Last night, on Facebook, I shared a link to David Collier’s astonishing report on the appalling Antisemitism found on the ‘Palestine Live’ Facebook group.
The second reply I got was this:
Colin isn’t a close friend of mine, but I’ve met him a dozen or so times and we’ve known each other on-line for the best part of twenty years. Over that period I’ve always found him to be intelligent, thoughtful, balanced and moderate. I’d say that, over many on-line debates, I’ve been on the same side as him far more often than not. He’s one of those people where, if you find yourself on the opposing side, you do a little mental check, to make sure you’ve actually understood the issue properly.
In short, I have a great deal of respect for Colin, which is why I found his reply so disappointing. I told him so:
Colin replied just to say that was a poor analogy (you are invited to make your own mind up on this), but when I checked the Facebook thread this morning he’d edited his comment:
Let me remind you, this isn’t some frothing-at-the-mouth tankie or trot, this is someone who I’ve always found reasonable and always felt held political views not wildly dissimilar to my own.
Colin now refuses to discuss the report any further, because the author is partial. Another long-time on-line friend has joined the discussion to say that he wonder if the evidence is fabricated (he’s keen to point out that he’s not saying that it is, just that it is “highly suspicious”).
I guess that I am not the only person seeing the veneer of on-line friends scratched away today, nor the only person saddened by it. Where these people always like this, and I just never noticed it? Where they like this, but did a great job of hiding it until now? I’ve certainly seen plenty of Corbynites out today, trying to dismiss Collier’s work, in many cases clearly without having read a word of it. Hints: if you’re arguing that support for Palestine is being branded as Antisemitism then you haven’t read the report, if you’re asking for proof it was a closed group then you haven’t read the report, if you’re claiming that Corbyn himself was never a part of the group, or didn’t participate in it, then you haven’t read the report.
Read the report!
Then think about your response.
If you want to talk about the Tories selling weapons to Saudi, or cutting benefits, or whatever else what-aboutery comes to mind, then check your moral compass. Nobody is asking you to vote for the Tories if you don’t approve of what they do, but the flip side of that is that a vote for Labour is a vote to show you do approve of this Antisemitism at the highest levels of the party. There isn’t an option on the ballot to vote for just the bits you like. A vote for the current Labour party is a vote for the leaders is a vote for people who are happy to knowingly associate with holocaust deniers, conspiracy theorists and racists.
If your first instinct is to say that the evidence is biased, or ask for more evidence, or excuse it then consider this – IF YOU WANT TO FIX A PROBLEM YOU WELCOME EVIDENCE. If you refuse to see evidence that a problem exists, then you’re not interested in fixing that problem.
And if you’re not interested in fixing Antisemitism in the party that could be forming then next government, well, that’s evidence as well. Certainly evidence that, on balance, you won’t be a great loss from anybody’s Facebook feed.