Andrew Feinstein knows what anti-Semitism is, and where it can lead. His mother was a Holocaust survivor. 39 members of her family were not. He has lived in Apartheid South Africa, and experienced anti-Semitism there. He is also a Labour supporter, and in particular a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. This has resulted in him attracting abuse.
After the Telegraph’s increasingly wayward pundit Allison Pearson had referred to Corbyn as “An appalling anti-Semite Marxist”, he responded “I am Jewish. My mother was a Holocaust survivor who lost 39 members of her family in the camps. I have lectured at Auschwitz on genocide prevention. I experienced anti-Semitism in apartheid South Africa. I can state unequivocally that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite!”.
This prompted Islamophobic bigot David Collier to sneer “I don't know what is sadder. That you begin 'as a Jew', that you use Holocaust victims in an attempt to legitimise yourself further or that you actually believe the total poppycock you are trying to sell”. He didn’t begin “As a Jew”. But then the Jewish Chronicle and Murdoch Times entered the fray.
The JC, under the by-line of Daniel Sugarman, told readers “Jewish social media users respond in disgust to Corbyn-supporting accounts mimicking Holocaust tweet … The original tweet, by a far-left Jewish activist, described how his family's experience of the Holocaust meant he could 'state unequivocally that Jeremy Corbyn is not antisemitic’”.
There was, however, a problem with Sugarman’s article: three of the Twitter accounts pictured (@SAULBENKISH, @NewhamFirst and @mohammedmehboo6) have no obvious connection to either Corbyn or Labour generally, save that the last-named uses an image of the Labour leader as its avatar. But, so what? That proves nothing.
Still, Sugarman was not downhearted. “Feinstein is real though. I must say, it's kind of him to take time out from RTing Holocaust deniers in order to use his own murdered family members to deny Labour antisemitism”. He RTd Sarah Wilkinson once. Sugarman is being disingenuous here, though, because what he RTd was a news item: the two Tweets he shows from Ms Wilkinson that give off a whiff of anti-Semitism were not RTd by Feinstein.
That, though, was enough for Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian to proclaim “Activists defending Jeremy Corbyn from allegations of antisemitism have shared cut and pasted backstories claiming that they are the children of Holocaust survivors”. They’re activists? How do you know? Those Twitter accounts I quoted show no sign of it.
Having challenged Sugarman to a public debate on anti-Semitism, the Labour Party, Holocaust Remembrance and racism, Feinstein concludes “The crazy cowardly reactionary assault on me has only made me more determined to use my family & political history to fight the weaponisation of antisemitism 4 reactionary political ends. I’ll always fight racism in all its forms. Thanks 4 all the support”.
It’s sad that Jews who conclude independently that Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite find themselves under attack for their freely expressed political choice - and castigated for telling that their families were decimated at death camps like Auschwitz and Theresienstadt. And the talking up of seemingly random Twitter accounts as Corbyn-supporting activists is very poor journalism. It almost smacks of desperation.
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