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


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