It’s very important for Jews to go out on the streets of London. There were loads of Jews who were refugees, some came on the kinder transport and most Jews for most of their life have lived with European antisemitism and its consequences.
Many of them thanked Britain for letting them in and aspired to give something back, and some became local political activists in London where some have worked really closely with Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott and have dealt with a huge array of dilemmas in London as colleagues and friends in the 1980s.
The notion that Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-semite is quite honestly thick-witted, so then we have to consider what’s going on, and there are profound problems around anti-semitism, not so much in Britain, but in Europe and elsewhere, and we must focus on the serious stuff, and this is a manipulation by an Israeli propaganda outfit, of the right-wing Labour party, and lord knows what else, to ferment an issue that has no spine.
With members of the Jewish Defence League (JDL), they come from constituencies from around the country and there’s nothing to report about anti-semitism, and Britain continues to be one of the safest countries to live as a Jew on the whole planet.
That doesn’t imply there’s no anti-Jewish hatred here, it’s simply that there’s a vast deal less of it than some people want you to believe, and that’s true for now, but how long will it last?
Thanks to a Jewish communal leadership and a Jewish press which have united Jewish interests in Britain with the need to defend the interests of the State of Israel, we’re set on a path that endangers turning false anti-semitism into actual anti-semitism.
What we’re seeing could be an on-coming, self-inflicted disaster for the Jewish population in Britain, and shouting it out now is the best way to prevent it from occurring.
Dame Margaret Hodge, a former minister braved Jeremy Corbyn behind the Speaker’s chair following crunch votes on Brexit, and called him a “f****** racist and an anti-semite”
The Labour leader is supposed to have responded: “I’m sorry you feel like that.”
Senior Labour sources didn’t argue reports of the exchange and suggested Jeremy Corbyn would seek a meeting with Dame Margaret Hodge to address the subject. She’s was also expected to be reported to Labour whips for the harangue.
It came following Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) approved a controversial code of conduct that only partially uses the internationally-recognised International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-semitism.
The party has agreed to use the definition but has not directly fostered four of the IHRA examples of anti-semitism. They are: accusing Jewish people of being more loyal to Israel than their home country, claiming the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour, holding Israel to higher standards than other countries, and comparing Israeli policies to those of the Nazis.
Labour has insisted the examples are incorporated elsewhere in the code of conduct, but Jewish community groups denounced the document.
Facing a burgeoning backlash, the NEC acknowledged “serious concerns” had been raised and proposed continuing consultation with Jewish groups.
Anti-semitism is a strange kind of discrimination, and rather than disparaging Jews as inferior, it casts them as maliciously superior, and it’s a prejudice that’s as popular on the left as it is on the right, and whereas leftist politics dictates that something is offensive if the oppressed group maintains it is, those who otherwise profess to be progressive have an annoying inclination to maintain that, actually, anti-semitism isn’t actually a problem at all.
This pattern has been recently illustrated by the UK Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and Spectator magazine assembled a roster of 50 recent anti-semitic occurrences connected with the party, and hardly a month goes by without someone in Labour making yet another biased criticism.
Many of the wrongdoers are still party members, and former London mayor Ken Livingstone stated that a Jewish journalist was “just like a concentration camp guard” and that Adolf Hitler advocated Zionism.
Jackie Walker, the former vice-chair of Corbyn-supporting organization Momentum, questioned why Jewish schools require security and complained that Holocaust Memorial Day wasn’t inclusive enough, and under Jeremy Corbyn’s administration, both got deferments but were not expelled from the party.
In the meantime, according to Jackie Walker, concerns about anti-semitism inside Labour are driven by Israel, the Tory party, and the right-wing newspapers as a method to attack Jeremy Corbyn.
Following on from this series of transgressions and denials, the Labour party saw it fitting to form a new meaning of anti-semitism. Their resulting recommendations were immediately denounced by 68 rabbis, making it the first time ultra-orthodox rabbis and progressive female rabbis have co-signed the same letter.
In answer, secular Jewish MP Margaret Hodge called Jeremy Corbyn a racist and anti-semite, and the Labour Party, in turn, started a disciplinary hearing into Margaret Hodge, so obviously, Jeremy Corbyn thinks he’s been unjustly accused.
But at what point does an easygoing approach towards anti-semitism become itself a manifestation of discrimination? In other words, when can Jeremy Corbyn or anyone be deemed a real anti-semite?
