Week after week, we read of insidious outbursts emanating from individuals within the Labour Party, from all levels. The statements are often dressed up as anti-Zionist. However, some are so extreme and outrageous that they can only be construed as blatantly anti-Semitic.
Anti-Semitism within the Labour Party is not new, but it was latent and unexpressed.
The cause of its eruption so severely during 2016 can be summed up in two words: Jeremy Corbyn.
Corbyn is the first leader of any major British political party to hold views which, if not directly anti-Semitic, are considered hostile by the overwhelming majority of Jews in this country. His antipathy towards Israel, his embracement of the Palestinian viewpoint and his friendship with Arab terrorist groups has characterised his Parliamentary career for decades – long before the nightmare of his leadership of the Labour Party was remotely contemplated.
Labour ’s report into anti-Semitism, led by Baroness Chakrabarti, was a farce. In the words of the Home Affairs Select Committee commenting on the report, it “was clearly lacking in many areas”, the party having become “a safe place for those with the most vile of opinions”.
Corbyn would vigorously protest his dedication to the cause of anti-racism and his belief in ethnic tolerance.He would cite the (temporary?) expulsion of the party’s worst culprits as evidence of his sincerity. But his own long nasty track record and his most recent offhand comments, such as the one about Israel and Islamic State, show beyond doubt that respect for the Jewish community and protecting Jewish values are largely irrelevant to his neo-communist agenda.
In such an ugly climate, I have to ask all current Jewish members of the Labour Party what on earth they are still doing there.
How, in all conscience, can they continue to support a party whose elected and re-elected leader, along with the many like-minded cronies he has promoted, holds the feelings of our community in such contempt?
By remaining within the party, they are effectively endorsing the new Labour leadership and helping to increase its chances of forming a future government.
There comes a time when an unwinnable fight has to be abandoned, even if only temporarily. The Jewish struggle within Labour has reached that stage. Had Margaret Thatcher been equivalent to Corbyn in her views and opened the floodgates to the volume of anti-Jewish invective we now hear from within Labour, I’m sure I and many others would have walked.
There are some very honourable, self-respecting Jews in the Labour Party. They must be enduring political agony, and I feel sorry for them. Some are prominent MPs such as Ivan Lewis, Louise Ellman and Luciana Berger, or past or present supremos like Lords Levy and Mendelsohn. Others are hard-working councillors or activists in Labour Party associations.
If all those people were to quit the Labour Party en masse, as part of a concerted resignation campaign, it could have a major impact on the Corbyn-led leadership. The resignees could remain as independent MPs, peers or councillors until their next respective elections. If the Corbynistas were ousted before that and replaced with a renewed Blair-style leadership, they would be at liberty to sign up to Labour again and submit themselves for reselection.
Failing that, I suggest a more imaginative idea. If the ex-Labourites could bring themselves to jettison their outmoded ideas and realign their political outlook, they might just find a welcoming new home in the Jewish-friendly, pro-Israel Conservative Party.