On Aaron Porter and those anti-semitic comments

January 31, 2011

in Activism, Opinion

So, 4000 people marched in Manchester on Saturday against the cuts to education with the TUC, the NUS, EAN, NCAF, Manchester Against Cuts and Fees, and I’m sure a whole bunch of other organisations as well that felt like telling people to go march on the 29th of January. Instead of covering that, or the police brutality that landed at least person in hospital that I know of, dozens more battered, and got 25 people arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong place, the media decided to go with “NUS President attacked by anti-semitic abuse”.

Tracking down this origins of this story leads to a Daily Mail article, in which an anonymous photographer heard the words “Tory Jew scum” being shouted at Aaron. That’s a pretty serious allegation. Unfortunately, people just repeating it over and over again on their Facebook statuses does not make it true.

Here is the footage of Aaron Porter at the time he was alleged to have been abused, as he walked (not particularly fast for a man being “hounded”) down to MMU away from the two hundred people telling him to go away:

Watch the video all the way through, then go back and listen hard at 5:39. The crowd, clearly still shouting the same chant, “Aaron Porter, we know you, you’re a fucking Tory too” as they have been in the previous five minutes, sounds very much like they are indeed shouting “You’re a fucking Tory Jew.”

Now, maybe I am mistaken, and many of my friends who were at that demonstration are actually virulently anti-semitic whenever I’m not around. Yes, that’s probably it. In fact, “you’re a Tory Jew” wasn’t the only slogan that these vicious, secret anti-Semites-dressed-up-as-students-bothered-by-their-crap-leadership come up with. Now listen to the video again:

* At 2:15, that person shouting “”sell-out”? Actually shouting the word “selah”, a term used in the Hebrew Bible to indicate a musical interlude. This is obviously a reference to Aaron’s Jewishness. Bastards.

* 2:50, the crowd stop shouting “scum” and are clearly bellowing “skunk”, a type of gas that the Israeli government have been known to use on Palestinian protestors. It’s just such a natural thing to come to mind on a protest about cuts to education.

* 3:35, a man calls Aaron Porter a “joke”. Really? “Joke”? Or… “Jew”? Oh, the humanity.

* At 4:05, “get out” is just obviously you missing hearing the German phrase “geht auf”, or “go on”. The context of such anti-semitic hatred and choice of tongue are intended to invoke the Holocaust. It just seems so obvious when you think about it and let go of all reason in the name of political point-scoring.

* Calling for Aaron Porter to be burned at 4:20, a cheap, childish offensive taunt? Or a deliberate identification with the Eastern Orthodox ritual of burning the Jewish Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus? Christ, I surprised this crowd didn’t just shout Jesus-killer at Aaron and be done with it.

* But even saying that, these nasty little racists offer hope at 6:05 that Aaron will one day be redeemed: you might think that the crowd are shouting, “Students and workers, unite and fight”, but does it not make more sense they are actually calling on Aaron to join them as they chant, “Judas and workers, unite and fight”?

So maybe, maybe someone actually did shout “Tory Jew scum” at Aaron Porter. And maybe there were some other protesters who shouted “no to racism, no to racism”, as the Telegraph reported. But they must have been doing it really, really quietly. Maybe it happened. Or maybe a miserable little right-wing hack sent to cover those damn trouble-making students heard what he wanted to hear. Make up your own mind.

The vast majority of people who were on the demo whom I have spoken to about this alleged anti-Semitic abuse have had the initial reaction “What?!”, followed by “I didn’t hear anything like that!”, and finally, “Aaron Porter’s Jewish? Who knew that?”. Shouting “Tory Jew scum” at someone because they happen to be a rubbish student leader seems rather inexplicable, especially as unlike his predecessor, Aaron hasn’t really done much for the Zionist cause, which is what usually prompts such attacks.

Was Aaron Porter racially abused on the 29th January? I have no idea. But I think we need a bit more evidence for such a serious allegation than an anonymous photographer claiming he heard a phrase that sounded remarkably similar to a non-racist chant. And I have yet to hear any.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Tom Lloyd January 31, 2011 at 8:13 am

Sarah,

All you write is almost certainly completely accurate. The trouble is that the lasting (incorrect) impression left in the minds of millions of readers is that anti-semitic chants did occur and that freedom of speech was denied.

That’s the reality with which you have to deal; and that’s the challenge.

Tom

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sarah January 31, 2011 at 8:26 am

Indeed Tom. Life would be a lot easier for everyone if the media reported “news” instead of “stuff other people have said” – they call their work “stories” for a reason, I think. :P

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Chris Paul January 31, 2011 at 8:24 am

Why do you need this not to be true? No one is saying YOU made such remarks.

