Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

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The toxicity of diverse Corbynist groups on Facebook, in terms of antisemitism and hate speech, is fluid rather than static, depending often on personnel: the moderators and the frequent contributors. A group called Supporting Active Socialism displayed many antisemitic posts by a contributor who wrote as John Bernard or John Spannyard Indaworks. When Keir Starmer became Labour leader, the founder and moderator of the group, a Mr Smith, stated that the forum would now support the new leader rather than Jeremy Corbyn. The ambience changed and Mr Indaworks was no longer seen in that group. I had some exchanges with Mr Smith about what counted as antisemitism, which he seemed reasonably keen to avoid, although he must have had some suspicions of me as a Zionist infiltrator.

Many of the Corbynist groups focus on the iniquities of the Conservative and Labour Parties,with particular animus against Keir Starmer. In the posts and threads about Sir Keir, the accusation of Zionism is usually raised, as well as speculation about the receipt of shekels. The individuals posting these comments do so again and again, revealing a level of obsession which may not be shared by other members of the group. In a group of 20,000, fewer than a hundred are likely ever to contribute to the discussion and perhaps half a dozen do so several times a day.

The private group ‘Just Socialism the Corbyn Way’ currently features daily, sometimes hourly, posts from Yunus Elias whose memes are usually taken from Middle Eastern presses and blogs hostile to Israel. Mr Elias’s name has been attached to overt Holocaust denial but this seems to predate his activism on left wing forums.

Another private group, ‘We Support Jeremy Corbyn,’ had moderators who were unusually alert to antisemitic comments which they often confronted, even banning at least one person when he responded with verbal aggression. Nevertheless, they were not able to contain all the antisemitism of their members. It was a pillar on which support for Mr Corbyn rested.

In some groups, ‘Prime Minister Jeremy Corbyn’ for example, rage and sentimental devotion jostle for prominence. On some days, posts about evils of the UK, the USA and Israel predominate while a photo of Mr Corbyn produces a hundred or more declarations of love and loyalty, generally couched in repetitive terms such as ‘The greatest Prime Minister we never had,’ ‘They fear him because he cannot be bought,’ and ‘Ohhh Jeremy Corbyn!’ As I never tire of pointing out, parallels are often made with Corbyn and the life of Jesus, the crucifixion and the resurrection. Mr Corbyn’s initials are regarded as an uncanny indication of godliness although nobody has suggested that Jesus’s middle name was Bernard. Instead of the annunciation,we have Mrs Corbyn Senior’s presence at Cable Street in 1936.

One of the most offensively antisemitic groups, ‘PAIS: Palestinian and Irish Solidarity’ went from public to private after being reported frequently for hate speech. They posted a meme showing rats with an apology that ‘Zionist trolls’ were present. On going private, they clamped down on membership and I was not able to gain access. PAIS, founded by an activist in County Down, was not particularly in thrall to Jeremy Corbyn but their antisemitism was virulent, including some Holocaust denial and many expressions of joy when Israelis, civilian or otherwise, were killed.

‘Truthers Against Antisemitism’ has been run for several years by Marino Robles, Rita Allison and Mahmoud Tashvishi, all of whom are active in various other Corbynist groups on Facebook. Originally, their header photo displayed Mr Corbyn pointing with a baleful finger but there was some Facebook intervention and the group closed, reappearing after a few months with a new header, a mock up of the Israeli flag displaying the words ‘Israel has not history, only a criminal record.’ Marino Robles and Rita Allison are both cited in the ‘Leaked Report’ of April 2020, as being expelled from Labour for antisemitism while Jennie Formby was General Secretary.

The JVL group on Facebook posts almost exclusively about Israel or the raw deal its members receive from Keir Starmer’s Labour. For any given post, the supporters’ comments tend to be markedly and crassly anti Jewish, in excess of the original post. It is a mystery that the JVL moderators allow some of the material. I speculate they may understand that people with such opinions are a supporting wall of their own organization, just as they are for Mr Corbyn.

Participants in Facebook political groups are likely to be older than those who post on Tik Tok and Instagram and this demographic is evident in the Corbyn groups, where participants declare themselves very often to be septuagenarians or octogenarians. One can infer this too from their phraseology, their photos and even their names.

