A British journalist totally schooled Robert Peston after his latest attack on Jeremy Corbyn. ITV‘s political editor tried to suggest that the Labour leader’s clarification about his party’s antisemitism code of conduct was “incendiary”. But, as Mehdi Hasan pointed out, anyone with even the slightest understanding of what Corbyn refers to “wouldn’t find any word” of it problematic.
Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) adopted all the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) accompanying examples to its antisemitism definition on 4 September. A spokesperson confirmed:
The NEC has today adopted all of the IHRA examples of antisemitism, in addition to the IHRA definition which Labour adopted in 2016, alongside a statement which ensures this will not in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of Palestinians.
Corbyn offered his own clarification about antisemitism, racism and protecting freedom of expression on Israel and Palestine during the NEC session. Peston, however, appeared to take issue with one particular section of it:
— Robert Peston (@Peston) September 4, 2018
So, according to Peston, Corbyn’s assertion that people should be allowed to hold Israel to the same standards and international laws as other countries is “incendiary”. Meanwhile, describing Israel, its laws or the circumstances of its foundation as racist is also “incendiary”, ITV‘s political editor suggests.
Not a clue
Unfortunately for Peston, Hasan swiftly pointed out the obvious:
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the history of Israel, and the creation of Israel, wouldn't find any word of that "incendiary". https://t.co/k1PIQjfCzI
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) September 4, 2018
The journalist at the Intercept wasn’t alone in doing so either:
It’s a pretty anodyne statement that repeats what ought to be fairly bland truisms. That you call it ‘Incendiary’ reveals a lot more about your own antipathy towards Corbyn than anything else.
— Hicham Yezza (@HichamYezza) September 4, 2018
Sorry but explain how is this incendiary? As someone how has relatives in the West bank, Palestine this would have given them a voice. How can someone like yourself be so ignorant on the issue of Israel/Palestine?
— Omar Baggili (@OmarBaggili) September 4, 2018
Take your pick
There’s numerous evidence to back up the “truisms” included in Corbyn’s statement, including:
- The UN partition plan establishing the state of Israel (on 56.47% of then-Palestine) envisioned a mixed society made up of Jews and Arabs, and vice versa, although to a lesser degree, in what remained Palestine. In practice, militants carried out large scale ethnic cleansing in 1948 when forming the state, resulting in Israel seizing control of 78% of the land.
- Israel has maintained an over 50-year-long military occupation of what remains of Palestine. That means that each and every government over that period has denied Palestinians the rights afforded to them by the UN, in particular the right to self determination.
- The current Israeli government recently legalised its racism by passing a nation state law. Among other things, this law gives Jewish people an “exclusive” right to self-determination in the country. It’s regarded by many as a law that firmly proves Israel is an “apartheid state“.
- Israel routinely breaks international law. Its occupation is illegal. Its settlement building is illegal. Meanwhile, historian Norman Finkelstein argues that Israel’s use of force in Gaza contravenes international law. It justifies force by saying it’s in self defence. But Finkelstein says Israel has no right to self defence against Palestinians because it’s an illegally-occupying force. On the contrary, Palestinians have the right to defend themselves against the illegal occupier.
In short, Peston’s characterisation of Corbyn’s clarification as “incendiary” is baseless. It’s not incendiary to state the truth. But critics of the IHRA full definition of antisemitism have argued that it could be used to quash condemnation of Israel.
Peston’s attack on Corbyn over this will do nothing to quell fears that that’s exactly what its advocates were after all along.
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