Major Study Identifies Dozens of Influential Anti-Israel Twitter Accounts Defending UK’s Corbyn
A new study has found that much of the antisemitic and anti-Israel content on Twitter related to the UK’s Labour party is driven by only 36 accounts intensely supportive of the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The group of accounts, called the “Engine Room” in the report, are “amongst the most influential accounts on Twitter in engaging with online conversations about Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party and antisemitism,” with large numbers of followers and substantial influence over the online discourse on the subject.
The accounts, the report adds, “have a disproportionate focus on subjects relating to antisemitism, Jews, Zionism, Israel, and alleged smears against Labour and Corbyn.” They deal with these subjects seven times more often than other pro-Labour accounts.
The study was compiled by the Jewish organization Community Security Trust and is entitled “Engine of Hate.”
Not only do the offending accounts engage in antisemitic rhetoric themselves, they also tend to concentrate on the idea that the allegations of antisemitism against Corbyn and his party are “exaggerated, weaponized, invented, or blown out of proportion, or that Labour and Corbyn are victims of a smear campaign relating to antisemitism.”
Dominating the pro-Corbyn narrative on the issue is the anti-Israel website Electronic Intifada, which “has consistently promoted the idea that allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party are false, and are part of a smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn that is orchestrated by the Israeli government.”
The website’s Executive Director Ali Abunimah has defended the false claim that the Zionist movement was allied with Nazism, compared Israel to Nazi Germany, and rejects Israel’s right to exist.
Also prominent in the online campaigns is the site’s Associate Editor, Asa Winstanley. He claims that accusations of antisemitism are a smear campaign against Corbyn, asserts that mainstream UK Jewish organizations are primarily lobbyists for Israel, and attacks Corbyn for appeasing the Jewish community in cases where Labour members have been suspended for antisemitism.
In one case, Winstanely claimed that the pro-Israel Labour faction Jewish Labour Movement is “a proxy for the Israeli embassy,” based on an Al Jazeera documentary that also falsely claimed that the Israeli embassy in the UK had given activists a million pounds to discredit Corbyn.
Other prominent Engine Room accounts are the far left @SocialistVoice, which has disseminated claims that prominent businesses in the UK have “Jewish blood,” that the BBC is controlled by Jews, and implied the same about former prime minister David Cameron. The account holder, Scott Nelson, was eventually expelled from Labour for comparing Israel to Nazi Germany.
The account @otivar55 has also proved extremely popular, and made accusations that moderate Labour members are controlled by the Israeli embassy, and that anti-racist group Hope Not Hate has “fallen into hands of Zionist nationalists.”
An account named @Rachael_Swindon is also hugely popular, and has disseminated conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family and repeated the Al Jazeera one million pounds libel as well.
Popular account @55krissi55, with 10,000 followers, is also high on the list of influencers. It has claimed a “rich Jewish lobby is behind the criticisms of antisemitism in the Labour party.” It has also called Zionism “fascist” and said “powerful Zionists” buy influence in politics and the media.
On both Twitter and pro-Corbyn leftist websites, the CST report found that claims Corbyn is the victim of a smear campaign are hugely popular. The media is the first to be blamed for this, but also attacked are Jewish groups. Such claims were found to be twice as popular as those against “Israel-linked organizations,” indicating “the narrative of a smear campaign against Corbyn over antisemitism influences or reflects how Corbyn’s online supporters view British Jews, more than it influences or reflects how they view Israel.”
Among the organizations attacked are “CST, The Board of Deputies of British Jews, The Jewish Chronicle and the Jewish Labour Movement, while Israel-linked organisations that are identified include Labour Friends of Israel and BICOM (Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre).” Equally reviled is an amorphous “Israel lobby,” which is defined as a “Jewish lobby” far more often than as a “Zionist lobby.”
Since the far-left Corbyn, an intense critic of Israel, became party leader in 2015, Labour has been wracked by antisemitism scandals, including numerous suspensions of party members, mass resignations by MPs, and several controversies surrounding Corbyn himself.
The furor came to a head earlier this month when the BBC program Panorama broadcast a lengthy expose on antisemitism in the Labour party.
The Engine Room, notes the report, swung into high gear after the Panorama program was broadcast, with one account comparing its host to Joseph Goebbels, another calling him an Islamophobe, and another asserting “criticizing Israel for butcher of Palestinians is not racism.”