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The New Political Lexicon

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive, Jewish Leadership Council

This article first appeared in the Jewish Telegraph on 03/05/19

 

When academics and political students come to study the events of 2016-2019, they will find it a source of fascinating political precedent.

But they will also find that a number of phrases have entered the political lexicon, some of which will be long lasting, and some of which will become historical curiosities.

So, I thought I would look at some of the phrases that have entered the political language over the last three years. I think these are expressions, which will live long in the memory. I try to give a description and an origin of each of these phrases.

The phrases are set out in alphabetical order.

 

All forms of racism:                  

Something that a person on the Left has to oppose in addition to antisemitism. Originally intended as a way of playing down antisemitism as being just one thing that the Leader of the Labour Party fights against, it lived briefly in Labour Party press office statements at the start of the antisemitism crisis, until even they realised that it did not play well for them.

 

A militant opponent of racism:  

This is a direct quote from Jeremy Corbyn’s letter to the community in March 2018. It is one that is thrown back against Jeremy Corbyn each time that Labour has failed to tackle antisemitism. Often wrongly quoted, it is a perfect example of an auto-antonym, which is a phrase which has two contradictory meanings.

 

Backstop:                                

Originally, a position in the game of Rounders, this word has been hijacked to describe some mechanism to avoid a hard border between Northern and the Republic of Ireland. It will be chiefly remembered for the fact that nobody at all can understand or describe it.

 

Brexit Means Brexit:                 

Rarely can a political slogan have turned out to be so meaningless. In an attempt to simplify a complex situation, Theresa May’s phrase has become an empty phrase. Quite clearly Brexit might mean any number of things, and there are scores of versions of what Brexit might mean. It also became possible that Brexit might mean No Brexit.

 

Coalition of Chaos:                  

Intended as a campaign insult by the Conservatives to describe any combination of political parties in a Labour Minority Government, it has since become deeply ironic given the Government’s reliance on the DUP and how frequently the Government has been defeated. Having been used so often in election campaigns, I suspect it has now been consigned to history.

 

Enough is Enough:                         

A phrase which has been adopted first by the anti-gun lobby in the US and then by the Jewish community to refer to anti-Jewish racism in the Labour party. It can be used as a campaign slogan for anything that has been going on for too long. It signifies exasperation and the “last throw of the dice”. The Jewish claim to it is strongest, due to the fact that it is a neat translation of “Dayeinu”.

 

Indicative Vote:                        

A phrase from the House of Commons that has been gleefully seized upon by many Chairs of large meetings when they want to take a vote but not to be bound by the outcome! It means that you can have a long debate, take a vote and then completely ignore the result. This will become a genuine option and Chairs of meetings in all sorts of contexts will be offering it when they want to present a fig leaf of democracy and then get on and do whatever they wanted to do in the first place.

 

Meaningful Vote:                     

A phrase introduced by PM Theresa May to persuade Parliament that their views on her proposed Brexit deal would be taken seriously by the Government. Presumably, she wanted it not to be confused with an “Indicative Vote” (See above).  It does raise the question of what might be a “Meaningless vote”. It is to be assumed that, in creating the phrase, she did not mean to suggest that all other votes in Parliament were not meaningful. That would reveal her to have a very dim view of Parliamentary democracy.

 

Present but not involved:          

A perfect excuse available to anybody who finds themselves photographed somewhere inconvenient and wants to explain that they really had no idea or no support for what they had been caught red handed doing. The phrase was first used by Jeremy Corbyn in his fourth attempt to explain why he was pictured holding a wreath at the memorial to one of the Munich Olympic terrorists. His sophistry was trotted out by the Labour Party ever afterwards. Sadly, the excuse has been rather undermined by recent revelations that his trip there was funded by a group which is a front for Hamas in Europe and that he deliberately manipulated the costs so that he would not have to declare the trip. But the phrase has nonetheless stood the test of time.

 

Racist Bone in His Body:               

In that “He does not have a racist bone in his body”. A phrase used to excuse anyone who campaigns against racism from an accusation of antisemitism. It uses the metaphor of bones having emotions. It has become the defence of many on the left accused of racism. “I am a lifelong campaigner against racism/I am myself a victim of racism, and therefore I can not be guilty of racism”. Its’ use is intended to bring a conversation to an end.

 

Racist Endeavour:                          

One of the Examples in the IHRA definition, to describe how, depending on the context, a description of Israel might be held to be antisemitic. It was then seized upon by left- wing activists and pro-Corbyn supporters as an actual description of Israel as they sought to defend the Labour Party’s failure to adopt the IHRA definition.

