Venturing into the lion’s den: the case against IPSO

Jonathan Coulter describes the weaponisation process, the targeting of the Labour Party and his own experience in challenging media distortions.   He seeks to explain why this is happening, and goes on to suggest how pro-Palestinian rights activists can push back, in alliance with other groups.

Britain’s acquiescence with the weaponisation of antisemitism; can we really be so daft?

I recently launched a Judicial Review of the press regulator IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation) for failing to heed a group complaint about two Murdoch newspapers which had grossly misreporIPSO logoted a House of Lords meeting to launch the campaign for Britain to apologise for the impact on the native Palestinian people of the Balfour Declaration of 1917.   Between them, the newspapers had smeared a whole meeting of Palestine sympathisers as ‘antisemitic’ and, by implication anybody who spoke at or attended similar meetings.

In this endeavour I worked closely with the Hacked Off Campaign.  Hacked Off has no position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but supported me as it considers IPSO to be a ‘sham regulator’ that the press barons established to protect their own interests, and not those of the public, and because it felt that my specific complaints had merit and were important.

As I explained in my letter to supporters, we achieved much in getting a judge to accept the case ‘on the papers’.  However another judge who heard the case on April 17th took a very different tack, raising a question over the court’s jurisdiction, and ruling against me on the grounds I had raised.   The judge in effect declared that IPSO’s rules, written by the press industry, gave IPSO discretion to do exactly as it wanted within those rules.

Notwithstanding this setback, the issues are very much alive, and another person has made a related complaint to IPSO, this time about scurrilous articles in the Jewish Chronicle.

The context – a battle on British soil

When, about a decade ago, I started researching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I soon concluded that it was being fought out at least as much in Western countries as in the Middle East.   This had been the case from the beginning, because Zionist doctrines originated in 19th Century Europe and it was Britain that issued the famous Balfour Declaration during World War I.  In accordance with the colonial thinking of the time, Europeans (gentiles and Jews alike) tended to see Palestine rather like a blank canvas on which they could carry out their own designs.

Since World War Two, first Zionists and then the state of Israel tirelessly and successfully used spin and PR to bring the western nations behind Israel.   Israel was presented variously as ‘a plucky David facing the Arab Goliath’, ‘a tolerant and democratic country in a tough neighbourhood’, and, as always ‘responding to Arab/Palestinian aggression’ rather than as an aggressor in its own right.  However, as the decades of occupation drew on, western perceptions as to the identity of David and Goliath became confused or often reversed, and so the ‘hasbara’ wore thin.

It is in this context of declining credibility that Israel and its western advocates have truly weaponised the concept of ‘antisemitism’ in Western countries, and particularly in the UK, the country with one of the strongest Palestine Solidarity movements.   There have been two major features of this:

  • Their repeated, and often successful, attempts to get western Governments and public institutions to adopt bogus or dodgy definitions of the term ‘antisemitism’ that conflate it with legitimate criticism of Israel and its supporters, and to force this on public institutions such as universities and local governments.
  • A powerful media campaign smearing as ‘antisemitic’ those who are critical of Israel.

As soon as it became known that Jeremy Corbyn, a known supporter of Palestinian rights, was likely to become leader of the Labour Party (and potentially Prime Minister), the Labour Party, and particularly Corbyn supporters, became leading targets of these denunciations.  The campaign has been unremitting, reaching peaks before the local elections of 2016 and 2018 and at the time of Labour’s Autumn Conference in Blackpool. My case against IPSO was closely related to this, as I along with 29 co-complainants had witnessed the press smearing people involved in the Balfour apology campaign.

The process of weaponisation has been amply exposed on the pages of ‘Free Speech of Israel’ and elsewhere.  Suffice it for me to say that the strategy has been crude and obvious, and the reasoning full of holes.   Hugh Tomlinson’s legal opinion laid bare the inadequacy of the IHRA Definition of antisemitism which the British government had ‘adopted’.   As for antisemitism within the Labour Party, I have seen no body of evidence demonstrating that the party has a special problem that would justify singling it out from other sections of British society and parroting denunciations across the media.  Indeed statistical evidence shows that antipathy towards Jews across UK society is minor compared to that felt towards some other religious and ethnic groups, and that it is strongest on the far right.

Why is this happening?

