Did Corbyn’s antisemitism cost Labour the elections?

For the Jewish community, December’s snap elections were about the Labour leader’s legitimization of antisemitism.

Did Corbyn’s antisemitism cost Labour the elections?  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Did Corbyn’s antisemitism cost Labour the elections?
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The question above is the one many in Britain have been trying to answer – but is this the right question to ask in the first place?
Shouldn’t our question concern the great number of Britons who considered Jeremy Corbyn fit for office in spite of Labour’s antisemitism? Shouldn’t we be asking why Britain tolerated a person with such toxic rhetoric and allowed him to become leader of the opposition? Most importantly, what does the Corbyn saga tell us about the unhealthy state of British society?
For the Jewish community, December’s snap elections were about the Labour leader’s legitimization of antisemitism. To most UK Jews this was the issue that overshadowed education, the economy and yes, even Brexit. If you are a British Jew, your choice rested between Boris Johnson who considers Israel “an achievement of humanity” or Israel-bashing Corbyn. If you are a British Jew, you most probably planned to flee the UK if Corbyn won, and you breathed a huge sigh of relief as election results unfolded.
On the positive side, Johnson’s historic win shows that the great majority of people had the sense to reject Corbyn’s poisonous manifesto, but we cannot ignore the fact that he was elected party leader and remained in this position for seven long years. Nor can we ignore the massive support he enjoyed over the years, including an embracing BBC hug for him and his equally poisonous advocates Ash Sakar and Owen Jones.
Yes, there were many signs of discontent over Corbyn’s leadership over recent years. Many Jewish voters, for example, took part in the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s London marches, while A-list celebrities signed a high-profile open letter stating Corbyn’s antisemitism as the reason they would not be voting Labour and called for Corbyn’s resignation over the party’s failure to address antisemitism within its ranks. We even saw Labour MPs leave the party in protest and heard of areas such as North Yorkshire’s Redcar where, according to former Labour MP Anna Turley, residents stated Corbyn’s antisemitism was a problem, even though no Jewish community is known to exist in the constituency.
MAKE NO mistake, this was a disastrous election for Corbyn. “A catastrophic result for Labour, the worst result since the 1930s,” Brexit candidate Yosef David told the Magazine. “Some people will always vote Labour,” he added, “but a swing to the Conservatives such as this is unprecedented. The British people voted for the Jewish population to feel safe.”
David, an Orthodox Jew, hit the news headlines when he contested Corbyn’s Islington seat. David’s election-night photos alongside Jeremy Corbyn went viral and will forever be associated with this historic election campaign. This was, after all, a kippah-wearing Jew, boldly standing against the leader of a party currently under investigation for antisemitism.
David was right in asserting, “If Labour had won or if Labour had not lost in the way that they did, this country would never be the same for Jews again. It was us telling the rest of the country we are worried and Britain responded. Had that not been the result, it would have forever changed the way that we relate to this country.”
That sentiment was similar to that of Allison Peason in The Telegraph who saw Johnson’s win as proof that the soul of the British nation “is intact.”
The British people chose to be on the right side of history and reject all that Corbyn stood for, but his views and activities have been known for many years. The public is well aware of his support for Hezbollah, the IRA and Hamas; his 2016 refusal to visit Yad Vashem; his open dislike of Western values and scorn for the wealthy; the sea of Palestinian flags waved proudly at the Labour conference; his outright rejection of Israel and the American president; his laying a wreath on the graves of terrorists behind the cruel 1972 murder of 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team; and more. These were all highly questionable actions by a person who should be viewed by society as dangerously extreme, yet Corbyn rose to become Labour leader and a contender for the prime ministership, nearly defeating Theresa May in 2017.
“British society is sick,” IT consultant Eli Man told the Magazine, echoing the views of many. “Corbyn is the symptom, not the problem, and these elections are proof that British society has serious problems that will remain long after Corbyn is gone. I would have expected the British people to reject him years ago and march the streets in protest.”
The writer is a London-based journalist and filmmaker with credits including The Independent, The Guardian, The British Journal of Photography and BBC1.