The witch hunt has come for Ken Loach. They’ll have to come through us first.

Ken Loach
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First, the media and political opportunists tried to convince us life-long anti-racist Jeremy Corbyn was Hitler-in-waiting. Now, life-long anti-racist Ken Loach is being attacked by the same witch hunt. But after several years of the fraudulent weaponisation of antisemitism to achieve political objectives, the left is done. You come for one of us, you come for all of us. And that includes Ken.

The anatomy of the witch hunt

The witch hunt has a standard play after it picks a target. First, a person’s social media and public history is combed. Then a fabricated ‘controversy’ is constructed. This is amplified by the press in order to create a sense of panic. And even if the truth is established later, the witch hunt doesn’t care. People distance themselves from the newly blacklisted individual, not wanting to be tainted by association. And an effective opponent to racism, apartheid and inequality is hobbled.

Organs like the Jewish Chronicle seem to exist only to character assassinate the political enemies of Israel and the Conservative party. The litany of libel losses by this rag is testimony to its total lack of veracity. It lost two major libel cases in the last year alone. In October, the JC was forced to pay “substantial” libel damages and publish an apology to Nada al Sanjari, a school teacher and Labour councillor. The JC had claimed she’d launched a vicious and antisemitic protest against Luciana Berger MP. This never happened.

And just months before, in January 2020, the Jewish Chronicle apologised to Labour activist Audrey White for libeling her. The JC admitted on its website it had published “allegations about Mrs Audrey White” which were “untrue.”

And the list goes on.

The problem is, as the evidence clearly indicates, there is a pattern here. Baseless accusations from pro-Israel activist groups or political opponents of the left are amplified by the press into a moral panic. The facts may well come out later, and in almost all cases. But the damage has long since been done. And the hostile press never reports these libel losses at anywhere near the volume it reported the allegations.

The whole point is to keep anti-racists on the back foot, unable to take the battle to racists.

Read on...

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The targets of the witch hunt

The objective of the witch hunt is to make it antisemitic to criticise Israel. The bonus for centrists and far right alike here is that many of the toughest critics of Israel are on the left. And so they’ve joined in enthusiastically with the witch hunt out of pure political opportunism. No accusation is considered too hyperbolic, and they can rest assured no establishment journalist will challenge their assertions.

This saw Jeremy Corbyn described as an “existential threat” to British Jews, despite his life-long record of anti-racism. One proponent of the witch hunt even claimed that if Jeremy Corbyn became PM, he would “reopen Auschwitz“. Any journalist of merit would have torn this accusation apart as entirely baseless, opportunistic and offensive. But the establishment press is sorely lacking in journalists of merit. Instead, these ridiculous smears were parroted by one outlet and broadcaster after another until functionally true. The facts were immaterial, it just felt like Corbyn and the left had an antisemitism problem distinct from all other groups. Why? Because that’s how propaganda works.

It takes courage to run against popular sentiment to point out the facts. Not only does it mean facing conflict, but it also marks you out for the witch hunt treatment. It takes a person willing to risk losing their reputation, their job or position, and being turned on by their supposed allies. Many leaders of the movement did not show that courage. But the grassroots did. So the fight was taken to them, with a purge of leftists from the party, and attacks on freedom of the press.

The Canary is itself a target of the witch hunt, and proud to be. Because no dedicated anti-racist would accept the weaponisation of Jewish trauma in service of an apartheid state. We wouldn’t help create a hierarchy of racism which places any group above all others. And we would never back apartheid, or form alliances with people who do. The same cannot be said for a host of supposed left-wing commentators who’ve promoted this witch hunt out of careerism and fear. 

And now they’ve come for Ken Loach

For the crime of not playing with the witch hunt, Ken Loach has become a target. As a national treasure, his words matter. And so the need to delegitimise him as an effective critic of apartheid is real. Now he is accused of Holocaust denial. Did he deny the Holocaust? No. Did he advocate for denying the Holocaust? No. They’ve reached back to the 1980s to replay an attempted smear that was cleared up at the time. They’ve just rehashed it like it was new and true. As the award-winning filmmaker said at the time:

In a BBC interview I was asked about a speech I had not heard and of which I knew nothing. My reply has been twisted to suggest that I think it is acceptable to question the reality of the Holocaust. I do not. The Holocaust is as real a historical event as the World War itself and not to be challenged. In Primo Levi’s words: ‘Those who deny Auschwitz would be ready to remake it.’ The first terrible pictures I saw as a nine-year old are ingrained on my memory as they are for all my generation.

Like readers of this paper, I know the history of Holocaust denial, its place in far right politics and the role of people like David Irving. To imply that I would have anything in common with them is contemptible.

Finally, a battle-hardened left is unwilling to play this game again. A massive and organic campaign of support has sprung up. The trending #IStandWithKenLoach hashtag is full of desperate pleas for truth in argument. By all means, we can have robust political disagreements. But to debase yourself by constructing entirely false narratives on such a serious issue is beyond the pale.

