Russell Brand slammed by antisemitism campaigners for platforming Corbyn apologist

Aaron Maté claimed that Labour antisemitism was a ‘scam’ in order to ‘delegitimise Corbyn’


Russell Brand has been slammed by antisemitism campaigners for platforming Aaron Maté, who claimed that antisemitism in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn was a “scam” in order to “delegitimise” him and prevent debate.

In a video seen nearly 1.5 million times, Maté, the Canadian son of a Holocaust survivor, claimed that allegations of antisemitism are used to “undermine criticism of Israel”, and said that Corbyn “tolerated it, he catered to it, and he gave it weight that it didn’t deserve”.

In the 14-minute interview, posted online on July 24, neither Brand nor Maté raised the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report that found Labour responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act (2010) relating to political interference in antisemitism complaints; failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints; and harassment.

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism said that conversation “ignores the fact that the racism was so bad that it broke the law”,

Introducing the video, Russell Brand says: “Aaron talks about how if you disagree with someone, you can call them an antisemite, for example. Aaron is, of course, Jewish himself. He talks about how the charge of antisemitism is often used to stifle and shut down debate, and that that happened in British politics in a way that you’ll find pretty fascinating in a significant way, when there was an anti-establishment movement rising in this country a couple of years back.”

The interview clip then begins with Brand asking how charges of antisemitism “are deployed by the, let’s call it, centre-left, neoliberal mainstream media”, and how to counter them, saying that they “ultimately led to the downfall of Corbyn and to the annihilation of the part of the Labour Party”.

“How can they ever be countenanced [sic] or challenged in this kind of culture where this misinformation, disinformation, and censorship mentality is increasingly taking hold?”

Maté responded: “The aim of these insults - antisemitism, conspiracy theorist – when they’re false, and some people are antisemitic and deserve to be called antisemitic, but when these insults are used to undermine criticism of Israel, or to destroy Jeremy Corbyn’s working-class movement, the aim of them is to make people beyond the pale so that you can’t even let them enter the arena of debate; you can’t let Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters enter the arena of debate because you’re already dismissing them as ‘antisemites’, and this is a major crisis that they have to address before they can even be in the arena.

“And the reason that has to happen is because the establishment actually can’t counter Jeremy Corbyn’s actual arguments and his real views, and doesn’t have a suitable alternative to them because what Jeremy Corbyn stands for, I think, speaks to people, speaks to people’s material needs.

“And so, to undermine that, you have to come up with way to delegitimise them, and that’s where I think this antisemitism allegation, this claim that there was a huge crisis inside the Labour Party of antisemitism; it was done to delegitimise Corbyn and make it so that he was just beyond the pale.”

“The answer to it, this is where I criticise Corbyn; I think Corbyn catered to it too much. I think he’s in a really tough position, and I really admire everything he accomplished, and maybe it’s easier for me to say because I’m Jewish and so, these sort of insults don’t land with me. I can see through them. I’ve seen them my entire life with people trying to silence criticism of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. But I think Jeremy Corbyn should have called this out as a scam. Instead I think he tolerated it, he catered to it, and he gave it weight that it didn’t deserve, and I think that was a mistake.”

Pre-empting criticism of his comments, Maté added: “I’m not afraid to be called a ‘self-hating Jew’ or a ‘conspiracy theorist’ or a ‘Russian asset’, which is what I got all the time during Russia-Gate.”

A spokesperson for Campaign Against Antisemitism slammed the comments, saying: "Russell Brand and Aaron Maté believe that allegations of antisemitism in the Labour Party were merely 'insults used to undermine criticism of Israel or destroy Jeremy Corbyn.' Not only is that an example of the antisemitic Livingstone Formulation, but it ignores the fact that the racism was so bad that it broke the law.

“It’s sad, his credibility has been falling for a long time, and it seems he may now have hit rock bottom.”

Aaron Maté is a Canadian journalist for the far-left blog, The Grayzone, which is known for its pro-Kremlin editorial line and its support for the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and has published content denying that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians.

Maté himself rose to notoriety by criticising the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election and potential links between former president Trump and the Kremlin.

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