Saturday, August 22, 2015

Remember Deir Yassin - and Forget Paul Eisen!

WITHOUT  Fear or Prejudice. Jeremy Corbyn (second from right, in open neck) with friends at Islington event, in June this year.  Every picture tells a story, not always the same one (see below *).

THEY say a lie can get halfway around the world before the truth has got its boots on.  These days with electronic media the lie can get right round the world, and probably be on its way back, quite likely embellished, even after it has been refuted. But we must persevere.

On August 16 I took a critical look at a story in the Daily Mail smearing Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn by association with a "notorious holocaust denier".
Thin as the story was - dependent on the MP's support for commemorating a notorious 1948 massacre, and the word of aforesaid Holocaust denier, one Paul Eisen, - it has been put to use, and is becoming shop worn.

That Jeremy Corbyn denies having anything to do with Holocaust denial, and repeatedly condemns antisemitism along with any other kind of racialism is of no importance to his opponents, or to some media hacks. They have a job to do.

I've seen claims on social media that Corbyn "shared a platform with a Holocaust denier" (which even Eisen did not claim) and in the Jewish Chronicle that 7 out of 10 British Jews actually "fear" what will happen if Corbyn wins the Labour leadership. I don't know who they spoke to, but it can't be the Jews I know in Corbyn's Islington North constituency who know and like the MP, and some of whom are supporting him in the Labour leadership contest.

I've not seen what if anything is being said  'Stateside, where people may not know much about our Labour Party, but on past experience when stories like those assailing Jeremy Corbyn are put around they get exaggerated  and cruder, whether because Americans don't do subtlety or their libel laws are more relaxed, and some stories suit certain agendas. So I am pleased to see that as well as some letters from Jewish people defending Jeremy Corbyn finally breaking through the media wall,  there's a Facebook group called Jews for Jeremy, started by that clever entertainer Ian Saville, and including besides British Jews supporters in the United States, Israel and other countries. Hopefully these chaverim will be able to help counteract the lying.

One of the "facts" that the Daily Mail writer found most telling was that when Paul Eisen approached Jeremy Corbyn - his MP  - fifteen years ago - about Deir Yassin Remembered, the MP took out his chequebook.  It does not seem to occur to the writer Jake Wallis Simons that fifteen years ago, far from Paul Eisen being "notorious", nobody had heard of him.  I doubt whether he's that famous now.  Whereas the massacre at Deir Yassin was well-known, and nobody denied it had happened, even if Simons and the Jewish Chronicle's Marcel Dysch seem to think they can relegate it to a "controversy" now.     

Stephen Marks on Facebook has managed to put Jeremy Corbyn's generosity fifteen years ago into context, with a little aide memoire:
As Jeremy has already pointed out in the C4News interview, he gave money to DYR when it was founded 15 years ago. At that time Eisen had not ‘come out’ as a holocaust denier, and indeed there is no evidence that he was one. And Jeremy Corbyn was far from the most distinguished public figure to give the cause his support.

According to the Jewish Chronicle on 16 April 2001;
‘Five prominent Progressive rabbis joined Sunday's Central London commemoration of the 1948 massacre of Palestinians at the village of Deir Yassin near Jerusalem. In a concluding prayer to the evening also attended by MPs, Arab diplomats and British-based Palestinians Union of Liberal and Progressive Synagogues' life president Rabbi John Rayner spoke of "sorrow and shame" that the "land of our ancestors" had been the scene of bitter conflict…

‘Rabbis David Goldberg and Mark Solomon, from the St John's Wood Liberal Synagogue, Finchley Reform minister Rabbi Jeffrey Newman and Durham University lecturer Rabbi Moshe Yehudai-Rimmer also supported the event, which attracted an attendance of several hundred.

