‘Labour, Antisemitism and the News’: Fisking JVL Research

Jewish Voice for Labour is promoting this academic research on its website, by Dr Justin Schlosberg and Laura Laker.

The methodology is utterly shameful and shoddy:
1. State hypotheses which are clearly biased towards the Corbynite take on antisemitism;
2. Examine media reports to test conformity with these hypotheses;
3. Claim media bias when it is found not to conform to the hypotheses.

An analogy: ‘It is a fact that Mossad was responsible for 9/11.  All the media commentary that says otherwise is biased towards Israel.’

The jiggery-pokery begins on page 4 where the authors claim that a ‘Cohen’s kappa statistic’ score of .91 ‘indicates highly reliable findings’. No it does not!  It merely indicates that, using the skewed hypotheses, the two researchers come to similar conclusions about the 258 media units which they analyse.

Quel surprise. Of course this result has nothing to do with the bias of the hypotheses. Neither can it be explained by the inexperience as a student of antisemitism of Laura Laker, whose claim to fame is for cycling journalism. Highly unlikely that she would disagree with her colleague (a member of Jewish Voice for Labour, which exists to whitewash antisemitism in the Labour Party).

(NB the foregoing paragraph is ‘irony’ – which Zionists are not supposed to understand …….).

So what are the skewed hypotheses?

1. ‘Since its original formulation by the EUMC, the [IHRA] definition has been subject to considerable controversy and criticism by prevailing academic and legal opinion,  as well as dozens of Jewish organisations around the world.’

This is a lie. Critical legal ‘opinions’ have been commissioned by anti-Israel organisations: the Palestine Return Centre from Geoffrey Robertson QC;  Free Speech on Israel, Independent Jewish Voices, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign from Hugh Tomlinson QC.  Sir Stephen Sedley published a critical opinion which was not commissioned.  On the other side, the Campaign Against Antisemitism published a supportive legal opinion.  I am not aware of academic studies but if there are any, it’s a safe bet that they are hostile, given the prevailing anti-Israel rhetoric among humanities academics in the UK.  They would therefore be of little consequence.   As for ‘dozens of Jewish organisations around the world’, presumably he is referring to these: ‘Almost all the groups in the letter support BDS and are fighting to remove Israel from the map’.

2.  ‘According to an official response from the Labour Party, prior to 5 July the development of its code of conduct took place against the backdrop of “an open and inclusive consultation” in which “a range of Jewish communal organisations, rabbis, academics, lawyers, trade unions, Palestinian groups, local Labour parties and members took part”.’

A straight lie. Even if it was not a lie, what is the point of going through the motions of ‘consulting’, knowing full well that you are going to ignore the response?

3. ‘According to an official party spokesperson, the revised code of conduct was “positively received” by the Jewish Labour Movement (the largest Zionist Jewish group affiliated to the Labour Party) prior to 5 July.’Another falsehood.

Yet another example of the shoddy, blatantly biased anti-Israel drivel that is all too common from humanities academics at UK universities.



The Lynching: The anti-Israel herd at the Labour Conference yesterday

Yesterday the Labour Conference debated an anti-Israel motion.  The motion was passed though not unanimously. It isn’t necessarily binding on a future Labour government (though beware, Corbyn says he will be bound by Conference motions).  Of course it’s an ignorant nonsense:

1. It seeks an arms embargo on Israel. Israel has always acted in self-defence and within the law.

2. It seeks an end to the ‘illegal blockade and closure’ of Gaza. There is no ‘blockade’ or ‘closure’, truckfuls of  goods arrive every day, see the COGAT website.

Labour conf 2018 israel cogat
The only goods not allowed in are those used in making weapons – which is not an ‘illegal’ blockade, Israel has the right to defend its population.

3. It seeks an ‘independent international investigation into Israel’s use of force against Palestinian demonstrators’. We have information that at least on one day, 80% of the ‘demonstrators’ were members of terrorist organisations attempting to infiltrate into Israel and kill. There is no reason to believe that the composition of the ‘demonstrators’ on any other day was any different. Anyone with peaceful intentions would have known this and – if they valued life – should not have put themselves in danger.

