Corbyn photo: Sophie Brown

Ten Labour Antisemitism Smears Exposed.

10: Chris Williamson.

Claim: Mr Williamson, then an MP, said Labour had been ‘too apologetic for antisemitism’.

BBC’s Nick Robinson tweeted it. It’s still up today.

https://twitter.com/bbcnickrobinson/status/1148974640141877253

In fact, what Mr Williamson said was this:

“The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of antisemitism than any other party.”

Oddly, the last part of Mr Williamson’s statement, where he talks about ‘addressing the scourge of antisemitism’, doesn’t get quoted. This is called ‘clipping’ — extracting words from a longer speech in order to misrepresent it.

Transcript here: https://www.jewishvoiceforlabour.org.uk/article/in-defence-of-chris-williamson/

Verdict: False

9: Jackie Walker.

Claim: Ms Walker said ‘Jews controlled the slave trade’. Again, the BBC’s old reliable Nick Robinson said exactly this in a now-deleted tweet.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/ecu/tweet-by-nick-robinson-26-february-2019

In fact, what Ms Walker said was this: “Oh yes — and I hope you feel the same towards the African holocaust? My ancestors were involved in both — on all sides as I’m sure you know, millions more Africans were killed in the African holocaust and their oppression continues today on a global scale in a way it doesn’t for Jews… and many Jews (my ancestors too) were the chief financiers of the sugar and slave trade which is of course why there were so many early synagogues in the Caribbean. So who are victims and what does it mean? We are victims and perpetrators to some extent through choice. And having been a victim does not give you a right to be a perpetrator”.

BBC finally retracted Mr Robinson’s accusation, describing it as ‘insufficiently accurate’, and Mr Robinson was required to delete his tweet, though in so doing, regrettably, made the further smear against Mr Williamson above.

He’s prolific.

Verdict: False

8: Irony.

Claim: Jeremy Corbyn said ‘Jews [or sometimes Zionists] don’t understand English irony.’

In fact what he said was this.

‘…the other evening we had a meeting in Parliament in which Manuel [the Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian] made an incredibly powerful and passionate and effective speech about the history of Palestine, the rights of the Palestinian people. This was dutifully recorded by the, thankfully silent, Zionists who were in the audience on that occasion [my emphasis]; and then came up and berated him afterwards for what he had said.

They clearly have two problems. One is they don’t want to study history and, secondly, having lived in this country for a very long time, probably all their lives, they don’t understand English irony either. Manuel does understand English irony and uses it very very effectively. So I think they needed two lessons which we can perhaps help them with.’

You will note the (habitually) careful language: ‘the Zionists who were in the audience on that occasion.’ Unless you were one of the named self-identifying Zionist protesters who had disrupted the meeting in question, Mr Corbyn’s remarks about irony obviously do not apply to you. Indeed, one of the protesters, Richard Millett, is currently suing Mr Corbyn for libel — his entire case is that he is identifiable as one of the people Corbyn called ‘disruptive’ at the meeting. So unless you’re him, this isn’t about you. Or ‘Jews’. Or ‘Zionists’.

Transcript here: https://labourbriefing.org/blog/2018/8/29/full-texxt-of-that-speech-by-jeremy-on-zionists-and-a-sense-of-irony

Verdict: False.

7: The Wreath.

Claim: Jeremy Corbyn laid a wreath at the cemetery in Tunisia where the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorists were buried.

In fact, the wreath was laid at the Palestinian cemetery in Tunisia, which has a memorial to the victims of the universally condemned 1985 Israeli bombing of the PLO headquarters, many of whom were civilians.

The Munich terrorists are buried in another country, Libya.

Corbyn was in the wrong country.

https://twitter.com/labourpress/status/1028765819554213889

Verdict: False.

6: Baddiel’s Leaflet

Claim: There was a leaflet at a Labour party Conference about the Holocaust that didn’t mention Jews.

TV celebrity David Baddiel claimed in a TV promo for his book ‘Jews Don’t Count’ that he had been informed by ‘someone on the NEC’ [Labour National Executive Committee] that there had been a leaflet circulated at a Labour Conference about the Holocaust that didn’t mention Jews.

What he seems to be referring to in garbled form here is a petition by the SWP (Socialist Workers Party) in 2008 at a far-right rally in Derbyshire, which, by some unaccountable error, lists the other victims of the Holocaust but omits ‘six million Jews’. It has never been repeated, and SWP have never denied or minimised the Holocaust in any way. Ironically, the petition was specifically about remembering the victims of the Holocaust, in the face of far-right Holocaust denial.

