by Martin Odoni

The ridiculous furore over ‘anti-Semitism-in-Labour’ has been fuelled by wall-to-wall coverage. Any remotely objective assessment of the actual evidence would demonstrate that a mountain is being made out of a Labour molehill, while a molehill is being made out of a Conservative mountain.


Now, it is not the suggestion that there are anti-Semites in the Labour Party that is the problem for me. Of course there are. In a party of over six hundred thousand, there are bound to be a fair few who were not filtered out at the entry stage. Yes, they should be exposed and expelled, and yes, by law of averages, many of the accusations of anti-Semitism are certain to be genuine.

My frustration is on several levels though. For one, according to SKWAWKBOX, another investigation a little over a year ago by MPs, all of whom were outside the Labour Party, came to a similar conclusion – there is no firm evidence of unusually high levels of anti-Semitism in the party. Whereas a Jewish organisation just a couple of months ago found that forty per cent of Conservative Party members surveyed agreed with one or more anti-Semitic remarks. The outrage against Labour is therefore completely out-of-proportion, and the media just ignore any demand for them to even out the coverage.

VanByNat racism

Secondly, how many people getting carried away by the furore have actually studied the accusations of anti-Semitism being levelled? If you look into a lot of them, you soon realise that much of it really is absurd. I have seen people being accused of Holocaust Denial just for reading articles written by someone who, in unrelated circumstances, questioned the Holocaust. I have seen people having sentences they have written twisted and removed from all context to make them sound anti-Semitic, when they were arguing the absolute polar opposite. And of course, we all remember the ‘ANTI-SEMITIC PUNCTUATION‘ charge levelled at Vox Political‘s Mike Sivier. I was not aware that punctuation is what conveys ideology, I must be careful in future when deploying my semi-colons.

There are widespread sneers at the Labour left for ‘trying to play down’ the scale of the anti-Semitism in the party. But the main reason for the leftist backlash is not denial or fanaticism, it is that a lot of innocent people beyond doubt are getting this very damaging accusation hurled at them, destroying their reputations for years to come, and sometimes on grounds that are not only heavily-distorted, but also inherently ridiculous. And because not enough people, even in the media, bother to check the details before screaming for heads to roll, the clamour about this has lost any grounding in reality.

It is not enough just to go along with the complaints, there has to be an objective assessment of how honest they are on the whole. Anti-Semitic behaviour cannot be dismissed without investigation, no, but that works both ways; false accusations cannot simply be shrugged at and co-operated with either, and far too many people are looking only at the number of complaints and jumping to conclusions from there.


It turns out that I rather ‘re-invited the wheel’, as this term is already used by other Jewish people on social media.

On that note, I made a point on my last post about what I now call ‘goy-splaining‘ – the habit of gentiles to tell Jews what is or is not anti-Semitic, and even to overrule Jews on the subject. I need to clarify this; my point was not that gentiles cannot have an opinion on this, or that they should just sit back and take every complaint of anti-Semitism at face-value. It was that gentiles are actually telling me – a guy who as an early-teenager was routinely surrounded by bullies at school yelling “dirty, filthy, money-grabbing JEW!!!” – that I am wrong when I argue that something is not anti-Semitic. (Just look at the comments section on that article to see non-Jews telling me I was wrong about the Brick Lane Mural.) How would they know better than me what real anti-Semitism looks like when I am the one who has been on the sharp end of it? My point was that they need to hear the whole story and get the fullest details possible from the people who know, and then they can judge. In other words, do not jump to conclusions. Do not assume you are a pick-up-and-play expert on the subject.

Thirdly, my biggest aggravation of all is that the people engineering this furore are constantly finding ways to twist it so that the brunt of the blame lands in Jeremy Corbyn’s lap. Very, very little of this is his fault, and so it is all too clear the real reason why this is happening. It is not an attempt to eradicate anti-Semitism, it is an attempt to undermine Corbyn – probably by Zionists who are terrified of the prospect of a pro-Palestinian UK Prime Minister.

People who genuinely want to fight anti-Semitism need to be realistic about this. If all this is only happening to undermine one man, this Enough-Is-Enough so-called movement will do absolutely nothing to eradicate anti-Semitism, either in Labour specifically or in the country as a whole. Moreover – and this is a point I find myself having to repeat a lot – as a Jew, I feel personally exploited when anti-Semitism is manipulated in such a dirty way. My ethnic background is not a tool for others – even if they are also Jewish themselves – to use for political ends. Such behaviour dehumanises Jews and their history of suffering. It is therefore as anti-Semitic as any insult thrown at a Jew, and if we are truly to eradicate anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, that practice must be one of the ones that is stamped out.

One more point about ‘goy-splaining’ needs to be made. I do appreciate gentile support in the battle against anti-Semitism, but this week has highlighted that there remains an undercurrent of dishonesty in some would-be ‘allies’. A lot of the outrage against the mural has come from non-Jews insisting that it is anti-Semitic. They point to passing resemblances between the mural and anti-Semitic propaganda of the past. (Again, see the comments section on the previous post for examples and my debunking of them.) They were judging by appearances, at which they were so uncomfortable that they thought they could overrule my better-informed conclusion that it was not anti-Semitic.

Reginald D Hunter is one of my favourite stand-up comedians. A few years ago, he got caught up in a similarly-specious row for repeated use of ‘the-N-word’ in a performance at an event held by the Professional Footballers’ Association. He summed up the real reasons for the controversy on stage in Salford Quays a few months later; –

It wasn’t really about me. It wasn’t about racism. It was about privileged white people’s discomfort with the appearance of racism.

I am afraid to say that the same applies to an extent this week. At least some of the outrage against the mural is coming from non-Jews who are not so much opposed to the cruelty of anti-Semitism, but from non-Jews who feel discomfort at the appearance of anti-Semitism.

Discomfort at the appearance of racism is definitely progress from where this country was a few generations back, because at least there is now a far wider recognition that racial prejudice is wrong. But the discomfort at its appearance is not the same as wanting to combat it. Instead, it is an instinct to want it hidden away. It is also an instinct to want not to risk being stigmatised with the label of ‘racist’, and thus to make as loud a parade of outrage as possible, to say to everyone else, “See? I got angry at racism, so I can’t possibly be racist, right?”

So while it is, as I say, progress, it is far from a completed journey. And some of the people clamouring about anti-Semitism this week – including some enormously-disingenuous politicians like Norman Tebbit and Ian Paisley Jnr – need to ask themselves their real motives. Are they altruistically trying to defend victims of anti-Semitism, or are they selfishly just trying to look like they are?