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UK to investigate ‘far-left websites’ for ‘antisemitism’

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On Friday the thirteenth of December, the day after Boris Johnson’s Tory party devastated Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour in Britain’s bitterly-fought 2019 election, Lord John Mann, the government’s independent antisemitism adviser, tweeted the following:

I can this morning announce that as government advisor on antisemitism that I will be instigating an investigation this January into the role of the Canary and other websites in the growth of antisemitism in the United Kingdom.

The tweet was first reported by The Jewish Chronicle, which said that Mann would be targeting other “far left websites.” The news suggests that the weaponization of antisemitism that contributed to Corbyn’s defeat was now being redirected — Mann indeed tweeted that the election did not herald the end of his efforts.[1]

John Mann’s announcement of investigation.

The Canary website, Mann’s specific target, was founded in 2015 by its current editor-in-chief, Kerry-Anne Mendoza, with the credo “Independent Media/Campaigning Journalism.” The site has gained a substantial following for its “left” politics, and its investigative stories have included allegations of anti-Corbyn conspiracy, and of Tory voter fraud in 2015, the latter allegations having sufficient merit to be picked up by the Guardian. Mendoza is a veteran of Israel-Palestine and antisemitism as political issues – she was witness to an Israeli attack on Palestine during the Second Intifada, and has frequently sparred with Guardian columnist Jonathan Freedland and BBC News political editor Laura Kuenssberg over alleged pro-Israel bias at those outlets.

Kerry-Anne Mendoza tweet.

Lord Mann was a Labour MP but resigned in September in protest over what he claimed was Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle rampant antisemitism in the Labour Party. He chairs the UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism (APPG) and is the author of a 2015 book, Antisemitism: The Oldest Hatred.

The author successfully contacted Lord Mann with two questions.

• What criteria led to The Canary being targeted for this probe?
Lord Mann: Evidence based.

• The “Terms of Reference” for the Independent Antisemitism Adviser refer to “the Jewish community and institutions”. What comprises the “Jewish community” in this context, and what determines which Jewish institutions are engaged with?
Lord Mann: All jewish [sic] communities.

[Update] The author has received the following statement from Kerry-Anne Mendoza of The Canary:

“It should worry everyone that one of the government’s first policy announcements was to attack the only section of the press currently holding it to account.

And unlike the establishment press, The Canary is independently regulated. If readers have an issue with anything we publish, they have a fair and impartial route to remedy that.

If John Mann was a true anti racist, he would be fighting the Johnson government with us. Instead, he is working for him. The government of Windrush, Grenfell, racist vans and racist language has no place lecturing anyone on racism.

Even worse Mr Mann, who is not Jewish, begins his attack on an outlet who’s co-founder is. We are a diverse newsroom led by a black, gay, working class woman.

During our four years, The Canary has fought tirelessly for progressive values: equality, diversity, the environment. We suggest that if Mr Mann wants to tackle hate sites, he begins with The Sun and the Daily Mail.”

According to its Terms of Reference, Lord Mann’s position as Independent Antisemitism Adviser is unpaid. However the Terms also stipulate that the UK government will contribute £100,000 a year to the Antisemitism Policy Trust, money which it will use “to support the Secretariat and cover reasonable travel and subsistence expenses”, though the meaning of “support” and “subsistence” is not defined. In 2019, the UK government provided £14 million to “the Protective Security Grant to protect Jewish schools and institutions”.[2]

The Antisemitism Policy Trust is a registered charity affiliated with the APPG and whose stated mission is “to educate and empower parliamentarians, policy makers and opinion formers to address antisemitism”. Three UK organizations — these two, plus the better-known Campaign Against Antisemitism — were formed in the aftermath of Israel’s image-tarnishing “Protective Edge” assault against Gaza in the summer of 2014. Indeed first among the APPG’s “Terms of Reference”, the organization is “to consider the events of July/August 2014 and the causes and consequences of the highest-ever recorded number of antisemitic incidents during that period”.[3]