4. It seeks higher UK contributions to UNWRA. UNRWA regards the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the 1948 refugees as refugees also: The only refugee category in the world whose status is perpetuated in this way. My great grandparents were refugees from Russia. I would not dream of claiming taxpayer-funded assistance from the UN.

But this blog is not about this absurd Israel-demonising motion.  It is about the PSC’s manipulation of the delegates who voted for it and their willingness to be manipulated. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign has hijacked the Labour Party and the TUC. Its Chair, Hugh Lanning, was Deputy General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), one of the largest trade unions. With many Jewish members having quit Labour and many who remain choosing to stay away from Conference, there was no-one to speak yesterday to expose the lies. Israel hate has become the glue that keeps the Corbynite left together, the totem pole around which it rallies, orchestrated by 50+ year olds who remember the campaign against apartheid and make entirely false comparisons with it.

If you want to see this manipulation illustrated, look no further than the two photos below.

labour liverpool 2018Labour conf 2018 Intl Affairs 4

The first one shows the Israel lynching sessions yesterday (well done to Paul Wilkinson who pointed out from the podium that it was against the rules to bring the flags into the hall, especially when he wasn’t allowed to unfurl an EU flag earlier in the day). Contrast it with the second one, which shows the attendance at the International Briefing on Monday morning, with at least two Shadow Cabinet members on the podium to answer questions (Emily Thornberry and Kate Osamor – does anyone know who the other two are? Nia Griffith?). The hall is virtually empty. 

Labour conf 2018 Intl Affairs
If delegates were really interested in the Middle East, would they not have gone to the International Briefing to increase their knowledge and ask relevant questions of the Shadow Ministers responsible? They could for example have asked Ms Thornberry about Labour’s policy towards Christians in the Middle East who are persecuted by Islamists, or about the genocide of the Yazidi on Mount Sinjar, or about the persecution of the Druze in Iraq and Syria, or about the demonisation of the Kurds by President Erdogan of Turkey. They could have enquired about Labour’s policy towards all these persecuted minorities in the Middle East. She might even have responded that the safest place for minorities in the region is …………….. Israel (I hear you laughing cynically – but miracles do sometimes happen, even for Labour Shadow Ministers). If those who waved Palestinian flags yesterday were genuinely interested in the Middle East, that is what they might have done, isn’t it?

But no. The plain fact is that the delegates who voted for the anti-Israel motion yesterday were a lynch-mob, a flock of sheep cynically manipulated by the PSC, waving the £6000 worth of flags they were given and voting to lynch Israel because either (a) they lacked the guts not to follow the herd or (b) they could not be bothered to learn the facts.

More photos here……..


We Love You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah: The ‘Illiterati’ in Liverpool

In an Exclusive, the Mail is reporting a dramatic and brilliant fightback against the institutional antisemitism in the Labour Party.

A new Jewish guerrilla activist group – which self-deprecatingly calls itself the ‘Illiterati’ – has left its stencil imprint in several places around Labour’s Israel hatefest (aka ‘Conference’) in Liverpool this week.

Remember these 21st Century Maccabees  as you watch the inevitable anti-Jewish racism at the ‘Palestine’ debate this afternoon……
illiterati 4illiterati 5

From the Mail article:

illiterati 1

illiterati 2illiterati 3



Soviet-style antisemitism funded by UK taxpayers

On 21 September 2018 The Revolutionary Communist Group (RCG) – together with ‘Victory to the Intifada’ – held this meeting:

meeting 21 Sept 1
The venue was Chadswell Healthy Living Centre near Kings Cross. This is owned by Camden Council and run by a Charity, the Kings Cross-Brunswick Neighbourhood Association (KCBNA) –  registered charity #1083901. It was clear from the notice for the meeting on Facebook that it would be antisemitic (assessed relative to the widely accepted (including by Camden) IHRA Definition).  Here is what the notice said: ‘The aim of the Zionists is to criminalise support for Palestinian resistance against Zionist occupation.’ The word ‘Zionist’ is used by antisemites as a substitute for ‘Jew’ because they think it immunises them against the charge of antisemitism. IHRA says this is antisemitic: ‘Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective.’

