Bob Campbell, a member of the Labour party and the grassroots Labour movement Momentum, has been accused of antisemitism following a Facebook post in which he claims that the State of Israel is behind ISIS/Daesh. Claims have surfaced that he was suspended from the Labour party following the post, but so far these have not been backed up, and Campbell has denied them.
This is the latest in series of allegations of antisemitism directed at Labour members. Earlier in March, Vice-Chair of Labour’s Woking Branch Vicki Kirby was suspended over a series of shockingly antisemitic comments on Twitter, which included references to Hitler being a ‘Zionist God’, and remarks about Jewish facial features.
It was this last incident that prompted left-leaning comedian David Schneider to remark in his own tweet:
Are you anti-semitic? A personal guide for fellow lefties and others. pic.twitter.com/7eK1vU3P87
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) March 15, 2016
In a follow-up article in the Jewish Chronicle, he said:
I think it’s important to separate condemnation of Israel from condemnation of Jews, and we, as Jews, need to separate it out too.
Bob Campbell’s message is conspicuously free of any references to Judaism, but contains many references to Israel and Palestine.
Regardless of whether there is any evidence to hold such a view, there’s no indication that this is directed at Jewish people. Shortly after this post, Bob Campbell posted a meme on the same theme:
Again, while some may find the idea that the state of Israel is orchestrating ISIS attacks disturbing, there is no reference at all to Judaism. Other posts follow the same groove: references to Israel, but none to Jews.
This doesn’t rule out the possibility that Bob Campbell is an antisemite. If further evidence becomes available, no one would shout about it louder than us. Our site exists to dismantle prejudices and stereotypes which damage and dehumanise.
Based on the evidence we’ve seen here, it merely suggests that to accuse Campbell of such goes beyond the evidence. Perhaps this is why there are conflicting reports over whether he has been suspended from the Labour party. They may simply not know enough to make a fair decision.
What is clear is that Campbell is outspoken in his opposition to Israel, support for Palestinians, and an anti-Zionist in the sense of questioning the religious basis of the State of Israel, a position he shares with many Orthodox and secular Jewish people.
Following the incident, Shadow Commons Leader Chris Bryant said that over-zealous criticism of Israel amounts to ‘antisemitism by proxy’. But this is a double standard we do not apply to any other country in the world. Criticism of Chinese human rights abuses, for instance, is not identified with racial hatred directed towards Chinese, no matter how zealous that criticism.
A serious debate needs to take place about what qualifies as political opposition to the state of Israel, and what constitutes a racist attack on Jewish people. The two are not the same. The former is free speech to be protected at all costs, the latter is harmful nonsense to be stamped out all costs. Vicki Kirby’s outburst was reprehensible and she should have no place in Labour or any other party. But in the case of Bob Campbell, it appears that elements of Labour are simply reacting to media accusations, and rashly trying to make examples of people without looking at the facts.
Featured Image via The Blue Diamond Gallery.
Image 1 via The Independent.
Image 2 via Guido Fawkes.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?