Yesterday, the Labour party sacked Rebecca Long Bailey from its Front Bench as she endorsed an article, in the little read online rag the Independent, by an actress who thinks we care what celebs think and which contained a clear antisemitic trope. Yet many in Labour are rushing to her defence, including Guardian columnist Owen Jones and the Corbynite journalist Ash Sarkar whose tweet is below.
The article RLB endorsed claimed that the cops who killed George Floyd were trained to put their knees on someone’s neck by the Israeli special forces. That was a lie. There is no evidence that this is part of Israeli special forces training at all. Moreover, the wicked Jews do not train cops anywhere in America. So it is a falsehood aimed at demonising the Jewish state and it has been widely repeated on social media and elsewhere (despite there being no evidence and despite denials from both America and Israel). You may remember protestors at #RhodesMustfall cheering loudly when a speaker repeated this myth and went on to say that ‘it shows that blacks and Palestinians are in it together as victims of a horrible conspiracy’.
It is all vile and designed to encourage hatred of the Jewish state and, by implication, Jews. This is antisemitism at work. There is nothing wrong in criticising Israel’s policies if you wish to do so. I do not: I support Israel but I defend the right of anyone to attack it with words on the basis of fact and how they interpret fact.
But attack Israel by attacking what it actually has done, not by making up stories to somehow link it to the death of an innocent black man thousands of miles away in America. The failure of folks such as Sarkar and Jones to understand that point tells you an awful lot about their core beliefs. That Labour still tolerates this nonsense from folks such as Sarkar at all is why it will struggle to regain the trust of the Jewish community.
Sadly the mainstream media plays along with this rubbish. I found myself listening to PM with Evan Davis yesterday as this matter was discussed. The BBC viewed this through the prism of internal Labour party battles. It did not state upfront as it should have done that the claim by Maxine Peake was a falsehood. To her credit, even the actress herself has now tried to save her skin and has apologised and said that it was made up. But for some, it remains a legitimate criticism of Israel.