CAA investigation reveals even more racist tweets by Prof. John Ashton as well as his trolling of the BBC to include Gaza in a Holocaust commemoration, while hundreds sign our petition to take him off air
An investigation by Campaign Against Antisemitism has revealed that Prof. John Ashton’s racism toward Jews goes even deeper than previously realised.
In one instance, Prof. Ashton trolled the BBC on Twitter urging it to include the “ghetto” in Gaza in a Holocaust commemoration. Among several other ugly breaches of the International Definition of Antisemitism, he has even goaded Jews on the Jewish New Year to “get behind the Palestinians”.
After antisemitic comments made by Prof. Ashton were revealed in the Jewish Chronicle last week, Campaign Against Antisemitism launched a petition to urge the BBC, ITV and Sky News to stop inviting him to appear as a regular commentator on their news programmes.
As well as his comments revealed last week (in tweets he has since deleted), which included phrases such as “time for Jews to reflect” and “Zionists behave like Nazis”, we have now uncovered further comments which show the extent and venomousness of his obsession.
In light of these revelations, and the BBC’s and Sky News’ dismissal of Prof. Ashton’s antisemitism as mere “political views”, we call upon others to join the hundreds who have already signed the petition to get him off our television screens. You can sign the petition here.
Prof. Ashton’s equation of Israelis and Nazis was not limited to one or two social media posts, but is in fact a constant theme to which he has returned time and again. “Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis” is a breach of the International Definition of Antisemitism, yet Prof. Ashton has routinely made the comparison, claiming, for example, that Gaza is a “ghetto” or a “concentration camp”, for which he blames Israel. He has also repeatedly stated that Israel is somehow betraying the victims of the Holocaust and has even appeared to criticise Holocaust remembrance because it focuses on the Holocaust and takes no account of the latest Israeli policies.
His comments include:
- “Damn you Zionists! How you have betrayed the victims of the Holocaust.”
- “They insult the memory of the victims of Holocaust,” which he tweeted while posting an article about Israel by the disgraced antisemitic journalist, Mira Bar-Hillel.
- It’s very sad how intransigence of the Zionists has sullied the universal empathy for the victims of the Holocaust.”
- “The Zionist created ghettoes of Gaza.”
- “Shame on you Israel and damn your custodianship of the victims of the Holocaust.”
- “The Balfour Declaration [Britain’s pledge to establish a national home for the Jews] provided for a 2 state solution .Instead we have a Zionist (Fascist) state and a concentration camp.”
- “Israel is burning up all the goodwill that was a legacy of the Holocaust. Is this what our Jewish friends, brothers and sisters really want?”
- “Gaza is a concentration camp created by the Zionists. The supreme irony.”
- “Israel shames the victims of the Holocaust.”
There have been other instances as well:
- He has critiqued Israeli policy and alleged Jewish hypocrisy by riffing on a famous poem from the period, tweeting “then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew”.
- Commenting on a newspaper article about the high approval rating of Israel’s Prime Minister following a war with the genocidal terrorist group, Hamas, Prof. Ashton wrote: “So much for the Holocaust!”
- When the BBC tweeted that “it is 70 years since the beginning of the Warsaw Uprising. 200,000 people were killed. Hear from a survivor,” Prof. Ashton, apropos of nothing, replied: “Gaza also is a ghetto with many being murdered.”
In September 2013, Prof. Ashton also tweeted: “Happy Jewish New Year. Now get behind the Palestinians.” According to the Definition, “Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the State of Israel” is an example of antisemitism.
Prof. Ashton also has a habit of condemning Israel for “acting in the name of the Jewish G-d”. For example, responding to claims of a skirmish between Israel and Hamas in 2012, he tweeted: “What is done in the name of the Jewish G-d?” An hour later he tweeted on the same subject: “In Jewish G-ds name”.
He also has an obsession with referencing the Hebrew bible, which is Judaism’s holy book and known to Christians as the Old Testament, as a slur. Sometimes he does this in a context that is unrelated to Jews or Israel, for example, likely with regard to the relationship between the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and the editor of the News Of The World Rebekah Brooks, during the period of the phone-hacking scandal, he tweeted in May 2012: “There’s something very Old Testament about this Rebekah business.“ With regard to a claim in September 2012 that David Cameron was honouring men but not women, he tweeted: “this is perfectly logical. To those who have shall be given +to those who don’t have should be taken away. Very Old Testament.”