The Executive Director of the charity is a Labour Camden Councillor, Nasim Ali OBE. The Trustee Chair is the local Parish Priest, Father Chris Cawrse.

Because the venue is taxpayer-funded and the event seemed certain to be antisemitic, representations were made to KCBNA to cancel the booking. They refused but told the RCG that the meeting must not be antisemitic:
meeting 21 Sept 2
Look at the RCG’s response!
meeting 21 Sept 3

It is the fundamental right of every minority to state what is offensive.  Jews have expressed this in the IHRA Definition.  But the RCG fails to accept that Definition. It considers itself an anti-racist movement but thinks it can tell Jews what they should find offensive (as by the way does Jeremy Corbyn). Its claim to be ‘antiracist’ is therefore a sham. (I fisked the Sedley definition here).

I emailed Mr Ali and Fr Cawrse to tell them that RCG’s promise of ‘no antisemitism’ was a sham. A few hours before the meeting  I managed to speak to Mr Ali on the phone.  He absolved himself of responsibility for the decision to go ahead with the meeting, saying it was the Trustees who made the decision.  In corporate governance terms this is a nonsense. The Executive Director makes day-to-day policy decisions; the Trustees are there to provide strategic leadership. He said that the police, the Charity Commission and Camden Council had been consulted. How about the Board of Deputies of British Jews, I asked? The response was that other Jewish organisations had been consulted and were coming! And how come Camden adopts IHRA, only to fail to implement it?

I was unable to speak to Fr Cawse who was away due to a bereavement. I simply do not accept that a Camden Councillor who voted to adopt the IHRA Definition (and here)  can then go on to ignore the Definition when it comes to the charity of which he is CEO.  (What’s sauce for the goose ……..). Indeed that charity is partly funded by Camden Council!

Mr Ali promised me that if there was any antisemitism per IHRA, the meeting would be stopped. He was unable to tell me the name of the Chair of the meeting but told me that two Camden Council Prevent officers – Ali Alsaraf and Jane Murphy – would be in the meeting and would call for it to stop in the event of antisemitism.

Imagine my horror therefore on entering the meeting room to see the backcloth behind the speakers’ table:

meeting 21 Sept sign 2.JPG

It took 16 years to get the UN to expunge the infamous 1975 ‘Zionism Equals Racism” Resolution. IHRA states that it’s antisemitic to claim ‘that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor’. Mr Alsaraf and Ms Murphy did nothing to try to stop the meeting – not at the start and not later on, when antisemitism was voiced. Does Camden not provide training in antisemitism for its Prevent officers?

Campaign4Truth was at the meeting, you can see their videos here. The meeting began with a statement from the meeting Chair ‘Sam’ regarding the representations made to KCBNA to cancel the booking.   He said that Philip Rosenberg, the Director of Public Affairs of the Board of Deputies, ‘attempted to use his position of influence to ban this public meeting’. Rosenberg, he said, ‘claimed with no evidence that the meeting would be antisemitic. This is a reactionary attack on those who support Palestinian self-determination….. To suggest that the RCG is antisemitic is an outrageous slur’.

I shouted to ‘Sam’ that the cloth behind him was antisemitic. He threatened to throw me out (of course  – for Communists, ‘free speech’ only goes one way).

‘Sam’ thanked the organisations and people who had emailed KCBNA to support the holding of the meeting. You can guess who they were. Here are some he mentioned: Camden Abu Dis Friendship Society; Free Speech on Israel; Socialist Resistance; Geoffrey Bindman; Steve Hedley from the RMT trade union.

