find the burqa a questionable item of clothing.
Some are intimidated by it, and by those who wear it.
Many have pointed out that there is no way of verifying the identity of the person wearing it. Mrs Mike has even suggested it would be hard to be sure, even, of their gender.
She referred to the question of how their identity is checked at airports, saying that women wearing face-coverings are routinely excused from the kind of checks that other people have to undergo. I can confirm that this is not true.
UK Border Agency guidance makes it clear that: “It is a requirement that Border Force Officers always establish the nationality and identity of all passengers. Officers are requested that passengers wearing veils or other face coverings ask to remove the covering in order that they may be identified as the rightful holder of their passport or travel document.”
(This sentence seems garbled. I think they mean officers are encouraged to ask passengers wearing veils or other face-coverings to remove them for the purposes of identification.)
“The UK Border Agency recognises that individual sensitivities must be taken into consideration, therefore if a passenger is uncomfortable removing their face covering in public they are escorted to a private room away from the border checkpoint and asked to uncover their face there.
“Female passengers, who are uncomfortable removing a face covering in public and/or in the presence of males, are checked in private by a female officer.”
The other issues are less easy to answer. It occurs to me that, as there is a perceived problem, perhaps Muslim women would be best-placed to tackle it, with an effort to allay the fears of those who question the use of this particular item of apparel, and the need for it.
This is an instance of culture shock – two cultures have collided and are finding it hard to reconcile themselves on certain levels.
The only meaningful way to do that is communication. If Boris Johnson’s remarks trigger an increase in fruitful discourse, then something good will have come from them.
But I don’t think for one moment that this is what that man intended and I look forward to the Conservative Party’s disciplinary proceedings against him.
Rowan Atkinson has defended Boris Johnson after his controversial comments about women wearing burkas.
The actor, known for his comedy performances in Mr Bean and Blackadder, said the remarks were funny.
Atkinson wrote in a letter to The Times: ‘As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson’s joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one.’
He added: ‘All jokes about religion cause offence, so it’s pointless apologising for them.
‘You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required.’
This Site has been unusually quiet for a few weeks now. Usually I manage to put out anything between five and 10 articles a day but lately I have had trouble getting even a single piece to the public.
This is because I have been writing huge amounts of text intended to defend myself against false accusations of anti-Semitism that have been made against me by an anonymous accuser who contacted the Labour Party, and by the Conservative-supporting press.
I do not believe these accusations have been made because of any anti-Semitism in my work or my personal attitudes. My opinion is that they were intended to stop me producing articles for This Site which support a Labour government.
If you would like to learn more about the attack on me, and would consider contributing to me efforts to raise funds to challenge these claims in court, please visit my JustGiving page.
This is not about racism; it is about politics. It is about undermining support for a Labour Party that would help all people in the UK.
Look at the latest stunt: Three Jewish newspapers teaming up to attack Labour’s refusal to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working – take note of that word, “working”; we’ll come back to it – definition of anti-Semitism.
A government led by Jeremy Corbyn would pose an existential threat to Jewish life in the UK, a joint editorial published by the country’s three most prominent Jewish newspapers has claimed.
The Jewish Chronicle, Jewish News and Jewish Telegraph each produced similar front pages for their Thursday editions attacking the Labour party’s decision not to fully absorb an internationally accepted definition of antisemitism into its code of conduct, and its wider record on the issue since Corbyn became leader in 2015.
Does anybody else think this is a response to the 36 international Jewish organisations who came out in support of Labour, last week?
Oh, you didn’t hear about that? I’m not surprised – it was hardly reported here in the UK. Fortunately, quite a few of us read The Canary and know what’s going on.
That website stated: “Jeremy Corbyn has received a major boost from 36 Jewish groups worldwide, embarrassing the corporate media. The Labour leader is currently under pressure from the press, the right of his party, and the conservative Board of Deputies of British Jews. They are pushing for Labour to adopt wholesale the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism into its rule book.
