English Channel 4 television’s puzzle show, Countdown, star Rachel Riley’s security will be tightened after she had been subjected to online abuse and threats for her public challenges of anti-Semitism, Sky News reported on Sunday.
Riley, a mathematics graduate and the show’s resident mathematician said she has been targeted by Labour supporters on Twitter for criticizing the party and its leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Riley is Jewish, and in September 2018 said she had been called “Tory, brainwashed and thick” for criticizing Corbyn over the allegations of anti-Semitism in his party. She stated that she did not have “any party loyalties,” and told The Times: “The more I speak, the more abuse I get, and the more abuse I get, the more I speak.”
“It’s got to the point where I can’t look at my Twitter feed anymore … it’s just a constant stream,” she said.
She then added: “We are getting more security for Countdown.”
In January 2019, in an interview on Channel 4 News, Riley said she first started seriously looking into anti-Semitism in 2018, after seeing a protest outside Parliament. She spoke of seeing posters stating “Israel is a racist endeavor” and how these offended her, as an assault on the notion of a safe country for the Jewish community. She said that Corbyn had shared a platform with “Holocaust deniers and virulent anti-Semites.”
In January 2019, Riley said on Twitter that Noam Chomsky, Ken Loach and Aaron Bastani were “known to promote anti-Semitism.” In response to comments, she shared screenshots of an article quoting Chomsky as writing in 1981 that he had not seen any ‘credible proof’ of Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson’s anti-Semitism, and that even if the latter had denied the Holocaust, that was not proof he was an anti-Semite.
The share was followed by an online exchange with rabid anti-Israel politician George Galloway, who tweeted: “Dumbfounding. She calls Chomsky (or Chomski as she styles him) an anti-Semite and slanders half the Labour Party as the same.”
Riley replied: “[Expletive] off George Galloway,” and continued in a second tweet: “Today’s not the day I’m going to be polite to anti-Semite scum – to be explicit George Galloway.”
Riley received support from television personalities Stephen Fry and Nick Hewer, with Hewer announcing he would not vote Labour.
Riley, too, said she would not vote for Labour, because the party is “actively encouraging the abuse of people who are standing up to this.”
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, said in response: “When someone like Rachel Riley speaks out about her real concerns over anti-Semitism on the left, even if people dispute some of her specific assertions, the only fit response is to listen, understand, and tackle the root problem.”
So, if you’re in her home district (Islington South and Finsbury), it’s OK to vote for her, even recommended, maybe…