Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Archive for July 2022

I learned from responses to the EHRC report, the ‘Leaked Report’ and also, going back to distant 2016, the Chilcot Report into Britain’s role in the Iraq war, that there is a wide latitude in the interpretation of long awaited reports, sometimes viewed through the lens of the reader’s preconceptions.

Now we have the Forde report, anticpated for so long by the Corbynist left that the very words Forde Report were used by them as a meme and a hashtag.

Like all the other reports, I find it could have been worse and could have been better.

Already I have seen Corbynists, including Mr Corbyn himself, reacting as they did to the Leaked Report, as if it denied antisemitism and vindicated the former Labour leader and his office. A spokesman from Momentum, Martin Abrams, on BBC’s Politics Live has said that the report reveals the repugnant racism from the staff of Labour HQ and Mr Corbyn also made this point, referencing ‘repulsive racism and sexism’ directed at Diane Abbott. This was the Corbynist response to the ‘Leaked Report’ and, so far, their perception of the Forde Report is no different.

The authors of the derogatory WhatsApp messages about Diane Abbott insisted that their hostility was unrelated to her being a black woman. Paragraph C6:8 of the report sees it this way.

The report faults both right and left factions of the Labour Party for considering themselves above racism and antisemitism. It points out that an anti racist record does not make one immune from prejudice, as shown by Mr Corbyn’s actions in perpetuating a culture of antisemitism, despite his perception of himself as a lifelong anti-racist.

‘…the failure of the elected leadership to countenance that (as lifelong antiracists) they could be behaving in a way which perpetuated antisemitism.’ This is something Mr Corbyn has always strenuously denied, to the extent of saying that the charges of antisemitism are made in bad faith, and often has not limited himself to accusing the staff of Labour Party HQ but implicated Zionists in general, Jewish journalists and Jewish communal organizations.

The knock on effect of this standpoint had a negative effect on Jewish members in some Constituency Labour Parties. The authors of the Forde Report express this clearly.

Ardent defenders of Mr Corbyn have often said that the ‘Leaked Report’ shows that there was no antisemitism in Labour, or that it was exaggerated or overstated but the Forde panel are right, in my view, to state firmly that this was not the case.

According to Forde, the authors of the Leaked Report believed that they were misrepresented as minimizing the problem of antisemitism, which they considered rife in the party membership. They rejected the view that it was exaggerated or ‘a smear’. When I read the Leaked Report in April 2020, I saw that they acknowledged the extent of the problem and I was sorry to see assertions on Corbynist social media that it proved – as Mr Maginn likes to say – ‘it was a scam.’

The thrust of the Forde report as far as I understand it is that factions of right and left, respectively Labour HQ and LOTO, had extremely rancorous feelings towards each other and used whatever they could to the other’s detriment.

It is axiomatic on Corbynist social media that, due to their hostility towards Corbyn’s leadership, the right wing of the Labour Party conspired to lose the General Elections of 2017 and 2019. The Forde Report rejects this allegation.

The report takes an even-handed view when apportioning blame between the factions, a degree of incompetence and confusion impeding the leader’s office, in their relations with Labour Party staff.

This even-handedness may be seen as a flaw, probably by both sides. My own perception is that one side, the Leader of the Opposition’s Office, perpetuated and nurtured antisemitism and, in opposing this, the staff at Head Office were justified in resisting them. This is not to say that Labour staff were justified in all things they did, least of all in the malicious WhatsApp messages, but their opposition to an antisemitic culture, confirmed by the EHRC Report, the Leaked Report and the Forde Report is not, in my opinion, culpable.

I am afraid that paragraphs such as C2.60, below, will be ignored or forgotten by those partisan to the previous Labour leader.

The most disappointing paragraph to me in the Forde Report suggested that JVL be included with JLM in providing education about antisemitism. I have written elsewhere about JVL attracting a significant number of antisemitic supporters and why I think their intense anti Zionism clouds their perception of classic anti Jewish tropes.

However, the point of my post here is that the report should be read, warts and all, and that it should not be misrepresented as supporting or condemning things it does not support or condemn.

Last night, I noticed a ‘Corbyn was right’ hashtag on Twitter apropos the report, and Mr Corbyn himself made a statement, to the effect that the report calls out racism towards Diane Abbott. He does not mention the comments regarding his own failures and perpetuation of antisemitism. This is from Jeremy Corbyn’s statement which also includes the usual reference to billionaires and repeats the slogan ‘for the many not the few’.

