Community leaders should not double down and push for Corbyn’s removal—but think carefully about where the community’s interests really lieby Daniel Levy / September 9, 2018 / Leave a comment
The Labour party’s reluctant adoption of a new code on anti-Semitism is an opportunity for the party to rebuild its relationship with the Jewish community. But hard as it might be to accept, it is also incumbent on the Jewish communal leadership to have a long hard think about next steps.
While some prominent Jewish leaders appear keen to double down and push for Corbyn’s removal, this would be a terrible mistake. They need to get a grip—and not become a sacrificial pawn for a broader agenda which is not about Jewish concerns and interests in the UK.
The thrust of the anti-Semitism debate, which has bubbled away since Corbyn’s election in 2015, can be broken down to two quite simple propositions.
First, the concerns regarding anti-Semitism are real, as are frustrations at the shortcomings of the Labour leadership response.
Left-wing anti-Semitism has a long and nasty history—one that predates the existence of Israel or arguments surrounding modern Zionism.
The Labour leadership’s response to the more serious and genuine of the anti-Semitism accusations has not only been slow and cumbersome but also lacked in empathy or in conveying a sense of passion in fighting anti-Semitism.
While it is indisputably the case that in recent decades Israeli governments and their supporters have consistently instrumentalised what they describe as anti-Semitism in order to suppress and delegitimize criticism of Israeli policy and calls for justice for Palestinians, that cannot excuse a response on the left of simply ignoring anti-Semitism.
That the Jewish community is, on the whole, neither economically nor structurally disadvantaged as an ethnic religious minority, nor discriminated against by the state, does not reduce anti-Semitism to a mere nuisance factor.
Latent myths, stereotypes and prejudices about Jews which are normally simmering below the surface, can—and of course historically have—become all-consuming campaigns of vilification and ultimately horrendous violence and slaughter.
There is, though, a second element to the current reality, one that is less commonly or comfortably voiced. The mainstream Jewish communal leadership response has been so hyperbolic and over the top that it is not only unhelpful but risks becoming deeply counterproductive and self-defeating.
Three of Britain’s leading Jewish newspapers collectively…