 

0.1%                                        

Zero point One Per cent.  A number sufficiently small that nobody needs to worry about it. Used by the Labour Press Office to describe the percentage of Party members under investigation for antisemitism. In other words, “move along, nothing to see here, it’s so small as to be insignificant”. Recent revelations in the Sunday Times have proved that the number is actually far higher.

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I am tired of Labour MPs who condemn antisemitism one day and campaign for Corbyn's party the next

This article first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle on the 1/5/19

https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/tired-of-labour-mps-who-condemn-labour-antisemitism-one-day-and-campaign-for-corbyn-s-party-the-next-1.483629

I am tired of Labour MPs who condemn antisemitism one day and campaign for Corbyn's party the next

Jonathan Goldstein

As we mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, Yom HaShoah, it is important we remember the tragedy that happened over 80 years ago and it is also important that we don’t so quickly forget the tragedy in our community that happened less than a week ago.

Another shooting in a place of worship. This time, again, in a synagogue. One woman dead and others injured. Tales of her bravery will provide little comfort long term to her family who will have lost a loved one or to a community who will never be the same again.

Add this to the attacks in Sri Lanka, New Zealand and Pittsburgh and the tally is a depressingly long list of heinous crimes. 

Immediately the postings of outrage and condemnation rain down from all but most noticeably from those have recently been criticised themselves by the Jewish community for their own actions. These include freshman congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour and of course, Britain’s Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

The Jewish community’s position is simple. We want - and as a minority community are entitled to expect - zero tolerance towards anti-Jewish racism. If you are a political leader who cannot live up to that standard, then your words are meaningless to us. 

Ilhan Omar can’t propagate old fashioned tropes about Jewish power and money and then claim to be an ally on racism directed towards Jews. She is part of the problem not part of the solution and her crocodile tears are plain offensive.

And if Mr Corbyn, the leader of Britain’s institutionally racist party thinks his words are welcome, he is mistaken. Over the past two weeks alone, there have been countless examples of anti-Jewish racism. There is enough evidence to expose the vacuousness of Mr Corbyn’s supposed “zero tolerance” policy towards anti-Jewish racism.

All the recent examples of antisemitism were overshadowed by the discovery of a video in which Mr Corbyn’s right hand man Seamus Milne implies collaboration between Israel and ISIS. What could be worse than to allege a relationship between the world’s only Jewish state and the cruel blood thirsty murderers of ISIS?

Mr Milne is completely divorced from reality but is ideologically hard wired to believe this is plausible. We witnessed Mr Milne’s forked tongue ourselves when we met with him and Mr Corbyn last April. He framed his own views in the third person and Mr Corbyn sits back because he shares them.

To add insult to injury, it has now been revealed that Mr Corbyn wrote the foreword to a republished 1902 book which tied imperialism and war to “a small group of international financiers, chiefly German in origin and Jewish in race”. Mr Corbyn was full of praise for this book and called it a “great tome”.

At best, Mr Corbyn wrote this foreword without even reading the book or failed to recognise its anti-Jewish racism staring him in the face. At worst, Mr Corbyn strongly supports the message within the book and has used it to form his political ideology. Neither scenario is particularly promising for the UK’s Jewish community.

To the Labour MPs who allow this intolerable situation to continue with anti-semites running their party - I am tired of reading your protestations one day and the next day watching you campaigning for the party.

Edmund Burke said that for evil to succeed, good people have to stay silent and do nothing and I am afraid that it is the Labour MPs, many of whom I regard as friends, in allowing the leadership to act in the way they do, who are now becoming part of the problem.

My son is a massive Avengers fan and he revels in the feats of the super heroes saving the world. But in real life it is ordinary men and women taking a stand that makes a difference. Ian Austin and Joan Ryan led the way in standing up and leaving the party over this but depressingly little has changed since their departure from Labour. 

May the lesson from all the recent outrages be that zero tolerance is the only way forward. Hopefully in the UK, that should be a lesson which leads Labour MPs not to just issue supportive tweets but to take a stand. When they say to us ‘enough is enough’, what action will follow to make those words a reality?

“Enough is Enough” is a simple message and it is time for those who claim to be friends of our community to ensure that these are not just words.

Jonathan Goldstein is chair of the Jewish Leadership Council

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JLC arranges for community organisations to meet with Universities Minister

JLC arranges for community organisations to meet with Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore MP

The Jewish Leadership Council today arranged for the Union of Jewish Students, CST, and the Antisemitism Policy Trust to meet with Universities Minister, Chris Skidmore MP.

