With Joan Ryan the eighth MP to join the Labour breakaway group, and to cite ‘antisemitism’ as a prime reason, the ever reliable Jonathan Cook says:
Corbyn, it should be noted, is the first leader of a major British party to explicitly prioritise the rights of Palestinians over Israel’s continuing belligerent occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Cook’s piece should be read in full, and I recommend signing up for email alerts to his Blog From Nazareth posts. Also worth reading in this context is his post of a few days ago, Anti-semitism vigilantes are feeding the far-right. It begins:
Has anyone else noticed how almost anything you say nowadays – if it’s leftwing – can suddenly be cited as proof of your anti-semitism?
Quite. Others note the shrill tones in which the eight cite accusations, of Israel lobby funding, as evidence of antisemitic conspiracy theory. Well now. In an idle afternoon I once skim-read a book on interrogation by two former FBI investigators. While stressing that the only absolute proof of mendacity is hard evidence flatly contradicting what’s been said, they devote a sizable chunk to ‘tells’ – clues verbal or nonverbal that a suspect may be lying. One being non sequitur deflection …
So where were you on the night of June 8?
What? I’ll have you know I’m a churchgoer and generous charity donor!
… another being deflection by going on the offensive:
So where were you on the night of June 8?
This is an outrage! The very fact you can ask such a question is proof of your bad faith!
With this in mind, do any of the eight deny taking money from such sources? If they do, I’ve yet to hear of it. As for Ryan, it would go ill with her should she be so foolish as to try. In 2016 she was caught on camera by Al Jazeera, in conversation with a fixer at the Israeli Embassy, in which she appears to accept money to influence other MPs. When Craig Murray (the UK Ambassador Tony Blair sacked for telling the truth about one of ‘Our Friends’ in the war on Iraq) posted a comment to this effect in the Guardian, it was censored. Murray then took to Twitter.1
For a fuller account, including the video evidence, see this OffGuardian piece of two days ago. But back to Jonathan Cook, who in the second of the two pieces cited at start of this post sets out in detail why Labour does not have a “special problem” with antisemitism. He follows up by asking:
So what is the basis for concerns about the Labour Party being mired in supposed “institutional anti-semitism” since it moved from the centre to the left under Corbyn, when the figures and political trends demonstrate nothing of the sort? A clue may be found in the wider political worldview of the eight MPs who have broken from Labour.
All but two are listed as supporters of the parliamentary “Labour Friends of Israel” (LFI) faction. Further, Berger is a former director of that staunchly pro-Israel lobby group, and Ryan is its current chair, a position the group says she will hold onto, despite no longer being a Labour MP.
So extreme are the LFI’s views on Israel that it sought to exonerate Israel of a massacre last year, in which its snipers shot dead many dozens of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza in a single day. Faced with a social media backlash, it quietly took down the posts.
The eight MPs’ voting records – except for Gavin Shuker, for whom the picture is mixed – show them holding consistently hawkish foreign policy positions that are deeply antithetical to Corbyn’s approach to international relations. They either “almost always” or “generally” backed “combat operations overseas”; those who were MPs at the time supported the 2003 Iraq war; and they all opposed subsequent investigations into the Iraq war.
But while the ‘antisemitism’ slur evokes fear and loathing in Westminster village, and to lesser degree at the dinner parties of the chattering classes, it cuts little ice with most Brits. Let me end this post, already in large part the words of others, with those of a virtual friend. Below an OffGuardian piece by the always readable Kit Knightly, bevin has this to say:
… while the timing of Jess Phillips’ and Ian Austin’s final “I can’t take it any more’ Press Conference may interest the MSM, BBC in particular, it doesn’t matter at all to the very sensible people working like demons to pay the rent and utility bills, who matter at election time. Nor are they much interested in anti-semitism (of which most ordinary people, who, after all, would know, have seen very little, much less than any other form of racism) or the other nonsense that keeps political editors and news junkies and media so energised. Nor are they interested in whether Corbyn has had three wives or does the washing up or John McDonnell reads detective stories and keeps a mongrel called Gordon.
These are unimportant matters, at a time when living standards for the average person have been dropping faster than at any time in history, when every wage or salary earner lives in constant fear not just of losing job and salary but of having to swallow more crow, in the form of deteriorating conditions, longer hours, unpaid overtime and collapsing social security networks, from unemployment insurance to healthcare. It is issues such as these that will matter when people vote next …
Does Tom Watson seriously think the young people struggling to make ends meet and keep their families intact think it makes any difference whether or not Corbyn went to an IRA funeral or read a Hamas Press Release?
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- As regards Murray’s “steaming heap of lies” allusion to a Guardian-alleged meeting between Julian Assange and Paul Manafort (the Trump campaign manager who pled guilty to conspiracy against the USA) had any such meeting taken place, three things would have followed. One, it would have been caught on the CCTV cameras in and around the world’s most closely monitored Embassy. Two, the new Ecuador Regime, unsympathetic to Assange, would have released the footage. Three, Guardian Media Group would gleefully have produced said footage. Since [three] has not happened we can validly deduce that the other two haven’t either, and Luke Harding’s allegation was the product of his Russophobic imagination and the Guardian’s ongoing promotion of imperialist interests. I needn’t even cite sources hostile to corporate media. The Washington Post will do nicely.