An article so inaccurate, I just had to take it apart…
This latest attempt at disparaging anti-racists was published in January 2019 by ‘Luis’ and the smears are crude. But since then this piece of vitriol seems to have gained currency – e.g. with Adam Wagner (tweet since deleted), the human rights barrister with 50,000 followers on Twitter who believes that Jewish prayers for their dead (‘Kaddish’) for Hamas was within the ‘range of opinions’ – so lets take a closer look at the allegations within the article.
The article starts off by pinning its colours to the mast,
by denying that antisemitism in the Labour Party is more problematic than elsewhere. This assertion is disproved by the data; antisemitism of Labour officials and bad outcomes is far greater than in all other parties combined.
The author then rolls out his warped viewpoint:
antisemitism is not a problem for him, but instead ‘a major political problem for Labour’. In other words, it’s the reputation of the Party that bothers him, not the racism, which he describes as ‘the stick used to beat the party’ above all others.
Exposing racism is not political
Racist abuse is not exposed out of political malice but because it is wrong. The idea that exposing it is a political plot plays into racist stereotypes of Jews.
Labour Against Antisemitism (LAAS) call out and report antisemitism in Labour. It’s no exaggeration to say that without their efforts, Labour antisemitism would not be as visible as it is today. And yet, instead of confronting the racism, those seeking to protect the Labour Party instead attack antiracists.
The author accuses the people in the article of failing to ‘heal the rift between Labour and the Jewish community.’ However, it should go without saying that this failure is down to the Labour Party enabling racism, not the people pointing it out.
It’s worth rebutting the lies, so here goes:
1. Luis describes Jonathan Hoffman as:
‘a stalwart of the radical fringe of pro-Israel advocacy.’
This is inaccurate. Hoffman is on record as accepting the need for a Palestinian State many times (but only when Israel can be assured of security). Apart from that, he speaks out to counter lies and antisemitism.
As for ‘disrupting Palestinian events’ – to evidence this, Luis has linked to the Palestine Return Centre who sponsored the meeting he wants to cite. According to a report by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the PRC is headed by a number of Hamas activists and has affiliations with the Muslim Brotherhood. The truth about that meeting is here. It was chaired by a trustee of the organisation allegedly representing Hamas in Europe. No wonder Hoffman was asked to leave when he interrupted this gathering of extremist fanatics…
‘Misrepresentation of these debates by those who take their instructions from the Israeli Ambassador is an intimidatory act’.
The idea that Jews exposing antisemitism are being paid to do so by a foreign power, is in itself an antisemitic trope.
S/he goes on to take a potshot at David Collier
‘…who has spent years compiling evidence to support his theory that Palestine solidarity activism — or “Palestinianism” as he calls it — is innately antisemitic’
This conflates those of us who fight antisemitism with somehow being ‘anti-Palestinian’. It’s cynical conflation, designed to deflect from antisemitism and damage the reputation of those speaking out. Being against antisemitism does not reflect on Palestinian people.
‘LAAS and Gnasher activists have worked diligently to keep the scandal in the public eye’.
Why would the author have a problem with Labour antisemitism being publicly exposed? As s/he admitted, s/he’s more concerned with politics than confronting racism. And since Labour are now being investigated by the EHRC it’s clear by this point that the idea of antisemitism being manufactured is preposterous.
‘In August 2017, Philipps accused Jewish journalist Chas Newkey-Burden of being a “Labour antisemite’.
No he didn’t. Euan Philipps was flagging up Newkey-Burden’s reaction as an example of ‘whataboutery’ – deflection away from Labour antisemitism, which contributes to the problem. And Chas Newkey-Burden is not Jewish.
‘In July 2018, Gnasher said trade union advisor Shelly Asquith had “literally called for the death of all Jews.” This was based on her wearing a shirt with the message ‘victory to the Intifada.’ The term refers to Palestinian uprisings. It cannot be reasonably translated as calling for “the death of all Jews.'”
The Hamas Charter calls for the death of all Jews. The second Intifada caused the death of some 1,000 Israelis. It was coordinated by terrorist groups such as Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. Groups who seek the genocide of Jews and organise armed uprisings against them.
‘In March 2018, Gnasher accused six left-wing commentators including Owen Jones, Matt Zarb-Cousin, and Abi Wilkinson of being “instrumental in bullying Jews” without any substantiation.’
