New campaigning body on Bogus AS
Now that Labour Against the Witch-hunt has gone, who is leading the charge against bogus antisemitism? Like many others on the left, I was dismayed at the recent news that Labour’s NEC voted (by 23 votes to 14) against reinstating Jeremy Corbyn to the Party. His crime? Pointing out that the scale of antisemitism has been dramatically overstated by our opponents inside and outside the party, as well as by much of the media. But he was simply telling the truth. The interviewees featured in “Bad News for Labour”, published in 2019, thought that 25–40% of Party members had had complaints made about them for antisemitism. In fact, only 0.1% had been investigated!
Those of us who have suffered for criticising Israel face an uphill struggle to regain our reputations as anti-racists. We may have lost round one, but we need to be more prepared for round two. The Tory Government proposes legislation outlawing local authorities from boycotting Israeli products to help support Palestine. Those against such a clear attack on our local democracy will likely face the slurs of bogus antisemitism, once more bandied about by Zionist bodies such as the Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Community Security Trust, backed by the Board of Deputies of British Jews. These agencies know that hysteria about antisemitism is their most potent weapon in fooling the British public into thinking that boycotting Israel is somehow wrong. And with 36% Labour MPs in Labour Friends of Israel (LFI), including many highly influential ones- party leader Keir Starmer for example, I foresee little opposition to the Tory plans in Westminster. (Notwithstanding last year’s conference motion in support of BDS, condemned by the LFI chair as “morally repugnant”). We need to give politicians supporting BDS the confidence to loudly criticise Israel, without fear of being condemned as antisemitic for so doing.
As we know, the press loves to publish tales of antisemitism; we need to challenge this. For example, I was criticised by the Guardian for giving a speech on bogus antisemitism to the “Keep Talking” group. They declared that I had spoken at a meeting alongside Holocaust deniers. When I pointed out that I was the only one on the platform that evening and a Holocaust denier had simply asked a question from the audience, the Guardian argued that they were factually correct in that both of us had actually “spoken” at the meeting. It is this kind of ridiculous guilt by association that we need to expose. As I and many others have found, the Independent Press Standards Organisation will rarely act around media slandering. The agency one would have hoped to take a stand, Liberty, steadfastly refuses to speak out.
We think it’s time we tried again to highlight that there is little truth in these slurs of antisemitism; that the IHRA Definition used to scapegoat campaigners is purposely skewed to undermine criticism of Israel. We are launching a new body to challenge the lies propounded by the Campaign Against Antisemitism. We are calling it the Campaign Against BOGUS Antisemitism, or CABA, for short.
CABA will be a volunteer-led group dedicated to exposing and countering bogus antisemitism- through education and championing those unjustly accused. It will outline how the IHRA has undermined our rights to speak on Israel, highlight legal battles lost and won, feature a “Rogues Gallery” of those slandered, clarifying what they have actually done to merit Zionist efforts to unjustly “cancel” them. It will endeavour to give support and advice to those who are being “investigated”. It will publish and distribute flyers in support of those attacked at events. It will promote awareness of the Left Legal Fighting Fund. Through press releases and letter-writing campaigns, it will lobby politicians and the media, publishing articles exposing bogus allegations and the real motives of the bodies behind them. It will promote Zoom interviews featuring those in the firing line.
Thus far there are 13of us- we have set out the policies and beliefs we consider should underpin CABA’s work at our draft website at www.bogusantisemitism.org
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— Pete Gregson, Campaign Against BOGUS Antisemitism