Stephen Oryszczuk writes for Jewish News. In November 2017 –when I was blogging on the Jewish News site – he wrote a vile Jewish News blog smearing and defaming me. It was entitled ‘You Can’t Put Lipstick On a Pig’.
He distorted my name slightly, presumably not wishing to be responsible for a libel suit against his employer. He should have been sacked – but all that happened was that the blog was deleted after several people complained (I didn’t). I suspected from the content of the smear that he is a Corbynite.
Sure enough shortly after, Jewish News published a long interview by Oryszczuk of Len McCluskey, General Secretary of the trade union Unite, the UK’s biggest trade union with 1.4 million members. The interview was a thinly–disguised puff piece for Labour and Corbyn.
On 25 July 2018 the UK’s three most prominent Jewish weekly newspapers – Jewish News, the Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Telegraph – published a joint front page opposing Corbyn.
Oryszczuk (who is not Jewish) gave an interview to ‘The Canary’, an extreme Left publication. In it he showed his contempt for the IHRA definition of antisemitism (“I don’t share this frothy-mouthed obsession with adopting the IHRA definition and its examples word-for-word”). The article described Corbyn as an “existential threat” to British Jews. Oryszczuk was asked if he agreed. “Of course not” he said. “This is a dedicated anti-racist we’re trashing. I just don’t buy into it at all”.
Given that his allegiances had become obvious for all to see, it was astonishing to see the the lead story by him in this week’s Jewish News: ‘Where is the centre ground?’ [in the UK Jewish Community]. Because that assessment can only be written by someone neutral as between ‘left’ and ‘centrist’ who has deep knowledge of Community affairs (note that I say ‘centrist’ because when the Jewish Left use the epithet of ‘right wing’ it is inevitably in the context of Israel, and the subject of the insult is only saying the same thing as the majority of Israeli voters).
Completely predictably, Oryszczuk’s two-page article is not a dispassionate analysis of the issue at all. It is a piece of leftist propaganda. Weisfeld of Yachad is quoted extensively as is Janner-Klausner, Kahn-Harris and Wagner. Other leftists quoted are Edie Friedman (JCORE), Alex Brummer, Amos Schonfield and Andrew Gilbert. These people and their supporters are described six times as ‘progressive’’. What is it that they are ‘progressing’ towards? Inevitably the term of approbation ‘progressive’ applied to the Left implies disapprobation towards those who are not on the Left. Where’s the balance in that?
Inevitably there are horrific quotes and omissions:
Weisfeld: “I think what Israel’s done to the Jewish Community is to destroy it”
Brummer: “Kids who’ve been through RSY [the youth movement of Reform Judaism] pick up different values to kids growing up traditional Orthodox: social equality, gender equality, racial equality, a fairer society, giving something back.” So children growing up in Tribe (the United Synagogue youth movement) DON’T believe in social/gender/racial equality and a fairer society? How idiotic and offensive a comment is that?
Kahn-Harris (on the Board of Deputies’ failure to admit JCORE): “Unlike in a democratic parliament, deputies can vote on who to admit as constituents. Voting not to admit JCORE is like MPs voting not to recognise the constituency of Sunderland South.”
The comparison is entirely invalid. Everyone living in the UK is entitled to be represented by an MP. The Board is different – it isn’t an assembly of representatives of every Jew living in the UK. Its members are organisations – not individuals – and they have to pay to join. The Board’s Constitution is clear about the process for admission of Jewish organisations. If Kahn-Harris thinks that JCORE should have a free pass he should get himself elected as a Deputy and work to change the Constitution. And note that he said nothing about the disgraceful failure to admit the ZCC of Manchester. As for JCORE, how come in its support for Black Lives Matter it never mentions that organisation’s antisemitism? And why does it not come out in support of UK/US action in Afghanistan/Iraq/Syria/Ethiopia to reduce the incentive to migrate?
There is still pushback from online activists like Labour Against Antisemitism and Gnasher Jew towards any Labour figure, regardless of where they stand, if they remained a member during the Corbyn years,” says Kahn-Harris. “It’s difficult to know who these activists’ constituencies are, whether they’re sizeable or not.”
The allegation that Labour Against Antisemitism (the estimable volunteer group for whom I aerved as Adviser before the 2019 election) is opposed to ‘any Labour figure who was a member during the Corbyn years’ is simply complete crap. As for questioning the size of their following – and that of GnasherJew – all you have to do is look on Twitter: 18,300 followers for GnasherJew and 11,200 for Labour Against Antisemitism. Kahn-Harris himself doesn’t even rate 4,000.
And look at Oryszczuk’s language:
“To some, the JCORE vote was less about race and more about whether its leadership liked the IHRA definition of antisemitism, or if a JCORE intern attended the Kaddish for Gaza in 2018”
‘Liked” the IHRA definition? – No it was a question of whether Dr Friedman and JCORE ACCEPTED the IHRA definition! “If a JCORE intern attended ….” No – Rob Abrams WAS employed by JCORE, no “If” about it.
Then there’s this little anonymous poisonous barb:
A deputy from a mainstream left-wing organisation and member of the Board’s defence division, speaking anonymously, describes a group of deputies on the political right – known as ‘The Caucus’ and coalesced through WhatsApp – as “basically a bunch of vigilantes, with no concern for Jewish communal unity. They’re extremely ideological, use the language of security and defensiveness, and see everything as a threat. It’s an extremely binary worldview. You’re ‘supporters of Israel’ or ‘opponents’, the latter being anyone who criticises any Israeli policy.”
As Lance Corporal Jones would say, “They don’t like it up ‘em, Sir!”
This is a ridiculous mischaracterisation of the pro-Israel group of Deputies. In truth it shows that they are doing something right. It is this coward (for witholding their name) who ‘has no concern for communal unity’. He (the most likely candidate is a ‘he’: was it Nathan Baroda – who appears in the accompanying podcast?) shows no respect for this objective in the Board’s Constitution: ‘Take such appropriate action as lies within its power to advance Israel’s security, welfare and standing’.
Given Oryszczuk’s record, the Jewish News Editor should have insisted on attribution for this quote.
Commissioning Stephen Oryszczuk to write a piece about debate within the Jewish Community is like commissioning Dr Harold Shipman to write a piece about geriatric medicine………..
The second part of this execrable piece has been published. Oryszczuk has strung together a bunch of quotes with zero analysis. Again the left predominates. Of the quoted names I know 11 are on the left and just 4 in the centre. The main image – spanning 2 columns in the print edition – is of a Naamod anti-Israel demo. There is a smaller image of Kaddish for Hamas! And Oryszczuk smears the ZCC with the epithet ‘right wing’! Such blatant leftist bias.
There is an excellent letter in Jewish News regarding Kahn-Harris’ misrepresentation of Labour Against Antisemitism in the first part: