British Jews in False Labour
by Ruthie Blum
It is just when you think that things could not possibly get any worse that they always do. Take the case of the Jews and the British Labour Party, for example.
No, not the Jews who are becoming an increasingly open target of the rampant and rabid antisemitism that has been afflicting the so-called liberal side of the UK political spectrum for some time now. The election of Jeremy Corbyn to head the party that supposedly represents the mainstream Left was already a bad omen, as it reflected the way the wind was blowing where Israel was concerned.
This did not come as a surprise to anyone, least of all Israelis. Europe is in the throes of what National Review columnist and author Andrew McCarthy has been warning about for years: the deadly marriage of radical Islamists to Western Leftists that once would have seemed counter-intuitive. After all, the former oppose everything the latter stands for and then some. This includes, but is not exclusive to, the treatment of women and gays.
The end result is that old-style antisemitism, of the upper-crust variety – the type that became totally taboo after World War II saw millions of Jews marched into the ovens at Auschwitz – has found a new home. This one has a stamp of legitimacy brandished on its front door. It is the right to express vitriol against the state of Israel, the collective successful Jew.
It’s a neat trick and one that worked before the Holocaust, as well. Exhibiting racism towards people who are affluent, educated, innovative and integrated into your own society is a guilt-free pleasure in any case. But being provided an opportunity — in the form of a flourishing state in the Middle East accused by anti-Western forces of behaving badly — to spew unfounded poison is like winning the jackpot.
When coupled with a historical British tendency to glamorize figures like Lawrence of Arabia, this British brew becomes irresistible to those antisemites who were forced, or even went willingly, into the closet for a few decades.
Enough has been said over the past couple of weeks about the sorry condition of Britain’s liberal universities and the party that best suits academia. Indeed, the situation has grown so dire – most recently with the election of Muslim anti-Zionist Malia Bouattia as head of the National Union of Students, and suspension of former London mayor Ken Livingstone and Labour MP Naz Shah – that even Corbyn is saying he will launch an investigation into the phenomenon.
Not only that. Slews of British Jewish Labour members and supporters have begun to withhold their annual financial donations to the party, which they consider to have slipped so far beyond the pale that they are both ashamed and alarmed. Good for them – though it is doubtful they will become Tories, preferring instead to fantasize that once Corbyn is out things will be different.
It is not these Jews I wish to speak about here, however. My focus, rather, is on those 83 who signed an open letter to The Guardian on Friday denying the charges against their party. Their nauseating epistle reads as follows:
We are Jewish members and supporters of the Labour party and of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, who wish to put our perspective on the ‘antisemitism’ controversy that has been widely debated in the last few weeks… We do not accept that antisemitism is ‘rife’ in the Labour party. Of the examples that have been repeated in the media, many have been reported inaccurately, some are trivial, and a very few may be genuine examples of antisemitism. The tiny number of cases of real antisemitism need to be dealt with, but we are proud that the Labour party historically has been in the forefront of the fight against all forms of racism. We, personally, have not experienced any antisemitic prejudice in our dealings with Labour party colleagues.
We believe these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections in the coming week. As Jews, we are appalled that a serious issue is being used in this cynical and manipulative way, diverting attention from much more widespread examples of Islamophobia and xenophobia in the Conservative and other parties. We dissociate ourselves from the misleading attacks on Labour from some members of the Jewish community. We urge others, who may be confused or worried by recent publicity, to be sure that the Labour party, under its present progressive leadership, is a place where Jews are welcomed in a spirit of equality and solidarity.
Corbyn couldn’t have said it better himself. Indeed, asserting that antisemitism is anathema to his party is precisely what he has been doing. The trouble is that nobody believes him – except the leftist Jews whose insistence that some kind of witch-hunt is going on, all because of “Israeli policy” in relation to the Palestinians.
They can kid themselves all they want, but it won’t help. Antisemitism does not discriminate between “good” Jews and “bad,” as both the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and our bloody history have taught us.
Ruthie Blum is the managing editor of The Algemeiner.