Among the topics discussed were the current challenges on recent incidents on campuses across the UK.

A discussion of the proactive and reactive steps taken to tackle antisemitism also took place, including the role of the Office for Students.

The minister was highly encouraging of the need to support Jewish students on campus.

Marc Levy, North West Regional Manager, Jewish Leadership Council said:

“We are grateful that the minister has made the time to meet with our communal organisations and listen to the concerns of Jewish students around campus antisemitism. We are looking forward to working with the Minister to work on addressing the points raised in the meeting.”

Daniel Kosky, Campaigns Organiser, Union of Jewish Students said:

“We were pleased to meet with Universities Minister Chris Skidmore to discuss the issues facing Jewish students on campus and actions the government can take to improve the lives of Jewish students. We look forward to working with the Minister in the future.”

 

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One year after the Enough is Enough demonstration, Labour's antisemitism crisis has grown even worse

One year ago, more than 2,000 people gathered outside Parliament for an unprecedented demonstration.

For a minority community to protest the leadership of the official party of opposition against its handling of racism towards them is a shameful indictment on the party’s current leadership.

The Labour Party is meant to be a party imbued with social justice and which prides itself on its anti-racist credentials. Its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, calls himself “a militant opponent of racism”. Yet this is a party in which anti-Jewish racism has taken such a hold, that the Jewish community took to the streets to demand action.

The initial trigger for the demonstration had been the refusal of Mr Corbyn to oppose a blatantly antisemitic mural which had appeared in East London. However, the anguish of British Jews went much deeper than that. We were horrified that the Labour Leader not only called representatives of the antisemitic terrorist organisation Hizballah his “friends” but also that he refused to rule out meeting them again.

Raed Salah, who propagated the anti-Jewish canard that Jews kill Christian children to drink their blood, was supported by Mr Corbyn when he refused to oppose his extradition. There were countless antisemitic statements made by Labour members which had gone unpunished. We wanted to know why.

When we assembled outside Parliament with megaphones and placards, in the week before Pesach and at only 24 hours’ notice, we hoped it would be sufficient to spur the Labour Party into action. If complacency or ignorance had been at the root of the problem, then surely they would ensure that the correct measures would now be taken.

The Board of Deputies and Jewish Leadership Council wrote to Mr Corbyn with a number of – simple steps that Labour could take to regain the confidence of the Jewish community. We asked Mr Corbyn himself to take leadership and to force through changes; we asked that outstanding and future disciplinary cases be brought to a swift conclusion under a fixed timescale; we asked that MPs, councillors and other party members should not be allowed to share platforms with those suspended or expelled from the party; we asked Labour to work with the mainstream Jewish community to develop and implement education about antisemitism; we asked for engagement with the community via its two main representative groups and for processes to monitor the progress of these actions.

Mr Corbyn met us. He promised to take action.

Yet one year on the crisis of antisemitism in Labour is not only unsolved, it is worse.

Unsolved disciplinary cases continue to stack up, with new instances of antisemitism discovered on a weekly basis. There are members who have been suspended for years with no expulsion on the horizon. Others have escaped censure completely. Indeed, Peter Willsman was elected to Labour’s National Executive Council after an outburst in which he claimed that Jewish “Trump fanatics” had invented antisemitism in Labour. To add insult to injury, we have since discovered that the leader’s office intervened in cases of alleged antisemitism, something we were explicitly told was not the case.

Since last year, those who have stood up bravely to anti-Jewish racism in Labour have been vilified and trolled by people who claim allegiance with Mr Corbyn, while a number of those suspended for antisemitism have been readmitted to the party. Mr Corbyn himself has failed to apologise for his past association with antisemites and Holocaust deniers and has failed to give assurances that such meetings would not happen again in the future. No system of education has been instituted for party members.

Things have reached the stage where Labour’s own MPs have demanded that the leadership account for their action (or more accurately inaction) on antisemitism. A group of MPs, including Luciana Berger, Joan Ryan and Ian Austin, cited the virulent antisemitism they had been subjected to as a reason why they had been forced to leave the party. Things have got so bad that the Equality and Human Rights Commission may formally investigate the party, a measure that it has only previously taken against the British National Party.

Unless we see an unexpected, dramatic and radical shift, Mr Corbyn will go down in history as a leader who allowed the evil of antisemitism to flourish. Labour must search its soul to see whether this is a legacy it wants to carry with it. There are many brave people in the party who have endured intolerable abuse for having the guts to stand up for its traditional, anti-racist values. It is long since time that they are supported and the racists and their enablers expelled.

