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With Panorama's Hatchet Job on Labour Antisemitism BBC has become the Tory's attack dog

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Suggesting that Jews are to blame for the racism they face because some extremists among them are fanatical supporters of Israel and its oppression of Palestinians would surely amount to antisemitism in most people's view.

Skewed political priorities

The relevance of this is that Ware and the BBC made a highly politicised decision to choose to focus exclusively on Labour and antisemitism, while ignoring the well-documented racism of the Conservative Party. That choice matches Ware's own skewed political priorities.

The BBC's flagship political documentary assumed that Labour suffers from an "antisemitism crisis" so severe that it needed to be the sole focus of an investigation into racism in British politics.

The decision to ignore the more visible issue of racism in the Conservative Party smacks of dangerous interference by the state broadcaster in the democratic process.

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Panorama's choice is even more astonishing given that the objective data again overlooked by the programme indicates that Labour has much less of a racism problem than the ruling Conservative party.

A survey this week confirmed what was already widely known: that Islamophobia racism towards Muslims and Arabs is rampant in Conservative ranks. A YouGov poll showed an astounding 56 per cent of party members believe Islam threatens the "British way of life".

The Tory party's former chair, Sayeeda Warsi, has long been ringing the alarm about senior officials, warning that they are indifferent to, or supportive of, Islamophobia in the party.

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Rampant Tory racism

In addition to rampant Islamophobia, figures show that the Conservatives also have a greater problem than Labour with antisemitism.

While Corbyn has been critical of antisemitic world leaders, the Conservative leadership has been cosying up to figures like Viktor Orban, Hungary's prime minister, who is known for his Jew-baiting and expressions of support for former Hungarian pro-Nazi leaders.

Boris Johnson, the Conservative MP widely expected to become the next prime minister when Theresa May steps down, has a long track record of making inciteful, racist statements.

Anti-semitism data ignored

While the Conservatives' undeniable racism problem has failed to attract any sustained media attention, the Labour Party's much less serious antisemitism problem has been blown out of all proportion.

The Panorama team ignored the most elementary facts undermining the now-pervasive narrative of a Labour "antisemitism crisis".

First, surveys show Labour voters are less likely to hold antisemitic views than the wider general public or Conservative voters, and the proportion of Labour supporters expressing such views has fallen dramatically under Corbyn. The data clearly refute suggestions that Corbyn has made the party more attractive to antisemites.

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Second, Labour's disciplinary process has found that instances of discernible antisemitism is marginal, at 0.06 per cent of its half a million members. And that is after Corbyn's political enemies have been scouring party members' accounts seeking evidence of antisemitism.

And third, much of the media coverage has attributed often anonymous hate speech on social media targeting Jews, including Labour MPs, to Labour activists when no evidence exists to support such attribution. The politicised climate is such now that far-right antisemitism is also being blamed on Corbyn.

Questions for the BBC

Corbyn's critics, of course, have been trying to deflect criticism of the BBC, Panorama and Ware by arguing that Labour's complaint is some kind of Trumpian attack on journalism. That is patent nonsense.

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Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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