In 2012, blogger Richard Millett was attending a SOAS Palestine Society event in London and was called “a typical Israeli” by a pro-Palestinian attendee who objected to his filming of the event.
Millett is not Israeli. He’s a British Jew whose family has been in the UK for nearly 150 years. He also routinely defends Jews and Israel with first person reports published at his blog – posts which include audio and video recorded while monitoring events featuring activists (and sometimes even MPs) hostile to Israel’s existence and, at times, openly hostile to Jews.
Moreover, If you’re wondering whether the pejorative use of the word “Israeli” hurled at Richard was racist, simply replace “Israeli” with any other identity and repeat the charge. “You’re a typical Arab.” “You’re at typical Black,” etc.
Or, how about if someone said to the Jewish blogger, “You’re a typical Zionist”?
Well, one MP in particular, Jeremy Corbyn, the current leader of the British Labour Party, said something akin to this in a reference to Millett at a 2013 event, as revealed in a Daily Mail story last week.
Here’s a clip of Corbyn’s speech at the conference, which included prominent British extremists and, tellingly, was actually promoted by the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.
Corbyn was referring to a previous event in parliament he had hosted that featured a talk by Palestinian envoy Manuel Hassassian. One of the “British Zionist” criticized by Corbyn was Richard Millett, who attended and blogged about the event with Hassassian.
“British Zionists” such as Millett, according to Corbyn, lack both an understanding of history and appreciation of English irony, ‘despite having lived in the UK all their lives’. Though he used the euphemism “Zionists”, it seems clear (based on a broader transcript of the remarks) that British Jews were the object of his ire, depicting them as an alien group that are not fully British.
The accusation by Corbyn about “British Zionists” triggered a formal complaint by Campaign Against Antisemitism, and prompted Millett to demand an apology from the Labour leader.
Here’s Millett’s response to Corbyn, in a video published by the Daily Mail.
Of course, the real ‘irony’ in all of this is that Corbyn’s own words vindicate the work of Millett, and others, such as David Collier, which is premised upon the understanding – based on sound empirical evidence and their first person reports – that there’s a strong correlation between antisemitic and anti-Israel attitudes in the UK.
Corbyn’s attack on Millett also vindicates those of us who have believed that defences of Corbyn along the lines of “though he frequently associates with and champions the causes of anti-Semites, there’s no evidence he’s personally antisemitic” strained credulity. As Times of London argued in a leader published yesterday, representing an increasing consensus on Corbyn, even among the British left, in “singling out Jews on the basis of their ethnicity as problematic and in need of ‘lessons‘”, the Labour leader “is revealed as straightforwardly antisemitic”.
Millett is a both a long-time contributor to UK Media Watch and a friend, and we’re thrilled his unique brand of citizen journalism is finally getting the attention and credit it deserves.