He could do better.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has written a piece in the Evening Standard, outlining his plans to strengthen the party’s process for investigating accusations of anti-Semitism against members.
It came before his meeting today with representatives of the Jewish Labour Movement and the Jewish Leadership Council. These organisations refused to attend a roundtable meeting with other Jewish organisations, saying they were representative of what has become known as “the wrong kind of Jew” – so it was heartening to see Mr Corbyn’s response:
I want to engage with the full range and diversity of Jewish organisations and have no truck with any attempt to divide the Jewish community into the “right” and “wrong” sort of Jews. Debate and pluralism are abiding characteristics of the Jewish community, and I celebrate them both within and without the Labour Party.
And let’s not forget that some of the organisations lobbying Labour over anti-Semitism are political opponents of the party:
Wait. What?! The *heavily* Conservative-leaning Jewish Board of Deputies wants oversight/consultation role in Labour's disciplinary processes? A ridiculous suggestion that I hope receives the short shrift it deserves.
— Jim Campbell — Socially Distant Since 2009 (@CampbellLetters) April 24, 2018
Addressing the issue at hand, Mr Corbyn states:
The evidence is clear enough. Labour staff have seen examples of Holocaust denial,
Is he sure? If he’s referring to the case against me, he should know that it isn’t true. In fact he does know, because I have told him:
.@jeremycorbyn I do hope the example of "Holocaust denial" in your Standard article isn't me, because the officer investigating my case made that up! You are right that genuine A-S must be weeded out, but that doesn't mean people won't make false claims. #LabourAntisemitism
— Mike Sivier (@MidWalesMike) April 24, 2018
crude stereotypes of Jewish bankers, conspiracy theories blaming 9/11 on Israel, and even one member who appeared to believe that Hitler had been misunderstood.
It is true that there are genuine cases of anti-Semitism in Labour, of course – as there are (unreported) in the Conservative Party and elsewhere.
We are taking action. In the past fortnight more than 20 individuals have been suspended from party membership, and more are being investigated.
That is interesting. Suspension prior to investigation implies an assumption of guilt – in contradiction of British justice. One of the excuses provided by national newspapers for publishing allegations about me as fact was that my membership of the Labour Party had been suspended over them. This is among the reasons I am working up a legal case against the Labour Party at the moment.
But we have not done enough to get to grips with the problem, and the Jewish community and our Jewish members deserve an apology. My party and I are sorry for the hurt and distress caused.
Yes, but Jewish members also deserve an apology from those who have made false, malicious and opportunistic claims against people they see as political opponents within the party. They have brought investigations of genuine anti-Semitism into disrepute.
That is why our new general secretary Jennie Formby has, on my instruction, made it her priority to get on top of this problem and ensure that all complaints are dealt with swiftly and fairly, with investigations resourced as necessary. She will be setting out her plans in the coming weeks, including the appointment of a new legal adviser, and we are already taking action in many cases.
This Writer is looking forward to the publication of these plans with great anticipation.
We will also embark on a programme of political education to deepen Labour members’ understanding of what anti-Semitism is and how to counter it.
Education, I hope – not indoctrination. That is why I certainly hope the Jewish Labour Movement has nothing to do with it. JLM has a history of entrapment – trying to lure people into saying things that, with a little twisting, can be interpreted as anti-Semitism – and that isn’t acceptable.
Mike Cushman, chair of FSOI, explains that to be Jewish is not about supporting Israel but about abiding by a moral code that stands against oppression
— FreeSpeechOnIsrael (@FreeSpeechOnIsr) April 24, 2018
When members of Jewish communities express genuine anxieties we must recognise them as we would those of any other community. Their concerns are not “smears”.
In the case of genuine anxieties, this is certainly true – and I am glad that this implies party investigators will check the veracity of complaints to ensure that they really are genuine. Will Mr Corbyn (or Ms Formby) confirm that this will happen?
If not – if false, malicious and opportunistic complaints made for the sake of harming political opponents continue to be entertained as genuine, if the planned political education is carried out by a biased organisation like the Jewish Labour Movement, if people who are innocent until proven guilty continue to have their memberships suspended on the basis of a lazy accusation, then Mr Corbyn’s words are just a lot of hot air (or cold ink, if you prefer).
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