A year ago we said “Enough is Enough”. We said that we needed to see action rather than words. We are still waiting.

Marie van der Zyl is president of the Board of Deputies

Jonathan Goldstein is chair of the Jewish Leadership Council

 

This article first appeared in the Jewish Chronicle 26/03/19

https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/one-year-after-the-enough-is-enough-demonstration-labour-s-antisemitism-crisis-has-grown-even-worse-1.482117

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JLC comment on UNHRC resolutions against Israel

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JLC leads community groups in meeting with The Rt. Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP

JLC leads community groups in meeting with The Rt. Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP

 

The Rt. Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport met with the heads of a number of leading cultural and sporting Jewish communal organisations and given a tour of the JW3 Jewish community centre.

In attendance at the meeting were Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, Claudia Mendoza, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Jewish Leadership Council; Marc Levy, North West Regional Manager at the Jewish Leadership Council; Raymond Simonson, Chief Executive of JW3; Mark Gardner, Deputy Chief Executive of the CST; Abigail Morris, Executive Director of the Jewish Museum; Martin Berliner, Chief Executive of Maccabi GB, and Laura Marks OBE, Founder and Chair of Mitzvah Day.

The meeting, arranged by the Jewish Leadership Council, introduced Jeremy Wright QC MP to the work of each of these organisations and their contributions to the work of his Department.

Among the issues raised were funding for schools physical education programmes and other health related opportunities, building interfaith relationships through social action, and issues experienced by the Jewish community on social media.

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council said:

“We are delighted that the Secretary of State was able to spare the time to understand and see first-hand the excellent work that our communal organisations do. We look forward to continuing to showcase the great work of our members and the wider Jewish community to government.”

Raymond Simonson, Chief Executive of JW3 said:

“It was great to show the Secretary of State around JW3 and give him a first-hand account of the important role that we play in providing opportunities for people of all backgrounds to engage in positive Jewish cultural experiences. His visit came at a time where the cultural offering in our community, through JW3, the Jewish Museum, UK Jewish Film and others, has never been stronger."

 

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Jewish Leadership Council meets with the Rt. Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

Jewish Leadership Council meets with the Rt. Hon Jeremy Hunt MP

The Jewish Leadership Council (JLC) today met with the Rt. Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to discuss a number of issues including Israel, Iran and Hizballah.

Following the United Nations recent release of seven reports condemning Israel and the upcoming discussion of five unbalanced resolutions against Israel, the meeting was an important opportunity for the Jewish community to highlight our concerns around this longstanding and ongoing bias.

The JLC thanked Jeremy Hunt for the apology over Britain’s treatment of Jews during the Mandate of Palestine and thanked him for his help and support in the recent proscription of Hizballah, which had been actively encouraged by the Jewish community since 2013.

The JLC were delighted to arrange the meeting and be joined by colleagues from Board of Deputies.

Simon Johnson, Chief Executive of the Jewish Leadership Council said, “At a time when the Jewish community feels vulnerable, we are extremely grateful and reassured that senior members of the Government are so willing to meet with us to discuss our community’s needs and interests.”

 

  

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Local councillors from North West learn about Jewish community at Manchester seminar

Local councilors from North West learn about Jewish community at Manchester seminar

 

More than 40 councillors from across the North West of England learned about the Jewish community at a councillor seminar on Sunday organised by the Board of Deputies, Jewish Leadership Council and the Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region.

There were a significant number of council leaders and cabinet members in attendance, including the Executive Mayor of Salford, Paul Dennett. Many of the councillors were keen to learn more about the Jewish community, especially in light of tensions between the Labour Party and British Jews. 

The seminar covered a wide range of issues including Jewish social care sector, Israel, education and the Strictly Orthodox Jewish community with sector leaders from different parts of the Jewish community talking through the areas of expertise.

Among other speakers were Chief Executive of the Nicky Alliance Day Centre, Michelle Wiseman, the Principal of Broughton Jewish Primary School, Rabbi Yehuda Perlman and the Director of We Believe in Israel, Luke Akehurst and the Director of Community Services at The Fed, Bernie Garner.

Board of Deputies Senior Vice President Dr Sheila Gewolb urged Manchester councillors to sign up to the organisation’s Jewish Manifesto for Local Government and support their Jewish constituents. She said: “These are anxious times for the Jewish community in the UK, with growing antisemitism and political turmoil. You can help Jews in your area by signing up to the Jewish Manifesto and its 10 Local Commitments, by consulting your local Jewish representatives and listening to both the aspirations and the fears of your constituents.”

