As ITBB’s resident antisemitism geek it’s a matter of duty for me to discuss the John Ware Panorama.
The problem is where to start. A difficulty that constantly dogs my blogging life is the question of background; how much to include and how much to leave out.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, how can you make sense of what I write? Lacking the ability to summarise complicated and nuanced history succinctly yet fully, I’m left with a choice between laboriously reiterating material that becomes more meaningless with each repetition or just skipping it and assuming that it’s a simple matter of ‘any fule kno'.
For similar reasons, I found some of John Ware’s examples of antisemitism from Labour Party members rather tedious. The Ken Livingstone - John Mann shouty contretemps on the stairs, that mural, etc, seemed like a blast from the past. How many more times do we have to sit through that?
But I suppose they had to be in there to substantiate the existence of the antisemitism in question. (Even so, on the ‘day after the night-before’ edition of the Victoria Derbyshire show it was clear that denial of substantive evidence of antisemitism still thrives in Corbynista land.)
“All one needs to do,” asserted audience member Salma Karmi-Ayyoub “Is to make an allegation of antisemitism, which then becomes the truth” she opined. And Ms Karmi-Aayyoub has apparently seen no compelling evidence of antisemitism whatsoever. Yet we’re supposed to believe she watched the programme.
As far as that viewer and her ilk are concerned Panorama needn’t have included evidence in the shape of Ken and his absurd interpretation of the Havaara agreement and his obsession with Hitler, or heard about the more recent activities of the NCC and various heavy-handed and autocratic individuals - or even the verbal insults and abuse of staff trying to do their jobs, because people see and hear only what they want to see and hear. The antisemitism evaporates into the air like a mist of particles from an aerosol can.
The revelations of the greatest significance in John Ware’s programme concerned interference with the disciplinary process and the testimony of young, ‘disaffected’ Labour members, which was riveting in terms of ‘televisual’ impact and for its political significance. The NDA hypocrisy, too.
(How strange that the media hasn’t yet managed to lure Seumas Milne into the studio for a good grilling. Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson were never off our screens back then. Why so shy?)
Throughout this programme, and even more so throughout the subsequent forum within the Victoria Derbyshire programme - there was a gigantic mammoth squatting menacingly in the room. So massive that one dare not speak its name.
Victoria Derbyshire kept trying to trip people up by asking “When did this institutional antisemitism arise and why?” ‘Where does it come from?” She was virtually begging for someone to commit ‘Islamophobia’, whilst the participants, panel and audience, stubbornly refused to do so.
She asked the same thing over and over again, but they all kept schtum. But how can you, now that any negativity about of Islam is off limits? How mischievous of Ms Derbyshire to try that on.
The other elephantine but invisible presence in the room is this thing about Israel. The default position, thanks to years of partial reporting which keeps the majority of concerned citizens in a state of ignorance of 90% of the aggression directed at Israel, is that one has to state one’s abhorrence of “What Israel is doing to the Palestinians” before throwing in one’s twopence-worth of opinion on antisemitism. It’s related to the ‘bad Jew’ syndrome where the only good Jew is an anti-Zionist
At one point in the programme, an audience member announced that he was a Palestinian whose people were ‘ethnically cleansed’ on the establishment of Israel. Predictably, Victoria Derbyshire let that pass unchallenged.
This post has turned out to be more concerned with Victoria Derbyshire’s de-briefing of the Panorama than the Panorama itself. That’s the way these things go.
I must say that I’m not one of those who dismiss Ash Sarkar as stupid. She’s obviously sharp and bright, but her ideological principles force her to defend the indefensible. She and Owen Jones are passionately opposed to racism (they’ve been fighting it all their lives, you know) and their dogged anti-racism compels them to ignore the racism that emanates from the ‘race’ of people they’re so focused on protecting. You can’t oppose antisemitism properly if you’re blind to the primary perpetrators of it.
I will also add onto the tail of this post that over on Harry’s Place Sarah AB has effectively equated Islamophobia with antisemitism. I doubt that she reads this blog these days, but just in case, Sarah! No! You’re better than that.