This is the question that really intrigues me.  Why is British society and the political establishment allowing this noxious campaign to proceed?  And how can it happen in a country like the UK, that has a track record in standing up to the threats and abuse of foreign powers?  I get a sense of cognitive dissonance about public morality; on the one hand, I see British people doing a vast amount of more-or-less selfless voluntary work for an array of different causes, while at the same time they seem spineless in the face of political manipulation.  Are we a fickle people, or is something else going on?

I have sounded out a variety of politicians and public figures, and have spoken to others who have made similar soundings, and can identify five explanatory factors:

  • The sheer intensity of campaigning and the extent of the lobby’s reach, from right to left. Other lobbying groups, e.g. militant Brexiteers, manage to get fiercely propagandistic and pejorative lines adopted in certain newspapers, notably The Mail and The Telegraph.  However, Israel appears to have greater reach and as it can get favourable coverage across the board, including outlets such as the Guardian and the BBC.  Here it is worth noting a comment by the journalist Nick Davies in his ground-breaking book, ‘Flat-Earth News’ (p122-125);  he refers to the Israel lobby as an ‘electric fence’ of which journalists seek to steer clear for fear of getting powerful electric shocks, including a phone that never stops ringing.
  • The poor performance of the media. Some of this must be put down to anti-left and pro-Israel biases among the media barons, but at least as much can be attributed to mechanistic failings within the press.   Here Nick Davies shows that the media lack the journalistic resources to research and check most of their stories, for which reason they have increasingly relied on a burgeoning PR industry to deliver stories ‘on a plate with a sprig of parsley on top’.  Israel and its supporters are well equipped to provide this in in timely fashion.  He also points to a range of ‘rules of production’ including ‘avoiding the electric fence’ (see above), selecting ‘safe ideas’, going ‘with the moral panic (see below)’, and the ‘Ninja turtle syndrome’, all of which tend to bias journalists away from arguments that upset powerful lobbies and established ideas (see p109-153).
  • The fear factor: faced with potential media smears, British politicians and public figures prefer to keep their heads below the parapet for self-preservation or so that they can fight other political battles.  This is understandable if, as stated by Jackie Walker, accusations of antisemitism are as damaging to one’s reputation as being called a pedophile or a murderer.   However, legitimate fear can morph into cowardice.  At present in Britain, after all, opposing Israel can’t cost you your life, unlike the situation in my wife’s country in Central America, where standing up for human rights can result in a ‘sicario’ on a motorbike putting a bullet in your head.
  • Political opportunism. The weaponisation of antisemitism against Corbyn has proved useful to his opponents on the Labour right and to other parties.   A host of politicians have jumped on this band-waggon without looking closely at the evidence and forgetting that they have a duty to protect British citizens (whether political allies or foes) against the intrigues of a foreign power.
  • Moral panic. Stan Cohen advanced this concept in his study ‘Folk Devils and Moral Panics’ (1972) to explain a media storm and other events after a clash between ‘mods and rockers’ on a beach in 1964. He described a process whereby: (a) the ‘folk devil’ is symbolised in an oversimplified narrative; (b) facts are exaggerated and distorted, fuelling a ‘moral crusade’, and; (c) further immoral actions on the part of the folk devil are anticipated.   We can see a similar, but much more damaging, pattern in the history of witch-hunts against minorities including: the Roman persecution of Christians, blamed for military reverses; medieval targeting of Jews for dark, murderous practices; 16th and 17th century witch-craft trials in protestant Europe and North America; the McCarthyist anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s, and; the current campaign about Labour antisemites.   Witch-hunts can put public figures under massive pressure to conform to the moral crusade, and can cause doubters or opponents to ‘bend in the wind’ so as to limit the political damage.  I find this in President Eisenhower’s failure to act promptly against Senator Joseph McCarthy, and in Jeremy Corbyn and some other public figures’ unwillingness to call out the role of pro-Israel lobbyists in the campaign against the Labour Party.
It’s time to build a truly national campaign

This problem could be tackled were a group of leading public figures and politicians to join hands and mount a national campaign to expose the reality about antisemitism smears, but fears and opportunism presently combine to prevent this.   So it is up to pro-Palestinian rights activists to develop a strategy that can attract the necessary support.   Here are some ideas.

A high percentage of these activists are on the left, which I find unsurprising; I first noted the left’s tendency to speak up vigorously on international injustices when the Vietnam War was raging.   As we see above, the Labour left needs to defend itself against pro-Israeli smears, but this means reaching out to other parts of the political spectrum, beyond its own echo-chambers.  It takes a little thought to realise that the cause of Free Speech on Israel has enormous unexploited potential in the centre of British politics and even right of centre.

If we look at the centre, one of the leading political causes is currently the reform of press regulation.  This is being led by the Hacked Off Campaign where we see an alliance of Labour figures like Ed Milliband and Tom Watson, Lib Dems, and rebel Tories like Lord Attlee and Kenneth Clark; it also enjoys strong support in the House of Lords.  The present Government has managed to narrowly block proposed amendments to the Data Protection Bill which would have put the second part of the Leveson Inquiry back on track.  However, a change in Government or voter arithmetic will put it straight back on the parliamentary agenda.

I tend to see the cause of ‘Free Speech on Israel’ as a subset of the Hacked Off Campaign.   Both causes seek remedies to media abuse and inaccuracies, while both struggle with politicians’ acute fear of the media, a point that both Ed Milliband and Kenneth Clark hammered home in the 9th May Commons debate on the Data Protection Bill.

Excerpts from the 9th May House of Commons Debate on the Data Protection Bill

Edward Milliband:  Now I will answer the question asked by the hon. Member for Wellingborough. I set out the reasons adduced by the press and, indeed, the Government for the cancellation of this inquiry, but let us be absolutely honest: there is one overriding reason for the Government’s decision to abandon it, and that needs to be discussed. It is quite simple. It is fear: fear about the wrath of the press. That is why the Government have made this decision. The press do not want the inquiry to go ahead, and the Government fear attacks on them by the press. That is why the last Labour Government did not take action against the press: they too feared the consequences. But what did we also say after 2011? We said, ‘Never again will we succumb to fear and make the wrong decisions, which are not in the public interest.’

Kenneth ClarkeIn the present mad climate of political debate, I think that quite a lot of people—for one reason or another, as has always been the case in politics—are currying favour with the proprietors and editors of newspapers, or are fearful of those proprietors and editors. It is difficult to deny that that may have played a part in the sudden decision that we do not want to know any more about matters such as relationships between the police and the press.

Source:  Hansard

To date much of Hacked Off’s campaigning has been about press abuse of individuals and families, both with or without police complicity.  The names of victims such as Dowler, McCann, Hollins and Grant come to mind.  However the Campaign is even larger than this, and is concerned with the press repeatedly smearing large groups of people, like Muslims or immigrants, something that tends to silence dissenting voices and prevent the country from debating topics in a rational manner.   It is therefore hardly surprising that the Campaign worked with me on my complaint against IPSO.

We need to build on this bridge, with a view to achieving two key aims:

  • to make the press answerable for individual abuses, and patterns of abuse (something that will require a regulator with investigative powers), and;
  • to drastically reduce the cost to ordinary people of securing redress from the press (Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 could provide for this through low-cost arbitration).

For those to the ‘right of centre’ of British politics, the most compelling cause of recent years has been Brexit, which is popularly represented as ‘getting our country back’ from an encroaching European Union – in my view deeply erroneous and sometimes disingenuous argument that ignores the voice that the EU has given Britain in international affairs.  Another topic on which we hear every day is the Russian threat to our external and internal security – this time I believe with some justification.

But while the European Union and Russia win the titles of ‘top bogeymen’,  we should simultaneously consider the threats posed by the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel, all of them countries that Britain often goes out of its way to please despite their acting against our best interests.   Israel has interfered egregiously and with impunity in our internal affairs on multiple occasions, including the move to ‘take down’ our Deputy Foreign Secretary.  Defending national sovereignty is a legitimate aim, but rather than simply focusing on the bogeymen, we need to search for rational ways to maximise it overall, given threats we face on different sides.

In conclusion

We British should first unambiguously acknowledge we have allowed ourselves to be manipulated in a way that has undermined our freedom of expression in matters that affect Israel.  The aggressive weaponisation of antisemitism follows a series of propaganda initiatives since the 1940s, and has brought out some of our worst characteristics, notably a widespread willingness to constantly appease and hope things will blow over.  But this only whets the Lobby’s appetite and results in further bullying and manipulation.   We only have ourselves to blame for this, so it is time to say enough is enough, and work together to reclaim liberties for which our forebears struggled.

If we can create the necessary space for free speech and rational debate, we can contribute much to the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it will have positive knock-on effects on our relationships with Arabs and Muslims generally.  In order to accomplish this, we should in particular get behind the Hacked-Off Campaign that seeks to hold the media accountable for what it publishes on a wide range of topics, ranging from intrusive reporting into the affairs of vulnerable people to the smearing of entire categories of people.

