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Jewish women ask for complaints to Guardian over refusal to publish anti-semitism letter

JEWISH women who signed a letter to the Guardian objecting to its “standard failure” to check or challenge allegations of Labour Party anti-semitism are calling for complaints to the newspaper for refusing to publish it.

Signatory Julia Bard, who is active in the Jewish Socialists’ Group, said over 200 Jewish women had signed a letter complaining about the article “Just Close Them Down: Margaret Hodge on anti-semitism in Labour’s branches.”

“Mostly the article was old stuff rehashed, and it was characterised by the standard failure to check Hodge’s allegations,” she said.

The letter complains that while Ms Hodge asserts that anti-semitism has been “given permission to come into the mainstream and, like a cancer, is infecting and growing throughout the party,” she “provides no evidence of such horrific wrongdoing by Corbyn.”

The Guardian informed the signatories that it would not be publishing the letter as the issues had “already been aired before.”

But Ms Bard told the Morning Star that “those of us who signed this letter are ordinary Jewish women and our diverse voices are being drowned out by the cacophony coming from people like Margaret Hodge.

“The Guardian and other media repeatedly hand them a microphone to broadcast a narrative distorted by their own political agenda, allowing them to make unfounded allegations and claims over and over again. This is what has ‘already been aired before’ and responses have repeatedly been stifled.”

A spokesperson for the Guardian told the Morning Star that the newspaper receives “hundreds of letters a day and unfortunately cannot publish every letter we receive.”

It highlighted its publication last month of a letter defending Labour as a “crucial ally in the fight against anti-semitism.”

We run here the rejected letter.

LETTER FOR PUBLICATION SUBMITTED TO GUARDIAN March 10 2019

We, all Jewish women, are baffled, hurt and infuriated by your unquestioning coverage of Margaret Hodge’s campaign against Jeremy Corbyn (‘Just Close them down: Margaret Hodge on antisemitism in Labour’s branches', March 9). Hodge extends her allegations that Corbyn is an ‘antisemite and racist’ under whom antisemitism ‘has been given permission to come into the mainstream and, like a cancer, is infecting and growing through the Party’. 

Hodge provides no evidence of such horrific wrongdoing by Corbyn, nor by ‘mainstream’ Labour members. Her own submissions to the Labour Party certainly don’t do the job: General Secretary, Jennie Formby reported that Hodge’s 200 complaints comcerned 111 individuals, of whom only 20 were actually Party members. 

Hodge’s demand that the Labour Party close down entire branches for supporting Chris Williamson MP, or for rejecting the IHRA antisemitism document, also passes unexamined.  

Yet Williamson presents a legitimate critique; Labour’s response to antisemitism accusations has been unnecessarily defensive, he said, not that it has been ‘too apologetic about antisemitism’ itself.  Meanwhile, no mention that the IHRA document has been shredded by two QCs, plus Jewish human rights specialist, Sir Geoffrey Bindman and Jewish retired Lord Justice of Appeal, Sir Stephen Sedley. 

All signatories to this letter grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust. We know we must maintain eternal vigilance against antisemitic resurgence. But we also celebrate our Jewishness, especially the disputatiousness (pace our aphorism: two Jews three opinions) central to Jewish identity. We are terrified by Margaret Hodge’s attempt to hijack our history and rewrite our identity and by unwillingness to investigate, fact check and challenge her allegations.

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