On Monday evening, after three years of painful dialogue and broken promises, British Jews finally had enough. Hundreds of concerned members of the Jewish community and their supporters gathered in Parliament Square in London to protest widespread anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, after the Jewish Leadership Council and the Board of Deputies had encouraged them to take to the streets.
That I have to type this in 2018, in living memory of the Holocaust, is a scandal.
But surprising it is not. Labour is sick of one anti-Semitic scandal after another. Since Jeremy Corbyn took over the leadership in 2015, allegations of anti-Semitism in the party have skyrocketed and, on more than one occasion, Corbyn was the one at the center of the storm.
The reaction from his quarter to serious allegations of racism has been absolutely consistent. Whitewash the problem. Demonize the victims. Shame those reporting it.
Pressure built on the leader last week, after he defended an anti-Semitic mural in east London. Earlier it emerged that Corbyn had been a member of two virulent anti-Semitic Facebook groups – Rothschild conspiracies, blood libel, dual-loyalty tropes – you get the idea. In one group, Corbyn was an active member.
Pushed into a corner, he released a statement on Sunday in which he said that he is “sincerely sorry” for the pain caused by “pockets of anti-Semitism” in Labour. The party, he said, was “anti-racist” and “utterly condemns” anti-Semitism. Corbyn further noted that “I want to be clear that I will not tolerate any form of anti-Semitism that exists in and around our movement.”
Apology not accepted. Corbyn’s words ring hollow in wake of his 35-year-long record of meeting with mortal enemies of the Jewish people. Not only did he tolerate them and their poisonous ideology, far worse, he facilitated their agenda.
He called members of Hamas, a terrorist group that preaches genocide of the Jewish people, his “friends”. He marched with pro-Hezbollah folks. He invited a Palestinian hate preacher who spread the blood libel to tea in parliament. He entertained Holocaust deniers. He enriched himself with money from the Iranian regime, that vows to wipe Israel off the map.
And in all those years he met with terrorists, extremists and other thugs – all in the name of advancing peace – he not once sat down with the leaders of Israel or visited the Jewish State.
His anti-Western, and by extent, anti-Israel ideology is deeply rooted in his political DNA and has created a personality cult around him in which anti-Semitism can flourish unabated.
Labour’s anti-Semitism problem cannot be solved by an insincere, cosmetic apology from Corbyn. If you can work up the courage, search on Twitter under the hashtag #EnoughisEnough, the motto of the protest march, and read the comments from Corbyn’s eager minions. You will find little remorse, no appreciation of the problem, epic denials and crazy anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
Tough actions are required if Corbyn is serious about tackling anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. He would need to reopen an independent inquiry into anti-Semitism. The last one ended in a complete sham under Shami Chakrabarti, a loyal associate of Corbyn, who was rewarded for her whitewash with a seat in the House of Lords.
He would need to expel, once and for all, anti-Semitic members from Labour’s ranks. He can start with Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, who claimed Hitler supported Zionism “before he went mad and killed six million Jews.”
Corbyn would need to visit Israel and meet with members of the Jewish community. In Jerusalem, the eternal, undivided capital of the Jewish State, he should explicitly affirm Israel’s right to exist. He should declare that Israel’s existence is a necessity to guarantee the survival of the Jewish people after centuries of persecution. And he should condemn, unequivocally, terrorism in the Palestinian territories and call Hamas what they really are: genocidal terrorists.
The likelihood of that happening is close to zero. Why? Because so far, Corbyn and his inner circle have been completely ignorant to the seriousness of the problem. When they acted on allegations on anti-Semitism, they did so only under extreme duress and with an insincerity that negates the point.
Labour is fighting for its existential identity: either it is a place for British Jews or the home of anti-Semites.