Thursday 11 July 2019

Well, Is Labour Antisemitic?

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.


  1. Thank you for discussing this remarkable BBC programme. It was a good analysis and a very moving analysis because we witnessed the outcome of such words just over 70 years ago and said 'Never again"

    Extracts discussed are not adequate because they don't show the full picture. It is worth your readers taking the time to see the whole programme for themselves. See youtube below

  2. Yes indeed, I hope everyone watches the whole programme, and a more linear review by Stephen Daisley is in the Spectator.

    In this blog though, even if the content of a programme is in line with our own ‘worldview’ as it is in this case, I would be naive to swallow it whole and assume that it wasn’t in any way shaped to fit a preconceived agenda.

    The aborted John Sweeney Panorama, now known by its working title ‘Tommy Takedown’ showed us how devious and misleading this procedure can be if the agenda is allowed to swamp the editorial integrity.

    I understand the Corbynites have some issues with selective editing in this programme; they're complaining that that one of Seumas Milne’s emails has been treated to our old friend* ‘editorial manipulation’ to distort his message.

    But manipulative and selective editing and omission are par for the course - arguably agendas are what documentaries are all about. In this programme, if there is such a thing as a ‘good’ agenda, this is it., and any editorial liberties that may have been taken here pale into insignificance next to the impact of the revelations shown. And this programme has ensured that a spotlight is belatedly being shone on a serious matter.

    (*note ironic use of ‘friend’)

  3. The answer to the question is a yes, but obviously I am not suggesting that the Labour Party leader secretly dons Thirdreich uniforms of an evening to practise his SeigHeil salute in the mirror or that the NEC meet in white robes with pointy hats.

    The Labour Party's anti-semitism has a number of sources: 1. The anti-semitic strand in socialism - Henry Hyndman a leading socialist of the late 19th century, founder of the Social Democratic Federation was an overt anti-semite and anti-semitism always was a strong strand in socialism. 2. The casual anti-semitism of the shires and the middle classes - I think Corbyn displayed this when he referred to British Jews failing to understand English irony. That's the sort of thing you might hear in a rural saloon bar. 3. Roman Catholic anti-semitism - a lot of Labour Party members have Irish Catholic roots and will have absorbed anti-semitism with their mother's milk (when he was a child the comedian Frank Skinner actually thought Jewish people had horns on their head). 4. The rising influence of Islam. This works in two way...Muslim members of the Labour Party more often than not bring with them their religious anti-Judaic beliefs learnt in the mosques of the UK, where such beliefs are taught unchallenged. Then the global Islamic community have successfully portrayed to the Left Israel as a colonial state. The fact that the USA is a strong supporter of Israel is proof positive enough for most on the Left.

    As for the Panorama documentary? The programme has lost all credibility since the attempted Tommy Takedown rebounded so distrastrously. Even if John Ware is the most honest of journos, we now know how they often operate, if we didn't before, and that has irrevocably damaged the brand.

    I skipped through a vid of the Panorama doc. I didn't find it very compelling. Was there really anything new in it? The various talking heads claiming to be terribly upset looked rather like bruisers who could take a few punches and deliver as few as well.

    What we have here is a power struggle. Even if everyone in the country watched Panorama and agreed it was a scandal, it would make no difference as the Corbynistas have their hands on all the levers of power.

    As I have said elsewhere the BBC ally with the Soft Left (Cooper, Creasy, Umuna - now gone of course, Starmer, Jess Phillips). The Soft Left are just as dangerous in their own way.

    1. Indeed the origins of a/s are multifaceted, and an increasing number of analyses are appearing alongside the worsening atmosphere as historians and students of the subject wring their hands and despair.

      I’m sorry you didn’t find the programme compelling - you seem to have dismissed it a priori.

      I particularly disagree with you here:

      The various talking heads claiming to be terribly upset looked rather like bruisers who could take a few punches and deliver as few as well”

      That seems harsh and insensitive. Perhaps this is because you ‘skipped through’. Might you also have skipped through my post?

