The assault on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn by the Establishment, its media and right-wing Labour MPs continues, with a torrent of attacks on his comments about a small group of ‘zionists’ with a habit of disrupting pro-Palestinian events.
Corbyn’s critics have pushed a line that ‘zionists’ was code for ‘all Jews’, even though far from all Jewish people are zionist and many, perhaps most, zionists are not Jewish, as the SKWAWKBOX showed both the Jewish Telegraph and a prominent non-Jewish zionist freely admitting before it was a way to attack the Labour leader.
The SKWAWKBOX also showed one of the group of zionists in question – Richard Millett, who has been on the media round in the last few days to attack Corbyn – defending a ‘Christian zionist’ who was filmed accusing someone of being a ‘Christ-killer’ “because you’re Jewish” – one of the vile antisemitic smears that has fuelled terrible persecution of Jews in the last two thousand years.
Now further evidence has emerged that Corbyn’s criticism was not only about a specific group of disruptive people, but that his criticism was justified and well-aimed – as a right-wing, Israel-supporting Labour MP was also driven to call two of the same individuals ‘rude yobs’ after they disrupted an event he had organised.
Wes Streeting has been among the most persistent and unvarying critics of Jeremy Corbyn – and has positioned himself at the forefront of non-Jewish MPs attacking the Labour Party’s performance on the issue of antisemitism. After attacking Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott’s speech on the topic in the House of Commons, he also confronted her outside the Commons chamber – in such proximity and with such force that his behaviour was called ‘disgusting’ and ‘disgraceful’ by witnesses.
But last autumn, Streeting and two zionists, including Millett, found themselves in opposition to each other, when they disrupted an event he had arranged in Parliament.
Millett wrote about it on his blog, in an article titled ““Pro-Israel” Labour MP Wes Streeting hosts Friends of Palestine event, afterwards attacks me on Twitter“, saying:
Labour MP for Ilford North Wes Streeting threatened to have me removed on Tuesday night from his Gaza on the brink? event in Parliament. My crime: passionately asking why the panel spent their time totally blaming Israel for the plight of Gazans while giving Hamas a free pass…
When he got home Streeting tweeted that I “sat there heckling and shouting” and called myself and Jonathan “rude yobs”. However, we were respectful and did absolutely nothing wrong.
‘Jonathan’ is a reference to Jonathan Hoffman, another regular at pro-Palestinian events, who has been called a ‘pro-Israel bully‘.
Wes Streeting did indeed describe the pair as ‘rude yobs’, as he confirmed in an exchange on Twitter:
The pair of ‘zionists’ – a term that has become loaded recently but at the time of Corbyn’s comments was a straightforward descriptor and which, as shown above, is anything but synonymous with ‘Jews’ – ‘passionately ask[ed]‘ questions in a manner they considered ‘respectful and absolutely nothing wrong‘, according to Millett.
Yet Millett also says that it prompted Streeting to threaten their removal from the room – and it certainly prompted him to tweet twice calling them ‘yobs‘ and ‘rude yobs‘.
Messrs Hoffman, Millett and Streeting have all been contacted to offer them the chance to put their comments on record, but Hoffman and Streeting had not responded by the time of publication.
Mr Streeting has also been asked the following questions, but has not responded:
- why haven’t you spoken up?
- will you agree that Corbyn was correct to criticise these specific ‘zionists’ for their behaviour?
Richard Millett has responded:
I’m not a yob. Wes was wrong. But it’s irrelevant. The point is why did Corbyn other me by attacking my Jewish background by saying I don’t get English irony. Imagine he said the Windrush generation don’t get English irony. It’s chilling because Corbyn knows me and knows I’m Jewish because I was a regular at his events and at Press TV where he hosted a show. So his comment in 2013 was aimed at my Jewish background and he had full knowledge of that. His othering of me was, therefore, antisemitic.
The media and many of Corbyn’s critics have presented his comment as if he was speaking about Jewish people in general, which context shows he was not. But the wider context of the alleged track record of the specific ‘zionists’ he was criticising suggests that his criticism was entirely reasonable.
If they are prepared to publicly attack a right-wing, pro-Israel MP for hosting an event highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people, it sheds a very different light on their – and others’ – attacks on a Labour leader who has been a steadfast advocate of Palestinian rights and hopes for decades.
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