“On 17 July, 36 Jewish groups from around the world said that the IHRA definition “intentionally” equates “legitimate criticisms of Israel… with antisemitism”. And later in the day, Labour’s ruling body approved a new code of conduct that included a version of the IHRA definition without the examples that could stifle legitimate criticism of Israel.
“For the first time, 36 Jewish groups (including six based in the UK) have come together in a move that strengthens the position of Corbyn and organisations that support Palestinian rights.
“Their statement says the IHRA definition is “worded in such a way” as “to intentionally equate legitimate criticisms of Israel and advocacy for Palestinian rights with antisemitism, as a means to suppress the former”.
“Spearheaded by the US-based Jewish Voice for Peace, the groups continued: “This conflation undermines both the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality and the global struggle against antisemitism. It also serves to shield Israel from being held accountable to universal standards of human rights and international law.
“”We urge our governments, municipalities, universities and other institutions to reject the IHRA definition and instead take effective measures to defeat white supremacist nationalist hate and violence and to end complicity in Israel’s human rights violations. Israel does not represent us and cannot speak for us when committing crimes against Palestinians and denying their UN-stipulated rights.””
The international response has been to support Labour and it seems the three newspapers attacking the party are doing so in order to reinforce the trumped-up opposition to the party’s policies and boost support for the Conservatives.
Now look at the way The Guardian reports the same issue:
Concern has been expressed about the refusal of the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to accept the full text of the working definition of antisemitism produced by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The document provides a definition and 11 examples. The former is accepted by Labour, but not all of the latter.
Labour’s NEC objects to the example that defines “claiming that the existence of a state of Israel is a racist endeavour” as antisemitism. The party said it was concerned about creating a code that could be “used to deny Palestinians, including Palestinian citizens of Israel and their supporters, their rights and freedoms to describe the discrimination and injustices they face in the language they deem appropriate”.
See how it is slanted to suggest that Labour’s modifications to what is – let’s remember – a working definition (one that is intended to be modified to improve clarity) are cause for concern.
In fact, Labour’s changes are welcome because they take away the automatic assumption that the state of Israel cannot act in a racist way.
Consider current Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s racist “Israel as a nation-state of the Jewish people” Bill. It permits neighbourhoods to block people of specific nationalities or religions from moving in, removes Arabic as an official language, and directs judges to look for precedents from Jewish legal rulings in instances where Israeli law offers no guidance.
It isn’t about protecting Jews; it is about persecuting Arabs.
But people who make this point can be accused of anti-Semitism by those like the editors of the Jewish Chronicle, the Jewish News and the Jewish Telegraph, pointing at the example in the IHRA working definition.
This isn’t even the only place where the working definitions examples let the document down.
Another example of anti-Semitism is described as “Making … stereotypical allegations about Jews … such as… the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.” But what about Shai Masot?
He was a staff member at the Israeli embassy in London who was caught conspiring to influence UK politics in the interests of his country; a Jew trying to exert control over the UK government. Under the working definition of anti-Semitism, anybody accusing him of that would be smeared as an anti-Semite – but the allegation was true.
And Mr Masot said members of organisations including Labour Friends of Israel and Conservative Friends of Israel were among his supporters. To the best of my knowledge, no questions have been asked of those groups – for fear of the action being labelled anti-Semitic?
I wonder if these abuses of the term “anti-Semitism” stem from the misinterpretation of the so-called Macpherson principle – that a racist incident (including anti-Semitism) is “any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person”.
This was devised as a tool to encourage the recording of allegations of racism by the police, after a “refusal to accept racist motivation by a number of officers” was noticed in the investigation of the Stephen Lawrence case.
But the so-called Macpherson principle is now being used to suggest that any claim of anti-Semitism, made by someone claiming to be a victim, must be automatically accepted as anti-Semitism, without investigation.
It is wide open to abuse. As Professor David Feldman stated in his sub-report to the All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism: “it is unambiguously clear that Macpherson intended to propose that such racist incidents require investigation. He did not mean to imply that such incidents are necessarily racist. However, Macpherson’s report has been misinterpreted and misapplied in precisely this way.”