    2. Not entirely! But you seemed to think Panorama was going over a lot of old ground as well.

      The Corbynistas have come back with an effective attack on the BBC and on picking on a woman undergoing chemotherapy...The BBC is obliged to set out their response. The average Joe or Jo or Jo-Jo will be none the wiser.

      What is the BBC's game exactly? Why do they not make more of Corbyn's demonstrable links to Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian government and the IRA? Why don't they challenge his claim to be involved in "peace"...he always seems to pick one side, doesn't he?

      I think the BBC don't go down those roads because (a) they too have a problem with Israel (which they have fallen out of love with - I am old enough to remember when, along with most of the Labour Left, they were quite pro-Israel seen a progressive state with its communal Kibbutzes and so on) and (b) they have always supported the idea of a single Irish state...not quite sure why but it probably goes back to the strong support within the Labour Party for Irish nationalism, reflecting in turn the strong Irish Catholic roots of many Labour Party members.

      In other words, the BBC is a dodgy dishonest news outfit, so it's difficult to make an exception for one programme.

    3. What is the BBC’s game exactly?

      The BBC opposes racism. Most of the personnel are therefore uncomfortable with the concept of a ‘Jewish’ state. (Which they suspect is a racist endeavour)

      In general, the BBC seem to be in collective denial of the nature of Islam, and a profound ignorance of all pre1967 Middle-Eastern history leads most of them to erroneously conclude that the Palestinians are the true indigenes and the Jews are interlopers. (The completely false narrative that was invented by antisemitic Arabs.)

      To be anything other than equivocal over Israel’s actual existence would only lead to cognitive dissonance gawn mad. Imagine that drawing of the human head in profile with the brain replaced by virulent, awful scribbles, some going outside the lines. That’s what would happen if they had to support Israel as a Jewish state.

      Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t think the Jews deserve their own state; he’s a simple chap who believes that if Jews deserve a right of return, so do Arabs. Beyond that simplistic equation the implications neither interest nor bother him. There’s a video of him saying this - I saw it on Twitter.

      The BBC is littered with ignoramuses, some of whom are probably even worse than Corbyn. They don’t care about his links to Hamas because they’re not quite sure, but they suspect Hamas is right.

    4. Yes, one of the most annoying things is the BBC's refusal to admist that "Palestinian" ie Palestinian "Arabs" include a large proportion of Egyptians, Bosnian Muslims, Turkish colonial occupiers and other immigrants from non-Palestinian Arab territories who arrived at about the same time or after many Jews.

      People like Corbyn and Creasy wear their virtue like armour to deflect the arrows of reality and truth. Corbyn thinks "I believe in a single democratic state that will be home to both Jews and Arabs. That sorted, I can now be as nasty about Israel as I like." Creasy thinks "I believe in helping refugees. That means I can argue against any policy designed to protect our borders from unregulated migration."

      The BBC has deliberately conspired in keeping the public ignorant about what Hamas stands for (as set out in its horrific pro-genocide constitution).

  4. I should watch the Panorama documentary, but somehow I feel I will be disappointed. But what is extremely disturbing has been the response of Corbyn’s supporters, even if it was predictable. Should Corbyn ever become Prime Minister, today’s BBC bias could be as nothing compared to a BBC in which any dissent is silenced.

    1. I have predicted here a number of times that if the Corbynistas take power they will move swiftly to take over the BBC and turn it into a revolutionary Marxist broadcaster (you think it is already? - you ain't seen nothing yet!). They can use organisations like Ofcom and EHRC to achieve this; they can use their access to secret service info on BBC personnel; and they can use HoC Select Committees to humiliate BBC personnel they want removed. That's with current legislation but they can of course bring in new laws to ensure they can control the media.

  5. The idea that anti-Semitism in the left is some kind of new phenomenon connected to Corbyn’s leadership is in many ways disingenuous. On the specific charge of anti-Semitism masked as anti-Zionism this has characterised the British left for a very long time indeed. It has come to the fore under Corbyn because this is the first time in decades when the Labour leadership has been truly of the left. It’s very convenient for the BBC to push this narrative, because to do otherwise would be to admit that they are a massive part of the problem.