Wednesday, 29 August 2018

How the Enoch Powell Corbyn smear spread from the New Statesman to the hard-right propaganda rags


If you ever needed an example of how 'centrists' and the hard-right work together in order to attack and undermine democratic socialism, look no further than the way coverage of the former Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks' scandalous comparison of the lifelong anti-racism campaigner Jeremy Corbyn with the anti-immigrant fearmongerer Enoch Powell spread from the supposedly left-leaning New Statesman to the front pages of the hard-right propaganda rags.

Jonathan Sacks

Anyone who already knows who Jonathan Sacks should be familiar with his history of attending controversial Zionist extremist marches organised by the pro-settler Mizrachi Olami organisation, where chants of "death to Arabs" and vandalism of Palestinian property are commonplace

The same Mizrachi Olami organisation supports illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and organises marches through the occupied Palestinian settlement of Hebron, which is basically a much more extreme version of the sectarian Orange Order mob organising inflammatory marches through Catholic areas of Northern Ireland.


It's also worth pointing out that Sacks comparison between Jeremy Corbyn and Enoch Powell is more than a bit hypocritical given that he publicly recommended the anti-immigrant anti-Muslim Douglas Murray book "The Strange Death of Europe" as one of his best books of 2017, which contains glowing references to Enoch Powell, and chapter after chapter of xenophobic and anti-Muslim fear-mongering.

Is someone who attends extreme Zionist marches and promotes xenophobic Enoch Powell-praising books really in a position to smear a lifelong anti-racist campaigner with comparisons to Enoch Powell?

Origin of the smear

The origin of the hyperbolic comparison between Jeremy Corbyn and Enoch Powell was made in a New Statesman interview conducted by George Eaton, when Jonathan Sacks described Corbyn's "no sense of irony" comments about a specific group of rude and disruptive Zionist extremists with Enoch Powell's 1968 anti-immigrant "rivers of blood" speech.

Unsurprisingly the New Statesman ran with the smear as the headline for their article for its clickbait potential, but at no point did Eaton try to hold Sacks to account by questioning his justification for making such an extreme statement.

It's beyond doubt that Eaton know that the Corbyn "irony" comment was aimed at a small group of extreme Zionists who regularly disrupt meetings on the Israel-Palestine issue.

When Corbyn criticised them for having no sense of irony, they had been rudely berating and insulting the Palestinian ambassador.

On a previous occasion they turned up to an anti-genocide meeting to repeatedly shout "boring" at every non-Jewish genocide survivor who spoke at the event.

On another occasion the Zionist extremists turned up to disrupt a meeting that the anti-Corbyn pro-Israel Labour MP Wes Streeting was involved with, resulting in him calling them "rude yobs".

Interestingly nobody from the mainstream press attempted to misleadingly turn Streeting's criticism of the very same people as "rude yobs" into a criticism of all Zionists, or even all Jews as "rude yobs".


If these extreme Zionists are so exasperating that even an extremely pro-Israeli MP like Wes Streeting ends up calling them "rude yobs", perhaps criticising their sense of irony isn't quite as bad as "rivers of blood".

It's also worth noting that deliberately conflating Zionists with Jews is considered by many to be anti-Semitism because Zionism is a political choice, and not all Jews are Zionists (especially not the kind of extreme Zionists who habitually interrupt Israel-Palestine meetings to shout abuse at people that Corbyn and Streeting were criticising).

In their desperation to attack Corbyn by conflating a specific group of Zionist extremists with all Jews quite a few of Corbyn's fiercest critics have actually exposed themselves as being prone to anti-Semitic speech.

Anyhow, George Eaton didn't bother to point out any of this important context in the article.

Israeli apartheid

Despite failing to call Jonathan Sacks out on his hyperbolic smear, Eaton did attempt to challenge Sacks on the Israeli government's recent introduction of the Apartheid-style Nation State law. Sacks' response was absolutely dismal. Instead of criticising the racist Jewish-supremacism of the hard-right Israeli government, he made an evasive comment claiming ignorance of the significance of the law, followed by a second had assertion via his brother claiming that there was nothing Apartheid about the Nation State law, and that it was just "correcting a lacuna".

So according to Sacks, a hotly disputed and vehemently debated Jewish supremacist law that strips Arabic of its official language status in Israel is just filling a space, not because he's thought about the issue himself, but because his brother told him so - but in the very same interview he's publicly accusing someone else of being "low, dishonest and dangerous"!

Spread

After the New Statesman article was published, the context-free "Enoch Powell" comparison was churnalised onto the front pages of the hard-right Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph.

You would have thought that the editor of a left-leaning political magazine would have been horrified that his article had been used as the basis of yet another right-wing effort to damage the appeal of democratic socialism by smearing Jeremy Corbyn, but you'd be wrong.

Eaton was so giddy with delight that his article was the basis of two front page Corbyn smears in the right-wing propaganda rags that he sent out a gloating Tweet about it. 

Presumably he eventually thought better of this outrageous gloating because the Tweet is now gone, but not before I grabbed a screen shot of it (see image).

Way-hay, my anti-Corbyn smear story has gone viral in the hard-right press is certainly not a great look for the editor of a supposedly left-leaning publication, but it is indicative of the way that the supposedly left-leaning 'centrist' types are often more than happy to work with the hard-right to undermine democratic socialism.

Left-leaning publications like the New Statesman, Guardian, Mirror, and Independent are significantly better than the right-wing propaganda rags because they occasionally give voice to democratic socialists, and often hold the Tory government to account on issues where most of the mainstream media turn a blind eye. 

However, they're also home to plenty of people who are more than happy to amplify the right-wing anti-Corbyn smear campaigns by lazily churnalising smears from the right-wing propaganda rags into their own articles, and even feeding new smears back to the right-wing press and then gloating about it like Eaton did.

Conclusions


Whether you agree with Corbyn or not on his democratic socialist policies, or his efforts to combat bigotry within the Labour Party, it's impossible to deny the way his criticism of a specific group of extremely rude and disruptive Zionist extremists has been misleadingly warped into a supposed attack on all Jews, and that Jonathan Sacks went even further by using these out-of-context remarks to accuse Corbyn of being worse than the likes of Nigel Farage, the vile xenophobic Leave.EU campaign, Boris Johnson, and other bigoted race-baiters in mainstream politics

Perhaps it's unsurprising that a guy who actually recommends a far-right book that promotes xenophobia, anti-Muslim sentiments, clash of civilisations type fearmongering, and the lionisation of Enoch Powell, doesn't see the likes of Farage and Leave.EU as problematic?

It's impossible not to note the hypocrisy of a man who one day publicises an anti-Muslim diatribe of a book that glorifies Enoch Powell, then the next uses a comparison with Enoch Powell to attack someone simply because they've got a history of arguing against the Israeli occupation and the brutal repression of the Palestinian people.

It's hardly surprising that a man who supports pro-occupation pro-settler movement in Israel would use his position to attack a vocal critic of the occupation, but what is truly shocking is that the journalist who interviewed him didn't just fail to call him out on this hyperbolic smear over some deliberately out-of-context remarks, but actually gloated when his uncritical interview was used as the basis for another round of anti-Corbyn front page smears in the right-wing propaganda rags.

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