Unbearable lightness of being Jewish in Corbyn's Labour

There are few sadder sights than Jewish Labour members justifying their existence in a party that loathes them. Amid the Brexit turmoil, Jeremy Corbyn could slip into Downing Street as Prime Minister. Be afraid, be very afraid

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Richard Ferrer
On 15 March 2019 10:56

Abuse victims are often the last to recognise their plight, kidding themselves things will change.

This tragic delusion was evident last week when the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM) decided to stay in a malign marriage with an emotionally distant spouse who secretly wants a divorce.

Jeremy Corbyn, the old charmer that he is, pretended he wanted to save the marriage (“it is my heartfelt wish you... retain the historic relationship you’ve have had with the party for almost a century”), while forgetting to mention he’d previously called for its predecessor to be kicked out the party.

Many fine words were spoken by many fine people at the emergency meeting. MP Ruth Smeeth, accused of working “hand-in-hand” with the media to undermine Corbyn, pleaded: “I need you. We need you.”

MP Louise Ellman, called “the member for Tel Aviv” by Corbyn’s clique, urged: “It’s time to increase our efforts in this fight.”

MP Dame Margaret Hodge, who faced deselection after calling her leader an antisemite to his face, asked members to “look at the bigger picture… Labour has been around 100 years but Jeremy Corbyn has been leader for only three-and-a-half years”.

There are few sadder sights than Jewish Labour members justifying their existence in a party that loathes them.

Some 80 percent of current members of the Labour Party joined under Corbyn. Give your head a little scratch and think about that. Its leadership, membership and ideology has been transformed from head to toe.

The Labour Party is Trigger’s broom.

Intolerant of dissent, it takes no prisoners and eats the wounded.

Labour is now a party whose General Secretary Jennie Formby can, with a straight face, tell Deputy Leader Tom Watson not to monitor antisemitism in the party because of EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules.

It’s a party whose leadership meddles in the outcome of antisemitism complaints, refused to back a UK ban on terror group Hezbollah and failed to tell police about violent threats to its Jewish MPs.

A party whose leader doesn’t have a bad word to say about  Holocaust deniers and hate preachers and has been paid a fortune by the Iranians and Russians to peddle filthy conspiracy theories on their propaganda TV channels.

It’s a party that’s hounded out its very best and welcomed the very worst. That lost Luciana Berger on the day it won Derek Hatton.

Corbyn is not a classically trained antisemite, but behaves like one none the less. In his every interaction with the Jewish community, he looks like a man standing in his own shadow, wondering why it’s dark.

Many Labour Jews still like to think he’s capable of a long dark night of the soul. That he can engage in genuine conversation and think things through. That he’s still a work in progress rather than a piece of work.

Three years after the risible Chakrabarti report into Labour antisemitism, which seems to have been disowned by its eponymous author (the honourable baroness has ignored my last four requests to talk about its impact), the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is poised to rule if Labour has “discriminated against ethnicity and religious beliefs” in its treatment of the Jewish community.

The EHRC moves at the speed of a tectonic plate but could cause a political earthquake – resignations among Corbyn’s top brass and sounding the death knell of Labour as a mainstream party.

Meanwhile, JLM members get another chance to flee their unhappy marriage at next month’s AGM, to be held nine days after the UK is (currently) expected to leave the EU.

The prospect of a post-Brexit general election should sharply focus minds on a stark choice – file for divorce or help their abuser walk into Downing Street.

Richard Ferrer is the Editor of the Jewish News. He’s also worked at the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, and edited the Boston Jewish Advocate. Follow him on Twitter @RichFerrer

 

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