Posts Tagged ‘Richard Verber’

Asa Winstanley Suspended from Labour Party Charged with ‘Anti-Semitism’

March 12, 2019

Asa Winstanley, a journalist with the pro-Palestinian website, The Electronic Intifada, has become yet another casualty in the Labour right’s attempts to silence critics of Israel. He was suspended from the party because of a Tweet he posted, which said

Israeli embassy proxy the JLM confirms it was responsible for the referencing of Labour to the Equality and Human Rights Commission for supposed “institutional antisemitism”.

Shameless sabotage of the party.

This is what Israel terms “lawfare”

https://electronicintifada.net/tags/lawfare

Like other members of the party, who have similarly been suspended and smeared as anti-Semites, Winstanley only knew of this after it was published by the Jewish Chronicle, which also chose to reveal Winstanley’s private details. A hack from the Chronicle, Rosa Donerty, posted

It is understood that Asa Winstanley is suspended from Labour party pending investigation.

to which Winstanley commented that

The fact that a Jewish Chronicle journalist is claiming to be the first to know information, which would, if true, be confidential indicates attempts to politicise and compromise Labour’s disciplinary process.   

And, as you might expect, the abuse started. Someone calling himself ‘Dr. Gonzo’ responded in classy fashion with

F**k off you anti-Semitic piece of s**t. Go play with the traffic you insufferable racist c**t.

Ali Abunimah’s article about this mentions that two years ago in 2017, lawyers from the Jewish Labour Movement, which has close ties with the Israeli embassy, tried to shut him down by threatening legal action.

See: https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/labour-party-investigates-electronic-intifada-journalist

Mike states in his piece about this latest vile attack on a critic of Israel that it resembles his own experience. He only heard that he had been suspended when someone phoned him up about it from the Welsh paper The Western Mail. Mike also agrees with Winstanley that the disclosure of the information to a third party may be a breach of the Data Protection Act. Mike’s currently taking the Party to court, and this is very definitely going to be a part of his case. And yes, Mike has also suffered vile abuse following the Labour party’s actions. Mike also makes the point that although the party describes its investigations procedure as quasi-judicial, it has no legal validity. This means that the party can be sued by members or former members, who have suffered harm to their reputations after their treatment by the party.

The Electronic Intifada’s article states that the complaints procedure was expected to become fairer with the appointment of Jenny Formby. It hasn’t. Mike concludes

But then, it seems the attitude of Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee and complaint-handling “compliance unit” really hasn’t changed in the nearly two years since my case began.

They still treat the people who pay their wages with nothing but contempt.

See: https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/03/12/labour-investigation-of-asa-winstanley-shows-it-is-still-abusing-rank-and-file-members/

I’m not surprised that the Labour party has accused Winstanley of anti-Semitism. As the Electronic Intifada’s article on him says, he’s been with them since 2015, and has appeared frequently on the various alternative news media discussing and commenting on Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians, and the Israel lobby’s attempts to silence opposition and dissent, with other journalists and activists. In a way, I’m just surprised that it took this long to get round to him.

I suspect the tweet about the Jewish Labour Movement being a front for the Israeli embassy got him into trouble because, as last Friday’s piece in the I by the United Synagogue’s Richard Verber shows, the Israel lobby is claiming that accusations that Jewish or other organisations are funded by Israel is an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. In some cases, it may well be. But the Jewish Labour Movement was founded in 2015, as its leader, Jeremy Newmark admitted in 2016, in order to fight opposition to Israel. It has strong ties to the Israeli embassy, as does Labour Friends of Israel, whose chair, Joan Ryan, hobnobbed nearly every day with disgraced conspirator Shai Masot. And six of the original eight founders of The Independent Group were members of the LFI, and they included that organisation’s chair. Which means that Ruth George was quite right when she tweeted that she wouldn’t blame anyone for suspecting that they were funded by the Israelis.

The accusation also shows how fake and contrived these accusations of anti-Semitism are. I’ve read many articles by Winstanley and the other journos at the Electronic Intifada, and absolutely none of them have been genuinely anti-Semitic in the real, legal sense of of expressing or trying to provoke hatred of Jews as Jews. Indeed, I believe from the tenor of the articles that the opposite is true. The articles have always been very well informed and precisely worded, so that the object of criticism has been the Israeli state and right-wing politicians, activists and Israeli racism in general. But never Jews or the Israelis as a people.

