As Corbyn's Labour party faces yet more allegations, it's worth exploring why some on the radical left have such a troubling record when it comes to this particular form of prejudiceby Chaminda Jayanetti / August 28, 2018 / Leave a comment
When is a Jew not a Jew? When it’s a British Zionist who doesn’t get irony, apparently.
Another week, another case of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged anti-Semitism, followed by the inevitable nano-nuancing and micro-analysis to establish whether this was a smoking gun or just a ballistic weapon coming into contact with a wholly unrelated cloud of steam.
One of the difficulties throughout the saga of Labour anti-Semitism is that much of the radical left—here defined as Bennites leftwards—do not accept anyone’s right to put them on trial for racism.
As far as they are concerned, they are the ones who have always fought racism while others, at best, turned the other cheek. They took the blows. They endured the arrests. They sacrificed their careers in order to stand up to racism for decades. Who are these Blairite bombers and Tory Tebbit-testers to now roll up and accuse them of racism?
Thus for older Corbynites in particular—versed less in the modern language of intersectionality and more in old images of Corbyn fighting against apartheid—none of this has any legitimacy: not the accusers or the accusation, nor the trial, the judge, or the jury.
That Corbyn should even be mentioned in the same breath as racism, other than to describe his opposition to it, is preposterous. Whatever explanation is dug up to defend the Labour leader, they will accept it.
For them, the main legacy of 2018 may be a lasting suspicion of Jewish opinion and influence in politics and media—a process that will likely increase anti-semitism on the radical left like never before.
That word “suspicion” is key. Corbyn has never been accused of the most blatant anti-Semitic tropes, the racist nature of which virtually everyone agrees on: the blood libel, Holocaust denial and the such like. Until this summer, the main charge against him was a tolerance of anti-Semitism in others, rather than his own views.
But a key driver of the row within Labour has been the lack of an agreed definition of what anti-Semitism actually is—with the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, which is supported by most mainstream Jewish groups, proving a major flashpoint.
The IHRA row does not shed light on what is happening on the radical left,…