Here’s a perspective on the row about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party that has gone relatively unreported – that of young, Jewish Labour supporters.
I’m not saying I support everything Annie Cohen states in her piece (it is much longer than the excerpt below, and the parts about Ken Livingstone seem to have misunderstood his point*).
But you can see for yourself that this is a person who hasn’t been fooled by the nonsense put about by the Board of Deputies of British Jews or the Jewish Leadership Council – or any of their friends in the Labour Party itself.
She can think for herself and has drawn her own conclusions.
We would all be wise to do the same.
Corbyn is the first political leader in our living memory who we’ve heard say anything real, with policies that go beyond buzzwords, that might actually change the future we are facing. Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell are the only MPs who have actually listened to my concerns, and responded to them. Last year, many of my friends who had never before shown any interest in electoral politics not only turned out and voted, but actually campaigned on the streets for the Labour party.
It may surprise you to learn that of those of us who voted Labour last year, many were Jewish. Many of us have met Corbyn through our own activism, and some of us, along with others in the Jewish community, have criticised him for some of his past associations.
But none of us have witnessed him saying or doing anything anti-Semitic.
And yet, I and the rest of Corbyn’s Jewish supporters have watched aghast as the first politician in our lifetimes who has actually promised us meaningful change has come under increasing attack from the supposed representatives of our community.
Of course, anti-Semitism on the Left is a problem.
Corbyn’s critics, including much of the Jewish leadership in the UK are also guilty of misusing the Holocaust and our awful history for their own ends.
In the context of Labour and the wider UK Left, where false accusations of anti-Semitism have frequently been used to shut down protest against Israel, the first and most important step is to get people to acknowledge that anti-Semitism is still a problem, and one that cannot be swept under the carpet by quoting your anti-racist record, or crew of Jewish friends. A full throttled and blatantly ideological attack on one particular party and one particular politician, manipulating every tiny bit of circumstantial and even Facebook evidence, is not the way to achieve this, particularly as Corbyn has acknowledged the need for action.
If the Board of Deputies really wants to tackle anti-Semitism, it would do well to spend some time focusing on the conversations that need to be had in our own community, and working to include non-Zionist voices.
*I state this with the advantage of my own research. It isn’t anti-Semitic to state historical fact, although some might suggest it for their own political ends. Beware of such people.
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