As comic John Bishop put it:

Declassified UK’s Matt Kennard, one of Britain’s leading investigative journalists commented:

Labour MP Ian Lavery also chimed in:

Enough

In fact, many thousands of people made their support of Ken known. But more broadly, they signalled they have had it with this witch hunt. Lives, careers and political movements have been torn apart by it. So if the witch hunt is coming for Ken, it’s going to have to come through all of us.

There comes a time when passive acceptance of evil is complicity. And weaponising the language of anti-racism to promote racism is evil. Making claims you know to be false, repeatedly, to destroy a progressive political movement is evil. It is the most morally and intellectually dishonest smear campaign of my lifetime, and it will not stop. It will have to be stopped. And that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

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  • Show Comments
    1. I consider myself to be fairly far left on the political spectrum, but thus tactic angers me. To be fair, it’s used by most groups these days, in an “if you’re not for us you’re against us” frenzy. I’m perfectly comfortable being anti-zionist, and consider the entire state of Israel to be an aberration, as it has been since the days of Balfour. This, however, does not make me anti-semitic, nor does my opinion of the state of Israel diminish my profound respect for Jewish culture, writing, and history, and the Hebrew language.

      1. I too consider myself a socialist and anti-zionist. I consider all those politicians: Conservative, Labour & Liberals who are Friends of Israel, to be the worst examples of our so-called democracy; who take the shekel, formerly the dollar and now the pound to lobby on behalf of the Knesset, who do not have the interests of the electorate at heart as they claim. How can they?
        It would not be a socialist government that would support the shooing of children in the head by snipers, nor the targeting of hospitals and medical centres with missiles launched from drones, nor steal land and demolish homes, tents and caves.
        What we have on HMP Plague Island is a Chumocracy. Run by a cabal who are busy emptying the Treasury into the pockets of: themselves, their partners and doxies, their business associates and hangers-on to the tune of £billions, multi-millionaires using tax-payers money to furlough themselves and their employees…Sunak’s wife must rank the most blatant of thieves.

    2. Thanks, Kerry-Anne. I tried putting a Motion into my Branch in solidarity with BAME members campaign striking against LP Candidates who are not actively anti-racist. It was attacked on the grounds that it didn’t specifically mention antisemitism a definition of which we are banned from discussing. And many Jewish members have been suspended/expelled for doing just this. Weaponisation of anti-racism is evil, I agree. Five for. Five against and two abstentions. And so it fell. White supremacy at work, I should say.
      Solidarity!

    3. You have crossed the rubicon, now keep it simple
      The community we oppose is ‘Evil’
      Now for the difficult bit the ‘Maximus Peake’ doctrine
      ‘If you dont vote Labour then your a Tory’
      We need people to stand and declare themselves to be against the Evil and for the Labour party, too take sides, no room for any other

      1. Unfortunately the present Labour Party leadership has already taken a side and it is not “against the evil” but would appear to have aligned with the Witch Hunt. The bulk of grass roots members, however, do not share this view and Starmer and Evans seem to be unaware of the total odium with which they are regarded by so many members!
        I emphatically endorse Kerry-Anne`s declaration that we must be unambiguous in our denunciation of the lies perpetrated around the issue of “antisemitism” and have expressed this thought to other Labour Party members. For a long time I have been impatient with those who seem to think that reasonable debate will alleviate this dispute (including Corbyn) but it is increasingly obvious that those who perpetrate the lies have no interest in dialogue!. My attitude,for some time, has been zero tolerance of anyone who even gives the liars any credence whatsoever!

    4. There’s a film called “The Beast Of War”; it’s ostensibly about the Russians in Afghanistan, but anyone watching it will realise it’s “really” about the Israelis and the Palestinians; there’s a scene where one of the “Russians” (really Israelis;James Spader) confronts the “Russian”(really Israeli sargeant: George Dzundza);
      DZUNDZA: To think I forught the Nazis for the likes of you!
      SPADER: You don’t get it, do you Sarge; right here, right now, in this country, WE’RE the Nazis!
      I think that says it all.

    5. Ultimately, if things escalate to such a point, such as having an impact on peoples’ daily lives, something must be done about it. I had Spanish friends growing up and one of the reasons there were so many problems in Spain were that it was allowed to escalate. Of course I know very little about genuine Spanish culture, mainly through literature or holudays. As an issue to be raised and dealt with, nothing new, but when something impacts, such stranded tourists, financial irregularities etc, riots etc, something must be done. Of course some people take the view that the reality is most problems are solved easily, without stress or hinderance and are appropriately rewarded (for example never having to worry about your heating again). But ultimately if you put a plaster on a broken leg, it will never be sorted. Of course some people are of the view that expecting others to solve all your problems, justifies your problems in the first place and that’s what leads to an attitude of “they were asking for it”. But we are all limited in what we can and cannot realise and ultimately, if there are no financial, moral or selfish reasons to solve a problem, why would anyone bother?

    6. Oh and one more thing, is it specifically Loach’s work that is being attacked and if so, why? Given the actual impact of the film industry, its influence socially and culturally, why go for Loach? And what triggered it? And why would such a situation “be allowed” to develop by so many groups? An ivory tower?

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