‘Rabbi Newman confessed to having been "nervous" in advance about the atmosphere at the commemoration, organised by a joint Jewish and Palestinian group, Deir Yassin Remembered. But he told the JC afterwards that the mood had been "absolutely remarkable, particularly because of the absence of hostility, rage or anger. In many ways it was a mirror image of a Jewish evening of the best sort, with music, drama and poetry," he said. ‘

Moreover there was one other even more distinguished public figure who expressed his support for the event - Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a letter to Paul Eisen, Blair’s Private Secretary, Anna Wechsberg, stated, "The Prime Minister was grateful for your kind invitation, but regrets that due to his existing diary commitments, he will not be able to attend the commemoration on 1 April.” However she added that the Prime Minister “has however asked me to pass on his good wishes for the event.”’ [see].

Once Eisen’s holocaust denial became open most of the distinguished names on the Board of DYR resigned. But many of their names remained on the website ( despite requests for them to be removed. Among those who resigned, either in protest at Eisen’s views or because of the co-option onto the board of such figures as the notorious antisemite Israel Shamir, are Israeli activists such as the civil rights lawyer Leah Tsemel and Michael Warshawski of the Alternative Informaton Centre, Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, as well as Norman Finkelstein and Professor Ilan Pappe (see for example…/lea-tsemel-resi… and (…/bds-attacked-by-deir-yassin-rem…/)

As the latter site makes clear, Eisen’s board of DYR is opposed to the Palestinian campaign for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. Meawhile Eisen has been vigorously, and predictably, defended by his old friend and ally Gilad Atzmon, who is on record as saying that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which Jeremy Corbyn is a Patron and which has condemned Eisen and Atzmon, is ‘controlled by Jews’.
Another person who makes an informed and well-argued case against the anti-Corbyn smears is journalist Asa Winstanley on the US-based Electronic Intifada website:
The most shocking accusation, originating with The Daily Mail, is that Corbyn has “long standing links” with Paul Eisen, a “notorious” Holocaust denier involved in the group Deir Yassin Remembered.

Eisen certainly expresses disgusting views, denying the Nazi Holocaust took place and frequently expressing other anti-Semitic opinions on his blog.

However, his only real notoriety is for his attempts to infiltrate the Palestine solidarity movement.

Once it became clear what his views were, he was widely condemned and shunned by a movement which is fundamentally anti-racist in its basic principles. Indeed, even in the blog post which the Mail relied on as the source for its smear, Eisen admits that the movement has long “despised me.”

The only real link between the two men (as the Mail conveniently omitted) is that Eisen happens to live in Corbyn’s Islington parliamentary constituency in North London.

Eisen claims to have met him in that capacity – as Corbyn is his member of parliament. It is nonetheless odd that the Mail would be so keen to take the word of a Holocaust denier when it comes to his relationship with Corbyn.

A photograph has been produced of a memorial event which the Mail claims was run by Eisen. However, as this 2013 email sent out by the Palestinian Authority’s UK Mission shows, there was nothing in the advertising about the Holocaust and nothing naming Eisen. There were certainly no links to his blog.

Indeed, even on the Deir Yassin Remembered website, Eisen is not named on the contact page, the About page or the Board of Advisors page.

The page misleadingly includes several people as advisors who resigned after some of the the group’s troubling associations became clear.

This includes the Palestinian-American novelist Susan Abulhawa, who stepped down after Eisen wrote an anti-Semitic post on his blog.

See also:
How the Jewish Chronicle dismisses letter-writers supporting Jeremy Corbyn:

* And just to give a broader picture, as seen above,from United Synagogue news
On a recent look at events and stories on the You & US pages, I was intrigued to see an announcement that Islington Council, together with Islington Chabad were organising a commemorative plaque to be fixed to Barnes Court, Lofting Road, N.1 - the original site of North London Synagogue. - See more at:

Rabbi Mendy Korer, who helped to organise the event, followed with telling the audience of his involvement from inviting the local MP Jeremy Corbyn to Shabbat dinner when the MP suggested applying for the plaque to the procedure for residents in the locality voting for its installation.

Also in attendance was United Synagogue’s President Stephen Pack
- See more at:

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