But there are other obvious explanations for its refusal. Because the letter is critical of the Guardian‘s reporting on Labour and antisemitism – particularly its “unquestioning” coverage of rhetoric from political opponents of Jeremy Corbyn. Also, the Jewish women are communicating a perspective on Labour and antisemitism that the Guardian rarely acknowledges.
“Baffled, hurt and infuriated”
The letter, which was published by the Morning Star, opens by calling out the Guardian‘s approach to allegations from Margaret Hodge:
We, all Jewish women, are baffled, hurt and infuriated by your unquestioning coverage of Margaret Hodge’s campaign against Jeremy Corbyn (‘Just Close them down: Margaret Hodge on antisemitism in Labour’s branches’, March 9). Hodge extends her allegations that Corbyn is an ‘antisemite and racist’ under whom antisemitism ‘has been given permission to come into the mainstream and, like a cancer, is infecting and growing through the Party’.
Hodge provides no evidence of such horrific wrongdoing by Corbyn, nor by ‘mainstream’ Labour members. Her own submissions to the Labour Party certainly don’t do the job: General Secretary, Jennie Formby reported that Hodge’s 200 complaints concerned 111 individuals, of whom only 20 were actually Party members.
“A legitimate critique”
The Jewish women also expressed support for Chris Williamson, who Labour recently suspended for questioning the party’s approach to antisemitism allegations:
Williamson presents a legitimate critique; Labour’s response to antisemitism accusations has been unnecessarily defensive, he said, not that it has been ‘too apologetic about antisemitism’ itself.
Indeed, Williamson did not deny that there’s antisemitism in Labour. The MP for Derby North referred to the “scourge of antisemitism” in the same address. He took issue with the party’s failure to properly tackle Corbyn’s political opponents, who have been demonising Labour wholesale “as a racist, bigoted party”.
“The IHRA document has been shredded”
The group also criticised the Guardian‘s reporting on the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism:
Meanwhile, no mention that the IHRA document has been shredded by two QCs, plus Jewish human rights specialist, Sir Geoffrey Bindman and Jewish retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley.
The mainstream media consistently report on the IHRA document as the ‘internationally recognised’ definition of antisemitism.
Indeed, 24 Palestinian organisations, trade unions, and networks in the UK have also criticised the definition:
This non-legally binding definition attempts to erase Palestinian history, demonise solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, suppress freedom of expression, and shield Israel’s far-right regime
The Guardian claimed it decided not to publish the letter because the issue had “already been aired before”. In another letter to the Guardian, over 200 Jewish Labour supporters also condemned the narrative on Labour and antisemitism:
We believe that the Labour party under the progressive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn is a crucial ally in the fight against bigotry and reaction. His lifetime record of campaigning for equality and human rights, including consistent support for initiatives against antisemitism, is formidable. His involvement strengthens this struggle.
hundreds of letters a day and unfortunately cannot publish every letter we receive.
“Hijack our history”
Rounding off their letter, the Jewish women wrote:
All signatories to this letter grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. We know we must maintain eternal vigilance against antisemitic resurgence. But we also celebrate our Jewishness, especially the disputatiousness (pace our aphorism: two Jews three opinions) central to Jewish identity. We are terrified by Margaret Hodge’s attempt to hijack our history and rewrite our identity and by unwillingness to investigate, fact check and challenge her allegations.
The data supports their condemnation of the establishment for weaponising antisemitism against Labour. Analysis from academics at Goldsmiths found that reporting across the mainstream media of Labour and antisemitism was ‘distorted’, ‘inaccurate’ and ‘misleading’.
With the media peddling such an entrenched smear campaign, we must join these Jewish people in unapologetically correcting the record.
Featured image via Rwendland/ WikiCommons
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