Once more in the last week we have seen the spectre of anti Semitism raise it’s ugly head in the Labour party after their General Secretary, Jennie Formby, stated that it could never be wiped out within their organisation.
This has triggered a series of debates across social media and on radio talk shows where the subject has been debated and senior figures have been rolled out, including Shadow Chancellor and Hayes MP John McDonnell.
I listened intently to his hour long contribution to the Iain Dale show on LBC and didn’t know whether to cheer when he called out Antisemitism within the party or shake my head at what could be construed as blatant hypocrisy. The link below shows him talking with a Labour supporter who claims that these accusations are just smears, a position I have heard put forward many times by people on the extreme left of the party
At face value, this is a welcome statement from McDonnell. He clearly admits that there is a problem, it is not a smear campaign and that he has seen evidence of Antisemitism himself within Labour.
But if you look at his behaviour over the last few years, you have to ask – is this political expediency or does he really mean it?
You have seen what he has said, now let’s look at what he has done…..
1 – Support for candidates who have shown anti Semitic views.
John McDonnell mentored Ali Milani, a former senior NUS officer, and backed him to become the Labour prospective Parliamentary candidate for Uxbridge & South Ruislip.
Whilst running for councillor in the Heathrow Villages ward in McDonnell’s constituency, evidence of Antisemitism on his public media was brought up again from his stint at the local Brunel University.
Milani was a key ally of former NUS President Malia Bouattia who herself has a history of Antisemitism and was heavily criticised by the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee who went as far as to accuse her of ‘outright racism’
Yet after his election as councillor in 2017 and with this in the public domain, McDonnell continued to support Milani and push him for higher office.
Indeed, when I challenged Milani about these postings on Twitter, he blocked me and subsequently claimed that I am an ‘Islamophobe’ for asking such questions.
Recently, Milani voted for the adoption of the IHRA definition of Antisemitism at a Council meeting in Hillingdon and has made much of visiting Auschwitz within the last few months – like McDonnell, is this a welcome development or a calculated political move to shift scrutiny when he challenges Boris Johnson for his seat in The House? (“I can’t be an Antisemite, I visited Auschwitz” etc )
But Milani is not the only Labour member with alleged Antisemitic views that McDonnell has been supporting…
2 – The Public meeting where Jews were barred or ejected
Jenny Manson is Vice-Chair of the Corbyn supporting Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), a Momentum backed group that actually counter protested against Jews and Labour MP’s calling out Antisemitism on Parliament Square last year where I was in attendance.
Ms Manson wants to stand as Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Finchley & Golders Green, an area with long links to the Jewish community – As such, a public meeting was organised in October 2018 within the constituency and John McDonnell was the headline act in a ‘head to head’ conversation with her. McDonnell had previously described her as ‘a good comrade’
On the night, some people with Jewish sounding names who had tickets were rejected on the door. Indeed, journalist Etan Smallman, a resident in the constituency and contributor to papers such as The Guardian and The Telegraph, was man handled out of the event by security. Reporters from The Jewish Chronicle and Jewish News were also emailed to tell them their tickets had been cancelled as they didn’t have ‘accreditation’.
One journalist who I know that did get in told me that it was also made clear at the start of the event that any questions on Israel, Palestine or Antisemitism would not be answered and anyone posing them would be summarily ejected from the building. The final question of the night was indeed on that subject and the person posing the question was dealt with as they suggested.
With the national rise in racially aggravated incidents on the Jewish population in an area where many of the community live, surely taking and answering a question on the matter should be expected and indeed be a major issue for those residents? Not for the first time, a public meeting with McDonnell has been made artificially sterile to protect him from unwelcome scrutiny.
Meanwhile, further people were ejected from the building and more denied entry outside – one of those outside was wearing an Israeli flag as a cape and one of the attendees attempted to set light to him! This can be seen in the video below from my friends at The Israel Advocacy Movement
3 – McDonnell’s Hayes4Gaza Campaign
On 2nd August 2014, McDonnell fronted a street demonstration in my local town under the title #Hayes4Gaza. This campaign mirrored the BDS movement in calling for a boycott of goods imported from Israel.