Marc Levy, North West External Affairs Manager, Jewish Leadership Council, said: “It is vital that our community engages with council leaders and local Councillors. I am pleased that so many Councillors have taken the time to learn more about the Jewish community by seeing first-hand the tremendous work being undertaken by so many of our member organisations. I look forward to continuing the discussion as to how we can work together over the coming months.”

Jay Charara, Vice Chair and Public Relations, Jewish Representative Council of Greater Manchester and Region said: Considering the current political climate and the increase of antisemitism in British politics, we felt that it was important to engage with local and regional councillors from all parties in order to present a true and accurate picture of the Jewish community in Greater Manchester and wider region.”

 

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JLC and Lead host International Women's Day event 2019

JLC and Lead host International Women's Day event 2019

 

The JLC and Lead hosted an event on the 7th March to mark International Women’s Day (8th March) in Central London, aimed at professionals of all genders in the Jewish community to explore how we bring about effective change to the way we look at gender imbalances in the workplace.

The theme of the day was “Enabling change through Policy and Culture” to go alongside this year’s International Women’s Day theme of ‘Balance for Better’.

The aim of the day was to spark a robust conversation by probing the policies and culture of our communal organisations.

There were three panels throughout the day exploring different topics that working women in the community face.

Among the 60 attendees were CEOs, lay leaders and representatives from senior management and junior staff from a number of organisations across the community.

The JLC has taken a note of the many constructive suggestions that were made by panellists and participants and we will be looking at ways to move conversations from the day forward.

Claudia Mendoza, Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Jewish Leadership Council said:

“We are pleased to be leading the way in creating the space for conversations on how we can better balance policy and culture for women in the workplace. This event was another step towards making our community a better place for women to work in.”

Michelle Janes, Executive Director, Lead said:

“Achieving the right balance between policy and culture can be critical in creating an environment to enable strong leadership development in our community. We want to see more diversity in positions of leadership and fewer situations where leadership is compromised due to gender or any other factor.”

 

The topics of all panels are described below alongside names of panellists and chairs:

  • The hot-tub Kiddush-club phenomenon 

A recent article from a Jewish media outlet described a scenario at a conference where a series of decisions for a company were taken during an after-hours, male only spa session. The next day, a female colleague found herself shut out from a number of processes and decisions because she had missed the ‘conversation in the hot-tub’. Similar scenarios are played out in arenas such kiddush clubs and golf courses. This workshop will explore the idea of the male-only space, and begin to explore the challenges this presents not just for the individuals who are shut out but for the organisation as a whole.

Panellists: Karen Pollock, Ray Simonson, Jo Greenaway

Chair: Louise Jacobs

  • Care-giving: Whose responsibility is it?

Care-giving has traditionally been seen as a woman’s role, but there has been a move by the government in recent years to promote change through initiatives such as shared-parental leave. Challenges of flexible working arrangements, understanding bosses and better work-life balance are just some of the things that care-givers have to contend with. This workshop will look at the classic dichotomy between policy and culture, and how we move care-giving beyond being a women’s issue. It will begin to explore how workplaces in the Jewish community can support alternative arrangements. 

Panellists: Gaby Pomeroy, Shelley Marsh, Adam Overlander-Kaye

Chair: Ruth Green

  • #MeToo (in association with Jewish Women’s Aid)

The #MeToo movement has changed the debate on sexual harassment and re-ignited the conversation around rape, consent and sexism. The Jewish community is not immune from experiences of sexual harassment or sexism in the workplace. We invite Jewish Women’s Aid to lead a discussion on what this means for our community, its leadership and organisations, especially with respect to the implementation of specific policies and office culture.

Panellist: Jewish Women’s Aid, Rosa Doherty

Chair: Yael Simon

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Comment on revelations that the Labour Leader's office intervened on cases of antisemitism

“When we met Mr Corbyn and his team last April we asked for his personal leadership on antisemitism and were explicitly told that he does not intervene in individual cases because it is all handled by the NEC. This latest revelation shows that cases were routinely referred to his office for their advice and direction. Whether it was a brazen untruth or an inept mishandling of a serious issue is almost irrelevant at this point. The conclusion is the same - the Labour leadership cannot be trusted on this issue and vindicates our request for a genuinely independent, mutually-agreed ombudsman to oversee Labour’s handling of antisemitism disciplinary cases.”

Jonathan Goldstein, Chair, Jewish Leadership Council

Marie Van Der Zyl, President, Board of Deputies

Mark Gardner, Deputy Chief Executive, CST

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