Britain's fake media leftists are still getting it wrong on "anti-Semitism" smears - #38
Novara haven't accounted for the damage they caused.
The one bright spot in the otherwise depressing state of the British left today is in the realm of alternative media. There is a surprisingly large amount of great journalism out there, critical of existing structures and looking to help inform and create the kind of radical change that this country so badly needs.
Outlets like The Canary, The Skwawkbox, The Morning Star and Declassified UK continue to do important work (and there are many others on social media, YouTube and elsewhere).
That’s part of the reason why I rarely find it difficult to fill the recommended reads section of this newsletter. If anything, there is too much news!
Unfortunately — and fittingly for the largely hopeless state of the British left today — some of the biggest left media voices and platforms got it very seriously wrong on one of the biggest and most important issues of our time, and still continue to do so.
I’m talking of course about the fabricated “Labour anti-Semitism crisis” led by Israel and its lobby in the UK, which so successfully deposed Jeremy Corbyn from the leadership of the Labour Party.
And just who got it wrong?
In an insightful article exclusive to Jewish Voice for Labour’s website, student Talal Hangari names names: Owen Jones, Novara Media and Tribune.
Hangari focuses on the recent issue of Labour’s banning of several different left-wing groups, those who attempted to resist the purges from within: mainly Labour Against the Witchhunt and Chris Williamson’s Resist.
He correctly calls out Novara’s hypocrisy:
The question is, if Bastani and Walker found the effects of the proscriptions damaging, why didn’t they attack the proscriptions from the beginning? It seems that, like Owen Jones, the loudest voices in left media considered the proscribed groups too politically toxic to mount a vigorous defence for them, even a vigorous defence based merely on free expression: ‘I hate what you say, but will defend your right to say it in a democratic political party.’
Such is the state of left media.
Milquetoast “left-wing” journalists like Jones and his centrist fellow travellers at Novara Media (Aaron Bastani, Michael Walker, Ash Sarkar, Rivkah Brown) are in a dilemma.
They desperately want to maintain access to “mainstream” legacy media via their pals at the BBC, Sky News and the rest, while continuing to hold onto the large online left-wing audiences that are their bread and butter (the kinds of people who made up the Corbynite movement in the first place and without whom they would be nothing).
But to the fake left, the popular mass movements are “the unwanted periphery,” as anti-communist fanatic and fake leftist Paul Mason put it in one of his most recent red-baiting screeds. The kinds of people “who wander around Labour conference… saying the anti-Semitism scandal was a ‘scam’.”
Mason’s latest attack on communist newspaper The Morning Star (Britain’s only left-wing daily newspaper) for having the temerity to call for the shut down of a US torture camp on the last remaining patch of occupied Cuban soil, was particularly unhinged — but widely mocked and rightly derided.
My friend Louis Allday called it years ago: Mason is a “NATO-loving leftist” and “openly reactionary and imperialist” — in old orthodox communist terms he is a social imperialist.
The main problem that people like Paul Mason and his friends at Novara Media have here is that — as polling has consistently shown time and time again since 2016 — the mass base of the Labour Party has all along rejected the anti-Semitism smears, correctly calling it exaggerated, saying it’s no worse than in other parties and even declaring it “invented.”
These polling figures only got higher as the smears got more ridiculous.
Even in April 2021 — one year into Keir Starmer’s purges, and after the expulsion of Jeremy Corbyn from Labour’s parliamentary benches — 70 percent of the membership still believed either that the party didn’t have a serious problem with anti-Semitism or that the scale it had been exaggerated (the exact word that got Corbyn expelled).
But in order for the fake celebrity leftists to maintain their access to supposedly credible and “serious” media they took to desperately distancing themselves from their own audiences and denouncing “anti-Semitism” in Labour — even when it wasn’t anti-Semitism, and exaggerating the scale of anti-Semitic attitudes within the party in order to look “credible” (despite the fact that all the evidence showed this was always a tiny insignificant minority which was in fact lower than in almost all other political parties as well as in the nation as a whole).
Britain’s fake left has tied itself up into some serious knots on this issue. The Novara types are currently trying to tepidly reach back our to their audiences and give the surface appearance of fighting back against the smears while simultaneously admitting to no concrete wrongdoing and refusing to reverse their own smears.
Called out on Twitter recently by activist Simon Maginn (who I think coined the #ItWasAScam hashtag) Aaron Bastani totally avoided answering a question put to him:
Note that Bastani doesn’t really admit to having got anything wrong.
The 2018 BBC clip clearly shows him enthusiastically agreeing with right-wing journalist Andrew Neil and Zionist fanatic Robert Winston that anti-Semitism was “endemic” in Labour.
Note that this was at the height of the manufactured “crisis” when Bastani speaking out against these lies on mainstream TV could have made a very real difference.
Instead of learning lessons and admitting he got it wrong, Bastani puts this all down to his superior “nuance” — his only admission of a “mistake”!
He is ignoring the central point: all the most prominent examples of “anti-Semitism” in the Labour Party were totally fake — starting with Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker and Chris Williamson. And almost without exception Novara Media threw these people under a bus.
As recently as last year, Novara’s commissioning editor Rivkah Brown expressed her agreement with the Zionist fanatic Sabrina Miller and her defamation campaign against anti-Zionist professor David Miller — the same campaign which led to his sacking from Bristol University.
Perhaps we should as least admit that Bastani’s role was not as egregious as another of his media buddies: social imperialist par excellence Owen Jones, who actively tried to ditch Corbyn as early as 2016.
Jones too has tied himself in knots over the fake “crisis” — supporting Starmer’s ban of left-wing anti-witchhunt groups even while later partly changing his position, while at the same time trying to convince us he’d changed nothing all along (another good point made by Hangari in his article).
Jones in September last year even went so far as to defend Rezső Kasztner, a Zionist leader who played a very well documented role during the Holocauist as a Nazi collaborator. All just to attack honourable veteran socialist film maker Ken Loach, who directed a fictionalised play about the affair decades ago.
With friends like these, who needs enemies?
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My colleague Ali Abunimah recently had this conversation with Rania Khalek on her excellent BreakThrough News YouTube show. Looking back over 2021 in Palestine they cover wide range of topics. It’s well worth watching or listening to.
The last 15 minutes has also been split off into a separate video discussion, in which they push back on the anti-vax nonsense that has unfortunately infiltrated some corners of the left.
My Work This Week
Last week began with the brilliant news that Palestine Action’s sustained campaign of direct action against Elbit has led directly to their first concrete victory.
The Israeli drone giant sold its Oldham factory in the North of England. You can read more in my full report above, but here were some of the reactions:
Also this past week we hosted two Palestine Action activists on the latest episode of The Electronic Intifada Podcast. Adie Mormech and Max Geller told us how they did it and why they intend to continue until the remaining nine Elbit sites in the UK are also closed for good.
Watch in the video above or listen or read the full transcript here.