Gransnet forums

News & politics

The Jewish voice. The BBC’s coverage of antisemitism charges against the Labour Party has been both unbalanced and uncritical

(128 Posts)
GagaJo Sat 07-Dec-19 18:06:27

Jews, antisemitism and Labour – a letter to the BBC
Fri 6 Dec 2019

5th December 2019

To Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC
cc: Fran Unsworth and Tracey Henry

URGENT – “Is the BBC Antisemitic?”

We need to register with you our deep concern that, once again, and in the closing stages of an acrimonious election campaign, the BBC’s coverage of antisemitism charges against the Labour Party has been both unbalanced and uncritical. Your reporting today of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM)’s repetition of its flimsily-based charges against the Party that it used to support falls disastrously short of the Corporation’s own formal standards of accuracy and balance.

This represents what we can only call a flagrant breach, and of all times during a general election campaign, of the BBC’s legal commitment to due impartiality and fairness.

Over recent months, and with no remission during the election campaign, coverage of allegations of Labour antisemitism has featured repeatedly in the BBC News, and often as the lead item. In news programmes the allegations have been reported as quasi-factual, with no indication that they are fiercely contested. In more discursive formats such as the Today programme or Newsnight, presenters have consistently adopted a negative, attacking stance towards anyone who questions the basis of the allegations. In complete contrast, those making the allegations, usually based on hearsay rather than personal experience, are supplied with leading questions and softball follow-up.

Jews are as diverse as any other substantial group in society. Yet people whose representative status is highly doubtful are routinely presented by the BBC as ‘representatives of the Jewish community’. Surely you can ensure that your broadcasting staff know the facts and convey them appropriately. The Board of Deputies, for example, has no supervised electoral process – and in any case its synagogue-based membership covers no more than one third of the UK’s Jewish population. Secular Jews make up at least 50% of British Jews and have no voice through the Board of Deputies.

In particular the voices of the large numbers of Jews who are Party members, who know how atypical the quite rare examples of antisemitic behaviour in the party are, and who are enthusiastic supporters of a Corbyn-led Labour government have been almost entirely ignored. The BBC has allowed itself to be used as a megaphone for deeply contested charges.

The BBC’s Guidelines state that when a partisan political position is put forward, an opposing one, if it exists, should be broadcast too. The Labour Party does have many Jews who support it and who are prepared to speak out, notably in the organisation Jewish Voice for Labour. Our many requests to be able to present our experience and our perspective are routinely ignored, and in the rare exceptions have never been given equal weighting with the negative voices.

The BBC’s coverage of the JLM’s release of its evidence to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission’s inquiry (into any discrimination in Labour’s processes for handling complaints of antisemitism) is a prime example of the BBC’s systematic imbalance. This deliberately-timed attempted destabilisation of the Labour Party’s position by JLM has appeared in virtually every main news bulletin today, including live coverage – uncontested – of the JLM news conference on BBC News Channel.

The evidence that Jewish Voice for Labour gave to the EHRC inquiry was made public at the time and is publicly available on our web-site. This evidence is directly relevant to your news item but was not even mentioned in today’s extended BBC coverage. It seems that the BBC is treating us as the ‘wrong sort of Jew’.

All Jews are not the same. Asserting that they are is an aspect of antisemitism. The BBC should be ashamed of its record in openness to the multiple voices of British jewry.

By behaving in the way that it has (and today’s JLM coverage is only the latest example) the BBC has, constructively, been contributing to an assiduously promoted anti-Labour agenda.

We look forward to immediate corrective action.

This letter will be published on our website.


Leah Levane and Jenny Manson, co-chairs JVL

teddynperkins Sat 07-Dec-19 19:21:04

Message deleted by Gransnet. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

lemongrove Sat 07-Dec-19 19:26:18

You sure do teddy and as we all know.....time is money!😄

lemongrove Sat 07-Dec-19 19:29:15

Anti-Semitism has been rife in the LP over the last few years,
So naturally it’s going to be talked about.I can see how Corbyn supporters hate it to be talked about, though it is
Relevant before a GE.