The report, in my opinion, largely corroborates the portrayal of Corbyn’s Labour in ‘Left Out’ by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire, as dysfunctional in many ways, perpetually circling round an indecisive but stubborn leader, out of his depth and out of his comfort zone which undoubtedly reached its apotheosis whenever he was informing his supporters at outdoor rallies about the iniquities of Israel. https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/442223/left-out-by-gabriel-pogrund-and-patrick-maguire/9781529113624

I am sure the perception of Corbyn as antisemitic was not the only reason whay Labour staff were hostile to the leadership. Some abrasive persons had been raised to positions of high authority and the situation of those answerable to them was unenviable.

For myself, it is a matter of overriding importance and the reason why I ceased to vote Labour.

I brace myself for the misreporting and wishful thinking which will be printed and posted in respect of the Forde report. Already I have been embroiled on Twitter and saw fit to highlight the sentence which the Corbynists will not want to read.

I had a quiet weekend, too much time for Twitter and it became consuming with all the replies informing me that Jews are Khazars and racists. Perhaps they meant that Zionists, not Jews, are racists – but who are the Khazars? I have never seen an anti Zionist Jew identify as a Khazar. Do those who adhere to the theory that Jews are from a Khazaria, which I cannot find on a map, maintain that the victims of the nazis in Europe were Khazarian?

They would have an answer to this, I am sure, as the quiet weekend was spent largely looking at their proliferating answers.

Today, I tried to trace the origin of a thread in which I was tagged, where adversarial accounts iterated the words apartheid, Khazar and other disobliging terms. Some accounts include the word apartheid in every tweet they write, with the compulsiveness of a child avoiding cracks in the pavement. They have articles by Amnesty, Btselem and Mondoweiss ready to hand.

The origin appeared to be a tweet from Chris Williamson, who quote tweeted Chief Rabbi Mirvis.

This generated some anger from those sympathetic to the Chief Rabbi and our answers provoked the ire of a panoply of ‘anti Zionists’, a sample of which will be shown below.

These anti Zionists abided by the Twitter tradition of tweeting with a jaunty self-confidence, jouissance almost, more marked as their tweets became more insulting. Of course this applies to all tendencies, not just those hostile to Jews, or should I say Khazars, as some of Chris Williamson’s fanbase like to call us. It is a commonplace for an individual accused of antisemitism to supply the spirited denial that, on the contrary, they are devoted to the semitic Palestinians.

It makes me weary. I would do better to go for a jog and then I would be weary in a good way, although to be honest, jogging no longer presents an option.

It makes me depressed, a word which the antagonistic accounts would replace with the phrase ‘playing the antisemitism card’.

And I am cursed with a desire to answer, for the performative value, for all the innocent bystanders who yet might be persuaded not to believe that an army of conquering Khazars traversed the Near East in the years after the Second World War.

Nevertheless, by the end of Saturday, I blocked all the hostile accounts in my notifications. On Sunday night, I blocked a lot more. One man repeatedly called me a racist. Eventually riled by this, I painted a blue Star of David on the back of my left hand, photographed it doing a middle finger salute, tweeted this to Kevin and then blocked him. The utility, if any, was merely to show that there is an end to my patience.

After this, the onslaught abated, except for one man called ‘Clemenza’ in honour of the Godfather character, who sent me a selection of iffy Talmud quotes famously assembled by neonazis.

When I think of the long, long arguments in the Gemara, often not resolved and finished only with the word ‘Teiku’ which indicated an impasse, I can’t imagine that Twitter would be the place to embark on Talmud apologetics.

However I will just quote the Mishnah (Avot 5:17) on arguments:

Every dispute that is for the sake of Heaven, will in the end endure; But one that is not for the sake of Heaven, will not endure. Which is the controversy that is for the sake of Heaven? Such was the controversy of Hillel and Shammai. And which is the controversy that is not for the sake of Heaven? Such was the controversy of Korach and all his congregation.

Not everyone will know about Korach’s rebellion (Numbers 16) or about the first century disputes between the sages Hillel (lenient) and Shammai (strict) but some arguments are worth having. Others are not worth having but you just can’t get out of them.