Telegraph journalist Angela Epstein has called on Jewish Labour MPs to wear the yellow star synonymous with the Nazi holocaust, in order to “show their revulsion with Jeremy Corbyn”. But past tweets and articles by Epstein raise serious doubts about her commitment to opposing racism.
In the piece, Epstein equates the prospect of a Corbyn government to the rise of Adolf Hitler. She describes the Jewish community as preparing to leave the country in fear for their lives. She argues that:
since anti-Semitism began its seemingly unstoppable march through the Labour Party, topics to chew over with the roast chicken have taken a far more embittered turn. You staying if Corbyn gets in? Unlikely (we have friends leaving almost every month). Is this really 2018 and not 1933? Yes, sadly.
She argues that Jewish Labour MPs should wear yellow stars of David, mandatory for Jews in Nazi Germany and allied states, to highlight the issue.
In the Daily Telegraph I write why Labour MPs need to be vocal and visible in their revulsion of Corbyn . And to embarrass him by wearing a yellow star. #labour #antisemitism #writing https://t.co/UYhmUvqKYt
— Angela Epstein (@adepstein1) July 30, 2018
But Epstein’s views on Muslims raise serious concern. In 2015, Epstein tweeted her frustration that Muslims seemed more determined to stop the rise of Donald Trump than Daesh (Isis/Isil).
Muslims et al rightfully outraged by Trump. Need this kind of vocal response from Muslims et al about ISIS – with protest marches etc
— Angela Epstein (@adepstein1) December 10, 2015
And just last year, Epstein demanded [paywall] the Muslim community mobilise globally against Daesh and “extremism”.
It is rightly considered racist to blame the actions of the State of Israel on Jewish people around the world. The same rules must then apply to Muslims, surely? Not according to Epstein. And the logical end-point of her arguments is on full display in the comments section, which includes a number of overtly racist reactions.
Enough is enough
Epstein’s double standards run through conservative communities promoting the idea of a Labour antisemitism scandal. The right is advancing the racist conspiracy theory that Labour is promoting antisemitism to attract Muslim votes, assuming an inherent antisemitism among Muslims. In one such piece for the Spectator, called The Origins of Labour’s Racism Problem, Rod Liddle writes:
I was kicked out of the party a year or so back for having suggested that the rising tide of anti–Semitism within Labour was a consequence of its growing Muslim membership and also the radical, white, pro-Palestinian far left (which of course now runs the party). We know why the Muslims are anti-Jewish — it’s all there in Muhammad’s hadiths and in the Quran. But how have the whiteys got themselves transformed into racist bigots?
No action was taken against Liddle for the piece. And despite criticism from prominent Muslims and anti-racists on social media, it was crickets from the mainstream press and its pundits.
Rod Liddle blames Islam & Muslim Labour membership for anti-Semitism within the party
This isn't only an Islamophobic trope but also undermines the work of Muslim & Jewish groups who aim to tackle bigotry. It is a disgusting attempt to divide communitieshttps://t.co/2e29zW5guf
— MEND Community (@mendcommunity) May 2, 2018
Disgusting from @spectator to platform such anti-Muslim bigotry. Do the editors not recognise the appalling prejudice in the statement by Rod Liddle: "the Muslims are anti-Jewish"? There is little doubt we need a review into #Islamophobia in the press. https://t.co/GGaEGvYL64 pic.twitter.com/gNjtwlT44V
— Miqdaad Versi (@miqdaad) April 30, 2018
Meanwhile, the popular ‘Brits for Israel’ Twitter account celebrated Liddle’s denunciation of Labour and Muslims.
— Brits For Israel (@BritsForIsrael) April 26, 2018
Racist conspiracy theories
While advancing this conspiracy theory, the right is also ignoring requests to tackle racism in its own ranks. Conservative peer Baroness Warsi and the Muslim Council of Britain have repeatedly called for an inquiry into what Warsi describes as “weekly” instances of Islamophobia in the party. To no avail.
Tory ’Islamophobia’ claims: Baroness Warsi says she faced incidents of racism and anti-Muslim sentiment in the Conservative party pic.twitter.com/H2JIboU49g
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) May 31, 2018
This contrasts with Labour holding an independent inquiry into antisemitism.
If Jeremy Corbyn can be equated to Hitler for several decades of anti-racism campaigning, then we have to wonder to whom we should compare Epstein and the Conservative Party for actively promoting racist attitudes to Muslims. Denouncing one form of racism while encouraging another is not only counterproductive, but undermines genuine attempts to reduce prejudice in all our communities.
– Report instances of Islamophobia to TellMAMA, a pressure group that seeks to address those responsible head on.
– Support the work of Stop Funding Hate which lobbies advertisers to remove sponsorship from media outlets which promote prejudice.
Featured image via The Telegraph/Davey