Britain’s Labour Party is holding its annual conference in Brighton, and besides the main event, a fringe event was held, ostensibly on “Free Speech on Israel”, which in practice was an opportunity to rant about Israel, comparing it to Nazis, and complaining when such epithets caused the speakers to be called antisemites.
Melanie Phillips explains what happened to make The Labour Party – a new safe space for hate:
A fringe meeting hosted a call for Labour to debate whether the Holocaust actually happened, the libelling of Israel as a racist, Nazi, apartheid and colonialist state and a demand that Jews who supported Israel should be kicked out of the Labour party.
What was so chilling was not just that the meeting, called Free Speech on Israel (aka Safe Space for Hate) provided bigots with the opportunity to spew their bile. It cheered and applauded them.
Israeli-American author Miko Peled told it Labour members should support the freedom to “discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust, yes or no, whether it’s Palestine liberation – the entire spectrum. There should be no limits on the discussion.”
Michael Kalmanovitz, a member of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, called for two pro-Israeli groups to be expelled from the party. He said: “The thing is, if you support Israel, you support apartheid. So what is the JLM (Jewish Labour Movement) and Labour Friends of Israel doing in our party? Kick them out.” The Mirror reported: “Loud cheers, applause and calls of ‘throw them out’ erupted in the room of around a hundred activists in response.”
Fringe meetings are not run by the party and Labour says it isn’t responsible for their content. Nevertheless, the event was advertised in official conference literature. It was chaired by an individual called Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi. Watch this clip of her addressing the conference plenary session to see just what a piece of work she is. [This woman, an “As-A-Jew”, is the co-founder of the group Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods. Vomit-warning ahead -Ed.]
She was opposing the proposed rule change to make it easier to expel antisemites. In addition to ranting and raving about Israel with a breathtaking stream of defamatory falsehoods, distortions and smears – including a swipe at the Balfour Declaration – she was actually booed by journalists when she claimed that Jewish groups behind the rule change had been briefing certain newspapers. She then received a ecstatic standing ovation when she stated: “I am not an antisemite. This party does not have a problem with Jews”.
Ah, how the conference loved that. Look at their faces on the clip. They are beside themselves with joy that they are being given permission by a Jew to hate the collective Jew in the State of Israel.
Like the venomously anti-Israel Israeli professor Avi Shlaim, who was speaking at the launch of yet another groupuscule Jewish Voices for Labour, Kalmanovitz said the claims of antisemitism in the party were part of a right-wing effort to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the left. But people like him ensured we could all see for ourselves this could not be the case. For antisemitism was on rank display at those Corbynista meetings.
Yet elsewhere, one Jewish Labour activist reported that leaflets were being passed around the conference floor demanding the expulsion of the Jewish Labour Movement from the Party; and Izzy Lenga, the Vice-President of the National Union of Students tweeted: “I didn’t think it was possible, but I feel a whole lot more unsafe, uncomfortable and upset as a Jew on [the Labour Party Conference] floor right now than I do at NUS”.
Today, the party passed the rule change making antisemitic abuse and harassment by Labour members a punishable offence. The Guardian reported:
“The rule change proposed by the Jewish Labour Movement, which has been backed by the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn and the party’s national executive committee, will tighten explicitly the party’s stance towards members who are antisemitic or use other forms of hate speech, including racism, Islamophobia, sexism and homophobia.”
Yet this change is worse than meaningless. Yes, it enables the party to expel antisemites. But crucially, it leaves unresolved the definition of what antisemitism actually is. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Labour will never, ever accept that demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel is the contemporary form of the oldest hatred.
How could it accept that? Its members overwhelmingly subscribe to it – even though many of them haven’t the faintest clue that what they believe to be the truth about the Arab-Israel conflict is in fact a pack of lies from start to finish.
In maintaining this fictitious distinction, Labour wields what it believes to be the ultimate weapon: the anti-Zionist Jews who offer themselves as human shields to protect those who they hope will destroy the State of Israel through demonisation and delegitimisation.
The assumption is that no Jew can be an antisemite; so if Jews say Israel is a Nazi apartheid racist murderous colonialist state committing unspeakabke atrocities, that cannot be antisemitism.
Melanie Phillips’ observations here about Jewish antisemites can be seen clearly in the comments to the Guardian article linked above. I would personally advise you all not to read the comments. They are absolutely vile, sickeningly antisemitic in many places. But as Melanie noted, the commenters seem to have trouble understanding that indeed yes, a Jew can be an antisemite. In fact some of the worst antisemites in history have been Jews. These supporters of Labour, or simply your common-or-garden opponents of Israel assert that because Miko Peled and Gilad Atzmon are Jews, Israelis even, they can’t possibly be antisemitic, and in fact their opinions should count more. The truth of course is the exact opposite. They are the rare exceptions which prove the rule that someone who hates Israel “more than is absolutely necessary”, someone who approves of national statehood for all except for the Jews, is an antisemite.
Marcus Dysch, a Jewish journalist and one of the participants at the Labour Conference and the fringe event, sent in the following horrifying report to the Jewish Chronicle: Those tackling hatred and antisemitism are under attack:
Jews attacking Jews. Israel hated at every turn. Age-old tropes spewed from the podium.
How the antisemites must be loving this Labour conference.
Tuesday morning’s row on the conference floor over how Labour will challenge and punish Jew-hatred was in equal parts shambolic and frightening.
The proposed change, backed by Jeremy Corbyn and the national executive committee, was supposed to be quickly debated and voted through.
