We need to question whether Rebecca Long-Bailey endorsed an ‘antisemitic conspiracy theory’

Rebecca Long-Bailey and US Police
Peter Bolton

New Labour leader Keir Starmer recently sacked Corbyn protégé Rebecca Long-Bailey from Labour’s front benches. She was dismissed for the ‘offence’ of sharing on social media an interview published in the Independent that touched on the police killing of George Floyd in the US.

In the interview, actress and activist Maxine Peake commented that US law enforcement learned tactics such as those used on Floyd from training provided by the Israeli military. These comments were subsequently dubbed an “antisemitic conspiracy theory” by the usual suspects from the smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, in which bogus accusations of antisemitism were used to derail his leadership of the party and chances of becoming prime minister.

We need to be clear: Long-Bailey’s sacking was completely unjustified. And the comments she supposedly endorsed in the first place don’t seem quite so outlandish after closer examination.

Unfair dismissal

On 24 June, Starmer announced that he had sacked Long-Bailey from her position as shadow education secretary. He claimed that the interview that she had shared online contained an ‘antisemitic conspiracy theory’. Long-Bailey had earlier apologised for sharing the article containing the Peake interview.

But apparently, even engaging in this grovelling self-flagellation wasn’t contrition enough. Starmer seemingly caved to pressure and dismissed her from the front bench nonetheless. Before long, Zionist groups were openly gloating over the move and hailing it as representing a ‘new era’ for the Labour Party. In spite of figures from the left of the party expressing their outrage over the matter, Starmer subsequently said defiantly that he “stands by” his decision.

Two crucial facts remain

To be clear, Long-Bailey’s sacking would have been a scandal even if the accusation against Peake had any truth to it. Because the complaint against Long-Bailey was a transparent politically motivated attack based on ‘guilt by association’.

But the real irony, seemingly missed amidst all the phony outrage, is that Peake’s claim that US police forces learned to kneel on people’s necks to restrain them from the Israeli military isn’t that far-fetched. While the Independent retracted the claim, and Israel denied this tactic was taught in its training, two facts remain: many US police forces have been trained by Israeli staff and the tactic used on George Floyd is commonly used by Israeli forces. Whilst there may not be direct evidence that this manoeuvre was part of the US training, examining the details behind these facts makes Peake’s initial claim look less and less like a conspiracy theory.

The long history of Israeli training of US police

Israeli forces have been involved with training US law enforcement for years, if not decades, including in the country’s own capital city. In 2016, Amnesty International reported that Washington DC’s police department had been flown to Israel to receive training along with others from at least 12 other US jurisdictions. Then, in 2017, the Intercept reported that Morgan Kane, the commander of DC’s police department, had gone to Israel to attend the Anti-Defamation League’s so-called ‘National Counter-Terrorism Seminar’ in September 2017. The article adds:

More than 200 law enforcement executives from over 100 departments in the US and abroad, immigration enforcement agencies, and even campus police have participated in the ADL program since it launched in 2004.

As far back as 2008, Washington DC-based activist David Schwartzman (who is himself Jewish) gave testimony at a meeting of the Council of the District of Columbia (the city’s legislature):

In 2005, Cathy Lanier, now [Washington DC’s] Chief of Police, and others in the [DC police] force received training by Israeli security experts, the very advisors to the Israeli Apartheid-like Occupation

Schwartzman added that Lanier, who has since been replaced, was quoted in the Washington Post as stating: “No experience in my life has had more of an impact on doing my job than going to Israel”.

Eye witness testimony from Occupied Palestine

In spite of this evidence, those attacking Long-Bailey claim that Peake’s comments were still antisemitic because there’s supposedly no evidence that Israeli military personnel trained US law enforcement specifically to kneel on someone’s neck like the officer who killed George Floyd did.

But Palestinians living in the occupied territories have themselves witnessed Israeli military personnel using this very tactic. Palestinian activist and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement Neta Golan, for instance, said:

When I saw the picture of killer cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by leaning in on his neck with his knee as he cried for help and other cops watched, I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006.

