Heather Mendick, PhD is a Senior Research Consultant, who also happens to be a Jewish woman that has been attacked by the Labour Party, she has suffered bullying and alienation while being accused of antisemitism, Heather hoped to gain an opportunity to debate her position, however…
Last week, Heather Mendick and Owen Jones entered into a slight Twitter spat. Heather Mendick had asked for retweets proposing Jones used his platform to debate her on Labour antisemitism, this soon extended to other left wing victims of the Witch Hunt being put forward for a debate.
As these things do, the spat started to escalate. One person in a tweet made a suggestion to Jones saying: “you should interview Jackie Walker, Chris Williamson and Simon Maginn of #ItWasAScam”
In reply Owen Jones made a derogatory Tweet stating:
“And the day I cater for that tiny corner of Twitter is the day I throw myself off the nearest cliff!”
This of course has been the constant with Owen Jones when challenged to debate his role in the Witch Hunt. Heather Mendick again challenged Jones, stating:
“Owen will never debate me. First, in his understanding of the world, I’m a conspiracist, less deserving of a platform than Paul Mason and Peter Hitchens. Second, I would insist he be accountable for his role in dividing and smearing the left, and he is unable to do that.”
Jones deflected in a Tweet when Stevie Wych @StevieWych: accused Jones saying: “Exactly this, stop deflecting Owen, sit down and discuss how you took part in the witchhunt. You could have pointed out the hypocrisy of the media and politicians but you never. To heal the wounds of the left, this needs addressing and apologising for.”
“The witch-hunt you think I’ve taken part in is the action taken by the then left wing leadership of the Labour Party against people like Williamson and Walker. You are so defined by cognitive dissonance you can’t even see it”
Of course, like many Twitter spats, nothing was resolved and due to the nature of Twitter, evidence of Jones’s participation in the Witch-hunt was restricted to a few lines, however, Gavin Lewis has covered the bases in the extensive article he explores, Jones’s participation the #Witchhunt, cataloguing the weaponisation of antisemitism from the Guardian columnist Owen Jones.
Ken Loach and other Victims of Owen Jones’ Guardian pro-Israel smears. By Gavin Lewis
In 2014 Israel bombarded Gaza. According to the UN figures cited in the New York Times and Huffington Post, this bombardment consisted of “6,000 airstrikes, 14,500 tank shells along with a total of 45,000 artillery shells all unleashed between July 7 and Aug. 26”. This onslaught carried out by Israel had a death toll of 2,252 Palestinians of which 551 were children. In the last month of the bombardment Before the corpse of the last murdered child had been laid to rest, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) was born, clearly designed to overwrite the outrage and complaints about the continued destruction and disproportionate Israeli killings.
It was part of an overall public relations driven moral panic supporting Israel, claiming anti-Semitism was the real problem. From that moment on a pro-Israel hierarchy of victimhood was imposed with concerns about anti-Semitism at its top. Anyone that spoke out against Israel for their attacks on Palestine – or was even a potential critic – was deemed antisemitic, any dissent was to be battered down with faked moral outrage and false equivalence.
At the forefront of this weaponisation of antisemitism was Guardian columnist Owen Jones. Jones immediately began to field propaganda on behalf of those who supported the settler aggressors, firstly in an article entitled Anti-Jewish hatred is rising- we must see it for what it is (Aug 2014).
Exactly a year later when there was a risk Palestinian victims might be commemorated, Jones’s article response was instead Antisemitism has no place on the left. It is time to confront it (Aug 2015).
Overwriting and ignoring Israel’s aggressions, Jones’ participation in the supporting white ethnic moral panic continued. He followed up his 2014 and 2015 theme of anti-Semitism again in 2016 and three more times in 2018. He continued to do so way into 2019 and 2020 using his columns in The Guardian to reach his soft liberal audience.
Despite marketing himself as a leftist, Jones supported the moral panic turning on significant Labour Party figures, including the then MP Chris Williamson, who’d attempted to stand up to the Israel lobby’s McCarthyite targeting of the Party. Williamson had previously stated:
“The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party. I have got to say, I think our party’s response has been partly responsible for that because in my opinion… we’ve backed off far too much, we have given too much ground, we’ve been too apologetic… We’ve done more to address the scourge of anti-Semitism than any other party.”
Even the right-wing blogger Guido Fawkes accused Jones of responding with an Orwell Ministry of Truth-like deletion of Williamson from a previous testimonial to left-wing MPs. Media Lens noted Williamson received support from Jewish scholar Professor Norman Finkelstein, but Owen Jones further contributed to the McCarthyism by instead, accusing Williamson of having “caused distress”.
Phrases like “caused distress” and “Jewish sensitivities” are tactics repeatedly used in the absence of genuine logic and evidence, by those briefed by the lobby, to generate an exclusive privileged subjective narrative position, to the exclusion of disempowered, Palestinian, Black and working-class marginalised identities.