Additionally RCG had contacted the following for support: PSC; Labour Against the Witchhunt; International Jewish Antizionist Network; London Palestine Action; InMinds; Friends of Al Aqsa; Counterfire; Jewdas; SWP; Socialist Party.

‘Sam’ was not happy about the presence of the two Prevent Officers: ‘We are outraged that a Labour Council sees fit to send these officers to an antiracist pro-Palestinian meeting and we see this as a step towards political censorship….. We advise attendees … to treat these officers as if they are Police.’

The first speaker was ‘Witan’ (that’s how I heard the name, no family names were announced, neither were they included in the meeting announcement). (Addendum: He has been identified as probably Wesam Pinko). As might be expected from the RCG, he gave a history of Zionism which was thoroughly distorted through a Marxist prism. He said that Zionism is a racist ideology; that it was a middle-class movement; that the JNF leased land only to Jews; that the JNF head in the 1930s wanted to ‘transfer’ Arabs; that Israel has forcibly sterilised Ethiopian women; that the UN gave Israel  55% of the land when the Jewish population was only 30%; that Israel had expelled 800,000 ‘Palestinians’ in 1947-8; that the Nation State bill proved that Israel is an ‘Apartheid’ State.  All liberally laced with the usual ‘settler-colonialism’ and ‘imperialist’ references.

Five of these lies are antisemitic.  I corrected some of the lies in my intervention in the Q+A, see below. The ones I omitted were about the JNF (the policy of leasing land only to Jews ended long ago); sterilisation (simply a lie); the 55% reference (much of the land allocated to the Jews was desert); the Nation State accusation (a lie).

The second speaker was ‘Nicki’. I understand her name is Nicki Jameson.  She spoke about the IHRA definition and the tortured process by which Labour adopted it.

Here were her lies: The IHRA ‘has clauses which restrict or forbid criticism of Israel’; that there is a ‘Zionist propaganda machine’ which in 2008/9 complained to the BBC that its coverage was anti-Israel when 7 Israelis had died versus 2000 Palestinians; that Jeremy Corbyn did not lay wreaths for terrorists associated with the 1972 Munich massacre; that Rabbi Lord Sacks is ‘right wing’. I countered two of these lies in my intervention in the Q+A, see below.

There were two further lies which I will spell out because they were antisemitic. First came a denial of antisemitism: “The attacks on Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters were clearly spurious. It was clear that this was an attempt both by Zionists to assert their agenda and by right wing forces both inside and outside the Labour Party to use antisemitism to attack Corbyn”.  The second antisemitic lie came in the course of a denunciation of Jeremy Corbyn’s (hollow) apology for ‘occasionally appearing on platforms with people whose views I completely reject’.   ‘Nicki’ noted that this apology was made after the disclosure that Corbyn chaired the Hajo Meyer meeting in 2010. Castigating Corbyn for apologising, she said “Hajo Meyer had denounced the Zionists’ use of ‘the Nazi genocide of Jews to justify the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the State of Israel.’ This – the Zionists decided – was antisemitic. Even though it is historically what happened.”

In the Q+A there were only three speakers who were in any way critical of ‘Witan’ and ‘Nicki’s lies. I countered three of ‘Witan’s ‘ lies and two of ‘Nicki’s’.   Someone in the Q+A before me also lied about Khan al-Ahmar. I countered that one too.

You can see my intervention here (from -9.05) or here.  I obviously touched a nerve as the next speaker in the Q+A called me a ‘fascist’.

From the RCG supporters came a long attack on the Labour members of Newcastle City Council for adopting IHRA; a suggestion that Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Leader was linked to Mark Regev’s as Ambassador (!); a quote from a leftist Israel lawyer to the effect that Israel causes antisemitism; an impassioned response to Sharon Klaff (who rightly said that the RCG is tiny (it’s a spinoff from the SWP)) from Mr Green Sweater  (Update: identified as David Yaffe).

meeting 21 Sept 4

Small groups get bigger” he said and “I will not support people who murder hundreds and hundreds of children” (Truth: (1) Israel has achieved the lowest ever civilian:combatant ratio in asymmetric warfare (2) Israel endured months of attacks before countering (3)The RCG has 1,375 Twitter followers, hardly more than me (1,282). David Collier has 20,100. The RCG is going nowhere).

