BBC News again amplifies anti-Israel fringe group JVL

The BBC News website’s ‘UK politics’ page kicked off the Jewish New Year bright and early on the morning of September 16th with the publication of a report by Iain Watson titled ‘Jewish group steps up pressure on Keir Starmer’.

The six-year-old “Jewish group” concerned – ‘Jewish Voice for Labour’ or JVL – is tepidly portrayed in that report as a “campaign group” which “was supportive of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and is critical of Israel”.

“Campaign group Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL) has stepped up pressure on Sir Keir Starmer over its claim that their members have been unfairly discriminated against by the party.

The group, which was supportive of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and is critical of Israel, has long argued that its members have faced disproportionate disciplinary action under Sir Keir’s leadership. […]

JVL alleges that those who disagree with the current leadership about Israel or Palestine are suffering “a harsh disciplinary regime” – and claims its members are far more likely to be investigated for disciplinary breaches, and are far more likely to face expulsion than party members as a whole.

It says 11 out of the 12 members of its executive committee have been investigated by the party.

And it argues that the party has misconstrued criticism of Israel as antisemitism.”

Readers are not told that JVL’s support for Corbyn took the form of dismissal of allegations of antisemitism within the Labour party as efforts to “undermine” him. Neither are they informed of the relevant issue of JVL’s repeated use of the Livingstone Formulationthe claim that allegations of antisemitism are a ploy to ‘silence’ criticism of Israel – or that the group is decidedly more than merely “critical of Israel” and campaigned against the Labour Party’s adoption of the IHRA definition of antisemitism.  

Watson’s portrayal of the claim by long-time JVL ally John McDonnell that the Labour Party has ‘discriminated’ against members of JVL and his description of the action taken by the legal firm Bindmans would of course have been much clearer to readers had they been told something of the activities of members of that fringe group.

However, Watson chose to ignore the irony of the fact that a group which for years deliberately downplayed antisemitism within the Labour party is now claiming ‘discrimination’, even though he promoted a link to a BBC report from July 2022 about McDonnell’s allegations which states:

“Mr McDonnell claims the report shows the party used its disciplinary procedures to target members of the pro-Corbyn Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL)

He said a disproportionate number of JVL members had been disciplined, suspended and expelled from the party.

Members of the group were up to 35 times more likely to face anti-Semitism investigations than other, mostly non-Jewish, Labour members, he claimed.” [emphasis added]

As noted by some observers, the BBC’s report (which JVL liked so much that it reposted it on its website) did not include any comment from mainstream Jewish organisations.

Six months ago we noted on these pages that “BBC promotion of ‘Jewish Voice For Labour’ should not surprise” given the corporation’s record of disproportionate promotion of members of that group such as Glyn Secker, Jenny Manson and Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi.

As we see, the BBC continues to provide amplification for the talking points of a fringe group which does not represent either the Jewish community in the UK or the majority of Jewish members of the Labour party.

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