The decision not to expel Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party has unleashed a tirade of antisemitism on many Labour-affiliated Facebook pages from Livingstone’s apologists and supporters who have jumped to his defence.
Far from being alone, Ken Livingstone is just the tip of the iceberg. His beliefs are shared by thousands of supporters, whose views are even more offensive. Posted openly on public Facebook pages for Labour supporters, not only are the comments themselves virulently antisemitic, but they have also been liked by other users with no opposition, and the pages’ administrators have not deleted the vile antisemitic comments or ensured that the debate on their forums is civil.
We have seen countless examples of extremely troubling Facebook comments in support of Livingstone. Many of them blur the lines between far-left and far-right antisemitism. We have reproduced a selection of the comments below, with corrected spelling and grammar.
On the “Truthers against Zionist lobbies” Facebook page, whose banner proudly declares “We support Jeremy Corbyn”, without commenting, “Kristi Cochran” posted a video entitled “Can you handle the truth about Jews?” and captioned: “How blind are you? Do you just refuse to hear? Wake up, this is not that hard.” Despite being a video by a neo-Nazi, four users ‘liked’ the video, and one, “Richard Norwood” even replied with a similar video which opens with the proclamation that “There is absolutely no doubt that Donald Trump is supported, owned and operated by the Zionist Jew power structure.”
Over on the “Jeremy Corbyn for PM” Facebook page, “Pat McGinley” was very disappointed that Jeremy Corbyn had criticised the decision not to expel Ken Livingstone from the Labour Party, posting: “It’s a great shame Jeremy seems to have caved in to the Zionist paid-puppets, like Watson, etc. He’s obviously under tremendous pressure from these puppets who can always count on their powerful media friends in the BBC, etc to aid and abet. And almost certainly, much more devious pressure which we are not privy to? But, Jeremy’s refusal to point out the vital difference between legitimate anti-Zionism and Zionist-engineered ‘antisemitism’ is extremely disappointing and inexcusable.”
Similarly, on the “We support Jeremy Corbyn” Facebook page, “Lynn Evans” was also sure who was subverting democracy, commenting: “The Zionist lobby is running this country. When will people wake up to this fact? They infiltrate the right, the left — every group. They are so pervasive as to be everywhere. If we left the EU because we want our country back, you’d better look under your bed!”
Over on the verified Facebook page of “Socialist Labour”, the administrator wrote: “Zionism did commit these crimes against the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, it is a right-wing racist and repulsive ideology which does not and should not be accepted as the legitimate representative of either the Jews of Israel or international Jewry. It now falls to Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker and their supporters to win this struggle and strike this blow for the oppressed Palestinians and thereby for the whole of oppressed and exploited humanity.”
On the “Labour Party Forum” Facebook page, “Helen Butcher” wrote: “Could every Jewish person who knows Ken Livingstone is not antisemitic take to the airwaves to condemn this suspension? This is how antisemitism works, by finding scapegoats that are innocent.” In response, “John Joyce” commented: “A wise man once said to me — or hang on it could have been a wise woman — the advice is always the same: follow the money”. Elsewhere on the page, “Steve Gadget” warned: “That lobby is stronger and better organised than we can imagine. They’ve infiltrated each of the political parties and sponsor many MPs. Not only that, but they control most of the mainstream media, ensuring Palestine is silenced.”
The administrator of the “Momentum Gosport and Fareham” Facebook page shared an image of Tony Blair and Ken Livingstone captioned: “This is Zionist Tony Blair. Tony killed 2 million innocents in Iraq and is still on the Labour payroll. This is Ken Livingstone. Ken told everyone facts about history was suspended for 2 years”. They also shared an image captioned “Spot the difference: Nazi Concentration Camp tower and Israeli wall tower, 2014”.
Some of the worst examples of antisemitism were posted on a Facebook page in response to an article in The Guardian about Labour’s decision to suspend Ken Livingstone from the Party for a year for saying that Hitler supported Zionism. While the Jewish community, Labour MPs and the national media reacted with fury to the lenient decision, “Frances Leader” wrote that “…The Labour Party is an idiotic pile of weak-willed money grabbing Judases for permitting this to happen. Bless Ken, he spoke for us all.” Another Facebook user, “Terry Dawe” replied: “The Jews are using the same tactics against the Palestinians as Hitler used against them; they are truly evil.” Another user, “Pete Moyes” was keen to expose the conspiracy he believes to be behind the decision on Livingstone: “A great game of smoke and mirrors, it is slowly dawning on more and more [people] that the Zioscum are not Jewish, and are behind all the conflict on the planet in the pursuit of debt slavery of all the countries involved, with their minions inserted in positions of power in each of these countries and trying extremely hard to keep their activities hidden from view.” He added: “It has just been announced that the Zionist-backed NEC has decided to further investigate Ken Livingstone. I say it is about time that they were disposed of.” Receiving likes from eight others, “Christopher Crossley” wrote: “Everybody knows Hitler was funded by the Zionists”, prompting “Jo Colby” to reply “They bankroll both sides of any war”, which Christopher evidently agreed with.
This is glaring evidence of the growing problem of online antisemitism, and the fact that Ken Livingstone’s offensive beliefs are far from uncommon in the Labour Party. In February, we made a submission to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee’s “Policing for the future: changing demands and new challenges” inquiry. We set out in detail the challenge presented by online antisemitism and proposed a robust plan for dealing with it.