Lord Mann has been publicly vocal in alleging confluence between antisemitism and criticism of the Israeli state. It was Mann who in 2016 confronted Ken Livingstone in a public stairwell in front of a news camera, calling the former London mayor a “Nazi apologist” for his clumsy but off-the-cuff reference to the Haavara Transfer Agreement between the Zionists and the Nazis. The publicity over the incident caused Livingstone’s highly-public expulsion from the Labour Party. In 2018, Mann cited a 2010 Holocaust Memorial Day event hosted by Corbyn as part of the “antisemitism” evidence against the Labour leader, because the event’s main speaker had compared Israeli attacks on Gaza to the Nazis. That speaker was the late Hajo Meyer, a survivor of Auschwitz.[4]

__________________________

REFERENCES

1. Orlando Radice, “Government antisemitism adviser to launch hate probe into The Canary and other far-left websites”, in The Jewish Chronicle, December 13, 2019. link

2. • Independent Antisemitism Adviser “Terms of Reference”, here.
• UK gov funding, “Communities Secretary commits funding to tackle online hate”, UK gov press release, 15 September 2019. link
• Much of the money probably goes to another pro-Israel advocacy group, the Community Service Trust. See, e.g., Tony Greenstein’s “The Community Security Trust – Policeman of the Jewish Community”, here.

3. • Antisemitism Policy Trust here; Campaign Against Antisemitism here. (Note that their similar URLs may cause confusion.)
• Antisemitism Policy Trust charity listing, here.
• Report of the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Antisemitism, February 2015, here.

4. For Hajo Meyer, see e.g., Sarah Marsh, “Corbyn apologises over event where Israel was compared to Nazis”, in The Guardian, August 1, 2018. link.

Tom Suarez

Tom Suarez is the author, most recently, of "Writings on the Wall", an annotated collection of Palestinian Oral Histories collected by the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem (2019)

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15 Responses

  1. Maximus Decimus Meridius on December 14, 2019, 12:55 pm

    No doubt about it, the antisemitism industry in Britain – of which ‘Lord’ Mann is a senior member, has got an emormous boost from its role in successfully destroying Corbyn’s political career. It certainly was not the only factor, or even the main factor, but it played a crucial role, allowing the openly racist nasty party to smear a man who had campaigned against racism and prejudice of all sorts for decades.

    So no surprise at all that they are coming for independent leftist media under the cloak of ‘antisemitism’. They’re on a roll and are going to go all out. But one thing occurs to me: If,, as the antisemitism industry has been claiming these past few years, antisemitism is a form of racism, why do we need special, well funded committees to deal with it? We don’t have committees for anti-black racism, or anti-Asian racism, yet these are much larger communities in Britain.

    • HarryLaw on December 15, 2019, 11:32 am

      “We don’t have committees for anti-black racism, or anti-Asian racism, yet these are much larger communities in Britain”. Which also suffer far more discrimination than the relatively prosperous Jewish community.

    • Eva Smagacz on December 16, 2019, 11:53 am

      Other minority communities in Britain may suffer racism, but linguistically separating anti-Jewish racism from garden variety racism against lesser mortals is an important aspect of shaping public perceptions of Jewish suffering as exceptional and their victimhood un-paralleled.

  2. Misterioso on December 15, 2019, 9:56 am

    Prediction:
    Megalomaniacal, egotistical, loud mouth, self-serving, deceitful Conservative P.M. Boris Johnson will fall flat on his ass. Scotland and Northern Ireland are not on board leaving the E.U. Declaring that Brexit has changed everything, Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is calling for a second referendum on independence referring to it as “an assertion of the democratic right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future.” The Scottish Nationalists won 48 of 59 seats in the election and took 45% of the popular vote. The Conservatives lost seven of their former 13 seats.

    In Northern Ireland the election resulted in the Social Democrat and Labour and Sinn Fein holding a majority of seats. Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for a referendum on reunification with Ireland saying “Brexit has changed the political landscape in Ireland, in Britain and in Europe… All the old certainties are gone.” Brexit has increased support for Irish reunification and more and more Protestants are now identifying with being Irish.

    • Tom Suarez on December 15, 2019, 10:24 am

      It certainly would be poetic justice if the Brexit-Bring-Back-the-Empire movement played out with Ireland returning to being fully … Ireland (how else to fix the “border” problem?). Hopefully BJ will “fall flat” before he sells Britain’s true great achievement, its National Health System, to the US.