The key to this enigma rests in recognising the nature of anti-semitism.
Normally, biases are discourses of mediocrity: women are less able than men, sexual minorities are perverted and immoral, ethnic minorities are less intelligent, but the most dominant patterns of anti-semitism, including those used by the Nazis and the Soviet Union, are quite the reverse. It’s that Jews are too smart by half, too powerful, and historically, anti-semitism is the very first conspiracy theory.
Jewish people present a convenient scapegoat for the world’s evils, and so anti-semitism persecutes Jews by maintaining that Jewish people are the persecutors, and if the Jew did not exist, the anti-semite would invent him.
The fact that Jewish people are frequently indistinguishable from a majority-white society further feeds conspiracy theories: Anti-semitism is the fear of the stranger passing as an insider, the suspicion and hostility of an unseen network pulling the strings.
This theory also encompasses any foreigner, including people of the Muslim belief, and this dynamic is evident in comparisons about Jewish people dominating capitalism, the media, and Hollywood, and feeds into attempts to condemn all Jews for the actions of the Israeli government.
The narrative, which sees Jews as oppressors to be overthrown, also makes it a more suitable fit for left-wing politics than most other modes of bias. Hence anti-semitism has been called the fool’s socialism.
Because anti-semitism is established on the notion that Jewish people are uniquely powerful, the discrimination is frequently visible in claims that anti-semitism isn’t a concern or doesn’t exist, and the anti-semite sees Jewish people as powerful brutes, and so can’t acknowledge that it’s possible for Jews to be victimised.
How does this apply to Jeremy Corbyn? In one striking instance, the Labour leader faced objection for supporting an overtly anti-semitic mural in 2012. It’s probably likely, though unlikely, that Jeremy Corbyn didn’t realize the mural was anti-semitic at the time.
But, earlier this year, he had a distinctly unemotional response to the upset and outrage prompted by his remarks. Though the initial transgression was outrageous enough, his absence of care presented a distinct indifference towards Jewish people.
But Jeremy Corbyn has stated that he can’t be anti-semitic because he loathes all discrimination. But the idea that people can be biased even without conscious, malicious intent is a fundamental left-wing dogma, and progressive politics supports that discrimination is systemic and that everyone has a duty to consider how they contribute to prejudice.
Is Jeremy Corbyn anti-semitic, or is he anti-semitic according to the left’s own perception of what constitutes prejudice and discrimination? And denials, mean little to Jewish people when they’re regularly faced with anti-semitic comments and response.
And even the most genuine, heartfelt claims to egalitarianism don’t protect against the decaying influence of anti-semitism.
Anti-semitism is a politics of hostility against the wrong things. It’s a politics of deflection and untruth, and it will never be able to resolve the real and present pressures and dilemmas of society. That’s why it’s really dangerous, and it will always destroy its users.
Experiences of anti-semitism these days in England are rare, so it’s important that we take each and every accusation of anti-semitism really seriously and with the highest level of concern, not slothful indifference.
Political parties are by definition places of tribalism: organisations that cultivate a feeling of opposition between distinguished and polarised sides. Our electoral policy generates space for merely two important parties, and the official opposition’s job is to scrutinise the actions of government and holding them to account.
It doesn’t take a Westminster staff member to see that inside party structures there are comparable pressures, and Brexit has created a virulent rift within the Conservatives that seems far from healing, while the split in Labour over Jeremy Corbyn’s premiership, while gradually diminishing, preponderates anyway.
But as these Labour encampments have been developed in this municipal war, so too has anti-semitism’s position within it, and what has become self-evident since the most recent story surfaced is that we’ve lost the vision of a simple truth: some Jewish segments have stated they sometimes feel uncomfortable, and that the party isn’t always a safe place for them.
Furthermore, some Jewish people who have reprimanded Jeremy Corbyn have received anti-semitic persecution, and all sides of the Labour Party must now take stock of their positions because there have been some harsh realities that many others, had wished were not there.
It’s true that for years now Jeremy Corbyn and his followers have been unfairly characterised as raging anti-semites, and critics have told Labour members that their behaviour can be equated to facilitating anti-semitism, that they’re an army of racists who deserve to be shunned.