There was an extraordinary personal attack on me by Carol Foster (‘FootballAgainstApartheid’). Noting “I’m Jewish as well”, she attacked me for being a bad Jew and claiming to “speak for all Jews”. Slander of course, I have never claimed that (video here at 42.30).

She was followed by this person (allegedly his name is Dominic Scofield), who had been outside checking people in.

meeting 21 Sept 5
He simply read out the JVL blog suggesting that Kenneth Stern – one of the authors of IHRA – had subsequently condemned its use as a means to assess antisemitic speech.  Dave Rich of the CST has very effectively debunked this nonsense.

Gerry Downing also deserves a namecheck. You can see his intervention here at -40:00. Unsurprisingly he said he agreed with 90% of what the two speakers had said.

It seems that many in the room were supporters of Victory to the Intifada.

In conclusion, as Sharon Klaff said in her intervention (here at -32.58) I really don’t care if these Communists don’t like Jews. Israel is there, tg it’s thriving, it ain’t going anywhere. But I do care – and so should you – that they are able to express these vile Soviet-style views in a taxpayer-funded location courtesy of a charity which benefits from tax relief. Just as I care that there is nothing to stop these views being aired within the Parliamentary Estate, if an MP thinks it appropriate.

Jenny Manson Accuses Campaign Against Antisemitism of Bias

jh labour demo sept 18

                                       Photo: the Times

The reason I had a jacket and tie at the Labour Party NEC demo on 4 September was because I was booked to do a debate with Jenny Manson (JVL Chair) for BBC World News at 1.30. BBC World News is arms-length from the BBC. Its output cannot be viewed in the UK and is not on BBC I-Player. It is commercially funded. The BBC has strict rules about licensing clips for publication so I cannot publish the clip.  But I can publish the transcript:

Geeta Guru-Murthy: Well, to discuss this I’m joined by Jenny Manson of Jewish Voice for Labour and Jonathan Hoffman who’s a consultant to the Labour Against Antisemitism group. Thank you both for joining us. There is a crucial meeting going on right now with some protests outside. Jonathan, do you have confidence that the Labour Party leadership can satisfy your concerns and those of others now?

Jonathan Hoffman: Absolutely not. We hear that the Labour Party is going to adopt the additional four examples but with a qualification about free speech.  The IHRA definition does not need a qualification about free speech. It says that criticism of Israel, the same as any other country, is not antisemitic. We also hear that Labour is going to give an absolution to the 1200 people who need to go before the disciplinary committee for antisemitism and they’re going to absolve that. That is absolutely NOT satisfactory and the issues between the Jewish community and between Labour Against Antisemitism – which I represent – and the Labour Party will go on after today.

GG-M: Jenny Manson, there’s been a lot of criticism of Jeremy Corbyn, Seamus Milne, those at the very top of the Labour Party. Jeremy Corbyn is standing to be the next Prime Minister ……

Jenny Manson: Well I’d like to dispute four things that have been said so far very quickly.  I think Jeremy Corbyn has been accused cruelly and viciously. He is not an antisemite. That particular example you gave [in the lead-in]. His staff has checked. There were no  – erm – terrorists linked to the – er – the ….. Munich – er – em – er – killings. He had actually been there to – er – commiserate with the blowing up of – er – er – the HQ in 1985.

JH: That’s not correct.

JM: But let’s not go into that. Other points. The four examples were not ‘left out’ of the IHRA definition in the Code of Conduct.  They were rewritten to protect free speech. Now we get onto the question of free speech. It is needed. The example that Jonathan has just given comes from the preamble which says ‘it is not antisemitic to criticise Israel similar to other countries’. There are no equivalents in international criticism. If I was to criticise Saudi Arabia somebody could say why haven’t you said that China’s done the same thing? This is what we meet the whole time. And has IHRA stopped freedom? It has. There’s already been meetings closed down because of IHRA. But can I go back to Jeremy Corbyn…

GG-M: Isn’t the main point that Parliament is resuming, we’re facing Brexit, the biggest political question of our time in recent years and yet the Labour Party is bogged down in this internal dispute?