The more static these groups, the more closed they are to differences of opinion but I have seen changes which have turned the ambience around, generally when a Labour supporting group has ceased to campaign for Corbyn and thrown in their lot with Keir Starmer’s Labour. From his first day as Labour leader, Starmer took a stand against antisemitism and many Corbyn loyalists left the party or were expelled from it.

Tony Benn used to say ‘Look at policies not personalities,’ and Corbyn has sometimes quoted this but politicians gain and lose power on the basis of personalities and this is even true in Facebook groups, in microcosm.

The screen shots below are representative of many more in similar vein.

When I was a schoolgirl in the International Socialism group, later called SWP, there were certain doctrinal principles, some of which now seem to me counter-intuitive, but half a century has passed and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge.

Always support a strike

Even in the event of the strike having a racist impetus as sometimes happened when the work force opposed immigrant labour, one should join the picket line and argue the case against racism then and there.

Always support the armed struggle against imperialism

If the insurgent movement is autocratic and tyrannical, one should nevertheless give it full support and then wage revolution against the leadership when they come to power. ‘Permanent revolution’ may be mentioned here.

Participate in local tenants’ associations, colleges, workplaces and clubs

Make recruits

Join the Labour Party

The parliamentary Labour Party is counter revolutionary. One joins in order to recruit for the revolutionary cause.

Expose the failures of Parliamentary social democracy

Expose the failures of State Capitalism

The Soviet Union

Expose the doctrinal errors of rival Trotskyist groups

SLL/WRP, IMG, Militant

Tea or coffee to be prepared by the women in the group

This was fifty-five years ago. Women’s liberation had not quite penetrated the left, although Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published in 1963. I am willing to be corrected on the chronology of feminist consciousness in the UK left.

Anti monarchism


Unilateral nuclear disarmament


Temporary support for North Vietnam

Revolution against Ho Chi Minh to occur after the Americans had been seen off

Against South African Apartheid

Against the National Front

Against racism, literally in all its forms

It was not until the Six Day War that Israel received significant negative attention.

VIETNAM – OUR SPAIN!‘ flashed a headline on the SWP paper, then called Labour Worker. My generation wanted a cause that would resemble the Spanish Civil War, although Orwell had shown the mortal fracturing of the left in the fight against Franco.

On the demos, some chanted ‘Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh,’ like a mantra. ‘Wilson: Johnson’s poodle’ was crayoned on many placards. It was thought that Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson colluded with Lyndon B Johnson, implicitly supporting his war in South East Asia.

Thirty-five years later, in February 2003, there was what was said to be the biggest ever demo in London, against war with Iraq. I did not attend, but I knew many who did. In the Gulf War of 1991, Iraq’s reaction to a large coalition of nations responding to their aggression in Kuwait was to bomb Israel with eighty-eight scud missiles over a period of seven weeks. I did not know what to think about Blair and Bush’s proposed war on Saddam Hussein but I had no doubt that Saddam Hussein was an evil tyrant..

I attended innumerable demos when I was young, the last that I recall being against the all white South African Springboks – the rugby team, I think it was – when I was an undergraduate in Manchester.

Later on, I noticed that all demos involved some unpalatable slogans, however progressive the cause.

‘Khaybar, khaybar ya Yahud’ is now heard, threatening death to Jews.

‘From the river to the sea,’ threatening death to Israelis, is a staple of progressive demos in the UK.

Stop the War UK, which organized so effectively in 2003 against war with Iraq now opposes what they regard as Ukrainian militarism. Are they as emphatically against Russian militarism? Possibly but it is a false equivalence.

For a while they headlined a Richard Falk article, advocating war with Israel. This was taken down eventually as it was seen as compromising their anti-war ethos; likewise a headline suggesting that the western powers were to blame for the terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015.

So long ago that it seems like another life, my sister marched from Aldermaston to London with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, joined on the third day by my parents and me, still a child. When the time came, I too marched with CND from High Wycombe to London, Easter after Easter.

