• antisemitism,  Labour Party

    Willsman – when and why did people vote for him?

    The typical response to those Labour NEC election results from more moderate Corbyn supporters is to point out that many Labour members got their votes in before news of Willsman’s rant was widely reported.  Clearly some Labour members were firmly JC8 but not JC9* – but just how many of the 70,000 or so who voted for him did so in ignorance of his views? I thought it would be interesting to put those discussing this issue on Twitter into different categories in an attempt to get a better sense of Labour supporters’ thoughts on the Willsman issue. What evidence is there that most of those who voted for him…

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    Corbyn on British Zionists

    Even by Corbyn’s standards, this is vile. He is clearly using ‘Zionist’ as code for ‘Jew’ in this nasty, sneering speech from 2013. The Labour leader said: ‘[British Zionists] 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.’ Apparently he was speaking alongside Alison Weir (not the historian) – whom even the zealously anti-zionist ‘Jews Sans Frontieres’ site thinks is an antisemite. Another egregious speaker present, according to the Daily Mail’s report. was Alan Hart. So far I have only seen this story in the Daily Mail…

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    Sociology Professor’s interesting views on research parameters [updated]

    Academic twitter was slightly startled to be asked this question recently: In response to a few WTF? reactions, he offered this argument: Yet oddly, given his commitment to unconfined enquiry, however unsettling its focus, he seems to have strongly opposed the controversial eugenics conference at UCL. I thought this was a particularly telling tweet: Did he really check what every single person challenging him thought about Israel? But there’s no need to worry – he’s very clear that he ‘opposes ALL forms of racism’. Update: My attention has been drawn to this piece by Scambler – the final sections – which include the revelation that he’s already been the focus…

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    Corbyn and Munich

    It’s interesting to map the different flavours of Corbyn supporter onto Damian Counsell’s handy field guide: Owen Jones’ response was first of all to tweet non-stop about Boris Johnson and then insist that any left wing leader would attract a simila media onslaught – in other words, it would seem that he thinks this latest story is either some kind of fabrication or simply not important. What’s been entirely absent – so far as I can see – is any reasoned counterargument to the Daily Mail’s original story.  Instead we get responses such as this, from the Labour press team: In case you missed it here’s a transcript of the…

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    Watching The Americans

    I’ve recently finished watching the sixth and final series of The Americans. This award-winning show focuses on Soviet sleeper agents, Philip and Elizabeth, who live an ostensibly normal suburban life in 1980s Washington DC with their teenage children Paige and Henry. Elizabeth is, broadly, a regime loyalist. Philip is a bit more ambivalent – and even something of an Americanophile. Although it’s received a great deal of praise I’ve been struck by a surprising lack of analysis of the show’s political leanings in  most reviews. Some might argue that this is because the real concern of The Americans is marriage, the family and personal relationships. There’s some truth in this…

  • Anti Muslim Bigotry

    Claire Fox on Boris Johnson and free speech

    This article by Claire Fox seems a useful starting point for some reflections on the burka row.  First a quick note on my own reaction to Johnson’s comments.  They slotted in quite neatly to some distinctions around discussions of this topic which I briefly sketched in a recent piece on anti-Muslim bigotry: Vulgar and harsh comments about what an individual woman is wearing, assumptions about her views and motives, are one thing – but a reasoned critique of modesty codes (and some of those writing these will be Muslim women themselves) quite another Clearly Johnson’s comparisons with letterboxes and bank robbers were by no means at the crudest and most…

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    Michael White on antisemitism and Islamophobia

    The former Guardian journalist offered this surprisingly curt response to a question about the lack of coverage of alleged Islamophobia in the Conservative Party: A number of instances have been offered where Muslims have experienced a problem in the Conservative Party or where Conservative activists have made bigoted remarks. I’m not sure how deep or widespread the problem is but it should be tackled without reference to Islamist terrorism. White then offered a further response when challenged. This reminded me a little of the debating dodges used by some Corbyn supporters.  Express a concern about antisemtism – you are just trying to shut down criticism of Israel.  No one was…

  • Amnesty International,  antisemitism

    Labour and antisemitism: a (selective) weekly roundup

    Where to start? Chris Williamson has been shooting up the list of my least favourite MPs for some time.  Now the Jewish Labour Movement has called for him to be suspended from the party following his failure to challenge antisemitism, including the accusation that Corbyn’s critics are ‘foot-soldiers for Israel’.  This is a revealing little detail. He added that some in the party had “allowed their passion to run away” and expressed themselves in “a light which could be perceived as antisemitic… I don’t believe they are antisemites.” Imagine substituting ‘racist’ or ‘Islamophobic’ for antisemitic – would he ever come out with such a statement? On the topic of giving…

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    A few thoughts on MEND’s recent report on Islamophobia

    Whereas definitions of antisemitism have of course been much discussed recently, I’ve seen little coverage of this report on defining Islamophobia.  The definition – and subsequent direct commentary – can be found on pp.20-23. Here are a few first thoughts. I’ve deliberately put to one side considerations of MEND as an organisation. The short definition (p. 20) at first glance seems straightforward, describing unambiguous anti-Muslim bigotry. It’s possible to envisage ways in which it could be applied inappropriately, but this is true of all such definitions. Like many of the clauses in the key definitions of antisemitism (EUMC, IHRA) it is essentially a statement of the obvious.  It would catch…

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    Labour’s Latest: Cllr Kevin Enticott

    You are probably already aware of the key details of this case. Enticott, a Labour councillor from Bognor Regis, has been suspended from the party after apparently posting the most vile and extreme antisemitic material on his Facebook page. It called for the execution of ‘Talmud Jews’, repeated the blood libel, and called Jews ‘parasites’. You can read more details here. He claims his account was hacked – and the very fact that the material was so extreme might be said to make that claim more credible. However his response to the allegation of antisemitism was strange, to say the least: Insisting that that he is “not anti-Semitic in any…