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August 18, 2021 12:13 pm

In Reporting on Ken Loach Expulsion, UK Paper Ignores His Antisemitism

avatar by Adam Levick


British filmmaker Ken Loach. Photo: European Union 2016 – European Parliament

A Guardian article on the Labour Party’s expulsion of British filmmaker Ken Loach distorted the reason why he was expelled from the party, and omitted his record of antisemitism.

Here are the opening paragraphs of the article by Mattha Busby (“Director Ken Loach says he has been expelled from Labour,” Aug. 14), which is as close as the piece comes to providing an explanation [emphasis added]:

The veteran leftwing film-maker Ken Loach has said he has been expelled from the Labour party.

Loach, whose films are regarded as landmarks of social realism, claimed the move by the party was because he would “not disown those already expelled”, and he hit out at an alleged “witch-hunt”.

It follows reports last month that the Labour leader, Keir Starmer, was preparing to support a purge of factions vocally supportive of his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

It’s ironic that Loach himself, in calling out the “witch-hunt” against him, alludes to the reason he was reportedly expelled — a fact which the Guardian journalist completely ignores — his association with a group called Labour Against the Witch-hunt (LAW).

LAW is one of the pro-Corbyn groups alleging that claims of anti-Jewish racism under his leadership were fake, and that the entire antisemitism row was a “witch hunt” to bring down Corbyn and his supporters.

Last month, allies of Labour leader Kier Starmer on the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC), proscribed LAW and other such groups — a decision likely made to address the conclusions of the damning report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) last year.

As one component of antisemitic behavior within the Labour Party, the EHRC found that some members, such as former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, accused Jews who complained about antisemitism of engaging in baseless smears – and claiming it was part of a campaign by “the Israel lobby” to stigmatize critics of Israel as antisemitic.

As CST has documented, in addition to denying charges of antisemitism within Labour, LAW’s own events have included antisemitic rhetoric.

One of the panelists at a Zoom event they held last year — which included Tariq Ali, Tony Greenstein, Chris Williamson, and Norman Finkelstein — actually praised Holocaust denier David Irving.

Williamson, a former MP expelled from Labour, even attacked CAMERA at the event, along with other Jewish groups and media outlets, accusing them of working to “terrify editors, to terrify academics to, to frighten activists… even judges and lawyers.”

Another participant, Bristol University professor David Miller, alleged that “the Zionist movement and the Israeli government are the enemy of the left, the enemy of world peace and they must be directly targeted.”

Tellingly, unlike the Guardian, The Times report on Loach’s expulsion was clear about the reason in the opening sentence of their article:

Labour has thrown out the film-maker Ken Loach over his support for groups that denied the existence of antisemitism in the party.

The Guardian also failed to inform readers of Loach’s history of antisemitism.

In 1987, Loach directed “Perdition,” a play that was widely viewed as antisemitic and ultimately cancelled by the Royal Court Theatre. The CST’s Dave Rich wrote the following, summarizing the play:

“[It] argues that there was a deliberate and knowing strategy by the Zionist movement to sacrifice European Jews in return for getting a state of Israel. Morally, in this argument, the people who created the state of Israel were no better than the Nazis and actually collaborated in the Nazis crimes and therefore Israel has no legitimacy.”

In 2009, the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency reported an increase in European antisemitism. Loach said that the rise in antisemitism was “understandable” given Israel’s actions, and called the report a “red herring” designed to “distract attention” from Israel.

In 2018, when asked about a Labour fringe event where one speaker denied the Holocaust, Loach answered, “I think history is for us all to discuss, wouldn’t you?” (After fierce criticism, he later “acknowledged” that the Holocaust was real.)

The Guardian reporter’s obfuscation of the reason why Loach was expelled from Labour, and the whitewash of the filmmaker’s racism, is yet another example of the lengths the Guardian will go to distort or obfuscate facts that demonstrate antisemitism by those who share the media group’s ideology.

Adam Levick serves co-editor of CAMERA UK — an affiliate of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), where a version of this article first appeared.

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