JM: That’s exactly what I wanted to talk about  today …

JH: That is horrific. The Labour Party’s bogged down with this antisemitism. We have one of the biggest issues in our lifetime – Brexit – we have no proper Opposition because the Labour Party is split about this antisemitism, it is antisemitism which is going to cause the Labour Party to split, we’ve already seen Frank Field – who I’ve worked with, who’s a very honourable man – has resigned the Labour Whip.  I think we’re going to see other MPs as well, Louise Ellman …

GG-M: Do you have good information on that, do you think other MPs will leave now?

JH: I think they probably will. People like Ian Austin, Luciana Berger, Louise Ellman – the Labour Party is going to split over antisemitism and we will not have a proper Opposition.

GG-M: Even if – as John McDonnell indicated yesterday – the Shadow Chancellor  – that this full definition should be adopted?  Isn’t that the leadership of the Labour Party saying “We are now going to accept your demand”?

JH: Look – there was a story this morning that a previous policeman in charge of hate crimes at the Met has found out that 17 cases of antisemitism in the Labour Party should have been referred as hate crimes. This is absolutely unacceptable, it crosses every red line and it must stop and the campaign will continue after today.

JM: 1200 cases by the way .. that was a complete….. OK … This is not about antisemitism in the Labour Party. There is antisemitism everywhere. All the evidence shows that there’s antisemitism in every political party.

JH: Not true

JM: Jonathan …. I ….

JH: The Campaign Against Antisemitism says that antisemitism in the Labour Party is eight times that in the next biggest party … eight times!

JM: The CAA is not neutral information …. But can I just say that this whole …

JH: Of course it’s neutral. It’s a Charity. It has to be neutral.

JM: Can I just say that the opposition to Jeremy Corbyn is very well typified today. It will not listen to facts, it will not listen to arguments and they refuse to cooperate in this latest consultation.

JH: You said …

GG-M: Jenny the point is that there have been numerous examples where Jeremy Corbyn has been felt to behave inappropriately and insult Jewish people. How can he stand as a future Prime Minister if he doesn’t have support?

JM: I want to defend Jeremy Corbyn totally. Can I just say that this personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn over the last two years has been ………. I’ve been in politics for 50 years, I joined the Labour Party at the University of Oxford.  I have not ever seen a personal campaign like this on Jeremy Corbyn before. Now Frank Field has a very chequered history. I don’t attack him, unlike Jonathan and unlike some of his colleagues, I don’t attack people personally. But Frank Field became very unjust in my view to people on welfare.

GG-M: He was the MP who has just resigned from the Labour Party.

JH: I have worked with Frank Field. I was a Special Adviser to his Social Security Select Committee. Frank Field is a deeply caring man … a deeply caring man. Do not lambast Frank Field.

GG-M: If the Labour Party come out with support for the definition today – they’re meeting now – would you support Jeremy Corbyn’s continued Leadership of the Labour Party?

JH: Absolutely not. There is too much history there. They’re going to put in something which is called a ‘free speech clause’ which is unnecessary.  They’re going to absolve all of the 1200 cases which need to be considered. They’re going to absolve them.  Absolutely not.  Jeremy Corbyn must go and go today.

GG-M: Just very quickly … if the Labour Party splits over this?

JM: I’m afraid .. I’m a bit .. sorry … Long term, there’s going to be no long term ….em .. no long term … There’s going to be no long ..No long term ….No long term bad effects on the Labour Party. The Labour Party’s very strong still. Most members …

GG-M: Even a little bit?

JH: It’s splitting

JM: The split will not help the people who leave. The Labour Party membership is enormous. If you look at the voting numbers, they’ve not changed. There is great love for Jeremy Corbyn ..

