HERE AND THERE: Anglo Jewry – whither its tomorrow?

Having spent the greater part of my life in Britain, it came as a pleasant surprise to see, at long last, that Anglo-Jewry’s leadership has taken to the streets.

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September 6, 2018 22:33
DANIEL KOSKY: ‘We are deeply troubled by instances of antisemitism within the Labour Party.’

DANIEL KOSKY: ‘We are deeply troubled by instances of antisemitism within the Labour Party.’. (photo credit: UNION OF JEWISH STUDENTS)

 
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This week marks 46 years since 11 Israeli team members, participants in the Olympic Games held in Munich, were killed by the Palestinian Black September faction.

During these past weeks, photographs have emerged showing the leader of the United Kingdom’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, standing in the foreground, holding a wreath about to be laid at the Tunis graves of some of the murderous Munich perpetrators.

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Corbyn has changed his recollection of this event a number of times, but whether he stood close to the graves of the killers or a few steps away, his honoring of vile terrorists is yet further proof of a long list of events that Corbyn has either personally organized or in which he played an active role supporting terrorism.

The failure of Labour to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), coupled with Corbyn initiating, in Parliament, on Holocaust Remembrance Day 2010 an event titled “Never again for anyone – from Auschwitz to Gaza” comparing Israel to the Nazis is further proof of where Corbyn stands in relation to Israel and the Jewish People. He has given a lifetime of support to the Palestinian cause, proposing, on more than one occasion, that “Palestine” replace Israel.

These revelations form part of an ongoing exposure of Corbyn as an avid supporter of terrorists, whether Palestinian or convicted IRA murderers. As Andrew Gilligan wrote of Corbyn in the Sunday Times, “For someone so publicly committed to nonviolence, Jeremy Corbyn appears to meet a striking number of terrorists and supporters of bloodshed.”

Having spent the greater part of my life in Britain, it came as a pleasant surprise to see, at long last, that Anglo-Jewry’s leadership has taken to the streets and to the press demanding that the Labour Party (at one time the Jewish community’s chosen party) face the reality that its leader is a blatant antisemite.

Finally Britain’s Jewish leadership is standing up for what is right, but my fear is that it is too little, too late.

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I was shocked to learn that friends of mine – strongly Zionist and observant Jews with a home in Israel – have children who will be voting for Corbyn come the next general election believing him to be a true socialist with his offer of free university education and desire to help the “downtrodden.”

It should, therefore, come as no surprise to learn that at a recent Corbyn event in Stoke, attracting more than 400 attendees, Lewis Goodall of Sky News sought the views of participants about the wreath-laying ceremony honoring Palestinian murderers of Israeli athletes.

Goodall wrote afterwards, “Everyone we spoke to agreed that Corbyn is being smeared, Labour does not have a problem with antisemitism and that the whole thing is largely concocted by the media and Tories.”

With the possibility of a UK future with Corbyn at the helm, the Magazine contacted Daniel Kosky, campaign organizer for the UK’s Union of Jewish Students, to seek UJS’s view of antisemitism in the Labour Party. Kosky said, “UJS is a cross-communal organization mandated by policy passed by students at our annual conference to combat antisemitism.

Jewish students overwhelmingly voted for UJS to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. We are deeply troubled by instances of antisemitism within the Labour Party and its failure to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism. We echo the calls from the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council to adopt the IHRA definition in full.

UJS has, for many years, enjoyed a strong relationship with those in the Labour Party who believe in tackling and educating about antisemitism. UJS works with Labour Students and the Jewish Labour Movement to deliver training on combating antisemitism to university Labour clubs around the country. Over the past two years, UJS has run training courses for more than 750 Labour Party members. Recent incidents in the Labour Party make it more important than ever for UJS to work with our allies to educate and root out antisemitism from the party.”

The Magazine asked Kosky how Corbyn’s antisemitic stance might affect students in this coming academic year.

He said, “We’ve seen that, even before the year has started, there are some individuals in positions of leadership on campus who have espoused the language often used by those defending the Labour Party’s current stance on antisemitism. UJS is clear that as per our rights as a minority group, Jewish people have the right to autonomously define their oppression.”

For sure, the Labour Party’s acceptance of antisemitism will intensify the anti-Israel battle that Jewish students face on campus today. It is they who are on the front line, fighting antisemitism or its more “acceptable” projection as anti-Zionism. They deserve our total admiration and appreciation.

On Tuesday evening, the Labour Party’s national executive finally “accepted” the IHRA. However they added a caveat stating that acceptance of the IHRA will not “in any way undermine freedom of expression on Israel or the rights of the Palestinians.” This is not an acceptance of the IHRA but a further endorsement of Corbyn’s anti-semitism projected as anti-Zionism.

To those of my friends in the UK who have said that if Corbyn becomes the UK’s next prime minister they are making aliyah – I say you had better begin packing your bags.

We made aliyah 20 years ago and have never had one second of regret. Simply put, Israel is not just our home – we feel at home. It is a unique place where it is okay to be Jewish. When we first arrived and stood at the supermarket check-out, the cashier asked “Where do you come from?” When we replied from London, she responded in an astonished voice, “You lived in London and you came here?” This experience was repeated while in Frankfurt, attending a Shabbat service.

At the kiddush that followed, we sat opposite two ladies who asked the same question as the cashier. We said we were from Israel but originally from the UK. The reaction was identical “You left London to live in Israel?” The difference was that the questioners were Israelis who had left Israel to live in Germany.

To this day I profoundly regret that I did not respond by saying “And you left Israel to live in Germany?” My sense is that many Israelis who choose to live elsewhere are unable to appreciate what it is to live as a minority.

I still remember as a schoolchild being told “Go back to where you came from – go to Palestine.”

As we celebrate Rosh Hashanah, we look around the world and witness the frightening upsurge of antisemitism. We who live here – and Jews who live elsewhere – take comfort in the fact that today there is a Jewish state. It may not be perfect, but it’s ours. We are the privileged generation to have finally arrived home.

The writer is public relations chair of ESRA, which promotes integration into Israeli society.

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