Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Archive for September 2022

I am watching part 4 of Al Jazeera’s Labour Files, entitled The Spying Game. The opening ten minutes revolve around Croydon – inevitably, in the world of espionage. The emails of Stephen Downes, a Croydon councillor, were hacked. Please hold on to this thought as I’m sure it will lead somewhere. They have already referred to Croydon as our Watergate.

This fourth slice of Labour Files reprises some of the material from the previous films. It promises to reveal that Jeremy Corbyn was undermined by a smear campaign. The narrator reports that pro Palestinians were silenced, that British Politics were undermined by spying. and that files reveal a hierarchy of racism.

There is a reprise of Damian McCarthy saying ‘This is absolutely shocking’ and another chance to hear Greg Hadfield saying ‘Labour is a criminal conspiracy.’

‘People are quite dangerous’ says an unidentified talking head.

To return to the epicentre of international espionage: Croydon, where supporters of Starmer upset supporters of Corbyn.

A David White of Croydon Labour Party was, in the words of the narrator, ‘immensely enthused by Jeremy Corbyn’. The General Secretary David Evans took an interest in David White and he was expelled, accused, says the narrator, of being an antisemite. This, says Mr White, was an absence of natural justice.

‘David White is not an antisemite,’ says Stephen Downes.

The editor of ‘Inside Croydon’, Mr Downes, explains that ‘strange things’ happened to some of the people he emailed. A digital device had been left in their email accounts. Essentially, their emails were being copied to the leader of the council.

‘The Labour Party’ condones the hacking of the press,’ says a gentleman whose name I didn’t catch, the press, in this case, being Inside Croydon.

Here endeth the fourth tranche of Labour Files.

If any Croydon Corbynist wishes to say I have got the names wrong or misunderstood whose emails were hacked, they will probably be right. It is not inconceivable that my attention wandered during the course of the film.

Strange as it may seem, when I started watching Tinker, Tailor Soldier Spy in 1979, I wasn’t sure which of several intelligence officers was Toby Esterhase.*

*It was Bernard Hepton of course.

The third episode of Al Jazeera’s Labour files is now available.

It purports to expose racism prevalent in Labour, excluding of course antisemitic racism.

I don’t doubt that racism is rife in the Labour Party. A case in point is that Rupa Huq believed it acceptable to call Kwazi Kwarteng ‘superficially black’.

 The point of this third film in the series is that antisemitism is taken seriously in Labour whereas other forms of racism are permitted.

‘Labour is a criminal conspiracy,’ says Greg Hadfield, a Corbynist expelled from Labour.

Former Councillor Marcia Hutchinson alleges that she has encountered more racism and exclusion in the Labour Party than anywhere else.

It is reported in the third film – and this is not strictly breaking news – that senior Labour management exchanged mean and satirical messages about Diane Abbott and that dehumanising language was used. I don’t doubt it.  I am accustomed to seeing dehumanising language about Jews from Corbyn supporters. Dehumanising language is rampant in all political parties and on social media.

Shami Chakrabarti is mentioned, considered to be disparaged as a BAME woman.

Trevor Phillips, always a target for Corbynists, is accused of Islamophobia.

The Forde Report is cited, with respect to racism in Labour against people of colour. The Forde Report paragraphs about antisemitism during Corbyn’s leadership are not cited, so I will supply them, below.

Several of those interviewed say ‘This would not be allowed if it was said about Jews,’ referring to remarks about particular Muslims. The case being argued is that Jews are privileged in Labour, being protected from anti Jewish racism.

It is certainly true that Keir Starmer intends to uproot antisemitism. Was he aware of it during Corbyn’s leadership? I speculate that he has become much more aware since he became the target of antisemites who argue sometimes that he is untrustworthy due to having a Jewish wife and often that he is in the pay of Israel (shown in my screen shots below).

The third episode of Labour Files equals the first two in fatuity, repetitive assertions and portentous music, but the argument, about institutional racism and Islamophobia in Labour management is a serious allegation which only the Labour Party can answer.

Tremendous hostility is expressed towards Keir Starmer who is accused of anti black racism as he opposed the tearing down of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol and used the word ‘moment’about BLM.

Peter Oborne says that ‘there is a battle for the sewer between Tories and Labour for bigoted white votes.’

Marcia Hutchinson says that the Labour Party not only tolerates anti-black racism but promotes it.