Nothing to do with the Labour party. Nothing to do with a Labour Conference. Nothing whatsoever to do with Jeremy Corbyn.

Mr Baddiel has never, to my knowledge, been challenged on his claim, nor has he been required to show any evidence that what he claims happened ever happened at all.

He makes the claim here, at 55.00

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_3g4UGVcNQ&t=1s

Verdict: False.*

5: The IHRA definition.

Claim: Corbyn’s Labour party was antisemitic because of its initial reluctance to adopt the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism and all its examples.

The new head of the EHRC, Baroness Falkner, recently said the definition is ’extremely poorly worded and probably unactionable in law’ while it ‘directly conflicts with the duty to protect free speech’

https://jewishnews.timesofisrael.com/new-chair-of-equalities-watchdog-is-against-call-for-unis-to-adopt-ihra/

The Labour party have been forced to publish details of a ‘secret code’ in operation, which was an attempt to make the IHRA definition legally actionable. Corbyn was condemned for this code, which Starmer has been forced to admit he is still using.

https://skwawkbox.org/2021/04/09/court-ordered-release-shows-labour-still-using-corbyns-incendiary-code-of-conduct-despite-howls-of-outrage-against-corbyn-silence-now/

Verdict: False.

4: The EHRC report.

Claim: The EHRC found the Labour party ‘institutionally antisemitic’.

It didn’t. Here’s the EHRC website. Type the words ‘institutionally antisemitic’ into it. You get results, but not one of them about this report. It simply doesn’t say it. Read it.

https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/publication-download/investigation-antisemitism-labour-party

Verdict: False

3: The Friends.

Claim: Corbyn referred to representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah as ‘our friends’.

This is so. What is missing here is context. Corbyn habitually refers to anyone at a meeting as ‘friends’. It is a boilerplate diplomatic courtesy attempting to establish a positive atmosphere to a hopefully productive meeting. It does not mean he agrees with everything every one of them has ever said and done, because that isn’t how meetings work. If it were, he would, logically, also have to agree with everything said and done by the opposing side, as well as holding all the positions of everyone he’s ever met, and I think a moment’s consideration shows this idea to be obviously absurd.

Verdict: True but grossly misleading because of context-stripping.

2: Ruth Smeeth/Marc Wadsworth

Claim: Marc Wadsworth used an antisemitic trope to Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth.

At the launch of the Chakrabarti report on antisemitism in April 2016, black rights activist Marc Wadsworth was reported as saying to (then Labour MP) Ruth Smeeth, who is Jewish, ‘Look who’s working hand in hand with the media’.

  1. Marc Wadsworth had no knowledge Ms Smeeth is Jewish, nor any reason to know it. He merely recognised her as a Labour MP, and saw Ms Smeeth and a Daily Telegraph journalist passing a document between them. There is nothing in his words to suggest antisemitism.
  2. There simply is no antisemitic trope of ‘working hand in hand with the media’. Of course Jewish people work in and with the media, why shouldn't they? The trope is control and ownership of the media. So this accusation requires the manufacturing of an entirely new antisemitic trope, and one which is patently ridiculous.

Video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHv3D7g4RH4

Verdict: False

1: The Mural.

Claim: Corbyn approved of an antisemitic mural, which shows ‘big-nosed Jewish bankers’ exploiting the masses.

Everyone’s favourite.

1. They’re not ‘Jewish bankers’. Five are bankers, only two of whom are Jewish, and the sixth is a bizarre figure from the world of English occultism, Aleister Crowley, also not Jewish (he invented his own religion, Thelema). It is quite obviously not a statement about ‘Jews’, as the artist himself has explained, since only two of the ‘big-nosed’ figures are Jewish. The accusation simply makes no sense.

2. Neither did Corbyn ‘approve’ of it. He saw a thumbnail of a facebook post about it, and asked why it had been removed. When it was explained to him that some people maintained it was antisemitic, he apologised.

That’s literally the whole thing.

Verdict: False.

  • A previous version of this said Baddiel had said it was a ‘Labour party leaflet’. This has been challenged, and I have been unable to verify that he did in fact use those words, so I have deleted them. The substance of his claim remains unchanged: that it was a leaflet ‘circulated at a Labour party conference’. No evidence of this has ever been produced, or even asked for.

Are we claiming there was no no antisemitism at all? Are we accusing Jewish people of lying? Isn’t it antisemitic to call accusations frauds?

For answers to these and other frequently asked questions, please visit: https://simonmaginn.medium.com/itwasascam-faqs-24f6b662e769

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