Neviim Tovim, blogs by Gillian Gould Lazarus

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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 an adversary is right. 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 reaonable 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.

Appendix

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.

And Mum wore a smile when she told me that the South African Prime Minister Dr Verwoed had been assassinated.

With hindsight, we sound rather thuggish but I can assure you, we were very mild compared with today’s Antifa.

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.

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.

On a rainy night in September 1996, I emerged from Baker Street Station and sought a taxi. Almost immediately, a taxi driver pulled over next to me. Rejoicing in my luck, I opened the passenger door but an elderly, myopic gentleman swept past me and settled himself on the leather seat. I had intended to give him the kind of hard stare which Paddington Bear perfected, but noticed something unexpected about the man. He was Rabbi Albert Friedlander.

I said ‘Rabbi, I’m going to the same place as you. Can we share this taxi?’

Courteously he indicated assent and I got in, sitting opposite him on one of the drop down seats. I was on my way to a graduation ceremony at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood, to be awarded a masters degree from Leo Baeck College where Rabbi Friedlander was the Dean. I mentioned this and he insisted kindly on paying my fare, ‘as a graduation present’.

My parents, my partner, zichrono livracha, and some of my children had piled into a car and headed to the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, to see me graduate, but there wasn’t room for all of us and I was best suited to make alternative travel arrangements.

At the synagogue, I went into the ad hoc robing room, where gowns but not mortar boards, were laid out on tables. I found I was among the hocher fensters, distinguished academics and clergy, about to be honoured with honorary degrees and professorships. I recognized Rabbi Louis Jacobs and saw the director of my college, Rabbi Dr Jonathan Magonet, as well as the college librarian and renowned author, Hyam Maccoby. The engineer and scientist Professor Ludwik Finkelstein was there to collect another masters’ degree to add to his qualifications.

There was a problem in finding a robe short enough for me, which I remembered had been the case when I graduated at Manchester University. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not Tyrion Lannister. I was five foot two; perhaps now five foot one and a half with the passing of the years. Most of the people in the robing room were men but, as the photo above shows, there were some women graduating, and some rabbinical students were picking up degrees on the road to semicha (ordination).

The robes were turquoise blue, the masters degrees being awarded under the auspices of the Open University.

Attired in one of the smaller robes, I joined the procession of graduands as we lined up to receive our certificates from the Dean of Leo Baeck College. I was glad that I hadn’t said ‘Beat it, old man,’ when he took my taxi, but there had never been any danger of that.

I didn’t even know how to be rude, until the age of Twitter.

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 why 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.



  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: Thank you for reading it Keith. As always, I value your opinion.
  • keithmarr: Gillian Thorough research as always. I always keep these posts and hit any challenge between the eyes. They represent a real armoury of evidence. Bl
  • Gillian Gould Lazarus: I can never make up my mind whether it should be illegal and tend to think it shouldn't be. On the other hand, social media could do more to stop it p