JH: (laughs) …Oh come on ……..

JM: … he’s been attacked viciously. And I wasn’t attacking Frank Field, what I was trying to say was, we shouldn’t personalise ……….

GG-M: OK alright. Jenny Manson and Jonathan Hoffman …

JH: The Labour Party is leaving Frank Field, Frank Field is not leaving the Labour Party.

GG-M: Jonathan Hoffman, Jenny Manson, thank you both very much indeed.  Obviously views very strong on this question.

JVL and Press TV deserve each other

On Tuesday 4 September with other pro-Israel activists I was outside Labour HQ to advocate for full acceptance by the NEC of the IHRA definition of antisemitism – without any caveats.

Here is the Press TV live coverage. It is mostly of the pro-Corbyn demonstration. At -1:07:27 you can see Naomi Wimborne Idrissi’s obscene (and yes antisemitic) explanation of what Zionism is (she’s a member of Jewish Voice for Labour which organised the pro-Corbyn demonstration):

“…. The Zionist movement which has at its root the idea that Jews are distinct from other human beings, cannot live in harmony with other human beings, that antisemitism is some sort of congenital deficiency that all non-Jews have and that Jews need to live apart.”

The same woman who told LBC that antisemitism is a joke.

At -21:00 the Press TV journalist, Robert Carter, approaches me for an interview. He says he is “doing a Facebook Live”. When I ask him for whom he is working he lies: “LBT a Youtube News Channel … London Broadcast.” And look at the camera angle they use. Far too close so that you can even see the bottom front tooth I broke as a 12 year old goalkeeper at school. Not to mention my vulpine nose (that one for you Ilana, shana tova).

JVL and Press TV. They deserve each other.

QC says Israel created ‘to compensate for the Holocaust’

palestine return centre corbyn

It was at an event organised by the Palestine Return Centre in 2013 that Jeremy Corbyn suggested that Zionists “having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives … don’t understand English irony”.

I have never attended a PRC event where antisemitism has not run free. It was at a PRC event where Gerald Kaufman referred to ‘Jewish money‘ and at another where Jenny Tonge placed herself on the path to resignation/dismissal.  The former spokesman of the PRC, Sameh Habeeb, was dropped as a Labour council candidate earlier this year and suspended from the Party for alleged antisemitic remarks.

Now I read that the PRC has paid for an opinion on the IHRA definition of antisemitism from the eminent Human Rights barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC.

We are not told how much the eminent barrister was paid but wonder of wonders, his learned opinion[Update 25.11 – It’s been deleted!] is not very favourable to the definition (Irony, Jeremy!) Yet another of our finest legal minds is commissioned by an Israel Hate organisation and comes up with a negative learned opinion of the IHRA. Mirabile dictu. He joins his eminent silken colleague, Hugh Tomlinson QC.

If the PRC thought that Mr Robertson’s learned opinion might influence Labour’s NEC which meets on Tuesday, I have sad news. They’ve wasted their money. There are many adjectives one might use to describe this opinion. ‘Learned’ is not one of them.

The most egregious of the untruths in the opinion is this one:It [Israel] was established by the resolution of the Security Council in 1947, to compensate for the Holocaust, granting over half of Palestine – a country which at the time contained 1.3 million Arabs and a small minority of Jewish settlers.’

ihra robertson holocaust

No it was not ‘compensation for the Holocaust’! Nothing could ‘compensate for the Holocaust’! It was the recognition of the Jewish right for self-determination in the land where Jews had lived continuously since Biblical times. Neither were they ‘settlers’. They were either descendants of families who had lived around Jerusalem for thousands of years or they were legitimate migrants. Were the people who came to the UK on the Windrush, ‘settlers’?