Jonathan Coulter is 69, retired, and has spent his career in overseas development, in jobs which have involved much travel.  It has made him a passionate advocate for foreign policies that are just and coherent, and for accurate reporting.   He is currently Newsletter Editor for Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (www.ldfp.eu).

FSOI regrets Ken Livingstone’s resignation from the Labour Party

Free Speech on Israel deeply regrets that Ken Livingstone has been driven out of the Labour Party by a concerted campaign of misrepresentations of what he said. FSOI has always stood beside Ken and his statement on resignation clearly lays out why we have been right to do so. He is demonstrably not an antisemite but his opponents want to use his case to intimidate the rest of us into silence on Israel’s crimes. They will fail.

STATEMENT FROM KEN LIVINGSTONE

21 May 2018

After much consideration, I have decided to resign from the Labour Party. Continue reading “FSOI regrets Ken Livingstone’s resignation from the Labour Party”

The Israel Lobby, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Abuses of Antisemitism

Richard Silverstein assesses how the campaign to demonise Jeremy Corbyn as an antisemite was promoted and developed and how it parallels attempts to discredit progressive US politicians.

Reprinted by permission from Tikun Olam

Ever since Jeremy Corbyn became a serious contender for Labour Party leader and later when he ran a surprisingly competitive election campaign, the UK Israel Lobby has been sharpening the knives against him. He is insufficiently pliant to Israeli interests. He is not subservient to the Lobby in the way previous Labour Party leaders have been. In addition, UK Jews are overwhelmingly Tory voters, so the prospect of a genuinely left-wing Party leader has given them the willies.  It has motivated the UK Lobby to escalate its efforts.

jeremy corbyn seder
Jeremy Corbyn attends Passover seder with the “bad Jews” of Jewdas

The accusations of antisemitism came right from the beginning, and they haven’t ceased for a second. They come in waves, all orchestrated by the Board of Deputies, the Israeli embassy, Bicom and their ancillary lobbying entities.

jeremy corbyn false anti semitism claims jewish chronicle

Typical screaming anti-Corbyn, anti-Labour Jewish Chronicle headline

When one wave of accusations recedes, another one comes along. This campaign is readily facilitated by the UK press.  Of Course the Tory tabloids and broadsheets like the Sun, Mirror, Mail and Telegraph offer screaming headlines about the fatal scent of anti Semitism in the ranks of Labour. Even supposedly liberal papers like the Guardian have lent their pages to the fulsome fusillades.

U.S. publications like the NY Times, not to be outdone, sic their pro Israel columnists on Corbyn’s alleged fatal flaw of Jew-hatred. We even witnessed the spectacle of an attack from resident pro Israel scribe, Bret Stephens.  Bari Weiss can’t be far behind.

Among the latest charges: that several Corbyn insiders belong to a 2,000 member private Facebook group which has published antisemitic comments.  So get this, several key figures in Corbyn’s circle either joined and were joined (depending on how your permissions are configured, sometimes Facebook Friends can sign you up for a group without your even approving it) were members of a group of 2,000 people among whom there were unspecified members who posted antisemitic material.  Corbyn’s folks didn’t post these comments.  In fact, we don’t even know if any of them posted even a single comment in the group.  None of them commented upon, liked or approved of the antisemitic posts.  So what exactly is the offense?  That they didn’t take the offending member out and shoot him?  Or that they didn’t denounce the rhetoric?  How could they if they didn’t participate in the group?  What does it mean that you are listed as a member of the social media group?  That you are personally responsible for every word published there?  Nonsense.

Angela Smiiht's tweet about Corbyn attending Jewdas seber (sic)
Angela Smiiht’s tweet about Corbyn attending Jewdas seber (sic)
The wrong sort of seder

The latest charge is a real doozy: after Corbyn asked to meet with the UK’s communal leadership, it refused unless he submitted to a series of conditions which were ridiculous and oppressive.  Instead, Corbyn chose to spend the Passover seder with a group of far more congenial UK Jews, progressives as well.  The members of Jewdas, a left-wing ant-Zionist group which opposes the mandarin Zionist leadership.  Well, the Jewish Chronicle and Deputies got wind of this and went to town.  They passed it on to the Blairites wing of the Labour Party and before you know it renegade MPs were denouncing Corbyn’s breaking matza with Jewish antisemites.

