12 July 2019 — The Electronic Intifada
The BBC heavily trailed details from Wednesday night’s Panorama program, “Is Labour Anti-Semitic?”
The papers were full of headlines about it over the weekend, and it was supposed to prove just how anti-Semitic Labour has become under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In truth, all the program proved was just how dishonest the British establishment and the Israel lobby have been in manufacturing this “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” for the past four years.
Mike Creighton, Labour’s former director of complaints, admitted this candidly in the film itself.
Asked by Corbyn’s top aide Seumas Milne how Labour could deal with the “crisis,” Creighton says he insisted Corbyn should give a speech, “particularly saying that Israel had a right to exist.”
That sums up what this fabricated “crisis” has been about all along.
Corbyn is a veteran Palestine solidarity activist.
That became the biggest weapon used to attack him from day one.
Israel’s supposed “right to exist as a Jewish state” is predicated on systemic racism and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians – as my colleague Ali Abunimah has for years patiently explained.
It is no surprise that a member of the old, New Labour establishment like Creighton would support such racism.
Blogging about his retirement in 2017, Creighton complained in his goodbye speech that Labour was becoming a “party of protest” against things like the Iraq war.
He wistfully recounted an anecdote about his hero Tony Blair.
More recently, Creighton tweeted that although he was remaining a party member, he was “not interested in winning government. I’m interested in winning the party.”
In other words he’s determined to win Labour’s civil war, even if it means sabotaging the party’s chances at the ballot box.
Both also appeared on Panorama last night.
The JLM is an explictly pro-Israel organization which has close ties to the Israeli embassy.
Indeed, Rose herself is a former embassy employee, who came straight out of that job and into a role as the JLM’s executive director in 2016, soon after the JLM was reactivated to fight against Corbyn.
Yet not only were these affiliations unmentioned on last night’s BBC program, these two heavily partisan figures were not even named!
Instead they appeared on screen, distressed, speaking straight to camera. The were presented as sympathetic whistleblowers against Labour Party racism.
Yet, as The Electronic Intifada has reported in detail for the past four years, the JLM has been one of the main groups promoting and manufacturing the false “Labour anti-Semitism” crisis all along.
If the BBC was so convinced of the truth of their claims, why did it not disclose their clearly relevant affiliations and let viewers make up their own minds?
The rest of the program went mostly along the same dishonest lines.
The limits to criticizing Israel
One of two main “experts,” portrayed as independent authors, was Alan Johnson, who tried to set what he claimed were the acceptable boundaries for criticizing Israel.
“You can say the occupation is wrong, you can say the settlements are wrong,” he opined – but he spoke against calling Israel “an inherently racist endeavor.”
This is the typical line of Israel and its lobby groups – recognizing the reality of Israel’s foundational and systemic racism against all Palestinians is deemed anti-Semitic.
Once again Panorama did not mention this affiliation.
The program was chock-full of such figures – many who have been driving the manufactured “anti-Semitism crisis” all along.
One further example is telling.
Another of the young whistleblowers speaking “as a Jew in the Labour Party” was Alex Richardson – a member of the JLM executive.
The BBC did not name him, but I – and many others on social media – recognized him because he was a key figure exposed in Al Jazeera’s 2017 undercover documentary, The Lobby.
But the film also shows that Richardson was personally involved in that same fabrication.
“Joan convinced me to report the one yesterday because I was made to feel uncomfortable,” the undercover footage shows him telling Labour Friends of Israel’s director Jennifer Gerber.
Yet he privately admitted, “nothing anti-Semitic was said.”
You can watch the relevant clip in the video above.
But a party member was still reported for “anti-Semitism.” She was Jean Fitzpatrick, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn and of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.
Fitzpatrick was formally investigated by the party and ultimately cleared of accusations of anti-Semitism. But the experience had a disturbing effect on her life, leaving her under a cloud of suspicion.
Judging from social media though, the grassroots base of the Labour Party is not fooled by the narrative put out by Panorama.
Calling it the #PanoramaHatchetJob, Corbyn supporters have slammed the program for its numerous misleading aspects, including selectively edited emails leaked by disaffected ex-staff members from the Labour right.
This is not a fair or balanced investigation, it is an authored polemic, with no political balance of interviewees, quotes invented and emails edited to change meaning. It is an overtly one-sided intervention in political controversy by the BBC. #Panorama
— Labour Press Team (@labourpress)
Labour’s press office has hit back, promising to lodge a formal complaint with the BBC and calling the program “seriously inaccurate,” an “authored polemic” and “an overtly one-sided intervention in political controversy.”
But this could be far too little, far too late.
If Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the Labour leadership cannot even fight back and defeat the Israel lobby within their own party, what hope is there that, in government, they could successfully take on the far more powerful combined forces of British – and American – capitalism?