Which is why I’ve no doubt that the JLM is trying to silence him now. He’s too well-informed, accurate and reliable, and definitely not an anti-Semite. I wish Mr Winstanley every success in dealing with this vile calumny and give him my full and staunch support, as I do with everyone like him – Mike, Jackie Walker, Martin Odoni, Marc Wadsworth and Ken Livingstone. May they get re-instated soon, their names cleared, and those who besmirch them exposed and thrown out instead.

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‘I’ Newspaper Smears Corbyn’s Labour as Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorists: Conclusion

March 10, 2019

Verber ends his strange concoction of fact, insinuation and outright lie with the paragraph ‘What Labour should do now’. This runs

A hallmark of Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis is that the argument that if someone is anti-racist, they cannot be anti-Semitic. Many socialists – and Marxists in particular – view Jews not through the prism of race or religion, but through that of class. Jews, in their eyes, are a white, rich, powerful elite, unworthy of the solidarity or protection normally afforded to ethnic minorities. This is not just racist, it is also false: there are many Jews of colour, and there are many Jews who live below the poverty line. But it also swallows, hook, line and sinker, the conspiracy theories that I have laid out here.

To conquer the crisis, the Labour leadership needs to educate itself to understand what these conspiracy theories are, and why they’re so pervasive; it needs to disavow them publicly; and its needs to educate Labour members to spot these pernicious stereotypes and call them out when they appear.

Let’s start taking this apart. Firstly, it is massively hypocritical for any Zionist to start talking about the conditions of Jews of colour. Jackie Walker, whom the Israel lobby has foully smeared, is very much a Jewish woman of colour, who has fought against racism, including anti-Semitism, all her life. In Israel also Black Jews from Ethiopia and elsewhere are also suffering prejudice and often violent persecution, because they, like Walker, are not seen as Jewish because of their skin colour. Also, in Britain, as Tony Greenstein has pointed out, Jews are not persecuted. They are largely upper middle class and don’t suffer the same level as violence, prejudice and state discrimination as other ethnicities. No-one has forcibly put them on to planes to deport them, as they did the Windrush migrants and their children. Nor has anyone in any part demanded that there should be more prejudice against them, as Rod Liddle has with the Tories and Muslims. The anti-Semitic abuse and attacks are largely directed against Orthodox and Haredi Jews, because of their distinctive dress and lifestyle. Only 7 per cent of the British public hold anti-Semitic views. That’s too much, but it’s small, especially to the vicious hatred directed against Blacks, Asians and Muslims. Greenstein and those like them aren’t anti-Semites by any stretch of the imagination. But they are against hack propagandists like Verber grotesquely inflating the level of prejudice against Jews in order to justify smearing critics of Israel as anti-Semites, holocaust deniers and conspiracy theories.

Far from apologising for anti-Semitism that doesn’t exist in the Labour party, I think Williamson was right. It’s time to take a robust approach and defend the innocents, who have been smeared by people like Verber, the CAA and JLM, and publicly make the point that there is a real smear campaign against Israel’s critics by the Israel lobby, just as Peter Oborne and al-Jazeera have.

 

‘I’ Newspaper Smears Corbyn’s Labour as Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorists: Part 3

March 10, 2019

The next anti-Semitic conspiracy theory Verber claims is held by people in the Labour party is ‘Twisting or denying the facts of the holocaust’. The example he gives of this is ‘Chris Williamson’s series of unfortunate events’. He writes of this conspiracy theory

Wander into any coffee shop in Tel Aviv and you will hear all manner of Israelis criticising the government of the day. But none of the Nazis’ anti-Semitic policies are remotely similar to any passed by Israel. The Nazis set out to murder every Jew in Europe and then – had they got their way – across the globe.

Each innocent Palestinian life that has been lost in the conflict with Israel is a tragedy, as it every Israeli life. But Gaza is not Auschwitz. Comparing the two is a lie, a low blow deliberately calculated to cause hurt and pain to a community still in trauma.

Other versions of this conspiracy theory include attempts to play down the Holocaust’s significance or event to question its existence.

