Here and there: Antisemitism – the endgame?

Recent events, within the Labour Party, pose the frightening question as to whether the Labour Party’s antisemitism could evolve into state-run antisemitism should the party win the next election.

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March 21, 2019 15:16
4 minute read.
Here and there: Antisemitism – the endgame?

A CARICATURE of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.. (photo credit: DONKEYHOTEY/FLICKR; CARICATURE ADAPTED FROM GARRY KNIGHT/FLICKR; BACKGROUND ADAPTED FROM LUTEFISK73/)

 
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I am married to a Holocaust survivor who, increasingly, is being asked what he believes is the difference between the antisemitism of Britain’s Labour Party and the manner in which antisemitism raised its brutal head in the Germany of the 1930s. His answer has been consistent: Germany’s antisemitism was state-supported, which is not the current situation in Britain.
Recent events, within the Labour Party, pose the frightening question as to whether the Labour Party’s antisemitism could evolve into state-run antisemitism should the party win the next election.

Nine members of the Labour Party have resigned because they believe that antisemitism is rife among the Party’s leadership. Some 185 Labour peers have written to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, demanding he deal with antisemitism. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission is considering investigating the Labour Party – something it has done only once before with the British National Party.

Traditionally, the Labour Party was the home of the Jewish community. Luciana Berger is the only Jewish Labour MP of the nine who resigned. She was driven out of the party, for whom she spent years campaigning, because she sees it as a hotbed of antisemitism. Berger is the first MP in modern British history to feel that she has to leave a major party because of attacks on her ethnicity. This should be cause for concern, not only for the Jews of Britain but for all decent people.

Corbyn states time and again there is no place for antisemitism within his party. However, he strongly opposed adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s 2016 definition of antisemitism, which embraces classic antisemitism, Holocaust denial and attempts to apply double standards to the State of Israel. This definition was accepted by the European Parliament in 2017.

The results of a recent CNN survey into European attitudes toward Jews add to the concerns relating to the rise in antisemitism. 34% of Europeans surveyed said they knew just a little or had never heard of the Holocaust, while 20% of French people aged 18 to 24 said they had never heard of the Holocaust.

Corbyn opposed the recent United Kingdom ban on the Iranian-backed terrorist Hezbollah, claiming it is “part of the democratically elected Lebanese government.” Over the years, he has made no secret of the fact that he is a friend of both Hezbollah and Hamas.

The Magazine asked Vernon Bogdanor, professor of Government at King’s College London, how the Jewish community would be affected if Corbyn becomes prime minister.

“A Corbyn government would not diminish the civil rights of Jews,” he responded, “but would make it difficult for them to support Israel. From that point of view, they would be second-class citizens. In addition, a Corbyn government would face little resistance from Labour MPs. For though most oppose Corbyn, they have, with a few honorable exceptions, such as John Mann and the nine who resigned, kept their heads down. The eerie silence of the Shadow Cabinet and the vast majority of Labour MPs is almost as sinister as the tolerance of antisemitism by the Corbynites.”

Should Labour win the next election, might the above develop into state-sponsored antisemitism?


ACROSS THE Atlantic, the United States Democratic Party has had a taste of antisemitism within its ranks. Ilhan Omar, a newly elected freshman representative from Minnesota and a member of the influential House Foreign Affairs Committee, has a history of being anti-Israel.

“Israel has hypnotized the world,” she tweeted in 2012. More recently, she said, “I want to talk about the political influence in the country that says it is okay to push for allegiance to a foreign country.” She then defined these remarks by stating, “I should not be expected to have allegiance or pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on a committee.” Omar’s implication of dual loyalty plus her insinuation that money fuels American support for Israel is a blatant attack on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and on Jews.

The Democratic leadership initially indicated it wished to put forward a resolution condemning Omar and her antisemitic verbiage. However, as criticism of Omar mounted, she, the perpetrator, became the “victim.” Bernie Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, was among other House Democratic leaders who decided that Omar is a victim. The end result was that the resolution was watered down from its original intent to name Omar and condemn her antisemitic remarks. The final wording omits her name, cites anti-Muslim bias, white supremacy, African Americans, Native Americans and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, immigrants and others victimized by bigotry.

The prime difference between what is happening in the UK and the US is that antisemitism in the UK is headed by the leadership of the Labour Party whereas in the US it is an individual within the Democratic Party that professes antisemitism, although it was the Democratic leadership that chose to virtually bury the response by merging it with a long list of other forms of racism.

What cannot be buried is the reality that antisemitism is increasing at a significant pace. European Jewry is in the forefront of experiencing this long-harbored hatred, with French Jews suffering violent attacks that have no precedent in recent times.

Has today’s antisemitism reached its endgame or has the momentum just begun?

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

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