Palestinian athlete Mohammad Alqadi, meanwhile, posted four separate images on Twitter of Israeli soldiers using the exact technique used on Floyd of restraining someone by pinning their neck or head to the ground with their knee:

While the exact training US forces received remains unknown, Golan states, “it is clear that [Israeli forces] share these methods when they train police forces abroad in ‘crowd control’ in the US and other countries including Sudan and Brazil.”

Another episode in the ridiculous antisemitism saga

Clearly, Long-Bailey was sacked without a shred of good cause. And the episode perfectly demonstrates just how lacking in scruples the orchestrators of the antisemitism smear campaign continue to be. Even, it seems, after these forces succeeded in destroying Corbyn’s chances of becoming prime minister, they now want to keep it up in order to root out any last remaining vestiges of his era as party leader from frontline British politics.

Long-Bailey, however, has also herself to blame. Like Corbyn, she made the fatal error of thinking one can appease these forces. By acting as if this transparent smear campaign was somehow being waged in good faith, rather than as a cynical political weapon to silence those who engage in legitimate criticism of Israel’s ongoing crimes, she conferred on it a veneer of credibility that it didn’t deserve.

‘Nothing whatever to do with antisemitism’

As Jewish academic Norman Finkelstein (a son of Holocaust survivors whose entire extended family was exterminated in Nazi death camps) told The Canary in an exclusive interview last year:

The assumption [from Corbyn and his team] was that there was a rational basis for these complaints. There’s no rational basis for these complaints. These complaints are being fabricated and contrived in order to derail the Corbyn candidacy – on the narrow grounds because Israel doesn’t want Corbyn in power, and [on] the broader grounds, the whole ruling British elite doesn’t want Corbyn in power.

He also said:

They could simply have said: ‘We don’t think this campaign is being waged in good faith, there is another agenda, it’s a political agenda, it has nothing whatever to do with antisemitism.

We are now witnessing yet another case of figures from the Labour left being too deferential to the Blairite faction that Starmer represents. This is completely wrongheaded given that this conniving, neoliberal-lite cabal spent practically the entire duration of Corbyn’s leadership stabbing him in the back and trying to depose him as leader – with the antisemitism smear serving as their preferred tool of choice. After all, their desire to oust Corbyn conveniently coincided with the desire of the well-funded UK Israel lobby to keep a friend of the Palestinian people out of 10 Downing Street. As Finkelstein explains, the groups associated with this lobby have a long history of falsely accusing critics of Israel of being motivated by antisemitism.

And also a sad irony

There’s another sad irony about these antisemitism accusations. The political right is forever complaining about how ‘political correctness’ has somehow meant that ‘you can’t say anything anymore’. Yet it’s the political right itself that’s created this toxic environment where a person’s political career can be swiftly destroyed on completely baseless accusations of antisemitism. So much so that people on the left live in a constant state of fear of getting defamed for voicing even the most modest criticism of Israel.

There is also a colossal element of hypocrisy. Because at the same time as the left is clubbed into submission by a hectoring Zionist lobby and its willing Tory and Labour right accomplices, rampant Islamophobia on the right goes on in an atmosphere of almost total impunity. Clearly, the climate of fear is increasingly degenerating into a dystopia in which these forces serve as judge and jury in the Court of Zionist Thoughtcrime. We live in dark times. And so the responsibility to stand up and fight back grows stronger with every passing day.

Featured image via Wikimedia – Rwendland / marines.mil – Robert Knapp

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  • Show Comments
      1. Like the theory of Gravity? The fact is that Us police forces do train in Israel, and the the Israeli police do use the technique, and the Israelis have lied before. Did the US train the Israeli police in the tactic?

        1. “Did the US train the Israeli police in the tactic?”

          It’s perfectly possible, since US cops have used the technique as early as 1995 and defined its use since at least 2002, or picked it up from other places they trained on the same and other international programmes. In fact there’s no reason whatsoever that it would have to be taught by and to any country. This is why Amnesty, Maxine Peake, Rebecca Long-Bailey all now disclaim the claim.

