Jeremy Corbyn: Not an anti-Semite, no matter how hard certain organisations try to claim it.
I’m sure everybody is glad that Jeremy Corbyn has finally met the right (-wing) kind of Jew to discuss the issue of anti-Semitism which they say is growing in the Labour Party – although everybody else has seen the statistics showing the exact opposite.
Mr Corbyn met representatives of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust on the afternoon of April 25. These organisations had refused to attend a roundtable meeting with other groups who (as I understand it) they claimed were the “wrong kind of Jews”.
They had six demands:
- That there should be a fixed timetable to deal with anti-Semitism cases
- That Mr Corbyn should take personal responsibility for Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism
- That Labour should expedite the long-standing cases involving Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker
- That no MP should share a platform with somebody expelled or suspended for anti-Semitism
- That Labour should adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism with all its examples and clauses
- That there should be transparent oversight of Labour’s disciplinary process
It is easy to see why Mr Corbyn did not accept these.
A fixed timetable means justice would be abandoned in favour of getting through all the allegations as quickly as possible. In the current atmosphere of false, malicious and opportunistic claims against party members, it would be easy to overload the system with frivolous accusations, making it harder for the innocent to have the exoneration they deserve.
What would these representatives demand if Mr Corbyn agreed to take person responsibility and then they (perhaps arbitrarily) decided he wasn’t doing a good enough job? His resignation? That would not be acceptable to the majority of Labour members but This Writer is sure it would suit the Tory Party very well.
It is true that the cases involving Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker have been taking a long time. But the Labour leadership was harshly criticised for its treatment of Mr Livingstone when he was suspended for quoting historical fact (don’t believe the nonsense that he said Hitler was a Zionist – he said no such thing) and we all know Jackie Walker was set up by the Jewish Labour Movement, and what they called anti-Semitism on her part was in fact her contribution to a discussion at which people were asked to voice their concerns, in a ‘safe space’ meeting where no recording equipment was supposed to be present. Strange that the JLM brought some along specifically to record and entrap her, isn’t it?
Personally I don’t see anything wrong with the demand that no Labour MP should share a platform with someone who has been expelled for anti-Semitism. But Labour’s process for dealing with these cases is extremely dubious at the moment – that’s one of the reasons new General Secretary Jennie Formby has been asked to review and revamp it. Members who have been suspended on suspicion are not guilty of anything – we have a convention in the UK that people accused of anything are innocent until their guilt has been proved – so I would not agree that that no MP should share a platform with a person who has only been suspended. It’s possible that the process of suspending someone while an investigation is carried out will end, though, so the issue might go away.
The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism, with all of its examples and clauses, is not acceptable to many people for several reasons – see this analysis by Hugh Tomlinson QC.
And by “transparent oversight”, what did these representatives mean? That they should have some influence over the workings of the Labour Party disciplinary process? Influence from external organisations would be unacceptable to the Labour Party under any circumstances.
Mr Corbyn was graceful about the meeting:
His full statement, on Facebook, followed the lines he had set out in his Evening Standard article prior to the meeting:
“I am grateful to the Board of Deputies, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Community Security Trust for a positive and constructive meeting about tackling antisemitism.
“I am absolutely committed to rooting out antisemitism from our party and our society.
“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’. Jews belong in the Labour Party and we are utterly committed to making it a safe and welcoming place for them.
“I have charged our new General Secretary Jennie Formby with improving our disciplinary procedures as her top priority to ensure all complaints are dealt with swiftly and fairly. We are grateful for the input from Jewish community groups, who we will continue to listen to carefully.
“We will lay out the further steps we are taking in the coming weeks. We will continue to engage and work with Jewish community organisations to deal with this issue. Our party will not fail our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
The JLC and the BoD were … less graceful:
“Our meeting with Jeremy Corbyn today was a disappointing missed opportunity regarding the problem of antisemitism in the Labour Party. We welcomed Mr. Corbyn’s personal involvement in the discussion and his new comments recognising and apologising for antisemitism in the Labour Party but he failed to agree to any of the concrete actions we asked for in our letter to him of 28th March.
“Last month the Jewish community held an unprecedented demonstration outside Parliament to express our hurt and anger about the level of antisemitism in the Labour Party, and Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to take strong action against it. Following that demonstration we wrote to Mr. Corbyn to set out six areas of concrete action he and the party could take to address the antisemitism that has grown under his leadership. These represented the minimum level of action the community expected after more than two years of inactivity. Today we met Mr. Corbyn to convey in no uncertain terms the Jewish community’s feelings to him in person and to discuss his response to our proposals. It was a difficult yet important meeting.
“We are disappointed that Mr Corbyn’s proposals fell short of the minimum level of action which our letter suggested. In particular, they did not agree in the meeting with our proposals that there should be a fixed timetable to deal with antisemitism cases; that they should expedite the long-standing cases involving Ken Livingstone and Jackie Walker; that no MP should share a platform with somebody expelled or suspended for antisemitism; that they adopt the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism with all its examples and clauses; that there should be transparent oversight of their disciplinary process.
“Words in letters and newspaper articles will never be enough. We welcome the fact that Mr Corbyn’s words have changed but it is action by which the Jewish community will judge him and the Labour Party. Our sole objective from this meeting was to build trust with Mr Corbyn, but this will not be possible until and unless he and the party turn their many strong words against antisemitism into equally strong actions in order to bring about a deep cultural change in his supporters’ attitude to Jews.
“Thousands of British Jews did not demonstrate outside Parliament just for a few lawyers and another newspaper article; they demanded action and so do we. We will hold the Labour Party to account for any future failures and continue to represent the interests of British Jews with clarity and resolve. We also commit to do our utmost to work with all those within Labour who want to help make it a safe and equal space for all of its members.”
The statement has been greeted with disdain by some – including that organisation of the “wrong kind of Jew”, Jewdas, with whom Jeremy Corbyn controversially celebrated Seder a few weeks ago:
Carole Hawkins, below, makes an important point:
This is absolutely true. Suggesting that any Jews are not “true” Jews, or “the wrong kind of Jews” is an anti-Semitic stereotype. It isn’t acceptable for anyone to be behaving in this manner. Judge the three organisations Mr Corbyn met by that standard!
And the following should put all of the above into perspective:
I wonder – of the people Mr Corbyn met – people who made very specific demands, including that he take personal responsibility for investigations into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, so presumably he should take the fall if THEY decide he hasn’t done enough …
How many of them even support the Labour Party or vote Labour?
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