17 May 2016
sent by Trevor Hoyle:
The recent furore surrounding a supposed 'Labour antisemitism crisis' is a classic propaganda blitz of the kind described in Part 1 of this alert.
Dramatic New Evidence
As with so many propaganda blitzes, intense media coverage was triggered by 'dramatic new evidence'; namely, the discovery of a graphic posted by Naz Shah two years ago, before she became a Labour MP. The graphic shows a map of the United States with Israel superimposed in the middle, suggesting that a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict would be to relocate Israel to the US.
Shah's post was highlighted by right-wing political blogger Paul Staines who writes as Guido Fawkes:
Jonathan Freedland, comment editor at the Guardian, argued that leftists view Israel as 'a special case, uniquely deserving of hatred', and that this hatred 'lay behind' Shah's call 'for the "transportation" [of Israel to America] - a word with a chilling resonance for Jews'.
In the Observer, Andrew Rawnsley claimed that Shah believed 'that Israelis should be put on "transportation" to America, with all the chilling echoes that has for Jews'.
Guardian assistant editor Michael White reported that Shah had been suspended from the Labour party 'while the context of her antisemitic comments... are thoroughly investigated'. Clearly then, the jury was in - the comments were 'anti-semitic'.
By contrast, Israel-based former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook, who was given a Martha Gellhorn special award for his work on the Middle East, argued that the map 'was clearly intended to be humorous rather than anti-semitic. I would make a further point. It is also obvious that the true target of the post is the US, not Jews or even Israel – making the anti-semitism claim even more ridiculous'.
Norman Finkelstein, Jewish author of 'The Holocaust Industry' and the son of Holocaust survivors, commented that he had originally posted the graphic on his website in 2014:
Finkelstein responded powerfully to the idea that Shah's posting of the image was an endorsement of a 'chilling "transportation" policy':
Emotional Tone And Intensity – Demonising Dissent
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone, a 'long-time ally' of Jeremy Corbyn but not an MP, defended Shah from the accusation of anti-semitism. He said:
This was met with the kind of cross-'spectrum' moral outrage that is so characteristic of a propaganda blitz. Again, everyone knew – or did they? - that Livingstone's comments were outrageous, monstrous, rabidly anti-semitic.
John Mann MP confronted Livingstone, calling him a 'a disgusting racist', 'a fucking disgrace' and 'a Nazi apologist'. The lengthy tirade was broadcast widely, with Mann thoughtfully checking to ensure the camera was catching the action. His denunciation was more 'dramatic new evidence' of a scandal, ideal ammunition for a propaganda blitz.
Few TV viewers will have been aware that Mann is 'one of Corbyn's strongest critics'. Last July, after Corbyn had become frontrunner in the leadership election race, Mann called for the Labour party to suspend the contest 'over fears of an "infiltration" by hard-left activists'. Mann said:
Mann's concern at the time was not anti-semitism but 'the Militant Tendency-types coming back in'.
The website TheyWorkForYou records that Mann 'Generally voted for use of UK military forces in operations overseas', 'Consistently voted for the  Iraq war' and 'Consistently voted against an investigation into the Iraq war.' He voted for war on Libya in 2011, and again for war on Iraq in 2014. If any journalist highlighted the ironic location of the moral 'high ground' from which Mann was so volubly preaching at Livingstone, we missed it.
The Jewish Chronicle certainly agreed on Livingstone:
Under the title, 'Labour's Sickness', a Times leader presumably written by Blairite neocon Oliver Kamm denounced the 'grotesque analogies' offered by Livingstone, a 'trivial ignoramus'. The leader concluded:
Under the headline, 'Labour's anti-semites put the party in peril,' the Daily Mail commented:
Richard Littlejohn wrote in the Mail under the title, 'The fascists at the poisoned heart of Labour':
In the Mirror, the commentator Fleet Street Fox damned 'Ken Livingstone's ridiculous assertion that Hitler and the Jews were on the same side.'
A Guardian leader commented that the Labour party 'finds itself charged with being contaminated by antisemitism. And with singular crassness, instead of clearing the air on Thursday, Mr Livingstone encouraged the accusation'.
