29 October 2020
The ruling by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that the Labour Party broke the law by discriminating against Jews should not bring pleasure to anybody. Vindication and relief that Jewish voices have been heard, of course: but nobody should be happy that the antisemitism in Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was so blatant and widespread that the party had to be brought to account by the UK’s official anti-discrimination regulator.
At the end of July an event organised by the group Labour Against the Witchhunt held a Zoom meeting which was broadcast live on multiple pages on Facebook. The meeting was ostensibly about free speech, but in fact turned into an attack on mainstream Jewish community organisations, including CST.
The angry reactions to CST’s recent report, Engine of Hate: The online networks behind the Labour Party’s antisemitism crisis, show exactly why such research is necessary. The reactions denied what the report said, whilst demonstrating the behaviours that caused it to be written in the first place. Some might call that ironic. Attacks have misrepresented what the report actually says. Similarly, CST has also been attacked and misrepresented. CST expected these reactions. Nevertheless, the misrepresentations are worth noting and exposing. Unfortunately, doing so requires some length, so as the points can be explicitly demonstrated.
The problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party over the past three years has been fuelled by a flow of antisemitic tweets and posts on social media, done in the name of the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Many of these tweets use hateful language to attack Jewish Labour MPs or other people who raise concerns about antisemitism; other tweets claim that any mention of antisemitism is part of a conspiracy to ‘smear’ Corbyn and Labour.
You always know when criticism of the Labour Party’s handling of antisemitism has reached an intolerable level, because that is when the party announces a new raft of measures promising that this time they really will address the problem.
Clare Short’s appearance on Tuesday’s BBC Newsnight was a case study in being wrong, with her mistakes typifying the evasions and excuses for antisemitism that are repeated like a mantra by the anti-Israel left.
On 27 February 2019, John Mann MP, spoke at the CST Annual Dinner 2019. Below the video and the is the full transcript of the speech.
Just in time for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Labour Party has relented and finally decided to adopt the same basic definition of antisemitism as used by everybody else. To be more accurate, they have relented a bit: because they still feel the need to additionally say that it is okay to “criticise” Israel. (Of course the tachless is that the word “hate” is probably a lot more accurate than the word “criticise”.)
The scandal surrounding antisemitism within the British Labour Party continues to grow. The party’s recent decision to adopt a watered-down definition of antisemitism, rather than that of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, caused renewed outrage. Taken together with slurs against “Talmud Jews” from a local Labour councillor, it is clear that the rot goes to the heart of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
In an interview published in Sunday’s Observer newspaper, Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, warned that anti-Semitism must be dealt with, or the Party would “disappear into a vortex of eternal shame and embarrassment”.
On Friday evening, Jeremy Corbyn tried to persuade Britain’s Jewish community, via the Guardian, that the Labour party is not a threat to their life in Britain. It is staggering that a Labour leader should feel compelled to make such a claim and a mark of how low Corbyn’s standing has fallen that he is the last person most British Jews would trust to give them that assurance.
The Labour leadership’s defences of its new Code of Conduct on antisemitism have unleashed a torrent of abuse, including antisemitism, within Labour’s Facebook, Twitter and constituency party circles. Indeed, Labour has received at least two complaints regarding behaviour within the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting that discussed the guidelines.
In May 2016, a few weeks after Ken Livingstone and Naz Shah MP were suspended by the Labour Party for anti-Semitism, a Labour councillor in Burnley called Shah Hussain was revealed to have tweeted two years earlier to Israeli footballer Yossi Benayoun that “You are a complete and utter plonker, you and your country doing the same thing that Hitler did to ur race in ww2”. This was a period of near-daily headlines about Labour anti-Semitism and the Party wanted to look like it was cracking down, so Hussain was swiftly suspended.
This week the Labour party achieved something remarkable, even unique, in the history of British anti-racism. They managed to get 68 rabbis from every religious stream in the country – Orthodox, Liberal, Reform and Masorti – to form a coalition to denounce antisemitism. These are religious leaders who normally agree on very little, some of whom would not even acknowledge each other as rabbis. But on this issue, they came together as one. The problem for Labour is that they did it to condemn the party’s handling of its own antisemitism problem under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
.The Jewish Leadership Council, the Board of Deputies and CST respond to the result of the Labour NEC decision to defer adopting the full IHRA definition of antisemitism pending further consultation:
I attended the Jewish leadership meeting with Jeremy Corbyn in April and told the Labour leader that the bitter arguments over IHRA’s antisemitism definition epitomise the disgraceful blindness, evasions and double standards of the anti-Israel left towards Jews and our concerns.
