There have been a number of things in the past few days that have highlighted perfectly the problem with antisemitism in the Labour party.
Firstly Leader Of The Opposition Jeremy Corbyn claimed all accusations of antisemitism had been investigated, which simply is not true. Which was then followed by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis writing an article urging Jews to “vote with their conscience” as Labour’s leader had allowed the “poison of antisemitism to take root in the party”.
These two things aren’t as telling as the reaction to them. Jews largely reacted with weariness to Corbyn’s claim all accusations had been investigated, which shows how little the British Jewish community trusts the words of the Leader of the Opposition. Then there was the reaction among Corbynista on social media to the words of Rabbi Mirvis – “Chief Zionist” “who’s paying him?” Etc. Which shows how little they respect the Jewish community on one hand, on the other shows how easily they jump to antisemitic tropes in their eagerness to defend the Corbyn project.
Corbyn then appeared on the Andrew Neil show and refused to apologise for past mistakes regarding the issue of antisemitism in the party, instead opting to trot out the same tired lines he’s been using for years to deflect from the real issue. Which is simply that he hasn’t done enough to tackle the problem at best, or he’s been complicit in allowing it to fester at worst. When given the opportunity to apologise, you should always take it. It shows contrition, it shows leadership. By refusing to apologise and choosing instead to repeat tired old lines and reiterate his lifelong commitment to anti-racism, Mr. Corbyn shows the Jewish community zero respect.
People keep asking what the Labour party and more specifically Jeremy Corbyn can do to regain the trust of the Jewish community, but at this point I sincerely believe the chance for that had passed. I think the opportunity to regain trust came and went when Corbyn refused to condemn Ken Livingstone over the Haavara Agreement fiasco, from that point on I genuinely think Corbyn lost the bulk of the British Jewish community with his handling of that situation.
Two things will come of this general election. Either Labour are smashed and as Boris forms a majority government, something I believe might well prove bad for the Jewish community, Jeremy Corbyn has to resign as leader of the Labour party. Alternatively Labour win, Jeremy walks into Number 10 and the Jewish community enters a “wait & see” phase before deciding whether or not to emigrate to Israel.
I personally believe both scenarios will be bad for the Jewish community, albeit for different reasons. Boris wins and a hard Brexit follows, alongside a rise in far-right nationalism and growing intolerance of minorities including Jews. Jeremy wins and the UK government takes a distinctly anti-Israel stance, leading to many Jews feeling anxious and fearful, with the distinct possibility of the already small community of Jews shrinking as a result of mass emigration to Israel. The future for Jews after this election is uncertain, but our fears are not hyperbole or melodrama. Our bags are packed (not necessarily literally), which should be a source of great shame for everyone…