Now look what’s being done here. It’s a classic example of ‘bait and switch’. For most people, ‘twisting or denying the facts of the Holocaust’ would mean straight out Holocaust denial, or the noxious variants of it that minimise the numbers murdered. But that’s not what concern Verber. He’s upset because, gasp, some people are comparing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazis. His statement that none of Israel’s policies are comparable to the Nazis is a flat-out lie. Firstly, Israel is an apartheid state. Only Jews can be citizens. This is identical to the Nazis’ policy that only ethnic Germans could be German citizens. The country’s indigenous Arabs also live under separate laws and may only use specific roads. Many municipalities in Israel have passed legislation forbidding property to be let to non-Jews. Furthermore, the country was born partly through a series of massacres against the Arabs. Those making the claim that Israel resembles Nazi Germany, like Tony Greenstein, qualify that statement by saying that it is like Nazi Germany before the launch of the Holocaust in 1942. Gaza is not Auschwitz, as Verber says. But I don’t think anyone has said it was. It has, however, been described as an open-air ghetto.

As for comparisons to Nazi Germany being hurtful to a community still in trauma, this is massively hypocritical. Israelis accuse their politicians of being Nazis all the time. There was even a cartoon in one newspaper of Netanyahu in Nazi uniform.

Now we come to what Verber calls ‘Chris Williamson’s series of unfortunate events’. This begins with Williamson signing a petition against Islington Council’s banning of Jazz saxophonist Gilad Atzmon, a Holocaust denier. Verber notes that he later claimed that he didn’t know about Atzmon’s views. It’s possible. Atzmon considers himself to be a supporter of the Palestinians, although the mainstream Palestinian solidarity movement doesn’t want to have anything to do with him because of his toxic views about Jews. But Atzmon is hardly a household name, and if the petition claimed that he was being banned because of his support for the Palestinians, then it’s quite possible that Williamson signed it in all innocence.

But there is more half-truths and malign insinuations that follow. He states that Williamson has several times shared a platform with Jackie, who has been suspended for falsely accusing Jews of financing the slave trade and playing down the importance of the Holocaust, and defended Ken Livingstone, who said that Hitler supported Zionism. I’ve dealt with the accusations against Walker and Livingstone ad nauseam. Neither of the two are racist, and especially not Walker, who is a Black Jew, believes in Judaism as a religion, sends her daughter to a Jewish school, and has a Jewish partner. The quote the CAA used to claim that she believes Jews financed the slave trade was lifted out of context from a personal discussion with three friends, where it was understood that she was talking about how some Jews financed and profited from the slave trade. Which is true, as she cites the literature and authorities to back up her comment. As for downplaying the importance of the Holocaust, she did no such thing. She was secretly recorded by the Jewish Labour Movement at their Holocaust Memorial Day workshop questioning the exclusive focus on Jews at the expense of other ethnicities, that have also suffered Holocausts. She also asked them to give her a definition of anti-Semitism she could work with. When Marc Wadsworth asked the same question at his tribunal, when he was smeared as an anti-Semite, the tribunal called for an adjournment. When they returned, it was accompanied with four lawyers, all arguing. Walker was singled out because she did not accept the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism, because it is used to suppress criticism of Israel. As for Leninspart, he was right about Hitler and Zionism. Before the Final Solution was introduced, the Nazis were keen to find anyway of getting rid of Germany’s Jews. And this meant sending them to Israel through the short-lived Ha’avara Agreement. Which is historical fact.

Verber also goes on to say that Williamson has warned of ‘certain dark forces ‘ using their contacts in the media and power to undermine Corbyn. But as we’ve seen, there is abundant evidence to show that these fears are not unfounded, not least as regards Israel.

Verber concludes this section with the words

Outright Holocaust denial has been moved to the fringes even of the world occupied by conspiracy theorists. Given the vacuum, new and more subtle ways of trivialising and attacking the Holocaust have had to be created.

Well I dare say, but this doesn’t apply to criticism of Israel for ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians or the smears against Walker and Livingstone. The last two haven’t denied or played down the Holocaust at all, and neither has Williamson. This is just more lies and smears from him, to try to make them seem anti-Semitic monsters.

‘I’ Newspaper Smears Corbyn’s Labour as Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorists: Part 2

March 10, 2019

Verber then goes on two deal with two more conspiracy theories, which are ‘Israel Is Undermining British Democracy’ and ‘Twisting or Denying the Facts of the Holocaust’. Throughout the article, Verber appears sweetly reasonable. For example, of the first conspiracy theory he writes

It is healthy in any democracy to question foreign states’ actions. You can question whether Israel’s engagement is good for Britain, just as you might our relationship with the EU or the US. But these questions need to be rational and built on evidence, not an instinctive feeling that something “shady” is going on, just because it is Israel.

