An appeal to Owen Jones: don’t associate with anti-Semites

This is cross posted from the blog of The CST, and was originally titled ‘Opposing antisemitism: an appeal to put words into action’.

owen jones

Owen Jones

The past two months have seen the number of antisemitic incidents in Britain approach record levels Much of this has been due to extreme reactions to the conflict between Israel and Gaza that reached its latest ceasefire yesterday. This problem, and its link to extreme manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment, has been covered extensively in the British media.

Some pro-Palestinian activists have recognised this problem and spoken out against it. 

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has said that antisemitism has no place in its activities, and Owen Jones wrote a column for the Guardian in which he warned of the need to take antisemitism seriously. In particular, he wrote:

Antisemitic themes are depressingly constant: of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence. Sometimes this hatred is overt, other times more subtle and pernicious.

We welcome these statements from supporters of the Palestinian cause, just as we previously welcomed PSC’s rejection of the equation of Israel with Nazi Germany. And because we consider these statements to be important and necessary, we hope and expect that the people who made them will live up to their words and the sentiments behind them.

It is for this reason that we appeal to PSC and to Owen Jones to reconsider the inclusion of Tim Llewellyn as a speaker at a PSC meeting tomorrow evening, 28th August, on “Gaza: let down by the BBC and mainstream media?” We appeal to PSC as the organiser of the meeting and to Jones as one of the other speakers.

Our objection is not to the meeting itself. We do not oppose your right to hold public meetings in support of the Palestinians, or to criticise Israel, or to critique media coverage of the conflict between the two.

Our objection is specifically to the inclusion of Llewellyn as a guest speaker on this topic because he has a record of statements that illustrate exactly what Jones warns against: themes “of Jews being aliens, lacking loyalty to their countries, acting as parasites, wielding disproportionate influence.”

For example, last year at a meeting in London that was also about media coverage of Israel, Llewellyn claimed that the BBC is intimidated by the “Jewish lobby”. When he was challenged on this by the chair of the meeting, he resisted criticism of his choice of phrase. The full exchange ran as follows and can be viewed here on the CST Blog:

Llewellyn: “Is it because… I can see it in the BBC. They’re frighten’, these people are quite aggressive, right. The Jewish Lobby is not much fun. They come at you from every direction.”

Off camera, another speaker says “no”, then, “its the pro-Israel lobby”. It is not exactly clear who says what after this, but it includes the chair Mark McDonald talking over Llewellyn, stating:

“I mean that’s a very important thing to say, that it’s not a Jewish lobby. Can I interrupt a second. It’s not a Jewish lobby. It might be a Zionist lobby. It may be a pro-Israel lobby.”

Llewellyn replies: “Yes, but they use Jewish connections to get you.”

This statement by Llewellyn was not a one-off. It fitted a long record of statements and writings that mix “Jewish” with “Zionist” while alleging that both hold undue and nefarious influence in British public life. For example, in 2006, Llewellyn wrote the following in the Foreword to a new edition of Publish It Not: The Middle East Cover-Up by Michael Adams and Christopher Mayhew:

No alien polity has so successfully penetrated the British government and British institutions during the past ninety years as the Zionist movement and its manifestation as the state of Israel…the Zionists have manipulated British systems as expertly as maestros, here a massive major chord, there a minor refrain, the audience, for the most part, spellbound.

…this cuckoo in the nest of British politics…

… Israel had worked its spells well, with a lot of help from its friends: these lined the benches of parliament, wrote the news stories and editorials, framed the way we saw and heard almost everything about the Middle East on TV, radio and in the press. History, the Bible, Nazi Germany’s slaughter of the Jews, Russian pogroms, the Jewish narrative relayed and parlayed through a thousand books, films, TV plays and series, radio programmes, the skills of Jewish writers, diarists, memoirists, artists and musicians, people like us and among us, all had played their part.

…the fervent Zionist Labour MPs, some of them little better than bully-boys, Richard Crossman (not a Jew), Ian Mikardo, Maurice Edelman, Emmanuel “Manny” Shinwell, Sidney Silverman, Konni Zilliacus et al, are, mercifully, not only no longer with us but have not been replaced, not in such virulent form.

… the Union of Jewish Students, which elbows and induces Zionistically inclined undergraduates towards influential positions in British public life, especially the media, the banking sector and information technology.

Llewellyn mixes “Zionist” with “Jewish”, describing both as “alien” to Britain; and alleges undue and negative influence and manipulation of the media, politics and “the banking sector”. These allegations all have clear antecedents in antisemitic conspiracy theories.

Another example: in 2004, Llewellyn was quoted in the Jewish Chronicle as describing former US ambassador Dennis Ross in these terms:

He also denounced broadcasters who invited the “insidious” former US ambassador to the Middle East Denis Ross, without fully identifying him.

Mr Llewellyn said: “What a lovely Anglo-Saxon name! But Denis Ross is not just a Jew, he is a Zionist, a long-time Zionist… and now directs an Israeli-funded think tank in Washington. He is a Zionist propagandist.”

The suggestion that broadcasters should identify an interviewee as “a Jew”, lest their viewers be fooled by an “Anglo-Saxon name”, is scurrilous and prejudiced.

