Jack Mendel
The Online Editor at the Jewish News

This Labour horse is dead, stop flogging it

Jeremy Corbyn and Jenny Formby
Jeremy Corbyn and Jenny Formby

The Labour anti-Semitism row is not the unfortunate consequence of mismanagement, but it seems to be a concerted attempt to detach the community from the party.

The problem has got progressively worse in recent months as the issue itself has been compounded by denial, and vicious anti-Semitic conspiracy theories to explain it away at every corner.

Labour has seemingly enabled a culture that normalises some forms anti-Semitism, and activists have tied the debate to Israel-Palestine, making it binary.  If you fight it, you’re accused of trying to ‘stifle criticism of Israel’. It’s no way to have a reasoned debate.

In March of this year, Jeremy Corbyn apologised for the ‘pain and hurt’ caused by the various ‘pockets’ of anti-Semitism in the party. Yet he’s had ample opportunities to remedy the issue, and he’s not taken them, or at times actively snubbed them.

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The community protested and demonstrated, wrote letters and held meetings. And not a peep.

It’s ranged from the 1,500-strong #EnoughisEnough demonstration, to the Board and JLC’s meeting with the Labour leader where he “failed to agree any concrete steps to tackle anti-Semitism”.

Fruitless remonstrations at the problem falling on deaf ears, it seems.

He also of course tried to undermine the whole meeting in the first place, after organising a separate ‘roundtable’ discussion, with groups like Jewish Voice for Labour, who protested Enough is Enough, just for good measure.

Protests continued, Labour lost Barnet to the Tories and the party lost more high-profile members over past months.

The problem came to a head when 69 rabbis, including the Chief Rabbi, from across the spectrum, united to urge Labour to adopt the full IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

And Labour ignored them.

Not only were they disregarded, but the likes of Jenny Formby and Jon Lansman insisted the new code, which left out examples of anti-Semitism, was actually MORE comprehensive.

It’s double think.

The Board and JLC united, Rabbis spoke with one voice, and the three largest Jewish newspapers came together also, to say we stand united.

But it seems, Labour too has been united against our concerns.

At every corner, they’ve declined to listen or act. All the rhetoric about being anti-racist and opposing anti-Semitism simply doesn’t match their consistent disdain for Jewish community concerns.

Anxieties have cynically been labelled as attempts to ‘weaponise’ anti-Semitism, and concerns accused of being fabricated.

Many have now had enough.

Not wishing to sound like the conspiracy theorists fuelling this row, but such is Labour’s poor handling that it makes me suspicious, as to why.

At every juncture – they’ve ignored the community’s frustration, and sought to play down our anger.

The only conclusion many in the community now have, is that Labour isn’t concerned with representing our views and interests any longer.

Nothing works, and it’s clear where the party stands.

It’s with a heavy heart, that the only response for some Jewish members of the Labour party is to vote with their feet and give up this losing battle.

Stop flogging a dead horse.

 

About the Author
Jack Mendel is the Online Editor at the Jewish News.
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