Alleging antisemitism is Labour right’s ‘defining narrative now’


January 19, 2017
Sarah Benton


Jeremy Corbyn leading the July 2014 demonstration against the Israeli war on Gaza. Corbyn’s long record of support for Palestinian human rights has led the Israel lobby to slander him as an anti-Semite. Photo RonF Flickr. Caption and photo from Electronic Intifada

Constructed crisis for political ends’: antisemitism claims are prime weapon for UK Israel lobby, Al Jazeera shows

By Annie Robbins, Mondoweiss
January 17, 2017

While an Israeli operative’s efforts  to “take down” Britain’s Deputy Foreign Minister, may appear to be the biggest scandal to arise out of Al Jazeera’s investigative documentary The Lobby, what became clear to me throughout the four-part series was that the primary function of the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and other pro Israel groups in the UK working with the Israeli embassy was smearing Palestinians and their supporters with charges of antisemitism and other nefarious ad hominem claims. Jackie Walker, former vice-chair of Momentum, the leftwing of the Labour party, called this “a constructed crisis for political ends”.

Evidence of this runs throughout the four-part series. Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, at a private meeting held during the annual Labour Party Conference in Liverpool last September, advises key activist leaders of Labour’s pro-Israel contingent on strategy and talking points:

“Why are people who consider themselves progressive in Britain, supporting reactionaries like Hamas and Hezbollah?  We’ve gotta say in the language of social democracy, I think, these people are misogynistic, they are homophobic, they are racist, they are antisemitic, they are reactionary. I think that’s what we need to say, it’s an important message.”

Here’s Elliot Miller, past president of the Jewish Society at the University College London (UCL) and currently national organizer for Student Rights, whose motto is “Tackling Extremism on Campus”, using the same strategy as Ambassador Regev during a violent exchange at UCL last October:

[Video of Elliot Miller: You don’t respect women, you don’t respect gays.]

‘You’ is presumably all Muslims. Elliot Miller is a member of the very rightwing Henry Jackson society. Prior to joining HJS, Elliot worked in the Conservative Party.

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Truly “a constructed crisis for political ends”. I was reminded of the “Strategy of Tension“, the covert psychological warfare utilized by agents-provocateurs during the cold war intended to manipulate and control public opinion using propaganda, disinformation and weaponizing fear in order to achieve strategic aims. Unwittingly, often the very society being manipulated becomes the public enforcer; that’s the idea anyway. Certainly the strategy appears to be wreaking havoc within the UK’s Labour party.

Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, is captured saying in conversation at Labour’s annual conference that antisemitism is “the defining narrative actually now”. Defining narrative of what? The Labour party? Or the LFI’s strategy of taking down the leftwing branch of the party?

[Video of Jennifer Gerber, Director of Labour Friends of Israel at the Labour Annual conference: “That is I think going to be the defining narrative actually now, which is antisemitism” ]

Gerber then explains how it was a “difficult moment” when a woman made the assertion that antisemitism was being “concocted to crush [Labour leader Jeremy] Corbyn” and then asks, “Is that [assertion] antisemitic guys, I don’t know, like?”

Michael Rubin, parliamentarian and pro Israel activist (who works closely with ex-Israeli Embassy diplomat/spy Shai Masot), replies, “I don’t know where the line is anymore”.

Alex Richardson, parliamentary aide to MP Joan Ryan, the Chairperson of LFI, was also present during the exchange. He offered: “I think if it makes you feel uncomfortable that’s the point in which you call it out and report it.”

He said that MP Ryan “convinced” him to report an alleged claim of antisemitism “because I was made to feel uncomfortable.” 

The young aide certainly looks uncomfortable, wincing throughout an exchange that takes place at LFI’s booth at the Labour convention between Jean Fitzpatrick, a Labour party member, and MP Joan Ryan. Fitzpatrick asks what LFI is doing to bring about a two state solution, an alleged aim of the organization. Fitzpatrick keeps saying she genuinely wants to know.

Ryan kept repeating the same message: they support and facilitate a two state solution, but she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, articulate how.

[Video of Joan Ryan not answering the question]

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