This isn't about two wings of a party fighting for supremacy. It's about complicity—and whether or not you believe my identity mattersby Steve Bloomfield / July 31, 2018 / Leave a comment
I’m Jewish and a member of the Labour party. Those two facts have never had much to do with each other until recently. They are two parts of my identity that have existed for as long as I can remember, each as important to me as the other. The idea of having to choose between the two was impossible to imagine. But that thought—that one may not be compatible with the other—has slowly lodged itself inside me over the past three years.
There has always been anti-Semitism on the far left. As a student, demonstrating during the build-up to the Iraq War, I saw it on protests, at rallies, in political meetings. The way everything would somehow slide towards a debate about Israel, the comments about Jewish influence, about how many Jews were in the media.
It was surreal—but it was a fringe. Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader, the fringe has entered the party’s upper echelons. And the explanations and the excuses have racked up. Don’t worry, nobody even knows who Jackie Walker is. That’s just Ken, he’s being an idiot. That’s just Christine Shawcroft, she’s an idiot too. Look, it’s just a few random councillors. I know, there are loads of #JC4PM-types saying some pretty nasty stuff—but who knows if they’re even party members. The mural comment looks bad, yes, but it was a long time ago and he’s apologised now. The code—well the thing about the code is you have to see both sides…
Until last week I’d never heard of the IHRA code. Being Jewish, I didn’t need a definition of anti-Semitism. I’ve read it now, like most of us have, and there are lines here and there which I might take issue with. Among Jewish friends and family I’d happily debate it. But no, not with you. Not here in public. Not in 280 characters.
Parsing the code is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is this: the Labour party will not allow Jews to define anti-Jewish discrimination.
This shouldn’t be controversial. The left and liberals have long believed that those who experience discrimination are best placed to define it. Not everyone agrees with this principle, of course, but in those cases, their disagreement is universal—they don’t pick and choose which minorities are allowed this…