Stalked by A Corbynista: From Online to Offline Antisemitism

Ben Freeman
Jun 13 · 6 min read

This week I discovered the lengths that pro-Corbyn supporters will go to to silence Jews who speak out against his antisemitism.

After the election of Lisa Forbes, the openly antisemitic Labour MP for Peterborough, I tweeted something that I, and many other Jewish people and our allies believe: That Jeremy Corbyn is a danger to the Jewish community:

First of all, contrary to what some pro-Corbyn accounts insinuated: I was referring to a direct threat to Jewish people from within Britain — I have never insinuated that Corbyn is a greater threat to British Jews than Hitler was. That is patently absurd.

Quickly a far left pro-Corbyn account with an 21.8 thousand followers responded that I was “deranged”.

Shortly after that comment, another pro-Corbyn account with 47.4 thousands followers retweeted me, saying that I was wrong and “highly dangerous”.

After a few back and forths, I quickly realised that responding was an exercise in futility and chose not to respond directly to comments. Despite pretending to be interested in debate, from repeated experience, I knew their ultimate aim was to gaslight and humiliate me.

On my original tweet, despite only 600 people liking it, over 1.2 thousand people commented. The vast majority of these people disagreed with me, and again reiterated the idea that I was deranged or that I was spreading hate and lies. That people may not understand why I would say that Corbyn constitutes a threat to the Jewish community is fair, what is not appropriate is for people to silence me, delegimitise me and call me a threat. Followers of these two accounts even began responding expressing deeply antisemitic views and reporting my account to twitter, for hate speech of all things.

And then on Tuesday afternoon, as I was teaching, I received a message from my Head Teacher to come to their office. I sat down in the office and was shown a computer screen.

What I saw was a one-star review of the school. My school was given one star out of five because I was ‘politically divisive’. Someone from the UK stalked me online and through this negative review made contact with my school in an attempt to punish me for speaking out against antisemitism.

After the short meeting I left their office and continued on with my day. I told my colleagues what happened and they were shocked. But truthfully, it was I who was in shock. The fact that someone made the effort to google me and then find a forum to review my school shook me to my core. That someone would go so far to not only deny hate, but to punish those who fight against it, was and is deeply disturbing to me.

I was incredibly lucky that my school was so supportive and that they understood the pitfalls of activism. But what if they weren’t? I could have been asked to shut down my Twitter account — which essentially would have been a demand to silence me and my voice as a Jew speaking out against dangerous antisemitism. It is also possible that more serious ramifications such as suspension or termination could have followed this very malicious and personal attack.

I joined Twitter in August 2018 in order to contribute to the conversation, specifically regarding antisemitism. I am a professional Holocaust educator who has lectured at universities in Hong Kong and China about antisemitism. When I joined Twitter I understood that there would be those who disagreed with me, and as time went on, I saw how vicious Corbynistas could be. I saw them employ deeply antisemitic tropes and even deny the Holocaust. And now I have witnessed how they try to remove a Jewish person from their employment for speaking out against antisemitism.

I also abhor antisemitism and other forms of prejudice from the right (and I fully recognise that it exists), but I have always expected this bigotry would be found there . What I never expected is for the leader of the self-proclaimed antiracist party to attack Jews over and over and over again. I did not expect him to create a party that minimised, denied and enabled representatives and members who harboured antisemitic views. And I did not expect his followers to unleash a storm of hate online (and as I found out offline too).

I am a Jew and Jeremy Corbyn scares me. He scares me because he has played a pivotal role in the normalisation of antisemitism in my country, the UK — and beyond. He scares me because many of his followers are so emotionally invested in his warped worldview that they cannot stop and see that they are spreading the very same hate they claim to abhor.

I am not saying that Jeremy Corbyn would unleash violence against Jews if we were ever unlucky enough that he actually came to power, but he has already normalised harassment, threats, attacks and violent acts against Jews by his followers. His office has already intervened in 101 complaints about antisemitism in the Labour party. If he came to power we may see Kosher delis, Jewish Community Centres and Synagogues be targeted under the guise of being ‘Zionist’. This is not a wild speculation: the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour — and Corbyn’s past views (and the views and actions of his supporters) have been well documented. Levels of antisemitism in the Labour Party are so high that the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the U.K.’s equality watchdog has even launched an investigation.

In short, I absolutely do think that Jeremy Corbyn poses a serious threat to the safety and continuation of the British Jewish community. To suggest that it is deranged or dangerous to express this fear is antisemitic at worst and wildly ignorant at best.

This incident has convinced me that my fears are correct — and this is deeply worrying. I have been attacked online for many months now, and as my small profile has grown so has the number of personal attacks. But this one was different. That a stranger felt so strongly that a Jew cannot defend himself against antisemitism they would google me and then bring it to my work into it is incredibly frightening.

I debated whether to say anything publicly . But I wanted to share my experience and after support from my work, I realised that I had to. I had to let people know the lengths that Corbyn’s supporters will go to hound and attack Jewish people. I also needed to say publicly that although I am scared, I will never stop speaking out.

I will not stop fighting for my people. I will not stop combating antisemitism. I will not stop teaching young people where antisemitism leads when taken to its conclusion.

And I will never stop being so deeply proud of my community and our resilience. The Jewish people have survived so much for so long — and we still survive Corbyn and his hate mob.

So no matter how much they attack us, how much they dox us, how much they threaten us, we will stand together and we will be louder as we say, without faltering, ‘enough is enough’.

Ben Freeman

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