Guess what happened next? The UK Israel Lobby thought better of their shameless posturing and accepted Corbyn’s invitation to meet…with no conditions.  Exactly the approach they should’ve adopted from the beginning.  So Jeremy Corbyn and Jewdas taught the Lobby derech eretz, an ancient Jewish custom of showing decency to your fellow human being.

What especially irks me is hearing non-Jewish, non-progressive MPs telling Corbyn and the rest of us who are the good Jews and who are the bad.  And using a yardstick that has nothing to do with Judaism or Jewishness and everything to do, not just with Israel, but with an ultra-nationalist Likudist vision of Israel.  Excuse me, but Moses didn’t come down from Mt. Sinai with tablets on which the Zionist creed was inscribed.  He came down with Ten Commandments, which taught us as Jews how to be decent, ethical human beings.  Not good Zionists, but good humans.  That’s Jewdas’ vision and mine as well.  Maybe it’s yours too.

Strangely, though the charges are articulated in a fashion which assumes they pose a self evidently fatal blow to Corbyn, they aren’t. He bounces back as strong as ever. In fact, if anything, these scurrilous attacks ricochet and strike at the ones who launched them. Corbyn soldiers on, gaining support from quarters impervious to the traditional gutter snipe politicking of the tabloid press.

U.S. Israel Lobby Levels Antisemitism Charges Falsely at African-American Progressive Democrats

The Brits are not the only ones suffering from this ridiculous malady. Here in the U.S., our very own homegrown Israel Lobby and its media organs like the Algemeiner, Jewish Press, Washington Free Beacon, etc., stand like sentinels in the night protecting us from the anti Semites lurking among us.

The problem is that they always manage to dig up the usual suspects, and for some strange reason they’re always Democrats. Not just any Democrats, but progressive Democrats, least beholden to Israeli interests and the power of the Lobby. They are often African Americans, as well.

These attacks harken back to an era when Blacks and Jews first diverged from their mutual embrace of the civil rights agenda of the 1960s. Beginning in 1967, many Jews drew away from the Black struggle for justice and were drawn into Israel’s nationalist euphoria after its victory in what was called the Six Day War. This was also the era when Meir Kahane first developed his racist, nationalist platform, which is now triumphal within Israeli politics.

Ever since this period, pro Israel Jewish communal leaders have viewed the community’s interests as divergent from, and even inimical to the Black community’s. We saw this most clearly in the campaign by wealthy, white Jewush leaders to cast suspicion on Barack Obama’s bona fides as a supporter of Israel. He was called closet Muslim, anti Israel and even anti Semitic by some. The pages of the Jewish Forward were even filled with such false and provocative ads paid for by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Nothing Obama did could assuage the naysayers and doomsayers. Though he was a traditional Democratic presidential candidate, captive to the Lobby, none of it did any good. The Lobby, under the influence of its Likud masters in Israel never warmed to him.

Even worse after Obama left office, Lobby groups like the ADL are suggesting he should apologize for being photographed in 2007, before he even ran for president, at a Congressional Black Caucus luncheon with Louis Farrakhan. Thankfully, Obama has ignored such nonsense.

Things are, if anything , worse with Bernie Sanders. A true populist, though with a strong pragmatic streak, he is seen as far too independent for the Lobby. His views on Israel, though calibrated in an extremely cautious fashion (long time lib-Zio DC operative, Matt Duss, manages his Israel messaging), elicited extreme fear and loathing from the Lobby.

But there is one major problem it has in attacking him: he is Jewish. Not religiously Jewish. But Jewish in the traditional cultural-political sense. He’s a liberal Democrat from New York. He sounds like us, looks like us, and thinks like us. So the usual attacks don’t stick. Sanders too, has been careful to manage his Israel messaging (and I don’t mean this as a compliment). Though it is distinctly to the left of Obama’s, he is careful not to rock the boat too heavily. After all, his main issues are domestic and economic. He is not a foreign policy wonk. That’s not where his passions lie. So Bernie is not prepared to die politically on a hill called Israel.

false israel lobby attacks on ellison

False claims by Israel Lobby oligarchs like Saban against Ellison

But Bernie has political allies who aren’t as insulated as he is from such attacks. Take Rep. Keith Ellison, who ran unsuccessfully for Democratic Party chair. The Lobby went into full attack mode then. They dredged up decade old comments he’d made praising Louis Farrakhan.

