Delegitmization

The Independent apologises for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s “mortifying blunder”.


Ken Loach (far right) attacking Israel, Israelis and Ben Gurion at Amnesty International in 2010

Ken Loach (far right) attacking Israel, Israelis and Ben Gurion at Amnesty International in 2010

Posted by Richard Millett

The Independent has apologised for mistakes in Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s article Fling mud if you must, but don’t call Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite in last week’s Independent (read our piece about it here). Lizzie Kirkwood, the Independent’s Readers’ Liaison Assistant, wrote in response to my email to the Indy:

“I am sorry you felt that Yasmin Alibhai Brown’s piece was inaccurate. In regard to your first point that Ms Brown ‘intimates that the Jewish Chronicle called Jeremy Corbyn “anti-Semitic”’ – to clarify, she doesn’t actually state in the piece that the Chronicle has called him ‘anti-Semitic’. It is clearly her analysis that the sum of their repeated criticisms and warnings about Mr Corbyn should he become Labour leader amounts to the fact that she believes they regard him as possessing anti-Semitic sentiments due to his associations with certain individuals. As such, I do not believe that we need to amend this aspect of the piece.

However, in regard to your second and third points – you are correct about both. We have amended the text to clarify who exactly expressed that point about Carlos Latuff in the Jewish Daily Forward. The third point is slightly more embarrassing – you are quite right that Ken Loach is not Jewish. Ms Brown was in fact referring to Mike Leigh. I can only apologise for this rather mortifying blunder, and I am grateful to you for bringing it to our attention.”

On the first point even the heading of her article Fling mud if you must, but don’t call Jeremy Corbyn an anti-Semite suggests that Alibhai-Brown is making just that accusation. Alibhai-Brown then writes: “Is Jeremy Corbyn the enemy of Israel and British Jews? That is what the The Jewish Chronicle, some MPs and various sections of the media would have us believe”.

Surely, “the enemy of British Jews” is as close as you can get to accusing someone of claiming Corbyn is “anti-Semitic” without directly calling Corbyn “anti-semitic”, but point taken.

The second point is straightforward and needs no more comment apart from the fact that Alibhai-Brown’s reliance on Wikipedia for her article shows a lack of professionalism. The first advice to any student writing an essay or dissertation is to not rely on Wikipedia.

As for the third point, Alibhai-Brown confusing Leigh and Loach isn’t really the main issue here. It’s sad that Alibhai-Brown seeks to divide Jews in to Good Jews and Bad Jews at all; if some Jews accord with her views on Israel then they are “Good” or, as she put it in her article, “conscientious and ethical British Jews”. If they don’t then the presumption is they aren’t.

I can understand why Alibhai-Brown had Loach on her mind though after I had the displeasure of witnessing him in action at Amnesty International in 2010. He challenged Israel’s existence because it was based on race, made a subtle comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany, accused Jewish settlers of polluting Palestinian vineyards with their effluence and quoted Ben Gurion out of context to make him look like a monster prepared to sacrifice the lives of Jewish children.

Meanwhile, no one should be targeted because of their race or religion the way Alibhai-Brown targets certain Jews. And the less she did that and the less she relied on Wikipedia the less mortifying blunders she would make in future.

30 replies »

  1. So Richard, it pays off – the years of abuse and accusations you suffered to assemble your rich archive of information obtained from days and nights of being on the spot to record certain Jew haters and bigots holding forth at seedy little meetings across London to misinform and spread anti-Israel and anti-Semitic propaganda. We thank you whole heartedly for being there as witness, staunch in your resolve to withstand the personal abuse and attacks in their efforts to stop you obtaining this evidence. There must be many a pro PSC/BDS pundit quivering in their boots wondering who next you’ll out!

  2. Well written, Richard.

    What do you think the Indie will do? Will they give Alibaba Brown the order of the boot to show good faith?

  3. Why does The Independent consider inadvertently calling a non-Jew a Jew to be a “mortifying blunder”? After all, JRR Tolkien, among others similarly accused, considered it a compliment.

  4. You complain about Latuff? But the cartoon tweeted by Richard Millett and retweeted by yourselves is ok, is it? Take another look. Arab hook-noses straight out of 19th century orientalists at their worst. Can no one see that? The hypocrisy is pathetic.

  5. Alibhai Brown:

    The Simon Wiesenthal Centre has declared Latuff anti-Semitic but Eddy Portnoy, writing in the Jewish daily Forward, claims he is a “furious” critic of the state of Israel, not an anti-Semite. So no consensus there.

    Latuff has crossed a certain line – and it’s to Alibhai-Brown’s detriment that she cannot or will not recognise that.

  6. @Richard Millett –

    You say here: ‘It’s sad that Alibhai-Brown seeks to divide Jews in to Good Jews and Bad Jews at all; if some Jews accord with her views on Israel then they are “Good” or, as she put it in her article, “conscientious and ethical British Jews”. If they don’t then the presumption is they aren’t.’

    For chutzpah, this really does take some beating!

    In the blog you published immediately previous to this one – @ https://ukmediawatch.org/2015/08/21/its-good-jews-day-on-the-guardians-letters-page/ – you went a damn sight further than a “presumption” of badness when criticizing Jews who posted letters of support for Jeremy Corbyn.

