Guardian

Guardian revives debunked smear that Ethiopian Israelis were given contraception against their will


In a Guardian op-ed published today (“Labour’s antisemitism code is the gold standard for political parties”, July 12) British Labour Party official John Lansman defended his party against criticism by nearly every major UK Jewish group over their new policy on antisemitism, which departs significantly from the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism.

(You can see a short rebuttal of his risible claim that Labour’s policy is actually stronger than the IHRA Working Definition here.)

In an attempt to justify his party’s decision not to label it antisemitic to charge that the state of Israel is a racist endeavor, Landsman alleged that the state is in fact deeply racist, citing as evidence the following:

And ethnic minorities within Israel have been treated appallingly, such as the Sudanese and Eritrean refugees who have been detained and deported, and questions over the treatment of Ethiopian women, including allegations they were given birth control without their consent.

As we tweeted earlier, the report in early 2013 that Ethiopian women were, for racist reasons, given birth control by Israeli authorities without their consent (which was picked up by the Guardian and Independent) that he’s referring to was disproven years ago.  In fact, a mere few months after the story broke, CAMERA prompted a correction to a key element of the original deeply flawed Haaretz story on the allegations. 

That same year, UK Media Watch prompted a correction at the Independent to an op-ed by Matt Hill which took the charge even further in claiming that Israel engaged in the “forced sterilization” of Ethiopian women”.  

In 2016, the Israel State Comptroller published a report, based on a three-year long investigation, that concluded definitively that there was “no evidence that Ethiopian women who immigrated to Israel were required to take birth-control shots against their will”.

Not surprisingly, the link embedded in Lansman’s op-ed concerning Ethiopian women goes to the January 2013 Guardian article which uncritically cited the allegations of forced contraception.  The Guardian never updated the article.  Nor did they publish a new article in 2016 to note the Comptroller’s report determining that the allegations were false.  

Whatever the merits of Landsman’s arguments about antisemitism, the fact that he recycled such an insidious smear with no basis in fact is another good illustration of the rank ignorance which informs much of the anti-Israel bigotry shared by the leadership and activist base of his party. 

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12 replies »

  1. “Labour’s antisemitism code is the gold standard for political parties”
    Like something out of a dystopian novel.

  2. The party with a big antisemitism problem sets the “gold standard” for defining antisemitism. The Guardian wants people to swallow this.

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