Tony Greenstein | 15 October 2017 | Post Views:

Jonathan Freedland’s contemptible attack on Ken Loach and his refusal of a
right of reply 

Corbyn criticises the ‘subliminally nasty’ Jonathan Freedland
Dear Jonathan,
For over 2 years, the Guardian has run a
campaign whose aim has been to paint the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn
as anti-Semitic. You have personally insinuated that Corbyn worked with a
holocaust denier, as have other contributors.
Some of us would say that Labour has a Zionist problem
The Guardian’s hostility to Corbyn has
surpassed even that of the tabloids. It is
little wonder that in the past 8 years the Guardian’s sales have declined from
over 400,000 to just over 150,000 today. It is no longer seen as a paper of the Left.
The Guardian used to be the only British paper
to have an informed coverage of the Middle East. Correspondents such as Michael
Adams and David Hirst were renowned the world over. Today their role has been filled by Robert
Fisk and Patrick Cockburn at The Independent.

Ken Loach and Jeremy Corbyn – Even when Corbyn tries to appease the Zionists he has the problem of all those people on the Left that he worked with for forty years.
When Comment
is Free
was established 10 years ago under the late Georgina Henry, I was one
of a number of contributors.  My first
article for CIF was The seamy side of
a coruscating attack on the anti-Semitic Jazzman Gilad Atzmon.  It was a call for the Palestine solidarity
movement to dissociate themselves from Atzmon and his supporters. 
My article began with the observation: ‘Like the
boy who cried wolf, the charge of “anti-semitism” has been made so
often against critics of Zionism and the Israeli state that people now have
difficulty recognising the genuine article.’
observation is particularly relevant since you have repeatedly made false allegations of anti-Semitism against people like Ken Loach. 

The Zionist lobby was not happy with Jewish
anti-Zionists writing under the banner of The Guardian.  They therefore formed ‘CIF Watch’ In January
2002 in ‘A new anti-Semitism?’ the Guardian quoted
Lord Greville Janner, a leading Zionist and a notorious child abuser, as saying
that the Guardian was ‘viciously and notoriously anti-Israel’.
The Guardian succumbed to the pressure and I
and others were banned from contributing. CIF Watch even changed its name
to UK Media Watch because, as they boasted,
their work was
As a senior editor at the Guardian you led the
anti-Corbyn campaign with your article Labour
and the left have an antisemitism problem
.  The
strap line was:  ‘Under Jeremy Corbyn the party has attracted many activists with views
hostile to Jews.’
 You provided not an iota of evidence to
substantiate this. 
Alex Chalmers, Chair of Oxford University Labour Club, resigned because of the Club’s support of Israel Apartheid Week.  It had nothing to do with ‘anti-Semitism’
You cited Vicki Kirby’s
quote that Jews have ‘big noses’ but
failed to correct this when David Baddiel, the Jewish author of Infidels,
pointed out that this was a direct quote from his play.  
You also cited the bogus allegations of
anti-Semitism at Oxford University Labour Club by its Chair Alex Chalmers who resigned
when the Labour Club decided to give its backing to Oxford’s Israel Apartheid
Week.  It was later revealed
that Chalmers had been a paid intern at Bicom, an Israeli propaganda
There have been numerous articles in The
Guardian’s Comment or Opinion sections, on the false anti-Semitism theme.  Nothing contradicting
this narrative has appeared.  Submissions
from Professor Avi Shlaim, myself and others were rejected. Far from Comment
being Free, when it comes to Zionism it has been tied down and
silenced as surely as Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver.
The furore around Vicky Kirby’s reference to Jews’ ‘big noses’ was in fact based on a quote from a play by a Jewish author, David Baddiel
As you are well aware it is Zionism and
anti-Semitism which go hand in hand. Have you forgotten the time when David Miliband attacked the Tories for their
alliance with anti-Semites such as Michal Kaminski and Robert Zile in the
European Parliament?  You even wrote an article Once no self-respecting politician would have gone near people such as Kaminski.  This of course was before the election of Jeremy Corbyn.
Kaminski fronted the Committee to Defend the
Good Name of Jedwabne, a village in Poland that burnt alive up to 1,600 of its Jewish
inhabitants in 1941.  Robert
Zile distinguished himself by marching every March with veterans of Latvia’s
Waffen SS in Riga.  
Prominent Zionists were ‘incandescent’
when the Board’s Vivian Wineman raised the issue with David Cameron.  Stephen Pollard, editor of the Jewish
Chronicle wrote about how Poland’s Kaminski is not an antisemite: he’s a friend
to Jews