More recently, Prof. Ashton replied to someone asking for the most reliable reference source of COVID-19 death rates, and he responded: “Probably at Johns Hopkins . The first proper medical school and School of Public Health in the USA. Before that the universities were all run by professors of divinity with no science . Ironic since our SAGE has been treated as Old Testament prophets. Duh.”
But just as often his comments about the Old Testament are directed toward Israel or Jews, for example:
- “Fundamentalist Zionist Old Testament interpretation of 20 eyes for 1 eye will produce a new generation of militant jihadists, so it goes on.”
- “Hundreds of eyes for two eyes. Israel’s disproportionate responses.”
- “If disease breaks out in Gaza Israel will not be exempt. Very Old Testament.”
- “Generally speaking 10 seriously injured em for each one killed [sic]. Well done the Old Testament. A child for a child! Shitty philosophy.”
In the past, despite (or perhaps because of) his record, Prof. Ashton has felt the need to emphasise to his followers that he is not antisemitic. For example here, here and here.
When the Jewish Chronicle first reported on some of his previous antisemitic comments, Prof. Ashton advanced three principal defences on social media.
The first was that “Last year I left the Labour Party in part because of the way that Luciana Berger and Dame Louise Ellman were being treated by antisemitic elements.” However, this was a strange announcement, given that he has spent years trolling these two Jewish women MPs from his home city of Liverpool on social media. Instances include:
- Asking: “why is Luciana Berger silent on full disclosure on campaign funds received from Labour Friends for Israel?” Similarly, he has asked: “Why is Louise Ellman silent on full disclosure of campaign funds from Labour Friends for Israel?”
- Replying to someone who described Dame Louise as a “vile Zionist”, he mused: “Is it time for a human being to stand against Louise Ellman in next year’s general election??” He has also referred to Dame Louise as a “Zionist” in a derogatory manner in at least one tweet of his own.
Prof. Ashton’s suggestion that Dame Louise, as a Zionist, was somehow inhuman, was also not an isolated occurence. On another occasion, he asked in a now-deleted tweet whether the Jewish Chronicle was “on the side of humanity or in the pocket of the Zionists.” Prof. Ashton appears to believe that Zionism, the movement to grant Jews the same right to self-determination as all other peoples on earth, is the antithesis of humanity.
More generally, he has repeatedly taken issue with Labour Friends of Israel, with which the two MPs were associated and which he described as “A Party within the Labour Party”.
Prof Ashton’s second response to the revelations on social media was to claim that the allegations of antisemitism are “slurs” or “a vendetta”. The claims, he has said, are “outrageous allegations of antisemitism being used by political forces”; they are attempts at “censorship of critical comment by trumping up charges of antisemitism”; they represent an effort at “tarring dissent as antisemitism. How low can you get”; they are, he has elaborated, “nothing to do with antisemitism and everything to do with diverting attention from the dismal failure to control COVID-19.” In case there is any doubt, he declared: “The friends of the Government wish to silence me about COVID-19. This is an abuse of the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.”
Thus Prof. Ashton believes that calling out his antisemitism is nothing but a smear, and one concocted by “friends of the Government” just to silence his criticism of the current COVID-19 policy.
Prof. Ashton’s third response is the most classic: being accused of antisemitism is the “supreme irony” because he grew up with Jewish friends.
We would like to thank members of the public who drew our attention to some of these tweets.
When the Jewish Chronicle reported on some of Prof. Ashton’s antisemitic and controversial social media history, he said in a statement: “I think this is mischievous and I don’t recognise most of what you have just read to me. My position about antisemitism is very clear. I have always stood firm against antisemitism. I really don’t know what you are about.” Asked about his comparisons between Zionists and Nazis, according to the Jewish Chronicle he said: “I have never compared Jews to Nazis. I would suggest in the interest of world peace to really try to make something out of this is really unhelpful. I am very strongly for interfaith understanding.”
Prof. Ashton has no place on our television screens. Please sign our petition today.