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The centrists are still twisting the truth about the EHRC report. And people aren’t having it.

Corbyn speaking into a mic

The centrists are at it again! Right-wing Labour MPs love twisting the findings of a key report on antisemitism in the Labour Party. This time it was Rachel Reeves, during an interview on the BBC. The main discussion was the arrival in Labour of Tory defector Christian Wakeford MP.

For some, a Tory joining your party might cause concern. Not Reeves though – she was “pleased” that Conservatives were joining Labour. She was then challenged on why an actual Tory was allowed in to Labour when former leader Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t.

A flustered Reeves said:

It’s very clear what Jeremy Corbyn needs to do. He needs to apologise for his response to the [EHRC] on the Labour Party, which found institutional antisemitism and mistakes made under his leadership.

The facts

Corbyn is not currently allowed to serve as a Labour MP. His suspension followed a statement he made after a major report on antisemitism in Labour was published:

One antisemite is one too many, but the scale of the problem was also dramatically overstated for political reasons by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. That combination hurt Jewish people and must never be repeated.

To many people this is stating the obvious. But Keir Starmer quickly suspended Corbyn. Many feel this move was less about antisemitism and more about purging the Labour left’s figurehead.

Read on...

“Flat-out lying”

One twitter user tweeted the exchange. They accused Reeves of “flat-out lying” to distract from letting a literal Tory into the party:

The findings of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report are hotly debated. And Reeves’ claim drew immediate criticism on social media.

Incorrect

Some people accused Reeves of vastly exaggerating “the scale of antisemitism for political purposes”:

As someone pointed out, Reeves once highlighted the first woman MP Mary Astor’s political successes without once mentioning her rabid antisemitism In fact, as The Canary reported previously, many centrist figures lauded Astor despite her well-documented far-right political views:

Revisiting

Whether or not Reeves is ‘lying’ depends on how you interpret the findings of the EHRC report. It did find that:

there were unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination for which the Labour Party is responsible.

However, as Electronic Intifada reported:

But despite its 17-month investigation, the EHRC failed to find Labour guilty of “institutional anti-Semitism,” despite being asked to do so by two pro-Israel groups – the “Campaign Against Antisemitism” and the Jewish Labour Movement.

But the bigger issue in Reeves weaponising the report in this way is the serious shortcomings with the report in its methods and motivations.

As The Canary’s Emily Apple wrote in October 2020,

Any and all allegations of antisemitism must be taken seriously. And if the Labour Party is responsible for “harassment and discrimination” then this must be addressed. But here’s where there’s a fatal flaw. Because the report includes, quite rightly, “using antisemitic tropes” as an issue. But it then adds “suggesting that complaints of antisemitism were fake or smears” as an issue in its own right.

And she added:

This is hugely problematic and a massive Catch-22

Accepted uncritically

She explains many of the other key issues with the report. And she argues that with Corbyn’s suspension:

any whiff of this critical evaluation has been drowned out. The report’s headline findings are accepted uncritically and broadcast as fact, without nuance and closer examination. It’s marred by interference from the very lobby that the report says is antisemitic to accuse of involvement. This argument wouldn’t stand if the report had evidenced other examples of antisemitic behaviour. But it doesn’t.

And this is the key point. There seems to be no space, or effort, to evaluate the EHRC report or its outcomes. The truth is this lack of critical thought does nothing to fight the very real threat of antisemitism. And it’s high time Labour MPs stopped weaponising the EHRC report for their own goals.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/BahrainRevolutionMC, cropped to 770 x 440, licenced under CY BB 3.0.

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  • Show Comments
    1. Thanks for a good article on this subject. As it took about 6 months to remove a member of the panel of EHRC that had at least a ‘connection’ to the tory party, that should give pause for thought. And given other actions in their own organistaion regarding race bias, perhaps we need a repot into the EHRC. I have read around half of the report. The number of cases reported, and the number of cases ‘proven’, do not mathematically add up to Institutional Antisemitism,
      That much is clear. So on that point Jeremy Corbyn was correct. And Rachel Reeves was wrong. Someone should ask her. BBC maybe?.
      On another point, Jewish stakeholders were mentioned. It did not mention just one Jewish organistaion for consultation. But one Jewish organistaion thinks it represents all Jewish people in the UK.
      It must be brought to somebody’s attention that this is not the case.
      It is also pointed out, that more Jewish people have been expelled from the party since Mr Starmer took over. A bit ironic I would have thought ?. The report did mention the ‘imperfections’ of the IHRA definition also. And the fact t is not a legal document.
      Increasingly, conflation of antisemitism and antizionism is being used deliberately to target people critical of Israel, including Jewish people. Diana Neslen and Naomi Idrisi Wimborne spring to mind, but there are many others.

    2. Is it not time, that the term ‘anti-Semite’ was no longer used, to describe any action, which is anti-Jewish. It first came into use to implicitly only include Jews in 1879. As the Britannica encyclopedia notes; “Although the term now has wide currency, it is a misnomer, since it implies a discrimination against all Semites. Arabs and other peoples are also Semites, and yet they are not the targets of anti-Semitism as it is usually understood. The term is especially inappropriate as a label for the anti-Jewish prejudices, statements, or actions of Arabs or other Semites. Nazi anti-Semitism, which culminated in the Holocaust, had a racist dimension in that it targeted Jews because of their supposed biological characteristics—even those who had themselves converted to other religions or whose parents were converts. This variety of anti-Jewish racism dates only to the emergence of so-called “scientific racism” in the 19th century and is different in nature from earlier anti-Jewish prejudices.”
      It is a pity, it then goes on using the term in the article, instead of anti-Jew or anti-Judaism. Especially as Judaism is a religion, not a race and not all Jews of Semite ethnicity. When academia and the mainstream media stop using the term, this would help stop the Zionist weaponising the term.

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