The attacks on Rachel Riley show how important it is for high-profile figures to call out far-left hate

If you have the courage to call out the far-left's hate, there are few things they will not do to try and discredit you, writes Daniel Sugarman

January 10, 2019 10:45

It’s been a long week. If you’re one of the majority of UK Jews who are seriously concerned about antisemitism, the last few years have been full of such weeks.

But however long our week has been, it must have been feeling a lot longer for one of us who has used their high-profile platform to courageously call out this antisemitism.

I’m talking, of course, about Rachel Riley.  

If you are a well-known individual who decides to speak out on the subject of Labour antisemitism, you can expect the far-left to do two things.

Firstly, they will take anything you have ever said or done which is possible to misconstrue and they will – quite deliberately – misconstrue it.

The second is that your motives for speaking out will be questioned. As far as the far-left are concerned, you cannot be genuinely speaking out on the issue of far-left antisemitism because the issue does not exist. So there must be an ulterior motive as to why you have chosen to “smear” them and their current Chosen One, Jeremy Corbyn.

Now, it appears, it’s Rachel Riley’s turn.

Ms Riley, who is Jewish, has been increasingly outspoken on the issue of left-wing antisemitism in the UK, in particular using Twitter to call out numerous examples of anti-Jewish hate.

So far this week, we have seen the far-left attack her for criticising Noam Chomsky (Mr Chomsky, who is also Jewish, is one of the political darlings of the far-left. However, his long-term defence of one of France’s most infamous Holocaust deniers is uncomfortable for them to acknowledge, so they have elected to ignore it.)

Then, on Wednesday, one far-left account claimed – without a shred of evidence – that Ms Riley had been meeting with Jacob Rees-Mogg about the possibility of going into politics.

Anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together could see that this was laughably transparent nonsense. But of course, Skwawkbox, the far-left Breitbart-equivalent so beloved of the Labour leadership’s office these days, was quick to pick up the “story”, vomiting it out to its tens of thousands of readers.

Why? Because, despite the minor annoying detail of it being completely untrue, it fits the far-left’s narrative perfectly. For them, Ms Riley cannot be genuinely calling out antisemitism that exists within their ranks. She must have a nefarious motive – in this case, a supposed future career in the Conservative party (apparently a backbench MP is going to magically make that happen).

And now there’s more. Last night a Channel 4 podcast featuring Ms Riley was released. On the programme, she discussed the issue of antisemitism and how she, over the last year or so, came to the realisation of the extent of the problem among vast swathes of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters.

She discussed a positive story about a Jewish immigrant to New York who had done incredible acts of charity during the Great Depression. Ms Riley, who is Jewish herself, had tweeted a link to it along with the sarcastic comment “bloody Jews again”. As in “look, there go those stingy Jews, doing… incredible acts of charity”.

It was sarcasm. But sarcasm rarely works well on social media, and she got accused of being an antisemite herself, despite being Jewish.

On the podcast, it was suggested that “one of the reasons people may have misconstrued your initial tweet is because most people wouldn’t know you’re Jewish.”

“It’s probably line one or two of my Wikipedia entry”, she laughed.

“I’ve not spoken about being Jewish, my surname’s Riley. You wouldn’t know.”

And then Ms Riley arched her eyebrows, and, in a voice obviously meant to mimic the way certain non-Jewish people speak to some Jews who they don’t think look Jewish, said “I don’t look like a typical Jew.”

In far-left land, of course, they were off to the races.

One far-left children’s author, Michael Rosen (also Jewish), who appears to spend a large amount of his time assiduously ignoring numerous examples of antisemitism among his political allies, helped to lead the charge.

“If you want to know the painful side of what Rachel Riley said, it’s lime [sic] this,” he tweeted.

“Plenty of Jews (as have others) have been mocked for their appearance for failing to conform to white Western ‘ideals’ of beauty. Rachel Riley is saying ‘I’m not like the ones you mock. I’m like you.’”

He then attempted to insult people's intelligence further by accusing her of having "made a classic antisemitic slur".

Of course, Ms Riley was saying nothing of the sort. She was doing the opposite – mocking those who believe that someone Jewish, like her, would look a certain way and be surprised that she’s Jewish because she doesn’t look that way.

Only someone incredibly stupid or remarkably disingenuous would suggest otherwise. But sadly, there appear to be a significant number of supporters of Jeremy Corbyn who fall into one of these two categories, because they have been directing abuse along these lines to Rachel Riley all morning.

The truth is that even if she had been saying it seriously, there would still be no “case” for her to answer. As one Tweeter correctly put it: “The cult are ridiculous. Would they question an LGBT person who says they don’t look stereotypically LGBT and therefore they can avoid low-level/every-day homophobia? They wilfully misrepresent every single point."

It’s still only Thursday. Who knows what else the Corbynite troll-factory will manage to concoct in the next couple of days in their desperate attempts to discredit yet another Jewish woman calling out antisemitism?

For Rachel Riley, there is no “upside” to calling out antisemitism, no “benefit” to her. She knows that to continue to call out antisemitism on the far-left and to identify how it has flourished in Labour under Jeremy Corbyn will lead to her being subjected to reams of disgusting abuse. Yet she has refused to keep quiet.

And through her courage and the courage of prominent figures like her, more and more people in this country are starting to wake up to the fact that something is very wrong on the UK’s far-left, which has taken over the Labour party.  

So yes, it’s been another long week in a period full of them. But there is also cause for hope. And we have people like Rachel Riley to thank for it.

January 10, 2019 10:45

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