The controversial columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, has deployed the Livingstone Formulation yet again, asserting that “These days, any criticism of Israel is deemed ‘antisemitic’.”
Ms Brown made the claim in a column this week for the i newspaper on Israel’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The “Livingstone Formulation”, named by sociologist David Hirsch after the controversial former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, is used to describe how allegations of antisemitism are dismissed as malevolent and baseless attempts to silence criticism of Israel. In its report on antisemitism in the Labour Party, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that suggestions of this nature were part of the unlawful victimisation of Jewish people in the Party.
Late last year, Ms Brown made a similar claim, arguing in an article that “any criticism of the state [of Israel] is deemed antisemitic by apologists and diehard allies, and suggesting that this is motivating a “purge” of Labour Party members. In the article titled “The UN is warning of spiralling violence, yet the West has forgotten the Palestinians” for the i newspaper, Ms Alibhai-Brown also wrote that “a report from Jewish Voice for Labour accused Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party of purging Jewish members who call Israel to account.”
That was not Ms Alibhai-Brown’s first offence of this nature either. The year before, she replied to journalist Stephen Bush’s reaction to being appointed to lead a Jewish charity’s review of racial inclusivity in the Jewish community by tweeting: “maybe ask them about the Palestinians.” The review was concerned with British Jews and was unrelated to Israel, a distinction that Ms Alibhai-Brown is apparently incapable of apprehending.
Previously Ms Alibhai-Brown also expressed her opposition to the Labour Party’s adoption of the International Definition of Antisemitism, describing the fringe minority of Jewish individuals who agreed with her as “good Jews”.
Newspapers and television broadcasters who host Ms Alibhai-Brown must think again before giving a platform to someone who takes such positions.
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s Antisemitism Barometer 2019 showed that antisemitism on the far-left of British politics has surpassed that of the far-right.
Campaign Against Antisemitism monitors traditional media and regularly holds outlets to account. If members of the public are concerned about reportage in the media, they should contact us at [email protected].