Underpinning the film is the argument that Corbyn is the anti racist warrior par excellence, unlike non Corbynists in Labour. The familiar photo of a younger Corbyn wearing an anti apartheid sandwich board is shown and the narrator says ‘…a lifelong anti racist campaigner and champion of Palestinian rights.’

I was glad though that, unlike Mr Corbyn in his interview with Al Mayadeen, Al Jazeera did not claim  that Bibi Netanyahu was a driving force behind Corbyn’s failures.

The film was deferred and broadcast about 48 hours after the scheduled time. No doubt someone on Corbynist social media is already attributing the delay to Bibi.

Images below are from the Forde Report and Corbynist social media.

Some commentary on Corbynist social media.

The eyes of those who follow political news may have been turned towards the mini budget of the new Chancellor, Kwazi Kwarteng, or fixed on the Labour Party conference in Liverpool this week, or looking even further afield to contemplate the rise of the right in the Italian General Election.

Meanwhile, for some supporters and detractors of the previous Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the new Al Jazeera documentaries ‘Labour Files’ are priority viewing. I have friends who watched with interest, expecting to be named as Zionist conspirators accused of pulling strings to halt the rise of Corbyn during the four and a half years of his leadership. Some were not mentioned, others featured prominently. For those who have the means, there may be legal redress if they have been libelled, but litigation, which is a sequel to the Corbyn interregnum, could be as prolonged as the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, with everyone suing everyone else and, despite the success of John Ware, one cannot be sure that the outcome will always be favourable.

What is being said in the Al Jazeera films?

The material of the ‘leaked report’ is presented once again, showing acerbic emails and texts between Labour officials who disliked Corbyn, his advisors and his inner circle. Officials are named, alongside the text of edgy jokes targeting the Labour leader and, notoriously disparaging Diane Abbott. Corbynists and the Al Jazeera narrator tend to regard unkindness about Diane Abbott as racist in nature, although not, presumably, the unkindness directed against black politicians who are not allied to Jeremy Corbyn; still less if they are Conservative MPs or Ministers of State.

The Labour Party officials interviewed by John Ware for Panorama are presented in the Al Jazeera films as maligning Mr Corbyn and creating pitfalls to undermine his leadership.

A young man, disbarred once or twice from his profession as barrister, speaks of Zionist bullying so distressing to him that his stepfather actually passed away. He did not provide details of the connection but claimed to have received violent threats. Alarmed, he spoke of this to his stepfather who subsequently died. One sympathizes as the outcome is sad, whatever the reason, although the connection of one  event to the other appears speculative.

The Al Jazeera films are not forensic. Innuendo, buzz words and scary music are their modus operandi.

Initially, the Labour Files films concentrate their fire on Labour Party staff, accused of bringing down Corbyn.

In the second film, they name Jewish organizations: the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Against Antisemitism as well as Jewish MPs during Corbyn’s leadership: Luciana Berger, Ruth Smeeth and Margaret Hodge who is still a Labour MP.  All are accused of making up allegations of antisemitism, which resulted in suspensions and expulsions. For this second film, the Al Jazeera producers, keenly aware that they and the Corbyn movement may be perceived as antisemitic, conducted interviews with Jewish people from the cadre of activists who have stuck with Corbyn through thick and thin and who appear to espouse the eradication of Zionism and the Jewish State. These include JVL spokespeople Jenny Manson and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi as well as anti Israel polemicist Andrew Feinstein and Momentum activist James Schneider. They have not interviewed Momentum’s Jon Lansman who believed that antisemitism became problematic in Labour under Corbyn. Such an opinion would go entirely against the thrust of the films.

Interviews with the JVL ladies speaking either tremulously or laughingly about homicidal threats phoned in by persecutory Zionists, are juxtaposed with footage of Zionist activists, yelling or jumping up and down at meetings. The Enough is Enough demonstration against Labour antisemitism which took place in Parliament Square in March 2018, is shown several times, accompanied by sinister, non-diegetic music which could function adequately in a movie about killer sharks.

I was at that demonstration myself. For all the fear and anger so many of us felt at that time, I doubt that many of us foresaw the likelihood of appearing four years later on an Al Jazeera channel, being subliminally connected with Jaws.

