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More than 40 Labour MPs formed a human shield around their Jewish colleague Ruth Smeeth this morning as she arrived at a disciplinary hearing of an activist accused of being anti-Semitic towards her.
Flanked by dozens of her colleagues, Ms Smeeth, an outspoken campaigner against anti-Jewish hatred in the Labour Party, was heckled by far-left activists demonstrating outside the hearing in Westminster.
She was due to give evidence against Marc Wadsworth, a Jeremy Corbyn supporter who is alleged to have accused her of colluding with the media during a press conference on anti-Semitism two years ago.
The exchange, which took place at the launch of Labour’s Chakrabarti report, resulted in Ms Smeeth breaking down in tears.
Mr Wadsworth was condemned afterwards by Baroness Chakrabarti, who said he had behaved “incredibly rudely”. He was later suspended pending investigation.
Read more from the Telegraph 24 April 2018: http://tgr.ph/Hj0MNJ
As Smeeth walks out (from the Chakrabarti Report Launch) I hear Jeremy Corbyn dealing with what Wadsworth has said. He is dealing with it calmly, no dramatics. This is what I expect from politicians, rationality. I am too often disappointed. ‘How dare you? How absolutely dare you?’ shouts Smeeth Is that what we should expect from those who have the privilege to represent us? Yes Wadsworth is clumsy, but Smeeth is cruel.
When she shouts ‘how dare you’ and walks out it no longer matters what Wadsworth has said, what he alleges, Smeeth has changed the nature of the interaction argument to intimidation. How dare he challenge her? To challenge authority and privilege is indeed an act of daring. Observe this carefully, observe where power lies and ask who is being victimised.
Marc Wadsworth has been expelled from the party, not for the antisemitism that he had been accused of but for ‘bring the party into disrepute’. It is not however Wadsworth who has brought the party into disrepute it is Smeeth. To my eyes it is Smeeth but I suppose my eyes do not matter.
Ken Livingstone has been in the news again. The fuss over a remark he made two years ago continues.
It seems to me that Ken made a daft and irrelevant remark that was not dismissed as a daft remark but was immediately attacked as heresy. I find the reaction a lot more scarily fascistic than anything Ken said ..
Where there is free speech there are going to things said that offend others. Sometimes this will be understandable and we will take other people’s being offended or hurt into account, at other times we will explain why what we have said is important to us.
I understand the sensitivities around comparing the behaviour of the Israeli state to that of the Nazi regime but where the analogy is apt it should not be out of bounds. The analogy is not used of particular Israel individuals, behaviours or institutions on account of their Jewishness but on account of their oppressiveness and to fail to condemn that oppressiveness is as much a betrayal of those who suffered under Nazi oppression as it is of those who suffer in Gaza under Israeli oppression. This Holocaust survivor makes this point powerfully:
(BTW, I do not endores the headlined equivalency. I don’t know much about the Zionist philosophy but I condemn oppressive Israeli practices)
All occupying armies become Nazis, all soldiers in occupying armies commit or permit atrocities. You would and I would, not because we are intrinsically evil but because doing evil is an inevitable consequence of being part of an invading and occupying army. Each war crime is a consequence of the initial war crime, which is the decision to invade or attack a country that has not attacked or threatened your own. In a democracy the people responsible for this decision are, in order of culpability, those who command it, those who implement it and those who consent to it, the government, the military and the citizenry. Those with greatest power bear the greatest responsibility but to the extent that we live in a democracy we all have some power.