Last week Bristol University Socialist Workers Students Society hosted Rob Ferguson of Jewish Voice for Labour and the SWP to speak about ‘Corbyn, Antisemitism and Justice for Palestine’. Ferguson claims to be a retired sociology lecturer. If you do a Google search you will find no reference to any university post in his name. He says he is Jewish but he had no qualms about speaking in Bristol on Kol Nidre.
The meeting was part of a series of similar meetings arranged by hard Left Corbyn supporters, designed to deny Labour’s antisemitism problem, challenge the IHRA definition of antisemitism and vilify Israel. On the same day this was happening in London.
Indoctrinating adults with JVL lies is bad enough but when it comes to indoctrinating students, it’s poisonous. But that’s precisely what Ferguson did; no matter that he was careful not to cross the line into antisemitism. He told the students that the numbers calling themselves ‘Zionists’ has gone down (zero evidence for this); he spoke about the ‘oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people’ (a nonsense); gave a completely one-sided history of the years between Balfour (1917) and the establishment of Israel in 1948; described Gaza as a ‘prison camp’; failed to even mention Hamas in his discussion of Gaza; described Israel as a ‘settler-colonial enterprise’; denied antisemitism by referring to it as a ‘weaponising ideology’ for the far right; advocated ‘One State’ which is code for destruction of the world’s only Jewish state; wrongly assumed that the Right of Return is a given for Palestinians; and suggested (“seeing the process play out”) that hostility to Arabs on the part of some Israeli Jews is behind the ascendancy of parties on the far Right in some European countries eg the Sweden Democrats.
The only silver lining to this anti-Israel propaganda assault on young minds by a Corbynite is that Labour is failing to gain support among young people – the opposite, in fact.
Here is Ferguson talking to an SWP meeting in Manchester on 5 September, the day after Labour’s NEC met and accepted all the examples in the IHRA definition of antisemitism.
His distortion of Zionist history is nothing short of shocking. In the 1930s there was communal strife in Palestine between Jews and Arabs. Arab attacks resulted in a boycott of Arab workers and produce. Ferguson seizes on this in order to tarnish Israel: “Right from the beginning of the Zionist project this process of dispossession and exclusion was written into this Zionist project” (-16:50).
He characterises the First Intifada as a peaceful protest that was met with intense violence by the IDF. No – It was far from ‘peaceful’.
He tells his audience that the Mohammed Al-Dura incident characterised the Second Intifada. The reality is that it was almost certainly a hoax.
And he quotes Ahad Tamimi who apparently said she wants to see a return to pre-1948 “when Jews, Moslems, Christians, Palestinians could live together in equality as they had done for hundreds of years”. This is a big lie. Jews and others had no equality in the Ottoman Empire and were persistently persecuted.