Actor Maureen Lipman has hit the headlines after recording an advert for the Sun denouncing Labour and promoting the smear that antisemitism is rife in the Labour Party. But it’s not only vile, it’s embarrassing. Because Lipman hasn’t voted for Labour for years. Not only that, she publicly stated she wouldn’t vote Labour under Ed Miliband – a Jewish leader.
A large part of the video is dedicated to perpetuating the antisemitism smear against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. But in doing so, it uses antisemitic tropes. One of the IHRA examples of antisemitism is:
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective.
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Lipman states in the video:
Of course we were all Labour. Everybody voted Labour. I voted Labour all my life. You know what my late husband said? ‘If you’re Jewish they gave you your Labour Party badge the day after your circumcision’.
This is a gross stereotypical trope that lumps all Jewish people together to make a cheap political point. It uses stereotypes and assumptions, and it’s simply not true. I come from a long line of Conservative-voting Jews. I’m just lucky my dad broke the mould and didn’t follow in the footsteps of my Daily Mail-reading grandma.
You want to call out racism in the Sun? Seriously?
Let’s play a game. Let’s pretend that Lipman really is a lifelong Labour voter who didn’t abandon the party’s Jewish leader because he had the audacity to believe that Palestine should be recognised as a state. And let’s pretend this isn’t part of a witchhunt to smear the left but a genuine attempt to call out racism. Okay, I know it’s a stretch. But if all these things were true, one simple question remains: ‘Why the fuck would you choose to do it with one of the most racist papers in the UK; how could anyone who holds genuinely anti-fascist beliefs associate themselves with a paper that printed Katie Hopkins’ column describing refugees as “cockroaches”?
As The Canary previously reported, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) slammed the paper for “biased or ill-founded” reporting which fuelled negative “stereotypes”. Just look at these types of headline – headlines that have helped fuel the rise of hate crimes across the UK:
Chair of the ECRI Christian Ahlund stated in 2016:
It is no coincidence that racist violence is on the rise in the UK at the same time as we see worrying examples of intolerance and hate speech in the newspapers, online and even among politicians.
Jewish people are scared – just not of Corbyn
Whether it’s Lipman’s ridiculous video or Rachel Riley’s utterly offensive T-shirt, it’s time to take a stand. These people are not brave. They’re not at the forefront of an anti-racist movement. And they certainly don’t speak for all Jewish people. In fact, what they’re doing is creating an atmosphere of fear for lots of Jewish people.
I feel this fear. It’s multifaceted, and I’ve written about it before. People like Riley are bullying trolls. They pile on to people whether or not they’re Jewish. I’ve had tears in my eyes reading tweets from Jewish Labour voters saying they won’t be scared of this hate anymore – that they’re standing up and saying they support Corbyn. This is what people like Riley and Lipman and numerous others have done. They’ve created an atmosphere where Jewish people are scared to speak up. How fucking twisted can you get?
Enough is enough. This nonsense needs calling out.
All and any racism needs calling out each and every time it happens. And as a Jewish person, I’m genuinely terrified of the rise in actual antisemitism. Just to be clear, that’s the antisemitism where the far right desecrates Jewish graves with swastikas and there are open attacks on Jewish people in the streets.
But unlike people like Riley, I recognise my privilege. I look Jewish enough that I’m often asked whether I’m Jewish. But that’s where it ends. Because I’m white, and I’ve never faced the vile prejudice and racism that my friends of colour face just for walking down the street.
Writing as “a gay, working-class woman of colour”, The Canary‘s editor-in-chief Kerry-Anne Mendoza nailed the issue, saying:
What Riley does is performative anti-racism. She leverages the language of anti-racism purely for political ends. And she repeatedly tramples over the feelings of the LGBTQI+, Black, and Muslim communities. You’ll find she barely mentions antisemitism outside the prism of attacks on the Labour Party.
I’m sick of being scared by people like Riley and Lipman. And I’m sick of rich, white, privileged people lecturing about racism to people who’ve spent their lives fighting racism. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing. And unless you’re prepared to come and stand with me and my friends of all ethnicities and backgrounds next time the far right are marching and terrorising communities, then quite frankly, you can fuck off. Enough is enough.
Featured image via Twitter screengrab
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