Waterstones cancels launch for book on Labour and anti-Semitism

The authors of Bad News for Labour launch their book in Brighton. (Jews Sans Frontieres)

A new book about anti-Semitism allegations in the Labour Party has been censored during the UK opposition party’s annual conference.

An event on Monday evening in Brighton, on the south coast where the conference is being held, was canceled by the Waterstones book chain. A local branch of the chain was supposed to host the launch of Bad News for Labour.

Pluto Press, the book’s publisher, said that the event had been canceled “due to external pressure put on the store.”

An alternative venue was arranged at the last minute for the event, at which renowned left-wing film director Ken Loach had been due to speak.

The launch went ahead at the Rialto Theatre in Brighton instead.

Another launch for the book successfully took place in London last week.

Waterstones claimed the cancellation was down to “reasons out of our control” but did not comment when asked to be more specific.

Greg Philo, one of the five academics who wrote the book, told The Electronic Intifada that “the Brighton store has had a barrage of abusive emails, phone calls and tweets about the event.”

Anti-Palestinian groups had been quick to incite against the book.

Sussex Friends of Israel, a small group with intimate ties to the Israeli government, has been Tweeting smearing the authors as anti-Semitic.

In addition to Philo, the book was written by academics Mike Berry, Justin Schlosberg, Antony Lerman and David Miller.

Lerman is the founder of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

Philo and Berry commissioned polling and focus groups comparing the public’s perception of the level of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party with actual figures of alleged anti-Semitism reported to the party apparatus.

Party figures state that even allegations are less than 1 percent of the membership.

But the polling shows that the public on average thinks that 34 percent of Labour members have been accused of anti-Semitism. The book examines the reasons for this huge discrepancy.

Philo and Berry also wrote Bad News From Israel, a book using similar methodology, examining the UK broadcast media’s biases against Palestinians and in favor of Israel.

The Israel lobby has been busy calling for left-wing events around Labour’s annual conference this week to be censored.

Jewish Voice for Labour hosted a fringe event at the conference about Palestine with former Palestinian member of the Israeli Parliament Haneen Zoabi. Its first venue was canceled, co-chair Leah Levane said.

Co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement Omar Barghouti was forced to address the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s fringe meeting via Skype on Monday.

The British government blocked his appearance by holding up his visa.

Jeremy Corbyn himself seemed to contribute to the censorious atmosphere on Monday. Posting on social media, he claimed a cartoon by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff was “anti-Semitic.”

Ironically, the cartoon had – accurately – accused Israel and its lobby of deploying false allegations of anti-Semitism to censor Palestine rights campaigning.

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Comments

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The Corbyn angle is depressing. Has he completely capitulated?

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No, but he believes the best way to deal with the accusations is to play them down. He thinks a head-on argument with the Zionists will play into their hands. He may be right. Time will tell.

But we are not leaders of political parties. We can, should, and do take the Zionists head-on.

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Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist and associate editor with The Electronic Intifada. He lives in London. Biography here.