My marching days have long been over. It isn’t a question of septuagenarian debility. It’s a question of the slogans, the left’s answer to tabloid headlines. Slogans of left and right, peace and war, can speak with peleucid simplicity to a multitude and send them down the road looking for trouble.

Ça ira, ça ira was an exhortation to terror which followed the French Revolution.

Beware the catchy slogan and the rousing song. I like anthems as much as anyone, at the Proms or the Olympics or on the football pitch, but when they are accompanied by marching feet and bloodlust, I generally prefer to cast a cold eye.

Post script. I forgot that I attended two demos in 2018, in Westminster, against Labour Party antisemitism. Desperate needs cause desperate measures and indeed, this is why people resort to demonstrations and rallies. After what was called the Enough is Enough demo or the Dayenu (an allusion to the Passover seder) demo, I painted an impression of the event.

There’s nothing easier than listing the names I am called by hostile accounts on Twitter: racist, white supremacist, apartheid apologist, liar, child killer.

In the sunlit uplands of the past, I may have been told ‘Go and join the Tories’ but the invective is stronger now, just as the dosage of a medicine is increased when the body is desensitized to the original dose.

But who are they and who are we?

When the names are applied to me, I infer that they are due to to the fact that I’m Jewish, a Zionist, opposed to Corbynism and active on Twitter in connection with these issues.

The same names are thrown at most members of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, with the additional appellations: backstabber, frontstabber, traitor, puppet.

I have never seen – and one can’t see everything – anyone who calls me, Jewish community organizations and the Labour front bench ‘racist’ confronting any of the right far accounts, which target black people, Jews and LGBTQ people. When these accounts with 88 or 18 in their Twitter handles show up on my timeline, the first responders to confront them are accounts I follow or like, but naturally Twitter works this way, showng the tweets of people we follow.. Perhaps the Corbynist left really do confront neonazis on Twitter and, due to some algorithm beyond my understanding, I never get to see it.

In the case of Kanye West, Ye as we must now call him, the UK accounts calling out his antisemitism were the usual activists against antisemitism – in all its forms, as Mr Corbyn might say.

The more attention given to any particular tweet in likes and retweets, the more it will garner negative attention.

In the world of Twitter, the battle lines are drawn. A sceptical reply to a known Corbynist can produce a pile-on and no doubt this works in reverse.

How can one learn to be indifferent to the names one is called on Twitter, particularly those tweets which call us/me far right? The insults which come my way from the actual far right are often nearer the truth as they tend to mention that I’m Jewish. And they don’t mistake me for one of themselves.

The names I am called – by the left, sorry to say, which can now be called the Corbynist left, regardless of whether their support is agreeable to Corbyn himself – are bestowed also on the journalists I read, the broadcasters I watch and the entertainers I follow. It is worse to see luminaries or friends being insulted, as I am then tempted to go in with virtual fists flailing, and this does not always help.

I avoid the use of insulting terms in my tweets but the same can be said of adversaries, who routinely end their barbs with ‘Enjoy your day’. The art of incivility is to accuse the other of what they hate. Sometimes, if I query being called ‘white supremacist,’ I am told that now I know how Corbyn felt, being called ‘antisemite’ when he doesn’t have an antisemitic bone in his body. So I am called these names as a punishment for what I say about Corbynists?

Tit-for-tat is as prominent as rebuttal in a Twitter altercation. If someone posts a photo of Corbyn with a terrorist from Hamas or the IRA, a reply may come in the form of a photo of Tony Blair or the late Queen standing next to a tyrant or a crook. Monarchs and Prime Ministers are obliged to meet all sorts, so these photos are not hard to find.

The most prominent UK activists against antisemitism are routinely called far right, so much so that those of our number who are left-leaning sometimes buy into the disinformation.

In the course of writing this short post, I find I have two new hostile notifications, one telling me that I know I’m wrong and, as for the other, I can’t make out exactly what they’re saying but I know I’m not supposed to like it.

I blocked both accounts. Blocking is an action one never regrets. It is harder to block when it seems compromising to leave a libel hanging out there without an answer, but one of the rare positives in online altercations is that one can switch them off.

Muting is a gentler option. ‘I’ve had Mrs Hudson on semi-permanent mute,’ said Sherlock.