In 2009, I’d reported on secret Justice department wiretaps of the Israeli embassy which showed that the Minneapolus JCRC was tracking Ellison’s visit to Gaza with WA Rep. Brian Baird, after the 2012 Gaza war. The JCRC in turn passed this data on to the Israeli embassy, which also monitored Ellison’s activities, along with those of fellow African-American Muslim Rep. Andre Carson.,

Ellison is a proud progressive with a national profile. He is not beholden to the Lobby. Therefore, he poses a threat. That’s why its minions have dredged up an an old story that Ellison attended s 2009 dinner hosted by Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani. Farrakhan attended the same dinner which was falsely reported by the Forward as a “private dinner” with the three of them. In fact, 150 guests attended and Farrakhan was seated across the room from Ellison.

What do we learn from this? That the Israel lobby in both the UK and U.S. is threatened by true progressives. They prefer pliant, conservative politicians who do what they’re told without argument. We also learn that these two Lobbies are racist and Islamophobic. They they are anti populist and anti-democratic. They prefer Tories and Republicans. They prefer oligarchs and the white, monied classes. In short, they disapprove of everything many of the rest of us stand for. Even the Jews among us. Especially the (progressive) Jews among us.

Read also: UK Labor Party Witch Hunt: “Are You Now or Have You Ever Been Anti-Zionist?”

Labour right’s failed attempt to smear leading Jewish activist

The suspension from the Labour Party of Glyn Secker, secretary of Jewish Voice for Labour, and his hurried reinstatement, goes to the heart of attempts by Labour’s right-wing bureaucracy to drive out supporters of the left led by Jeremy Corbyn. It demonstrates how they used smears, from overtly anti-Corbyn, anti-Palestinian sources, to try and make false antisemitism allegations stick.

This is an edited and updated extract from an OpenDemocracy article by Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, media officer of JVL

Glyn Secker captained the Jewish Boat to Gaza in 2010. He is a long-standing executive member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians. He is also a Unite trade union delegate to Dulwich and West Norwood (DaWN) Constituency Labour Party general committee and political officer for Herne Hill branch. He is one of those members of the Momentum grassroots movement backing Jeremy Corbyn who only recently managed to break the stranglehold of the Blairite “Progress” faction which had dominated DAWN for years. Continue reading “Labour right’s failed attempt to smear leading Jewish activist”

Help fund challenge to IPSO over refusal to condemn false accusations of antisemitism

Jonathan Coulter's judicial review application
Jonathan Coulter’s judicial review application

The ‘Independent’ Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) has refused to hold The Times and Sunday Times) to account. Both grossly misreported a public meeting to launch the Balfour Apology Campaign. They misrepresented the event as a sort of antisemitic ‘hate-fest’; this set the tone for other media reports. Thirty attendees complained to IPSO but IPSO failed to investigate properly.

Jonathan Coulter is seeking Judicial Review on three grounds:

  • the misreporting of the conduct of Baroness Tonge
  • IPSO made Insufficient inquiry
  • IPSO’s decision making was irrational

The Hacked Off campaign is supporting this challenge.

Judicial review is expensive

Support Jonathan’s crowdsourcing appeal

Continue reading “Help fund challenge to IPSO over refusal to condemn false accusations of antisemitism”

Ken Loach on Palestine: “don’t be distracted, just tell the truth”

Film maker Frank Barat interviews Ken Loach about recent allegations in The Guardian and New York Times which claim he gave “spurious legitimacy” to Holocaust denial and the refusal of these same newspapers to give him any opportunity to provide an adequate response

First published in Roar and reproduced by permission of the author

Continue reading “Ken Loach on Palestine: “don’t be distracted, just tell the truth””

Labour Conference or Nuremberg Rally? Assessing the evidence

Jamie Stern-Weiner

This article was first published on Jamie Stern-Weiner’s blog and is reprinted by permission of the author

It was difficult to ascertain on the basis of media reports whether Brighton played host this month to a Labour Party conference or a Nuremberg rally. This article investigates claims of antisemitism at the Labour conference and finds them to be without factual basis.

Labour v Nuremberg. Spot the difference: is it really so difficult?

The 2017 Labour Party conference was a success for supporters of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination.