Trump’s former anti-Semitic adviser, Steve Bannon, is invited as the guest of honour to Zionist Organisation of America’s gala dinner  – he might be an anti-Semite but ‘He’s so pro-Israel!’
The alliance of Zionists with the anti-Semitic
Right is a world wide phenomenon, with the Israeli government supporting
the anti-Semitic attacks of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban on George
Soros. Soros’s offence being to help fund Israeli human rights groups. And there is
the little matter of the invitation
by the Zionist Organisation of America to Steve Bannon of Breitbart and the Alt-Right to speak to its annual gala dinner.
Despite this your most recent article Labour’s Denial of Antisemitism in its Ranks Leaves
The Party in a Dark Place

repeats the lie that there were ‘loud
calls for the expulsion of Jewish groups
at Labour Party Conference.  What there were was calls for the disaffiliation of
the Jewish Labour Movement, a Zionist not Jewish group.  The JLM is the ‘sister party’ of the Israeli
Labour Party, a party of segregation and ethnic cleansing.

Freedland’s attack on Ken Loach – a right of reply was refused.
Your suggestion that Ken Loach was ‘echoing
… the language of Holocaust denial’
is contemptible.  Unlike you, Loach has spent a lifetime
confronting and opposing racism and supporting the poor and dispossessed.  You have spent your career defending
Apartheid when it comes in Jewish clothes.
You argued that Ken Loach, Len McCluskey and Ken Livingstone, not being
Jewish, are unqualified to comment on anti-Semitism.  Racism is not subjective.  Non-Jews are perfectly capable of expressing
an opinion. Many Jews in the Labour Party also deny your claims so it depends on which Jews you speak to or for.  You also compared Jews to Black,
Women’s and other oppressed groups.  Jews in Britain are not oppressed as
Ironically it is anti-Zionist Jews who are the primary victims of the
fake anti-Semitism witch hunt. Moshe Machover, Jackie Walker and myself have been suspended or expelled.  It is as if the Labour Party during the era of South African Apartheid had ostracised White South Africans opposed to Apartheid at the behest of Labour Friends of South Africa!
Jews have
been the loudest critics of the attempt to equate anti-Zionism and
anti-Semitism. To pretend that all Jews have one opinion, that they are homogenous, is not only fundamentally dishonest but also anti-Semitic.  I expect better of you Jonathan.  
People like Archbishop Desmond Tutu have described Israel’s treatment
of the Palestinians as similar to what happened in South Africa.  Ha’aretz quotes him as saying
‘”I have witnessed the
systemic humiliation of Palestinian men, women and children by members of the
Israeli security forces… Their humiliation is familiar to all black South Africans
who were corralled and harassed and insulted and assaulted by the security
forces of the apartheid government.”
You seem to find it difficult to accept that a Jewish settler colonial state
is inherently racist. 
You have made turning a blind eye to Israel’s crimes into an art form.
How can a state which demolished
in January a Bedouin village, Umm al-Hiran, in Israel’s Negev, in order to make
way for an exclusively Jewish town be considered a normal democratic state?  Or why is it that a plurality,
48% of Israeli Jews want to see the expulsion of Israeli Arabs?
Your suggestion that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism is based on your
that 93% of British Jews identify with Israel.  In fact just 59% identify
as Zionists.  But even were you correct
so what?  If a majority of Hindus
supported Suttee would it be racist to oppose it?  Jews who support Israel are identifying with the
world’s only apartheid state.  That is
wrong whoever they are.
Ken Loach is forced to reply to Freedland on the site of Jewish Voice for Labour as Freedland and the Guardian refuse a right of reply
What I really find remarkable is that having launched an abusive and
dishonest attack on Ken Loach you didn’t even have the courage to print his reply,
Comment is Free – Guardian’s
One-Eyed View of Labour Politics Ignores the Palestinians
.  That really is cowardly. 
Ken Loach is a living legend. 
His films have borne eloquent testimony to the evils of racism and
imperialism, as well as being a devastating indictment of the way the poor
and dispossessed are treated – from Cathy Come Home to I Daniel Blake.  What will you leave to the world other than a
few instantly forgettable tirades against anti-Zionists plus a few thrillers?
You are living proof Jonathan that even the most ‘liberal’ of Zionists
ends up in Netanyahu’s choir singing the same songs of ‘anti-Semitism’.  As Israeli society moves further and further
to the racist Right you find it impossible to change the tune.

Of one thing I am certain. If Jews in Britain experienced even a tenth of what Palestinians in Israel had to put up with then your references to anti-Semitism would carry some weight.

There is only one thing I don’t understand.  When Jeremy Corbyn accused you of “utterly disgusting subliminal nastiness” why he thought it was subliminal?  It seems all too clear.