I wish they all could be Mrs Hudson.

After the 2019 General Election, a Corbynist line of attack against their opponents in and out of Labour, in the Jewish community and in the media, was that we lied about antisemitism. The typical inquisitor on Twitter asks for evidence of Mr Corbyn’s antisemitism. Only the least cautious ask for evidence of antisemitism from supporters of Corbyn as this is easier to provide. Mr Corbyn was careful for the duration of his leadership, often declaring himself against antisemitism in all its forms. The mural, the irony speech, the friendship for Hamas and Hezbollah, the ‘hand of Israel’ interview, the wreath, the alliances with Stephen Sizer, Raed Saleh and Paul Eisen, the celebrations of the Iranian Revolution, all these things occurred before he became leader of the Labour Party. His inadequacies in dealing with antisemitism have been written about in the EHRC report and, to some extent, in the Forde Report but I think it is fair to say that he exercised some care, while leader, to maintain plausible deniability in the face of very many accusations of antisemitism. No longer leader, Mr Corbyn is freer to speak his mind and suggested in a recent interview with the Al Mayadeen channel of Beirut that Benjamin Netanyahu played a part in his downfall.

The position of Corbynist orthodoxy is that Zionists stopped Corbyn being elected, because he was a supporter of the Palestinian cause. How did we manage this? A frequent suggestion is that we subborned the media but there are more inventive theories involving Rothschild bankers, vote rigging, that we held Corbyn responsible for his supporters’ hostility towards Jews (a reasonable hypothesis) and, above all, that we conflated anti Zionism with antisemitism. There is a continual search for ‘proofs’ of a Zionist conspiracy. A video was circulated of a Jewish activist saying after the last General Election ‘We did it!’ – interpreted on Corbynist social media to mean that we did it through undemocratic subterfuge, rather than through the same electioneering practised by any other activist during an election campaign.

A delegate addressing a Board of Deputies meeting said that Labour would have to sacrifice Corbyn if they hoped to win a General Election. The speaker meant clearly that a different leader would be more likely to win an election. Every Corbynist forum I saw insisted that this speaker had advocated the murder of Corbyn as a human sacrifice, just as farmyard animals were sacrificed in Temple times.

Just recently, Al Jazeera has presented The Labour Files, in which the Labour Party under Starmer’s leadership is called ‘a criminal conspiracy’ and various activists against antisemitism are named as conspirators.

Daily, a Twitter eccentric called Simon Maginn posts a hashtag he invented, ‘It was a scam,’ meaning to say that talk of antisemitism was a cynical ploy of Zionists to stop a supporter of Palestine being Prime Minister. ”Everyone knows it was a scam,’ he insists. ‘It’s been proven. You’re busted. Will you continue with this scam or will you stop scamming and apologize? Yes or no?’ On one occasion, he assured us – the alleged scammers – ‘We’re coming for you.’ Sussex police were called in. Mr Maginn said that they were scammers too.

The scope of the present blog post is narrow, based on my observance of left wing Facebook groups to which I have access. Some are public groups; others are private and I joined them using a nom de guerre. I have been blocked by some groups for contradicting their statements about Jews, Israel and antisemitism and this includes several unofficial Labour Party forums, created during Corbyn’s leadership.

Not all the groups are avowedly Corbynist, an exception being PAIS, Palestinian and Irish Solidarity, which, as its name suggests, focuses on Ireland and the Middle East, rather than Westminster or Islington.

Truthers Against Zionist Lobbies were emphatically pro-Corbyn until they were removed by Facebook for antisemitism, possibly because they had come to the notice of Jennie Formby, then General Secretary of the Labour Party. The administrators of the Truthers group are mentioned for their antisemitism in the so-called Leaked Report of April 2020. They re-established themselves four months later without the header photo of Corbyn, replacing it with a meme of an Israeli flag overlaid with the words ‘Israel has no history, only a criminal record’.

