Long-Bailey praises article in which George Floyd killing is linked to Israel

Shadow Education Secretary under fire after endorsing an Independent interview with Maxine Peake


Shadow Education Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey has praised a newspaper interview with Maxine Peake in which the actress links the killing of George Floyd to Israel, claiming that the techniques used by American police departments were learned “from seminars with Israeli secret services”.

Ms Long-Bailey shared the piece adding that Ms Peake was an “absolute diamond.”   

Ms Peake, 45, made the claim in an interview about her new film ‘Fanny Lye Deliver’d’ in The Independent.

Ms Peake said: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learned from seminars with Israeli secret services.”

George Floyd, an African American man, was killed in Minnesota on May 25 after a white police officer pinned him to the ground by placing his knee over his neck.

The Board of Deputies responded that they were “very concerned” that Ms Long-Bailey was “praising the words of someone repeating the conspiracy theory that Israel was responsible for the death of George Floyd.”  

It added that: “This will not reassure those hoping the years of Labour indulging such conspiracies were over.”

Ms Long-Bailey later clarified her remark, stating that she had shared the article because of Ms Peake's "significant achievements and because the thrust of her argument is to stay in the Labour Party. It wasn't intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the article."  

Ms Peake had discussed her views on current Labour leader Keir Starmer and the reasons behind Labour's election defeat last year. 

Marie van der Zyl, the President of the Board, said that Ms Long-Bailey’s response was “pathetic” and said: “As someone who aspires to be the next Education Secretary, we would expect her to read and understand materials before sharing them.

“If she is incapable of doing this, it raises serious and immediate questions about her suitability for the role.”

The theory that that Israel is responsible for tactics deployed by their American counterparts and that the police officers involved in George Floyd’s death had received Israeli training has gained currency among certain fringe circles since Mr Floyd’s death.

The Morning Star, the outlet of the defunct Communist Party of Great Britain – to which Maxine Peake belonged in her youth – has endorsed the theory.

The newspaper made the unsubstantiated allegation on June 1 that “officers from the US police force responsible for the killing of George Floyd received training in restraint techniques and anti-terror tactics from Israeli law-enforcement officers.”

American law enforcement departments have received training from the Israeli military in counterterrorism since 2001, but there is no evidence that American police had been taught tactics such as those which led to Mr Floyd’s death.

In early June, Jewish Voice for Peace, an American organisation that is normally critical of the Israeli government wrote: “Suggesting that Israel is the start or source of American police violence shifts the blame from the United States to Israel”.

“It also furthers an antisemitic ideology,” it continued.

Ms Peake was a prominent backer of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and had previously dismissed concerns about antisemitism within the party.

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