Labour Party reveals new draft policy on antisemitism
[Image: Public Domain]
Note: thePipeLine has taken the editorial decision not to link to the hate site which appeared in the controversial post discussed below. However, the information is easily and openly available on the Internet, including to the senior leadership of the Labour Party.
by Andy Brockman
thePipeLine can reveal that the article denying that as many as six million Jewish people died in the Holocaust of World War Two posted on Facebook by a local council election candidate, which has left the leadership of the British Labour Party in termoil, is the product of a “Fake History” story which has been doing the rounds of Far Right groups, websites and internet hate radio for decades. However, the ease with which the nature and origin of the offensive claim that the International Red Cross has proved the Holocaust to be a hoax can be identified raises questions as to the competence of the senior leadership of the Labour Party who have been trying to contain the fall out from the controversy. Following from this are accusations that what critics claim is the initial downplaying and apparently slow response to the incident might be symptomatic of a wider antisemitic strand of thought in parts of the Labour movement.
The current controversy came about with the discovery that Labour party local election candidate Alan Bull had posted a link, on social media site Facebook, to an article under the headline “International Red Cross report confirms the Holocaust of 6m Jews is a hoax”. The article posted by Mr Bull, who was due to stand for the Labour Party in the May local council elections in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, was illustrated with a photograph of the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp, but with the infamous “Arbeit Macht Frei” [Work makes you free”] slogan replaced with the words “MUH HOLOCAUST”. “Muh Holocaust” is an internet meme and expression used by activists on the Far Right to indicate those who they claim are attempting to make money out of the Holocaust, or who are trying to deflect criticism of the State of Israel.
Mr Alan Bull’s controversial Facebook post, the Internet address for the Renegade Tribune is clearly visible.
[Public Domain via Facebook]
Amid a furious row about the Facebook post Mr Bull was suspended from the Labour Party. However, senior Labour figure Christine Shawcroft, who at the time was the chair of the Labour disputes panel which oversees disciplinary matters within the party, then sent an e-mail asking that Mr Bull’s membership be reinstated, suggesting that the post was merely ‘alleged to show anti-Semitism’.
While the post in question has since been deleted, with Mr Bull complaining it had been taken out of context, published images of the post show Mr Bull linked to an article by the US based Far Right internet radio station and website “Renegade Tribune”. Created in 2012, the Renegade Tribune is just one of many sites available freely on line, which publish White Nationalist, antisemitic and conspiracy based content.
The post in Renegade Tribune, which is dated August 6 2015, notes that it is in turn the repost of an article from another Far Right website, truedemocracyparty.net, which is dated June 4 2012, but even that is not the earliest mention of the story. In fact, the allegation that the International Committee of the Red Cross had released statistics which proved the Holocaust is a hoax is decades older, with evidence showing that the story has been doing the rounds in Far Right and Neo-Nazi circles for at least forty years. However, the story is a demonstrable fake.
In fact research has shown that the figure of 300,000 dead originated in the Swiss newspaper, “Die Tat,” in 1955. However, the estimate only related to people of German origin who died or were murdered in the concentration camp system. Neither did the paper cite the Red Cross as the source for its estimate.
The International Committee of the Red Cross itself responded to the allegations that the “Red Cross documents ” proved that Holocaust was a hoax in 1978, stating categorically that the ICRC had,
“Never published—or even compiled—statistics of this kind which are being falsely attributed to it”
However, critics of the actions of Ms Shawcroft and the Labour leadership will argue that the precise origin of the article posted by Mr Bull is not important. What is important, and what could make the Labour leadership culpable in the eyes of those critics, is the fact that it is so easy to uncover the fact that the post Mr Bull placed on Facebook is not simply deeply offensive, and historically wrong-headed, but that it originates on the Far Right of politics among people and ideas which the Labour Party has been fighting for almost a century.
To date, the fall out from Mr Bull’s post has forced Christine Shawcroft admit she was wrong to ask for Mr Bull to be reinstated and she has also resigned from her role as chair of the Labour disputes panel. Perhaps more importantly a highly critical letter, signed by forty Labour MP’s and Peers and sent to Mr Corbyn, has left Ms Shawcroft’s place on the NEC itself hanging by a thread.
However, defenders of Ms Shawcroft and of party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of the controversy, argue that the case is being promoted by Mr Corbyn’s critics and forms part of a broader attack on the Labour leader. The attacks are based on allegations that the response of the Labour leadership to allegations of antisemitism within parts of the Labour Party membership, has been slow and inadequate. This is because of the suspicion that some the on left of the party, as well as others who have recently joined, or rejoined the party having been involved previously with separate far left groups, many of which are highly critical of the State of Israel and its conduct, have allowed legitimate criticism and debate to morph into crude antisemitism. Critics of the Corbyn leadership within the Labour Party argue that one possible vehicle for the admission of these members is the pro Corbyn pressure group Momentum, of which Christine Shawcroft is also a director.