At times, this was done by organisations with people who have rightly been kicked out for their repugnant views, at other times it was nothing more than defamation, but in fact now Labour is the home of people committed to fighting prejudice.
The left has an abundant and impressive history of standing up for oppressed and marginalised people, and a swift flick through your history books will reinforce that this is the case. Yet just because many of the allegations against Labour and Jeremy Corbyn have been groundless, it doesn’t imply Jeremy Corbyn is beyond judgment.
He does screw up, and five years ago that’s precisely what he did.
It was back in 2012 when Jeremy Corbyn, then an unknown back-bencher, posted a comment on social media which has now brought massive critique, and a large amount of media consideration.
Why Jeremy Corbyn wrote on the underneath of an image of a mural on Facebook with a heading that revealed that the next day it would be taken down from a wall in London, “You are in good company,” the Labour leader continued, “Rockefeller destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”
The mural in question portrayed anti-semitic tropes that have no place in society, and it’s right that Jeremy Corbyn apologised and revealed how his remarks came about, and this appears to have been more like an error rather than being motivated by the loathing of Jews, and there’s no doubt the man is an active anti-racist campaigner.
Of course, anti-semitism exists in Britain, and it displays itself in a diversity of forms. The neo-Nazis and the racialists who attack and denounce us are a menace to our safety, but so too are the more indirect manifestations of prejudice that pop up in our everyday life.
There are the conspiracy theories and the hooked-nose illustrations, those who use the word Jew as a synonym for stingy, and those who say Jews run the world, and for those who continue to indiscriminately support Jeremy Corbyn on this issue, claiming that this is simply another attempt to weaken his leadership in a long-running smear campaign shows a clear absence of judgement and rightly offends Jewish people and we must always hold our leaders to account.
It doesn’t matter that the issue today is being weaponised by some. Jeremy Corbyn gave them the ammunition, and it doesn’t even matter that some of those continuing to reprimand Jeremy Corbyn today do so with ambitions to remove him from the Labour leadership. What matters is that it happened, and can never be allowed to happen again.
The broad preponderance of those racing to support Jeremy Corbyn today is doing so because it’s now second nature. They’ve become accustomed to the media unjustly criticising him. On this occasion though, there’s merit in the turmoil.
Listen to the concerns being raised, and view the reply Jeremy Corbyn wrote. These bold replies are, while not excusable, or justifiable, they’re a consequence of a never-ending smear campaign. If Labour is going to be a truly anti-racist party, it has to adhere to this fundamental policy of anti-racism: you listen to people from minority ethnic communities, you consider their backgrounds, and you don’t tell them it’s all in their head.
There’s also a fair amount of fear-mongering from those looking to whip up anxieties that don’t need to be there. “The reality is that there are no safe spaces online or in meetings for Jewish people within the Labour Party,” reads a letter written to Jeremy Corbyn by the Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council.
Many Labour members are the most committed opposers of prejudice, and making such all-embracing and bogus generalisations are not helpful, but as Jewish people who define themselves in light of their progressive values, they’re compelled to hold themselves to higher standards when it comes to anti-semitism, as with all forms of discrimination.
Two separate groups assembled outside Parliament, one was in support of Jeremy Corbyn, the other was critical of him, the fact both were united in abhorring anti-semitism has been wasted in hysteria, and we’ve let an in-house battle over the Labour Party and its future deflect us from the real and immediate dangers that anti-semitism presents us with.
In January 2018, figures released by the Community Security Trust revealed that anti-semitic incidents had reached an all-time high in Britain, with a 34 per cent rise in the amount of violent anti-semitic attacks. The situation is even murkier in America.
When the level of anti-semitic assaults on our streets is rising, why are all the op-eds, leader columns, news accounts and TV discussions about a Facebook post by Jeremy Corbyn?
Tackling anti-semitism doesn’t simply mean Labour throwing someone out of the party. What should be obvious is that is just the start. It implies taking a hard look at our culture which tolerates prejudice and discrimination to flourish and ensuring that we strive to make sure prejudice is eradicated today and for generations to come.
This means taking on the far-right but further making it clear conspiracy theories aren’t left-wing, and there’s no place for apologists in progressive movements. It’s Labour’s duty, as the country’s most progressive party, to take on that responsibility.
We know that Jeremy Corbyn is no anti-semite just as well as he does, but there’s no harm in rising to the occasion and proving your doubters wrong.