There is plenty of evidence: this for example. Owen Jones’ condemnation of antisemitism stops when it becomes politically inexpedient for Corbyn.
’In January 2018, Gnasher repeated Lady Valerie Cocks’ unsubstantiated allegation that Jon Lansman is “the worst antisemite I’ve ever met” and added that “he uses his ethnicity as a get out of jail free card.”’
Thanks to his organisation ‘Momentum’, Jon Lansman has overseen the transformation of the Labour Party into an institutionally antisemitic Party. He not only kept quiet during Pete Willsman’s antisemitic rant but also supported him. He also promoted Apsana Begum of Momentum’s steering committee, who shares antisemitic conspiracies. His organisation is notorious for its antisemitic thugs and has Christine Shawcross as a director (who supported a Holocaust denier).
Lady Cocks had this to say:
‘In March 2018, Gnasher and Philipps accused Jeremy Corbyn of antisemitism for criticising the Israeli army for shooting Palestinians in Gaza.’
Israel has the right to defend itself from terrorists who want to breach its borders to kill Israelis. Not only did Hamas organise these attempts at border incursions with the intention of killing civilians, but almost all those killed were members of terror organisations. Corbyn criticised Israel for exercising that right. Yet every year Corbyn goes to the Cenotaph to pay respects to British War dead, who gave their lives to protect British civilians. Having one rule for British civilians and another for Israeli civilians is blatantly antisemitic (IHRA: ‘Applying double standards by requiring of [Israel] a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.’)
‘In March 2018, LAAS branded British author Ben White a “well-known antisemite and Holocaust revisionist.” The evidence for the former claim is speculative, the evidence for the latter is non-existent.’
More than anything else in the piece, this assertion is a giveaway: ‘Luis’ appears to stand more closely with Ben White than with antisemitism-fighting activists.
White ‘understands’ why some people are antisemites, has defended Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial and was profiled by the ADL for his antisemitism
‘Also on the list is Labour MP Stephen Saxby, branded a “toxic antisemitic vicar,” based on bizarre, scattershot evidence such as that he is “a vicar in Walthamstow, a problematic area for extremism” and that he has criticised the government’s Prevent scheme.’
Firstly Stephen Saxby is not an MP. SecondlyRead the thread – Stephen Saxby supports extremists, including genocidal Jew-haters.
‘A recent viral thread on left-wing commentator Aaron Bastani, heavily promoted by LAAS and Gnasher, featured several claims that collapsed under scrutiny. The anonymous tweeter subsequently admitted errors, and one of the central pieces of evidence was plausibly explained as a joke at the expense of a conspiracist.’
*Full disclosure* This was a post by yours truly. Again, read the thread (which includes my responses to Bastani’s criticisms). None of it ‘collapsed under scrutiny’. As well as his many Rothschild tweets, Bastani lauded the execrable Chris Williamson MP, now suspended, and retweeted an article by the equally execrable Asa Winstanley (also suspended). He also retweeted an antisemitic conspiracy by the notorious @lableftvoice account, for which the JLM publicly admonished him. ‘Luis’ makes much of the fact that I interpreted the twitter account @WarmongerHodges as being named after Margaret Hodge, rather than Dan Hodges. But that’s entirely irrelevant to my criticisms of him.
‘Gnasher misrepresented a University of Oslo study on perceptions of antisemitism by claiming it showed the views of Labour officials’.
Nonsense. In order to show that antisemitism is more prevalent on the Left than on the Right, Gnasher first cited a CAA report, which covered statements by Labour officials, and then cited a survey of Jewish people. They never claimed that the survey ‘showed the views of Labour officials’. This is deliberate distortion by ‘Luis’.
‘Philipps has suggested that Labour’s slogan “For the Many, Not the Few” might be a dog-whistle attack on minorities.’
Philipps was suggesting that the rhetoric of left populism can lead to antisemitic scapegoating. This suggestion was based on the work of two academics quoted in the Jewish Chronicle.
86% of UK Jews think Corbyn is an antisemite. Has there been any other UK Party since the 1930s with a membership as large as that of Labour where there has been such agreement among a minority about the racism of its Leader towards them? Apart from the BNP, the Labour Party are now the only Party to have the EHRC begin proceedings into investigating them
‘Both Philipps and LAAS recently retweeted a comment branding Bastani “scum”.’