Andrew Feinstein did concede in his interview that antisemitism exists but was at pains to communicate that it comes from the far right not the left. He showed articles which accused Jews of sinking the Titanic and killing Kennedy and where the phrase ‘Rothschild Zionism’ occurs. I appreciated that he did at least  confirm the antisemitism of this discourse but I wondered what he would say to someone like me, who sees that kind of language on Corbynist social media over and over again. I make screen shots, so that people will know what is said on Corbynist social media. It also saves me from using subjective, descriptive terminology. Responses range from the accusation that I forge the images to the apologetic that Mr Corbyn can hardly be blamed for the comments of a few cranks. The latter is not unreasonable but when an avalanche of similar invective is posted every day by individuals declaring admiration for Mr Corbyn, one feels he is attracting people with a certain point of view. More disturbing and probably more common is the response that the very antisemitic comments are ‘the Truth’, as often as not with a hashtag such as ‘Truth hurts’. Saying Israel or Zionism instead of Jews appears to satisfy most of the Corbynist left that they are keeping antisemitism at bay.

The second Al Jazeera film showed the Jewish husband of a Labour MP in informal conversation with a woman describes as right wing which, as as far as I know, she may be. He was explaining why he thought Sadiq Khan a good choice for London mayor. His civility in the conversation was shown to suggest that he nurtured right wing alliances.

When supporters of BDS, the boycott against Israel, demonstrated outside shops in the UK with Israeli connections, there was a Jewish presence, opposing them. Some members of the right wing English Defence League, highly unwelcome because of their known Islamophobic views, came to support the Jewish demonstrators . This was a windfall for BDS who photographed Jewish demonstrators in the proximity of EDL members. The footage appears of course in the Al Jazeera films.

At the end of the second film, quotations appear on the screen: refutations from some of those targeted in it. This is accompanied by the throb of ominous music in which one can detect the timbre of a ticking clock. To me it seems to suggest some looming danger, coming ever closer. What is that danger?

Is it the danger of a non-Corbynist Labour government, which would indeed represent a greater setback for the Corbynist movement than another Conservative win?

Is it perhaps that they consider Starmer’s Labour to be dominated by Israeli and Jewish interests?

The combination of the Qatari based Al Jazeera channel with the JVL leadership and other Corbynists expelled by Labour for antisemitism makes it seem overwhelmingly probable that this is the dog whistle being blown.

I had braced myself for the third episode of Labour Files on the Al Jazeera channel but, unexpectedly, the second episode was repeated instead.

Was there some restraining variable, some legal road bump, some liability or  libel which made it the prudent course for Al Jazeera to pull the programme?

I’m sure the disappointed Corbynists will have an opinion about who is behind the setback.

As I write this, the third part of the Labour Files series has still not been broadcast. I hear that it appeared briefly on Youtube but was taken down within minutes.

Already, aficionados of Al Jazeera and the Corbyn movement see this as proof of interference from powerful and malevolent operators.

I have posted below screen shots, showing some of their reactions to the series.

The content of the first two Al Jazeera films, as I expected, was not the obvious in-your-face antisemitism of Chris Williamson’s Press TV show, where Professor David Miller names Jewish schools in the UK for the attention of  Iran state-controlled media. The thrust of Qatar’s Al Jazeera investigation belongs more to the Simon Maginn genre of antisemitism: Corbynist Jews, familiar from every JVL picket and post, assure a sympathetic interviewer that anti-Corbynists, whether Jewish or not Jewish, all lie about their experiences of antisemitism on the left, in order to protect Israel from being talked about. Like Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Files team aims for plausible deniability. They mean to convey that it is not anti Jewish because, behold, Jenny Manson, Naomi Wimborne Idrissi and Andrew Feinstein are Jewish.

For myself, this does not work at all as deniability goes, but I saw from Twitter that the first episode at least was taken seriously by esteemed journalist Michael Crick. There is some danger of harm to the Jewish community when established broadcasters give credence to a theory of Zionist dirty tricks undermining British democracy. We know that some journalists do propound or accept such a point of view.

In this tolerant country of my birth, where the electorate rejected Jeremy Corbyn and all his works, contributors to broadcasting, academia and entertainment seem occasionally unable to recognize old prejudices in modern clothes, perhaps because it is so unfamiliar to their enlightened mindset that they simply do not identify the signs.

  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: Thank you Keith.
  • keithmarr: Dearest Gillian < div dir="ltr">Not only do you manage to read all this filth without throwing up but you manage to make me laugh
  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: Unless they are members of the group in general agreement with the Labour manifesto of 2019 but against the excesses which are often found in these gr