      • Misterioso on December 15, 2019, 10:39 am

        @Tom Suarez

        Re: Selling “Britain’s true great achievement, its National Health System, to the U.S.”

        https://theintercept.com/2019/12/10/nhs-privatization-uk-health-care/

        “Privatization at the NHS? American Business Interests Seek Growing Share of U.K.’s Health System.” The Intercept, Dec. 10/19

        EXCERPT:
        “Privatization of the National Health Service, the marquee health system of the United Kingdom that provides essential health care services, has become a point of contention in the general election, as voters head to the polls on Thursday.

        “Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn alleges that his opponents, led by the Conservative Party’s Boris Johnson, are intent on continuing a push to privatize NHS services, placing the cherished health agency up for sale to predatory interests based in the United States known for shifting costs to consumers and for reaping profits through providing lower standards of care often at higher costs. Late last month, Corbyn released a set of over 400 trade documents between the U.S. and the U.K., purporting to show the U.S. seeking ‘total market access’ to the U.K. health care market. The Tories adamantly reject the claim. Over the weekend, after an allegation of Russian interference surfaced, Corbyn refused to disclose the source of the documents.

        “The back and forth, as it played out in the British press, was focused on the documents Corbyn released and has largely left out the track record that American health care companies have in seeking to capitalize on recent NHS privatization schemes. Publicly available corporate presentations and transcripts of investor calls with health care executives suggest that the American health care industry has long had its sights on harnessing a wave of privatization and outsourcing at the NHS — both measures sought by senior Conservative Party officials.”

      • Mooser on December 15, 2019, 12:22 pm

        “Hopefully BJ will “fall flat” before he sells Britain’s true great achievement, its National Health System, to the US.”

        If he succeeds, the headlines will be: ‘Labour Anti-semitism Destroys Britian’s NHS’

  3. Elizabeth Block on December 15, 2019, 10:25 am

    Hajo Meyer, several years ago now, was on a speaking tour. Topic: “Never Again For Anyone.” No mainstream Jewish institution in Toronto would let him speak there. He spoke at the Winchevsky Centre (secular Jewish community) and Quaker House.
    I am wearing two buttons right now. One says NEVER AGAIN FOR ANYONE. The other says NEVER AGAIN BY ANYONE.
    My experience is that Zionists don’t know what I’m referring to.

    • Talkback on December 15, 2019, 5:03 pm

      Elisabeth Block: “My experience is that Zionists don’t know what I’m referring to.”

      Unfortunately neither does the mainstream. Hoe about changing one of them to “Nonjews are humans, too”.

  4. Misterioso on December 15, 2019, 1:31 pm

    More grist for the Brexit mill:

    https://ahtribune.com/world/europe/uk/3727-election-result-signals-a-possible-end.html

    “Election Result Signals a Possible End of the United Kingdom” by Allan Macleod, America Herald Tribute, Dec. 14/19

    EXCERPT:
    “On the face of it, Thursday’s election result could hardly have been better for Boris Johnson and his ruling Conservative Party. Campaigning on a simple slogan of ‘get Brexit done,’ the Tories romped to victory, winning 365 of a total of 650 seats, easily enough for a comfortable majority government. In his victory speech, the Prime Minister claimed that he was humbled that the British public had put their trust in him, and promised to make it is mission to work night and day, flat out, to get Brexit done by January 31st, ‘no ifs, no buts, no maybes.’

    “Even better, his rivals suffered huge defeats; after what he called a ‘very disappointing night for the Labour Party,’ Jeremy Corbyn announced he was standing down after four years in charge. Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson suffered the embarrassment of losing her East Dunbartonshire seat.

    “The results will be interpreted as a very clear mandate for Johnson to push forward in his plans for a quick departure from the European Union. And yet the irony is that it is precisely this insistence from many in the Conservative and Unionist Party, to give it its full name, that could lead to the breakup of the union, ending the United Kingdom forever. An October poll found that the majority of English Conservative voters would accept the fragmentation of the UK as a price for leaving the EU. Those voters may get their wish– and sooner than expected.”

    _______________________________________________________________________

    Also:
    https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/boris-johnson-general-election-result-corbyn-brexit-lucky-eu-a9246411.html

    “Johnson is the luckiest politician alive – reading about worse historical crises has been my solace in recent weeks” The Independent, Nov. 13/19, by Patrick Cockburn.

