LFI vice-chair and Labour MP Louise Ellman has been at the forefront of much of the loud criticism of the party and its leader over alleged antisemitism, appearing regularly on programmes to express her dismay. The latest manifestation of that criticism is a claim that he acted somehow inappropriately in arranging an event at which Jewish Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer spoke.
Last night, she appeared on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, claiming to have been ‘appalled’ to find out about the event:
She did not mention – nor did the programme – that she attended the same 2010 event for which she and others were criticising Corbyn.
In fact, she was there far longer than Corbyn was.
Corbyn introduced the event and then had to leave to be elsewhere, before returning later. Ms Ellman, by contrast, is reported as staying throughout – including during a major disruption caused by pro-Israel demonstrators who invaded the event and heckled survivors of other genocides when they spoke.
A letter, written at the time to the Tribune, puts her attendance beyond question:
On Holocaust Memorial Day I went to Portcullis House at the Houses of Parliament to hear Auschwitz survivor and Resistance fighter Hajo Meyer, and Dr Haidar Eid who had to speak by phone from Gaza. Hajo spoke of his feeling of betrayal and outrage that the universalist Jewish culture of his youth had morphed into callous nationalism supporting a racist settler state. He deplored the way that Zionist leaders – who’d once despised concentration camp survivors as “unusable material” – were now making a religion of the Holocaust to justify war crimes and mass reprisals against civilians. Both he and Dr Eid described ‘a slow motion genocide’ against the Palestinians – the term first used by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe and recently by Palestinian boycott leader Omar Barghouti.
Coming from a family of Hungarian Jews whom I’d slowly discovered had been victims of the Holocaust, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network’s 27 January commemoration, ‘Never Again—For Anyone’, fulfilled a long-standing dream of mine. It was an open reminder of all genocides: somewhere Native Americans could speak with the Roma facing murder today, and survivors and resisters from the Irish Famine, Rwanda and the colossal genocide of slavery could share their stories without being told arrogantly that Jewish suffering was ‘unparalleled’ and ‘beyond telling’.
Painful to tell, but a tiny group of Zionist fanatics invaded the gathering and shouted so continuously that the careful programme was derailed, though not prevented from happening. This was a total destruction of the democratic space for over an hour – something I’ve never seen before in any Parliamentary meeting. It was sickening to hear the hounding of 85 year-old Dr Meyer, and the bellows of ‘boring!’ every time any survivor of a different genocide tried to tell their experience.
Most shockingly, Louise Ellman MP – who as Vice Chair of Labour Friends of Israel was presumably attending as an observer with a companion from the Board of Deputies – both sat unmoved without making the slightest attempt to quell their fellow supporters of Israel and create an open space. They later tried to guilt-trip MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Brian Iddon for bravely hosting the event.
Ms Ellman has been contacted for comment about why she told viewers she was ‘absolutely appalled to read’ about an event she attended personally – one that was especially memorable because of the protests. She has not yet responded.
The revelation that one of the most prominent and vocal critics of the Labour leadership appears to have misrepresented her knowledge about an event that has been dug up eight years after the fact raises serious questions. Will the mainstream media give those the same prominence they have given to the claims and criticisms?
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