See #10 above. And remember that Bastani referred to counter-antisemitism campaigners as ‘frothing libellous deviants’ in a defamatory tweet endorsing another smear piece about LAAS – by a Labour member featured in Private Eye for his notorious bully-boy tactics.
‘LAAS activist Saul Freeman routinely sends abusive messages to Labour supporters, including hundreds to Jones. One typical offering labelled him a “deranged and nasty twat.”’
Luis is playing the usual trick of making victim into perpetrator – the definition of institutional racism. Look what Freeman found out about Owen Jones’ student days editing Wikipedia entries on Israel. His description of Jones as a “deranged and nasty twat” is arguably far too mild. A four-syllable word beginning with the letter ‘A’ might be viewed as more appropriate.
‘When Wolfson’s friends expressed solidarity with her in the face of racialised abuse, Philipps piped up again to say she didn’t deserve it.’
Rhea Wolfson was present throughout Pete Willsman’s rant at NEC when he claimed that Jewish “Trump fanatics” were making up some of the allegations of antisemitism in the party. Silence in the face of blatant racism is akin to complicity, hence Philipps’ tweet. She also wrote an article endorsing a definition of antisemitism that excluded the Jew/Nazi comparison and supports Jeremy Corbyn despite the vast majority of Jews considering him to be an antisemite.
‘During the Gaza ‘return marches’ of 2018, during which thousands of Palestinian protesters were shot and around 200 were killed by the Israeli army, the Gnasher account promoted IDF propaganda. The account sought to justify extreme violence against protesters, coordinated with Israel advocacy groups such as StandWithUs, and accused critics of the IDF of antisemitism. LAAS activists also sprang to the army’s defence.’
There is ample evidence that a significant proportion of the ‘protestors’ were members of terrorist organisations or terrorist sympathisers. Here are the instructions given to so-called ‘protesters’:
David Collier’s undercover exposure of ‘Palestine Live’ revealed Greta Berlin giving an entirely different account of the Mavi Marmara affair than the one she had given in public. In public she had said that the IDF commandos had fired first “on sleeping civilians at four in the morning”. But in Palestine Live she admitted that the violence was initiated by Ken O’Keefe who grabbed a gun from one of the commandos. This was exposure of a lie, not a ‘justification’.
‘Luis’ twists the Philipps tweet in a similar manner. Philipps simply pointed out that Airbnb was acting inconsistently by ceasing to take bookings for rentals in Judea/Samaria but continuing to take bookings for other conflict areas.
‘The watchdogs have leaned heavily on the research of David Collier, a citizen journalist who embodies the erasure of any boundary between the two causes of fighting antisemitism and pro-Israel advocacy. The majority of Collier’s work has been concerned with seeking to discredit pro-Palestinian advocacy, which he refers to as “Palestinianism”, and a “disease” that is inherently antisemitic’.
Another unevidenced statement from ‘Luis’ – unevidenced because it’s a lie. David Collier’s work (particularly in exposing Palestine Live but also in other blogs) makes it clear that much of what passes for pro-Palestinian advocacy is deeply antisemitic – moreover not solely in terms of calling Israel a racist state but in terms of Rothschild conspiracies, Jewish power, Holocaust denial and the like.
‘Collier once described his mission as “showing everybody how toxic our enemies are”. Collier rarely distinguishes between criticism of Israel and antisemitism, to the point that he considers human rights groups that document mistreatment of Palestinians, such as Amnesty International, to be antisemitic’.
This is obviously a lie. Not only does David Collier accept (as does the IHRA Definition and LAAS ) that ‘criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic’, he excludes Israel-based antisemitism from his analysis, thus isolating Rothschild conspiracies, Jewish power, Holocaust denial and the like. As for Amnesty International, it has hosted antisemite Ben White and appears to have a policy of deliberately ignoring antisemitism.
‘While any Labour member should be willing to take reports of antisemitism in the party seriously, it is too much to ask them to embrace the cause of a state practicing a 50-year occupation, a dual legal system that non-partisan observers have called Apartheid, and a brutal siege of Gaza that has caused a dire humanitarian crisis.’
In order to expose antisemitism against British Jews, LAAS does not need to first comment on a foreign conflict in order to be evaluated as worthy. Secondly, the clue is in the name – Labour against Antisemitism – comments are purely about antisemitism in the Labour Party, not the perceived unfairness of foreign conflicts.
‘Conversely it is asking too much to expect Labour members to consider solidarity with subjugated Palestinians to be illegitimate or racist.’