Iam64 Sat 07-Dec-19 19:46:22

Of course, as the letter says, all Jews are not the same. I was with friends who practice their Jewish faith but without exception have been active supporters of the LP. No more, their concerns about anti semitism leave this group terrified of JC in Downing Street. I was given endless explanations I
Of this, including awful examples of AS directed to friends and colleagues within the LP. I won’t give details because it isn’t my place to do so.
I will stress the level of distress demonstrated.
I have one Jewish friend who doesn’t share this anxiety. That friend hasn’t been to synagogue, or participated in Jewish events for 55 years. My other Jewish friends are active I. Our local community, all share concerns about Palestine.

growstuff Sat 07-Dec-19 20:22:54

Evidence that anti-semiticism has been rife in the Labour Party for years, please lemongrove!

Anniebach Sat 07-Dec-19 20:52:53

Since Corbyn became leader.

Evidence ? Plenty, but always been denied by Corbyn supporters.

GrannySquare Sat 07-Dec-19 21:27:27

Poale Zion (GB) founded in 1903, & since 2004 known as Jewish Labour Movement, has been around a while & closely associated with the Labour Party for many years. Indeed my local LP had a PZ office on site, but that was a very long time ago.

Jewish Voice for Labour by contrast was formed in 2017.

JLM may not speak for all Jews in the LP, but it has done so for many Jews for a long time.

If Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-semite, then he has a funny way of showing it - by the company he keeps, the comments he makes, the endorsements he gives & glossing over the racist bullying in the LP that parades in plain sight.

Jews now, who next?

Anniebach Sat 07-Dec-19 22:02:29

Good postGrannySquare

Jaycee5 Sat 07-Dec-19 22:13:28

Anniebach Plenty but you don't produce any.

GrannySquare Unlike JVL members of JLM do not need to be either Jewish or members of the Labour party. The name has been around for a long time but it was taken over by a new group relatively recently.

Like Annieback you make generalised assertions with no evidence. He has fought racism and bigotry of all kinds all his life.

200 of the complains made were by Margaret Hodge and over 95% were found to be against people who were not members of the Labour Party nor have any connection with Labour. There is a long history of Margaret Hodge but one incident that particularly incensed her was a dispute over an ancient Jewish cemetary in her constituency that she wanted to sell off for development when she was a Counseller. The orthodox Jews affected tried to fight it and finally turned to Jeremy Corbyn (MP for neighbouring constituency) for help. He managed to get the development stopped. The Jewish group concerned are now one of the many concerned speaking out against the smears against Corbyn. Ben Elton has spoken out for him today and others such as Michael Rosen, and Miriam Margoyles, have been through the week.
There is a film made in support of him. Every speaker is Jewish. There are many many more from various groups and individuals. I've had trouble making a link work (I'll try again tomorrow) but you can look at any of the following's facebook sites or web pages in the unlikely event that you might be interested in the alternative view.
Jews Against Boris
JVL (which you disclaim but I doubt have read about or listened to)
IPSO recently upheld a complain against the Jewish Chronicle in respect of 4 articles of allegations against Labour members which contained numerous breaches.
IPSO (which could hardly be considered left wing given that it is headed by a representative from the Daily Mail) also said that the Committee had serious concerns about the newspaper's handling of the complaint and "the Committee considered that the publication's conduct during IPSO's investigation was unacceptable". It has been drawn to the attention of IPSO's standards department.
Many Jews have written letters supporting Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. (many but not all of the signatories of this one are Jewish) (again many, but not all are Jewish)

Yehbutnobut Sat 07-Dec-19 22:20:10

GagaJo thank you for your post. All but the most blinkered can relate to the article you shared.

Let me put it to you that it is not just Russia who interfered in the 2016 US ejections and Brexit, Israel has been behind this smear campaign for very obvious seasons.

Anniebach Sat 07-Dec-19 22:33:52

And many Jews have suffered anti semetism

GagaJo Sat 07-Dec-19 22:38:27

You're welcome, Yehbutnobut. SO much empirical evidence to show Jewish support. So much propaganda about the subject.

GagaJo Sat 07-Dec-19 22:40:22

Great positive message Jaycee5. He's an honest bloke. No wonder the establishment is worried.

MaizieD Sat 07-Dec-19 23:06:52

Some of you may missed this:

Tories probe candidates over anti-Semitism claims

Thanks for the account of Margaret Hodge, Jaycee5. Nothing like a bit of context.

GrannySquare Sat 07-Dec-19 23:16:18

@Jaycee5, I do not disclaim JVL - others do so- just point out that JLM has been around for a considerable time & has been actively supported by generations of LP members, political activists, Jewish or otherwise - inclusive etc.