It is difficult to find examples by the UK media and particularly Jones’s white ethnocentric reportage of equivalently framing articles from ‘Black-British and/or Muslim sensitivities.’ Yet Britain has a significant Black Lives Matter crisis of Black deaths at the hands of the police, including Jermaine Baker, Sheku Bayoh, Leon Briggs, Rashan Charles, Kevin Clarke, Mark Duggan, and Trevor Smith. Similarly, those people who believed Tony Blair’s poisonous ideology of collective Muslim guilt – labelled ‘radical Islam’ or militant Islam – have among many such crimes firebombed Bishopbriggs, Glasgow and Finsbury Park, London mosques, murdered 82yr old grandfather Muhammad Saleem – with his killer planting bomb devices on three further Mosques; and attacked Muslim women wearing the Niqab, in the street. Clearly being white and having your support for racist colonial Apartheid challenged, outranks actually dying from racism for Jones.
Jones Turns on Labour, Ken Loach and Absents Israeli Fascism
From Williamson, Jones segued into attacking internationally revered socialist filmmaker Ken Loach, a joint record twice winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Loach as a Palestinian supporter has just been expelled from the now Blairite, Keir Starmer led Labour Party, due to his solidarity with other recently banned socialists. In the aftermath of the expulsion Jones condemned Loach’s past actions as director of the Jim Allen play, Perdition (1987), which sought to examine the ways that two different manifestations of western imperialism – German fascism and Zionism – attempted to achieve accommodations with each other.
In a series of tweets Owen Jones opined:
“In 1987, Loach directed a play called ‘Perdition’ which he defended on free speech grounds, but which was incredibly distressing to Jewish people on entirely well-founded grounds.”
“It is important that I properly reflect the justifiable distress caused by this play to Jewish people.”
Why would someone on the left want to make this play? So again, while I do not support the action against Ken Loach, it is important that I properly reflect the justifiable distress caused by this play to Jewish people, and so therefore apologise for the tone of my tweet.— Owen Jones 🌹 (@OwenJones84) August 23, 2021
Not for the first time Jones misrepresents Zionists and all the Jewish diaspora as one and the same. And once again, Jones attempts to subjectivise a narrative around this one group’s presumed feelings – or supposed ‘distress’ – regardless of what the genuine evidence, historical accuracy might indicate, or of instead offering a balanced representation of the sensibilities and accounts of other parties.
In actual fact, Perdition was inspired by real events resulting in two trials in Israel centred on the activities of Rezső Kasztner. Capitalist Kasztner was accused of having collaborated with Nazi Adolf Eichmann in order to get a small group of other rich capitalist Jews out of harm’s way, by throwing a far much larger demographic of working-class Jews, to the wolves of the death camps.
Asa Winstanley’s Electronic Intifada critique of Owen Jones, and very specific summary of these historical events, previous background material and follow-up article are worthy of recommendation. Despite the specificity of the material it drew from Jones invidious veiled accusations about Winstanley supposedly having made generalisations about Jewish people. In light of this, it is worth recalling what even Israel’s judges had to say about the case.
In the first trial, Judge Benjamin Halevy concluded “Kasztner sold his soul to the devil. Masses were sacrificed for the sake of a few.”
When the case went on to Israel’s Supreme Court much of this judgement was overturned by the panel of judges. However, Judge Moshe Silberg was still vehement in his condemnation of Krasztner. “Kasztner, in order to carry out the rescue plan for the few prominents, fulfilled knowingly and without good faith, the stated desire of the Nazis, thus expediting the work of exterminating the masses” (Hecht, Ben Perfidy – 1961- pp. 244–246).
Journalist Max Blumenthal who is actually Jewish, upon learning of Jones’ smearing of Loach, cited a further example of collaboration that supported the Loach/Allen position, and directed readers to the documentation on mirroring Zionist racial purity themes, unearthed by the historian Leni Brunner.
On June 21, 1933, the Zionistische Vereinigung fur Deutschland, the German Zionist Federation, appealed to the Nazis:
“May we, therefore, be permitted to present our views, which, in our opinion, make possible a solution in keeping with the principles of the new German State of National Awakening…. because we, too, are against mixed marriage and are for maintaining the purity of the Jewish group….
For its practical aims, Zionism hopes to be able to win the collaboration even of a government fundamentally hostile to Jews…. Boycott propaganda – such as is currently being carried on against Germany in many ways – is in essence un-Zionist, because Zionism wants not to do battle but to convince and to build.”
Specifically, in relation to Palestine, there is also the example of Avraham Stern of the Lehi group. In order to facilitate the subsequent al-Nakba, Stern and Lehi bombed Palestine’s social spaces and killed Britain’s soldiers in an effort to push its forces from the region. Stern’s attempt at securing a pact with the Nazis against the British is well documented and is openly cited. Among the easily available article sources are History.info
‘The Jew who Wanted an Alliance with the Nazis and Fascists,’
The Times of Israel
‘The rehabilitation of an underground revolutionary‘ and the Jewish Virtual Library
bio ‘Avraham Stern.’
