antisemitism,  Islamophobia

A Tale of Two Suspensions

Rod Liddle writes in The Spectator that he has been suspended from Labour and will be investigated by the Chakrabati commission on Antisemitism and Islamophobia.

I have from time to time read Liddle pieces and reached the conclusion that he was engaged in Muslim-baiting, in an unpleasant way. None immediately spring to mind, but I do remember having that feeling. It is for that reason that I do not circulate his pieces. He is a ‘shock jock’ akin to somebody like Frankie Boyle, and in doing that, he regularly and deliberately crosses lines. Perhaps I am being unfair, but that’s my impression.

Here is an extract from the piece in question:

Re the anti-Semitism. There are a number of broad points to make. First, it is absolutely endemic within two sections of the Labour Party – the perpetually adolescent white middle-class lefties, and the Muslims – the latter of which now comprise a significant proportion of Labour activists and voters in parts of London and the dilapidated former mill-towns of West Yorkshire and East Lancashire. And Luton. And parts of the midlands.

For many Muslims the anti-Semitism is visceral, an ingrained part of their unpleasant ideology. For the idiotic white lefties it is an adjunct to their self-loathing and hatred of firstly Britain and second the West. In both cases it is predicated as much upon envy – at Jewish success, worldwide and in Israel – as anything else. If you handed over Israel to the Palestinians they would turn it into Somalia before you could say Yom Kippur.

Now, there’s an important point here. The piece in question originally said:

“For the Muslims the anti-Semitism is visceral, an ingrained part of their unpleasant ideology.”

It was then changed to:

“For many Muslims the anti-Semitism is visceral, an ingrained part of their unpleasant ideology.”

That change is important, and it was right that it was made. Certainly, a religious ideology which incorporated antisemitism would be unpleasant. But that is not true of what all Muslims believe. The phrase “the Muslims”, on it face at least, implies that Liddle is ascribing views to all Muslims.

Liddle’s new piece doesn’t acknowledge the change he has made to the original piece: but it should. It is arguable, on the face of the piece, that he was talking not about all Muslims when he said “the Muslims”, but simply saying that antisemitism “is absolutely endemic” within the Muslim “sections of the Labour Party”. Therefore, “many” conforms to and clarifies this earlier statement.

It was in any case right to amend it.

I should say that there are many people from a Muslim background who are among the strongest fighters against antisemitism I know. They are, according to many of them, in a minority among their ‘communities’. Nevertheless, the recent ICM poll suggests that agreement with antisemitic statements hovers around the 30-40% mark. That is a worrying large number but it isn’t a majority.

It is also sadly the case that a large number of those suspended from Labour for having made antisemitic statements are Muslim Labour politicians.

Today, the Labour Party decided not to suspend a prominent Labour MEP, Afzal Khan, from the party. He had posted a classically Jew-baiting statement:

The Israeli Government are acting like Nazi’s in Gaza

As Jonathan Sacerdoti puts it:

Jonathan Sacerdoti, director of communications at Campaign Against Anti-Semitism said that the Party’s failure to discipline Mr Khan “clearly signals to the Jewish community that they are not taking this problem seriously”.

He said: “Comparing the Jewish state to Nazis, who killed over 6 million Jews in a systematic act of genocide, minimises the true extent of the Holocaust and attempts to portray the victims of the Holocaust as the new Nazis.

“It seems the Labour Party only has zero tolerance of anti-Semitism when it doesn’t cost them too much politically. They are not willing to discipline anti-Semites in the party when the political price is too high.”

The tweet circulates an article from the blog of Christopher Ross, which has been taken down, but which you can see here.

So, on the same day, Rod Liddle has been suspended from the Labour Party for pointing out that antisemitism is endemic among Labour politicians of Muslim origin. And a Labour Muslim politician of Muslim origin has not been suspended for making the Jew-baiting “Israel=Nazis” parallel.

I expect that there will now be routine calls for those who accuse Muslim Labour politicians of antisemitism for posting such ‘unproblematic’ material to be expelled and investigated for Islamophobia. Perhaps that was the point of these events:  to discourage such calls for actions. It is likely to be its effect.

Well, it didn’t take long for an inquiry about antisemitism in Labour to turn its focus to the Islamophobic nature of pointing out the widespread antisemitism among Muslim Labour politicians.

Who could have predicted that?

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