Today was one of those rare universally-good days in politics and in the pursuit of justice. Today was not a Brexit upset, a Sinn Féin wave, or a Red-to-Blue flip. Today was the vindication of the suffering of a people – long slurred for daring to say that they would not stand for the racism targeted at them. The Equality & Human Rights Commission delivered its long-awaited report and conclusion on its prolonged investigation into anti-Semitism within the British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure. The EHRC indicted the Labour Party for its breaches of the Equality Act in its abject failures to address anti-Semitism, and its attempts to cover up and normalise anti-Semitic behaviour within its own ranks and hierarchy.
From beginning to end, line by line, the unlawful harassment, political interference and engrained racism towards the descendants of Isaac were laid forth. The claims of lifelong Labour voters, Holocaust survivors, and former Jewish Labour MPs were found to be true. Although, admittedly, it is somewhat galling that when Jews claim there to be hatred against them, there needs to be an inquisition to adjudicate whether us Jews are telling the truth or not.
I think the fear amongst the Jewish community of Britain should Jeremy Corbyn have won the UK General Election in December past, is underestimated and not understood (certainly not in Ireland anyways). I was living in the UK at the time, and the fear was palpable and weighed heavily on every conversation. Several elderly members of Jewish communities I spoke to said they had been looking into moving to Germany under a scheme trying to repair the irreparable damage arising from the Shoah. That is quite a remarkable statement. In 2019, UK Jews were actively looking to Germany for sanctuary in the event of a particular result in the election.
Jews who were fervently anti-Brexit and were repulsed at the very thought of voting Tory, did so to prevent Corbyn getting in. A loved one of mine, who is over a hundred years old, mailed in her vote to prevent Corbyn’s anti-Semitism getting into Number 10. Friends of mine who are as British as they come, had begun the process of making Aliyah to Israel in anticipation of what was to come. Many had left, believing that even if Corbyn lost, his followers would eventually succeed (which may still be true). Jeremy Corbyn was seen to be the man to sever the chord between the Jewish people and Britain – never again to be repaired.
His defeat was a welcome – albeit partial relief. For if his cover-up and actions regarding institutionalised anti-Semitism were not properly exposed and etched into the annals of time, then his legacy could endure and a heir present themselves. The report today does the one thing that election could not, permanently seal the record of Jeremy Corbyn as being an anti-Semite.
The statement of the EHRC accompanying their damning report puts it best:
“The Party [Labour Party] is responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act (2010) relating to:
- political interference in antisemitism complaints
- failure to provide adequate training to those handling antisemitism complaints
The equality body’s analysis points to a culture within the Party which, at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it.”
The report found there to be 23 instances where Jeremy Corbyn’s office had ‘politically interfered’ in proceedings to investigate and discipline instances of anti-Semitism. The reports found instances for which the Labour Party was legally responsible for anti-Semitic conduct arising to the level of unlawful harassment, including the use anti-Semitic tropes and calling accusations of anti-Semitism fake or smears. Those who dared to complain and stand up to the growing anti-Semitism within the Labour Party were systematically vilified, slandered and harassed. Labour MPs such as the former member for Liverpool-Wavertree, the Right Honorable Luciana Berger, were targeted with ‘no-confidence’ motions in their constituency and attacked by the Momentum wing of the party in a coordinated fasion. Eventually, several of these MPs resigned, with Berger’s words being that ‘Labour was now institutionally anti-Semitic.’
Jeremy Corbyn could simply not detach his personal anti-Semitism from his leadership of the Labour party. This shows that not only in words has his prejudices shown through, but in his actions. His personal anti-Semitism was the stuff of legend to his admirers, from commemorating perpetrators of the ’74 Munich Massacre, to his intimation that British Jews who supported were Israel were not really British, to his tireless defence and affection for the killers of Jews like Hamas and Hezbollah. It was inevitable that this personal crusade would manifest itself in some way, shape or form in the Labour Party under his leadership. The extent to which his brand of anti-Semitism and that of his followers took hold of the party took all of us by surprise.
That is why the Book on Jeremy Corbyn may have closed, but the Book on Labour’s Anti-Semitism remains open. There are many who were complicit in, if not apologists for his conduct and were only too happy to do so out of their own free will. Shami Chakrabarti lead a whitewash inquiry into anti-Semitism to deflect Tory attacks, in return for a peerage. Indeed, her own report said there basically wasn’t an issue, and that the Tories should investigate their own party instead. She is but one head of the Medusa that is Labour’s Anti-Semitism rot. The Campaign Against Anti-Semitism has submitted evidence against 15 other MPs on their conduct in relation to anti-Semitism. Today was a good day, but there is still work to be done.
There are many who continue to defend him, or who will hide their complicity in his bigotry. The Irish political party People Before Profit have been only too quick to defend him calling the whole thing a witch hunt, with one particular TD Paul Murphy expressing solidarity with Jeremy Corbyn. There are those who supported Corbyn as an alternative to Boris to stop Brexit, preferring bigotry over a policy choice. This report was one on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, but let us not think that we were all innocent in this shameful episode. Indeed, some of us played the accomplice only too willingly.
On the night of the count for the UK 2019 General Election Results, I stood in one of the count centres witnessing the Tory landslide and thanked G-D that Corbyn had been defeated. As I celebrated, the Labour candidate who had lost walked by me and sneered ‘I bet you lot are only too happy’ nodding to the Kippah on my head (and covering my bald spot). His insinuation was clear, but mattered little. For my lot (the Jews and our allies) were happy that Jeremy Corbyn was rejected at the ballot box. Today, we are even happier as his legacy will be forever one synonymous with the hatred he fostered and peddled. There are few good days – particularly in 2020 – but this certainly is one of them.