by Martin Odoni

The very right wing LBC Radio‘s useful liberal idiot, James O’Brien, I suspect experienced some serious cognitive dissonance this week,  as his phone-in received a call from a woman who epitomises Zionist paranoia/maliciousness.

Now I have a history of criticising O’Brien for his juvenile, unquestioning, and sometimes downright hypocritical attitude when he hears about the ‘Labour anti-Semitism’ hysteria. That Labour is over-run by anti-Semites is a notion he treats as a matter of historical certainty, in flat contradiction of the actual evidence. He seems just to be blindly following the media narrative. This is an attitude that stands in stark contrast to his rational attitude to almost all other subjects, which therefore makes it doubly maddening. O’Brien is undoubtedly capable of far better, but when it comes to Labour and the anti-Semitism narrative, he just cannot bring himself to try.

But the call this week may have shaken O’Brien out of his self-induced stupidity, at least briefly, as the caller, name ‘Rosanna’, gave him a comprehensive demonstration of how absurd Zionist fear-mongering can be.

‘Rosanna’ fears monsters in the closet

‘Rosanna’ called in to attack the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. She claimed that Corbyn’s party had echoes of ‘Nazi Germany’ (one of the laziest, most over-used insults in modern political discourse), speaking of the time in the early-1930’s when Germans voted in an anti-Semite – a clear allusion to the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1932. O’Brien calmly, and correctly, asked ‘Rosanna’ to explain what points-of-resemblance she sees between Corbyn and Hitler (!). She replied that she was not comparing the two, even though she had done precisely that just seconds earlier. O’Brien corrected her on this, and then ‘Rosanna’ suggested that Corbyn has “never backed down”. That description sounds a) quite remote from Corbyn, who, if anything, backs down rather too easily sometimes, especially on this very issue of ‘Labour anti-Semitism’, and b) a lot like many a Zionist activist.

Then came one of the key moments for me. ‘Rosanna’ started talking about Corbyn’s position on Israel and Palestine, and O’Brien had to cut her off quickly as what she was saying was irrelevant. The discussion was not about Israel or Palestine. Israel did not even exist until years after Hitler died, so how could Corbyn’s views on Israel possibly carry a resemblance to Hitler?

It is of course the classic conflation of ‘Israel’ with ‘Jews’, and therefore of ‘opposition-to-Israel’ with ‘anti-Semitism’. O’Brien to his credit was having none of it, and soon convinced ‘Rosanna’ to back down and admit she should not have mentioned the Nazis at all. But it should serve as the perfect warning bell to O’Brien that what people like myself have been trying to persuade him of for years is true; most of the clamour about ‘anti-Semitism in the Labour Party’ is in fact a shoutdown of legitimate opposition to Israel, in particular Israeli policy towards Gaza and the West Bank, and its ongoing illegal control of the Occupied Territories. Here, O’Brien had an absolutely blatant, explicit example of an Israel supporter invoking the Holocaust as a reason for British Jews to fear Jeremy Corbyn (the particular British Jew writing this thinks Corbyn should be welcomed by British Jews with open arms, but I guess I may just be funny that way), and O’Brien was able to dismantle this panic-mongering nonsense himself in moments. But I find it hard to believe that at no stage O’Brien found himself thinking, “Hang on, this Zionist woman is speaking in exactly the way Labour leftists keep telling me Zionists speak…” Yes. And somehow he has missed this pattern completely for three full years!

The undetectable undercurrent

As the conversation wore on, ‘Rosanna’ continued to talk in hysterical generalities about an ‘undercurrent of anti-Semitism’ – again evidence-free and quickly swatted down – and even of Holocaust-Denial by Labour Party Election candidates. This suggestion had me choking on my drink! If there had been even one Labour candidate denying the Holocaust, it would have been all over the media for days. There has been no such under-current of behaviour, and it was one of the cheapest, crudest examples of Holocaust-manipulation that I have yet encountered.

James O-Brien hearing Zionist scaremongering

James O’Brien of LBC Radio was finally brought face-to-face with the hysterical unreality of Zionist smears, and this was his expression as he listened.