Labour’s modification to the IHRA example regarding Israel as a racist endeavour states that: “It is not racist to assess the conduct of Israel – or indeed of any other particular state or government – against the requirements of international law or the standards of behaviour expected of democratic states (bearing in mind that these requirements and standards may themselves be contentious).” I would go on to state that criticism of Israel as a racist endeavour could be considered anti-Semitic – but only if evidence of anti-Semitic intent was proved.
Simply put: There should be no automatic assumption of anti-Semitism, just because somebody claims it.
The claim of anti-Semitism should be recorded and the accusation investigated. Only after a full – and impartial – investigation should any final conclusion be drawn.
That is justice.
If we take the alternative currently being offered, then, as Professor Feldman states, “we open the way to conceptual and political chaos”.
I await with resignation what I expect will be a sorry lack of support for George Soros from those who claim to stand up against anti-Semitism in the UK.
Our good friends in the Campaign Against Antisemitism, for example, have failed to condemn the Torygraph‘s anti-Semitic article. Apparently co-author Nick Timothy is a friend of the organisation (besides being a former chief advisor to Conservative prime minister Theresa May), by its own admission.
Is that why the lie that Mr Soros is covertly funding pro-EU groups (he declares all such payments) is allowed to go unchallenged? It very clearly presents that classic anti-Semitic trope, of an international conspiracy by rich Jews who are secretly running the world.
And now I wonder if I’ll be accused of the same offence, just for mentioning it. After all, I was accused of it after responding in good faith to a commenter’s query about another version of it. It seems that, for some campaigners, anti-Semitism is in the eye of the beholder.
Mr Soros is on record as a critic of Israel’s government and those of its policies which his Open Society Foundation describes as “racist and undemocratic”. He has funded groups which support the BDS – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – movement against the Israeli government. And he has warned that Israeli policies may be stoking anti-Semitism indirectly, in that attitudes towards Israel are shaped by the way people perceive the behaviour of a country that is determined to be synonymous with the Jewish people.
And he admits that his own success contributes to that attitude as, he says, the new anti-Semitism holds that Jews rule the world.
This is what the Torygraph article implies – that Mr Soros, a Jew, is using his vast wealth to covertly influence world affairs.
It seems, to This Writer, that he won’t have any help fighting that smear from those who claim to stand against anti-Semitism, or their supporters…
Because they don’t like his politics.
George Soros isn’t a universally-known name in the UK. But in the US, he is the bogeyman of the far right. Trump supporters and right wingers claim the Jewish billionaire is lurking sinisterly behind every liberal campaign and media outlet going.
Now, the antisemitic flu has crossed the Atlantic. Because on Thursday 8 February, The Telegraph newspaper published [the story in the image above].
In reality, Soros has provided financial support to pro-EU groups openly.
So, The Telegraph article is wrong. But what makes it antisemitic? Put simply, it promotes the long-running antisemitic conspiracy theory that rich Jews run the world.
How very interesting to read the following on another political website:
One of Labour’s biggest donors today warned the party’s moderate wing to “wake up” to the fact that continuing to promise austerity-lite was the “road to unelectability.”
JML chairman John Mills, who is normally associated with the Blairite wing of the Labour party, said the anti-austerity policies being pursued by Jeremy Corbyn “made a lot of sense” and could be popular with the public in 2020.
Speaking to reporters in central London, he said it was a fundamental mistake to compare the nation’s finances to a household paying off its credit card, and warned the UK was being condemned to long periods of low growth.
He said the policies being pursued by the government, and endorsed by some in the Labour party, risked causing widespread dissatisfaction with the governing class and would lead to an increase in support for parties such as Ukip.
For This Writer’s money – and very good money it is, too – it seems clear the Torygraph was just trying to cause trouble; Mr Mills was never going to abandon Labour, but the suggestion would add fuel to the campaigns against him by Labour ‘intolerants’ such as Chuka Umunna and Tristram Hunt (whose Labour for the Common Good splinter group is name-checked as a possible alternative recipient of Mr Mills’s good graces).