Mr Livingstone, did you intend to be anti-Semitic when you repeatedly hacked away at the most sensitive and painful point in Jewish history by claiming Hitler supported Zionism?” “Of course not! I am a lifelong anti-racist”. “OK then, off you go.” That is how Ken Livingstone’s disciplinary hearing might have gone under the Labour Party’s new Code of Conduct for anti-Semitism, which has been rejected by all of British Jewry’s leading organisations and by the Party’s only Jewish affiliate, the Jewish Labour Movement.
Council candidates suspended for antisemitism, racism, anti-Muslim hate and homophobia in run up to local elections
Earlier this month, England went to the polls to vote in 150 council elections across the country. In the run up the election, news emerged of dozens of councillors being suspended, from all political parties, due to antisemitism, anti-Muslim hate, other forms of racism and homophobia. Unfortunately, many accused candidates still stood to be councillors and one was reinstated shortly after the poll.
On Monday evening, over 1,000 members of the Jewish community and its supporters protested in Parliament Square to tell the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, that Enough is Enough. Since Jeremy Corbyn was first named Labour party leader, in September 2015, there has been a growing focus on the problem of antisemitism in the party. Repeated cases of antisemitism from Labour Party members have not been dealt with quickly or effectively under Corbyn’s leadership and the Jewish community is now demanding action.
This week’s furore over Ken Livingstone’s ongoing membership of the Labour Party has once again put antisemitism at the top of the news agenda – and at the heart of the battle over the future of the party. A tribunal of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee found Livingstone guilty of bringing the party into disrepute with his claim that Hitler “was supporting Zionism” – a claim he has repeated and expanded in the year since he first made it – but decided that his offence was not worthy of expulsion.
The former London mayor’s claims go well beyond lazy moral equations of Israel with Nazi Germany ubiquitous in anti-Israel circles. They have more in common with Holocaust denial.
American Jews have been rocked in recent weeks by a wave of anti-Semitic incidents, including bomb threats and cemetery desecrations. These kinds of attacks are not supposed to happen in the Jewish utopia of the United States, and suddenly the sense of insecurity felt by European Jewish communities in recent years seems to be making its way across the Atlantic.
The Home Affairs Select Committee report into anti-Semitism, published this week, is a serious body of work that should set the template for action against anti-Semitism in this country for the next few years. Ten years ago, a previous all-party Parliamentary inquiry into anti-Semitism, set up by John Mann MP and chaired by Denis MacShane, concluded that anti-Semitism was on the rise and had taken on new forms. Islamist extremists and obsessive anti-Zionists had joined the old-style neo-Nazis in posing new threats to Britain’s Jews.
This first Labour Party conference of the Jeremy Corbyn era was a dispiriting place for those committed to the fight against anti-Semitism. The most telling moment came during the debate on anti-Semitism at the Momentum fringe festival. Anti-Zionist campaigner Jonathan Rosenhead recounted hearing the Chief Rabbi being interviewed on the radio about anti-Semitism. As Rosenhead told it, when the Chief Rabbi said that anti-Semitism is a serious concern, the presenter then asked if he personally had experienced any anti-Semitism, to which, Rosenhead said, the Chief Rabbi answered that he hadn’t – drawing a round of laughter from the Momentum supporters in the room.
The position of the Labour Party and mainstream Jewish opinion seems slightly improved after a Party Conference in which Jeremy Corbyn spoke more forcibly against antisemitism than ever before: but three ongoing cases will test that. The mood of Conference signalled that many Party members understand what the antisemitism row is doing to Labour, its Jewish members and prospective voters. Conference gave a standing ovation for the outstanding speech by Mike Katz of the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM); and there was strong support for JLM’s rally against antisemitism, including from some within the Momentum bloc.
Britain's Jewish community and its institutions are well placed to overcome the current surge in anti-Zionist activity and Jew hatred on the political left, a leading expert on antisemitism believes. Dave Rich says Anglo-Jewry is robust enough to combat the hostility in politics and left-wing activism. But he does express fears about the increase in street-based activism.
This book review by Nick Cohen of Dave Rich's 'The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti‑Semitism' originally appeared on the website of The Guardian, where it can be read here.
Appearances are everything in politics, and the peerage given to Shami Chakrabarti, author of the Labour Party’s latest inquiry into its own antisemitism, appears to be an act of stunning hypocrisy and cold political cynicism. Chakrabarti’s inquiry was commissioned by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in April, after a succession of scandals about anti-Semitic remarks by party members had reached such a crescendo that one of his MPs, Naz Shah, and one of his oldest political allies, Ken Livingstone, were both suspended from the party for antisemitism.
The launch event for Shami Chakrabarti’s Inquiry report into antisemitism (and racism) in the Labour Party could, and should, have given a much needed morale boost for those wanting assurance that the Labour Party understands the fears and experiences of Jews in and around Labour. Instead, thanks to the Jeremy Corbyn circus, the exact opposite happened.