I dipped in and out of the Today programme this morning, as you do - (Isn’t it annoying and unhelpful that the website no longer provided us with ‘running order’) but I did hear John Humphrys’s remarkable interview with Jenny Manson, co-chair of Jewish Voice for Labour.
On the off-chance that you missed it, or don’t already know about Jenny Manson’s group, it’s a small number of Jewish members of the Labour Party whose devout admiration for Jeremy Corbyn involves dismissing allegations of antisemitism as politically motivated smears.
Manson described the Chakrabati report as ‘very good’. She stated that most a/s comes from the far right. She said she is very sorry that Dame Margaret Hodge has “never felt as nervous and frightened” but insisted that “our” group has never experienced any a/s in the Labour Party. She thinks it’s “a misery and a tragedy” that Jewish MPs have received nasty antisemitic comments, “which I suspect are on social media - but no-one has worked very hard to find out who this nasty stuff is coming from” (implying, perchance, that they’re not L.P. members?) and she said complaints should go to the Labour Party, not the media.
Presumably the editors commissioned the interview because of Jeremy Corbyn’s scheduled meeting with ‘mainstream’ Jewish leaders this afternoon, this meeting being one of the Today Programme's main headlines. The editors must have decided that denying the actual existence of antisemitism in the Labour Party has a legitimate place in this story. Perhaps they saw it as their duty to air the case for the antisemites, for balance. Some would argue that the BBC must allocate equal air time to ‘all forms of denial’. A facetious remark, maybe, but I hope you know what I mean.
As I’ve said many times before I do not advocate no-platforming people, but in this case, I seriously question the relevance of including this particular interview in this particular context. It muddies the water in what I see as a vexatious manner and is a distraction from the core issue.
Now, what is the issue here? At its heart it’s Israel.
A perception has arisen - of the ‘good’ Jew who opposes Zionism and the ‘bad” Jew who supports, or doesn’t actively denounce Israel. This allows vehement supporters of Palestinian causes to air their disapproval of ‘racism’ without appearing too obviously hypocritical. In other words, they will submit the kind of Jews they like, (the anti-Zionists) as evidence to ‘prove’ that they’re not racists. “How can we be antisemitic, if we don’t hate all Jews ‘because they are Jews’?”
Arch pro-Palestinian activist Dr Philippa Whitford MP was the guest on The Daily Politics, sympathising with Louise Ellman. The subject of Israel was conspicuously avoided by all.
Everyone must be aware that there are differing historical attitudes to Israel and its history. With regard to the creation of the Jewish State, the Arab world’s inherent, long-standing antipathy to Jews is rarely mentioned, and there is little awareness of the Arab-instigated wars that have so far failed to eradicate Israel altogether. Information from the Israeli perspective is absent or treated with derision.
The Arab - Israeli conflict is narrated by most mainstream British news organs from a purely Palestinian/Arab perspective. There is an odd acceptance of the concept of ‘Muslim Land’; I see it as particularly odd that a largely secular country adopts this concept.
The antisemitic nature of Mahmoud Abbas’s imagined / proposed Palestinian State is never mentioned. Never. Pro-Palestinian activists in the west are even more hostile to Israel than many Palestinians actually are. The PSC movement would consider it a betrayal if Hamas or the PA were persuaded to see sense and soften their anti-Zionist stance. The antisemitism in the hard left will never be eradicated unless the BBC suddenly decides to report fairly on Israel, shocked into action by a flock of flying kosher pigs.