I agreed to stand as a Labour Party paper candidate for Bidford West and Salford Ward in the Stratford Upon Avon District Council elections.
Today (9th April) I received the email below from The Daily Mail!
The journalist made it clear that he had not searched out the story of my candidacy and my support of the Palestinian cause but that it had been ‘brought to his attention’. Someone purposefully either emailed him or called him.
Seems likely this will be someone locally (Hi Jeff… ) Seems also likely this might be in response to my posting on the LP forum regarding Jason Fojtik’s recent resignation from the party.
So can it be possible that a member or former member of Stratford Upon Avon CLP is willing to abuse the memory of the 6 million in a petty political squabble in Stratford Upon Avon CLP? I mean really!?
Dear Mr Jury,
We are considering running a story about your candidacy for the Labour party, in the light of some of the posts you have made on social media with respect to Israel and Zionism.
In your writing, you appear to:
-Suggest that the ‘Israeli embassy’ is orchestrating the anti-Semitism crisis in Labour, in conjunction with moderate Labour MPs
-Allege that the same are exploiting the memory of Holocaust victims for political ends
-Argue that the complaints about anti-Semitism in Labour are trumped up to undermine the Labour leadership
-Compare Israel to the Nazis
I’d be grateful if you are able to get back to me by the end of the day with a response please.
Very best wishes
Jake Wallis Simon
Associate Global Editor
This is my reply in full:
Thanks for getting in touch. I am a paper candidate for a tiny ward in the Stratford-on-Avon District Council elections and find it extraordinary, if not a little unnerving, to receive this email from you. I would have thought that in these politically turbulent times a national newspaper would have far more important fish to fry? Hey ho, on we go…
In response to your questions:
I understand anti-semitism to be a form of racism in which people hate Jews simply for being Jews. In light of the tragic history of the Jewish people particularly in Christian Europe and particularly in light of the Nazi Holocaust, anti-semitism like all forms of racism, is a moral evil that can have genocidal consequences and has to be purposefully fought and challenged whenever and wherever it appears in our society.
I was a teenager in the 1970’s when I first learned of the Holocaust. The knowledge of the horrific consequences of anti-Semitism in Germany in the 30’s and 40’s had a profound effect on my political beliefs and is perhaps the single most important historical factor in motivating me to fight all my life against the abuse of power and for human rights and social justice.
Historically the Labour Party was a proud supporter of the formation of the state of Israel and the fight against racism of all kinds is at the core of Labour Party values. I myself have never seen any substantive evidence of anti-semitism within the Labour Party. I have not only never witnessed it in person but even after repeated requests to colleagues in the party I have never seen or been shown any substantive evidence of anti-semitism in the Labour Party. Indeed, throughout 40 years involvement in UK politics I have also never heard anyone in person or in the media express any significant concerns about anti-semitism within the Labour Party… until Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party.
The Labour Party has 500,000 members and I know only a few hundred of them so I obviously cannot claim that there are literally no anti-semites in the Labour Party, only that I have never seen any evidence of it nor ever heard in 40 years of engagement with popular political discourse, that it is has historically been a particular problem in the Labour Party.
Yet since Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour Party this issue has exploded as a major concern?
The evidence presented in the Al Jazeera programme The Lobby, seems to suggest that the Israeli Embassy has played a proactive role in promoting the idea that the LP has a particular problem with anti-semitism. Personally I think it is entirely legitimate for them to do so. Any government including our own, involves itself in covert or semi-covert propaganda operations in order to protect what it sees as its own interests. However, IF the Israeli Embassy has played such a role it is also perfectly legitimate to point that out, especially as it may partly explain how and why this issue has come to such prominence since Corbyn was elected.
Corbyn has fought racism, including anti-semitism, all his life. Historically he has close and cordial links to the Jewish community in his constituency and nationally. Yet members of his own party are openly and publicly calling him an anti-semite? Can they seriously believe he has all this time been a secret anti-semite or that overnight he has suddenly become an anti-semite? If not, if in fact they actually know he is not an anti-semite, then they are at the very least being disingenuous…
Except of course that Jeremy Corbyn has for many years been an active supporter of the Palestinian cause… As indeed has almost everyone expelled from the LP or under investigation by the LP for anti-semitism. Can this be a coincidence?
Many Israeli’s and indeed many Jews in the diaspora, regard the Palestinian claim to the land of Israel (and by extension those who support that claim) as an existential threat to a Jewish state of Israel. Again this is not irrational because IF the Palestinians do indeed have a legitimate right to live on the land that is Israel then this would have consequences regarding the legitimacy of an entirely Jewish Israel. So I can entirely understand why some would regard support for the Palestinian cause as representing a threat to a Jewish Israel, and by extension as a threat to the Jewish people globally and thus by extension as being ‘anti-semetic’ because through these extensions supporting the Palestinian cause can be seen as a threat to Jews.
However, personally I do not oppose Israel or even a Jewish state of Israel, I simply support the Palestinian cause. I believe that just as the Jewish people are entitled to live at peace in their traditional homeland so are the Palestinians.
The memory of the 6 million is of profound importance for all of us fighting racism and fighting for social justice. To seriously accuse someone of being an anti-semite is to accuse them of THE most serious of moral crimes, perhaps only equalled by accusations of being a paedophile. To suggest that someone is an anti-semite is to suggest they implicitly condone the Holocaust or at the very least are ignorant of the genocidal implications of their anti-semitism. Thus if you accuse someone of being an antisemite when you know them not to be anti-semite, or have no credible evidence that they are, and especially if you do so for petty political ends, then that is an abuse of the tragic memory of the 6 million.
I have never compared the actions of the state of Israel to the Nazis and would never do so. But those fallacious comparisons only arise because of the plight of the Palestinians and are an attempt to draw attention to the tragic analogies between the actions of the state of Israel in the 21st Century and the state of Germany in the 1930’s and 40’s. Many mainstream Israeli politicians use openly racist language about the Palestinians in public discourse, the state of Israel uses immense military power to subdue an unarmed civilian population and across the world purposeful attempts are made to ruin the reputations of any who support the Palestinian cause by accusing them of being anti-semites… the most awful of moral slurs.
The scale of the Holocaust and the industrialisation of mass murder make it a uniquely horrific episode in human history and we must all fight to ensure that it doesn’t happen again, and not just that it doesn’t ever happen to Jews again, but that it doesn’t happen to any people anywhere on the globe whether it be Serbia, Rwanda or even Palestine.
Mr Wallis Simon seemed to find this to be a too comprehensive answer and asked instead for ‘a paragraph’ in response to these serious and multiple accusations! So I sent him this:
“I was a teenager in the 1970’s when I first learned of the genocidal consequences of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany and it had a profound effect on my political beliefs and has motivated me to fight against the abuse of power and for human rights all my life. Historically the Labour Party was and is a proud supporter of the formation of the Jewish state of Israel and the fight against racism of all kinds is at the core of Labour Party values. The Labour Party has 500,000 members and I know only a few hundred of them so I obviously cannot claim that there are literally no anti-semites in the Labour Party, only that I have never seen any substantive evidence that it is a particularly prevalent problem in the Labour Party and certainly not a problem on a scale that could warrant the sustained level of attack on the party over the three years since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader. As to Israel I believe that just as Israeli Jews are entitled to live at peace in their traditional homeland so are the Palestinians.”
If you read anything else he’s made it up.