Jonathan Freedland wrote in the paper of Livingstone's comments:
In fact, it is hardly in doubt that Livingstone intended to suggest that Hitler had become more insane when he committed genocide. This is not the same as arguing that he had previously been sane. Livingstone later commented of Hitler:
The late historian Howard Zinn supported the assertion of a Nazi descent into more extreme madness and also the claim that the Nazis initially planned to expel the Jews:
Yad Vashem, Israel's official memorial to victims of the Holocaust, also discusses 'The Transfer Agreement'.
Jonathan Cook wrote:
As so often, the propaganda coup de grace was supplied by a Guardian leftist; this time, Owen Jones, who tweeted:
One day later, Jones issued a further decree:
Ali Abunimah, co-founder of Electronic Intifada, commented:
Jones' tragicomic McCarthyist stance in all but ordering the suspension of Shah and Livingstone for supposed anti-semitism strongly reminds us of the way the Guardian's George Monbiot supported a nugatory smear of progressives promoted by his notoriously non-credible interlocutor, Oliver Kamm. Monbiot wrote that Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman, John Pilger and Media Lens were part of a 'malign intellectual subculture' that sought 'to excuse savagery by denying the facts' of genocide in Bosnia and Rwanda. Monbiot even wrote an article titled, 'Media Cleanse'. As recently as March 25, Monbiot tweeted:
George Eaton, fiercely anti-Corbyn political editor of the hard-right 'centre-left' New Statesman, tried and failed to coin the term 'Hitlergate' to describe the scandal that had engulfed Livingstone (the Nexis media database finds no other mentions of the term). Eaton cited an anonymous MP arguing 'it firmly pins responsibility for next week's [local election] results on the hard-left antics'. This at least gave a good idea of the motivation behind the propaganda blitz.
Norman Finkelstein was again far beyond the corporate 'mainstream' in asking some obvious questions:
'You can see this overlap between the Labour Right and pro-Israel groups personified in individuals like Jonathan Freedland, a Blairite hack who also regularly plays the antisemitism card. He's combined these two hobbies to attack Corbyn.'
Israeli historian Ilan Pappé noted how the young electorate supporting Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders in the US have a 'desire for cleaner, more moral politics that dare to challenge the neoliberal set up of economy and politics in the West'. The result being that 'Members of the political elites and establishment, in very senior positons, voice clear, unashamed support for Palestine.
Jonathan Cook summed it up:
Chomsky has discussed the long-standing efforts to associate anti-semitism with anti-Zionism for political ends. In 1973, leading Israeli diplomat Abba Eban said that 'one of the chief tasks of any dialogue with the Gentile world is to prove that the distinction between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is not a distinction at all'. Critics of Israel were to be branded 'anti-semites', while Jewish critics like Chomsky were guilty of 'self-hatred'.
Asa Winstanley, investigative journalist at the Electronic Intifada, puts the supposed 'crisis of antisemitism' in context:
Conclusion - 'Emotionally Potent Oversimplifications'
The fact that completely false, or highly questionable, claims are repeatedly being affirmed by an instant, outraged 'consensus' across the media 'spectrum' is powerful evidence for the existence of a propaganda system undermining democracy.
Journalists may plead ignorance, but elites have openly advocated the 'manufacture of consent' in exactly this way for decades. In 1932, highly influential US foreign policy adviser Reinhold Niebuhr wrote of the need for 'emotionally potent oversimplifications' and 'necessary illusion' to overcome the threat to elite control posed by 'the stupidity of the average man'.
Vested interests are well aware that public opinion can be manipulated by 'emotionally potent' declarations of certainty, on the one hand, and by nurturing doubt on the other. Indeed, the flip side of the propaganda coin promoting false certainty was described by Phil Lesley, author of a handbook on corporate public relations:
The logic is crude but effective. When elites want to prevent action, for example in response to climate change, they work hard to encourage public doubts. When they want to attack Iraq, Libya or Syria, or Julian Assange, or Jeremy Corbyn - when it is vital that the situation be presented as clear cut - 'balancing infomation' must be ridiculed, damned and dismissed. These are the tasks of a propaganda blitz.