When Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission announced it was investigating Labour’s treatment of its Jewish members, many of Jeremy Corbyn’s opponents claimed this as proof of his supposed antisemitism. But the inquiry is itself a political weapon — and as the Commission publishes its much-hyped, long-delayed report today, the attacks against the Left are only intensifying.
by Daniel Finn
Part 4 - Interested Parties
The EHRC’s decision to investigate Labour posed no such dilemma. Indeed, it was greeted with general acclaim by the British press, including its small non-Tory component — the liberal broadsheets had invested heavily in the conventional media narrative of “Labour antisemitism” under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, and they were not about to start questioning that narrative now.
As a result, there was no meaningful scrutiny applied to the groups that had solicited the inquiry in the first place. The Campaign Against Antisemitism is a grassroots campaign against antisemitism in much the same way that the Taxpayers’ Alliance is a grassroots campaign concerned with the efficient use of public money — which is to say, not at all.
Established in the summer of 2014, while Gaza was under heavy Israeli bombardment, the CAA has prioritized attacking critics of Israel with trumped-up allegations of antisemitism — for example, by attacking Israel Apartheid Week in British universities. In this respect, it follows the approach of US groups like the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The Institute for Jewish Policy Research criticized an early report by the CAA on antisemitism in Britain, describing it as “littered with flaws” and “rather irresponsible.”
The group came to the fore in the campaign against Jeremy Corbyn, and even doctored its own survey of antisemitic attitudes in Britain, arbitrarily changing the way it measured antisemitism so that it could generate negative headlines about the Labour Party.
For its part, the Jewish Labour Movement has always indignantly denied that it should be considered a pro-Israel lobbying group; indeed, its leaders claim to be strong critics of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. However, the group’s then-chair, Jeremy Newmark, spoke alongside Netanyahu’s ambassador, Mark Regev, in a fringe meeting at the 2016 Labour Party conference, where they discussed the most effective strategies for undermining solidarity with the Palestinian cause in the British labor movement.
In February 2020, the JLM co-hosted a Labour leadership hustings with Labour Friends of Israel. The journalist Robert Peston, who moderated the event, demanded that the candidates endorse the Nakba.