I now have first hand eye / ear witness evidence of not only “Tory Jew” but also “Zionist Fascist” being directed at Aaron Porter in these scrums.

There may or may not be VT or audio tape evidence of these taunts but I have no reason whatsoever not be believe my source that these things *were* being muttered and spoken.

The lack of a clear recording in this short tape with it’s puny wildtrack ? directional ambient audio is not evidence that these things were not uttered at all, or even within the time frame of this VT.

And the fact that “Tory Too” (also directed a lot at Nick Clegg on the day) does not mean that Tory Jew was not also uttered and heard.

I have heard such things at demos, directed at various people, and from various sources (present in Saturday’s mix) but I certainly wouldn’t rely on a camera borne mic to pick this up reliably, particularly if coinciding with louder but similar forms of words from the innocent bystander at large, merely calling a long time Labour democratic socialist a Tory.

Can you provide VT/AT of what the muppet(s) who tried to egg Tony Lloyd MP at Platt Fields were saying as they did so? Does lack of this mean they said nothing?

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NGC February 14, 2011 at 12:35 am

Chris Paul perhaps you can persuade the source that heard “Tory Jew” being shouted at aaron Porter to come forward. After all it would help dispell the myth that these allegations are simply a smear campaign being used by an increasingly desperate labour party careerist.

As for the “Zionist Fascist” remark, that is not a racist or anti-semitic comment. It is misdirected if aimed at Aaron Porter and generally not the cleverist comment in the world. But it is not racist or anti-semitic.

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Chris Paul January 31, 2011 at 8:26 am

Tom

I don’t there can be any doubt whatsoever that Aaron Porter was abused and hectored and intimidated ..

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sarah January 31, 2011 at 8:36 am

Nope, I don’t think that Aaron Porter was shouted at, followed, and shut up in Man Met’s Union so he couldn’t give his speech is in doubt.

That is, however, in no way actually proof that someone shouted “Tory Jew” at him.

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sarah January 31, 2011 at 8:35 am

No, I believe that eggs (and tomatoes) were thrown at people, including Tony Lloyd and Shane Cowen – I know the people who said they were planning to throw them, and many others who said they saw them being thrown. I have yet to hear anyone say that they heard any anti-semitic comments thrown by anyone.

Maybe people did indeed shout “zionist fascist” at Aaron – that would make more sense than “Tory Jew”. But it’s also not anti-semitic to call someone a Zionist or a fascist, and the left are known for calling anyone who disagrees with them a fascist, so I take that less seriously than the claim people hurled anti-semitic abuse at Aaron Porter.

Why do I need this to not be true? I don’t, I’m just extremely skeptical of these claims, which may not concern me but do concern numerous of my friends and the credibility of the anti-cuts movement, for which we have no evidence. Maybe your friend says they heard it, not one of mine did. Not one camera or microphone has picked up these alleged comments (and the video I have posted shows numerous cameras from various news organisations following the incident).

I’m not saying it definitely didn’t happen – just that given the footage available, the lack of corroborating sources and the fact that this story has since been used to completely side-step the fact that a whole bunch of people got thrown around and beaten by the police, the evidence so far seemed rather against it.

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NGC February 14, 2011 at 12:23 am

It now turns out that the source for the story was an aide of Aaron Porters. Although several people have come forward and stated that they did not hear the alleged racist abuse, no one else has yet come forward to say they did hear it. Like wise no footage or recording of the abuse has emerged.

Aaron Porter has admitted that despite suggesting otherwise, he did not hear any racist abuse.

http://manchestermule.com/article/nus-official-was-source-for-anti-semitic-allegations

The fact Aaron Porter attempted to keep alive a false story, suggests that he was happy to smear his most vocal opponents as racist. He was happy for this slander to be used against those who oppose him to distract from the fact that he is now so unpopular amongst students that he is unable to speak at a rally organised by the union he supposedly represents. Aaron Porter used allegations of racism to avoid adressing the issue that his failure to represent the views of students means that the students utterly reject him as a leader.

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sarah February 14, 2011 at 12:32 am

You are mostly likely quite right. I wonder how this will play out in his bid for re-election.

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Ken. Hayes February 23, 2011 at 9:17 am

Interesting – except that there is one glaring misconception. Mr. Porter may be many things, but he most assuredly NOT a Semite.

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Ken. Hayes February 23, 2011 at 9:18 am

Interesting – except that there is one glaring misconception. Mr. Porter may be many things, but he most assuredly is NOT a Semite.

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sarah February 25, 2011 at 8:57 am

Yes, so it would appear. I find it even weirder then, that some reporter would think that people would shout anti-semitic slurs at someone who isn’t even Jewish!

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