Form modern racists, Israel, as the world’s only Jewish state, has become code for “Jews” in general, whether they live there or have any links with it or not. “Israel” and “Jews” are not synonymous.

Which is true enough, but not the whole truth. People believe that Israel is meddling in this country’s affairs not out of anti-Semitism, but because it is. It was revealed doing so in the al-Jazeera documentary ‘The Lobby’, where Shai Masot of the Israel embassy was recorded conspiring to have Alan Duncan removed from the cabinet. It was also revealed doing so in Channel 4’s 2009 documentary on the Israel lobby by Peter Oborne, which described how the Israel lobby gave funding to MPs in the two parties’ ‘Friends of Israel’ organisations, how the Board itself had tried to close down impartial reporting of atrocities committed by Israel and its allies with grotesque accusations of anti-Semitism, and how Mossad had tried to have independent Jewish organisations recording anti-Semitic incidents merged with those backed by Israel. If they couldn’t do this, then they tried to shut them down. And then there’s the wealth of evidence about the Israelis directing all this from their Ministry of Strategic Affairs and the various Israeli funded organisations designed to push the pro-Israel view, like BICOM. As for Israel and Jews not being synonymous, here Verber is trying to have it both ways. Now many of the verbal attacks on Jews are sloppily worded criticisms of Israel. But Netanyahu himself has stated that Israel and the Jews are one and the same, and that by attacking Israel you are attacking the Jews. And this was long before he passed his wretched law declaring that Israel was the nation state of the Jews.

Verber gives as an example of this conspiracy theories Ruth George’s accusation that the Independent Group was funded by Israel. After briefly describing George’s comments and her apology, where she said she had invoked a conspiracy theory, Verber writes

It is absolutely legitimate to ask “who is funding The Independent Group”. UK political parties are obliged to to record the donations they receive. (The Independent Group has said that it will do this once it is a registered party). However, it is not legitimate to suggest – with no evidence at all – that “Israel” is secretly funding a new group, simply because some of its members are Jewish, and one of them previously chaired a Friends of Israel Group.

But it is fair to ask if Israel is funding them, because Joan Ryan, one of the chairs of Labour Friends of Israel, was recorded by al-Jazeera in their documentary stating that she talked to conspirator Shai Masot nearly every day and had secured a million pounds worth of funding from the Israeli government. No-one is accusing the Group of being funded by Israel because it contains some Jews. They’re accusing them because many of their members – six of the original eight – were members of Labour Friends of Israel. As for the Independent Group opening up their accounts, the question is – when? Saying they will eventually is simply a promise, and one that may well prove empty.

Once again, Verber uses fine words to twist the facts subtly and try to make a reasonable question look terribly anti-Semitic.

‘I’ Newspaper Smears Corbyn’s Labour as Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theorists: Part 1

March 10, 2019

One of the papers pushing the smear that Labour is infested with anti-Semites is the I. Their columnist, Simon Kelner, was accusing the Corbyn and the Labour party of being anti-Semitic way back last summer, because the party hadn’t adopted the I.H.R.C. definition of anti-Semitism. Or it had, but hadn’t adopted all the examples. There was a very good reason for that, which has not been repeated by the lying mainstream media: most of the examples are not about the real meaning of anti-Semitism, which is simply hatred of Jews simply as Jews, but attempts to define criticism of Israel, or at least some criticisms of Israel, as anti-Semitic. Kenneth Stern, a Zionist and one of the formulators of the definition, has spoken out against it in Congress for the way it is being used to prevent criticism of Israel.

In Friday’s issue, for 8th March 2019, the paper took the occasion of the EHRC’s statement that it might investigate Labour for anti-Semite to publish a piece by Richard Verber in its ‘My View’ column, entitled ‘How Anti-Semitism Poisons Labour’, subtitled ‘The party needs to tackle these conspiracy theories’. This claimed that ‘at the heart of the accusations against figures in the party are a series of conspiracy theories about Jews which are so ingrained that even good people (people who consider themselves to be anti-racism campaigners) can believe them.’ Verber goes on to say that in his article he explains the three most dominant.

Alarm bells about the bias and distortions in the article should go off with the statement at the end of the article that Verber was the communications director at the United Synagogue. As Israel-critical Jews have pointed out, this is the constituency of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, one of the organisations making the accusations of anti-Semitism against Corbyn and the Labour party. The Board explicitly defines itself as a Zionist organisation, which presumably reflects the bias of the United Synagogue. It does not represent Orthodox Jews, nor the third of the Jewish community that’s secular. And by definition, the Board doesn’t represent non- or anti-Zionist Jews. This is important, as several of the ‘examples’ of anti-Semitism Verber discusses are actually attempts to prohibit criticism of Israel, and discussion of possible Israeli interference in British politics as anti-Semitic.

