WHEN Margaret Thatcher died, the BBC decided not to send a camera crew to Eastern Europe to see how her resolute stand against the USSR had delivered freedom to the slave states of the Warsaw Pact. Instead they concentrated on Easington in County Durham, a former colliery town, and interviewed some of the former miners who were part of Arthur Scargill’s attempts to employ thuggery and bullying to bring down a government that had been elected with a landslide vote in a free and fair election.
It is therefore not too surprising that the town’s MP, one Grahame Morris, is not necessarily a moderate politician.
This might explain Labour’s latest bout of anti-Semitism. Fresh from Labour’s official account sending out an inappropriate tweet for the Jewish holy day of Passover, Morris decided to double-down using Twitter himself.
Morris re-tweeted footage he claimed showed soldiers of the Israel Defence Force (IDF) threatening and assaulting Palestinian children. The original tweet came from a prolific pro-Labour tweeter who had her account temporarily suspended last month by Twitter for abusive content.
It was very quickly demonstrated to Morris that the footage did not show Israeli soldiers. Even the IDF pointed this out. In fact the troops were from the Guatemalan army. This did not mean that the IDF had subcontracted the Guatemalans to work in the Middle East. The footage was shot in South America. The children being victimised were not Palestinian.
Morris went rather silent after this news came out for what, in internet terms, was an age.
He then apologised.
I am sorry for sharing a post which purports to show the IDF hurting children but it was in fact the Guatemalan Army.
My error demonstrates the dangers of fake news online and I will be more diligent in future in checking my sources.
— Grahame Morris (@grahamemorris) April 23, 2019
But there are a couple of things wrong here.
The first is that this was not ‘fake news’. It was accurate news of the excessive behaviour of Guatemalan soldiers that had been re-purposed. And that raises the second issue here.
Morris was worked up by what he regarded as the conduct of the State of Israel. But when he found out he was really looking at the activity of the State of Guatemala, what did he do?
Apparently nothing. Zilch. Zip. Nada. Gornisht, Klum.
So while apologising for an unwarranted attack on the State of Israel, he was actually being anti-Semitic.
Guatemala has democratic institutions and elections. It’s just that Freedom House, an organisation that measures levels of democracy, does not rate the country too highly at present. Israel rates higher.
One of the definitions of anti-Semitism provided by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) is ‘Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.’
And this is what Morris did. He apologised when he was told the source of the images. But he did not feel like rightly condemning Guatemala in the same way he unjustly condemned Israel. As far as he was concerned, the matter was over.
However, Labour had also, grudgingly it has to be said, adopted the IHRA definitions. Outraged by what he saw if the troops were Israeli, it was apparently not worthy of any comment by Morris otherwise. So will Morris be thrown out of Labour for blatant anti-Semitism by omission?
This is unlikely. There is a department in the Labour Party called the ‘Compliance Unit’ that investigates accusations of anti-Semitism. Labour refuses to discuss the actions of this unit. Certainly, it was never mentioned in Shami Chakrabarti’s appalling whitewash of a report into Labour’s structural anti-Semitism. If Richard Burgon won’t be expelled for shouting out insults about Jewish supporters of a homeland at a public meeting, neither will Morris for omitting to show concern over bullying soldiers, just because they are not from the IDF.
But there is a second reason. Labour’s back office apparatus is now reported to be fully Corbynised after the last non-Corbynite was frog-marched out of party headquarters.
The worst part of this sorry saga might be that Morris simply does not realise what he did with his apology and why he is still in the wrong. And now there is no one in an official position in the Labour Party who will ever point this out to him.