In 2012, Llewellyn wrote of

massive media distortion, and … Zionist penetration and manipulation of our institutions – the media, universities, local education, political parties…

He went on to describe as Britain’s

real enemies… the ambitious and greedy British politicians and insidious political influence, in this case spawned by an alien state and strengthened by its friends in our midst, people who put Israel’s interests above that of their own nation.

(From The Battle for Public Opinion in Europe: Changing Perceptions of the Palestine-Israel Conflict, eds. Daud Abdullah & Ibrahim Hewitt, not online). Again, this echoes the classical antisemitic allegation of ‘dual loyalty’, whereby British Jews are accused of lacking loyalty to the country of their birth.

If the important and welcome statements by PSC, Owen Jones and others about their opposition to antisemitism and determination to exclude it from pro-Palestinian activism have real meaning, then there should be no place for Tim Llewellyn at a PSC meeting. This is not an abstract argument: the sharp increase in antisemitism in Britain in recent weeks demonstrates that fact. Words lead to actions, good and bad. We now invite PSC and Owen Jones to put their valuable and worthy statements and principles into practice. A discussion of media coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict must not give room to those who believe that there is a Zionist conspiracy to control, manipulate or influence the British media, politics, banking and education, as Tim Llewellyn has suggested. Nor should pro-Palestinian activism be a home for those who believe that Jews are an alien presence, disloyal to Britain, who change their names to disguise their true loyalties.

Put your words into action, and remove Tim Llewellyn from your platform.

17 replies »

  1. I am somewhat less than confident that Mr Jones will heed this appeal. Were he so to do then doubtless it would be interpreted in certain quarters as caving in to Zionist pressure. No, let him attend the meeting and then expose his humbug after he has fully fraternised with Llewelyn.

  2. Interesting that comments have been closed on the piece by the Chief Rabbi in the Telegraph and also on anything about Rotherham.

  3. But UK Jews should be secure in the knowledge that the chair of the Order of Trembling Israelites (as Abbas called the Board of Deputies) and the MCB have made a joint statement condemning antisemitism and “Islamophobia.”

    The MCB chair almost choked when asked on the Today programme whether would mean no more spraying of “free Gaza” on synagogues, but deflected in the usual manner and didn’t answer the question.

    Vivian Wineman opined but said absolutely nothing of note. He should resign.

  4. Why waste your time appealing to a charlatan like this?
    Someone born in Sheffield, raised in Stockport and Falkirk, educated at Oxford University, lives in London but speaks with a faux scouse accent.
    His accent is as genuine as the rest of him.

    So why appeal to the vanity of this narcissistic creep?

  5. You have obviously trawled long and hard to identify anti-semitic quotes from Tim Llewellyn but have failed. He speaks passionately about Israeli and Zionist influence but the only references to Jews are in the ‘Jewish Lobby’ conversation and in the references to ‘Jewish writers’ and to Denis Ross.

    The term ‘Jewish Lobby’ is not uncommon in the Israeli press – witness this piece in the Jerusalem Post:

    There certainly are American and European Jewish Groups which lobby for Israel/Zionism, although the wider Israeli Lobby obviously includes non-Jews. Why is ”Jewish Lobby’ illegitimate in the west but OK in Israel?

    Equally there are many Jewish writers who express Zionist views in print. Is it ant-semitic to identify them as Jewish?

    Referring to Denis Ross it is obviously Ross’s identity as ‘a Zionist propagandist’ that Llewellyn finds objectionable, not his Jewishness. CifWatch and BBCWatch commonly complain when interviewees are not identified as having pro-Palestinian connections. Surely it is appropriate to make Ross’s affiliations clear when his status as ‘former US ambassador to the Middle East’ might otherwise imply some sort of neutrality.

    • A Jew hating piece of shit called Brian McDewitt is trying to explain to the Jews that an other Jew-hating piece of shit called Tim Llewellyn is not an antisemite. Funny…

      • So sencar subscribes to the views both New Zealand fascists AND Counterpunch. This is the portrait of a post modern Jew hater.

      • Referring to Denis Ross it is obviously Ross’s identity as ‘a Zionist propagandist’ that Llewellyn finds objectionable, not his Jewishness.

        Obviously? Hardly.

    • Yes, sencar, imagine the temerity of Dennis Ross hiding behind one of “your” beautiful white anglo-saxon names rather than his given name, blood-soaked matzowitz, and the scheming of the Jews to plant him into the company of the ‘good people of planet earth’ to carry out his dirty plan to negotiate peace with the untenable view that Israel actually has rights under the UN Charter. It’s all a conspiracy. Thank goodness Counterpunch and New Zealand fascists are there to expose it.

  6. You must be totally blind and naive taking Jones’ crap about antisemitism seriously.
    The Guardian is feeling the heat and knowing that more and more people consider it the most anti-semitic rag in Europe so they made a pathetic attempt to put up some kind of veil. They have been failed.

  7. The location of this meeting speaks for itself: Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre

  8. Our objection is specifically to the inclusion of Llewellyn as a guest speaker on this topic

    Plus my objection would be the Guardian giving Owen Jones a) a regular column and b) publishing his horribly insincere article about anti-Semitism. A classic case of “Anti-Semitism is bad but …”