Saturday 24 September 2016

Labour does not care about antisemitism anymore

It's official. As of 24th September 2016, 62% of those eligible to vote in the Labour Party's leadership election do not care about antisemitism. Approximately 50% of those will read that sentence and, ironically, accuse me of a smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn. They will not ask me why I feel this way. Instead, they will tell me Jeremy Corbyn is a thoroughly decent man. They will probably tell me that he is just pro-Palestinian, even though I have not mentioned Israel. And finally, they will tell me that there is no antisemitism problem in Labour. Because, apparently, I am just an embittered Blairite or a right-wing conspiracy theorist out to cause trouble and lie about Corbyn.

Supporting Jeremy Corbyn does not automatically make one an antisemite. Dismissing his supporters as such is unhelpful and wrong. It is to misunderstand his considerable appeal completely. I have friends, ones that I know for a fact are not antisemitic, that support Corbyn and I think it is easy to see why. They, like me, have left university with thousands of pounds worth of debt they see saddled on them by this Tory government. They, like me, care about the environment. They, like me, think that spending billions on a nuclear deterrent that we will never use is madness when we have record numbers at food-banks. They, like me, are tired of the same old politics and politicians. Rightly or wrongly, Jeremy Corbyn is seen as the answer to many of the issues they care about. He is seen as the opposite of your normal politician. Principled and decent. Nevermind this is all nonsense. That's another article for another time. I get his appeal. Truly I do. But I could never support him or a Labour Party under his leadership.

Because I, unlike them, care about antisemitism. They can't care about antisemitism, because if they did, they'd be appalled by Jeremy Corbyn. They'd be appalled by Diane Abbott and John McDonnell. They'd be appalled by Ken Livingstone and the fact he remains in the party. They'd be appalled by the Chakrabarti report and her peerage. They'd be appalled by the video Corbyn released where his supporters make it clear they think anti-Semitism is not a problem and do not care even if it were because it was the Tories who were really anti-Semitic 70 years ago. They'd be appalled by any claims (from, for example, Len McCluksey and Diane Abbott) that antisemitism accusations are a slur against Labour. They'd be appalled that Corbyn himself dismisses the allegations, demonstrating a remarkable arrogance and an ignorance and apathy towards antisemitism. They'd be appalled that instead of rooting out and expelling members who express antisemitic views, Corbyn and McDonnell appear alongside them and endorse them. They'd be appalled by Corbyn's association with Holocaust deniers. They'd be appalled by the fact Jewish MPs now require protection. They'd be appalled by the abuse directed at Jewish MPs in Corbyn's name. They'd be appalled that Ruth Smeeth left the event launching the antisemitism report in tears, rather than dismissing her as a CIA agent.

But they aren't. Because they do not care about antisemitism. If that upsets you as a Corbyn supporter, then it should. You should be deeply upset that you have chosen to ignore the vast majority of the Jewish population in this country and tell us that you care about all forms of discrimination apart from discrimination against us. You should be deeply upset that you have decided to either ignore the crisis of antisemitism in Labour or, worse, dismiss it as a smear against the dear leader. You should be deeply upset that you have not asked Jews like me (and the 92% of the Jewish Labour Movement that endorsed Owen Smith) why we feel there is a problem in the Labour Party and with Jeremy Corbyn (see above and here). You should be deeply upset that the Labour Party Conference 2016 has been riddled with antisemitism. You should be deeply upset that Momentum calls for the expulsion of the Jewish Labour Movement, an affiliate since 1920. You should be deeply upset that instead, you have simply dismissed our concerns. And you should be deeply upset that your response to this article won't be to consider for the briefest of moments that you might be wrong. That maybe, just maybe, glorious, infallible Jeremy Corbyn might have a glaring, despicable flaw that you missed despite the thousands of Jewish and non-Jewish voices trying to point it out.

And personally, I do not know what upsets me more. The antisemitism in Labour or the fact so many people, both friends and people I do not know, care so little about antisemitism. But it's fine, you can just dismiss me as a member of the worldwide Zionist conspiracy. After all, the allegations are just invented. That's a lot easier than facing up to the fact that you, the self-confessed anti-racist and self-appointed moral authority, do not care about antisemitism. You do not care even a little bit.

This article was updated on 25th September 2016 to reflect the antisemitism that has occurred at the Labour Party Conference 2016. 

This article was further updated on 19th September 2017 to correct the spelling of antisemitism and antisemitic.

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