Yours sincerely,
Tony Greenstein
Ken Loach’s Reply to
Jonathan Freedland that the Guardian refused to print
Ken Loach, 5 October 2017

On 27th
September 2017 the Guardian published an article by Jonathan Freedland called Labour’s denial of antisemitism in its ranks leaves the party in a dark
. Ken Loach
wrote a response for Comment is Free beginning “The taint of antisemitism is toxic. Yet, with hints and innuendos,
your columnist, Jonathan Freedland, tries to link me, Len McCluskey and Ken
Livingstone to Labour’s ‘dark place’, for which it seems we are in part
responsible. This is cynical journalism.”

The Guardian
has refused to carry Loach’s article. We are pleased to do so here.
The taint of antisemitism is toxic. Yet, with hints and innuendos, your
columnist, Jonathan Freedland, tries to link me, Len McCluskey and Ken
Livingstone to Labour’s ‘dark place’, for which it seems we are in part
responsible. This is cynical journalism.

What is his evidence? Len and I were welcomed at the packed first
meeting of ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’. Strangely, Freedland ignored this
progressive new group, which has published its own response to his
attacks on us. The founding document says: ‘we
stand for rights and justice for Jewish people everywhere and against wrongs
and injustices to Palestinians and other oppressed people anywhere’
. We
support that.

But Freedland disputes our right to contribute. We are ‘not Jewish – a fact that might limit their
authority to speak on the matter’
. The matter in question is antisemitism
in the Labour Party.
Many Jewish comrades say that they know the Labour Party to be a
welcoming environment and have not experienced hostility as Jews. This chimes
with my fifty years of involvement with the labour movement. But, for
Freedland, this is a discussion to which only one group – Jews who share his
political perspective – can contribute. It is exclusive – no place for
solidarity or collective support. This goes against all traditions of the left
where we stand alongside each other to oppose injustice.
People join left organisations to fight racism and fascism, intolerance
and colonial oppression. Throughout history, it is the left that has led this
fight. Racism including antisemitism is real enough and will emerge in all
political parties. The Jewish Socialists’ Group (JSG) acknowledges this in
relation to allegations about the Labour Party: ‘a very small number of cases seem to be real instances of antisemitism’.
I trust their judgement.

This present campaign about antisemitism surfaced when Jeremy Corbyn
became leader and drew on a number of cases that pre-dated his leadership. It
has been led by his political opponents inside and outside the Labour Party,
seeming in part to be aimed at undermining Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters and
therefore his leadership. JSG wrote ‘accusations
of antisemitism are being weaponised to attack the Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour

Corbyn has always opposed racism and defended human rights wherever they
have been attacked, which includes the plight of the Palestinians. This will
alarm apologists for Israeli occupation and expansion. Further, he stands on a
socialist programme which has disturbed the right of the party.
There is a further, more serious allegation, that I gave ‘spurious legitimacy’ to Holocaust
denial. In a BBC interview I was asked about a speech I had not heard and of
which I knew nothing. My reply has been twisted to suggest that I think it is
acceptable to question the reality of the Holocaust. I do not. The Holocaust is
as real a historical event as the World War itself and not to be challenged. In
Primo Levi’s words: ‘Those who deny
Auschwitz would be ready to remake it.’
The first terrible pictures I saw
as a nine-year old are ingrained on my memory as they are for all my
Like readers of this paper, I know the history of Holocaust denial, its
place in far right politics and the role of people like David Irving. To imply
that I would have anything in common with them is contemptible. The
consequences of such a smear are obvious to all: let the poison escape and it
will be picked up on social media and reputations may be tarnished for ever. A
brief phone call would have clarified my position.

One thing Freedland has got right – the ages of Len McCluskey, Ken
Livingstone and me (he wittily makes a rhyme of our names). Freedland is happy
to embrace one prejudice – ageism.

Exaggerated or false claims of antisemitism can create a climate of fear
in which legitimate discussion about the state of Israel and its actions are
stifled. Antisemitism and debate about Israel should be separate issues. Once
again it is the Palestinians who are marginalised or ignored. Freedland writes
frequently about Israel, yet his concern for the Palestinians takes second
place. So while we are clarifying our position, could he make clear whether,
for example, he accepts:
  • that
    land stolen from the Palestinians should be returned to them and all
    illegal settlements removed, as UN Resolutions demand.
  • that
    Israel is breaking the Fourth Geneva Convention by transporting
    Palestinian children to Israeli prisons without access to lawyers or their
  • and
    that the deliberate destruction of civilian life, hospitals and medical
    facilities in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge were war crimes.
And will he endorse the distinguished Israeli historian Ilan Pappe when
he writes about the founding of Israel: ‘The ethnic cleansing of Palestine (is)
a crime against humanity that Israel has wanted to deny and cause the world to

So many questions, so many injustices. Labour has much to do in
developing an ethical foreign policy and social and economic justice at home.
It now has principled leaders and a growing, enthusiastic membership. Let the
party not throw away this great opportunity. We have a world to win.

Posted in

Tony Greenstein

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.