Labour’s phoney ‘antisemitism’ scandal: the liars behind the lies

Media coverage of the phoney Labour ‘antisemitism’ scandal has been characterised by an abject indifference to, bordering on contempt for, truth.

I’ve examined this in detail elsewhere.

Still, the extent of the recklessness and casual brutality staggers.  Two examples.

  1. Dan Hodges 

Dan Hodges gazed out his office window.  There they were, the usual throng of commuters going about their day, as if everything was alright, as if oblivious to the fact that, at this very moment, on twitter, there existed Antisemitic Tweets, a full handful of Antisemitic Tweets, that had put their way of life in peril.  True to his calling, Hodges sounded the tocsin: ‘antisemitism is now firmly embedded in the Labour party’s DNA . . . Labour is a racist party now’.

On twitter, Labour member Joe Sucksmith expressed his view that the ‘new antisemitism’, i.e., the proposition that antisemitism today manifests as hostility to Israel rather than to Jews, has functioned as a rhetorical device to discredit legitimate criticism of Israel.  He cited the leading study on the topic, Norman G. Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah (2005).

Hodges smacked his lips.

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In fact, Sucksmith had referred specifically to the new antisemitism, as he graciously pointed out along with a reference for further reading:

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Are you kidding?  Dan Hodges hasn’t got time to read a book!  Can’t you see we’re in a crisis?

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Hodges then proposed that Sucksmith be expelled from the Labour Party:

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Sucksmith at this point realised what he was dealing with, and abandoned hope for factual debate.  But he did request that Hodges’ clear factual error—his claim that Sucksmith had described ‘antisemitism’ as a ‘propaganda construct’, when in fact he had so described the ‘new antisemitism’—be corrected:

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Hodges’ response:

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Hodges publicly smeared a Labour member as an antisemite, in the context of an on-going ‘antisemitism’ controversy, and demanded that he be suspended or expelled from the party, on the basis of an immediately-verifiable falsehood.  When politely asked to correct the record, he responded, Nope.

These are the people who have the temerity, the chutzpah, to accuse others of not taking antisemitism seriously; these cynics, who know nothing of antisemitism and who care less, and who dissemble about it as a matter of course; these bullies, who fling the term about like so much muck, and who are prepared to wreck a person’s life, to have them publicly branded a racist, and cast into the wilderness, on a whim.

Does the hysteria over Labour ‘antisemitism’ have the slightest connection to reality?  Is it driven by concern for justice and for truth?  Does it possess a scintilla of honesty or integrity?

Nope. 

  1. Hugo Rifkind

Claims that Labour has an ‘antisemitism problem’ amount to wild extrapolations from a miniscule number of alleged cases.  Hugo Rifkind was aware that only a small number of suspect incidents had been identified, but he wanted to write a provocative column condemning the party anyway.  How to resolve this dilemma?  He paced his study for seconds, until it hit him:

Generally, I think it’s a mistake to look at nuts and imagine they’re a trend.  The thing is, there is a trend.

Case closed.

I wrote an article for openDemocracy demonstrating that the sweeping allegations against Labour are devoid of factual basis.  The article mentions Rifkind by name, and refutes his argument on multiple grounds.  My claims are perpetually contrary to his and, if he has found out the truth, I have not.  The article was drawn to Rifkind’s attention on at least two occasions.  One might have thought Rifkind would be eager to mount a defence, or else to graciously acknowledge error.  Well, not exactly:

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It’s almost as if, um, Hugo Rifkind, um, couldn’t care less whether what he wrote was, um, true.

5 comments

  1. Hugo Rifkind · · Reply

    Hello. I didn’t comment on your article because it was long and boring and I had literally hundreds of people tweeting me saying the same thing, in far, far fewer words. (Terseness is a virtue.) However, after skimming it at the time, I’ve now struggled to the end of it properly, after a few people tweeted this blog at me. So, here’s a reply.

    You haven’t “refuted” anything. The piece you refer to (which was written in March) does, indeed, say that there is a trend. Although it doesn’t say a trend in Labour, but in society itself. This is not ambiguous in the piece. It’s pretty clear. It’s also a view which is shared by Rowan Williams, whom I quote. Maybe he, too, is trying to smear Labour? As Luciana Berger may be, when she reports the thousands of antisemitic messages to which she is subjected. Yep. She’s trying to smear Labour, while being an Labour MP. Obviously.

