Adam Wagner Profile picture
Sep 24, 2018 24 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
1/ Just want to talk about something that has been happening since last night. I am not sure if talking about it will make it any better - knowing Twitter, it will probably make it worse. But here goes.
2/ Yesterday morning I tweeted about Jeremy Corbyn on the #Marr show on antisemitism. I have been commenting on this issue for many weeks, as many of you know. I don't think my comments in this instance were unfair although reasonable people might disagree
3/ Just for background - I decided to start tweeting about Corbyn and antisemitism in a deeper way a few months ago as I felt there was a serious problem in the Labour Party. I am in a fairly unique position as I am Jewish, on the left, have a human rights law background
4/ I felt that the mainstream Jewish orgs were closing their minds to an extent to the many reasonable people in the Labour movement who are not antisemitic but equally may not know very much about the issue, and also will be scared off if they feel they are being called racists
5/ Anyway, I have tried to build bridges and add more light than heat. I have not always succeeded, and being a personal issue it has not always been easy to keep calm and balanced. But I have tried to do that and to give people the benefit of the doubt as good faith actors
6/ I believed - and still do - that the only way to come out of our silos is to listen. And listening involves giving something of ourselves, and taking risks. The problem is that when the issue is partly personal, that can open you up to risks, reputational and I guess personal
7/ Anyway, it has been a genuine journey. I have tried to listen and speak truly, whether that means criticising Jewish communal figures or Corbyn. But being open isn't the same as being non-committal. Where I have seen a spade (e.g. over English irony) I have called it a spade
8/ I have a thick skin, and relied on it over the past few months as never before. I spent 8 years tweeting about human rights issues but it is only in the past few months that people have really gone for me, and - ironically - that I have experienced real regular antisemitism
9/ Yesterday, I started receiving what I consider to be deflection tweets. The kind of rhetorical uni debating points that you get to when you tweet about Corbyn (not from everyone, obviously, but from a lot of people)
10/ One of the things I said was to someone who tweeted at me, in response to my comments about what I saw as Corbyn's evasive answers, "will [Marr] give Sajid Javid the same treatment on Windrush". I think that is whataboutery. I tweeted back that this was another deflection
11/ Because of what followed, I have looked at that tweet again and again. Because what followed was the editor of the Canary picking it up and beginning an almighty pile on which amounted to calling me a racist, an apologist for Windrush, and anti-black
12/ My phone has been off today as (ironically!) it is a Jewish festival. But when I switched it back on, the pile on had predictably continued, with all the usual suspects getting involved. They sensed blood and I was on the mat.
13/ I admitted before that entering this debate, which is both personal and political, has sometimes led me to saying things which I regret. I don't regret anything I have tweeted in the past few days, though, as often, I find myself regretting putting myself in the firing line
13.5/ The biggest issues have arisen when I have taken a stand against a tactic (eg what I saw as bullying @Dannythefink) and have been sucked into the underlying issue (Gatestone). All I can say is that I try to be honest, and sometimes that doesn't come off in a way I meant it
13.75/ It's not always easy to know exactly the right thing to say, and some issues blow up in a way you don't expect. And there are always people who will refuse to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps that's fair, but I'm not sure how else to address it
14/ I honestly don't know where I am going with this - perhaps just to say that I find it depressing. I don't want to spend 30 minutes defending myself from being a racist, though I also feel that I need to think this through properly and ensure I don't have a case to answer
15/ Even as I type this, I know that for those who have been tweeting at me, this will look like I am playing the tiny violin. I am not looking for sympathy. But I am trying to puzzle out whether it is possible to act in good faith in this environment.
16/ Bringing this back to the core issue - I have reached a fairly firm view that the kind of behaviour which the Canary and the Twitter hunting packs exhibit - and inspire - goes to the heart of Labour's antisemitism problem as well. The two are inextricably linked
17/ As I have said a number of times before, institutional racism takes different forms but I believe that it exists in the Labour movement. I believe it is linked to the tribal politics where everything is seen as good or evil, smear or cheer.
18/ Finally, on Windrush. It is a huge, ongoing scandal. I have tweeted a lot about it, way before it was in the news I was tweeting about the hostile environment and my experience of navigating it as a lawyer. If people think I have been insensitive then I am sorry for that.
19/ I just don't see why it has to be one or the other. I realise there aren't many UK Jews and some people think we're not worth worrying about. I have tried to show why that isn't the right approach
20/ I wish that this issue had never been politicised but I don't tihnk Jews are to blame for that. I am certain that Labour has a serious case to answer, and people will look back in years to come and be ashamed of how they have acted and reacted.
21/ I take strength from the people who have put their heads above the parapet and not been intimidated. I am not intimidated, but the past 24 hours has been unpleasant.
22/ I don't think I will help myself or you by saying anything more about this - but I will be back on human rights, antisemitism - whatever I think is worth tweeting about. If you want to unfollow me, please go ahead and save me the worry of being misrepresented.