    “Books on savage wars are a reminder that things can be much more grim”

    EXCERPTS:
    “I suspected from the moment the general election was called that the result would be a large Conservative majority, a calamitous defeat for Labour, and a decisive victory for Brexit. To prevent myself getting too depressed by this grim prospect, I picked out and read two books on crises that were far more dire: one on the Wars of the Roses in 15th century England and the other on Verdun in 1916, perhaps the most horrific battle in the First World War.

    “My idea was that by concentrating on these savage conflicts I would have some relief from thinking about Brexit and its consequences. It would also help me view the turmoil over leaving the EU in less apocalyptic terms than is usually the case. Is it, for instance, likely that we are facing the break-up of the UK as nationalist parties – Conservatives, SNP, Sinn Fein, DUP – establish their dominance over different communities? For all the debate over Brexit, it is still unclear how far Britain ruled by a hard-right government will diverge from EU norms and follow the US model.”

    “Now that Brexit in its current version has been approved by the electorate, it is easy to forget what a weird project it continues to be. Much of what its proponents say is fantasy or simply unrealisable. There is only so much Britain can do to diversify its economy away from the EU, since 45 per cent of British exports go to there compared to 15 per cent to the US, while exports to Ireland easily exceed those to China. Britain’s negotiators will once again bump into economic and political realities that are the same as under Theresa May.”

  5. RoHa on December 16, 2019, 2:58 am
    • just on December 16, 2019, 1:25 pm

      Thanks for the link to the Fisk article, RoHa. Some humans’ (politicians, colonialists, imperialists, warmongers, media and xenophobes) selective memories are odd (nefarious), to say the least.

      I read an article in The Guardian yesterday that did some justice to another memory hole that some would like to seal:

      “Thirty years on, will the guilty pay for horror of Ceaușescu orphanages?

      By 1989, when the dictator was killed, up to 20,000 had died in Romania’s children’s homes. Now criminal cases may finally be brought

      They were the pictures that, for many across the world, were the defining image of the aftermath of Romania’s 1989 revolution: emaciated children clothed in rags, looking into the camera with desperate eyes amid the squalid decay of the country’s orphanages.

      Christmas Day will mark 30 years since Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romania’s megalomaniac, isolationist dictator, was convicted in an impromptu trial and shot dead together with his wife. His execution ended more than two decades of rule that brought poverty and misery to the majority of the country’s population. …”

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/15/romania-orphanage-child-abusers-may-face-justice-30-years-on

  6. just on December 16, 2019, 1:51 pm

    Oh, and look who is offering a cool million over to someone(s) in Europe:

    “State Department Offering $1 Million Grant to Counter anti-Semitism in Europe …

    The State Department is offering a $1 million grant to combat European anti-Semitism.

    The announcement Friday followed days after the Trump administration sparked controversy in the Jewish community with a controversial executive order protecting Jewish college students.

    The State Department said it was accepting applications for the funds, which are intended for a single program that would focus on “counter[ing] the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe as manifested through hate crimes such as acts of physical violence, desecration of religious community sites and religion-based discrimination.”

    The tender said the program activities could include the provision of “training and resources to law enforcement” on issues such as hate crimes laws and “victim support,” “monitoring implementation of local and national laws” and “engaging in strategic litigation to set case law precedent.” …”

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/state-department-offering-1-million-grant-to-counter-anti-semitism-in-europe-1.8282992

    Somewhat insulting to US ‘allies’, n’est ce pas? Worse than bizarre, imho.

  7. amigo on December 16, 2019, 6:13 pm

    Hmmmm, just a Million.

    Don,t these people know that the UK is rife with antisemites.(According to the experts at Israeli Foreign Affairs dept , only Ireland is worse).

    They can be found hiding under beds and in closets , or guzzling pints ,while engaging in Jewish tropes and blood libels –exclusively in working class neighbourhoods .

    We all know that antisemites do not reside in upper class communities where only a mild form of Islamophobia is practiced .

    No sirree , no need for a Government adviser on Islamophobia.Boris was only joking when he referred to Muslim women as
    ” letter Boxes”.Cant these infiltrators take a joke.

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