Ironically the issue of the subsequent post-war Fascist/Zionist relationship was cited back when Jones’ own Guardian publisher was still credible as a news source. In 2006 journalist Chris McGreal noted…
“(I)n 1976, Israel invited the South African prime minister, John Vorster – a former Nazi sympathiser and a commander of the fascist Ossewabrandwag that sided with Hitler – to make a state visit.”
Here Vorster identified mutual racist colonial self-interest stating…
“Israel and South Africa have one thing above all else in common: they are both situated in a predominantly hostile world inhabited by dark peoples.”
Jones would benefit from reading the article.
More recently Afrikaner converts to Judaism are able to resume their Apartheid privileges in the middle-east because as Haaretz (2021) has noted, Israel is accepting them as immigrant citizens. Yet currently as Middle East Eye (2021) has documented, Israel isn’t at all recognising Black Ugandan Jews – born and bred into the faith – and is denying them entry.
Clearly despite Jones’ appeal to emotional melodrama, history demonstrates these dynamics are appropriate subjects for political scrutiny by dramatists of Ken Loach and Jim Allen’s calibre.
Jones ‘Black Jews don’t count’ ideology
Over the years of the moral panic Jones, has apparently been willing to provide ideological cover for the racism in Israel’s DNA, and this means the only ‘distressed’ Jews he has been willing to represent has been the white ones, who support violent colonialism.
If he had been representing the grievances of Black Jews, he’d have been pointing out that Israeli Apartheid also applies to them. The Times of Israel in 2012 – followed by Haaretz in 2013 – confirmed that Black Jews of Israel had been subjected to forced contraception injections suppressing their population by up to 50%.
This was not the first time Israel’s western settlers had resorted to eugenics with the victims being Other Jews. Previously -middle-eastern Jews were treated as a lesser humanity than the westerners. Coverage of the Yemenite Children Affair by Jewish news agency Mondoweiss (2017) and by BBC News – strategically downplayed to just its website- revealed that in the violent era of Israel – euphemistically described as – ‘being formed’, Yemeni Jewish babies were stolen from their mothers for forced adoption to childless western settlers. Human experimentation also took place with Mondoweiss revealing “a Knesset committee followed up by confirming earlier this month that Yemenite babies died during the 1950s after state medical institutions conducted experiments on them.”
Israel’s Ethiopian Black Jewish population has also been hit by broader Apartheid policies. Ynetnews (2009) and the Jerusalem Post (2012) listed towns operating whites only housing practices to the exclusion of Ethiopian-Israelis. For years Israel’s hospitals and Red Cross has dumped so-called ‘Black blood’ donations as unclean. In 2013 the Times of Israel reported this practice even being applied to an unusually prominent Ethiopian-Israeli politician Pnina Tamanu Shata.
There are more examples of Israel’s racism than can fit into this article. But it is worth mentioning not even children are safe from colonial discrimination. In 2017, the Daily Beast reported that Tel Aviv was racially segregating its kindergartens to keep Black and white toddlers apart. This was confirmed by the 2018 coverage of Haaretz.
Similarly echoing 1930s Zionist racial purity themes, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK Tzipi Hotovely is a vociferous opponent of even mixed marriage. While, Israeli Knesset lawmaker Yitzhak Pindrus has called for the murder of mixed marriage couples.
Jones is known infamously among the public as ‘the weathervane’ for his willingness to go whichever way the wind blows – particularly as he has been pictured socialising with members of the Israel lobby (see image). Now, given the huge anger among the Labour-supporting general public, about the pro-Israel moral panic, the resulting loss of Jeremy Corbyn, and the historic socialist identity of the Party, Jones has started tentatively acknowledging the plight of Palestinians. This does raise questions both about Jones as a test example and the corporate media in general. Is the public supposed to forget their victims among Palestinians, Black Jews and Labour supporters smeared by the new McCarthyism? Not even Ken Loach was safe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gavin Lewis is a freelance Black British mixed-race writer and academic. He has published in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States on film, media, politics, cultural theory, race, and representation. He has taught critical theory and film and cultural studies at a number of British universities. He is a member of the British trade union Bectu.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Labour Heartlands or its editors Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organisation, company, individual or anyone or anything.
 https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/04/labour-mission-transform-britain-respond-fears-antisemitic-abuse & https://www.theguardian.com/politics/video/2018/apr/13/jon-lansman-tells-owen-jones-we-have-failed-to-deal-sufficiently-deeply-with-antisemitism & https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/31/antisemitism-frank-field-resign-jumped-mp-labour
 https://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/muslim-woman-has-face-scarf-ripped-off-in-racist-attack-outside-london-university-a3196501.html & https://more.bham.ac.uk/euro-islam/2013/11/26/muslim-women-likely-suffer-islamophobic-attacks-men/