Tuesday 24 April 2018

When kosher pigs fly

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.


  1. Sue - 'it muddies the water'. I think that's the point of inviting Jenny Manson on the programme. The BBC defence is that it's for balance but they never miss an opportunity to make mischief and influence the debate, especially on favourite subjects where they have a clear but undocumented policy.

    1. "Water muddying" is a key role of the BBC. I started listening to a programme about the wearing of the Hijab by young girls on Radio 4 tonight. I lasted about two minutes - within that period they had managed to muddy the waters brilliantly suggesting (a) children made a free choice about wearing the garment (b) that children thought of it as "just a cloth" (c) that there was a widespread view within Islam about whether Hijab (or similar) wearing was even required (untrue of course) (d) that there was disparate views within Muslim communities at what age Hijab wearing became mandatory (true, but hardly the central issue) (e) making it sound like a fashion statement (there being Hijabs - some colourful, so it was claimed) for different occasions) and (e) generally managed to put all the focus on the starting age for Hijab wearing (a wonderful bit of diversion - who cares whether it's 7 or 13).

      That was just a couple of minutes of quickfire muddying.

  2. You're right Sue - Israel is at the heart of this matter. Obsessive criticism delegitimisation of the state of Israel (which, let's not forget, has faced existential threats since its founding, despite its founding being approved of by the UN, and it being a UN member state) is a manifestation of anti-semitism or anti-Judaism. A devil's pact has been formed between the Left and followers of Sharia and Corbyn has been a key player in developing the pact over the last 40 years.

    There can of course be rational criticism of Israel just as there can be of every country but it has to be even handed - with Israel not being treated as a special case but subject to universal standards that are applied across the whole international community.

  3. John Pienaar on 10 o’clock News reporting the meeting as a confrontation!
    He muddied the waters by repeating the claim that Corbyn supporters say the anti-semitism row is orchestrated by those who oppose him.
    What about the increasing mountain of evidence debunking those claims John? Why report that when even Corbyn now accepts there is anti- semitism in The Labour Party.

  4. A representative from Jewish Voice for Labour was interviewed on Daily Politics a few days ago. Jo Coburn did question some of his assertions, but what was conspicuously absent was the voice of the wider Jewish community. Of course the BBC are deliberately muddying the waters.

    I was struck quite forcibly by an Iranian spokesperson just a few days ago referring to Israel as “an apartheid state”. Naturally this passed unchallenged, but more importantly where does a phrase like that come from if not from Western Pro-Palestinian activists?

  5. There continues to be incitement to racial hatred on the BBC of Jews when fake news criticism of Israel both directly and more subtly spills over into criticism of Jews themselves. It has been seen in news, pseudo news and documentaries about Israel.

    One clear eg of many, that just happens to come to mind is from over a decade ago is illustrated here . It comes from a 2004 BBC TV documentary Empire Warriors about the bombing of the King David hotel where the programme was trailed over two weeks with the words " Watch a documentary that shows how the Jews were the first modern terrorists of the 20th century".

    Not included in the documentary, of course, was the British secretary’s response when given the warning to evacuate the British military headquarters base at the hotel. His words were " I don't take orders from Jews"


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