Brendan O’Neill Brendan O’Neill

Labour’s Rochdale shame

Labour candidate for Rochdale, Azhar Ali (photo: Getty)

So Labour still has cranks in its ranks. The party remains a haven for conspiracy theorists. For all Keir Starmer’s claims to have rooted out the ‘anti-Zionist’ hotheads that swarmed the party in the Corbyn years, there still seem to be a fair few around.

Consider the Azhar Ali affair. Mr Ali is the Labour candidate in the upcoming Rochdale by-election. This is a man who has promoted the poisonous, post-truth claim that Israel ‘deliberately’ allowed the Hamas pogrom of 7 October to go ahead. Who has said Israel permitted the slaughter of more than a thousand of its own citizens so that it would have a ‘green light’ to invade Gaza.

Ali made these vile utterances at a meeting of the Lancashire Labour party shortly after the 7 October attacks. The Egyptians warned the Israelis that something big was about to happen, he said. The Americans warned them too. And yet still Israel ‘deliberately took the security off’. ‘They allowed… that massacre’, said Ali, because they believed it would give them ‘the green light to do whatever they bloody want.’

Think about what is being said here. That Israel is such a malign entity, such a twisted, devious state, that it was willing to sacrifice hundreds of its own citizens in order to gain a pretext for invading Gaza. This strange nation is so consumed by bloodlust, it seems, that it is content to allow the massacre of its own men, women and children in order to gain a sneaky excuse for ‘massacring’ Gaza.

This is a conspiracy theory, pure and simple. And it has eerie echoes of conspiracy theories of old, which likewise defamed Jews as uniquely cunning and bloodily self-serving. As the Campaign Against Antisemitism says, the idea that Israel essentially ‘engineered the murder of over 1,200 of its own people’ smacks of ‘a blood libel’.

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