The letter, sent by the forty MP’s and Peers, including several Shadow front benchers, as well as leading members of the Labour Party who are Jewish such as Margaret Hodge and Luciana Berger, told Mr Corbyn,
“It is utterly wrong that somebody who defends a Labour candidate who has been suspended for Holocaust denial should be a member of Labour’s governing body.”
The letter also urged Mr Corbyn to suspend Ms Shawcross’s membership of the NEC pending an investigation, stating,
“You pledged this week to be an ally in the fight against antisemitism. This action would represent an initial step in honouring that commitment.”
Many in the Labour Party, as well as outside, will also be asking how some of the most senior and influential people in the Party could have so misread the potential damage that Mr Bull’s post could inflict. The Simon Wiesenthal Center which researches Nazi war crimes, said of the whole fake “Red Cross claim the Holocaust is a hoax” story,
“Despite the obvious deception, Holocaust deniers, continue to peddle it, hoping that few people will actually check the sources.”
On the basis of the evidence provided here by thePipeLine, evidence which took a matter of minutes to uncover, many will feel that part of the investigation should be to ask why Ms Shawcroft and the leadership of the Labour Party, especially those who select candidates to run for election in the party’s name, and the people in Jeremy Corbyn’s office who are meant to promote and guard the reputation of the Party, did not “check the sources”?
Or perhaps the Labour leaders and spin doctors just do not know how to undertake a simple Google search?
If they had run such a search they might also have found out that among the promotions on the Renegade Tribune, the site linked to by Mr Bull, is an operation called Third Reich Books, selling racist and antisemitic titles such as “The Immorality of the Talmud”, “the Subhuman” and “Reinhard Heydrich, the Ideal National Socialist”.
SS General Reinhard Heydrich, the so called “Butcher of Prague” hosted the infamous Wannsee Conference in Berlin which laid out the blueprint for the Holocaust and, following his assassination by Czech SOE operators in May 1942, the secret SS plan to begin the extermination of Jews living in the General Government district of German-occupied Poland was called Operation Reinhard as a macabre tribute.
The “Book Promotion” of racist Nazi period literature on the Renegade Tribune which the Labour Party failed to notice.
[Image: The Renegade Tribune- used in the public interest for the purpose of news reporting]
Holocaust Denial is the weaponisation of “Fake History” in the name of a Far Right and Nazi ideology
thePipeLine has, since the website started, engaged with the purveyors of “Fake History” whether it is the laughable hype and deliberate misrepresentations of TV series such as “Hunting Hitler” [see thePipeLine passim], or the more serious activities of fellow travelers of the Far Right such as Roger Clark’s detailed three part investigation of the activities of Harry [“I’m not a Neo-Nazi I’m a Republican”] Cooper and his associates on internet based hate radio. We even exposed the Far Right Holocaust denying tropes present in the Trump White House.
We are particularly concerned about the misuse of archaeological and historical data by people on the political extremes of the Far Left and Far Right. Political positions which, as George Orwell memorably satirised in Animal Farm, often seem to come together at the top of a circle of political opinion.
We are concerned about this issue, not just because “Holocaust Denial” cannot be defended in abstract historical terms, but because, make no mistake, Holocaust Denial is the weaponisation of “Fake History” in the name of a Far Right and Nazi ideology which did untold damage to countless lives in the first half of the twentieth century and which could do so again easily if it is allowed to flourish unopposed.
As a result we seek to expose the misuse of evidence and the deliberate lies which often accompany this traducing of history and we do so because it is one of the places where the work of historians and archaeologists comes hard up against the living memory of countless individuals and families whose lives were and often still are, affected by the actions of Nazi Germany during the Holocaust.
Members of the Labour Party should be particularly aware of the dangers of this profoundly dishonest use of history, not just because of the long and proud tradition of Jewish Socialism which continues to this day, but because the Holocaust took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people the rights of whom the Labour Party defends and promotes, including an estimated 270,000 people with disabilities and as many as 15,000 people who were gay, not to mention 7000 Spanish Republicans whose actions in confronting Fascism ware rightly lauded in the wider international Labour movement.
The failure of the senior leadership of the Party, including Ms Shawcroft, to remember the proud history of their movement in opposing Fascism, and to act rapidly and publicly to prevent Mr Bull ever propounding his offensive views from within the Labour Party again, should be enough to disturb and anger anyone in the heritage sector who values the values of their profession and calling. It should be particularly disturbing to the heritage professionals, and their are many, who are members and supporters of the Labour Party.