But activist after activist – many of them anti-Zionist Jews – took to the microphone to denounce the Jews behind the plan and Israel in general.
On and on it went – for so long, in fact, that the vote had to be deferred. Surely now it is beyond doubt who is really running Labour, who has the momentum, in every sense. The mainstream has been blown away and the hard-left is now extending its grip on the party’s soul.
Ken Livingstone is back on the airwaves; Ken Loach is on the television saying history is there to be “discussed” when asked about those questioning the Holocaust; and Jeremy Corbyn sits amid it all, on the dais, watching silently.
The situation was bad enough yesterday – when Israel was compared to the Nazis and activists argued that Jewish groups should be thrown out of the party – that a number of young Jews have stayed away today.
A year ago I visited the hard-left Momentum group’s pseudo conference held on the sidelines. This year there is no need to go back – the fringe has become mainstream. Much of the debate, comment and activity in the main hall this week has been in line with the hard-left’s worldview.
Irrespective of what happens in the final 24 hours of the political jamboree here in Brighton, the die has been cast.
Labour has not turned a corner – it has gone over a cliff-edge. British Jews – traditional Labour voters or otherwise – will observe what has happened here and make up their own minds.
That old standby Ken Livingstone, suspended from the Labour Party multiple times for antisemitic comments, just can’t help himself. Here is his latest bigoted idiocy:
Read also Guido Fawkes blog about the fringe Labour event with its calls to expel Jewish members.
Labour’s woes (which they did not realise were woes until the mainstream media shone a spotlight on them) were irresistible click-bait for the media. The Sun reported on the execrable Naomi Wimbourne-Idrissi’s interview on LBC Radio. The Sun’s headline read “You’re making it worse!” while their strap-line noted that Wimbourne-Idrissi claimed Labour had no problem with antisemitism while at the same time accusing Israel of exploiting the Holocaust:
Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi appeared on LBC Radio and said the issue of anti-Semitism within Labour has “been blown out of all proportion”.
But during the interview on Nick Ferrari’s show, Ms Wimborne-Idrissi, who is the co-founder of the group Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods, claimed Israel has “inflicted” the Holocaust on other people.
She said: “When it comes to the Holocaust, of course, there must never be any minimisation of that horror.
“It’s inflicted on other people in the sense that apologists for Israel use the suffering of Jews to excuse the suffering of Palestinians.
What an utterly disgusting woman. If she is the acceptable face of Labour then Labour should not be acceptable in polite society.
The depth of the bigotry to which the Labour Party has sunk is so shocking that the UK Equality and Human Rights Commissioner stepped in to demand that Labour now prove it is not racist – and by that she meant antisemitic as well (not a given by Labour’s warped definitions):
In an astonishing intervention, the CEO of the United Kingdom’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, has demanded that the Labour Party prove “that it is not a racist party”.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission, whose role was established by the Equality Act 2006, is independent of the Government and is responsible for “safeguarding and enforcing the laws that protect people’s rights to fairness, dignity and respect.”
Ms Hilsenrath was responding to a Labour Party Conference fringe event that was advertised in official literature, speakers demanded the right to deny the Holocaust to loud cheering, and called for the Jewish grouping within the Labour Party to be expelled, prompting spontaneous calls of “throw them out”.
In a statement, Ms Hilsenrath said: “Antisemitism is racism and the Labour party needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist party. A zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism should mean just that. When senior party figures are saying there’s a problem, then the leadership should take swift action. It is simply not acceptable to say they oppose these views. These comments by party members show more needs to be done to root out antisemitic views that clearly exist in the party. Any suggestion of kicking people out of any political party on the grounds of race or religion should be condemned.”
Kol hakavod to Ms. Hilsenrath for noticing the bigotry and taking such a courageously principled stand against the politically-correct “social justice warriors”.
Another response also displays the shock with which decent Brits received Labour’s antisemitism. A Labour council leader of Brighton – yes! He is a member of Labour! – said he will need assurances from Labour in the future before he will allow another such conference to take place in his city – and it must be noted that Labour’s conferences have traditionally always taken place in Brighton:
Brighton and Hove’s Labour council leader Warren Morgan said he was very concerned at “the anti-Semitism being aired publicly in fringe meetings and on the floor of conference”.
In a letter to Labour Party general secretary Iain McNicol, Mr Morgan said: “As the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, I will undoubtedly face questions as to why we allow any event where anti-Semitic views are freely expressed to happen in the city, particularly on council premises.
“As a Labour Party member, I expect the inquiry announced today to take firm action; as leader I will need reassurances that there will be no repeat of the behaviour and actions we have seen this week before any further bookings from the party are taken.”
Kudos to Mr. Morgan on his very brave stance against antisemitism and racism. Here too, this should not be taken for granted in this day and age when antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism is fashionable again.
Although the situation of the British Jewish community is still pretty solid and stable, they cannot rest easy as long as a bigot like Jeremy Corbyn is the leader of the opposition. As Caroline Glick notes in the Jerusalem Post,
Since 2015, Britain has been one election away from having an antisemitic prime minister backed by antisemitic voters.
Corbyn is an antisemite. He refers to Hezbollah and Hamas – two terrorist groups that openly support the genocide of world Jewry and the annihilation of the Jewish state – as “our friends.” He has shared stages with Hamas terrorists and Holocaust- deniers. Since his ascension to leadership of the Labor Party, he has overseen the mainstreaming of antisemitic actions and rhetoric by his party members and supporters.
I wonder if the mainstream Labour members, those decent “sane left” Brits, will ever manage to oust Corbyn and shove him back onto the back benches where he belongs.