Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Waiting for Godot: perceptions prior to the EHRC Report

Posted on: June 14, 2020

The Equality and Human Right’s Commission’s investigation into institutional antisemitism in the UK Labour Party has not yet been published at the time of writing, 14 June 2020, and is not likely to be in the public arena for at least six weeks, possibly longer as evidence continues to be reported to EHRC.

In the meantime, there is the leaked report which seems to have been produced by the team of the former Labour General Secretary, Jennie Formby. This appeared during the last days of Mr Corbyn’s leadership and is thought to have been intended as a representation to the EHRC, to vindicate Mr Corbyn and Ms Formby in their efforts to contain antisemitism in the Labour Party. The leaked report included numerous private emails which passed between Labour staffers working for Iain McNicol, Labour General Secretary from 2011 until February 2018. The leaked emails showed that staff exchanged conspicuously unkind remarks about the party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, the executive director of his office Karie Murphy and others close to Mr Corbyn. Also targeted in the private emails was the Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott.

Participants on Corbyn-supporting sites on Facebook have interpreted this aspect of the leaked dossier widely as follows:

They believe that Zionists and Blairites employed by the Labour Party were hostile to the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn and his team; that they opposed them in ways detrimental to the election campaigns of 2017 and 2019 and that Zionists and Blairites stopped Labour winning the two General Elections during Mr Corbyn’s incumbency.

As there is no place for subtlety in the blogosphere, I will state that I believe the Corbynist fixation on Jewish power is a manifestation of antisemitism, reassembled by the left out of the ashes of far right twentieth century Judenhass, into the populist form of Israel-critical Jew hate which comes at us from right, left and, it must be said, with great sadness, often from the centre.

Author[s] of the leaked document maintain that staff hostile to Mr Corbyn hid the realities of Labour antisemitism from him, to entrap him into inaction over the problem, until Jennie Formby became General Secretary in February 2018. Thus a plethora of news items, newspaper headlines, editorials, letters to the press and television news coverage in the UK and abroad were concealed from Corbyn by Lord McNicol’s staff, before Jennie Formby succeeded him as General Secretary. It is possible to fault this reading of events.

The leaked report goes on to itemise Jennie Formby’s actions when grappling with the problem of antisemitism among the membership. This included expediting the expulsion of controversial figures such as the then MP for Derby North, Chris Williamson and Jackie Walker who had been a member of the Momentum Steering Committee.

Far from resenting Ms Formby’s role in their expulsion, Mr Williamson and Ms Walker consider that it is due to Zionist forces assuming control of Labour Party processes.

When, two months ago, I read through the voluminous pages of the leaked report, I saw mention of a topic close to my own heart. Ms Formby had appealed to Facebook to take down some of the grossly antisemitic groups which used Jeremy Corbyn’s name and picture as a selling point, to attract members. One of the most extreme groups, Truthers Against Zionists [sic] Lobbies was closed down in December 2019 and its administrator, Rita Allison, was suspended or expelled from the Labour Party. According to her recent tweets, Ms Allison considers that Zionists caused the closure of hard line Corbynist groups on Facebook. Rachel Riley is mentioned by Jennie Formby as having reported the Truthers group to Facebook. I had done so myself, many times. Numerous people reported Truthers Against Zionists Lobbies to Facebook for its frequent holocaust denial, antisemitic cartoons and Hitler apologetics. Nevertheless, it seems that Ms Formby struck the coup de grace and that is to her credit.

Still, the remaining Corbynist forums insist that the leaked report proves that there was never any antisemitism in Corbyn’s Labour Party. They say that Keir Starmer has suppressed the report because it exonerates the previous leader and his office. Referring to the unkind references to Diane Abbott in emails between staffers, they want Labour investigated for institutional racism against everyone except Jews.

There is one aspect of this which disturbs me most. It seems that Joe Public does not know the difference between the forthcoming EHRC report and Jennie Formby’s leaked dossier. I do not suppose that the person on the Clapham omnibus thinks about it at all, but those who support Corbyn and reject Keir Starmer seem to think the EHRC report has been and gone, that it exonerates Corbyn and shows that there was never any antisemitism in Labour but that this was a lie put about by renegade Jews, Blairites, Zionists, UK Jewish communal organizations, the Israeli Embassy, Mr Netanyahu on his day off, Gnasher Jew, Mr Collier and Labour Against Antisemitism, in order to prevent a Labour government which would make the Palestinian cause its priority. The person they put most definitely in the frame for the Conservative electoral victory in December 2019 is Sir Keir Starmer himself. After all he has admitted to participating in a Friday night Kiddush. What more need be said?

Surprisingly – or not – Jennie Formby tweeted a link to Jeremy Corbyn’s recent interview with Middle East Eye, in which he claims to have been sabotaged by people pretending that antisemitism was a problem during his leadership of the Labour Party. If this is what Jennie Formby believes, how does she feel about her 860 pages, ending with the exhortation ‘Never again!’ Surely she cannot have forgotten so much so soon.

Below are some of the pages from the leaked dossier, some recent pages from Corbynist forums on Facebook and a short extract from Mr Corbyn’s interview with Peter Oborne and David Hearst for Middle East Monitor.

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