Anti-Semitism row reflects media bias

7th September 2018

jeremy-corbyn-press

Jeremy Corbyn – under siege by a biased media

The demonisation of Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, by the British government, media and factions within his own party, continues apace as the return to Westminster after the summer recess precedes the party conference season.

The damage inflicted upon Labour by the almost certainly Mossad inspired debate over anti Semitism is hard to calculate.  It has undoubtedly muddied the waters in the fight against racism in the UK.  It has given succour to those who believe that any criticism of the Israeli government and its policies is anti Semitic.  It has proven to be a rallying point for those opposed to a Corbyn government at all costs.

In spite of the fact that Corbyn has overseen the development of the largest mass based social democratic party in Western Europe, boasting more members than the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Scottish Nationalists combined, the UK media continue to characterise the policies of the Labour opposition and the leadership of Corbyn in particular as unpopular.

A report published in The Independent (19th July 2016) indicated that in the first two months of Corbyn becoming Labour leader,

“Over half of the news articles were critical or antagonistic in tone, compared to two thirds of all editorials and opinion pieces. Besides the almost total lack of support in the latter, especially in the rightwing media, the high level of negativity in the news reporting struck us as noteworthy here….Corbyn’s voice is often absent in the reporting on him, and when it is present it is often presented in a highly distorted way. In terms of the news sources used in the articles, the civil war within Labour is very enthusiastically amplified.”

Ongoing monitoring of the UK media suggests that this has not changed in the two years.  Media coverage of Labour in general and Corbyn in particular remains overwhelmingly negative.  The showing made by Labour in the June 2017 General Election has, if anything, exacerbated this trend as right wing fury at Corbyn’s increased popularity, and the failure of the Theresa May government to rise above the level of debacle, is reflected in the BBC and popular press.

Corbyn is not corrupt, racist or prone to publicly bad mouthing those who oppose him.  He has a long and distinguished history of standing up for the rights of oppressed minorities.  Prominent Middle East author and journalist, Jonathan Cook, has recently commented that in relation to Corbyn,

“It is a sign both of their desperation and their weakness that they have had to resort to the nuclear option, smearing him as an anti-semite.  Other, lesser smears were tried first: that he was not presidential enough to lead Britain; that he was anti-establishment; that he was unpatriotic; that he might be a traitor.  None worked.  If anything, they made him more popular.”

Cook has also highlighted documentary work undertaken by TV channel Al-Jazeera, looking at the work of Israeli lobbyists in the UK and US to interfere in the politics of each country.  The US series has not been aired.  The UK version shows Israeli embassy official, Shai Masot, helping to create an anti-Corbyn front organisation in the Labour Party and working closely with the pro-Israeli Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel.

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) boasts a membership of some 80 Labour MPs, many of whom have been wined and dined on all expenses paid trips.  As a result, the widespread international condemnation of the Israeli killings of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza in May, led LFI to take to Twitter to condemn Hamas, not Israel, for the killings.

Former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, disgraced himself recently by comparing a passage in a speech by Corbyn to that of Tory racist Enoch Powell in 1968, telling the New Statesman that it was,

“the most offensive statement made by a senior British politician since Enoch Powell’s 1968 ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech”

If Sacks really believes this then he is living in a world far removed from the realities faced by most of the UK’s black and ethnic minority population and has a poor grasp of the depth of the endemic institutionalised racism of the British state.

Corbyn’s offence was to be critical of a group of hardline pro-Israel partisans who had disrupted a Palestinian solidarity meeting, referring to them, in accurate political terms, as Zionists.  The rightwing media have pounced upon this to suggest that Zionist is simply a code word for all Jews and therefore use of the term is anti-Semitic.  This is nonsense of the highest order, not least because not all Zionists are Jews and by no means are all Jews Zionists.  As Corbyn stated in his defence he was using the term “in the accurate political sense and not as a euphemism for Jewish people”.

Political journalists of any nous will of course understand this.  However, they appear to be either incapable of articulating it, or are unwilling to let the truth get in the way of a good story.

With the conference season up and coming leadership issues, analysis and challenges are always a great media talking point.  Boris Johnson appears to be lining up a tilt at Theresa May’s job and Vince Cable has announced he will, gradually, stand down as Liberal Democrat leader.  Is there an obvious challenger to Corbyn? Not yet but with the British media and establishment firmly in the “anyone but Corbyn” camp, and a chunk of the Parliamentary Labour Party leaning the same way, anything is possible.

Whoever emerges and wherever they emerge from, you can bet there is a good chance they will be a Labour Friend of Israel.

 

 

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