We Support Jeremy Corbyn was different from other similar groups by having at least two moderators who recognized the antisemitism of some comments and intervened against them. However, there are still many antisemitic outpourings in their group and I imagine that it is a losing battle to keep them in check. I appreciate the moderators’ attempts to contain this aspect of their forum. It shows that the connection between Corbynism and antisemitism is empirical not a priori; in other words, they are not inevitably found together but, in practice, there is often a convergence.

As I have written before, the original posts on the JVL forum, while inimical to Zionism, are seldom overtly antisemitic but the supportive comments are almost inevitably so and they are never contradicted by the JVL moderators.

Holocaust revisionism works differently from denial, accepting that the Shoah occurred but arguing that Jews or Zionists were complicit with Nazism; that Churchill was worse than the Nazis or that Israel is worse. The numbers of dead in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (several thousands, over the years) are occasionally multiplied to make the number of Palestinians killed match the millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

The screen shots below are, of course, just the tip of the iceberg. They display threads and comments which I have seen, in some Facebook groups but I am not on TikTok or Instagram. I take it as read that far right groups will be replete with Shoah denial and Hitler fandom. These screen shots are just a part of what I see on Corbynist, Fenian or far left social media. Very rarely does any participating comrade object to overt Holocaust denial. It is more usual for the denials to stimulate further comments, along the same lines.

Next time an antagonist on Twitter asks you to provide ‘just one piece of evidence’ of left antisemitism, I hope you will consider linking them to this post.


My finding is that Facebook permits Holocaust denial and hate speech.

As the sun begins to set on Yom Kippur, we sing the hymn,  Anu ameycha, ‘We are your people,’ to a melody which brings tears to the eyes of many in the congregation, weary now, anticipating the end of the fast, welcoming every opportunity to sit down rather than stand.

While the debate seems to go on for ever as to whether Jews are a race, a religion, an ethnicity or a nation, the word people is well supported by biblical and liturgical terminology.

In Tanakh, the name Jews is found in the book of Esther, written no earlier than the period of Achaemenid Persian rule and no later than the time of the Hasmoneans. The name Yehudah elsewhere in the bible refers to Judah the son of Jacob, or the tribe of Judah or the Yehudim, who dwelt in the territory of Judah, and are called Judahites rather than Jews.

עם, am, is the Hebrew word for people, cognate with the Arabic ummah. It occurs about five times as often in the Hebrew bible as גוי, goy, which means nation, a term also applied to the Israelites as well as other nations.

I happened to be at a shiva last night, a prayer service for a friend whose funeral had just taken place. I noticed the recurrence of the words am, amcha and ameycha – people and your people, inflected. I have never seen the expression ‘goyeycha,’ ‘your nation’. Goy is translated in the Latin vulgate as gens.

…et vos eritis mihi regnum sacerdotale et gens sancta

And you shall be to me a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation.

Exodus 19:6

Moses  speaks to God on Sinai:

וּרְאֵ֕ה כִּ֥י עַמְּךָ֖ הַגּ֥וֹי הַזֶּֽה׃

Consider, too, that this nation is Your people.

Exodus 33:13

respice populum tuum gentem hanc.

The Greek Septuagint translates am/people as laos and goy/nation as ethnos. Laos can mean a military force as well as a people.

καὶ ἵνα γνῶ ὅτι λαός σου τὸ ἔθνος τὸ μέγα τοῦτο.

Consider too that this great nation is your people.

In fairly recent times, and in the milieu of social media, it is a daily occurrence to encounter a hostile questioning of Jewish identity. Most common is the hypothesis that Jews from Europe – the Ashkenazim – are not semitic but of a European or Turkic identity: the Khazars. This was suggested in the twentieth century by Arthur Koestler and developed frequently since by those who wish to deny a Jewish connection with Israel. The theory takes as its source the Kuzari of Judah Halevi, who wrote in the twelfth century of the conversion to Judaism of the Khazarian king and his court. When the Khazar hypothesis is put to antisemitic use, it is asserted that Jews are not Jews and therefore have no claim to Israelite history; indeed, it is said that the true Jews are the Palestinians or, as argued by Mr Farrakhan:

You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell.

