An article published by the Independent newspaper seeking to defend Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn contained an “embarrassing” and “mortifying blunder” according to the paper’s own “Readers’ Liaison Assistant”.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, the racist author of the article which sought to protect Corbyn against charges of anti-Semitism despite his links to Holocaust deniers, made the blunder by misidentifying one of Corbyn’s backers, Ken Loach, as Jewish.
Alibhai-Brown, who has previously been overtly racist towards white people, and misandristic in public, wrote: “Some of the people Corbyn has been closest to are conscientious and ethical British Jews. The late Mike Marqusee, a Marxist, New York secular Jew who migrated to the UK, was his friend. So, too, is Ken Loach… There are others, dismissed by Zionists as “self-haters” because they reject blind loyalty to Israel.”
But Loach is not Jewish, which led to the Readers’ Liaison Assistant stating in a letter to blogger Richard Millett:
“I am sorry you felt that Yasmin Alibhai Brown’s piece was inaccurate. In regard to your first point that Ms Brown ‘intimates that the Jewish Chronicle called Jeremy Corbyn “anti-Semitic”’ – to clarify, she doesn’t actually state in the piece that the Chronicle has called him ‘anti-Semitic’. It is clearly her analysis that the sum of their repeated criticisms and warnings about Mr Corbyn should he become Labour leader amounts to the fact that she believes they regard him as possessing anti-Semitic sentiments due to his associations with certain individuals. As such, I do not believe that we need to amend this aspect of the piece.
However, in regard to your second and third points – you are correct about both. We have amended the text to clarify who exactly expressed that point about Carlos Latuff in the Jewish Daily Forward. The third point is slightly more embarrassing – you are quite right that Ken Loach is not Jewish. Ms Brown was in fact referring to Mike Leigh. I can only apologise for this rather mortifying blunder, and I am grateful to you for bringing it to our attention.”
Alibhai-Brown has previously said of white men, “I don’t like them. I want them to be a lost species in a hundred years.”
Challenged at the time by the host of the television programme she was appearing on, who asked her, “Is that not a racist comment?” she replied, “Of course”.
Millett wrote in response to the apology:
The second point is straightforward and needs no more comment apart from the fact that Alibhai-Brown’s reliance on Wikipedia for her article shows a lack of professionalism. The first advice to any student writing an essay or dissertation is to not rely on Wikipedia.
As for the third point, Alibhai-Brown confusing Leigh and Loach isn’t really the main issue here. It’s sad that Alibhai-Brown seeks to divide Jews in to Good Jews and Bad Jews at all; if some Jews accord with her views on Israel then they are “Good” or, as she put it in her article, “conscientious and ethical British Jews”. If they don’t then the presumption is they aren’t.
I can understand why Alibhai-Brown had Loach on her mind though after I had the displeasure of witnessing him in action at Amnesty International in 2010. He challenged Israel’s existence because it was based on race, made a subtle comparison of Israel to Nazi Germany, accused Jewish settlers of polluting Palestinian vineyards with their effluence and quoted Ben Gurion out of context to make him look like a monster prepared to sacrifice the lives of Jewish children.
Meanwhile, no one should be targeted because of their race or religion the way Alibhai-Brown targets certain Jews. And the less she did that and the less she relied on Wikipedia the less mortifying blunders she would make in future.