We can hope that these, rather desperate, attempts to undermine Mr Corbyn will dissipate as we cross into 2016, but if they don’t, let’s all bear examples like this in mind…
And file stories like the Torygraph‘s in the litter bin where they belong.
Looking askance: A former colleague of Jeremy Corbyn, who split from Labour when the Blairists took over, has written a smear piece for the Torygraph that does Corbyn far more benefit than harm.
You can always tell when Tories are afraid of someone – they produce newspaper articles saying that he’s rubbish.
Today (Tuesday, June 16), the Torygraph has published a character assassination of Jeremy Corbyn by former Labour supporter Leo McKinstry, who now writes for the Daily Mail and the Daily Express, alongside the paper in which this piece appears. It seems clear from his CV that he turned Right after leaving Labour.
Mr McKinstry would have us believe that Corbyn is “not a serious politician” but a “permanent rebellious adolescent”. Can he substantiate this abuse?
No. In fact, if the piece is intended to put people off Corbyn, then it backfires badly.
McKinstry writes: “He was certainly a hard-working, energetic MP, as well as a powerful, if sometimes histrionic, speaker – like his hero Tony Benn.”
Corbyn’s hero is Tony Benn? Terrific! Tony Benn was one of the greatest Labour politicians of the modern age and anyone following in his footsteps is to be applauded and supported.
“A Blairite member of the last Labour Government once told me that she trusted Corbyn more than the moderate Chris Smith, Islington South’s long serving MP, because the former was less slippery and opportunistic.” Again – terrific! McKinstry is saying that Blairites like Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper and even Andy Burnham are “slippery and opportunistic”, making Corbyn clearly a much better choice.
“Yet in part, Corbyn’s supposed decency comprised unthinking subservience to a bewildering array of causes, such as the internal Labour factions like Socialist Organiser or foreign movements like Palestine Solidarity.” Socialist Organiser was a Leftie newspaper that closed down in 1995 – 20 years ago. McKinstry split from Labour in the same year. McKinstry changed his mind. Whatever he thought of Socialist Organiser, who is he to say Corbyn can’t have also modified his views in the two decades since that paper folded? From his point of view, he might as well criticise Twenty-something journalists (who enjoyed such reading matter) for the comics they read in the 1990s.
It is interesting that he marks Palestine Solidarity as a socialist organisation, and we can read between the lines to work out what he thinks the right-wing view must be. Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s website clarifies that it is “an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation” that “campaigns for peace & justice for Palestinians, in support of international law and human rights & against all racism”. That seems a worthy cause to support – especially when one considers the brutal attack on Palestinians by Israel around one year ago.
“Nor was he always the epitome of chivalric tolerance that his supporters now proclaim. In 1981, for instance, he demanded a purge of soft-left MPs – such as Neil Kinnock – who had failed to back Tony Benn for the Deputy Leadership.” Soft-left? Some would call them right-wingers who paved the way for Tony Blair and the neoliberalism that is causing Labour such pain today. Some would say Corbyn was right to call for such a purge. Some of us would like to see such a purge today.
McKinstry’s claim that Corbyn supported the IRA is another matter: “This is the man who sympathised with violent Irish Republicanism in the 1980s, invited IRA representatives to the Commons a fortnight after the Brighton bombing in 1984 and, at a Troops Out meeting in 1987, stood for a minute’s silence to “honour” eight IRA terrorists killed in an SAS ambush.”
“Sympathised with violent Irish Republicanism in the 1980s”? How do we reconcile that with the fact that Jeremy Corbyn won the Gandhi International Peace Award in 2013 for his “consistent efforts over a 30 year Parliamentary career to uphold the Gandhian values of social justice and non‐violence”? We can’t.
This Writer tends to believe the Gandhi Foundation’s point of view. After all, peace in Northern Ireland was won by talking out the problems between all parties – not by meeting violence with violence. And it is a fragile peace. Why risk stirring up ill-feeling by raking over coals that have long since become cold?
