It has long been suspected that Jeremy Corbyn has a problem with Jews (if not known that he is antipathetic to Judaism, defends antisemitic conspiracy theorists, and accommodates Jew-hatred), but to learn that the Labour Party itself now inclines to its leader’s worldview is somewhat disturbing.
Yesterday Labour’s NEC approved its organisational sub-committee decision not to endorse the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism. So Labour does not accept:
Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.
The concern is that such a definition embraces the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, and would, for example, inhibit the expression or belief that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour. Labour doesn’t want to muddy the water between Jew-hatred (which is antisemitic and racist) and Israel-hatred (which is enlightened and progressive), so the IHRA definition has been rejected. Instead, Labour is going to consult on developing its own definition.
The Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said: “Adoption of Labour’s new alternative to the internationally accepted IHRA definition will send an unprecedented message of contempt to the Jewish community.” More than 60 British rabbis wrote a joint letter of condemnation: “The Labour party’s leadership has chosen to ignore those who understand antisemitism the best, the Jewish community. By claiming to know what’s good for our community, the Labour party’s leadership have chosen to act in the most insulting and arrogant way.” The chair of the Jewish Leadership Council Jonathan Goldstein said: “I’m terribly disappointed we have reached the point where the Jewish community is being singled out by the Labour leadership and treated in a way no other minority would be. If these proposals are formally adopted it would only strengthen the argument that the party has become institutionally anti-Semitic.” And a joint statement by Jewish community groups questioned Labour’s sincerity in tackling antisemitism. The JLC and Board of Deputies said: “Its actions only dilute the definition and further erode the existing lack of confidence that British Jews have in their sincerity to tackle anti-Semitism within the Labour movement.”
On the Andrew Marr Show (8th July 2018) Shadow Cabinet member Sir Keir Starmer attacked Labour’s failure to adopt the IHRA full definition, saying: “Councils, institutions across the country have accepted the full definition… I think that’s the right position to be in… I would urge everybody within the Labour party to listen to the voices that have come out in recent days and get to a position where we are supporting the full definition.” Everybody in the Labour Party didn’t want to listen to such voices.
And Labour MP Margaret Hodge, whose family members died in Auschwitz, allegedly told Jeremy Corbyn: “You’re a f***ing anti-Semite and a racist.” She has since confirmed that she said called her leader an antisemite and a racist, but denied using the ‘f’ word. So that’s alright then.
And now prominent Jewish Labour Party members are leaving. One such is Tal Ofer, who tweeted: “All signs show that Labour has a problem with antisemitism, a problem it doesn’t seek to solve. As long as Labour don’t deal with antisemitism, it is not fit for power and it can’t be a party for the many. As long as this remains the case I can no longer be a member of the Party.” And so he resigned his membership:
You can’t imagine Labour adopting a definition of ‘Islamophobia‘ which Muslims could not accept, or a definition of ‘homophobia‘ which LGBT people could not accept. Jeremy Corbyn would be immensely concerned if Muslims and gays suddenly starting deserting his party of such an issue, and no doubt Labour MPs would act swiftly to stem the flow. So why single out the Jews for special treatment?