Dozens of pro-Labour Twitter accounts are being used to reject or downplay allegations of antisemitism in the party, researchers say.
A report by the Community Security Trust (CST) identified 36 accounts it claims present allegations of antisemitism as “exaggerated, weaponised, invented or blown out of proportion.”
The research, based on a deep dive on four years’ worth of tweets, found that a third of the accounts posted antisemitic material, such as tropes relating to the Rothschild family and equivalences between Israel and Nazi Germany.
All were connected to networks using hashtags to target public figures for speaking out against Jew-hate, such as #BoycottRachelRiley, #SackTomWatson and #ResignTomWatson.
Labour’s deputy party leader Tom Watson told the Observer: “This report points to a deeply troubling online culture where antisemitic narratives have been allowed to take root.
“I hope this intelligence is shared with the investigators at Labour HQ so that they can explain to the dominant faction that control our party’s national executive how a small group of prolific social media users can influence our internal discussions if they are not called out or dealt with swiftly.”
The popular account @SocialistVoice counts over 66,000 followers. Its holder Scott Nelson was expelled from Labour over a number of tweets. Among the material flagged up was the claim supermarket chains Tesco and Marks and Spencer have “Jewish blood.”
Another account, @Rachael_Swindon, which has over 71,000 followers, has referred to conspiracy theories relating the Rothschild family, for which its holder has apologised.
Labour’s liaison with the Jewish community, Heather Mendick was among the 36 Twitter accounts identified in the report, but she was not among the 12 accused of posting antisemitic material online.
Mendick’s Twitter account, @helensclegel, was removed before the report could be published.
Her appointment came despite her claim antisemitism had been “weaponised” against the left and drew media coverage last month.
“The analysis does not look at pro-Labour social media as a whole, and therefore does not include the main Labour-supporting accounts that actively call out such bigotry. We stand in solidarity with Jewish communities, and are committed to rooting out antisemitism from our party and wider society.”
Anti-racism campaigners Hope Not Hate shared the report online, writing: “The findings of the @CST_UK report echo what we’ve found too: antisemitism exists online amongst Labour supporters in different guises but there is a small hardcore group using and promoting antisemitic content, and it is poisonous.”
“While the hardcore is small, there is a larger group of users proactively trolling and smearing Jews who call antisemitism out (often using antisemitic tropes to do so), and there is a larger group still who engage in denialism and gaslighting,” the campaign group added.
Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.
Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.
For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.
Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.
You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.
100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...
Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.
There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.
In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.
Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.
In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.
Voice of our community to wider society
The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.
We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.