A Facebook group called PAIS, Palestinian and Irish Solidarity, defines its ethos thus:

PAIS is the Gaelic for the Passion, the suffering and persecution of the Palestinian carpenter Jesus. The religious element is not important here, but the location of the pain and suffering is. The suffering of the woodcarver from Nazareth has a strong association with the suffering of all Palestinian people.

The violent anti Israel posts of the PAIS group were almost invariably hostile to Jews and the group was much reported for hate speech. Eventually it became a private group on Facebook, visible only to established members. I have written about it here.

Ashkenaz in the bible is one of the territories inhabited by the descendants of Japheth and was the western extremity of the known world. In the Second World War, Jews living and dying under the Third Reich,  sometimes used the name Ashkenaz as a coded term for Germany, much as, in Rabbinic times, Rome was alluded to as Edom.

I often wonder if those who insist that Ashkenazi Jews are not Jewish recognize the Jewishness of Sephardim, Mizachim and Beta Israel. Do they recognize the Jewishness of those murdered for being Jews by the Nazis? I have seen the Shoah described as white on white hostility, a fearfully counter-intuitive description.

From the bible and the liturgy, we are accustomed to the name the children of Israel, Bnei Israel, literally the descendants of Jacob, who was renamed Israel by his divine wrestling partner. In the Mishnah and the Talmud, the name Israel designates the people, whether in the Land of Israel or the diaspora.

כל ישראל יש להם חלק לעלם הבא
All Israel have a share in the World to Come

Pirkei Avot

This saying is the header for all six chapters of Pirkei Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, the most philosophical and moralistic tractate of the Mishnah.

In France, Israelite is the word commonly used for a Jewish person while in Italy, the usual term is Ebreo, Hebrew. We know that in German the word is Jude and in North and East Europe, there are similar words, all cognate with Yehudim: Polish Zyd and Dutch Jood.

What are we to say to those who strive officiously to tell us who and what we are?

I am not one of the people who deny the Palestinian identity of Arabs from Israel and the territories. The name Palestinian during the British Mandate tended to refer to Jews born in the Holy Land and now obviously has acquired a different meaning, indicating a different identity and culture, the people who speak Arabic but associate themselves with the land, just as we do, the same land, a different claim, often a rival claim.

To say that a non-practising Jew is not Jewish is a misunderstanding, a common misunderstanding by those who have no acquaintance with Jewish environments. My own early environment was Anglo-Jewish, where the elders spoke Yiddish because they had come from Russia and Poland. They gave us British sounding names: Gillian, Howard, Angela, Melvyn. My Hebrew name, Gila, is a name I took for myself and, with the patronymic, it appears on Hebrew documents as Gila Bat Yaacov. During my childhood and long after, my parents were secular; less so in their old age, but the etz chayyim, the tree of life, had been planted among us in antiquity.

Our names are the names we call ourselves.

The Israeli poet Zelda Mishkovsky (1914 – 1984) wrote this poem, Each of us has a name, called in the original Hebrew Lecol ish yesh shem.

Each of us has a name
given by the stars
and given by our neighbors

Each of us has a name
given by our sins
and given by our longing

Each of us has a name
given by our enemies
and given by our love

Each of us has a name
given by our celebrations
and given by our work

Each of us has a name
given by the seasons
and given by our blindness

Each of us has a name
given by the sea
and given by
our death.

לכל איש יש שם

כָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ אֱלֹהִים וְנָתְנוּ לוֹ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ,
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שֶׁנָּתְנוּ לוֹ קוֹמָתוֹ וְאֹפֶן חִיּוּכוֹ וְנָתַן לוֹ הָאָרִיג,
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שֶׁנָתְנוּ לוֹ הֶהָרִים וְנָתְנוּ לוֹ כְּתָלָיו,
לכל איש יש שם שנתנו לו המזלות ונתנו לו שכניו,

לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שֶׁנָתְנוּ לוֹ חֲטָאָיו וְנָתְנָה לוֹ כְּמִיהָתוֹ,
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שֶׁנָתְנוּ לו שׂונְאָיו וְנָתְנָה לוֹ אַהֲבָתוֹ,
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שֶׁנָתְנוּ לוֹ חַגָּיו וְנָתְנָה לוֹ מְלַאכְתוֹ,
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שֶׁנָתְנוּ לוֹ תְּקוּפוֹת הַשָּׁנָה וְנָתַן לוֹ עִוְרוֹנוֹ,
לְכָל אִישׁ יֵשׁ שֵׁם שֶׁנָּתַן לוֹ הַיָּם וְנָתַן לוֹ מוֹתוֹ.