    You explicitly trashed them as antisemites hellbent on seeking Israel’s destruction.

    “… the six hostile letters can be reduced down to one sentence: We are Jews who love Corbyn because he, just like us, does not want Israel to exist,” you wrote. And, just to make sure your readers fully grasped the Badness of those Jews: “…wanting the only Jewish state destroyed IS antisemitic.”

    As you instantly confirmed, however – in bemoaning “why can’t they just admit that?” – this accusation wasn’t based on any “want” of destruction expressed by either Corbyn or the letter-writers. It was entirely grounded in your OWN assessment of the impact certain mooted solutions, negotiating avenues, pressures,etc, would ultimately have on Israel.

    Dividing Jews into Good and Bad stereotypical camps is, indeed, a sad way to conduct debate about I/P. But if you genuinely want the terms of engagement to change, a very good start would be to clean up your own act.

  7. Its curious to me how writers are so afraid of calling Corbyn an antisemite.
    From the Hamas charter:
    “The Day of Judgment will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslim, O servant of God, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

    Lets cut the bullshit; When you openly support an organization that has that in its charter, you are antisemitic.

    Stan

    • @Stan –

      Re: ” Its curious to me how writers are so afraid of calling Corbyn an antisemite.”

      Not half as curious as the endless parroting of “Corbyn supports Hamas” by people determined to smear him as antisemitic…

      Corbyn’s ACTUAL position was spelled out when he told Channel 4 News that his reference to Hamas [and Hezbollah] as “friends” at a meeting in parliament was meant in a “collective way” :

      Direct quote: “Does it mean I agree with Hamas and what it does? No. Does it mean I agree with Hezbollah and what they do? No. What it means is that I think to bring about a peace process, you have to talk to people with whom you may profoundly disagree.” (See http://www.channel4.com/news/jeremy-corbyn-i-wanted-hamas-to-be-part-of-the-debate )

      NB: In UK parliamentary debates, MPs who clearly don’t support opponents’ policies – and may even hate a particular opponent’s guts – routinely refer to each other as “friends” or describe them as “honourable”. Such language is merely a matter of parliamentary convention – and it signifies nothing chummy, or supportive, or admiring whatsoever.

      • Miranda you can stop apologize for this particular Jew-hater, he is a dead fish already. Now you should look for a new one. May I suggest Max Blumenthal or Gilad Atzmon? Ali Abunimah maybe? All of them must be very close to your heart….

      • “NB: In UK parliamentary debates, MPs who clearly don’t support opponents’ policies – and may even hate a particular opponent’s guts – routinely refer to each other as “friends” or describe them as “honourable”

        Miranda do you ever get anything right?

        MPs only refer to someone as “My Honourable Friend, the Member for…” if they are a member of the same party.
        MPs who belong to opposition parties are “The Honourable Gentleman, or Lady, the Member for….”
        If the MP is a member of the PC then they are “the Right Honourable Gentleman or Lady the Member for..” Or “My Right Honourable Friend the Member for ..” IF they are a member of the SAME party.

        People like you Miranda, and your fellow travellers in JfJfP and the BDS scumbags, doubtless do regard themselves as belonging to the same party/movement as HAMAS and Hezbullah, after all you have the same aims. So it is understandable why you would refer to them as “Friends”.

        • @gerald53 –

          Re: ‘MPs only refer to someone as “My Honourable Friend, the Member for…” if they are a member of the same party.’

          I knew that perfectly well, Horrible Fiend … which is why I carefully inserted the word “or” in the sentence you’re nitpicking about.

          • Oh dear me Miranda.
            In your futile attempts to justify the content of your incorrect post rather than admit you are wrong, as you usually, you are showing your self to be more of a lying idiot than normal.

            Do you wear a red nose and flashing bow tie when you type your posts?
            You should do. After all if you are going to write like a clown you should dress as one as well.

      • Miranda,
        Do you believe that any of Corbyn’s friends in Hamas are not Jew-hating?
        Corbyn is either a fool or he takes us for fools and either way this does not bode well. He knows nothing, not a thing about the sort of Jew-hating Islamism which drives Hamas and Hezbollah and, worse, he suffers from the unconscious incompetence of not knowing that he doesn’t know!

        Whether he agrees with them or not (and I think he is lying and you are at best naive) is besides the point. His behaviour towards similarly Jew-hating Islamists proves that he has no sense of judgement whatsoever.

        Do you really believe that MPs would refer to as “friends” anyone they knew actively sympathised with murderers and similar scum?

        So stop splitting hairs about what you believe that he means “friends in a collective way.” Do you even know what you yourself mean by that?

      • Tell me, Miranda, are Israelis who freely and legally choose to live over the green line invited to Parliament so Corbyn can have that chance I’m sure he’s just aching for, to call them friend, in a “collective way” – for the sake of reaching out to all sides and for the sake of peace? Hmm? Or is it that he’s been caught with some of the worst actors in the world by more than the mere happenstance his supporters claim?
        Funny how no 20th century social progressive would have any trouble identifying these creeps as the regressive right-wingers they actually are.

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