          But conspiracy theories are about taking disparate facts, isolating them from others, embellishing it with fiction (eg the presence of “Secret services”), joining the dots to reach the pre-determined conclusion and feeding them to likeminded zealots.

          Source: https://www.channel4.com/news/factcheck/factcheck-did-israeli-secret-service-teach-floyd-police-to-kneel-on-neck

      2. “Baltimore law enforcement officials, along with hundreds of others from Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Georgia, Washington state as well as the DC Capitol police have all traveled to Israel for training. Thousands of others have received training from Israeli officials here in the U.S.

        Many of these trips are taxpayer funded while others are privately funded. Since 2002, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have paid for police chiefs, assistant chiefs and captains to train in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

        These trainings put Baltimore police and other U.S. law enforcement employees in the hands of military, security and police systems that have racked up documented human rights violations for years. Amnesty International, other human rights organizations and even the U.S. Department of State have cited Israeli police for carrying out extrajudicial executions and other unlawful killings, using ill treatment and torture (even against children), suppression of freedom of expression/association including through government surveillance, and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters.”

        https://www.amnestyusa.org/with-whom-are-many-u-s-police-departments-training-with-a-chronic-human-rights-violator-israel/

        “OFFICERS from the US police force responsible for the killing of George Floyd received training in restraint techniques and anti-terror tactics from Israeli law-enforcement officers.
        Mr Floyd’s death in custody last Monday, the latest in a succession of police killings of African Americans, has sparked continuing protests and rioting in US cities.
        At least 100 Minnesota police officers attended a 2012 conference hosted by the Israeli consulate in Chicago, the second time such an event had been held.
        There they learned the violent techniques used by Israeli forces as they terrorise the occupied Palestinian territories under the guise of security operations.
        The so-called counterterrorism training conference in Minneapolis was jointly hosted by the FBI.
        Israeli deputy consul Shahar Arieli claimed that the half-day session brought “top-notch professionals from the Israeli police” to share knowledge with their US counterparts.
        It is unclear whether any of the officers involved in the incident in which Mr Floyd was killed attended the conference.
        But in a chilling testimony, a Palestinian rights activist said that when she saw the image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck, she was reminded of the Israeli forces’ policing of the occupied territories.
        Neta Golan, the co-founder of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) said: “When I saw the picture of killer cop Derek Chauvin murdering George Floyd by leaning in on his neck with his knee as he cried for help and other cops watched, I remembered noticing when many Israeli soldiers began using this technique of leaning in on our chest and necks when we were protesting in the West Bank sometime in 2006.
        “They started twisting and breaking fingers in a particular way around the same time. It was clear they had undergone training for this. They continue to use these tactics — two of my friends have had their necks broken but luckily survived — and it is clear that they [Israel] share these methods when they train police forces abroad in ‘crowd control’ in the US and other countries including Sudan and Brazil.”

        https://morningstaronline.co.uk/article/minnesota-cops-trained-israeli-forces-restraint-techniques

        Just theories.

        As for Neta Golan, well, who’d believe the word of a Palestinian activist against the Israeli government in times like these, eh? That would be antisemitic, wouldn’t it?

        Lunatics. All those supporting this McCartyhism. Deranged, and dangerous.

    1. Skwawbox reported that the real reason for the sacking of RLB is disagreement about school reopening. In short, RLB is listening to parents, teachers and their unions refusing to rush a potentially deadly return to school while Starmer wanted school reopening for all students quickly. The mask slipped in an interview in Sky News: “I genuinely think we could have had all our children back in school by now”.

      https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coronavirus-uk-keir-starmer-response-schools-boris-johnson-england-a9590811.html

      1. Yes. All the political know-it-all correspondants on the Beeb and Sky were saying he sacked her because she was “too close to the unions”.
        Too close to the unions! Isn’t that what a true Labour MP should be?

    2. In the run-up to the general election RLB sat on a panel of Labour candidates interviewed by Peston and said Corbyn had made an anti-Semitic gesture–I think she said for appearing on stage beside a holocaust survivor who criticised Israel.

