36 key pro-Corbyn Twitter accounts seen as 'engine room'

UK Labour anti-Semitism ‘fueled by a flow of anti-Semitic tweets,’ says watchdog

Community Security Trust claims to identify the ‘online networks’ behind the British opposition party’s ongoing crisis

Jeremy Corbyn leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party gives the thumbs up after voting in the European Elections in London, Thursday, May 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Jeremy Corbyn leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party gives the thumbs up after voting in the European Elections in London, Thursday, May 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

A small number of online social media accounts have driven the discourse on anti-Semitism in the British Labour party, a new study by a prominent Jewish watchdog group said.

According to the report, released on Sunday by the London-based Community Security Trust, which monitors anti-Semitism and provides security services for UK Jews, “the problem of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party over the past three years has been fueled by a flow of anti-Semitic tweets and posts on social media, done in the name of the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn.”

The report, entitled “Engine of Hate,” was conducted in conjunction with data science firm Signify.

The report identified what it said were 36 key pro-Corbyn Twitter accounts, which it collectively nicknamed the “engine room.” Each, it said, have “their own, overlapping, online networks that drive social media conversations about anti-Semitism” and “are responsible for encouraging the widespread belief that allegations of anti-Semitism are a smear against Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.”

Those accounts frequently use content from a network of alternative media sites that “consistently claim that anti-Semitism is being weaponized as a smear” and “provide the fuel for an atmosphere in which allegations of anti-Semitism are denied, while leading and encouraging attacks against anyone who criticizes the Labour leadership for their record on the issue.”

Using what it called original network analysis and mapping, the report found that all of the so-called engine room accounts are “involved in, or connected to, Twitter networks that have used hashtag campaigns to target MPs or public figures because they have spoken out about anti-Semitism.”

One of the accounts cited by the CST is that of former-MP George Galloway, who recently made waves when he went on Russia Today to warn that while combating anti-Semitism is important, “the weaponization of anti-Semitism against people not in the least guilty of it is equally a serious matter.”

One “engine room” account, with the handle @otivar55, tweeted that it was as if Labour moderates had “been on the end of memo [sic] from Israel embassy, with wagging tails willing to comply.”

The account also claimed, without evidence, that anti-racism group Hope Not Hate had “fallen into hands of Zionist nationalists.”

“A small number of accounts are identified, some of which are not Labour members or supporters, and others have been expelled or suspended,” a Labour party spokeswoman told The Guardian. “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 anti-Semitism from our party and wider society.”

Labour has grappled with anti-Semitism since its far-left leader Corbyn was elected party chief in 2015, with fresh scrutiny coming after a number of former party officials accused him and his allies of interfering in efforts to address the issue, in a BBC program aired last month. Corbyn has come under prolonged attack — including from within the party — for allegedly allowing anti-Semitism to spread in the party and for initially refusing to adopt fully the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism in Labour’s new code of conduct.

Last week, the CST reported that the first half of 2019 saw a precipitous rise in incidents targeting members of the UK Jewish community.

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