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.

I posted a screen shot on Twitter last night, showing a bit of Hitler fandom in a private (you have to join to see the content) Facebook group called ‘Just Socialism the Corbyn Way’. On Twitter, there were many horrified reactions to the screen shot – although not at all in the Facebook group – and, so far, no one has attempted to excuse it. I did wonder how one might make a case for excusing it, and thought the strongest argument would be that all groups, however well-meaning, tend to include the odd disgusting comment, posted by supporters with poor judgment.

Anti Zionists make capital out of bigoted statements from the Israeli far right , posting the quotes on their forums to elicit rage and contempt, and a common response is to complain of Jewish chutzpah in opposing antisemitism when ‘…look what they’re doing to the Palestinians.’

Seek and ye shall find. Thus a Corbyn apologist may complain that I look for left antisemitism and find it, by stalking their social media which obviously isn’t perfect because, as Osgood Fielding III said in Some Like It Hot, nobody’s perfect. The prominence of antisemitism on the Corbynist left is still hotly denied by all who sail in it.

Meanwhile I, the stalker, am so accustomed to seeing extreme antisemitism, unopposed by admins or comrades, permitted on social media platforms, that I am not surprised when I see kindly references to Hitler from the self-styled Left.

The screen shots below show some of the comments I have seen. My stalking is not so thorough that I see all the Der Stürmer tribute acts of the Corbynist (sometimes also Provisional IRA) forums. Perhaps I should call it neo-neo-nazism [sic] because it is bespoke for the 21st century, for the left and for enemies of Israel. Some of this material is produced by Iranian sources, or Hamas or Hezbollah, some from Pakistan and I see it only because it filters through to groups with British or Irish administrators.

To fight it, we need to know it’s there.

If I were finding excuses, I say that Roderic, for example, doesn’t mean what he says or understand what he says. That’s quite possible, even quite likely. Some of these forums attract ordinary, left-leaning people, especially elderly people and get them high on hyperbole and passionate intensity, until they’re all in the Kampf together.

My sister once pointed out that in our family, where we were expected to be polite, not argumentative and not to shout (Dad sometimes shouted but we girls didn’t), it was considered acceptable to release political rage, when the adversaries were fascists, racists, far right or even merely warmongers.

Dad got arrested for causing an obstruction while sitting in the road with Bertrand Russell and the anti-nuclear Committee of a Hundred.

When we drove past some Mosleyites of the Union Movement and I shouted ‘Fuck off!’ through the car window, Dad said ‘Gill I know what we think of these people but there’s no need to be vulgar.’ Afterwards, Mum told me that he wished he’d said it.

In the wider family, everyone was a socialist except for those who called themselves communists, not so many of those after 1956.

Ever present alongside the political activism was love of Israel and great pride in the State born only a year before myself.  At weddings and bnei mitzvah, God Save the Queen and Hatikvah were sung. We were anti-monarchist, as reluctant to join in the British National Anthem as was Mr Corbyn during one of his early outings as Labour leader. Nevertheless, as I have mentioned elsewhere, my grandmother gave each of her grandchildren a lovely illustrated book of Princess Margaret’s wedding, which I perused many times with enjoyment.

At age twelve, I was taken to see an exhibition in Hackney Town Hall about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. I was also taken to see the film Judgment at Nuremberg starring Spencer Tracy, and, at about the same time, Exodus (scripted from the Leon Uris book by Dalton Trumbo), which my parents said wasn’t as good as the book. Then I read Exodus, more than once; I would say more than twice.

I had a strong sense of a world divided between good and evil.

Dad liked RA Butler and Bob Boothby which surprised me but he said that not all Conservatives were bad. Mum liked the Duke of Edinburgh, so there you are.