No LAAS volunteer has ever said that support for Palestinians is ‘illegitimate or racist’. It is perfectly possible to express support for the Palestinians without being antisemitic.
‘Gnasher and LAAS activists have repeatedly attacked Jewish comedian and campaigner Marlon Solomon, who performs a popular show on antisemitism, for maintaining ties with Labour and Momentum.’
This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the exchanges. See for example here and here. They are legitimate and valuable debates about the appropriate way to confront antisemitism in Labour and about the motivation for conversions to Judaism. And see tweet below – hardly an ‘attack’!
‘David Schneider has become a favoured punchbag, including for non-Jewish LAAS activists, despite a long record of challenging antisemitism on the left’.
First – why is the religion of LAAS activists relevant? It isn’t. Second – has Luis read this article by Schneider written nearly a year ago? (‘But I do believe that now, finally, the leadership realises it has a serious problem and is prepared to tackle it’). The word ‘punchbag is pejorative and completely inappropriate for reasoned criticism.
‘Jewish lawyer and commentator Adam Wagner also become a persona non grata for diverging from the groups’ hardline positions’.
See above (Wagner’s endorsement of ‘Luis’ article). In addition Wagner equivocated on the case of the Holocaust Denier Alison Chabloz. Moreover the LAAS Twitter account has never tweeted about Wagner.
‘LAAS’ Hoffman often works with with far right-friendly Islamophobes such as Ambrosine Shitrit and Sharon Klaff.
Standing in the same demonstration as someone does not imply an endorsement of all their views. If it did then thousands of Remain supporters would be tarred with the same brush as Anjem Choudary.
‘Both Gnasher and LAAS activists have a long working relationship with the pair (Shitrit tweets as @AntisemitismEye).’
The tweet that ‘Luis’ uses to evidence this ‘long working relationship’ is reproduced below.
The truth (see redacted Facebook conversation below) is that Gnasher was warning Shitrit that a violent threat had been made to her, and that she should go to the police.
LAAS has no relationship with either of the people inferred by Luis and s/he provided no evidence to substantiate the claim.
This is nonsense and there is not a shred of evidence to support it. Moreover it is offensive – the founder of LAAS, Denny Taylor, is of mixed race Arabic heritage. He has suffered racist abuse from the far Right and allegations of involvement with Tommy Robinson are very upsetting for him.
‘Philipps praised James Goddard’s thugs for abusing Owen Jones on College Green, equivocated when the commentator was attacked again by the same movement, and has taken to attacking Hope not Hate’s work exposing fascists.’
Philipps didn’t praise these people. He tweeted a tweet by someone saying that a crowd on TV had chanted that Owen was a ‘wanker’. This was before it was revealed who they were. His tweet said that ‘The people have spoken’. He later deleted it and apologised.
As for Hope Not Hate, Philipps and many others have pointed out that Hope Not Hate focuses disproportionately on far-Right antisemitism as opposed to far-Left and Islamist antisemitism. Their recent report entitled State of Hate 2019 was over 100 pages long; only 4 or 5 of those pages were devoted to antisemitism on the Left and a similar number to Islamist extremism.
‘The Gnasher/LAAS approach has little chance of actually reducing antisemitism. By demonising Labour members and the movement as a whole based on poorly-sourced denunciations, they merely force warring factions back into their trenches, with no hope of education or understanding where it is sorely needed. False accusations of course undermine genuine grievances. These groups’ approach entrenches a hugely dangerous and divisive narrative of Labour against Jews, and they appear determined to make the struggle against antisemitism a battlefield rather than a dialogue.’
Gnasher/LAAS have been outstandingly persistent and successful in documenting and identifying antisemitism in Labour and have submitted over 1200 reports. The failure to reduce antisemitism in Labour lies with the leadership, the broader party establishment and the party’s structural processes – which is why the EHRC has initiated an enquiry. And what on earth does ‘Luis’ mean by suggesting that the fight against antisemitism should be a dialogue? With what other racists does ‘Luis’ propose having a ‘dialogue’?
The blog post by Luis is disingenuous and mendacious
It’s seemingly designed to protect the Labour Party from committed volunteers who have dedicated their time, energies and, on occasion, personal security to challenge the racial hatred against Jews that appears to be institutionally embedded within the party.
Let’s sign off with this, please read the whole thread ….