Any member of civilized society would have their stomach churn when reading the daily newspapers or online articles regarding the ongoing and deplorable saga of the British Labour party. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party leader and leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition is only one election or another referendum away from occupying 10 Downing Street.
The tales of obfuscation, lying, rewriting the definition of antisemitism, and attempting to separate a hate for Israel from antisemitism seem surreal. Pepper this with unraveling confirmed stories of Jeremy Corbyn meeting surreptitiously with Hamas and Arch Terrorists while also breaching UK parliamentary rules in not reporting these meetings, and you have a recipe for disaster for an already fraught UK Jewish community.
This past week former UK Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, one of the most eloquent speakers and respected leaders of the Jewish world, referred to Corbyn in a New Statesman interview as “an antisemite” who has backed “racists, terrorists and dealers of hate”. In turn, Corbyn supporters commenced a shocking attack on Lord Sacks labeling him as “a right wing ultra nationalist”. This is truly astounding and really has shaken the core of the UK Jewish community. Lord Sacks is a crossbencher (non politically affiliated peer) in the House of Lords and a renowned middle ground speaker and academic, respected by all. For the Corbynites to attack an establishment figure with untruths and smears, while the Corbyn leadership stays quiet is appalling.
How this situation continues to spiral will be something to watch closely. For Americans, this might seem like an anomaly and may go away with a leadership change. I argue otherwise. I feel this is endemic to the UK at this time. The deafening silence of Labour party members alongside the wolf pack of Corbyn supporters savaging any claims of antisemitism does not bode well.
On the other side of the pond, this past weekend, a national event occurred in Detroit, Michigan. The funeral of the late and great singer, Aretha Franklin, took place. Televised across the world and the internet, millions watched to hear and see 3 former presidents, a large representation of singers and stars, as well as family mourners. How despicable to see veteran anti-semite Louis Farrakhan on the dais with former US President Bill Clinton, and Revs. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton. Particularly at the funeral of a renowned singer whose signature song was “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”. No outcry at all. It’s a foreboding warning that the same rampant antisemitism that we are witnessing in the UK can happen in the United States. The acceptance of hate and those who spew it is not acceptable. Never again seems to be happening again.
While I mourn for the Labour party I once knew, and have deep concerns for the UK Jewish community, where I lived and grew up, I am so proud of the UK CST, JLC and the UK Board of Deputies who have led the way for a unified (at least in this terrible instance) community effort to protect and defend the rights of UK citizens, who happen to be Jews. Their contribution to protecting the community is a thankless task, and now is the time to thank them or just show them the R-E-S-P-E-C-T & support that they truly deserve.