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More from @AdamWagner1

Jun 16, 2019
We need to wake up to the incredibly serious implications of the President of the United States actively promoting the far right racist and Islamophobe Katie Hopkins.

For those (particularly US people) who are meeting her for the first time, some things you need to know (thread)
She started out as a harmless attention-seeking reality TV star. But in 2015 she saw an opening around the emerging alt right ‘White people in Europe are being replaced’ movement.

She uses language which is common to students of genocide. Eg cockroaches in Rwanda
She is happy being called a racist. She admits she is one.
Read 17 tweets
Oct 8, 2018
1/ This is getting even more interesting - now @skwawkbox is positively reporting the collective action against an 100k-followers pro Corbyn (unofficial) FB page which has been posting antisemitic content
2/ Here is a quote from the SB post. Is this the first SB post (ever?) which doesn't deny or attempt to underplay the Labour antisemitism problem? Please do let me know if I am wrong and I will add to this thread.
3/ What does this show? Key parts of the grass roots Labour movement are suddenly acting on antisemitism *around* the movement. The effect is instead of the response being "this is all smears", it is positive and constructive. This is what an institutional approach looks like
Read 4 tweets
Oct 7, 2018
This is interesting. The largest Corbyn FB group (… 300k followers)) has put out a warning for people who follow another huge pro-Corbyn group (… 100k followers) that it is antisemitic
The warning is clearly coordinated (which is good, and I don't mean this as a criticism) with various key movers and shakers such as Momentum and Owen Jones sharing it. The comments are interesting...
A mixture of denial (posts aren't antisemitic), support (sensible people saying this is a problem), questions about why the warning posts share antisemitic memes, and people saying that this isn't helpful to the Labour movement which is trying to show antisemitism doesn't exist
Read 10 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
This is a thoughtful and balanced piece by @robertsharp59 on the NUJ decision to rescind its invitation to Kerry-Anne Mendoza. This point particularly pertinent…
I'm still a bit torn about The Canary, and if I am 100% honest feel somewhat stung by (what I saw as) being targeted by the editor unjustifiably, so don't 100% trust my instincts. I can see the double standards point as it is clearly a tabloid but is it worse than e.g. The Sun...
... or the Mail where despite lies and irresponsible journalism, journalists still get feted and are basically respected by wider society (and other journalists) because they 'just doing their job'? On the other hand, The Canary has a seriously woeful record on certain issues...
Read 5 tweets
Oct 3, 2018
I accept this criticism. I am no world expert on Israel Palestine and have never held myself out to be one. I have a reasonable understanding of how things are in the UK. I also don't think that the IHRA definition and CM are connected in any real way.
The IHRA definition is an imperfect attempt to explain how speech over Israel-Palestine can sometimes drift into antisemitism. No modern understanding of antisemitism can be without that. But it requires a highly sensitive and education-focussed framework to work within.
I am not insensitive to the free speech issues here - honestly I'm not. I am trying to navigate in good faith like many other people involved. I won't go into details but what I say and do here is not all that I am doing to try and build the bridges we need to move forward.
Read 4 tweets
Oct 3, 2018
Oh my goodness. I hadn't heard of 'Canary Mission' before this but just checked it out and it is a chilling, actually quite terrifying, US site branding hundreds of students and professors 'racists' their views on Israel Palestine…
Some of the stuff there (I'm not going to link to it) is genuine racism but much is just strongly held and entirely legitimate political opinions about Israel Palestine. And the fact that it would be funded by Jewish charity (see above) is really awful.
I am slow to call something "McCarthiest" but that is exactly what this is - 'dossiers' on activists, professors, clearly focused on Muslim activists. And the fact that it's anonymous makes it even more chilling. I feel like I need to wash my computer after seeing this.
Read 6 tweets

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