Verber starts with the usual anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, which he defines as ‘there is a ‘new world order’, run by Jews, to control global finance and governments’. This conspiracy theory he traces from the publication of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He stated that the ‘New World Order’ was originally a call for peace following the collapse of Communism. However, the conspiracy version was all about Jews infiltrating the American government from the late 1940s onwards. He states that at its heart was the belief that Jews and the Illuminati were plotting to have Communism take over the world. He then argues that this later morphed into the ‘globalists’ of modern far-right propaganda, international bankers is code for Jews, as is the name ‘Rothschilds’.

Now there is a considerable amount of truth in this article. The notion of a global Jewish conspiracy does indeed go all the way back to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and that Nazi and contemporary Fascist ideology does see the world as controlled by Jewish bankers. But it’s also a gross oversimplification. The Illuminati at the centre of modern conspiracy theories were a group of radical freethinkers, founded by Adam Weishaupt, who attempted to infiltrate the Freemasons in late 18th century Bavaria, resulting in their suppression by the Roman Catholic authorities. The Freemasons were subsequently blamed for the outbreak of the American and French Revolutions. The term ‘New World Order’ is taken from the motto of the American dollar bill, ‘Novo Ordo Secularum’, which also featured the Masonic symbol of the Eye in the Pyramid. It also gained notoriety in the 1990s after George Bush senior, the former head of the CIA, referred to a ‘new world order’ after the Collapse of Communism, at the same time as the first Gulf War. To many people, it seemed that there really was a secret conspiracy controlling the world. However some of those who believed this nonsense simply thought that the conspirators were the historical Illuminati, Freemasons and Satanists. They did not accuse the Jews. Of course the identification of the Illuminati with the Jews came shortly after the publication of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and was introduced into British Fascism by either Nesta Webster or Rotha Orne Linton. One of these ladies was an alcoholic and a spiritualist, who had been told by the Duc D’Orleans, communicating from the Other Side, that the Illuminati had been responsible for the French Revolution and all the others since. Michael Pipes, a Conservative American political theorist, traces the evolution of the conspiracy theory that the world is being run by a secret cabal from fears about the Freemasons to the Jews in his 1990s book, Conspiracy Theories.

The historical dimension to the development of this conspiracy theory needs to be taken into account, as there may still be versions that place the blame solely on Freemasons, the historical Illuminati and Satanists, rather than the Jews. And while Bush’s use of the term ‘New World Order’ might have been peaceful in intent, it came at a time when many people were rightly fearful of the massive growth of American power and the first war with Iraq. This was supposed to be about the liberation of Kuwait after its annexation by its northern neighbour. However, by its critics at the time it was seen as a ‘resource war’. Greg Palast discusses the invasion in his book, Armed Madhouse, and concludes that the war was fought for geopolitical reasons in which oil was a main factor. Another factor why the phrase ‘New World Order’ is also notorious is that it’s similar to Hitler’s pronouncement about the Nazis creating a New Order. One of the banned Nazi organisations in post-War Italy was L’Ordine Nuovo. Which means, well, guess what?

Verber gives as an example of this conspiracy theory in the Labour party Corbyn objecting to the removal of the mural by Mear One in 2012, This showed, according to Verber, ‘hooked-nosed Jewish bankers playing a board game on the backs of poor people. notes that Corbyn’s objection to the mural’s removal was revealed in 2018 by Luciana Berger, and quotes a spokesman for the Labour leader stating that he was simply responding to a freedom of speech issue, but that the mural was offensive, did include anti-Semitic imagery and should be removed’. And to prove it was anti-Semitic, Verber states that the artist admitted some of the figures were Jewish.

Some. The operative word here is ‘some’. In fact the mural depicts five bankers, three of whom are gentiles. While they look like anti-Semitic caricatures, they are portraits of real people. And if the mural was anti-Semitic, why did it take Berger till last year to accuse Corbyn of anti-Semitism for objecting to its removal? The mural does depict the bonkers conspiracy theory about bankers, but there is little overt in it which specifically targets the Jews as the main conspirators. The whole incident was another manufactured smear against Corbyn.