Now that there is no political party I agree with, I can’t find it in me to detest the current leadership of any party. As I write this, Boris Johnson is still the Prime Minister. I think, as many others do, that he became a liability to the Tories with his parties, his wallpaper, his ill-judged promotions and his untruthfulness, but his intelligence and sense of humour appeal to me; his fumbling diction often leading through winding rhetorical alleyways to a punchline or flash of informal panache, as with ‘Hasta la vista, Baby’. Gove too has a degree of charm, eloquent and entomological. While Priti Patel is not at all to my taste, I’m aware that her detractors on social media target her appearance, presumably because they have made it a priority to deny her undoubted good looks.

It is also said of Priti Patel that she is an Israeli spy but of course this is said of Keir Starmer, Lisa Nandy, David Lammy and indeed, most of the present Parliamentary Labour Party.

Today Michael Gove trends on Twitter because his return flight from a summer holiday has been delayed for thirty hours. Thousands of people are liking tweets which consider the hold up a just retribution for Brexit. Like the Mikado, their object all sublime is to let the punishment fit the crime.

It seems to me a waste of effort to wish minor inconveniences on enemies, and demeaning to wish on them misfortune, other than the misfortune of failing in their malign endeavours.

A case in point is George Galloway who got beaten up in the street in 2014. Photos of a bruised and battered Galloway appeared in the press and seeing the thin, discoloured skin of an aging man, I winced.  When you see the bruising, you see the vulnerability of the lived body.

Jeremy Corbyn was attacked with an egg and Nigel Farage with a milk shake. Similarly, the intrusive menace of these attacks was displeasing despite my immeasurable dislike of the victims. When someone threw green paint at Peter Mandelson whom I didn’t dislike, I could see him flinch at the attacker’s reach, as if aware that it could have been something more lethal than paint.

In the unusual case of John Prescott and the egg, Prescott landed a blow on his assailant and they scuffled. Video footage from 2001 shows that the egg, fired at close range, is indeed the embodiment of an insult and a potential hazard.

These are public figures. Much more painful is hating somebody in private life: the violent, the bullies, the malevolent and the abusers of power. I have been fortunate in not knowing many such people. I had a consuming detestation of a partner’s ex whose ambition in life seemed to be to destroy his, but later encounters showed her to be meeker and more mild-mannered than I had thought possible, going by earlier form.

When I was a twelve year old pupil at a girls’ grammar school, a girl of fourteen flanked by two confederates and wearing a beehive hairdo, threw potatoes at me and my friend every day during school dinners.

‘I do hate Beehive,’ said my friend. I didn’t think I hated Beehive but would have liked to see a potato ricochet and land in her backcombed hair.

Social media has been an education in how to hate and be hated. I’ve become accustomed to being called ‘child killer’ or ‘apartheid apologist’ which will be leveled at anyone who tweets sympathetically about the State of Israel. If someone wants to abuse me on Twitter, they often make something of my age, my surname Lazarus and my long face. I can’t count how many times I’ve been told I look like a corpse, a horrible simile which could only come from the keyboard of a confirmed hater.

And finally, I have learned to hate, sometimes fleetingly, individuals whose names I forget as soon as I block them and sometimes consistently, esteemed public figures who wield influence or power, the ones who have made life perceptibly harder for Jews in the diaspora. Not every antisemite makes life harder. Those who are incontestably cranky – David Icke for example – have influence but are generally on the fringes of political activism. Professor Miller was extremely dangerous in the lecture hall at Bristol University but, now representing Iran state-controlled media, seems to have lost some of his puissance if not his appetite for anti Jewish conspiracy theories.

I don’t wish illness or pain on those I hate but I have an acute consciousness of their activities and pronouncements.

Someone defined being in love as thinking about the person all the time. Hating also is an absorption with the object of hatred.

I despise but don’t hate terrorists.  Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad: I hate what they do, but circumstances and malign influences have driven them to the place where they find themselves. I don’t utterly discount the possibility of peace.

Even more antipathetic than these are the complacent ideologists of the west, the eminences of political thought and cultural creativity, those who, tweaking the vocabulary of other centuries, rise up against us, as it says in the Passover Haggadah, not once but in every generation.

  • 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