Jenni Frazer
Jenni Frazer

Williamson’s ‘AsAJews’ do like to be beside the seaside

Labour MP Chris Williamson. (Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Jewish News)
Labour MP Chris Williamson. (Photo credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire - Jewish News)

For some time now I have been aware that I am “the wrong kind of Jew”. I am, you see, the kind of Jew who takes pride and pleasure in Judaism and (most of) the Jewish community. The kind of Jew despised by the stormtroopers of Momentum and, doubtless, parts of the inner circle of the Labour leader’s office.

And yes, I used the word “stormtroopers” quite deliberately. Because, horrifyingly, nothing but an allusion to Nazi ideology will do when it comes to considering last week’s extraordinary goings-on in Brighton.

Brighton, bizarrely, has become the litmus test for antisemitism in 21st century Britain, where routinely, week in and week out, the forces of light are obliged to challenge the forces of darkness.

It seems only appropriate that the city will once again be the venue for this year’s Labour Party conference.

This time the battleground was to do with the repellent Chris Williamson, the Derby North MP (aka Jewish community-baiter-in-chief) doing his best to become reinstated into the party.

For those who have been living in caves for the past couple of years, a quick recap: Williamson was suspended in February for, among other things, claiming Labour had been too apologetic in the antisemitism row. He was later readmitted, only to be hastily re-suspended in June.

Williamson decided to team up with Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell, one of whose cartoons was recently rejected by the paper, to his great fury. In this cartoon Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson is depicted as the “antisemite-finder general”, whose horse neighs “Tro-o-ope”. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also appears in the strip. Bell and Williamson planned to auction the cartoon at a meeting they wanted to hold in Brighton.

Sadly for the pair, they were not greeted with open arms by potential venues. Three separate places refused their booking, and thus Williamson — sans Bell —was obliged to hold his rant/speech outdoors in the city’s Regency Square.

And here is where things got really troubling. After Williamson had spoken, a woman clutching a poster took the microphone to call for those in the crowd who were “members of the Jewish race”, to come to the front and line up alongside the MP to have their picture taken with him to express support.

Such language is chilling, but of course was embraced by Williamson supporters, who claimed that the as yet unidentified woman is herself the daughter of Holocaust survivors, which apparently makes it just fine and dandy to single out the “AsAJews” in the motley audience.

Since Williamson has also expressed support for Labour Against The Witch-hunt, which campaigns for the reinstatement of members expelled over antisemitism, it was no surprise to see ex-Labour member and Witchhunt front-man Tony Greenstein shambling forward, eager to line up with the MP. Williamson himself did not appear to have any problem with this stirring call to arms, instead sitting on a rock, relaxed and laughing with his friends as several people appeared for their photo opportunity.

Were I of a conspiratorial frame of mind, I might imagine that the next such set of pictures would feature the “AsAJews” complete with pretty and shiny yellow stars, while a spot of discreet book-burning — books written by the wrong kind of Jew, naturally — goes on in the background.

But that would be an extreme reaction. Wouldn’t it?

About the Author
Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist.
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