I am well aware of JVL’s point of views & arguments, they have been given regular spots on UK mainstream media, including prime time interviews on BBC R4. JVL has been launched under the aegis of Corbyn’s leadership & received considerable promotion by the LP.

Margaret Hodge - then Leader of Islington Council which received planning permission request for an historic Jewish burial ground which the owning synagogue wanted to sell. I doubt it was hers to sell or a personal project. Also, Corbyn is MP for Islington North constituency where the cemetery is located, not the neighbouring constituency.

Grandad1943 Sat 07-Dec-19 23:26:22

I have posted the below report on the "Tory Racism" thread, but seeing as that thread and this one have now merged in concentrating on very recent Tory racism, I will post the same here.

Further evidence has emerged of the rampant Islamaphobia in the Tory Party and also that senior members of the party are acting in support of a number of Tory Candidates standing in the forthcoming General Election who are alleged to have made disgusting racist social media posts.

Guardian Report on the situation begins here:-
At least four ministers have gone on election campaigning trips to endorse Tory candidates facing allegations of Islamophobia since the claims against them came to light, the Guardian has learned.

In constituency visits that appear to contradict Boris Johnson’s repeated claim that the party has a “zero tolerance” stance on the issue, Sajid Javid, Matt Hancock, Andrea Leadsom and Thérèse Coffey have thrown their weight behind the accused candidates – all of whom are fighting in key marginal battlegrounds.

Incidents include one candidate who argued that Muslims have divided loyalties, as well as blaming immigrants for bringing HIV to Britain, and another who retweeted posts from former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson.

Johnson himself has also posed shaking hands with a Conservative candidate accused of sending an anti-Muslim tweet to Nobel Peace prize winner, Malala Yousafzai, 22. It is understood the photograph was taken after the party became aware of the tweet.

The disclosures came as the Tories face increasing pressure over Islamophobia following a slew of revelations, with the Equality and Human Rights Commission considering whether to launch a formal investigation into the party.

Full Guardian report can be accessed by following this link:-

Jaycee5 Sun 08-Dec-19 05:51:41

GrannySquare You are right, it was Islington, but that does not alter the gist of the point. This is a Jewish blog site.
JLM has been around for a long time but not in its present incarnation. It was effectively taken over by right wingers some of whom are members of the Labour party but many others are obviously Tories.
Unfortunately propaganda works and the most effective way for it to work is for a lie to be repeated so often that people accept it as truth however absurd it may be.

Jaycee5 Sun 08-Dec-19 06:11:41

GagaJo The Establishment, including most of the media virtually all of which is owned by 6 billionaire nom doms, decided from the beginning that they would not tolerate a genuinely left wing government in the UK.
No matter how many independent investigations into media bias by reputable academic organisations, there are people who simply deny it. No matter how often Kuenssberg is photographed deep in discussion with Boris or members of his team, there are still people who deny the BBC bias.
It shuts down all rational debate about the things that really matter - which is the rise of Alt.Right anti-semitism and the demonisation of the poor. One homeless person dies every 19 hours. These things are barely mentioned in interviews while questions treating smears as facts and perpetuating them are brought up every single time.
It gives people cover for supporting a party that they know is causing premature death for over a hundred thousand people and destroyed the social fabric of the country. It would otherwise be indefensible.

Jaycee5 Sun 08-Dec-19 06:14:14

Anniebach No one has said that anti-semitism doesn't exist any more than they have said that other forms of bigotry don't exist. It is well established that they are mainly a problem caused by the rise of the far right.
The heirarchy of racism is a bit unseemly but is necessary for the smears to gain the traction they unfortunately have.

Yehbutnobut Sun 08-Dec-19 06:32:39

Jews have suffered antisemitism. Followers of Islam have suffered Islamophobia. Black people are subject to racism and fat people and people with red hair get abuse.

That’s life, sadly. The ignorant and just plain nasty will always find people to pick upon. It is no worse within the Labour Party than any other party.

What is apparent is that there is a deliberate campaign by Zionist to blacken Corbyn and this prevent any possible future recognition of a state of Palestine. What else is apparent is that this deliberate strategy has been successful on many front even here on GN .

Whitewavemark2 Sun 08-Dec-19 08:43:43

It is refreshing to see the push back against the charge that Corbyn is an anti-Semite.