O’Brien, again correctly I must stress, reiterated that there is no evidence of any of ‘Rosanna’s’ claims. Her inability to offer examples for any of her accusations made her sound like a bit of a drama queen, if I am to be brutally frank. She really should be ashamed of herself for talking in so absurdly toxic a fashion. If you want to smear someone, at least try and be clever about it. This evidence-independent attempt by ‘Rosanna’ was so feeble, it insulted the intelligence of everybody listening as much as it insulted the integrity of Jeremy Corbyn.

O’Brien demands evidence in the very area where he offers none

But the irony in all this is that other people, like myself, have been repeatedly demanding of O’Brien that he points to some firm evidence when he treats ‘Labour anti-Semitism’ as an irrefutable certainty. Various investigations have concluded that the proportion of the prejudice among Labour members is below 0.1%. The old ‘one-is-one-too-many’ platitude in response to that is disingenuous, as such measures applied to the left are not applied to either the centre or the right, which both generally come out far higher in incidents of anti-Semitism, as the Economist recently found to its surprise. The numbers involved on the left as a whole boil down to a few hundred at the most, all of them from members way, way down the pecking order of the Labour Party, and therefore nowhere near enough to constitute a ‘threat’ to any rational mind.

O’Brien would do well to reflect also on the centrist pattern the Economist study highlighted of being far likelier to conflate ‘Jews’ and ‘Israel’. O’Brien’s own position of ‘Labour anti-Semitism’ being widespread depends on that same centrist prejudice and lazy thinking. He speaks out when ‘Rosanna’ does it, probably because she does so in very explicit and obviously-groundless terms. She cannot come up with a single example for any of her generalised attacks on Corbyn and the Labour Party, most of which sound too vivid to skate over, therefore O’Brien can hardly let this nonsense pass without looking like he is either dishonest or a real fool. But he never applies that measure widely, he only applies it to a specific instance. When trying to gauge the phenomenon in the Labour Party as a whole, he is guilty of the laziest centrist thinking imaginable; he sees a huge number of accusations, assumes smoke-equals-fire, and so the huge amount of smoke must equal a huge fire, and never mind who lit it or why. In other words, it never occurs to him to check any of the accusations to make sure they stand up to scrutiny. An awful lot of them, I hasten to point out, are much like ‘Rosanna’s’ codswallop – vague, evidence-thin, based on bizarre logic, and seemingly trying to blackmail people into agreeing with the accusation through the intensity with which the accuser expresses fear.

The ‘fire’, in short, is the fantasy of the accuser, not the deeds or words of the accused.

On this occasion, it was more or less impossible for O’Brien not to check the accusations, due to the very bizarre angle of attack ‘Rosanna’ adopted i.e. accusing Corbyn himself of being ‘like Hitler’. And when O’Brien did cross-examine, he found what investigators had previously found about most of the rest of the controversy; it was paranoia at best, an outright crude smear at worst.

Will O’Brien learn from this?

It is now simply a matter of whether O’Brien finally opens his mind to the likelihood that this pattern is no isolated incident. It most certainly is not. Remember Mike Sivier and his supposed ‘anti-Semitic punctuation’?

'Anti-Semtic punctuation' is now a thing.

Zionists are now becoming such uncompromising censorship-trolls, they have now invented ‘anti-Semitic punctuation’.

That is the level many of the complaints are at – the same level from which ‘Rosanna’ is complaining. In the cold light of day, many of the accusations are so silly that they would be amusing in any other context. Except, somehow, wide numbers of media fools like O’Brien take them seriously and without bothering to investigate them first. They lend the accusations credence, enough that they seriously damage the lives of the accused in ways that go far, far beyond their involvement with the Labour Party.

The people throwing these accusations around are paranoid at best, and those who are not are simply unscrupulous. Blindly following their narrative without properly checking it, because you wish to be ‘anti-racist’, or because you are genuinely sensitive to the feelings of minorities, may come from a good impulse. But it is a good impulse that is being too-easily manipulated by bad people.