News, Culture & Society

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN on anti-Semitism in the Labour Party

Holocaust denial, virulent anti-Semitism and Zionist conspiracy theories are the sort of dangerous, rabble-rousing poison you would expect from a neo-Nazi rally packed with knuckle-scraping skinheads.

Most people would not immediately associate this kind of vile behaviour with a self-styled anti-racist party, allegedly committed to equality and diversity.

But that’s exactly what has been on parade at this week’s Labour conference in Brighton. The Fascist Left have been in full flow, monstering supporters of Israel and demanding that members of the Jewish Labour Movement should be expelled from the party.

The Labour conference is not where you’d expect to find Holocaust deniers, virulent anti-Semitism and Zionist conspiracy theories, but you’d be wrong

Speakers who compared ‘Zionists’ to Hitler’s genocidal Nazis were applauded by delegates at an event advertised in the official conference handbook.

It was even argued that questioning whether the murder of six million Jews during World War II actually happened was a legitimate matter of free speech.

This from activists who in other circumstances would be busily ‘no platforming’ anyone who expressed views which offended their own political sensibilities.

Others claimed that alleging they were guilty of anti-Semitism was a plot by the pro-Israel lobby to stop Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister.

Ah, yes. That evil worldwide Zionist conspiracy again. They get everywhere, don’t they?

Labour officials protested that this meeting had nothing to do with the conference proper. So why was it billed in the official handbook?

Labour frontbencher Baroness Chakrabarti, who questioned the need to make Holocaust denial a crime

Labour frontbencher Baroness Chakrabarti, who questioned the need to make Holocaust denial a crime

More to the point, this is exactly the kind of fringe event that would until fairly recently have been attended enthusiastically by Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, anxious to burnish their pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist credentials.

These days they don’t have to bother. They’ve got a far bigger platform. They’re running the show, with the help of their shock troops in Momentum — a gang of Trotskyite zealots dedicated to crushing dissent and enforcing political purity and conformity.

The truth is the lunatic fringe has now gone mainstream. Institutionalised anti-Semitism is entrenched at the poisoned heart of the party.

Don’t take my word for it, ask the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which yesterday demanded that Corbyn expels all those who propagate anti-Semitic sentiment.

Chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: ‘Anti-semitism is racism and the Labour Party needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist party. A zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism should mean just that.

‘When senior party figures are saying there is a problem, then the leadership should take swift action. It is not acceptable simply to say they oppose these views.

‘These comments by party members show more needs to be done to root out anti-Semitic views that clearly exist in the party.’ 

There’s plenty of evidence to back up her concerns. No less a figure than the Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party, John Cryer, said he had seen tweets from party members that made his hair stand on end and were ‘redolent of the Thirties’.

Another Labour MP, Wes Streeting, said there were ‘too many people at the top of our party who have adopted an ostrich strategy’ on anti-Semitism.

Sounds about right. For instance, Naz Shah, MP for the ‘Israel-Free Zone’ of Bradford West, was briefly suspended after someone discovered that, a couple of years previously, she had suggested on social media that all the Jews in Israel should be transported to America.

Her suspension lasted about five minutes. Shah, a former PPS to John McDonnell, was quickly restored to the fold and is now considered one of Labour’s rising stars.

Jeremy Corbyn may not consider himself anti-Semitic, but he counts among his friends the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, whose sole purpose is to wipe Jews off the face of the earth

Jeremy Corbyn may not consider himself anti-Semitic, but he counts among his friends the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, whose sole purpose is to wipe Jews off the face of the earth

At the time, Corbyn couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. He dismissed her remarks as ‘historic’ and therefore irrelevant. This is the same Jeremy Corbyn who sits on Labour’s front-bench alongside his deputy Tom Watson, self-appointed Nonce Finder General — a muck-raking, dirt-throwing, smear-monger who has spent the past few years accusing assorted Tories of ‘historic’ sex crimes dating back decades.

Still, such leniency towards Shah wasn’t entirely unexpected. I’ve always been prepared to concede that Corbyn doesn’t consider himself an anti-Semite. Yet he counts among his ‘friends’ the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, whose sole purpose in life is wiping Jews off the face of the earth.

And he’s prepared to countenance extremist, anti-Jewish views in his party, which if expressed by Conservatives would have outraged Labour spokesmen demanding they were arrested for ‘hate crimes’.

I have to confess that none of this comes as a great surprise to me. Ten years ago, I made a TV documentary exposing the new strain of anti-Semitism.

Where once Jew-baiting had been the sole preserve of the Far Right — the likes of Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts — it is now primarily driven by an unholy alliance between the Far Left and militant Islam.

These days the real fascists are on the left 

My thesis was that self-styled ‘anti-Zionists’ were using their visceral hatred of Israel to intimidate Jews in this country. Does anybody today, outside Labour’s lunatic fringe, doubt that I got it right?

Back then it was heresy to suggest that anyone on the Left could be guilty of discriminating against any minority community. But I didn’t have to dig too deep to find convincing evidence.

Ken Livingstone’s crass obsession with Hitler and willingness to insult Jews is, of course, well documented. It includes comparing a Jewish newspaper reporter to a concentration camp guard and, absurdly, claiming that Hitler was a Zionist. Red Ken’s currently serving another symbolic suspension, but the party can’t muster the courage to kick him out altogether. 

That’s probably because his anti-Zionist views are shared by a majority of Labour members these days. The kind of opinions expressed by Naz Shah, Livingstone and some of the more deranged speakers at this week’s Brighton fringe event are considered quite respectable in Labour circles.

What really concerns me is when legitimate criticism of Israel spills over into outright hostility towards British Jews. It’s what the columnist Nick Cohen identified in my documentary as ‘Islington dinner party’ anti-Semitism — insidious chatter ostensibly aimed at Israel, but actually designed to denigrate all Jews.

What you have to remember is that the Left’s world view is divided into ‘victims’ and ‘oppressors’. They consider the Jewish community not only to be successful, and therefore ‘oppressors’, but also pro-Israel, which is the worst crime in the world in their book.

Intolerance and intimidation are Momentum¿s stock in trade - just ask Laura Kuenssberg, who has been forced to cover the conference accompanied by a bodyguard

Intolerance and intimidation are Momentum’s stock in trade – just ask Laura Kuenssberg, who has been forced to cover the conference accompanied by a bodyguard

Ten years ago, much of this visceral anti-Semitism was latent, surfacing only on the wilder extremes of the Far Left and in the sermons of Islamist hate preachers.

Now it’s right out there in the open, at the annual conference of a political party which, heaven forfend, could yet form our next government. 

A decade ago, too, social media was in its infancy. Today, the Twittersphere affords every maniac with a mobile phone the opportunity to spew bile at the ‘Zionists’ and anyone who has the audacity to disagree with their entrenched Left-wing bigotry. Intolerance and intimidation are Momentum’s stock in trade.

It’s not just online abuse, either. The BBC has had to hire a bodyguard to provide physical protection for political editor Laura Kuenssberg in Brighton.

Maybe some of the delegates think her surname sounds Jewish, so consider her fair game. Far-fetched? Hardly.

My documentary was originally designed to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Cable Street, when Jews, trades unionists and Labour activists stood together to repel a march by fascists through London’s East End.

Today, 81 years after Cable Street, whoever could have imagined that in 2017, Labour Party members would be applauding anti-Semitic rants and Holocaust denial?

These days the real fascists are on the Left. Labour’s very own blackshirts are on the march.


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