Of course the charge is both ridiculous and a travesty of the truth. Throughout his entire life Corbyn has been known for his fight against intolerance and hate.

The charge also is that it started with Corbyn is wrong, and people have very short memories.

Although a non-practicing Jew the right wing press charged Miliband with anti-semitism. It is what the right wing does.

It finds a scapegoat and knows that if it says it often enough that it will convince those who are open to suggestion that it is true. It is running with this at the moment but if you look back over the past 5 years, this whilst gradually gaining traction, has only ever been in full swing when there was an election of some sort brewing.

Undoubtedly there is hate crime in the U.K. and the Tories are almost certainly more to blame over its recent rise

The weaponising of hate crime is evil, it uses such a crime for its own political aims and nothing else .

GracesGranMK3 Sun 08-Dec-19 09:06:08

Listening to "Sunday" on Radio 4 I got to hear about the resignation of Professor esignation from a Church of England advisory body in protest at the archbishop of Canterbury’s support for the chief rabbi’s comments last week on antisemitism in the Labour party. I found several articles on his resignation but don't remember hearing anything about them on the news. On his resignation, he said:

As a matter of principle, I cannot continue to work with the Anglican church … after the archbishop of Canterbury’s disgraceful endorsement of the chief rabbi’s unjust condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn and the entire Labour party.

He added The media had responded to the chief rabbi’s criticism “as if he were the pope, speaking for all British Jews as the pope would for all Roman Catholics. Secular Jews and those who do not hold with the views of Jews for Labour are considered not to matter”.

He said: “No one section of the population of this nation has a monopoly on oppression, pain and hurt,” citing the unlawful detention, harassment and criminalisation of black and Asian people. “What ‘positive reassurance’ is the archbishop of Canterbury insisting that political parties give the many thousands rendered vulnerable by the government’s ‘hostile’ environment’?”

In a statement he added “What gives the archbishop of Canterbury the right to endorse the chief rabbi’s scaremongering about Corbyn and adopt such a lofty moral position in defence of the Jewish population? I have often had cause to wonder how it is that Justin Welby was made archbishop of Canterbury, rather than John Sentamu [archbishop of York] … it was widely expected – in some circles at least – that Sentamu would get that post. Sentamu was a highly respected black senior cleric and had been a bishop since 1996 and archbishop of York since 2005.”

“If Anglicans in the UK from the African and Asian diaspora were to judge Justin Welby as the leader of the established church by the same criteria he appears to be employing in his assessment of Jeremy Corbyn, he too would fail the fitness to lead test.”

As I commented, the BBC and other news outlets which so enjoyed broadcasting one leader of part of the Jewish population in this country which was blatantly anti-Corbyn do not seem to have broadcasted this and yet broadcast both the Chief Rabbi and Justin Welby's comments.

Listening to the broadcast it was obvious that he was not against people speaking out for the Jews but wanted an even-handed discussion which included Islamaphobia, most noticeably the Conservatives and the other far-right parties and the "hostile environment" created by the Conservatives while in government and also the Conservative Immigration Act 2016.

He debated his decision with Rabbi Jonathan Romain whose vituperative comment left us in no doubt how prejudiced against the LP, and especially Corbyn, he is. If you would appreciate some balance in this discussion it's worth listening to.

The interviewer asked about the unprecedented timing of the Chief Rabbi's speech only for Romain to repeat the "beware of Labour" comment we have heard before. A very reasoned Gus John's pointed out that if religious leaders are going to say "don't vote for that lot" they should also be examining "the other lot" people might then vote for. When asked how he thought the Archbishops word would go down in the Anglican community Professor John said that he thought they would not go down well, particularly amoung the black Anglican community. It would seem, he explained, that the church appeared to be concerne about one particular group and not others. He thought that people might say "why are you so preocupied in getting the country to take a position because of your suffering, when there is no evidence that you have the sympathy for others who are suffering more. People are dying." In reply to a defence by Romain he said that you don't make these comments before the election in order sway the results of the election.

Full Article
broadcast at 35 mins

GracesGranMK3 Sun 08-Dec-19 09:07:17

Sorry, I hadn't proofed that before I somehow posted it. If there is anything you cannot make sense of let me know.

GracesGranMK3 Sun 08-Dec-19 09:09:27

-- resignation of Professor esignation -- of Professor Gus John