      Didn’t do her any good, did it? And the fact it’s being used against her means it did her more harm than good. And so it will be for most who claim a political opponent is guilty of anti-Semitism. That’s one turd that will leave a stain on everyone who pushes it towards somebody else. They only have to touch it briefly.

    3. Usually gaslighting is something going on between two individuals. I have been fighting a misconduct issue involving local police and my local council, and have seen that both these would-be authorities have maintained a position that is like a structured group-led kind of gaslighting.

      To read Rebecca’s piece today in The Guardian makes me think again of this ‘technique’. It seems to be something that is being used in several discourses by several favoured groups against people with valid arguments made in good faith, that ought to at least be brakes applied to the respective apparently fast-tracked consensus.

      And if Keir and his allies will use antisemitism that is not fairly established then Jewish people should alight on this and make this as much the focus of their objections as real and established antisemitism. At a later date otherwise when the hysteria passes this will be something spoken of with tragically belated regret, revealing Corbyn, Rebecca and others as the undeserving victims many of us say they are. I say this myself with reservations about the direction of the Labour Party prior to Keir’s becoming leader that are merely different from those I have about Keir’s era – I just want the party’s evolution to be able to get to the point where it has a sound basis based on viewing its history in good faith.

    4. Rebecca thought that she’d appease white supremacists by signing-up to the BoD’s demands. Today’s Guardian article demonstrates that she has yet to learn that appeasement doesn’t work. Ask Jeremy..
      Yet another alleged pro-Palestinian Labour MP betrays Palestine.

    5. It’s disappointing RLB felt she had to apologise in that Guardian article. That type of ‘appeasement’ to a small representative Jewish group (BOD’s) only emboldens them more to make even more outlandish smears – hiding behind faux anti-semitism. She came across as desperate to keep her career over her morals. The Labour Party and their cabal of FOI MP’s in Parliament, pander way too much to these lobbyists with an obvious agenda. ( Shuttting down anything negative about the Israeli state) . The sad irony is, I would guess that these particular Jewish groups making these continual smears – all vote Tory anyway. The party’s internal review of handling anti-semitism accusations under Jenny Formby, found out that over thirty percent of those complaints were made by just one individual.

      If party policy is going to be dictated by a ‘minority group’ claiming to represent all Jewish people. Then the Labour party is fucked! Time to join a new party of the left?

    6. Quite obvious that by conflating criticism of the Israeli government, however inaccurate or otherwise, with an attack upon Judaism, Keir Starmer’s decision is a perfect example of antisemitism according to the eleventh of the examples given by the IHRA definition of antisemitism to which the Labour Party is a signatory: “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.” https://www.holocaustremembrance.com/working-definition-antisemitism

      Neither Maxine Peake nor Rebecca Long-Bailey made any reference to Judaism. Keir Starmer merely fulfils the intention of the IHRA definition, which is to make it impossible to criticise Israel without the charge of antisemitism. This, whilst the Israeli government proceeds to steal the West Bank, in contravention of law, and to the hushed silence of a western world committed to purging racism in all its forms…

    7. “We need to question” has been going on ever since the smearing campaign using the lie of antisemitism began against Jeremy Corbyn. A little slow, and simple minded aren’t you about how this lie is used as a political weapon, and has no basis in truth. It means there is no effective countermove from the Labour Party or the deisre to effect one.
      How pathetic.
      A Party Campaigning on a lie of such horrific magnitude against human rights really won’t keep the votes of the 400,000 people who joined the labour Party due to Jeremy Corbyn. They will be leaving as the sensible ones have done in France to the Greens?
      It means also that no recognition has been given to the voter to the issues talked about in the election. Its been subverted to a simple desire for power, and is a vote of non confidence in the democratic idea of even having an election.
      These voters have meant nothing to these carnal desires for power.
      Power for power’s sake is the only game played and has been laid out in the open for all to see.
      I think a complete disrespect for politicians is now so prevalent it undermines the country’s ability to govern and justly so. What these politicians do is utterly dysfunctional to handling any practical business.
      The beaches at Bournemouth say as much. To fine these people?
      There is serious trouble coming with a push back against a authoritarian goverance approach coming from idiots.
      Parliamentry principles exist in name only and spoken as if real.
      Brexit fiasco for one, laundered illegal money coming through London at over 10 billion/year. Englands huge debt load which is more than equal to Greece’s . Offshore tax havens.
      You have a fake parliament.
      It’s time to make politicains accountable for this mess.

