I published yesterday an analysis of the long-delayed report of the Forde Inquiry, pointing out that its “both sides are equally to blame” approach was actually a continuation of the very factionalism the report excoriates.
However, I gave Martin Forde QC credit for recognising that antisemitism was weaponised by Corbyn’s opponents in the party, even if ludicrously, and apparently only to balance the score sheet, Forde claims Corbyn’s allies also “weaponised” antisemitism – in their case, by denying their vilification as antisemites by the Labour right.
In Forde’s telling, the Labour left’s opposition to the weaponisation of antisemitism against them also counted as the weaponisation of antisemitism. Make of that what you will!
My latest: The Forde Inquiry report exposes Labour's biggest problem: Keir Starmer https://t.co/FxZyPnLWcS
— Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) July 21, 2022
Forde’s silly, false equivalences aside, we should still acknowledge his courage in highlighting the Labour establishment’s weaponisation of antisemitism against the left. Till now, no one, from media commentators to the Equalities and Human Right Commission, has dared, or wished, to acknowledge the obvious truth stated by Forde.
In fact, the issue of antisemitism in Labour was specifically engineered by Corbyn’s opponents to be so toxic that even to attempt to question or discuss the party’s so-called “antisemitism problem” – even to cite facts contradicting the narrative – was treated as definitive proof that one was an antisemite.
As the Labour right intended, it quickly became impossible to have any kind of evidence-based conversation about antisemitism in Labour, let alone defend the party against the claim it was plagued by antisemitism. Those who tried, like Labour MP Chris Williamson, were hung out to dry. Their summary suspension and expulsion served as a warning to others not to look too closely, or critically, at the establishment narrative against Corbyn.
My latest: The debate about Corbyn and Labour's "anti-semitism problem" has become an echo chamber where he and his supporters are repeatedly found guilty without the need to produce evidence or listen to countervailing voices https://t.co/3uqtkETAhO
— Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) July 8, 2019
Forde has broken that stranglehold. He has stated – even if in a timid mutter – that the emperor has not a stitch to wear.
In fact, Forde went further than conceding that Corbyn’s opponents in Labour were bad-faith actors who weaponised antisemitism. In an overlooked section of the inquiry’s report, dealing with Labour’s antisemitism education programmes, Forde also alludes to the problematic role of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM).
The JLM, along with Labour Friends of Israel, was one of the prime movers in breathing life into the establishment antisemitism narrative, as revealed by a four-part Al-Jazeera undercover documentary on the role of the Israel lobby inside the Labour party. Like so much of the counter-evidence to the establishment narrative of a Labour antisemitism “crisis”, the documentary was quickly buried.
But what it showed conclusively was that Israeli actors – especially Shai Masot, a spy at the Israeli embassy in London – helped shape the Labour antisemitism narrative used by groups like the JLM. After the programme aired, Masot made a hurried exit from the UK while the matter was hushed up.
Key actors from the JLM such as Ella Rose, who had worked with Masot at the Israeli embassy, starred in a later BBC Panorama hatchet-job on Corbyn, which distorted facts to shore up the Labour antisemitism narrative. Rose was not named by the BBC, or her background identified beyond the fact that she was a Labour party member, making it impossible for viewers to weigh her highly partisan testimony.
My latest: With last night's Panorama programme on supposed 'institutional anti-semitism' in Labour, the BBC demonstrated that it has become a media attack dog in the hands of the ruling Conservative party https://t.co/dSDaaLBY0S
— Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) July 11, 2019
Under the leadership of Sir Keir Starmer, however, Rose has prospered outside the JLM. She was elected as a Labour local councillor for a London borough in May. She is also being groomed as a future parliamentary candidate.
So what does the Forde Inquiry have to say about the current role of the JLM in the Labour party, with it now in exclusive charge of Labour’s antisemitism awareness-building and training?
Forde criticises the JLM’s approach to antisemitism education as “sub-optimal”. The report suggests current programmes may not be “underpinned by fundamental ethical principles”, adding that a politicised “zero tolerance” policy has served to deepen tensions in the party rather than resolve them.
In what sounds like yet another veiled criticism of the JLM and LFI for weaponising antisemitism, Forde finds that the Labour bureaucracy has been “in effect operating a hierarchy of racism” that focuses almost exclusively on antisemitism while ignoring other forms of racism.
He suggests other groups should be allowed to work on antisemitism awareness-building – even making a brief reference to Jewish Voice for Labour, a pro-Corbyn group of Jews who rejected the JLM’s antisemitism narrative about the Labour left.
Jewish Voice for Labour has been completely hidden from view by the Labour right precisely because it complicates their imposed antisemitism narrative. Jewish Voice for Labour’s existence is a reminder of how contested the idea of what constitutes antisemitism is even among Labour’s Jewish supporters.
Jewish Voice for Labour members are among those that have been purged by Starmer as the “wrong kind of Jews” – that is, ones that can’t be recruited to the Labour right’s war on the left.
Keir Starmer's Labour:
– backs right-wing Jewish groups cheerleading for Israel
– suspends and expels left-wing Jews who dissent on Israel
– suspends and expels non-Jews who wonder aloud whether this might amount to the politicisation of antisemitism https://t.co/snGJIO8ut7
— Jonathan Cook (@Jonathan_K_Cook) December 5, 2020
Starmer has, of course, been complicit in sidelining the arguments of groups like Jewish Voice for Labour. In recent speeches, he has gone out of his way to weaponise antisemitism, openly conflating criticism of Israel, and the Zionist movement behind it, with hatred of Jews.
That has served as cover for his refusal to respect the party convention’s wishes to recognise Israel as an apartheid state, in line with the work of leading human rights groups, and limit arms sales to Israel.
Forde has gently lifted the lid on the sordid, past misuse of antisemitism to oust a sitting Labour leader (Corbyn), and its continuing misuse by his successor (Starmer) to purge the party of the Labour left.
Forde has identified the bad-faith actors who subverted a rare and fleeting moment when Labour party democracy actually made a difference. No one in the Labour establishment, or the establishment media, wants to highlight those damning parts of the Forde report. Which is why they will be quickly forgotten, so that normal, undemocratic service in the Labour party can be quickly resumed.