As the UK goes to the polls in local elections Thursday, the witch hunt against critics of Israel in the Labour Party continues.
I was invited onto Turkish satellite channel TRT World to debate the issue. You can watch the program in the first half of the YouTube video above.
Unfortunately, the program was quite short and I was not given time to respond to some specific points. A section in which I explained more about the Vicki Kirby allegations did not make the edit.
For those details and more, read my piece on this.
The inquiry will report in two months time and is being led by Shami Chakrabti, the former director of human rights group Liberty. Her vice chair is Professor David Feldman, who leads the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-Semitism.
Although the announcement of the inquiry and suspension of Livingstone have led to a slight easing of the media hysteria, the witch hunt to purge the Labour Party of imaginary anti-Semites has continued this week.
Hours after being snitched on by Paul Staines, a hard-right gossip blogger known as Guido Fawkes, Labour’s Compliance Unit suspended several local councilors over years-old social media criticisms of Israel alleged to be anti-Semitic.
The sheer irrationality of the witch hunt is such that on Wednesday it purged a Jewish anti-racism activist of long standing.
Jackie Walker was suspended for Facebook postings condemning the slave trade and criticizing the current witch hunt.
Walker wrote on her Facebook in February that as a person of mixed heritage, her ancestors “were involved” in both the Nazi Holocaust and the slave trade. “Millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust,” she wrote, apparently describing the slave trade as a “holocaust.”
The Labour Representation Committee condemned the suspension “wholeheartedly and unreservedly” on Wednesday evening.
“A picture emerges of a leading pro-Israeli government organization trawling through the social media posts of Labour Party activists to brand ideas anti-Semitic when they are clearly not,” wrote the left-wing grouping. The LRC is chaired by John McDonnell, shadow finance minister and a key Corbyn ally.
“If they can do this to me they can do it to anyone,” Walker wrote Wednesday night.
On the TRT World segment, I was debating Padraig Reidy, editor of the Little Atoms blog. His contribution was a prime example of the shameless levels of lying in the media around all this.
Reidy claimed that “Diane Abbott, one of Mr. Corbyn’s closest allies in the party, said that any claim of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is a smear” (my emphasis).
What Abbott actually said on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday morning was: “Every single – there’s been I think 12 – allegation of anti-Semitism since Jeremy became leader has resulted in a suspension … Ken will have due process and the party will decide … it’s something of a smear against ordinary party members … to say that the Labour Party has a problem with anti-Semitism … 200,000 people have joined the Labour Party [since Corbyn became leader]. You’re saying that because there have been 12 reported incidents of hate speech online that the Labour Party is somehow intrinsically anti-Semitic?”
In his article on the Labour witch hunt Reidy claimed that even “the narrative of the ‘one percent’ ” is anti-Semitic.
“Do they meet up to make their plans?” he asked. “In a Prague graveyard at midnight perhaps?”
Reidy appears to have been referring to a novel by Umberto Eco, in which a plot to take over the world is supposedly discussed at a Jewish cemetery in the Czech city.
Reidy’s inference was that to refer in any way to the top one percent of earners in society (a slogan popularized by the Occupy Wall Street movement) is to invoke anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
So, according to Reidy, the entire left, including US presidential contender Bernie Sanders, are anti-Semites. Such sweeping allegations are not only baseless, but entirely damaging to real efforts to combat anti-Semitism.
Update: Graham Bash, Walker’s partner, has written in Labour Briefing condemning her suspension and calling on Labour members to email the party’s general secretary in protest.
Bash writes that “what is happening in the party today is an attempt to cynically use rare examples, and usually false allegations, of anti-Semitism as part of a McCarthyite witch hunt against supporters of Jeremy.”