Accounts from the day include alleged bullying of shop owners in to displaying anti Israel posters and removing Israeli goods from shelves, plus posters bearing the insignia of the far left anarchist Socialist Workers Party were quite noticeable
Perhaps more worryingly, McDonnell urged those in attendance to donate to a ‘charity’ called Interpal, both verbally and on his website (The website posts have been removed since McDonnell became a senior figure in Labour)
Interpal are a proscribed organisation in many countries including Australia, Canada and the USA for their links to extreme Islamist organisations.
A July 2006 investigation by BBC Panorama claimed that Interpal was providing funds to a number of Hamas-affiliated charities in the Palestinian territories, some of which were run by senior Hamas members. Children from the al Khalil al Rahman Girls’ School, which received money from Interpal, were filmed singing “Fasten your bomb belt, o would-be martyr and fill the square with blood so that we get back our homeland.”
There is also evidence from multiple sources that Interpal have links to the Terrorist Group Hamas and they have attracted condemnation from the Charities Commission about these links.
A good overview can be seen here from the website of Stand for Peace
As you can see from the piece, McDonnell also supported an Early Day Motion in The House alongside Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (EDM786) which called on the government to put pressure on the US to take them off the proscribed list. With Hamas’ stated aim of eradicating both the Jewish state and all Jews from The Middle East, how does this square with McDonnell’s LBC interview that he opposes all forms of Antisemitism?
4 – Links from his website to Antisemitic material
Whilst McDonnell was running the Hayes4Gaza campaign, he posted links on his website to that of another called ‘Innovative Minds’.
Those of us who regularly counter demonstrate against the annual Al Quds parade in London are well aware of InMinds who are well represented at this annual antisemitic hatefest that masquerades as support for the people of Gaza and is sponsored by the Iranian Government via their proxy, the IHRC.
As reported by the Evening Standard in 2016, the InMinds site had features praising suicide bombers who had killed Jews, referring to them as ‘shaheed’ (Martyrs)
McDonnell’s office, no doubt mindful of the negative publicity, removed the links when contacted by The Standard, just as they removed the pieces asking for donations to Interpal when I shone a light on them when he became Shadow Chancellor.
5 – Links to Islamist Extremists
McDonnell campaigned long and hard for the release of Shaker Aamer from the Guantanamo Bay detention centre alongside the CAGE organisation.
CAGE Director, Asim Qureshi, referred to Jihadi John as ‘a beautiful young man’ and the group have campaigned on student campuses to oppose the government’s Prevent anti terror strategy.
During that campaign, McDonnell became friendly with extremist hate preacher Suliman Gani, even recording a video with him for IQRA TV.
Gani has well documented and abhorrent views on women’s equality, homosexuality and Ahmaddiya Muslims.
In 2004, Gani shared a platform with noted anti Semite Rev Dr Stephen Sizer , Islamist firebrand Dr Azzim Tamimi and the now Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn at the Tooting Islamic Centre – it was organised by The Friends of Al Aqsa, another group who use ‘Palestine’ as an excuse for antisemitism under the cloak of ‘Anti Zionism’. (Below)
McDonnell has frequently referred to my colleagues in UKIP as ‘an evil force in society’ yet is happy to associate with people whose repugnant views are at odds with the values of equality that Labour claim to support. Indeed, when we did have an incidence of antisemitism in the party (The then London Chairman used unacceptable language towards a Jewish member) he was suspended immediately and expelled from the party 2 days later, a move that drew acclaim from The Jewish Chronicle. Contrast that with the re-admission of known Antisemites in to the Labour ranks and the pathetic way that Ken Livingstone was dealt with whilst McDonnell held high office in the party.
Actions speak louder than words and in this case it is my opinion that McDonnell’s actions say far more than his protestations on a radio show. I would be delighted to be proven wrong, however – so, if you are reading this John, how about joining myself and the Jewish organisations who will be opposing the Al Quds parade in London this year on Sunday 9th June?
Perhaps you could persuade Comrade Corbyn to attend too – after all, he was there in 2012 on the platform but on the other side with the Islamists, maybe this time he could stand with us to oppose the rise in Antisemitism that the regressive left has been either unable or unwilling to stem?
The ball is in your court – match the rhetoric with solid action and prove to us that you stand shoulder to shoulder with England’s Jews and those of us who support them.
My thanks to the Israel Advocacy Movement, LBC and Stand for Peace for additional information contained in this article