On 24 February anti-far right campaign Hope Not Hate and the Jewish charity Community Security Trust published a report on London-based antisemitic conspiracy group Keep Talking.
Since HnH and the CST secretly infiltrated Keep Talking in early 2017, it has hosted “an array of both left-wing and right-wing speakers, who have discussed a wide variety of conspiracy theories”. Particular focuses have included 9/11, terror attacks in London, historical assassinations, the murder of Jo Cox, the Skripal affair and Syria.
In addition “antisemitic conspiracy theories are at the core of the group. Sometimes these are expressed in more overt terms, in the form of Holocaust denial and ideas of Jewish influence. Other times these work as explanations of event-based conspiracy theories.”
The report discusses the nature and appeal of conspiracy theories. As it notes, “most worrying… is the use of conspiracy theories as a tool to attack minority groups. Jew-hatred has deep roots within the tradition of alternative conspiracy thinking, and whilst the so-called ‘Jewish Question’ is hotly debated amongst conspiracy theory communities, antisemitic tropes are rarely far removed from a diverse array of conspiratorial notions”.
Keep Talking involves a number of figures quite straightforwardly linked to the far right. Alongside the report, Hope Not Hate has issued a video clip from a March 2019 meeting at which well-known Holocaust-denier James Thring (pictured above) argues the British state “didn’t know that [the murder of Jews in Nazi camps] was going on… because it wasn’t.
“These camps were work camps, they were there to help in the war effort, if they wanted to kill the Jews they wouldn’t have taken them all the way across Europe and put them in a camp and paid for their food and everything”.
Thring was responding to Keep Talking’s billed speaker that night, expelled Labour and GMB activist Peter Gregson, who was mocked for suggesting that the Holocaust did happen in some form. Gregson’s speech was about “Free speech on Israel”, which he claimed is being lost due to “Holocaust guilt”.
Gregson is not the only person connected to the Labour left milieu and involved in Keep Talking. Miko Peled, for instance, seems to be more widely accepted on the left as a legitimate figure than Gregson.
Peled spoke at the Free Speech on Israel fringe meeting at the 2017 Labour Party conference, and was publicly defended by FSoI after demanding “the freedom to criticise and to discuss every issue, whether it’s the Holocaust: yes or no...” Last year he spoke at a fringe meeting on “BDS, antisemitism and a free Palestine”. As the report makes clear, he used his appearance at Keep Talking to promote antisemitic conspiracy theory.
Two days before the report came out ex-Labour MP Chris Williamson tweeted an article by Peled, immediately afterwards tweeting him specifically with a salute.
Chris Williamson has had connections with a number of those discussed in the report, including Keep Talking speakers Elleanne Green and Vanessa Beeley.
In Keep Talking far right and what the report calls “far left” rub shoulders and discuss in a friendly manner. Perhaps even more concerning is the way the “left” participants participate in and in some cases seem quite at home in a much wider left-wing Labour Party milieu, one that reaches far into the Corbynite mainstream.
The way promoters of antisemitism are to one extent or another accepted, excused and even defended shows the logic of “absolute anti-Zionist” politics.