    8. The left seem to have a relentless and wierd obsession with Israel above and beyond all other countries.
      I trust the yellow bird will be joining the condemnation of the recent killing of a black male by the Cuban racist police force?

      1. “The left seem to have a relentless and wierd obsession with Israel above and beyond all other countries.”

        Firstly, taking an interest in our nation’s politics by defending a senior member of the opposition sacked for antisemitism for citing an article which contained a criticism of the `Israeli government is not “a wierd (sic) obsession with Israel”. It’s what people in a democracy do.
        Secondly, to the extent that reaction to the left’s legitimate criticism of the Israeli government and its policies would appear to be shaping our politics in this country, by purging those that give it expression, on spurious grounds of antisemitism which are themselves antisemitic, the obsession with Israel appears to be most prominent amongst Labour and Conservative Friends of Israel, a political affiliation that knows no counterpart with any other country in the world.

        “I trust the yellow bird will be joining the condemnation of the recent killing of a black male by the Cuban racist police force?”

        I trust you’ll join in the condemnation of Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, in contravention of all established law.

        1. I look forward immensly to the Canarys condemnation of the ongoing state sanctioned human rights abuses in Cuba. I will also look forward to a further condemnation of the torture and other appaling abuses committed by the Venezuelan government and I trust that these condemnations will feature as regularly as do thier criticisms of Israel.
          I condem the annexation of the West Bank and all misuses of power and violence whether it is by Israel or Hamas.

          1. Well done, and given that the West Bank looks likely to be annexed, I look forward to reading your ongoing condemnation of this abuse of power, and trust it will feature as regularly as your attacks upon those who continue to condemn Israel for the policies of its governments over many decades, which have led to this criminal act of appropriation of the land belonging to the people of Palestine.

          2. “No condemnation of Cuba or Venezuelafrom you. I rest my case”.

            I am not obliged, Johnny Turk, to express condemnation of Venezuela or Cuba on an article about the sacking of a senior member of the opposition in this country for antisemitism simply because you imagine you’re entitled to claim that unless I do so my criticism of Israel’s criminal appropriation of someone else’s homeland is somehow invalid, or, as you argument implies, antisemitic.

            Once again, I look forward to reading as many posts from you condemning the actions of the Israeli government over many decades, that have led finally, to the theft of the Palestinian homeland, as those attacking critics of the Israeli government, as I’m certain you would wish to be held to the same exacting standards that you require of everyone else. So well done, stay on topic, and keep up the good work.

            1. No need to condemn Venezuela I’m afraid, there doesn’t appear to be any evidence of that apart from claims from a man that has been declared the winner of an election that he never stood in !! The maniac US think they have the right to decide who rules in any country including the UK, remember The Donald and his cronies saying they would do all they could to stop Corbyn and Labour winning the election?

              I am completely committed to atheism, I have no idea about religion of others nor do I want to, however, I do Know that the Palestinian case is a worthy one and that they have foreign Snipers targeting their children and reporters.

              Johnny Johnny Johnny, just tell your employers and organisation that you have done a wonderful job and sod off back to MI5 MI6 Integrity initiative or what ever other organisation you represent. Cheers and all the best

              Love and Peace Dude Love and Peace

    9. I’m an expat Israeli and a jew and I would like to say for the record that during my stint in the Israeli Army I bloody well was taught that the best way to “restrain” a palestinian prisoner was to kneel on his neck. Also that there is an official policy of ethnic cleansing toward the palestinian community. And there are no holocaust survivors in Israel; they came but didn’t stay, because the immigrants from Russia and the US spat at them in the street and called the Cowards and “surrender-monkeys” and accused them of “walking blindly into the camps” And Starmer knows bloody well that it’s true, but he’s given too big a bribe by the tories to say so.
      If Jezza was Harry Perkins, Starmer is Lawrence Wainwright!

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