Now look at this extract from the opinion. It is simply chockful of untruths and distortions:

ihra pic 1
Suggesting that the creation of Israel was ‘the result of a terrorist campaign’ completely whitewashes the Arab violence against Jews, documented eg by David Collier and I here.  Israel has not ‘refused Security Council demands to withdraw’ from lands captured in 1967. Resolution 242  – to which this refers – links withdrawal to termination of aggression against Israel, which still to this day has not happened. Further, 242 did not refer to withdrawal from ‘all’ lands: It did not pre-empt a negotiated peace.  Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch may be respected by certain eminent QCs but they are in no way respected by anyone with a scintilla of knowledge of their endemic anti-Israel bias. The Knesset has passed no law which ‘discriminates against Arab Israelis’. Robertson fails (of course ….) to say where the “One Nation” Basic Law was ‘widely condemned as consigning Palestinians to second-class citizenship’.  The truth is that the law simply establishes in law most of the provisions of the declaration of independence from 1948 and will change very little. The most controversial part – about restricting membership of different residential communities – was dropped. His Eminence tells us that ‘many commentators’ describe the law as a ‘form of apartheid’.  I challenge him to name just one such ‘commentator’ who does not also have a record of traducing Israel. And please don’t tell me ‘Ahmad Tibi’!
ihra pic 2

The lie about discriminatory laws is repeated later in the opinion except here the commentators who liken the Nation State Law to ‘apartheid’ are said to be ‘reputable’. Like whom, Your Eminence? And if you suggest that ‘whether the State of Israel is a “racist endeavour” is open to question’ then you are very much part of the problem.

Turning to Mr Robertson’s comments on the IHRA itself, he calls the EUMC (which first promulgated a definition almost identical to that of the IHRA) an ‘obscure’ European Union agency. Why the qualification? The EUMC was no more ‘obscure’ than any other EU agency. And the EUMC did not ‘abandon’ the definition. It became the FRA, the Fundamental Rights Agency, which also did not ‘abandon’ the definition (it did though remove it from its website without asking any of the governments and Jewish NGOs which drew it up).

The next untruth is the claim that the UK Home Affairs Committee recommended the IHRA definition ‘but only with caveats ie necessary conditions to protect free speech’.  As I pointed out in another recent blog, the Committee accepted the definition but with qualifications  to two of the examples. One of the qualifications was unnecessary – so cannot be deemed ‘necessary to protect free speech’. The second was something between meaningless and circular – so ditto.

Mr Robertson’s treatment of the eleven examples in the IHRA definition is also blatantly wrong.

First, he questions whether the examples were adopted at the same time as the opening paragraph. Of course they were. See here and here. With a couple of minutes’ googling he could have found that out for himself. Or is he being deliberately obfuscatory ……

Secondly, he says that the definition implies that if a statement does not exhibit ‘hate’, it cannot be antisemitic:

“I don’t like Jews and never employ them, but I don’t hate them” – this speaker is anti-Semitic, but it does not seem included in this definition. Similarly, “I am prejudiced against Jews because they are not “one of us” and their religious practices are ridiculous, but I don’t hate them.” Or “I think we should deport all Jews to Israel, because they would be happy there. It would be in their own interests – I certainly don’t hate them, I just think they don’t fit in here in England.” Under the IHRA definition, these anti-Semitic comments would not be deemed “anti-Semitic.”

Mr Robertson even has the gall to write:

‘It fails Jewish people, most of all, by its inability to detect many who harbour hostility towards them – for example, those who insinuate racial prejudice politely.”

This simply beggars belief. All three statements are antisemitic under IHRA. Refusing to employ Jews violates the Equality Act and is clearly hatred of Jews. It is deluded to suggest otherwise. The same applies to the person who admits to being ‘prejudiced’ against Jews and the one who thinks Jews should be ‘deported’ (perhaps His Eminence can explain how someone born in the UK can be deported?). (NB the person who admits prejudice may not be in breach of the Equality Act).

It’s a great shame that some QCs are so short of work that they feel obliged to stoop to this level.

Appendix: IHRA definition

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

#1 * Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.

#2 *Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

#3 *Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

#4 *Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).

#5 *Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.

#6 *Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.

#7 *Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

#8 *Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.

#9 *Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.

#10 *Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.

#11 *Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.