The row over anti-Semitism within the Labour Party entered another round after supporters of Jeremy Corbyn exposed what they say is a conflict of interest within the BBC following reports that the daughter of Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who is at centre of the row, is employed by the broadcaster as deputy editor for its main news programmes.
Supporters allege that Lizzie Watson’s role as deputy editor of the UK’s main news bulletins compromised the BBC’s position over recent weeks as the row over anti-Semitism boiled over. Watson’s mother caused fury following an altercation with Corbyn in which she denounced her leader as a “fucking anti-Semite.”
The verbal attack initially led to an investigation and the likelihood of disciplinary action for bringing the Labour Party into disrepute. Though the investigation was dropped, Hodge fuelled further controversy by comparing calls for disciplinary actions to be taken against her to the treatment of Jews under Nazi Germany.
In addition to being universally condemned by Jews and non-Jews alike for comparing the Labour Party under Corbyn to Germany under Hitler, many were swift to point out that under the very definition of anti-Semitism, which Hodge is calling on the Labour Party to endorse in full, she would have been kicked out of the party for belittling the genocide of five million Jews by comparing it to her treatment.
Right-wing Labour MPs along with a number of pro-Israeli Jewish organisations are putting pressure on the Labour Party to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in its entirety. Though Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) adopted the main definitions and many of the examples cited within, they decided to rephrase or leave out sections which equated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
There is speculation amongst Corbyn supporters that the coverage of the row between Hodge and Corbyn was unbalanced. Some have accused the BBC of gross editorial miscalculations following its decision to prioritise what is widely believed to be a fabricated story about Corbyn laying a wreath in commemoration of Palestinian terrorists over real stories that took place at the same time, in particular Saudi-led bombing campaigns that had destroyed schools and killed children in Yemen with weapons that are believed to be supplied by the UK.
The judgment of the BBC led many to question its integrity. “Dear UK journalists”, wrote an incredulous Corbyn supporter on Twitter, “you say your job is to hold power to account. Please investigate the extraordinary situation whereby Margaret Hodge’s daughter held a senior position at BBC news at a time when, it looks to many, BBC news exhibited bias towards Hodge and against Jeremy Corbyn.”
Dear UK journalists
You say your job is to hold power to account
Please investigate the extraordinary situation whereby Margaret Hodge’s daughter held a senior position at BBC news at a time when,it looks to many, BBC news exhibited bias towards Hodge and against Jeremy Corbyn
— Tom London (@TomLondon6) August 20, 2018
Supporters of Corbyn also suspect that Hodge is being opportunistic and is not as concerned about anti-Semitism as she is about bring down the leader of the Labour Party. They cited a number of Early Day Motions (EDM) in parliament in which Corbyn consistently supported Jews against discrimination while Hodge, along with the vast majority of Labour and Conservative members of parliament, didn’t bother to vote.
The Resettlement of Yemeni Jews, an EDM from 2010 was cited as an example. It expressed that the “House is concerned that the small number of remaining Jews living in Yemen are facing ongoing religious persecution and systematic mistreatment which represents a critical threat to the health, safety and security of their community; notes that the United States administration has facilitated the resettlement of Yemeni Jews in the US for those with ties to that country; and urges the Government to follow this example and consider providing specific measures for those members of the group with ties to the UK who urgently need protection on humanitarian grounds”.
While Corbyn was just one of 31 MPs to sign the motion, the vast majority of MPs, including many that are at the centre of the current anti-Semitism row failed to back a motion calling for the protection of Yemeni Jews.
Corbyn was also just one of 25 MPs to support an EDM calling on the BBC not to remove its Jewish radio programme in Manchester. “This House is deeply concerned that the BBC is to remove from its schedule Jewish Citizen Manchester, a weekly hour-long programme on BBC Manchester Radio, produced by the Jewish community for the Jewish community … and calls on the BBC to reverse this decision” the 2012 EDM read.