Party leader Jeremy Corbyn snubbed a reception held by Labour Friends of Israel, a group which lobbies for close UK-Israel relations, and put enjoyably little effort into his excuse. According to the Telegraph, this ‘was the first time in over two decades that a Labour leader has not attended the annual event’.[1]

Delegates cheered as Corbyn’s keynote speech pledged ‘real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people, the 50-year occupation and illegal settlement expansion and move to a genuine two-state solution of the Israel-Palestine conflict’.

Most significantly, the leader’s office defeated a back-door attempt to neuter the party’s support for Palestinian rights: Continue reading “Labour Conference or Nuremberg Rally? Assessing the evidence”

FSOI Labour Conference Fringe Meeting

FSOI have just issued the this statement in response to the spate of attacks on us following our successful meeting in Brighton. It is a tribute to our growing effectiveness that so much abuse is being hurled at us.

Free Speech on Israel rebuts claims of Holocaust Denial

• Miko Peled did not endorse Holocaust Denial
• Entrapment and character assassination tarnish political life

Allegations that have been made that Free Speech on Israel, a Jewish-led organisation, is complicit in holocaust denial are a signal episode in the manufacture of fake news.

They are distortions based on highly selective quotations, ripped out of context, from a strong and principled speech by celebrated Israeli Army veteran and author Miko Peled at our fringe meeting at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton. These allegations, too readily re-broadcast by an insufficiently critical press, misrepresent the meaning and intention of his talk. His words, read in the flow of his speech, offer no support at all to holocaust denial. These tactics of attempted entrapment and character assassination tarnish the integrity of political life in Britain.

Free Speech on Israel always challenges Holocaust denial whenever it rears its head, just as we are resolute in our opposition to antisemitism. Like Miko we are equally determined to fight false accusations of antisemitism and their use to silence criticism of Israeli crimes or to suppress support for Palestinian rights.


If you are in Brighton for the Labour Conference please don’t miss our fringe meeting

How Israel Silences Its Critics: Why We Oppose the Witch Hunt

Monday 25 September                       12.30 pm
Friends Meeting House, Ship St Brighton BN1 1AF     

Miko Peled – The Israeli General’s SonMiko Peled The General's Son

Continue reading “FSOI Labour Conference Fringe Meeting”

I’m a British Jew, and I Don’t Fear a Corbyn Victory I’d Welcome It

Ha’aretz published two articles that totally misrepresented Jeremy Corbyn as an enemy of Jews and a poor choice for Prime Minister. Jonathan Rosenhead, vice-chair of FSOI responds.

This article originally appeared in Ha’aretz and is reprinted by permission of the author

The caricature of Jeremy Corbyn as a tool of Trotskyites, a lover of dictators and a shill of anti-Semites is unhinged and wrong

There is indeed a Jewish angle to Thursday’s UK general election. Come to that, there is a Jewish angle to most things of interest. But it is far from the most interesting feature of the election campaign. In their accounts of the election Colin Shindler (Can British Jews Still Vote Labour?) and Anshel Pfeffer (British Jewish Voters’ Choice: Anti-Semitism Today, or Tomorrow) manage both to mislead and confuse, and also to miss the big picture almost entirely.

Their portrayals are consistent – a caricature of the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as a lover of dictators, leading a team of ex-communists and fellow travellers, at the head of a party engulfed by hard-left entryists

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

and infiltrators. His followers have an anti-Semitic reflex, which Corbyn doesn’t ‘get’ as an issue.

All of which raises a big mystery – how is it that the more the British public gets to see Jeremy Corbyn relatively unmediated by the media and its commentators, the more they seem to like him? Continue reading “I’m a British Jew, and I Don’t Fear a Corbyn Victory I’d Welcome It”

Three “Wise” Monkeys Throttle Palestinian Hunger Strikers off the Airways

Glyn Secker

There has been an unprecedented blackout by the British broadcast media on the Palestinian Hunger Strikers and their protest against detention without trial, rigged courts, their illegal deportation to prisons in Israel, the denial of family visits and food parcels.

On 17 April 2017 the Palestinian leader Mawan Barghouti, from his prison cell, issued the following statement to the NY Times:

The eldest of my four children in now a man of 31. Yet here I am, pursuing this struggle for freedom alongside with thousands of prisoners, millions of Palestinians and the support of so many around the world.

 

Even the Apartheid Wall says Free Marwan Barghouti
Even the Apartheid Wall says Free Marwan Barghouti

Continue reading “Three “Wise” Monkeys Throttle Palestinian Hunger Strikers off the Airways”