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Anorak News | Trawling for Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook posts risk turning anti-Semitism into a witch-hunt

Trawling for Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook posts risk turning anti-Semitism into a witch-hunt

by | 22nd, March 2018

The Times is going pretty big on news of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s Facebook activity. The Conservative-supporting Guido Fawkes website says Corbyn was a member of pro-Palestine Facebook group “History of Palestine”. Fawkes claims Corbyn was added to the group in 2014. He left it today. We’ve seen no comments made by Corbyn on the group, but the Times says there are posts saying things like: “Rothschild Zionist agenda and new world order”; “Jewish organ trafficking centre where kidnapped Syrians are stripped of their entire bodies”; and “Ambassador says Jews control 90 per cent of Canadian media.”

Mr Corbyn’s spokesman has responded thus: “Jeremy condemns antisemitism in all its forms in the strongest possible terms. He was added to this group without his knowledge.”

Dang! It just keeps happening.

Earlier this year we learnt that Corbyn had been commenting on the Facebook group “Palestine Live”. The group has about 3,000 members, “who have to be invited or added by administrators.”

Members have included Paul Eisen, a Holocaust denier, and Jackie Walker, who has been suspended by Labour over accusations of antisemitism.

Corbyn, who left the group shortly after becoming Labour leader in 2015, made a few comments under group posts. Asked whether Mr Corbyn had known about antisemitic posts when using the group, a spokesman said: “I’m sure that he didn’t.” He added that any members found to have made such posts would “be investigated and action will be taken on the evidence”.

Also in the Times, Melanie Philips (“Labour can’t see its cesspool of antisemitism”) has enlarged on Corbyn’s Facebook pals. Noting the work of David Collier in finding Corbyn’s link to Palestine Live – in a long report, Collier alerted us to members  calling Jews “demons”, stating that Jews were behind 9/11 and the 2015 Paris terror attacks, and linking to far-Right websites – and that “several” Labour Party members were suspended for participation in this group, she cites the words of the group’s creator, Elleanne Green, who posted in February 2016: “Jeremy was a member of this group for several years until a few weeks after his election as Labour leader.”

Why did he leave? We’re not told.

During this time, according to other posts on the group’s forum, Corbyn was thanked for helping members organise an Israel-bashing meeting in the Commons. He posted an apology for not attending that meeting.

Yet Corbyn said he “was joined on to that group” without his knowledge and that he had merely replied to a “couple of things” posted there. He had “never trawled through the whole group”.

Putting it at its most charitable, Corbyn and other prominent participants never registered the vile nature of some of those alongside them in this forum. The reason for this moral myopia illustrates why the Labour Party finds it impossible to deal with the antisemitism in its broader ranks and why this is the problem that won’t go away.

Meanwhile, over in the Guardian, there’s no word on Corbyn’s alleged links to “History of Palestine”, but there is one article on his relationship with “Palestine Live”:

Corbyn posted several times in the group after being tagged in posts…

He was more passive than active?

Corbyn said he had not seen the other antisemitic posts on the group. “Had I seen it, of course, I would have challenged it straight away, but I actually don’t spend all my time reading social media… I have never trawled through the whole group. I have never read all the messages on it. I have removed myself from it. Obviously, any antisemitic comment is wrong. Any antisemitism in any form is wrong.”

So how did he become a member?

The Palestine Live group was founded in 2013 and was set up in a way that allowed administrators to add people to the group without their consent. It is understood that Corbyn believes he may have been added to the group by an acquaintance, who simultaneously added him as a Facebook friend when he was a backbench MP.

Understood. Believes. May. Surely we can find out the facts, no?

The Labour MPs Clive Lewis and Chris Williamson were members of the group, as were two former Liberal Democrat politicians, Baroness Jenny Tonge and the former MP David Ward.

Jacqueline Walker, a former Momentum steering group member, is also a member of the Facebook group. Walker has been suspended from the Labour party twice over allegations of antisemitism.

In one post, Walker appears to ask: “How safe is this group?”, to which the group’s founder, Elleanne Green, replied: “Very. no one is allowed in who is not trusted. I am very very careful, it is a secret group.”

So can you add people to a “secret” Facebook group without them knowing? It looks like it. This is on Facebook:

 

 

The bigger worry than any of this is why Jew hatred does not matter to Corbyn’s Labour? Why are they obsessed with Israel? Why is it okay for the Left to attack Jews if they can link their barbs to Israel – the skin between anti-Semitism and criticism of Israel is porous?

And another question: how does showing a Facebook group Corbyn was a member of stymie anti-Semitism? To work under the assumption that membership of a Facebook group with a low barrier to entry represents tacit endorsement of every view espoused in it can’t be helpful. It runs the risk of turning the need to call out anti-Semitism into a hunt for people saying things that, however horrible, should not be unsayable.



Posted: 22nd, March 2018 | In: Key Posts, News, Politicians Comment | TrackBack | Permalink