Corbyn and his supporters – including those on the Guardian editorial board – wish to remain free to assert, in some form or another, that “Zionism is racism” and that “Israel has no right to exist” with moral impunity – a fact which explains why the overwhelming majority of British Jews will continue to see the current Labour Party (as well as the pages of the Guardian) as a “hostile environment” antithetical to their values.
In smearing Israel, Jonathan Sacks and – by association – most British Jews, Steve Bell has attempted to grant Jeremy Corbyn and his cult-like band of acolytes the ultimate political get-out-of-jail-free card the times – lifetime moral impunity for expressions of anti-Jewish racism.
Despite a brief moral throat-clearing, in his Guardian op-ed, on the need to fight ‘real’ antisemitism, by impugning the motives of those calling for the full definition’s adoption, and using dog whistles about ‘Zionist power’ in the UK, Ash Sarkar appears to be as committed to fighting anti-Jewish racism within Labour as the party leader his publication so enthusiastically supports.
The real ‘irony’ is that Corbyn’s own words vindicate the work of Millett, which is premised upon the understanding – based on sound empirical evidence and their first person reports over the years – that there’s a strong correlation between antisemitic and anti-Israel attitudes in the UK.
Whilst it would be wrong to blindly accuse journalists and editors of being personally antisemitic, some within the top echelons of media group – though at times condemning antisemitism in the abstract – seem, much like Corbyn himself, to hold the values and concerns of the mainstream British Jewish community – united in the belief that Labour Party leader represents, as The JC phrased it, “an existential threat to Jewish life in the UK” – in utter contempt.
The Guardian’s Deborah Orr was widely mocked for her bizarre argument that the Shalit prisoner swap with Hamas demonstrated Israeli racism, and she was eventually forced to offer an ‘apology’ of sorts. Corbyn’s 2012 comments on Press TV mirror Orr’s, and provide another illustration of the truly warped thinking which animates many anti-Zionist activists in the UK.
When, in May, the Board of Deputies’ outgoing president Jonathan Arkush met with Jeremy Corbyn, he asked the Labour Party leader: “Why is there nothing good you can say about Israel? According to Arkush, Corbyn didn’t respond, but remained silent – a silence likely driven by the same “mythical Israel” that continues to haunt the political imagination of Guardian editors.
In fairness, the Guardian – over the last few years – has been a bit more vigilant in avoiding antisemitic language, and we’re certainly glad that their editorial position on the antisemitism scandal currently engulfing the Labour Party is morally clear. However, it would benefit their readers – and help contextualise the problem of antisemitism on the British Left – if senior editors would show a bit more self-reflection by acknowledging their own troubling history of sanctioning toxic rhetoric historically used by anti-Semites.
Written by Jonathan Hoffman. The original version of this post was published at Jewish News. Professor David Feldman is the Director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism in London […]
“When you look at the events at UCL…the intention of the protestors was the same as in the 1970s when Jewish Societies were banned: to declare Zionism outside the boundaries of the democratic community of a Students’ Union. This inevitably places most Jewish students outside that boundary and restricts their rights and activities in comparison to other students on campus.”
The following is a clip of Rich talking at a Fathom Forum on Oct. 20th on: antisemitism and Labour: where has this crisis come from, how has it impacted the UK Jewish community, what must the party do now to put things right?
The Working Definition makes a clear distinction – as do most campaigners against antisemitism – between criticism of Israel which crosses the line to antisemitism and that criticism (when leveled in a manner similar to criticism of any other country) which “cannot be regarded as antisemitic”.
Do non-Israeli Jews around the world have a special obligation to criticize West Bank settlements? Yes, according to Joshua Simons, a former policy adviser to Jeremy Corbyn whose op-ed (Why Jews in Labour […]
“Charles Anthony”, is a passionate Corbyn supporter who used to be a member of Socialist Workers Party (SWP). SWP is a far-left group criticized for its “involvement in the bannings of Jewish Societies at university campuses and its repeated hosting of Gilad Atzmon”.
Whilst Alibhai-Brown provided no actual examples of Zionist censorship or intimidation, she did provided another perfectly clear example of her penchant for smearing British Jewish supporters of Israel with false accusations of racism, intolerance and extremism.
Greenwald’s ‘warnings’ about “large and extremely influential Jewish donor groups agitating for war with Iran” is simply indistinguishable from the rhetoric of the extremist right.
RTE, the public service broadcaster of the Irish Republic, has the capacity to immensely influence the views and moral stances of the Irish nation as seasoned commentator (and one-time senior RTE insider) […]
For veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah, the recent never-ending reports of anti-Semitic outbursts by members of the British Labour Party are understandably alarming. Abunimah has spent most of his professional life trying hard to mainstream exactly the kind of thinking that is now so widely criticized as anti-Semitic, and he seems currently very concerned that all his hard work may have failed to legitimize contemporary anti-Semitism, especially in the form of the anti-Semitic anti-Zionism that is so crucial for Abunimah’s trade.
The main message of the evening was that antisemitism is being used merely to attack Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and to silence all criticism of Israel (aka the Livingstone formulation). Both John Rose and Ali then went on to explicitly call for the demise of Israel.
An official editorial in The Observer (sister site of the Guardian) on April 30th, titled ‘The Observer view on Labour’s antisemitism crisis’, was notable for one simple reason: it all but ignored […]