    You spend a lot of time discussing how Jeremy Corbyn has dealt with various complains as they have arisen. He has indeed. Well done him. I’d be pretty horrified if he hadn’t. The core argument of my article, however, was that he himself hails from a political hinterland in which antisemitism can, and does, flourish. To quote myself…

    “It’s about the growth of a creeping presumption, mainly on the left, that Zionism is among the greatest of all global malignancies, and that Jews, unless they explicitly state otherwise, are in it up to their necks. If this is a world view, grassroots Corbynism is riddled with it. If the actual Labour leadership stands apart, then I’m far from clear what they think instead.”

    It wasn’t easy, because my eyes kept glazing over, but I’ve been through your long OpenDemocracy piece several times, and I don’t think this is an argument you engage with at all.

    So, bluntly, the reason why I didn’t “mount a defence” was because at a glance I could see that you’d either misunderstood or wilfully misrepresented what I’d written to the extent that engaging at all would involve writing something as long a this, and I couldn’t be bothered, because you’d probably misunderstand or misrepresent that, too.

    I’m not a Tory. I’m not even much of a Zionist. I have nothing to gain by pretending to see problems which aren’t there. The tone in which Jews are discussed in Britain has transformed horrifyingly in the last five years. As seen by the Twitter timelines of people like me over the past week, as abuse has been thrown, and articles like yours have circled among the people throwing it, encouraging them to crack on with merry abandon. You may not see that, or you may not give a shit. That’s your business. Personally, it terrifies me. Don’t feel the need to write back.

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  2. The piece you refer to (which was written in March) does, indeed, say that there is a trend. Although it doesn’t say a trend in Labour, but in society itself.

    1. You offered no evidence for any ‘trend’, period. The statistics on antisemitism show it to be low and, barring spikes in the wake of major Israeli offensives, pretty stable. As the Institute for Jewish Policy Research reports, ‘there appears to be little evidence for a dramatic increase in levels of antisemitism over time’.
    2. You cite as examples of these ‘nuts and nobodies’ the (former) Labour members Kirby and Downing, and as evidence of this ‘trend’ the allegations against Oxford University Labour Club. You then write that ‘[the] Labour connection here is impossible to ignore’. How so? Well, there is a ‘growth of a creeping presumption, mainly on the left, that Zionism is among the greatest of all global malignancies, and that Jews, unless they explicitly state otherwise, are in it up to their necks’. ‘If this is a world view’, you add, ‘grassroots Corbynism is riddled with it’. In other words: there is a trend among Corbyn’s supporters towards antisemitism; indeed, their whole worldview is ‘riddled with it’. As I said, you presented zero evidence for this.

    You spend a lot of time discussing how Jeremy Corbyn has dealt with various complains as they have arisen. He has indeed. Well done him.

    Many more people have spent much more time falsely suggesting that he hasn’t.

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  3. I kinda like Hugo. The thing to always remember is that he is clever. He, um realised he was very clever at a young age. And he decided to ride on that throughout his all life. He makes a good living being clever so why take risks with substance ? If it isn’t broke don’t fix it.

    So don’t waste time trying to engage Hugo on matters pertaining to truth and falsehood. He finds it boring. All the while he is getting increasingly irritable and just itching to get back to being clever.

    Hope this, um helps.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hugo Rifkind appears to be a very easily frightened man. He is ‘terrified’ by people disagreeing with him when he tells the most egregious lies. He appears to be a man with a tremendous fear of scrutiny, and no wonder when his work is so shoddy. His flaccid barbs (‘struggled to the end’, ‘my eyes kept glazing over’) must stand in for the serious response which he is patently incapable of writing. No wonder he barks out an impertinent command that Jamie must refrain from any response. The poor little dear, with nothing but his platform in the The Times to keep him safe and warm from all the wicked lefties challenging his right to slander them.

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  5. swordfish · · Reply

    For someone who declares themselves allergic to “long and boring”, and admires all things “terse”, Hugo’s litany of insults does seem awfully repetitive, if not outright laboured in a particularly “long and boring’ way.

    Like

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