In the end, all this article can bring is personal insult. McKinstry says Corbyn’s stand against a Grammar School education for his children led to the end of his marriage. As a Grammar School boy himself, perhaps he was well-positioned to understand their drawbacks, and in any case his domestic arrangements are not a subject to be discussed in his leadership campaign and it is low of McKinstry to mention them.
“From his black Leninist cap to his ever-present beard, there is something of the stage proletarian about him. His keen lack of vanity is its own kind of pretension” … in McKinstry’s opinion, which is intentionally insulting.
“The greatest irony of all is that this self-serving iconoclast…” Self-serving? Tell that to the Palestine campaigners or the Gandhi Foundation. “Who has spent his Parliament career defying authority and sneering at careerists…” Justifiably. “Is now seeking the leadership himself.” Because he believes Labour deserves better than the pale Blue “careerists” it has at the moment.
“Labour will truly be doomed if he comes close to winning.” What a load of right-wing politically-motivated tosh.
At last the Torygraph comes out with an article that tries to make the Zombie Economy seem like a good thing.
The idea is to make slaves out of every working person in the UK, by ensuring that their taxes do not pay for services, but instead service the ever-mounting debts racked up by right-wing governments such as we have at the moment.
IMF economists cited research by Moody’s Analytics that suggested countries such as the UK, US and Canada could afford to live “forever” with relatively high debt shares compared with their pre-crisis averages.
… claims the Torygraph‘s Szu Ping Chan.
We can conclude that the so-called ‘developing’ nations were offered the same language by the IMF when it imposed ‘Structural Adjustment Programmes’ on them. These SAPs perform several functions as follows:
They enforce the sale of nationalised industries and resources (mostly to foreign-owned investors and governments.
They remove capital controls on money flowing into and out of the country.
They dictate the level of public spending.
They prioritise debt repayments and corporate welfare over infrastructure development and personal welfare (the good of a company becomes more important than the good of the people).
And they demand wage suppression and the restriction of labour unions.
As you can see, much of this is already taking place in the UK.
It is a way to force neoliberal economics onto a country without having to worry about getting the people to vote for it (even though, bizarrely, the UK did vote for it last month).
Kerry-Anne Mendoza’s extremely useful book Austerity: The Demolition of the Welfare State and the Rise of the Zombie Economystates: “Structural Adjustment Programmes are now being rolled out across Europe, disguised as ‘Austerity Programmes’ – to reorientate European economies toward servicing the debt economy. Central banks are lending to stabilise national economies that have been broken by the cost of bailing out other banks. The central banks make these funds contingent upon the national government imposing an Austerity programme.”
And you know what the worst of it is?
The whole point of the ‘Austerity programme’ is that you can never pay your way out of it.
Look at the amount of debt that George Osborne has racked up in just five years.
The fact that the Torygraph withdrew this front page story from its website within 24 hours is testament to the weakness of the Conservative Party’s position, having tried – and failed – to hoodwink the public twice with the same trick.
If anyone wants to see where the Conservatives recruited their thousands of small-business signatories, just visit the Conservative Party website here.
If you can’t be bothered (and it’s the Tory website, so who can blame you?) here’s the text that appeared above the sign-up form:
As you can see, Karren Brady (she of The Apprentice fame) actually put her name to it so her reputation is shot now (more even than it was when she became a Conservative peer for no reason). The author of the document is listed in the metadata as “CCHQ-Admin”.
Here’s a typical response from someone many claim to have been a lifelong Tory voter (until recently):
And the agony got worse. The Guardianreported that, not only did the letter originate in Conservative Central HQ, but it contains many duplicate signatures and one belonging to a person who said they never signed it.
The Conservative Party’s former tax avoidance minister, David Gauke, was forced to defend the letter – awkwardly – when challenged by Andrew Neill on the BBC’s Daily Politics. It’s very funny – have a look:
How will the Conservative Party claw back its credibility after this?
And, more importantly:
Why is this minority-interest party still managing more than 30 per cent support in the opinion polls?
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