A veteran left-wing activist has linked Israel to the racist murder of George Floyd by claiming that American police forces are trained in Israel and have learned dubious techniques of restraint from their Israeli counterparts. He went on to accuse “Israeli embassies” of claiming that any criticism of Israel is antisemitic and that one of the “central targets” of this campaign has been the former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
Tariq Ali made the incendiary comments in an online conversation with Mr Corbyn, who listened quietly to his remarks without objecting, under the aegis of the Stop the War Coalition, which has appeared in the past to advocate war against Israel and whose marches have featured antisemitic tropes.
Mr Ali said during the panel event with Mr Corbyn: “I would now like to come to another part of the world which ironically links the knee on the neck to George Floyd to this region because a lot of the American police forces have been trained in Israel. Not just the Americans but many from right-wing countries in South America. And the methods in dealing with protests or ordinary citizens is virtually the same. You can find lots of photos of Israelis when these people are brave enough to take photographs with their knees on the neck of Palestinians.”
He added: “This is another subject which has virtually been downgraded compared to even five or six years ago because people have got frightened about this campaign which alleges everyone is antisemitic except those who support Israel. That’s basically the campaign that was waged by Israeli embassies everywhere of which one of the central targets was Jeremy Corbyn.”
The claim that Israel is in any way responsible for the racist killing of George Floyd is reminiscent of repeated defamations of the Jewish people who have been blamed throughout history for atrocities. Moreover, the suggestion that allegations of antisemitism have been used to silence criticism of Israel is itself an antisemitic trope popularised by Ken Livingstone and accuses Jews of acting in bad faith when they call out anti-Jewish racism. Mr Ali’s claim that this campaign was led by “Israeli embassies” is a further popular and outrageous conspiratorial belief.
It is shameful that in a discussion of the racist killing of George Floyd, a speaker felt the need to accuse another minority.
Naturally, Mr Corbyn, who is himself an antisemite, did not object to Mr Ali’s claims. Later in the conversation he declared: “Let’s get it clear, antisemitism is wrong, it’s evil and it should never be condoned in any circumstances. I never would, you never would, in any way and we must all be united against racism of any sort — antisemitism, Islamophobia or racism in the USA following the murder of our friend in Minnesota.” His comments rang even more hollow than usual given what Mr Ali had just said in his presence.
On 28th May 2019, the Equality and Human Rights Commission launched a full statutory investigation into antisemitism in the Labour Party following a formal referral and detailed legal representations from Campaign Against Antisemitism, which is the complainant.
In the first release of its Antisemitism in Political Parties research, Campaign Against Antisemitism showed that Labour Party candidates for Parliament in the 2019 general election accounted for 82 percent of all incidents of antisemitic discourse by parliamentary candidates.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism advocates for zero tolerance of antisemitism in public life. To that end we monitor all political parties and strive to ensure that any cases of concern are properly addressed.